Wednesday, March 5, 2008

June 2007- Leaving Emerald Bay for Turks N' Caicos

June 4th,2007-Leaving Emerald Bay for Turks N’ Caicos (Provo)

We have continued to wait for a good weather window to set sail for Provo and then on to Luperon. It looks like starting Monday June 4th the weather window will hold for approximately ten days.

We are following Bruce Van Sant’s excellent book “Passages South; The Thornless Path to Windward”.

We awoke Monday June 4th at 0600 hours after a restless night. For me I know it was anxiety of the night crossings that are coming up. By 0615 hrs. we are leaving the slip at Emerald Bay. Randy had “staged” us last night. (This is when we prepare everything the night before leaving minimal jobs for the morning).We had lashed down the dingy weeks ago in readiness for our trip.

It is a beautiful calm morning.

We put out our main and jib to try and increase our SOG (speed over ground). Because we seem to be making fairly good headway we have decided to go around the north end of Long Island (Cape Santa Maria) and head straight for Rum Cay. So far we have only seen one other boat. I actually made a notation in our diary that if I knew our upcoming night sailings would be so quiet of traffic I probably would not be so stressed. As we got closer to Rum Cay we decided we should go to the Marina for the night so we could fill up on fuel. We called the Dock master to guide us in as we had to go very close to a reef. I asked “Do we stay one hundred feet from your markers?”
He said, No, no, ten feet”. Slowly but surely we picked our way through. One hundred feet from the dock at the last marker we got stuck in the sand. Calling back to the dockmaster--
“We’re stuck, we’re stuck”
“You must draw more than six feet” he says.
“No, no” I replied, (our draft is five feet eight). “Can you come out and pull us off?”
“No, we have no boats”
Great! ‘We decided to put our dingy in the water to pull ourselves off. While we were making preparation to do this Randy reminded me the tide was still coming up, so we decided to wait for the tide. Fifteen minutes later we started to move.

Today, we had traveled 63 nautical miles.

Tuesday, June 5th.
Today we had to wait until 1030 hrs to make our departure to ensure we didn’t have a repeat of yesterdays grounding. We met Grant off of “40 Mile”. He actually followed us in to the Marina last night. He’s having engine trouble and has decided Rum Cay will be as far as he goes this year. He will head back to Florida after his repairs.

We’re on our way to Clarence Town which is approximately ¾ of the way down Long Island, 42 nautical miles. We took turns having naps. We had to motorsail the whole way as there wasn’t enough wind to shut the motor off. By 1900 hours we had the anchor set in 7 feet of water in between coral heads. N23*06.148 W74*57.155. We had a swim to cool off and Randy checked the keel which he said looked good. We’re the only boat anchored in the bay. The bay is beautiful. It’s amazing that we have the protection from the seas, yet we can watch and hear the breakers hitting the reef.

Wednesday, June 6th
0555 and we’re up and Randy is putting a jerry can of fuel into the boat. By 0635 the anchor is up, coffee is made and we’re on our way to Landrail Point, Crooked Island which is 38.2 nm away. I mentioned to Randy that I only heard the mast halyard a couple of times in the night. He just gave me that look….Of coarse it had woken him many times throughout the night, so we’ll go back to tying it to a granny rail when we’re anchored. We tried all day to just sail, however, we just can’t make enough progress and as I like to be anchored before dark we need to motor. Crossing the Crooked Island Passage the seas became steep and choppy. We saw a freighter about 5 miles off our port and two hours later the seas were full of plastic garbage. From the freighter???We can only guess.
As we got closer to Landrail Point we could see the mail boat dock and decided it was not safe enough to tie to in order to get fuel. Instead we anchored in 16 feet of sand in the company of three power boats. N22*49.30 W74*20.80. The bay is beautiful and clear, however, there is a constant surge. This is going to give us the opportunity to practice our swell bridle (instead of suffering the constant pounding on the stern). A swell bridle is when one uses another rope, attaching it to a cleat either mid ship or at the stern and then tie it onto the anchor chain. This technically should keep the boat facing into the swell for a more pleasurable anchorage.

We end up staying two nights (one full day) at Landrail Point. We dinghied to shore with three fuel cans and met a woman on a bicycle who directed us to a house for fuel. Randy knocked on the door. A woman came out and explained they hadn’t had any delivery of diesel for a while, but if we only needed fifteen gallons she would see what she could do. We left the jerry cans and went for a walk.

