Chris Parker, the boating community’s best hired friend, informed us that the next day would be the least bad day of a whole string of bad days ahead to make the journey out of the Bahamas and into Turks and Caicos. The least bad day? How bad can it be? We all agreed we would go for it, ready or not. Just as we start to get our bearings somewhere, it is time to move on.
Besides, our Bahamas flag needed to be retired. The Bahama chain is definitely longer than the life of one courtesy flag! Anyway, we sucked it up and weighed anchor around 5:45 AM to make it across Abrahams Bay and into open water by 7:00 AM. Leaving our tracks on the chart plotter is wonderful because we knew we had a tried and true route across the shallows. Still, it was a relief to get outside the reefs.
The waves were big but not as bad as they were when we crossed from Atwood Harbour to Mayaguana. We still figured it would be uncomfortable since we could only point 30 degrees off the wind without going way out of our way. As the day progressed and we motorsailed along, the sea state seemed to calm some. Maybe there was a chance we would get lucky and not take a total beating this trip as we expected. We had a lot of miles to cover, so we didn’t drop the fishing line, not wanting to be bothered or delayed if we hooked one. But we learned those crazy French-Canadians fished the whole way, losing something huge that snapped their line. Personally, I think that was a blessing in disguise.
Believe it or not, we made it to a mooring field at the northwest corner of Providenciales, Caicos, without drama, seasickness, anything breaking, etc. Not even Gizmo got sick. We lowered the Bahamian flag and raised the yellow quarantine flag, as there is no place to check into customs and immigration there. This meant we could not legally leave our boat or go ashore. So we relaxed, picked up the few items that fell over, cooked dinner, and got a good night’s sleep. How anticlimactic, right? Thank goodness.
Rounding the northwest corner was more dramatic. The waves were gigantic –Dave claimed they were bigger than the waves on our Key West nightmare trip – and, of course, we had to head right into them. The boat would ride up a wave, then just kind of fall down over the other side. Sometimes there would be another wave upon us before making it all the way down and we would smack hard, splashing water up and over the boat. It looked like a scene from “The Perfect Storm” – almost anyway, as close as I want to get to it! Dave wanted a rest, so I took over the helm. I’m sure my eyes were huge as I contemplated the course we would have to travel. These huge breaking waves would nearly hit us on our beam as we turned to go to Leeward Cut and the Blue Haven Marina. Big breaking waves hitting broadside on a catamaran are not a good thing. But I am worrying before we even get to that point. Smashing head on into the waves was rough, uncomfortable, and not good the boat or us. As soon as I could, I gradually pointed the boat more south. I did not follow the recommended route, but it became more bearable as the waves moved more to the port corner of the bow. As we got closer, the waves mercifully decreased. Dave took over the helm again and the waves never broadsided us.
I reread the Gateway Guide on the Leeward cut and it emphasized not to try entering the channel without a pilot. So I called the marina, verified our estimated arrival time and requested a pilot. Shortly after, an inflatable boat that was to be our pilot boat approached us. So we would not be boarded, we merely had to follow the pilot boat. So Why Knot IV lined up behind us and we caravanned in through what turned out to be a much simpler route than we took at several of the Bahamian islands. Dave and Francois laughed about it, but I noticed that every boat that approached for the first time called for the pilot boat. Leaving we can just follow our tracks on our own.
Dave slid us into our slip at Blue Haven Marina (pictured at the top of the page) and we tied up to the dock. We made it to Turks and Caicos, country number 3 (including our starting point in the US)! High-fives all around! Dave took our boat paperwork and passports and checked us in with the marina, customs, and immigration. Being officially in the country, we lowered the quarantine flag and raised the Turks and Caicos flag.
Later, Francois asked Dave if he should take a look at our SSB cable, which we believe is at the heart of our reception issue with the SSB. However, Dave was up to his elbows working on the head. It stopped flushing water through. We figured it was either an issue with the pump or an intake issue. Francois offered to take a look and the guys disassembled the intake system. They found a small mollusk inside, which was not the problem but definitely shouldn’t be in there.
Next they found a small red/orange/silver fish. Now that was likely a problem. Apparently, the last time I flushed, this ill-fated fish was swimming by the through-hull where the sea water is sucked into the head system. Basically, I murdered an innocent fish just so I could pee. All once living creatures cleared out, the head works great! If only the SSB was so easy. Francois tried but it is beyond his capabilities, tools, and/or parts available.