Welcome back, Boatblog ® fans,
Yes, as I write this, we are about fifty miles inside the infamous Bermuda Tria
Ha ha. Just our little joke. We’re still here really.
But we have put in lot of nautical miles since our last dispatch from The Caribbean. To remind you, when we last blogged, we were on the east coast of Puerto Rico. From there we headed south, and mooched along the coast calling in at such places as Patilles and Salinas. Unfortunately the main anchorage at Salinas was too shallow for us to get in, so we had to stay outside.
Which was probably nicer anyway, because as you can see the main anchorage was pretty full. Then it was on to Ponce (fortunately pronounced Ponc-ay) and after that Gilligan’s Island – named after the old television series that Ju claims he is too young to remember.
Gilligan’s Island is mangrove heaven!
…because unlike most mangrovey places it is not a mud swamp, but set in beautiful clear water.
Then round to Boqueron on the west coast, which was to be our staging post for the much feared Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Over here the Mona Passage, with it’s dreaded Hourglass Shoal, has a similar reputation as the Bay of Biscay in Europe, so we waited for a time when the weather looked like it was going to be reasonably calm, or as us mariners call it, “a decent weather window.” We swapped notes at a very nice meal with fellow sailors Bruce and Susan of Libby Lou, before setting off at first light, not sure quite what to expect.
As it happened, it wasn’t as bad as everyone had said.
In fact, we’d waited for such a calm period, that there was no wind at all and we had to motor across.
Even Sir Ben Ainslie wouldn’t go too fast in this.
Then it was along the northern coast of The Dominican Republic. We didn’t call in because rumour has it that the Customs and Immigration formalities there make you feel like a Romanian arriving in Thanet, so our next stop was Big Sand Cay in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Big Sand Cay really is the typical Robinson Crusoe island. No people, silver sand, and just one footprint on the beach. The water was crystal clear, and Ju used the opportunity to go snorkelling and scrape the barnacles and weed off the bottom of the boat. Till he saw a giant barracuda watching him. Just sat there, lurking. Waiting for an opportunity to pounce. The scraping can be done later.
Then on to Grand Turk a few miles further north. We know it sounds boring, but this was another beautiful tropical island. At least this one had some houses and people, so it felt like a major metropolis after Big Sand Cay. We went for our internet fix to a little bar called The Osprey, which was lovely…
…except that when you looked a bit closer, all the chairs legs were in children’s old shoes.
Next day it was on to Providenciales, still in The Turks and Caicos.
Provo – as it’s known to it’s friends – is fantastic. The marina was like a 5* resort, and with prices to match, but worth it.
VIEW FROM THE MARINA OFFICE
We re-fuelled up here for our next leg, as did this boat.
It took them four hours to fill, and cost just over $30,000.
Yes – THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!
Just one more reason that we sail.
We did see one other boat in Provo that we were almost tempted to get,
…but in the end we settled for a glass of Moet Ice.
That’s one seriously big glass of champagne.
A friend of ours that we met on the ARC, Eric Letton of Time Bandit and brother of Stuart Letton (yes – the very same – he skippered Domini to victory in the Heineken Regatta) had told us that one of his close friends lived on the Turks & Caicos, and sent us a photo of him incase we should bump into him. Which was pretty unlikely as it’s a pretty big collection of islands, but who knows…
Well – you’ll never guess what…
JU, JIM, LYN & LYNNE
Now those of you that know Lyn will not be surprised to discover that she was in the Nespresso coffee capsule shop. And those of you who know Jim will not be surprised to discover that he was in the fancy wine shop.
But what sort of a co-incidence is it that the Nespresso CoffeeCapsule shop and the fancy wine shop are one and the same!
Anyway, Jim and Lynne invited us to their new “condo” (which they’d moved in to just the day before) for a barbecue. We took a bottle of champagne as a house warming present, and Jim and Lynne managed the most extraordinary piece of juggling we have ever seen. When Lynne popped the cork it shot out like a ballistic missile, and the shock of nearly losing her eye caused her to drop the bottle. This then landed upside down on the floor where the champagne, which was now spurting furiously out of the neck made it shoot up in the air like Apollo 11. Jim, with the sort of lightening reflex normally seen only in the slips at Lord’s, managed to catch it as it went hurtling towards the mirror, before nonchalantly filing a glass with what was left of the champagne. If only they could repeat it, I’d enter them for Britain’s Got Talent.
We had a great evening. It turns out that Jim is Chief of Police on the islands, and used to be very high up in the London Met. His ‘manor’ included Acton – it’s a small world. We are pleased that neither of us were known to the police during his watch, because that would have been just embarrassing.
Next it was the big leap. We planned to cross direct from the Turks & Caicos to Norfolk, Virginia in the good ole U.S. of A, but unfortunately a Tropical Storm started off the coast of North Carolina. Not quite a hurricane, but big enough to get a name – Ana. So we had to wait and make our way up through The Bahamas instead. Which is not exactly terrible!
The first stop was Rum Cay, which was picture perfect, but contained a hidden menace.
And millions of them. You’d look at your leg and there would be about twenty of them all feasting on the back of your knee. We only saw one person on the island. The mosquitos have eaten all the rest.
We anchored as for off as we could, and left before they found us.
Next, it was Cat Island…
FERNANDEZ BAY, CAT ISLAND
We do seem to have rather a lot of pictures of Domini, as seen from the bar.
And then on to Marsh Harbour, and there was now a weather window to get us round Cape Hatteras, which is what we are doing right now.
Just time for some arty farty photos from our collection.
The water is so clear and deep us you come up to Turks & Caicos that you can see the light dancing in the depths. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it gives you some sort of an idea.
Avast! Enough blogging for one day.
Next time you hear from us we will have discovered America. We will try to introduce them to civilisation.
Bye for now
Ju & Lyn