March 10, 2010
Cooper Jack Bay “Marina”, Provo, TCI
Pictures first, so anyone tired of my drivel can ignore it!
Dolphins showing us the way through a shallow route.
Sailing in company with Osprey (left) and Mandy (another BCC)
The overnight sail to Samana from George Town was swelly but fast.
The above 4 pictures are of Samana Cay, an uninhabited island thought to be the site of Columbus’s first landfall in the New World. Very very cool to be one (4, or 8 if you count Osprey) of maybe 5000 people EVER who have been here – any maybe one of those was Christopher Columbus himself!
And now for the writing part of this blog . . .
We left Bitter Guana Cay for a front, went north to Pipe Creek again, left there for a long sail to Musha Cay, and our watermaker promptly broke. Blech. Luckily we had enough water to last us for a while. (see the previous blog for the successful resolution to that issue – KATADYN WATERMAKERS ROCK.)
Tucked into Leaf Cay for yet another front, then attempted to ride the last of the front down to George Town, where the forest of masts made us gulp and want to keep going. We raced around, provisioning and laundry-ing and watering and internetting and fueling and rumming and ignoring the VHF chatter, hiding from another 2 fronts in the week we were there. Jeremy commented that he felt like he barely saw George Town due to all the activity. We did find some time for beach play, though . . .
When the wind finally came favorable, we headed off (with about 6 other boats, most of whom were headed directly to Puerto Rico) from George Town. The sail was fast in pretty big swells, and by 9 am we had the reef along Samana Cay in sight (and ears!)
Samana Cay is fascinating for all kinds of reasons. It is isolated, hard to get to, incredibly diverse geologically and in terms of flora and fauna. The history shows it as a site reputed (by National Geographic!) to be Columbus’s first landfall in the New World, although there is not a single plaque to that honor on the island. Fishermen from Acklins come there for months at a time, supplementing their income by harvesting the bark from the Gascarilla Tree (used to make Campari!). The reef entrance requires good light and good wind. The beaches are INCREDIBLE; the wind-tossed STUFF just inland of the beaches diverse and awe-inspiring. We are sorry we could only stay one night.
Why did we zip off so quickly? We are cruising, after all, a lifestyle that should indicate time is at our disposal. True enough, in many cases. Unfortunately, if we want to sail places (as opposed to motor), we have to pay close attention to the wind. Heading southeast as we are, when we have a westerly sector wind, we cannot pass it up – the prevailing winds in this part of the world are easterly, if not southeasterly. We passed up some great cruising grounds to have the great sails we did – we are banking on the fact that when we turn the bow north, the winds will be prevailing once again and give us great sails back.
Our second AMAZING sail of the trip from George Town to here was on the night out of Samana. After having to motor for about an hour until the wind filled in from behind us, we swiftly clocked off the miles, averaging over 5.5 knots for the entire 125 mile trip. Physics mavens out there can understand our elation – our waterline is 26 feet. Sailing with Osprey, with a 40 foot waterline, is often a case of “little sibling trying to keep up with big sibling.” They did not horizon us (disappear over the horizon) until about 7:30 am. WOW!!!
And now we are in the Turks and Caicos, a British protectorate on the route between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. We should be here for a couple of weeks and hopefully grab another good window to head down to Luperon – looks like we may have one in about 10 days. We are all getting very excited about being in the DR, trying out our Spanish and experiencing public transportation, among other things.