Da Caribbean

After 10 days in the Turks and Caicos, we finally got a good weather window to go east, so we could go south.  We did more than 450 miles in 5 days and fetched Boqueron, Puerto Rico, on Monday morning. We were glad to see land again, but had a very uneventful trip.  We have our watch schedule down pat by now and ate and slept well. I tend to get motion sick if I spend too much time below decks when we're offhsore, so I do most of the cooking before we leave port.  This trip, I made about a gallon of chili and prebaked pizza crusts, Steve baked bread and buns, we dug out nuts, dried fruit and trek mix, made a huge bowl of popcorn (breakfast of champions), had plenty of fruit and salami for snacking. We don't eat much sweet stuff underway, but have plenty of protein and carbs. As always, we ate well.
Adjima claimed her spot on the seaberth and slept almost all the way.  She only weighs 6 pounds but takes up a person size space.  I slept around her, heaven forbid I should make the cat move or make her uncomfortable in any way.
We saw very few other ships, but did see whales, caught fish, had Tropic Birds try to hitchike on the mizzen boom, read books, talked a lot. 
We came into the harbor and there was Mr Mac, our former dock mates from the North Dock. We haven't seen them since November, so we invited ourselves over and got caught up.  They got here by way of the Dominican Republic and had some good tales about the seas and winds around the Hatian end of Hispanola. I don't think they noticed the tracking device we planted in their cockpit.  They only think they'll get away from us at some point.
A Tropic Bird trying to land on the stern.

Cruising is also known as 'boat repairs in foreign places', so here's Steve doing a little repair on the genny in Boqueron harbor.
We plan to spend a few weeks here, touring and fixing, getting our mail sent.  I'm hoping for a little rain today to wash off all the salt.  It's pretty and sparkly, but I can hear it chewing away at the stainless.


I just re-read the previous blog and have to apologise.  It wasn't meant to sound so bitchy and negative! I can't blame it on  lack of sleep or rum (or lack of) or anything else.  This is a really beautiful place and the people are great and friendly. So please read it in the spirit that I intended and didn't quite manage to achieve.   Lynn


Turks and Caicos Islands

OK, I have to admit, until about 6 weeks ago, I didn't even know the Turks and Caicos Islands were a separate country from The Bahamas. Actually, I didn't even know they were here at all, I thought it was all just vaguely southern Bahamas. But we had to dig out the 'Q' flag again, visit customs and immigration, get a cruising permit, get a little run around.  I think Customs is a very necessary place and have no quarrels with fees and permits.  If I want to come into your country, I have to abide by your rules or I can stay home.  I just wish they would apply the rules uniformly. We checked in the same day as another boat here in Sapodilla Bay.  We paid the $15 entry fee (which ended up being $20 as they had no change) and have a $75 cruising permit.  The other boat paid no fee for the cruising permit and didn't have to pay the $50 entry fee for their dog.  AND they got a 90 day visa, ours initially was 7. Same day, same officers, different rules.  WTF??? Weren't we lovely and smiling, non-ugly-Americans?  Did we somehow look like we wouldn't mind paying? Do I have to work on a more 'poor' look?    ahem, rant over.

These islands have a very colorful past, as do most places from here south.  The T's and C's were 'discovered' by Columbus in 1492, and it sounds like it went downhill for quite a while.  Slavery, disease, pirates, colonization.  First ruled by Spain and at different times by Bermuda, England and Jamaica, they've been a British Crown Colony since 1962.  They're now a huge tourist destination for fishing and diving and judging by the numbers of people on the beach here in the Bay, it's big for spring break, too.
(One quick Jeopardy! fact: after his space flight, John Glenn first set foot back on earth at Grand Turk.)

 We rented a car yesterday to do a little provisioning and sight seeing. Who am I kidding?  We did mostly provisioning: the IGA and Price Club for groceries, the Do-It store for hardware stuff, Napa, the Wine Cellar.  We did manage to squeeze in a nice lunch at da Conch Shack and Rum Bar.  It was right on the beach and the conch (pronounced konk) was very fresh.
The live ones were in the kayak, they hid as I walked up.

They were shelled and pounded right on the beach and then deep fried and brought to our table.  I don't have a photo of that because, you know, I was too busy eating them.  The shells were then cleaned up and sold.  Only $25!  There were huge mounds of shells around the restaurant for the taking and yet tourists were still buying the ones that had been brushed off and washed.  I was very encouraging of this and stood there pointing out the really nice ones to the couples who came over.  I think the guys out there working in the hot sun and putting up with all of the debating about which shell to buy, deserve all the money they can make.  Most of these guys are from Haiti and I'm sure the idea of spending $25 for a free shell just boggles their minds. 

