Monday, April 11, 2016

15. New Stamp in the Passport - Turks & Caicos

This week has been a whirlwind of activity.  Our days at Emerald Bay Marina were crammed full of projects in preparation for leaving the Bahamas.  
We moved to Georgetown because every respectable cruiser goes to Georgetown.  
It is a cruisers' haven where all paths cross; boats traveling north, south, jumping off to Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and beyond.  We looked forward to some down time to enjoy hanging with fellow cruisers at the infamous Chat & Chill Beach, a great beach across from the city that has volleyball courts, hammocks, swings, horseshoes; just a great place to “chat & chill”.  
    Chat & Chill Beach - Georgetown, Exumas. 4/4/2016
The kids loved our time here because there are lots of kid boats.  We met back up with the crew from Take Two and made new friends aboard Alley Cat, Neptune II, Singing Frog & Paisley.  
    That's my little monkey in the tree waiting for her turn to swing on the rope.
    Alley picked Paige up and off they went to a friend's boat.  Kind of like watching your baby drive away in a friend's car for the first time :)

Along with the fun, Andrew & I stayed busy every minute we were there.  He continued with boat projects.
Finished the hand sewing on our new main sail.  We were able to give away a few items onboard and the ladies stole me away for a massive provisioning run (Georgetown is the first proper grocery store we’ve seen since Nassau).  
Our new friends aboard Alley Cat are finishing up their two year journey & were happy to share all their tips of travel for the Caribbean islands to come.  I spent 5 hours taking notes and marking places of interest in my guide book. 
 It is so helpful to hear from someone who has already been there & done that.

Andrew did get to enjoy a hike to the top of Monument Hill.
    Sky & the Take Two guys.
Open mic night at St Francis Resort was a blast!  Lots of cruisers singing & playing instruments and, when the weather forced us to cram into the small dining room, it turned into a sing-along with the kids from Paisley leading with the ukulele on some oldies but goodies.  

For the first time ever, we saw bioluminescence along the shore as we launched our dinghy.  They look just like fireflies in the water.  If you scoop your hands slowly through the water, they stay on your skin until you dip it back into the water.  It was the perfect ending to a great stay in Georgetown.

Thursday morning we were all set to head out to Rum Cay.  The wind was light enough for us to get the new main sail switched out.
    Flying the new main for the first time.  Sewn entirely by the Abby Singer crew!
And Andrew re-calibrated the autopilot before getting underway.  
It was a great morning to be on the water!  We soon heard friends from other boats (Dream Catcher, MeNorah, Neptune II & Take Two) that were heading out as well, which always makes you feel like you made the right choice when reading the weather.  
    I am standing straight, the boat is heeling that much!  Makes lunchtime a challenge :)

We were about half way through our day sail to Rum Cay when Andrew said everything was looking good for us to continue on and bypass our original stop.  The weather was right and the boat was ready but I wasn't!  I had big plans on things I wanted done to make our first passage more comfortable, snacks prepared, easy meals, cabin secured.  I had planned on using the night at Rum Cay to do all those things but when the wind blows, you go.  
We spent 48hrs at sea (our longest passage ever) to make passage to Providenciales in the Caicos Islands.  The hours at sea seem to stand still and fly by all at the same time.  The rolling seas and heat of the sun make you wish for nightfall.  And when sitting night watch all alone with no one but the bioluminescence and millions of stars to keep you company, you wish for sunrise.  Before you know it 2 days have passed and you did it, you survived.  The cabin was a mess from the pallet on the floor for the girls who were trying to help with night watch, dirty dishes left in the sink until I finally bit the bullet and stayed below long enough to get caught up.  My bum is bruised from banging around the galley during meal prep and clean up, but proper planning and paper plates should eliminate this in the future :)  It is hard to imagine passages being second nature or spending weeks at sea during an ocean crossing but that will be the norm soon.  
Even though I had some frustrating moments because of our course change, it really was quite pleasant.  
We colored, read books and watched the big rollers come in, enjoyed the solitude of the evening sky and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
    Sunrise - 4/9/2016

    We are a baby boat in this Marina!
An unexpected reward for our great passage is a beautiful stay at the Blue Haven Marina & Resort. 
I'm working on this blog poolside while the girls explore.  We are just minutes from the third largest reef system in the world.  The sun is out and the breeze is blowing!  
    We love the crew on Dream Catcher, Dean & Kim, our travel buddies and great friends.
    The guys eyeing the 80'+ catamaran that is anchored in our bay.
I think I could stay here forever or at least longer than our week long cruising permit will allow but there is more out there to be seen and I have to find out if we can ace this passage thing :)

Things learned this week aboard:
Expect the unexpected!  Whether it's the surprise gift of a guide book being passed on, fishing tips from a pro accompanied by a new lure, or a weather window opening (or closing) among your best laid plans; expect the unexpected and be flexible.  Just because something doesn't go the way you planned, doesn't mean it didn't work out for the best.  And who wants to be so rigid and locked into the way things are "supposed to be" that you miss an unexpected adventure waiting around the corner!

My PaigeE Paige has been missing her friends back home.  We are thankful for wifi so she could chat with her besties!  We love and miss you Maggie, Mia, & Olivia.  Thanks for making my girl's week!

Up next: another long passage. Will we make it?  We can hardly wait to find out ;)

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