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Welcome to Provo, Home of a New Fashion Accessory and the Instant Outdoor Office

17 January 2008 | Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
CURRENT LOCATION: Anchored in Sapodilla Bay off the island of Providenciales (commonly called Provo) in the Turks & Caicos

21 44.728' N, 072 17.389' W

Our first full day in the Turks & Caicos was bound to be an interesting and perhaps even challenging one. Due to the fact that we had offered some of our on-deck diesel to Ultima Noche in Mayaguana, we needed to refill a few jugs in order to have a good margin of comfort with our fuel supply as we head across to the Dominican Republic. Before arriving here, we thought that this would be a relatively simple task to accomplish in Provo. We are in an anchorage with over a dozen other sailboats, and this is a high turnover spot for southbound vessels. In addition, there are two huge diesel tanks right around the corner from Sapodilla Bay, at the government dock. Unfortunately, they serve the BIG ships and have no capacity to fill jerry cans. The only marina on the island with fuel is located on the north side, and it would take a full day going back out onto the ocean and around to sail there.

We were not alone in our consternation over this lack of easily available diesel. Other boats in the anchorage spent the morning hours coordinating their efforts to rent cars and make the 5-mile drive to town to get fuel and other supplies. We were invited to join in, but decided (as we so often do) to try doing things the hard way.

Therefore, we loaded up with the intent of trying to procure diesel and access to the internet during our trip to town. We planned to walk there, then decide the best means of public transportation back to the bay. Sheryl put the laptop in a watertight sleeve and then into her backpack, along with some drinking water and a few crackers (Unfortunately, the last of the bread we purchased in George Town was found to be moldy just this morning. We salvaged what we could and toasted it with breakfast, but today there would be no PB&J sandwiches for our midday meal).

I spent some time in the morning trying to figure out the best way to carry two empty five gallon diesel cans for the 5-mile hike to town. Sheryl came to the rescue with an idea. When we purchased Prudence, the previous owners had left aboard their safety harnesses. These harnesses were homemade using three-strand line and rather thin strap material; therefore, we purchased commercially manufactured safety harnesses for our own use and stuffed the homemade ones in our spare line bag. Appropriately wrapped, each harness was ideal for creating a jerry-jug sling. Once attached to an empty backpack, we now had an easy way to carry the empty jugs a long distance. In addition, if we had to carry them any distance after filling, I should be able to hold the strapping and support the weight with a combination of my lower back, shoulders and arms.

Half-way into the walk to town, I knew that any distance which I carried the full jerry jugs would have to be a short one. The road was hilly and the day was hot. There was certainly no way we could walk the full cans back to the boat (we do things the hard way, but not that hard). Shortly after the half-way point, a pickup truck stopped and offered us a ride. Although we could have made the rest of the distance on foot, we opted not to look a gift horse in the mouth. We climbed in the bed of the truck, diesel cans, backpack, and us.

Jojo and his son drove us into town and dropped us off at the grocery store. They were also kind enough to suggest a place where we may be able to get internet. We thanked them for their kindness and wished them a wonderful day. While I waited outside, perched on my own portable seat (two yellow jerry jugs), Sheryl went in to the grocery store and bought us some lunch. She returned, sat down on a wooden pallet and unveiled a feast of grapes, bananas, cheese, crackers and a diet coke. It was perfect, and the fruit (in particular) was a special treat. We had not found much in the way of good quality fresh fruit while in the Bahamas.

Fortified with a good lunch, we picked up our respective burdens and headed off to find internet. While headed in the direction Jojo indicated, a car stopped and inquired about our jerry jugs. They were Chris (from s/v Christa) and Sue & Mike (from s/v Adamo). They had rented a car in order to run their on-island errands. Sue offered a cold beer through the backseat window and we stood in a parking lot chatting for a few moments. Chris indicated that they had gotten a great internet signal while parked outside of the Napa auto parts store.

It was a three mile walk, but with a confirmed report of FREE internet, Sheryl and I were up to the hike. The stroll was not the most pleasant, as the road from town became a four-lane highway. After about 45 minutes of dust, noise and exhaust fumes, we finally arrived at Napa. We found a five-gallon bucket in an out-of-the-way shady corner of the parking lot and popped open the laptop on a concrete ledge. As reported, there was a good, strong signal available to anyone with a wireless card.

We spent two hours online. First priority was weather, followed closely by our financial accounts, and then e-mail. Doing e-mail required a triage approach. We get lots of correspondence and always try to reply to everyone, but this time some of our responses will have to wait until we get a longer period of internet access. Our apologies, dear Reader, if we are a bit slow in responding to your e-mail. Please keep on writing and know that we are reading them the first chance we get, even if we cannot always respond as quickly as we would like. In order to reach the vast majority of family and friends we always post blogs when we get internet access. In that way, everyone knows where we are, that we are safe, and having a great time. Sheryl tried posting her photos, but only a portion made it up to our Flickr site before the time had come for us to be moving on.

One bit of news we got by e-mail may interest some of you readers. Another of my articles has been published in the most recent issue of Carolina Currents (Jan/Feb). Those of you who spend time along the North or South Carolina coast should be able to find a copy (FREE) at a nearby marina or marine-type store. If you pick up a copy, please let me know what you think of the article (I haven't even seen the published version yet).

After re-packing the computer, we took our jerry jugs about a mile back toward town to a Shell gas station. The attendant, originally from the Philippines, indicated that we could cross the road and pick up a jitney (a mini-bus) which would take us back to the bay. While filling our jugs, we got to talking about our trip and he suggested that we sail to the Philippines. Not entirely out of the question, but first things first: we need to make our goal of the Caribbean, and the 'Thorny Path' stands in our way.

Just as we screwed the caps onto our jerry jugs, a car pulls up with Dan & Kimber (from s/v Snark) and Paul & Mary (from s/v Sea Otter). They, too, had rented a car for the day to run errands. They offered to give us a lift back to the bay and we happily accepted. It was lucky timing that they had seen us as they were driving by. They saved us both the wait and the expense of a jitney ride.

No sooner were our jerry cans placed on deck than we heard a general announcement on the VHF indicating an informal gathering on the beach for drinks at sunset. Initially, Sheryl was hesitant to dinghy in. The day's accumulation of road dust and grime made the alternative of a shower and a quiet night on the boat sound very appealing. With our recent time at sea and plans to be departing here (very soon) for less frequented out-islands, we finally decided to forgo cleanliness and rest for the opportunity to meet our neighbors.

A dozen dinghies landed on the beach and we met couples and single-handers who are sharing our anchorage. Everyone is planning to go from here to Luperon, in the Dominican Republic, so the main topic of conversation was weather, strategies, and intended routes for making this passage. Of course, after those notions were exhausted we began to learn more about these folks. Where they came from, what got them interested in cruising, etc. It is always great to meet new people and learning about them is an enjoyable way to spend an evening. It was quite late, by our standards, when we motored Patience back to the big boat through the dark night (8PM).

As a parting thought for this blog entry, here is a visual for you, dear Reader, as I model the latest in cruisers' fashion accessories and work in the shade of a palm tree in the cruisers' instant outdoor office...


Vessel Name: Prudence
We are Doug & Sheryl, owners and crew of the sailing vessel Prudence.

This blog starts in 2005, when we initially had the idea to quit our jobs and live on a sailboat while we cruised to the Caribbean. At that time we had never owned a boat and had no experience sailing. [...]