Saturday, March 31, 2007

West Caicos to Conception Island

We still have no internet connection, so no pictures. We are doing well and enjoying Conception Island.

West Caicos

We left Sapodilla Bay in Provo on Friday, March 9th at 1:20 PM, arriving in West Caicos at about 3:30 PM. Our plan was to stage our departure to Mayaguana from a mooring ball on the outside of the Caicos Banks. We found a dive mooring, south of our exit point out of the Caicos Banks. We were a little nervous, because we were close to the shore (about 150 ft.). We dove on the mooring ball to make sure it had a strong hold, and it seemed to be fine. The mooring balls are used by the dive boats. The diving is supposed to be spectacular around this area, but we didn't get a chance to dive it. If the water visibility was any indication it must be spectaculare, it was so clear you could see forever. The shelf was a little to far off to snorkle and it was getting late, so again we didn't get a chance to see much. The west coast of West Caicos is a National Park so anchoring is not allowed, which is why we had to use the mooring ball. There is currently a marina under construction on the northwest corner on the north shore, Molasses Reef Hotel by Ritz Carlton Resorts. We heard they are also building condominiums there that will sell for $3 million each - is that CRAZY!!! We stayed here until midnight in some very rolly conditions, then headed out for our sail to Mayaguana, in The Bahamas.


We arrived at Mayaguana on Saturday, the 10th at 9:12 AM. Mayaguana is the easternmost of The Bahama Islands and is 24 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest point. It is very much off the beaten tourist path. We anchored in Abraham's Bay where we worked our way through coral reefs to get as close to the the settlement as possible. Abraham's Bay is the largest settlement on the island, there are only two others - Pirates Well and Betsy Bay. We checked in here on Monday, in a little (CHECK WHAT yOUR WROTE BEFORE). While waiting for our weather window, we met Steve and Rhonda on V'ger, they're from Texas. They invited us over for a beer, which is one of the ways you spend your time as you wait for the weather window.

Rum Cay

Our weather window came on Friday, March 16th and we headed out at 8:30 AM for a 134 mile journey to Rum Cay. The wind was very light and on our tail, so we brought the spinnaker out again and used it for most of the sail over. The early morning hours became very busy for Ka'imi and the crew. There were thunder storms on all sides of us and because the weather windows are few and far between in the Bahamas in the winter there were alot of other boats out there. We had two near misses with boats coming from the other direction who were not paying attention. One boat, Seashell was the closest. We saw two boats coming in our direction, one on a direct collision course. We heard the two boats talking about a boat ahead of them and they were wondering if it was one of their companions who had left before them, they did not take to time to watch and determine that we were coming towards them and not away from them. We were under sail, they were not. They were still talking on another channel besides 16 (the hailing channel). We took evasive action swinging the boat to port just as they approached our rear quarter. We found the channel they were talking on, broke in and heard the lady on Seashell say - wow did see that boat it scared the beejeebers out of us, the other guy says, ya I saw him on the radar a while back - duhhhh why were you heading straight for us then!!! We broke in there conversation and told them they almost hit us and they should keep an eye out - she (Seashell) said she was sorry, but she was down below plotting her course - wow - any cruisers out there, watch out for Seashell!!!! Now since we were under sail downwind and they were under power, we had the right away, which is why they should have been paying attention, but out here you can never be too careful and we would rather move than debate right of way. Our next close call was from another boat under power just a couple miles away but we were able to get him on radio. We told him our position, that we were under sail and asked what his intentions where. He said he would change course to starboard and did so. Mike told him that by changing course to starboard his was coming directly across our path, and that his change of course should be to port - he finally agreed and turned to port - phew - we were wide awake now and the lightning was getting closer. At about 4:00 AM the wind did a 180 and was on our nose and picking up fast. We reefed the Genoa just as the winds were picking up into the 30's. For two hours we were in winds of 35-40 knots, beating into the high seas, we were soaking wet because we hadn't had time to put our rain gear as we had to adjust sails - it was a white knuckler and the strongest storm we have been in yet. There was lighting ahead of us, behind us, to the sides of us and on top of us - SCARY. Ka'imi and crew made it safe and sound finally into the achorage at Rum Cay by 11:30 AM on Saturday,the 17th.

