Finally heading north!
The day had finally come: we were heading north to Turks and Caicos!
We had been planning to head north for some time. The original plan was to do this passage while Shiner was here at the end of March. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans and we had to make the choice to either beat into 20 knots of wind for 3 days, or stay put and explore the gorgeous BVI’s a bit more. No brainer, really.
Once Shiner left, we could have headed north straight away, but our friend Allison had just flown back from the USA and we wanted to catch up with her before leaving. So we spent an epic weekend in Maho Bay meeting loads of new friends and enjoying all that life on a boat has to offer. After that, we thought we might as well swing by Puerto Rico since we were in the area; we had heard great things, and after eating the most amazing steak from Costco, were dying to get our hands on some American produce to tide us over while we were in the Bahamas. Plus, tacos!
San Juan had won us over completely but now we had a great weather window for the 410 mile passage to Provodenciales, Turks and Caicos and it was time to leave. The weather window was timed perfectly with Allison’s flights back to the States (she had a wedding to go to), so Bo chivalrously agreed to single-hand it up to Provo, allowing Allison to skip the passage entirely.
Our new friends Lauren and Brian came round to say goodbye and once everyone had said their farewells and wished us luck and fair winds, we dropped our lines and headed out the channel. It was a strange feeling; we had no idea when we might be back in this part of the world, as any return to the Eastern Caribbean would require a 3-5 day beat into the prevailing winds, which, knowing us, we would do anything to avoid. So, it was “See you later” but no idea how much later…
An eventful first day
The winds were perfect: 13 knots off the starboard quarter and a little bit of swell that was predicted to die down throughout the night. Bo was storming ahead and so we decided to try and add a bit of speed by flying the code zero. It was really a bit too windy, and the Parasailor would have been a better choice, but the latter also requires a lot more work and we wanted to see what the wind was doing in the longer term before committing to that amount of effort.
The boat was heeling over a little wildly under the code zero, and I could see it snatching with every gust. Nick and I made a few comments about taking it down, but we were too slow to act: suddenly the halyard chaffed through and down it came into the water.
I didn’t have my lifejacket on and Nick is physically stronger, so he dashed forward and started the process of hauling it by hand out of the water. It didn’t take long, and we were relieved to see we only had a small tear in the sail. However, we would not be able to use the spinnaker halyard until after we could re-mouse it in Turks and Caicos; white sails all the way then.
A boring passage… just the way we like it!
After this brief moment of activity, the rest of the passage passed quite uneventfully. We slept, took watch, ate, read and stared out to sea. That’s literally all we did for three whole days. It was very relaxing and pleasant and the weather behaved all the way into Provo, although the final day was slightly lumpier and overcast than the first two.
It was also a fast passage: we averaged 6.3 knots which meant that we arrived into Provo the early hours of Sunday morning rather than mid-morning as originally planned. Bo found us a nice anchorage behind an easy reef entrance to spend the night and we all gratefully went to sleep.
The next morning we motored the 5 miles to the marina where Allison was going to meet us the following day. It was a glorious morning, all sunshine and calm seas and we were greeted by a pod of dolphins playing around our bow! It was a magical moment and a perfect welcome to a new country.