I guess it's been about a month ago now, we were in George Town, the cruisers mecca of the southern Bahamas. I've heard it referred to as Cruisers Summer Camp and Chicken Cove - both very accurate descriptions. Cruisers Summer Camp is self explanatory (although it is actually winter), it is the home to anywhere from 200-400 cruisers who make their way here from all along the East Coast and spend a few months enjoying the weather, the water, the town and the social outings (volleyball, seminars, poker, dances, church, regattas, music) that come with so many cruisers in one location. Chickens Cove refers to the fact that so many make it here, but never venture any farther.
We were determined not to become one of the chickens. We did have to wait out about a week of high easterly winds though and enjoyed the time catching up with many of the other boats we met along the way getting there. We also provisioned the boat, did laundry and started planning our departure to points east and south. It was during one of the provisioning trips across the harbour - about a mile - that my phone and computer got wet with just a few drops of salt water 😢 - it doesn't take much - in a dry bag that wasn't as dry as advertised. To the dry bag's credit, it was pretty much completely submerged as we took two foot waves into the dinghy, and it was just barely damp inside. The result is that we are down to an IPad and a very old phone. I'm working on getting replacements once we get to Puerto Rico where mailing something from the States won't need to go through customs and be subject to extremely high duties.
Conception to Rum Cay was an uneventful and short motor in very calm wind and seas. The highlight of the day was catching a good size Bonita that Ken later grilled and turned into amazing fish dip. From Rum, we set out on our first of three overnight sails we would do over the next week. Along the way to Mayaguana we were accompanied by YaRiKa and Sailicious, who were with us at Conception and Rum, as well as a Vagabond who we picked up on our AIS (kind of like radar) and we coaxed into skipping Rum and continuing with us overnight. Pepper was also a couple hours ahead of us. Everyone helped keep those on watch awake through the night through regular radio contact. It was a gorgeous and perfect overnight sail with an almost full moon and wind at just the right speed and direction.
We arrived the anchorage in Mayaguana around noon to find two other boats (Exit Stage Left and Wandering Star) we left George Town with, but had taken slightly different routes. All seven boats had the Turks and Caicos and Dominican Republic planned as next stops. With the weather so perfect for sailing, the decision was made to rest for just a few hours and continue with the next overnight to the Turks and Caicos immediately. Turks and Caicos is only about 12 hours from Mayaguana, but you need to arrive in the morning to safely make the entrance on to the shallow banks. Just four hours after setting our anchor, we pulled it up again and began the second overnight to the southeast. We knew we would arrive a little early to enter the banks, but the winds picked up and we flew down averaging over 6 knots (that's flying for us!), putting us just south of the banks' entrance around 2:30am. We pulled in close to West Caicos and anchored to get a few hours of sleep before making the three hour trek across the banks to the anchorage at Sapodilla Bay in Providenciales.
So for the third time in a week and three days after arriving in the Turks and Caicos, we pulled up our anchor again, this time at 6am, and began our 26 hour journey south to Luperon, DR. We picked up an eighth boat to our group here, Utopia. The whole bay seemed to empty out that morning as we all left. This is the part of the Caribbean route that gets tricky as the easterly trade winds come into play and can make the passages from Turks and Caicos through the DR, Puerto Rico and to the Virgin Islands very uncomfortable if not dangerous when the easterlies are up. This was definitely not the case as we motored almost the entire way to the DR in 5 knots or less out the southeast. Our sails were only up for about 5 hours the entire 27 hour crossing. The seas were very calm, almost glassy on the surface, but with 6-8 foot rollers on 12-16 second intervals. Kaylee and I both took our seasickness medication and did fine. Other than the motor running all night, it was another beautiful moonlit night. We entered the cut into Luperon around 9am the next morning. What a different landscape from south Florida, the Bahamas and T&C - there are mountains here! A very welcome change of scenery.
And here we have sat for the last 12 days, at the relative luxury of a dock at the Puerto Blanco Marina. Moving has not even been close to an option as the winds have been consistently over 25 knots and frequently up over 30 with gusts to 40.
I know I've skipped over lots of stuff and left out many important details, but in the spirit of getting something out there, here it is. I'll try to do a separate post on our time in the DR. As of this writing Sunday evening, we are tentatively looking at a Tuesday morning departure from Luperon to points east and eventually Puerto Rico. How many stops we make will depend on those pesky easterlies and whether the weak front expected this week makes it this far south to slow everything down and if we're really lucky turn the winds to the south, west and north for a short time.