Monday, January 23, 2012

Seasoned Sailors



We finally did an overnight trip – adventurous sailors us!  We left Rum Cay at 4 am, travelled past Samana Cay and the sun set just before we got to Plana Cay which is near Acklins and Crooked Island.  Bumpy used to tell us he was going to work for a contractor who was commissioned to shorten Long Island and straighten Crooked Island.  
We had decided to motor-sail because the winds were forecast to be light and variable.  Well – so much for forecasts.  The wind was blowing 15 to 20 from the southwest – which is kind of like saying that water runs uphill.  We motor-sailed through that for 4 or 5 hours at crazy speeds up to 7 knots.  Then the “light and variable” came – for about an hour – and it was east north east winds for the rest of the trip – again at 15 to 20 – and we went even faster.  We saw speeds over 9 as we coasted down waves.  
Pam went to bed at about 8 pm, ready to take over the helm at 11 pm.  The watch time passed quickly enough.  The darkness is overwhelming – you can hear the sea but you can’t look out at it.  The starts are amazing – we took off the interconnect cover so we could look up into the sea of stars.  Quite overwhelming and humbling.
Pam stayed alert, looking for hazards, thinking about ways to find world peace and her next basket project.  Glen napped.  At the 2 am watch change, before she went below, Pam said that travelling at these speeds were going to get us to landfall before sunrise – not good.  So we turned off the engine and sailed at 6+ knots for the rest of the night.  Just after the sun came up we hit a squall.  Or the squall hit us.  Unfortunately for Pam, Glen was off watch so Pam had to reef the main and bring in a good bit of the jib – or wake up Glen.
We arrived at Turks and Caicos with buddy boats, Serenity, Falcon’s Nest and Vagabond and landed at a partially built marina on West Caicos to rest and recover.  We dropped the anchor at about 8 am.  Glen made an omelet to die for and we washed it down with champagne.  We look for any excuse to drink champagne and this seemed like a good one.  You can’t say, “We’ve been drinking all day” if you don’t start in the morning.
After a lovely nap, we pulled ourselves together, restarted Yan Diesel and headed over to Sapodilla Bay on Providenciales – we seasoned sailors call it Provo.  
This guy missed a turn - we are off in the distance
We cleared customs and immediately started to check the weather for our next leg.  Checking in with customs on Friday meant we couldn’t check out until Monday – so we looked into weekend activities. 
On Saturday we dinghied up to a marina run by a local character who does a cruisers net at 7:30 am.  He sounded knowledgeable and fascinating so it was a required trip.  We didn’t count on the wind and waves and so the 4-mile trip ended up taking an hour.  Bumpy, wet, ugly and memorable.
At South Side Marina we met the sonorous, erudite, London-voiced Simon, who knows everything and makes you feel so very much at home.  We bought diesel and gas and as we were hanging around he mentioned a group were headed to Da Conch Shack for lunch and would we like to join them?  Would we???  
Lunch!

Some of our cruising buddies from Serenity, Bound For Glory and a couple of others

Our coach

So we loaded into the back of a pickup truck and careered across the island anticipating the perfect lunch.  Lunch was fabulous.  We had rum punches, beers and every variety of fish known to man.  Glen had a panic attack when he learned that it ended up being a group bill and he could have choked down several more beers on someone else’s tab.
Back to the dinghy for another bumpy ride home – turkey burgers, crib and off to a glorious sleep.
After several morning visits from other cruisers, we set off for Las Brisas – a local bar/restaurant.  Spend a couple of hours with folks over a lovely lunch.  Glen and fellow cruiser, Bruce left to acquire a rental car so that we could tour the island the next day.  After a trip to the local – amazingly fresh vegetables – IGA we headed back to the Blue Pearl for conch salad and grilled cheese sandwiches.  What a dinner!
Art shot from Las Brisas

Woo hoo - fresh produce from the IGA

Conch salad - can't find our own so get them from the IGA

Master Conch Salad chef

We used our car to look for a dinghy propellor for Serenity and travelled from one end of the island to the other.  Our friend, Colleen, has a connection with Sandals/Beaches which she used to get us an impromptu tour of the resort here.  Very cool - family oriented.  We zoomed around for lunch, went to customs to clear out and then returned the car.  Had a dip in the pool at Las Brisas and then headed back to Serenity for Sundowners.

Tomorrow we head from here to Ambergris Cay - across the banks.  On Wednesday we stage to Big Sand Cay in the morning and prep for an overnight trip to the Dominican Republic.  Luperon sounds funky and cool - but we will try for Puerto Plata which is 15 miles further east along the DR coast.  Our objective is Puerto Rico so we can't dally - tempted as we are.  Cruisers coming north have told us heart warming stories about the DR but we will only be spending a bit of time there.  Maybe next year!

We will be using our SPOT locator as we move so if you are interested you can follow us along our way. 

Blue Hole - very deep and scary

Another art shot

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