Turks and Caicos
29 December 2012 | Sapodilla Bay
Bert Blue Sky NE 15kn
In our previous blog from George Town I mentioned what George Town is too many people. What I did not mention is that George Town’s nick name is “Chicken Harbor”. Many people have plans to sail in the East Caribbean and choose to sail The Bahamas from Bimini, Nassau and the Exumas to George Town and make the crossing over the Exuma Sound to Long Island and south east to the large Caribbean Island of Espanola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and Puerto Rico and further to the Windward and Lee Islands. This means that as soon you pass the north point of Long Island you expose yourself to the real North Atlantic Ocean and this large body of water can bring quite large northerly swells. Exposing yourself, the crew and the boat to this this environment makes many sailors “chicken out”; they decide to stay in George Town and try it some other time in the future. During our Christmas party on “Hamburger Beach” we met many sailors who shared this experience and are very happy in George Town. We shared our table with a couple from Germany who together with their 10 year old son make a 6 month trip and a couple from Switzerland who sails for a long time already since their retirement. It was a nice beach party.
Although Dorothy and I have crossed the Gulf Stream from Miami to The Bahamas many times over the past 4 years, a few times in extreme conditions, we still had some concerns about how we would handle the challenge to sail the Atlantic. We are in Provo (Providenciales) in the Turks and Caicos Islands, so we passed the test. This was a 240 miles long trip that we decided to do in one shot without stopping. It took us 51 hours from anchor up in George Town to anchor down in Sapodilla Bay in Provo. We had selected this weather window for its calm seas and wind. However, the wind was from the South East and that meant that we had the wind all the time and in many cases the current as well on the nose except during the Exuma Sound crossing. The wind and swells constantly changed in strength and the swells also in direction. We had calm seas and very confused seas (waves and swells from different directions). We had the most extreme condition when I was cooking breakfast on Thursday morning, but we ate and had a great time. It was full moon and the ocean was beautiful with this incredible light source. The most beautiful time of the day was when the sun came up and the moon was still over the horizon. Light came from two opposite sides with all different colors of the clouds. It was a great trip, but wished we could have used the sails instead of the engine as much.
Arriving in the Caicos Bank is a wonderful experience. As soon as you come close to the entrance of channel, in our case the Sandbore Channel, the water color changes from dark blue to azure blue with clear visibility to the sandy bottom. However, before we went through the channel I wanted to empty the waste tank but the macerator pump tripped and seemed to be clogged. We had to empty the tank with a hand pump! Welcome to the life of a cruiser, no plumber available to do the dirty work. But everything is functioning again. This morning we had breakfast in the cockpit after a long night’s sleep, the sun is shining, we have a nice refreshing breeze from the north east, and the bay and the bank are beautiful. A nice reward for yesterday’s hard work.
Provo is a tourist destination with many resorts including Club Med on the north side of the island. This part of the island has beautiful beaches and calm water due to a reef system along the coast that protects the beaches from the Atlantic. This tourist flow has increased the cost of living on this island to an extreme level and most cruisers are just passing true. We will stay a couple of days before we continue on to the Dominican Republic.
We wish everybody a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2013 and we hope for ourselves that this retirement trip will give us all the things we have dreamed about.