The responder who said that there will not be much true downwind sailing in the Caribbean
is right. My experience in in the Windward/Leeward Islands, indicates that the Trades usually give you 15 to 25 knots from between NE and SE, which puts the wind on the beam. Winds of less than 15kts are probably less than 25%, and winds from other directions are usually caused either by the close proximity of Islands (lees and sea/land breezes), or they are part of a tropical storm system.
However I would give my eye teeth for a Parasailor for the long ocean crossings.
I find the difficulty greatest difficulty of continuous dead down wind sailing, which is what you get following the trades from Europe
to the Caribbean
, is being able to make ones desired course when the wind is within 10 degrees of dead astern. I always find myself going off about 30 degrees using any sort of cruising shute, asymetric spinnaker
or code zero
The only configurations which will give good speed and ability to steer the course are either double headed foresails (twin foresails and no mainsail) or a symetric spinnaker
. I am always very nervous about keeping conventional symetric or asymetric spinnakers up over night because of the risk of tropical squalls.
I am told by my friends WITH parasailors, that the consequence of sudden increases in wind speed and changing direction from a squall is much reduced. I have one friend who crossed with the ARC
in a 40' catermaran who kept his Parasailor up for over 80% of the crossing, including nights. Needless to say he was far ahead of similar sized boats in St Lucia
Crossing the Pacific is likely to be even more of an advantage for a Parasailor because the track takes one across the ITCZ, where winds can be variable.