Enroute to Provo
05 April 2011 | Sapodilla Bay, Provo, Turks & Caicos
Captain Chris, Sunny and Breezy
Troubadour's last sail (for a while, anyway) with the Bahamas courtesy flag flying.
As we waited for better weather conditions in Clarence Town, we were able to get in contact with Mr Pratt, who runs the propane truck (cell 472-8176). He drives the truck up and down Long Island making deliveries, and told us he would make it to Clarence Town around 4 PM. We took the dinghy in and waited at the marina bar, chatting with Barbara and Manfred from Balimara, until the truck rolled into the parking lot. A quick ten pound fill was $11, the same as in Georgetown from the truck, and cheaper than any of the drop-off/pick-up services we've used, usually around $20 a tank. The last item we had hoped to cross off the list in Georgetown done, yea!
Thursday, although the winds were predicted to remain steady at Force 5 (18-24 mph), we decided to head for Little Harbour to give us a shorter sail to Crooked Island on Friday. The winds were indeed strong and on the nose, so between reefing sails (making them smaller) giving us more leeway, and a contrary current, we made little headway and wound up motorsailing to the harbour, anchoring around 1 PM. We got in a nice snorkel, but alas, saw no lobster on this final day of lobster season. We removed the outboard from the dinghy and got ready for some ocean crossings, hopefully in light winds and seas as predicted. We could see the wind starting to die down in the evening, so that was a good sign.
Up early Friday morning, we motored out of the harbour into the sunrise and raised sails once the wind came up. We had a great close reach across the Crooked Island Passage and along the north coast of the island, arriving at Atwood Harbour around 5 PM. The entrance was straightforward, but the deepest water was littered with hard bottom and rock, so we had to adjust our anchorage to a slightly shallower area to the east for the anchor to hold in good sand. One other boat joined us for the night, and then left early in the morning, headed North.
We left around 9 AM, surrounded by clouds and light winds. We knew we weren't going to be sailing, but we also knew that the seas would be light. We got a few rain showers over the next couple of hours, but by mid-day we were off the Plana Cays and the wind started to fill in from the North so we raised the main, unrolled the jib and turned off the engine. We made great time for the first five or six hours when the current was with us, the sun was coming out, and life was good. I saw some commotion astern of us about the same time the hand line came out of the clothespin. Fish on! Linda scrambled to get the gaff and the bottle of vodka as I got on the orange gloves and pulled in the two foot + Mahi. He looked me in the eye, did a great tail walk alongside the boat, and threw the lure almost onto the deck as he took off. Oh well, although that was our first, I suppose there will be another time!
We did not make such great time once the current turned against us. Around 1 AM, with the wind veering more to the East than predicted and the current against us, we rolled the jib in and motorsailed to our waypoint off the Sandbore Channel. Good thing with current is: wait a few hours and it changes. It turned in the small hours, giving us a bit more speed as we beat into the wind and the building chop. The chop finally started dying as we got into the lee of Provo in early morning, and we were able to drop the main and motor into the channel (and directly into the rising sun) about 8 AM.
We deviated from the charted route a few times because I just have this superstition about driving over a + on the chart, like stepping on a crack. We anchored in Sapodilla Bay by nine. A lot of the area that we would have liked to anchor in was too shallow, so we picked a spot that was deep enough, where we felt we could get some protection from wind, and dropped the anchor.
Sapodilla Bay: There are a number of villas on cliffs overlooking the bay, with elaborate stairs coming down the limestone to the water's edge. The east end is sandy, and we can see jet ski rentals, although thankfully there aren't jet skis buzzing around the bay (yet). I was able to dinghy in on Monday and walk to the commercial port and clear customs in under an hour. I know we will be here longer than a week, so I paid $75 for a 90 day cruising permit in addition to the $15 customs fee.
There is a new liquor store and deli near the intersection of the main road and the dirt road leading to the beach, so I picked up a few beers to celebrate and came back aboard. The winds were already starting to pick up as predicted, and that was driving some chop in the anchorage so we stayed aboard for the evening, and will head into the Chalk Sound area for a hike and some sightseeing today.