The roads are crawling with crabs. They are small, clear in color with dark eyes. When we walk towards them they scurry away and then abruptly turn around and do a little dance towards us, as if challenging us. We stopped at the Medical Clinic as the communication tower was in the back yard to see if there is any internet service. “Down right now” we’re told by the nurse. I continue to have problems with my hearing aids, particularly the right one. A battery will not even last a day. I have put the hearing aids in a special dry box to no avail. I also do not seem to have much of an appetite. It’s not that I’m just not hungry, I feel sick to my stomach.

Friday June 8th
0345 hours. The moon is up. We’ve started the engine.
0415 hours. Main is up, anchor up and we’re on our way, running at 1800 rpm (4.4 knots). We have two options for to-day depending on the wind, plus we’ll have to see how tired we get. It’s 50 nm to Plana Cays or 80 nm to Betsy Bay on Mayaguana. We both agree Betsy Bay is a little too far but we’ll see. I’m out in the dark ( actually our third night passage). A big step---I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Virtually no breeze and only a small swell. I know this is why Bruce Van Sant in his book says to travel at night.

Later in the day the winds and seas continue to hit us right on our nose along with a swell---motor- sailing is a must. YIPES!! I’ve been steering this past hour and somehow got us into 30 feet of water and off course. Brought in the jib and Rand is heading us further out to sea.

Randy says it to rough for me to heat up soup. Shall we have Yogurt?; or cold brown beans again??

We’ve been hammered by a huge squall and have really had to slog it. West Plana Cay is definitely our destination. We’ve lost at least 3 nm in our travels literally being forced backwards by the high winds.

Finally by 1830 hours our anchor’s down in 22.7 feet of water. We’ve had another 18 hour day; traveling at least 55 nm and we are exhausted.

Saturday June 9th.

We have decided to spend the day at West Plana Cay. We’re just too tired and the beach is absolutely beautiful. We beach-combed and swam.. A great day! Two sailboats came into the anchorage in the late afternoon.

Sunday June 10th.

0700 hours and we’re on our way. By 0800 hours the sails are up and the motor is off. Our destination is Betsy Bay on Mayaguana Cay. We managed to sail most of the way. By 1630 hours our anchor is down. Randy had to do this manually, (the electric down switch has broke). There is one other boat in this anchorage. The boat’s name is Enterprise.

Monday June 11th.

We decide to take advantage of the good weather so at 0745 we’re on our way to Southeast Point. This is where Bruce Van Sant recommends “staging” for a midnight cruise to Provo, Turks and Caicos. We are having to motor sail as there is not enough wind. However, the seas are very calm so our SOG (speed over ground) has improved. We notice the sailboat from last night is following us. By 1430 we’re anchored in 17.3 feet of sand and “Enterprise” has just made contact with us. They too are heading to Provo.

Tuesday June 12th to Wed. June 13th.

We’ve decided to leave at midnight for our crossing to Provo. At 2300 hours we sat at anchor listening and watching a lightening storm. We have decided along with the Enterprise crew that when we get into the Caicos Passage and if we don’t like the weather conditions we will turn around. Enterprise is off our starboard. I must admit I feel so much more at ease knowing there is one more boat out here with us. By 0700 Wed. we’re off Provo. From Mayaguana to Provo, which is 35 nm, it took us 7 hours. However, the last 9 nm into Sapadillo Bay took us 3 hours, picking our way through coral heads, me on the bow. When we finally get anchored we have 5 feet of water under the keel.

Randy went and picked Ron up off Enterprise so we could all clear customs. I had a wonderful swim to cool off. When Randy returned to the boat we were so excited to be in Provo and we wanted everyone at home to know we made it safely so we decided to walk to town….BIG MISTAKE….Town ended up being at least 7 miles and walking in the incredible heat was exhausting so we decided to hitch hike. The guy that picked us up said his car was a cab----maybe everyone is a cab driver? Anyways, he took us to a restaurant as we were hungry. We decided in order to get fuel, provisions, and to find an internet server we should rent a car for a day. We actually found many of the locals not to be too friendly. We would try and ask them a question and they would ignore us. Looking back we could of rented the car for two days and probably have seen more of the island, however, we knew we had to take advantage of the weather window (due to our past experiences) so we decided just to relax for a day and then cross the Bank heading for Big Ambergris.

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