At last the winds died down and we made a plan to set sail. The French yachts had left a few days previously as they were heading down to Cuba and the winds were favourable. Being in Clarence Town for a week, we had got to know some people including a French/Canadian couple on a yacht called Cape Crusader. We agreed to sail along with them as they were heading in the same direction with roughly the same plan.
The trip down to the island of Mayaguana, a desolate island at the Southern tip of the Bahamas, was made with good progress, however it was incredibly windy and the seas were quite big. It was not a comfortable trip. We had separated from Cape Crusader during the night but we spotted them near the island and radioed that we were going to rest for a few hours before heading overnight to the Turks and Caicos Islands. They anchored close by and we made some dinner before putting our heads down for a few hours. There was such a swell coming in that the boat pitched from side to side sending us into the wall of the boat or squashed up against the lee cloths. After a few futile hours we decided to get up and head off as none of us had got any sleep.
Soon after leaving the island we could see a squall coming in. We reefed in the sails and had a few dramatic instances when the winds would pick up to around 40 knots. It took all our strength to hold the yacht on course. We managed to sail alongside Cape Crusader for a while, but then they tacked off as they had decided to try and not stop in the Turks.
The whole night was squally, wet and miserable. We were in full wet weather gear and as the yacht has not bimini for protection we were doused in water continually.
We entered into the Sandborne Channel outside of Provodenciales, the main island of the Turks and Caicos and headed for Sapodilla Bay to anchor for the night and check in.
We took the dinghy around the headland to the dock area and Ben processed us with immigration, paying a lot less than anticipated on the understanding that we would leave the country within 2 days.
None of us had slept for over 36 hours so as we left Emma on the boat myself and Ben went to the beach for some rest and recuperation.
The next day we were up with the sun to head across the Caicos Bank to get to Big Ambergris Cay before the sun got too low in the sky. We were on the look out for boulders of rock and coral lurking in the shallow waters. Throughout the day two of us would have to go to the bow of the boat to direct the helms person on a route through the boulders. As the water is so clear it was very difficult to see how high the boulders rose, so it felt like we were skimming the top of them when in fact they were quite deep below us. When the wind picked up later in the day the job became more difficult as we could only see black images under the turbulent water above. It was an uncomfortable journey as the wind picked up the shallow sea very quickly making it very choppy and a wet experience for all. We arrived early afternoon and anchored in only 4 feet of water.
We continued, the following day on through the Middle Cut to Big Sand Cay which was absolutely breath taking. After the amazing waters of the Bahamas I didn’t think the sea could possibly look any more inviting, but the waters of Big Sand Cay were the most azure, crystal waters I had seen and all I wanted to do was dive in with the fish. Unfortunately this was just a pit stop to refuel the boat and ourselves before heading across the North Atlantic ocean to the North coast of the Dominican Republic.
Again it was another night of strong winds, big seas and being showered over the deck by big waves.
I was on deck and I knew I had to unclip my harness and go down below to write the log, but the waves were coming over the deck and I didn’t want the other crew to get wet when I opened the hatch. I waited and there seemed to be a lull in the wind and waves so I made a dash for it. As I opened the companion way hatch a rogue wave came from nowhere and gushed down into the boat. I shouldn’t have bothered trying to time my visit, as in the case of Sod’s Law, anytime would have been the wrong time.
It was a long, hard, wet night at sea but we made good progress and had sight of land around 2am. We didn’t want to enter the river that would take us into the town of Luperon until it was light so we slowed down and had to wait a mile or so off the island until sun up. The waves were crashing on either side of the channel but we negotiated out way through and continued along the estuary where there were many yachts moored, some looking like they had been here for quite some time.
We spent a few days in Luperon, re-stocking the boat and re-charging our own batteries. The actual town was pretty run down and pretty basic with goats roaming around and women doing their laundry and washing their children in the street. We caught up with the couple from CapeCrusader who we had last send heading off from Mayaguana. They had hit the north coast of Dominican further West and had spent a few days sailing along the coast and doing a few of the tourist sites. We still had a long way to go and Emma was still running out of time so we were not going to do any site seeing, even though I would have loved to.