04/22/2013, Turks & Caicos, Provo Island
Today we stage for our next leg south to the Domincan Republic. The weather looks calm from tomorrow until Friday, which gives us an extra day for cushion. Our journey is: Tuesday move to south side of Provodentiales, Wednesday sail across Caicos banks, Wed night anchor at Sand Cay and then leave around midnight to arrive in the DR about noon on Thursday.
Unfortunately I just came back from the local clinic & have confirmed that I have a broken toe! I smashed it last night on the jib block. Sneakers all day, every day for 3 weeks - shouldn't be too much of a problem seeing that I am a sneaker chic.
Parker's at the vet getting his clearance papers....
04/19/2013, Turks & Caicos, Provo Island
We're in Turks and Caicos now, which is south of the 23rd latitude (aka the tropic of cancer). This means it is HOT. I never thought I'd need air conditioning on a boat but here I am.
Turks is our stop-over to the Dominican Republic. It's basically part of the U.K. but unlike the Bahamas it is pretty upscale - lots of great restaurants & stores that have fresh produce. It's a major vacation destination - tons of condos, dive boats, parasailers, etc. We're taking advantage of the city - we ordered & rec'd boat parts, Rog went diving & we've had some great dinners out.
We are waiting on a weather window to the DR. I should have packed my Spanish dictionary so that I could be more productive while we wait (we want 10-15 knots of wind but have been getting 20-30knots for more than a week!!! This is why they are called the trade winds). Anyway, we didn't think we were going to do much in the DR (maybe just stopping at a few ports for overnights) but we've learned a lot more about it so we're going to check it out for awhile. I've got my malaria medication.
It's becoming increasingly apparent that we will never have enough time to make it all the way through the Caribbean, much less Europe. We think we'll end up leaving the boat on one of the islands (south of hurricane line...like Granada) and hiring someone to move it back to Florida. I can't believe I thought I'd have time to explore more than 7000 islands in only 6 months. Derr.
The kids are good. They are mostly concerned that the Easter bunny arrived (toting Bahamian-sold chocolate, funnily enough), and that the tooth fairy paid in US dollars. School continues, which is all I can say about that. Parker is a local celebrity yet again. Our neighbors at the dock, Don and Diana, have been feeding him "beggin treats" and babysitting him when we go out. They are crazy about him.
We came from Georgetown to Rum Cay on the 2nd & it was an awesome sail. Light wind, calm seas. We saw a pod of pilot whales. Rum Cay was so named because a ship ran aground with a big cargo of Rum that washed ashore. The island is very remote but beautiful.
We anchored the first night and tried our skills at a swell bridle (helps reduce major side to side rocking) but then moved to Sumner Point Marina (the only marina). We watched a fisherman feed the sharks every evening - bulls, nurses and lemons. The marina was pretty much destroyed from 2 hurricanes that came through last year and the year before, so no water, no electricity but lots of fun people & dogs. Coda (one dog) dives for rocks, which gave the kids hours of enjoyment.
The reef along the south side of the island was spectacular for snorkeling. We did a drift dive over the length of it. We also headed to the north side of the island in a golf cart & checked out completely deserted and gorgeous beaches. (There are only 50 residents on the island.) On the way we were chased by some vicious potcakes (the mutt dogs that roam all over the Caribbean) but escaped unscathed. There are tons of wild goats and cows here too.
We chickened out at the blue hole, which has a few feet of fresh water but then turns to salt as it descends who-knows-how-many-feet to the ocean. It just looked way too alligator-y for us, even tho we KNOW it couldn't have gators.
Rog continues the battle to discover why the generator keeps shutting down. The alternator needs a replacement part too. We are gearing up for our first overnight voyage - here to Turks and Caicos.
03/30/2013, Exumas, Bahamas
On Saturday March 16th we headed south to Georgetown & an uneventful sail. We headed to the anchorage at Sand Dollar Beach & got set up. We took the dinghy in to Lake Victoria (a mangrove swamp that was excavated basically) and did a major reprovision.
Rog was so sick!! Malia managed to drop her kindle into the water at the Emerald Bay marina - Rog dove in for it (it still was destroyed) but in the process we think he picked up a nasty bug. His throat was so hurt he went to the doctor, who gave him antibiotics for strep. By Monday (2 days later) he was worried that his throat would close & he wouldn't be able to breathe! We booked him a flight to Miami. The plane had a mechanical problem so he went to the local clinic (for 2nd time) where they injected his tonsil with antibiotics. It did the trick and within 36 hours he was feeling much better.
Meanwhile, Jen Dave and the boys arrived. The kids were especially excited because we haven't met any kids here...or very few...so it's been the Colvin kids show for 2 ½ months. We had a great time - Jen and Dave are professional campers, which was vital to harmony on board (9 of us plus Parker was pretty tight!) They also hooked us up by picking up & delivering countless repair items -- total lifesavers!! We snorkeled, beached and hung out in perfect weather. Very fun.
Here is a shot of Dave and Cat jumping off the boat while anchored at Pigeon Cay.
03/30/2013, Exumas, Bahamas
Georgetown was easier than most places in the Bahamas - they have a "real" grocery store, laundry, places that have internet (but far away). Great snorkeling, beaches & there's a place called the "chat and chill" where most boaters go every day to play volleyball, have drinks and hang out. At the Chat & Chill we fed the stingrays (the conch salad guy leaves a bowl of scraps for people to feed them), played on tree swings and chitchated with more sailors. I have renamed it the chat and stress because it was extreme socializing!
After the RoHos left, we met a family there that we spent the next week hanging out with. Funny enough they live in Martha's Vineyard in the summer (on their boat) in Lake Tashmoo - they even said they know Mother Goose (the Colvins' boat)! Their son Owen is 10 & the kids spent the next week building forts and sailing the dinghy. We spent Easter with a bunch of sailors and had a make-shift easter egg hunt on the beach.
Georgetown was our tip-top choice so far - really great, calm anchorages, fun hikes, fun people, etc etc. Beau started crying when we announced that we were moving on!
03/15/2013, Exumas, Bahamas
On March 11th we headed south with the intention of getting 1/2 to Georgetown. We ended up stopping at Blackpoint settlement, which is a pleasant little anchorage. Rog went spearfishing with Otis, the local guy who said English words but couldn't communicate with Rog. Wierd! I guess some of the inhabitants here just make up names for things. For example, a "flappa" was a turtle, a "fish trap" was a nurse shark. Those are the only ones Rog could make out.
Anyway, they got skunked, probably because they needed to fish in the "cut" (cuts are the passages between the Exuma sound and Exuma bank) & it was very rough. 10 foot swells & a big current - even Otis the local couldn't get any fish!
We made our way through that very cut the next morning & encountered some big seas (again!) in the sound. We headed south & thought we check out Emerald Bay (the marina for the Sandals resort here), which was a big mistake. Upon entering the marina we got hit by a huge breaking wave - nearly knocked us down & flipped the dinghy. Such a long story on what went wrong - I won't bother with it here. The good news is that nothing broke on the boat and we were all fine.
After 4 days of laundry, focused school and cleanup, we were ready to head to Georgetown (at the end of the exuma chain) & meet up with the RoHos (my sister and family) for a visit. I've attached a shot of the swimming pigs that we saw back at Staniel.