The lines were loosed, Lisa powered up and we were on our way to our next country. As we made the right turn South between St. Thomas and St. John we raised the main sail. I had noticed dark clouds to the East but didn’t give them much thought. The anemometer was showing 15 knots and 20-25 knot winds were forecast for the day. Once the main was up and trimmed we started to unfurl the genoa. This is about the time we started getting out of the lee of St. John Island. This was also about the time the dark clouds approached the pass we were in. As the genoa started to come out the winds picked up to 20, then 25, then 30 knots. The winds caught the genoa bringing it completely out in the full force of the wind. Lisa attempted to keep Unwritten Timeline pointing into the wind but as the winds shifted due to the squall line and the islands it became extremely difficult to keep the genoa from catching at least some of the building winds. I decided to let the sheets run free. This brought the genoa flogging violently and the sheets to trail off. Now that there was no stress on the rig from the winds we started furling in the genoa. The winds kept more than enough tension on the sail to wrap it nicely around the forestay. When the sail was about 75% furled I secured the sheets and tidied up the foredeck. The sail was ripped along the foot. Not the most auspicious start to a voyage, but worse things have happened at sea.
The rest of the day went about the same way. The seas built to around 5-6’ and very confused due to the squalls coming through the Caribbean every few hours. It made progress slower than planned. We had good winds to sail, but we also had to climb waves constantly. During the night we had over 40 knot winds sustained for an hour or so. The first 48 hours we averaged around 25 to 30 knots of wind. As we approached Martinique the winds slowly subsided to 15 knots and made a nice ending to the trip.
As we pulled into the channel leading to Fort de France Jessie from S/V Smitty hailed us on VHF CH16. He had been tracking us on AIS and saw us getting close. We arrived around 2300 in the dark. We made our way to the busy anchorage in front of the downtown area. Jessie was kind enough to stay up and guide us in on the radio. We pulled up to within 15’ of this vessel in the dark to drop our anchor. It was a long trip and we were ready to catch up on some sleep.
Check back next week when we explore Martinique.