Turks & Caicos – Week 1

February 27, 2023

Our visit to the Bahamas was a lot faster and less fun than expected. The winds were persistent and just strong enough to prevent a lot of movement on the east side of the Exumas.

In earlier posts I reviewed the path to the Acklins. On February 14th we moved from Castle Point to Mayaguana in what turned out to be a pretty good day on the water. The weather was settled and we had a following current. It was probably the best day we have experienced at sea since leaving Florida.

That journey got us to Mayaguana in the late afternoon, which was good because the charts say “E.N.A” or ‘Eye Navigation Areas. Settled weather and good light required for this entrance’. We are definitely in virgin territory and while these places have good charts and some local resources, our ignorance of the waters mean there is uncertainty in choosing our path.

The entrance is not a problem at all, the path through the reef was not overly difficult, but I did use Jinhee as a spotter on the bow, and we anchored in the ‘harbour’ before the sun went down. We were one of three boats, with the other two being catamarans.

And then the wind started again. And it blew. Then it subsided for sunset most evenings, but when the sun rose, it blew and so the days continued. There were a few changes to the boats in the harbour, but we decided to just hang out, play cards, work on boat projects and enjoy the night sky. Wow! There are almost no lights on Mayaguana and the night sky is exceptional, particularly because we were there during the new moon.

The harbour was very bumpy with winds coming from the East and ESE and we opted to stay aboard, not even launching the dinghy. That made us, perhaps, a little anti-social, but we did have a very nice 80′ schooner anchored beside us (S/V Ambergris; you can find out more by clicking here). Although we didn’t get to spend time with the owners, we both got some nice pictures of each other’s boats. Their picture of Home Free is the featured photo.

S/V Ambergris
Home Free – The Pot of Gold

On February 20th, the weather settled and we pulled up anchor. For six days we debated how to leave the harbour. There are two entrances, and one is four nm west of where we anchored, the other was right in front of us, but the water was ‘skinny’ at about 6′ at low water and warnings about shoaling. I put on my captain hat and made a last minute decision to trust the charts, take advantage of high tide and take the skinny water. As you noted, this post is titled ‘Turks and Caicos – Week One’ so there was no problem getting through the skinny water. We saved at least two hours of travel time to the Turks and Caicos.

Anchored at the red circle, we took the ‘NOT’ easy exit to save two hours

The weather was settled, but waves were still 4-5 feet for much of the run and unlike the path to Mayaguana from Acklins, the current was not our friend on this trip, but we still made it to the dock by 4pm and were tied up to a dock for the first time in over four weeks.

I will post again soon with some drone shots of Home Free docked at the marina (Blue Haven Marina), but it is a lovely place and well run. The tour boats are a bit noisy and aren’t too worried about their wake, but the docks are amazing and the staff very friendly and helpful. We have access to the facilities of the resort and it is like being spoiled after four weeks at anchor.

Part of the reason for the ‘rush’ to Turks and Caicos was to received guests, and we are very happy to have Andrew aboard for the better part of a week along with his girlfriend Isabella. We are enjoying some outings on the island and on the water.

The ladies posing at Bugaloo’s (the original at five cays) where we stopped for lunch
Andrew and Isabella snorkeling on Smith’s Reef
Turtles and Rays were completely unworried about our presence while snorkeling
Rays zooming past

Our first week hasn’t been without it’s challenges too. The ‘selector dial’ on our dryer decided it was finished being told what to do. With the help of a dock neighbour, the repair was undertaken and after three or four hours and about 25 cents worth of epoxy, the laundry was being completed again.

Of course we took the opportunity to clean the hoses, clean the cabinet and generally make things better.

The next challenge was self-inflicted. After a few rides on the dinghy, the dinghy failed to start and I diagnosed things perfectly well. The problem appeared to be electrical, and as I worked my way through the dinghy’s systems I found myself disassembling the engine control unit. It was a fun way to spend a few hours (taking it apart and putting it back together), but the problem was really in the first place that I looked and was the obvious cause. The battery cable wasn’t tightened properly when I last returned to the boat. I hand tightened it and after being bumped around for a month or so, it decided to call my bluff. The dinghy is fine and since everyone is being so polite, I don’t have to feel like an idiot for not catching it on my first run through (yes, I checked!).

Incidentally, I did find out that the install of the throttle assembly was not so well done and made that better. Funny enough, I needed three 2″ x 1/4″ bolts and nuts. The hardware store had three bolts and zero nuts, so I had to get creative. It all worked in the end and is better than before.

The throttle control waiting for reinstallation

Probably the saddest part of my week was the failure of my bicycle. I was so looking forward to cycling on a road again, but in the process of changing out my old rusted chain, I snapped the ‘hangar’ for my derailleur. That’s a problem, because the part I need is essentially impossible to find on this island. Not to say that Germain at Caicos Cyclery hasn’t done everything in his power to find me one (he was both helpful and knowledgeable) but he simply doesn’t have the part.

Today I will try again to jury rig the bike (with great thanks to Juan Farias in Hamilton/Dundas, who runs Bike Pro Service. His remote advice and assistance is always saving me from myself.) I think I will be riding at the dock (trainer) until I can get the appropriate parts back in place. Perhaps today I will get something working, because my legs are screaming for a workout.

To finish, here is some video of a ray, captured by Isabella.

2 thoughts on “Turks & Caicos – Week 1

  1. I think you found the end of the rainbow, and it is you! Beautiful picture and great journey.

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