This morning we set out for the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately the winds turned too far to the south and the swells were huge. Not the best conditions for starting an overnight voyage. So, we turned back to Big Sand Cay. We'll enjoy the beach here one more day and tough out the rolliness, then start again for DR in the morning as the winds back to the east again. Wish us luck.
Big Sand Cay, Turks & Caicos: +21° 11' 34.56", -71° 15' 3.84"
When we woke up on Friday we noticed that a front had come through and we had swung around to the north. Unlike the fronts in the Bahamas, we hardly noticed this one -- just that it had dropped some rain (and we had all the hatches and ports open.) But no strong winds. We went to town to visit Immigration and Customs and check out as we will be leaving Turks & Caicos over the weekend. Cockburn Town has a fish packing plant so we were able to get some frozen grouper to take along with us and the local grocery stores had some fresh produce. So we are all set to go again.
Cockburn Town (East Harbor), South Caicos: +21° 29' 28.44", -71° 32' 17.94"
Sapodilla Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands: +21° 44' 29.10", -72° 17' 23.16"
Oh - one note from Clarence Town. We forgot to mention the turtles that swim near the entrance to the town harbor. They were really terrific to see -- about a foot to two feet in size. When approaching them by dinghy, they stick their heads up to take a look at you, then keep on swimming. First turtles on our tour!
Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana: +22° 20' 0.30", -73° 2' 22.68"
Tuesday we were up early to weigh anchor at 5am. Sanctuary pulled out of the anchorage in front of us so we followed their navigation lights to get on the rhumb line for the north. We had a big day ahead of us; rounding the northern Cape Santa Maria to return southeast down the coast of Long Island to Clarence Town harbor - about 60 miles. The winds were about what we expected, but the ocean swell was out of the E-ESE catching us on the beam as we turned for the south. Luckily the waves were only about 5-6 feet, so they weren't that bad. But the journey could have been much smoother had the seas just cooperated. We had all three sails up, but in order to get to the harbor before dark we added the engine for more speed. Arriving in the harbor thankful that the high seas stayed out, we had the anchor down by 4pm. We were sound asleep by 7:30!
Clarence Town, Long Island: +23° 6' 4.86", -74° 57' 3.00"
Sunday we headed up the coast comfortable that the weather forecast said N-NE winds 10-15 knots. Since we were stopping at Calabash Bay, and not turning the corner around the island, we figured the 8-12 ft seas in northerly swell would not affect us as we were still on the bank. Once out there, we encountered winds of 15-20 out of the NW with sustained gusts of 20-25. Not such a cakewalk. And the water wasn't calm either - probably 3-4 ft on the bank. We motorsailed, reefed the main, hanked on the staysail and sailed - finally got some speed and distance - but the winds were very flukey and it turned out to be much rougher and then slower than we expected. After a conference call with Sanctuary, we decided that Calabash (an anchorage with ocean surge) would probably not be a good idea tonight. The swell was not going to ease up with these winds. So, we bailed out at Alligator Bay and anchored off Simms -- about half the way up to the point. Feeling dejected we thought a nice kayak would pull us out of our funk. While difficult paddling in the winds, we did manage to get in some good exercise and talk to some guys bonefishing on the government dock. The sun even made an appearance to brighten our day. Back at Anhinga for the night. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Alligator Bay, Long Island: 23d28.512'N 75d14.522'W
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Today's 40-mile trip to Long Island started out a little rough with 6-ft swells on the Exuma Sound, but once we were on the bank headed SE, and protected from the waves, we sailed along gracefully. It has been a long time since we sailed and it felt good to stretch the canvas a little. The sun was shining, the water was beautiful, and friends were awaiting our arrival in the anchorage.
Thompson Bay, Long Island: +23° 21' 19.14", -75° 8' 34.44"