Rum Cay is a beautiful little island with very friendly locals. There are only about 60 people living here and we think we have seen about 2/3 of them. The weather has been very nasty and we are waiting here for another weather window so we can head out to Conception Island. There have been alot of cold fronts coming in one after the other since we left Puerto Rico. If you watch the weather and see cold fronts or extreme weather coming of the northeast coasts of the states, that means we will be feeling it here in the Bahamas. By April the weather is supposed to settle down a bit, we are looking forward to that so we can enjoy the many islands left between here and the states.

The settlement here is Port Nelson and is the only one on the island which is 9 miles long and 5 miles at its widest point. It is believed Rum Cay got its name because of a wreck on its shore that carried Rum from an West Indian boat. Sumner Point Marina is located on the southeast corner, and was owned by an Bobby Sumner who sold it but still lives there. He does some amazing carvings out of the coral that he has dug up while he dredged the channels for the marina. He says he has enough to do carvings the rest of his life. His family bought 100 acres in the 1960's. He was one of the sons who finally built the marina.

There are two stores on the island, very small stores with just a few staples, one bar and two restaurants. You have to call ahead to the restaurants to let them know you are coming. We have been here over a week, and although the weather has been pretty nasty we are enjoying ourselves - like that would be hard :)

Conception Island

We arrived here at Conception Island on Thursday, March 29th. We had a great sail over. It is paradise here. It is a small island, 2.75 miles by 2 miles with long beaches and lots of coral reefs. There is one coconut tree, so we can have a coconut everyday. We are the only ones here so far, and hope we can enjoy the beauty and solitude of this island for at least a week, maybe more. The weather is starting to settle and we are hoping that April brings some calmer conditions. It is actually cold here, we wear out sweatpants and shirts in the morning and evening.

Conception is an uninhabited Land and Sea Park under the protection of the Bahamas National Trust. It is a protected nesting site for the green turtle and migratory birds. Yesterday we saw one of the green turtles swimming around the reef. We also saw a dolphin right off our port bow, swimming by around the coral. We were on shore at the time, and didn't want to scare him off with our dinghy motor. Hopefully it will come back and we can try to swim with it.

This island is almost too good to be true. The beaches are long with soft, white sand on the leeward side with some small rocks and islands off the northwest end, even the little island has a sand beach. We can walk across the the end of the island to the windward side where there is another long, white sand beach and off the beach there are coral heads and coral reefs. When the wind dies down and this area gets calm, it will be like a swimming pool. It is shallow and there will be some great snorkeling. At the end of the beach on the windward side are some small cliffs you can climb. Someone who was here before put ropes up so the climbing is much easier. This is also where the one coconut palm tree is. This island is like an adult playground and we haven't even finished exploring yet. It's like we have our own private island - and we are enjoying it.

We wish we could post some pictures for your to see, but we have not internet connections. As soon as we can we will share some with you. Until the next time. Cheers, Mike and Kim on Ka'imi.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Mayaguana to Rum Cay

We finally left the Caicos on Saturday, March 10th and headed to Mayaguana. It's the first island in the Bahamas when your traveling west. We checked in and stayed there until the weather cleared today. We are now enroute to Rum Cay, we should arrive there tomorrow (Saturday) before noon. We have some settled weather today and tomorrow early, but another cold front will pass us up tomorrow around noon, and behind that will be another week of very heavy winds and high seas. We chose Rum Cay because it looks to have good protection from the ENE & NE winds that should be hitting us and it should be a nice little island to check out, beaches, ruins and a few little restaurants.

The settlement of Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana, where we checked into the Bahamas is a small, quaint town. The Settlement's Administrator was in a small office about a 1/2 mile down the road from the beach. He was the Administrator, the Customs & Immigration officer, and we think the postmaster and a few other things too. The residents there were very friendly!!

Rum Cay is a bit smaller and has one Settlement called Port Nelson, they do have a Marina here so we may get fuel and some much needed laundry done. There are only 50-60 people on this island. After Rum Cay, we will do a day sail over to Conception Island.

Hope you all are doing good, we'll update the blog with pictures when we have an internet connection....Cheers Mike and Kim

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Providenciales, Caicos


We are still here in the Caicos. The weather has been very uncooperative for us. Right now we are at Sapodilla Bay inside the Caicos Bank off the coast of Provodenciales (Prov0), Caicos. There has been a series of cold fronts coming off the east coast of the United States making the weather down here pretty nasty. It is either too windy or dead calm, lots of squalls and rain and the seas are pretty high.

