It took NINE Days of sailing, much upwind in 20-25 knots to get from Saint Augustine Florida to Providentiales, Turks and Caicos Islands, midway to the San Blas Islands in Panama.
It took much preparation and Candy's pre-cooked meals to arrive well fed, tired and happy. It then took some homework to find a marina that could take our 6 foot draft and offer diesel fuel. Caicos Marina & Shipyard offered all that, plus laundry, hot showers, internet connectivity and a police escort in! (The marina is the home base of the Turks and Caicos Marine police) Thanks to our land based family and friends who remotely googled the info and responded to us using our Iridium Satellite terminal (via sailMail).
We alternated 3 hour night watches and 4 hour day watches and "Barracuda Rick K" managed to catch TWO barracuda (not the Mahi-Mahi he promised...) We had no wind for a day and a half, and enjoyed swimming in the 8000ft depths of the Atlantic.
The coastal approach was disconcerting, going from 8000 ft depths to 24 feet in less than a mile, with reefs surrounding us. The water changed from dark blue to beautiful hues of green and light blue, with 30 ft visibility!!
We rented a car to sight see and provision, and went swimming on both sides of the island - first the laid back kite-boarder side (Long Bay Beach), then the high end ritzy resort side (Grace Bay). We preferred the laid back side that took a dirt road and winding tiled pathway to find the beach. On the way back to the boat was a take out margarita joint (which should be available world wide!!). We then found ourselves at a Turks and Caicos (TCI) "locals" Caribbean beach bar called "Froggies on da Beach" where we sampled the local TCI beer and margaritas and CONCH prepared five different ways! We finished the night at Hemingways, a high end restaurant where they have a bell to ring when the local trained dolphin comes to visit.
After two days we set off for a 38 hour upwind slog into 18-26 knots of breeze to reach Grand Turks Island. A mooring ball in Cockburn harbor on the edge of the island's drop-off ocean wall awaited our 3 AM arrival. Beat up and tired, we easily crashed for some needed sleep!
Upon our arrival on Grand Turks Island were greeted by a Red Cross bake sale fundraiser with banana bread pudding and chicken sousa (a true Caribbean dish)! The island was a ghost town - an island day off awaiting the arrival of the cruise ship when everything and everybody springs to business. We spent three days at on the island, and rented a golf cart to see the seven mile long strip, which allowed us to get a feel of the island vibe. Touring the main street we were saddened by the devastation from the hurricanes a few years back - reconstruction is going very slowly. We saw the National Museum, the light house, broke into the prison (it was closed and only open when the cruise ships arrive). We also saw the the Salt producing Salinas and meet the "other" locals... the dozens of donkeys left behind when the Salt production industry collapsed after 250 years. Rick K got in some Kiteboarding, but was disappointed to see the beaches covered with trash.
We pressed on to the next island in the chain, Salt Key (with 62 residents), and baptized the new BBQ with some great steak for supper. We anchored off the famous "white house" - the center of the salt industry which has been in the same family since the days of slavery. The house was badly damaged in the hurricanes and the owner was on the roof at sunset, trying to make repairs. He said it "wasn't built in a day and won't be fixed in a day".... We spent hours snorkeling the reefs by the bluffs and saw one nurse shark and two barracuda along with beautiful coral and tropical fish. We took a dinghy excursion to find a kiteboarding site and ended up on a small beach sharing the only tree for miles with a donkey and her newborn.
We landed at Deans Dock and happened upon Bob and Lynn, the owners of the local restaurant "Oceanaire Bistro" who invited us to place our order for dinner. Of course we were immediately tempted to some fresh cracked conch, so ate there twice! Great people, warm hospitality and incredible food from chef Enye - highly recommended! After a hike on Salt Key we shoved off for Big Sand Cay and more snorkeling (and Kiteboarding). more to follow...
Here is a video from my sister Tish and husband Ademir of us leaving St. Augustine; https://www.facebook.com/100007673088517/videos/2326650317600715/