The St. Lucia Squall!
We left Martinique Island at 9:30am today and found the wind right after we turned out of Fort de France bay were the wind was blowing 22 to 25 knots. We put two reefs into the mainsail, flew the staysail and reefed jib sails for about 15 nautical miles. As we sailed across the Martinique-St Lucia channel I noticed a very big gray cloud that covered the entire 22 nautical mile channel. I kept one eye on the clouds and one on the wind instrument. From my experience crossing the North Atlantic Gulf Stream I could see the signs of a strong squall racing at us. I hesitated in my judgment and thought that this squall would not produce much wind and sailed on with our current sail configuration. Then after a few minutes I could see a wall of whiteout rain racing across the ocean along with very big swells that where breaking when they reached full height. I turned to my dad and said we need to take in the jib now. Moments before the squall hit us my dad worked frantically to winch in the jib roller furling that was now whipping wildly off to the starboard and the sound was deafening by the snapping of the sail and her sheets. I could not leave the helm and left my dad and mom to the task of winching in the jib as the squall engulfed us with stinging rain and 35 knots of wind. Finally my parents had the jib under control, I worked the helm quickly to adjust our angle to the wind as the squall had shifting wind directions and caused the boat to heel and put the rail in the water. After a few minutes of playing with the squall I had her tempo down and laughed with excitement at the power of the wind and the waves crashing over the bow. I was having a great rush but my parents were not to thrilled with the situation, but I kept saying “its letting up don’t worry” and my mom would respond with “your full of it” I laughed with a salty soaked grin! Finally after a half hour of 30 to 35 knot plus winds the squall was gone and we cruised into St. Lucia, dropped the anchor and had a few cold ones.