We left our anchorage at Middleton Island, Turks as planned and headed out of the Caicos Bank into the Turks passage. We headed for a break in the reef to re-enter the Caicos Bank to sail across in an area that could handle the draft of our boat (we need a minimum of 6 ft). While in the Turks passage we finally saw a humpback whale. It was a younger one that jumped completely out of the water, we saw his tail and then it went back in the water with a HUGE splash. We did not have the camera out to take a picture, but we managed to get some video of him as he was swimming away. He never came completely out of the water again, but he surfaced many times. It was an incredible site. Once back in the Banks we were visited a few times by dolphins, but they did not play at our bow as usual.

We left the Banks at late afternoon and went to French Cay to anchor and wait for the next weather window. It was very calm with no winds and was supposed to stay that way through the next morning, with the winds picking up later that day. The holding at French Cay was HORRIBLE, we tried 5 times to lay the anchor but it would not catch. We finally got the nose of our anchor down in some sand and grass, laid alot of chain out and felt that would hold us through the night because there was not supposed to be any wind until the next day in the afternoon. Well, we were wrong!!! We went to bed about 8:30 PM, at about 9:30 PM we wake up to the wind blowing hard. Mike gets up and says we need to do anchor watches and goes outside to check things out. Kim gets up to put on her contacts and as one is going in the eye, Mike is yelling - Kim get out here we're dragging. So the engine goes on and we are out on the deck in 25 knot winds about 50 feet from a boat anchored next to us. OH #($*&.......we finally get the anchor up and decide the only safe place is out to sea, so there we go. After some thought we think it best to find a safe anchorage because we do not know what the conditions are. We decide to go back into the Banks thinking it would be calmer, but needed a safe entrance because there are many coral heads. We decide to take the freighter channel into Sapodilla Bay, which is definitely deep enough. The scary part was that it was dark and we're heading for land :(. As we are going through the channel the seas in the Bank start to pick up and the wind is up to 28 knots on our nose. We still had our sun shade up and with the winds that high we had to take it down because it was actually acting like a sail and we're heading straight into the 28 knot winds while the seas were bouncing us up and down. Mike heads out to take it down while Kim stays at the helm, we had to stay on course or risk hitting a coral head. Mike cannot take the shade down in those winds but he managed to take the sides off and lash it to the main sail boom. Next obstacle - a HUGE barge being towed out of the Banks by a tug boat OH #*$& again. We steer a little to his starboard and manage to miss each other. As we came closer to the anchorage we could not determine where the anchorage was for our size boats, only one vessel had his anchor light on so we decided it was not safe to go there, that water was pretty shallow anyway and we would only want to go in with good light. We found the big boat anchorage, the ones for barges and freighters and set the anchor there. We would stay there until first light and then head over to the other anchorage. Thank goodness we had soft sand or mud and the anchor held solid. It was about 4:30 AM by this time, so we waited until light and then found the anchorage where we are now. Since then the weather has kept us here.

We checked in here since we knew we would be here a few days then tried to find a place to fuel up. Sapodilla Bay is not a very cruiser friendly place and they do not have the services you might need readily available. Provo is mostly for the rich and famous with beautiful homes dotting the coastline and Chalk Sound (the picture to the right). The town is very far away and you have to take a taxi (very expensive) or hitchhike which is what most of the cruisers do. We could not find diesel close by to fuel up so started checking out Marinas. Only one could handle our draft at high tide, but it was a long ways away. We decided to rent a car and jerry can our fuel in. It would be expensive but we had to have fuel. We rented a jeep and made about 4 runs to the gas station, one gas station very obvisouly ripped us off by a few bucks but the last one we went to was honest and we actually got a receipt. While we had the car, we topped up on groceries at a very expensive grocery store (everything here is expensive).

Not much to do here and we will be glad to get going. We have a weather window Friday and Saturday so if everything stays the same we,ll leave Friday afternoon. We'll exit the Banks in the afternoon and tie up to a dive bouy until later that evening, then head across the Caicos Passage to Mayaguana, where we hope to check into the Bahamas.

The picture to the right is of Big Sand Cay where we first made landfall in the Turks. We only stayed here overnight, leaving the next morning for the Caicos. It was very nice here, but the swell was so large the next morning that it was pushing us toward shore so we had to leave.

Cheers Mike and Kim

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