We have been based in St. Martin for the 2022 winter season since early January, and holy cow, does the Hylas 54 shine bright here. Unlike our New England summers, for the first half of the season we have been primarily living at a slip on Simpson Bay in St. Martin, having taken two one-week cruises to see St. Barts and St. Kitts / Nevis, respectively. For the second half we will be traveling much more consistently and will mostly be at anchor or on moorings. But our cruising so far has shown me that a winter in the Caribbean is literally the perfect environment for these big Hylas boats. With a “town water” hookup and three air conditioning zones, life at the slip is easy and divine. But down here these boats really shine when you leave the dock!
It’s so windy and wavy down here that you really appreciate the confidence the Hylas brings. The winds blow so reliably that we are able to sail to each destination on some form of a reach – ranging from close reaching to just aft of the beam. Each passage has seen winds of 20+ knots of breeze. We have been making speeds of 8-9 knots consistently, which makes most destinations easy to reach in a day sail!
The Hylas is in the zone down here with either the jib alone or the staysail and jib. Out of four cruising legs so far we have only used the main once. These are the conditions where this design thrives, and I for one am much happier cruising the Hylas here than I was in New England. The limitations of working while living aboard limit us to travel during the weekends, but the reliable Caribbean trade winds mean we are almost guaranteed an exciting sail to our next destination instead of having to motor as is so often the case during a Chesapeake or New England summer. Speaking purely for myself, I am much happier with the cruising lifestyle down here on the Hylas than I was back up north! Smaller, lighter designs like my Sabre are definitely more exciting to sail on lighter days on the Chesapeake, but the Caribbean is definitely Hylas Country!