Saturday morning we said fond farewells to South Side Marina, Provodenciales, and motored out the 18 miles across the pristine waters of the Caicos banks to the coast of West Caicos, taking the opportunity to make some water along the way.
We had heard about the large development – Russian cash allegedly – that had been stalled part-way through and was surprised at its size. Rumour has it that Putin has frozen the owner’s bank account as it may be from ill-gotten gains…. so unlikely that it will ever be finished. Shame because it looks beautiful. As we cleared the shallows into the deep coming off the banks Rocking B passed us under sail.
Along the coast there are dive mooring balls that we are allowed to use overnight – as anchoring is prohibited in this area – so picked one up and decided to go snorkelling. Not much to see in this sparkling clear water – clearly the dive spot is behind us into the blue – but we came across a couple of cute critters hiding in the soft coral-encrusted rock.
Coming back to Morphie we checked on our mooring ball rig and were not impressed by the frayed rope which looks like it has been propped – so quickly we got back on board and moved to another one.
After an early dinner we headed over for sundowners on board Rocking B – chatted to Ken and Margaret and had cuddles with their two dogs…… We watched in awe the formation of an impressive water spout out at sea behind us – not sure we would have been quite so laid back had it been coming our way!!!!
Sunday morning at 6 am we slipped away from our mooring ball under a moonlit sky into the deep water for the passage across to Mayaguana, our first Bahamian island.
We started out with reefed sails and watched the spectacular sunrise……
The seas weren’t too big and the wind wasn’t too strong so we quickly shook out our reefs and enjoyed our first beam reach under full sails for a while… Absolutely lovely! 52 miles later we entered Abrahams Bay. This is a huge anchorage behind a reef but, as you can see from the chart extract it needs careful eyeball navigation.
As we didn’t get there until almost 3pm we decided to just go in enough to get shelter and anchor in soft sand. The anchor dug in straight away and we enjoyed the view – fantastic.
We had a quiet night on board listening to the wind howling through our rigging and watching the sun going down. Sunset is much later now and it doesn’t get dark until about 7.30 pm which is nice……
Monday morning we picked up our anchor and worked our way through the rocks, coral bombies and shallows to get closer to the settlement. Of course, closer is relative – we still had about a mile to dinghy in – but we were happy….
We dropped dink and followed the markers to the Government dock which actually almost dries at low tide. We tied up dink and admired the view out to the anchorage and across to the bonefish flats….
Then we wandered the hot and dusty sand road into the settlement – to find, as expected, the customs and immigration were shut because of Easter. But the friendly locals all told us it was relaxed here and we could wander without being cleared in if we wanted to. Well we did – so we found a local store and bought bread – and then the local hostelry where we enjoyed our first Bahamiam brew Bush Crack. Not sure about the name – although the taste wasn’t too bad LOL.
While in the bar we were chatting to Lloyd and he said there was good diving here – we were excited until we realised he meant free diving. Errrrr…..don’t think that is for us – thanks, but no thanks!!!! After a while chatting we headed back to Morphie for another quiet night – and spectacular sunset – on board.
Tuesday morning and we were up and back in town to get checked in.
Because of the Easter holidays the queue was long – this office is the Post Office, the Customs / Immigration / the magistrates court and just about anything else Governmental that you can think of. So it was pretty busy – particularly with people wanting to cash cheques. We got our forms – started filling them in (using carbon paper) – and admired the respect that everyone has for each other…. Good morning “Mrs B” etc… Finally we were legal – with cruising and fishing permit in hand – and we wandered off again, this time finding another convenience store which sold Ginger Nut biscuits and fresh potatoes and cabbage. Nice…. Everyone is so friendly here – we stopped and chatted to many locals along the way. We finally ended up in the Batelco office – the Bahamas telephone company – as we need to sort out internet access while we are in the remote areas to be able to stay in touch. Unfortunately Audrey was sick – too much partying at Easter?!? – so we were asked to come back another day. No worries – we headed out through the shallow dinghy track back to Morphie.
We got back on board – raised our Bahamas courtesy flag – and decided to snorkel around the boat in the afternoon. It is all sand with nothing to see apart from the odd conch – but we did have some fun in the water. Check out the photos and see how shallow and clear it all is…….. Another quiet night on board with fresh veggies! Yum….
Wednesday morning and we returned to Batelco – unfortunately Audrey was still sick. So we decided to head back to Morphie and leave Mayaguana – destination Clarence Town on Long Island. We passage planned – made food – and were underway by 11.50 am having found that my lifejacket had fallen apart whilst being stored – not good!!! So Richard and I are going to have to share his for the night passage when doing shifts – not ideal – we do have others on board but we don’t like them although they would be adequate in an emergency. Looks like another thing to add for the list for when we get to Florida….
We said goodbye to the shallow anchorage, ran alongside the coast of Mayaguana under full genoa downwind – we even gybed to follow our rhumb line – and then, of course, the wind shifted and we ended up beating into it! Oh well – never mind. We pulled out the main and got on with it – then after about two hours the wind clocked again – and we are now on a beam reach…. Unfortunately the wind is a little light at only 10 knots so we have slowed down – but hey we are having fun so who cares?!?
The sun went down – another great sunset at sea – and was very dark until the moon came up later.
We had some usual night traffic – one tug, one cruiseship and one tanker this time…. We left Plana Cays, Acklins Island and Crooked Island to port and continued on into the morning….. At 2.20 pm – on Thursday afternoon – after a 127 mile passage, we dropped our anchor behind Strachan Cay and opposite Clarence Town. Beautiful anchorage…..
After getting ourselves cleaned up we headed into Flying Fish Marina to enquire about laundry, taxis into Deadmans Cay, internet access etc. They weren’t particularly helpful as we are not marina guests. We then wandered to the marina’s restaurant where we had a couple of beers and an early supper whilst we caught up using their internet. While we were sitting there a big fishing boat came in and started to cut up the catch – and throwing the remains into the water – obviously a regular thing as the sharks were waiting for the feeding to start….
We headed back to Morphie and had a very early night to catch up on our sleep after our overnight passage.
This morning – Friday – I got up early to blog while Richard cleaned salt off the rail….. Later on we are heading into town to see if we can get a hire car to do a bit of exploring – and to visit the ‘flagship’ BTC store to sort out internet access….. Fingers crossed.
Bye for now