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Passage-making: On to the Turks and Caicos!

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Long Island, The Bahamas to Sapodilla Bay, Turks and Caicos (via Mayaguana, The Bahamas) //


On Monday, February 4 we departed Calabash Bay in Long Island and began heading toward Rum Cay. As we rounded the north end of Long Island, however, we noticed we had a steady NE wind to help us get to Mayaguana, perhaps further East.

We decided then and there to forgo our stop at Rum Cay and continued sailing on. We wanted to take advantage and ride a weather system passing through to get as far as we could before the trades returned to their typical E-SE direction. Additionally, seeing that we had not done more than 30-something hours at sea until this point, a two-day passage was certainly a welcome challenge. I can’t speak for Tom — I was certainly a bit nervous — but ultimately super excited to take it to the next level.

We ended up having a great sailing day, completed our night shifts without issues. By Tuesday morning we could see Samana Cay off our stern. We continued on toward Mayaguana with an arrival planned for dinnertime and just enough time for a quick nap before continuing on on the second overnight.

As we rounded Devil’s Point on the southwest corner of Mayaguana we decided to put out our fishing lines and see if we could catch dinner. No surprise here if you’ve been following our blog: we of course caught barracudas and subsequently let them free — sigh. We pretty much sailed into Starter Bay from there, and we were pleasantly surprised, yet again, to find excellent protection from the winds and swell. I quickly got dinner underway since we were very much looking forward to our nap and Tom decided to put out a few lures off the side of the boat in the meantime.

As we were wrapping up dinner inside the cabin we heard a splash outside. Lo and behold we had caught our first edible (or so it looked) fish! After some research on the internets (aside from comparing it to our fish identification card) it looked like we had caught a horse-eyed jack. Unfortunately (or probably fortunately — you be the judge), we quickly found out through other sailing blogs that reef fish in Mayaguana, particularly on the southern coast, tend to carry the ciguatera disease. Little Jackie, as I named her (yes, it‘s always a her), was sadly already filleted at this point. We concluded our research and decided without hesitation, but maybe a little bit of guilt, to throw the poor remains back into the water. We certainly were not about to compromise the rest of our trip with what could be an awful disease.

Fish tacos on this trip so far: still zero 😒

After all the commotion, we were ready for a nap. I woke up diligently around 10pm to get ready but Tom had a harder time. We were committed either way to continue moving since the forecast still looked good: NE winds at around 15 knots... This meant dream sailing conditions given our heading. Right close to midnight, we pulled our anchor and began motoring until we were able to put our sails up. As the evening went on we eventually left the Southeast side of Mayaguana behind and came into the Caicos Passage. From there on things started to get rowdy with both the seas and winds beginning to build.

We began to experience +25 knot wind gusts and immediately reefed the sails. We then let Mr. Fleming take over the wheel which allowed us manage the sails better from the cockpit. Naturally (take this with a bit of sarcasm), conditions started getting rougher, and feeling a little queasines, I ended up having to take some Dramamine. Even though matters didn’t get worse for me (I was completely knocked out/happily asleep for the next 6 hours) conditions did get worse for Tom, as at least five rain squalls passed over us during the early hours of the morning. The rain squalls brought heavy winds and heavy swell with them each time they passed. But thanks to Mr. Fleming, who handled conditions spectacularly, Tom was able to easily tend to the sails as conditions changed.

By 9am and more or less recovered, I was able to come up to the cockpit and help Tom. We were by then approaching the Sandborne Channel, a western point of entry into of the shallow banks of the Turks and Caicos and into the main island of Providenciales — or Provo, as the locals call it. The sky was just beginning to clear up but we still had a strong swell to contend with as we entered the channel. Nevertheless, we motor-sailed right through with our mainsail up. By lunchtime we were thankfully anchored at Sapodilla Bay with our raised quarantine flag, and given that we were t hailed by the Provo Radio, we decided to take care of customs after a much needed nap.

Sunset arriving to Mayaguana

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