South Caicos, Turks & Caicos
21 29.5N 71 32.2W
Well my predictions of the DR were a bit optimistic, after a week in the lagoon at Mayaguana with 20-30 knots of wind blowing over us from directly where we wanted to go, we finally got a weather window to go to the Turks & Caicos last Saturday.
We left in company with a few other boats and after a promising start, bashing into some large seas but at least pointing the right way, a succession of squalls came to get us, meaning we had 25 knots of wind from right in front and rain! After an hour we turned around sailed back and licked our wounds, our friends on L'Aventura did likewise. Three others continued, two arriving 20 hours later (it should take 10 hours in good conditions) and one of them running onto a reef on the north side of the Turks & Caicos in the dark the following morning - so we felt we made a good decision!
The next day we tried again, leaving at 0400 in the dark, the wind was still on the nose and the seas still a bit lumpy but it was lighter than yesterday. We sailed all day, banging off waves, with streams of water pouring all over the deck and occasionally slamming into the dodger, and finally arrived at West Caicos island at 1530, very relieved nothing had broken but covered from head to toe in salt! Going to windward in the ocean is never fun, and for 60 odd miles it is even less so. Heeled hard over it is like gravity has doubled, and everything takes 5 times as long - just making a cup of tea becomes an endurance contest. It again showed how lucky we were on the leg to Mayaguana.
Having covered off the low points, the high point of the trip was seeing a huge male hump back whale, he crossed about 300 feet in front of us, putting on an impressive display of fin slapping as he went past.
The next day we motored round to Providenciales, cleared customs and sat down for a rest! We spent the next day exploring Provo, not a lot to see really, but we had a fun trip to town. We saw our first real fruit and veg for 2 months in the supermarket, so bought vast quantities to gorge on. The Bahamas are strange, nobody grows food, most people living on government hand outs, so what shops there are have a small selection of mouldy/over ripe tomatoes and bananas if you are lucky and the mail boat came in recently! We can't wait for the Caribbean and some markets!
The next day was a long motor across the Caicos bank, 3m deep if you are lucky and scattered with coral heads. As the boat draws 2.3m it was a stressful day, Keir from L'Aventura joined us as an extra pair of eyes and the 2 boats took turns being in front to relieve some of the stress, we still had to keep eyes open for coral standing on the bow getting soaked, but at least knew we wouldn't run aground on the sand. So 12 more hours of motoring into chop and covering us, the boat and everything we own in salt and then finally we were safely here.
We are waiting for an amazing weather window that starts tomorrow, which will hopefully mean we can go straight through to Puerto Rico, its around 350 miles and we will probably have to motor most of it, but hopefully not have to bash the boat to pieces getting there.