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Coming Out
04/05/2012

We emerged after a few hours into brilliant daylight, with dangling vegetation hanging through holes in the roof above us. A very powerful and particularly satisfying experience for me. They say the Lucayans used the caves as a sacred power spot, for journeying inward and for rites of passage. It was the coolest thing I've seen yet on the cruise. Our 'guide' was a little worried when we finally emerged, smeared with bat guano and sporting big smiles.

Inside of Cow
04/05/2012

We always used to say, in Wisconsin, "Darker than the inside of a cow" as though we knew what the inside of a cow looked like. Well, here is what it looks like deep inside a cave.

Goofball
04/05/2012

The reverence didn't last too long.

Later
04/05/2012

Eventually it will look something like this. A very large example, stunning to behold. We stood back in reverence.

Formation
04/05/2012

Ever wonder how a stalagmite grows ? Here it is, in action. Drip ... drip ... drip. Just wait a thousand years and these cones will be joined.

Deeper
04/05/2012

The cave went deep into the mountain, splitting into different caverns and passages, some easy to walk through and some a scramble. There were tunnels underwater too, but we didn't have scuba gear. Lots of bats ! Really freaky to have them circling around you. Up in the ceiling cavities there were hundreds of them, making their bizarre squeaking noises as we passed by a few feet below.

Conch Bay Caves
04/05/2012

We sailed over to North Caicos and took a long dinghy ride to a marina where they charged $ 20 just to tie up the dinghy. Then rented a car, as there were no bicycles like the guidebook had promised. Drove 60 some miles to visit the larges cave system in the Caribbean. Here I am with our guide, who wouldn't go in more than a few feet. But as long as we paid our $ 10 and proved we had flashlights, we were free to go deeper.

Amanyara Resort
04/04/2012

We anchored off this very swank resort. Super high end. We landed the dink and they escorted us to the bar. I had a little cup of ice cream for $ 16 and Chris had two fish tacos for $ 20. Plus government tax of 11%. Plus gratuity of 15%. Yikes. I walked around the place a bit when they weren't looking and it was beyond cool. No photos allowed. We thought about staying for just one night, a bit of luxury in the midst of the rough sailing life. But at $ 1000 a night for the cheapest room, we decided sleeping on the boat was good enough for us.

Sea Salt
04/03/2012

We found cups in the rock where the seawater had evaporated over many years. All that remained were sea salt crystals. The salt was very concentrated. It tasted great.

In The Cut
04/03/2012

Chris enjoying one of the perfect little beaches.

Sea Arch
04/03/2012

A very cool arch in the shoreline, where you could swim in and find your own blue hole, looking out at the sea. This is the cover shot for the magazine !

Sunset
04/02/2012

Another crappy day, another boring sunset. It's a rough life, this.

Jumping In
04/02/2012

West Caicos was an interesting shoreline, with caves and cliffs and ruins of an old plantation. We explored with the dinghy, stopping to play wherever it looked interesting.

Time Turns Elastic
04/01/2012

The mesmerizing sea floor, as it passes by under the ship. A sparkling kaleidoscope of white lines where the sunlight intersects the sand. Would you believe this was over twenty feet down ?

Chris
03/30/2012

My buddy Chris Ernst came for a visit and we had a blast. The first of my friends to take me up on the offer of sailing in Paradise. We had a blast, once we got out of the repair vortex at the marina. He said he wanted to experience what the cruising life was like, and that's what he got. A few days of mind-boggling frustration and a week of blissful beaches and snorkeling and exploring. That's pretty much how it's been !

Repairs
03/29/2012

A few stressful days at the Caicos Shipyard Marina, trying to figure things out, make repairs and get underway again. Thought we had fixed the big water leak by repacking the shaft seal, but that wasn't it - still buckets of water pouring into the bilge. Guess #2 made it out to be the heat exchanger gone bad and the whole engine ruined by salt water, or so said the mechanic. But then he also thought it might be as simple as a bad hose clamp. "Either you need a new engine or a new hose clamp" were his immortal words. Thankfully, it was the hose clamp only ! Also remounted the bilge pickup feet and float switches, and cleaned out a lot of nasty gunk. And remounted the autopilot compass. And patched the dinghy. And all is well with Nereia once again.

Mechanical Problems
03/27/2012

Finally arrived in Turks and Caicos, after 4 passages and 3 island transits. The Caicos crossing was so rough I broke the motor mount, which made the shaft wobble, which blew the dripless seal, which let in many many gallons of sea water, which overloaded the bilge pump ... So I've been undertaking repairs - even more than usual. At least I had something to do while waiting to clear customs. It took 3 days, and involved trying to help a customs guy new to the job get his briefcase open, find the right forms, make up forms he didn't have, figure out how to work the stamper, etc. I am finally cleared in, at a marina getting some serious assistance for the boat work and catching up on emails and sailblog.

Weird Vegetation
03/22/2012

The tip of the island was covered with some strange vegetation. The colors were really cool, but it was hard to walk through.

Yummy Seaweed
03/22/2012

Seaweed, and lots of it, dried in the sun. Anyone want nori rolls ?

Fossils
03/22/2012

Lots of fossilized shells on the beach. They look like they had been there a long time.

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