Saturday, March 19, 2016

Back To The East Caribbean We Go...!

Back to the East Caribbean. That's the decision we have made as to where we will spend next hurricane season. It's not been an easy decision to make, not least because of finances but also because of our very indecisive minds with so many places we wish to go and so many factors to consider. We hope to curve our spending habit in the islands after the temptations of the USA. And we are ready for some Island time  - something we have missed while traveling in the United States.And of course, we are looking forward to seeing old friends again too. We would have loved to have spent more time in the Bahamas but with our route now firmly decided (We hope!), it's time to press on. 

Our route from George Town, Great Exuma via, Long Island, Rum Cay and Mayaguana to Sapadillo Bay, Turks and Caicos.
Sailing the 'thorny path' as it is known is not easy. Our journey is directly east into the trade winds. We will inch our way along trying to gain as much east as we can while travelling south, Island hoping as we go.  It sounds easy but a lot of planning goes into where and when and how we will get there. Taking into to consideration what weather we will get, future weather to come, distances we can cover, coral banks we have to cross - needing good day light etc. It will be hard on the wind all the way. My least favourite point of sail!

Saying goodbye to all our good friends in George Town.
We Left Georgetown saying farewells to all our good friends and sailed to the gorgeous Calabash Bay in Long Island. We have met some other boats along the way, who are sailing in the same direction and we loosely tag along together, sharing plans, weather and beers.
The beautiful Calabash Bay at the north end of Long Island.
From Long Island we motored along with 'Exit Stage Left' who have been our companion for the duration so far, to spend a night at Rum Cay - a place I would love to spend more time getting to know but with the rolly anchorage and good weather to press on, we did.
With coral reefs dotted about the anchorage - Rum Cay was a good place to snorkel.
 It was an overnight sail to Mayaguana. One that at first looked like a motor but indeed turned out to be one of those rare, balmy sails with a gentle 10-15kts breeze on a beam reach and a starry sky. We caught two skipjack tunas along the way and entered Abraham's Bay with a morning sun high in the sky so we could see the coral heads as we made our way in. 
A flat calm motor turned into a lovely sail catching a couple of fish along the way.
We spent two nights in Mayaguana the southeastern most Island in the Bahamas before we left for a hard on the wind night sail to Turks and Caicos.
Bye Bye beautiful blue Bahamas - we will miss you.
Seven or eight boats arrived in all to the small anchorage at Sapadillo Bay, Provodencial, the northwestern Island in the Turks and Caicos group. The fee at customs and immigration to stay a week or less is $100 or an extra $300 if you stay longer. Which makes our 3 day stay here an expensive one. We cleared customs and immigration at the dusty commercial port where we spent two hours with all the other boat crews' first waiting for the officers to turn up and then the painfully slow process of filling in the simple immigration forms, all whilst being sleep deprived from the night before. 
Arriving as the sun rises in the Sand Bore Channel to Turks and Caicos and some scenery around the pretty beach.
Except for a beach with a few private villas or small hotels dotted along there is nothing but a dusty road in Sapadillo Bay. It is notoriously expensive here. Sim popped into the petrol station down the road where a tin of corn beef costs $8! So what are a group of thirsty sailors recovering from a night sail supposed to do when they have finished their clearence procedures? Why meet on the beach with our own beers for sundowners of course.
The crews of Exit Stage Left, Pepper, Eureka, Aqua Vida, Sailacious, Vagabond and ourselves. 
We have two more days here, then Monday we will motor across the Caicos banks to put ourselves in a better position to sail on to the Dominican Republic before a strong front arrives on Tuesday afternoon.

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