We've been here in Providenciales (Provo) for more than a week.  The wind is still blowing from the direction we want to go. Unfortunately, the farther south we go the more steadily the wind blows from the east.  Fortunately, we don't have too much more east to do before we can just head south.
It looks like the weather will give us a break by the middle of the week and we should be able to head off shore to Puerto Rico.  It'll be at least a 4 day trip, so we want a large and fairly good weather window. I can't wait to get there and finally be in the Caribbean.


Coconut Challenge

We were in George Town for their annual Regatta Week.  Lots of activities, from volleyball to poker to kayaking, to my personal favorite, the Coconut Challenge.  
The attire was casual (as if there's anything else), the objective was simple: gather as many coconuts into your dinghy as possible.
                     THE RULES:
  •      inflatable dinghys only, motor removed
  •      4 persons per dinghy
  •      each person must wear a PFD in some way  (although some of the ladies had their own SAFD's- Surgically Attached Foatation Devices)
  •      each person must keep 2 appendages in the dinghy at all times
  •      the only paddeling devices allowed were swimfins
  •      only 2 swimfins per boat

900 coconuts had been gathered and were deployed across the lagoon from the start line.  The competitors were all seated on the beach and at the signal, they sprinted to the dinghys and shoved off. We could tell who among the entrants had done it before as they had their PFD's on their backs, out of the way and they had some massive swimfins to paddle with.  It was a hilarious race of bumper boats with buckets of water being dumped into other boats to sabotage their seaworthiness and people falling into and out of their dinghys, sometimes with a little help.

The race  is on, coconuts are visible between the moored boats.

The official count was taken VERY seriously as there seemed to be a bit of pilferage going on!  After the counting, each contestant chose one coconut and used it for the rest of the Challenge.  There was a ring toss: throwing the coconut through an old bent porthole. Bowling for Kalik bottles: bowling in sand with a non-round object and a toss over the volleyball net: throwing the coconut into different sand rings, with the most points for hitting the smallest ring. Steve and I had a great time watching and plotting strategy and I'm sure if we're here for another Regatta Week, we'll be in the running for Coconut Champs.


From Georgetown to…..

We have had a great time in Georgetown. We have met cruisers going north, cruisers going south, cruisers just staying her until, well who knows when. All in all it has been a great week plus. Yesterday was the in-harbor boat race. With the wind direction and the course layout, several boats were going by us on both sides at the same time while we sat at anchor enjoying the show and taking photos.

This was clearly a whole new twist on the rules, using the anchored boats as a “pick” to force another competitor to fall off the wind. Interesting to us is noting a few of the boats were folks we have met over the past couple years and we were fortunate enough to get a few photos of their boats under full sail, rails dipping toward, or at times even under the waterline in their quest toward fame in the “31st Annual George town Cruisers Regatta”.

On the other hand, there are days filled with the daily events of regular life, sometimes made just a bit more difficult by being far from the convenience we have in the US. Couple days ago it was propane day, and we like many others took advantage of the opportunity to fill our cooking tanks not knowing when or if, the next opportunity would come. The photo is if the Prking lot where folks line up hoping the propane truck with actually show up sometime after 1100…oh, and on Wednesday not everyday.

We leave at first light tomorrow. Destination: Rum Cay. How much more appropriate can it all be??


Work Too???

As fellow cruisers and boat owners know, cruising is fun, but not all fun. There is always a “list” with far too many repairs, projects, and recurring maintenance than time permits. Some are updates and improvements whose immediacy is driven by our desire to have that improvement, for example perhaps that wash down above deck for after the snorkel or dirty job. Some maintenance jobs are prioritized by the need to do it now, or do it later with far greater time and effort such as bright-work as it deteriorates day by day. Then there are the pop-ups…those jobs that move RIGHT to the top of the list because something broke

Today’s was the dingy outboard prop, essentially the motor from the proverbial family car wasn’t working and it needed attention now. All my fault as I passed too close to a mark allowing the prop to strike something in the water. As a result the little rubber bushing tore allowing the inner hub to spin without driving the prop at the same speed, kind of like spinning your tires on the ice…lots of power going out, but not going forward. Here is a quick solution which appears to have worked.
 First I drilled three holes through the outer hub, inner hub, and just far enough into the inner bushing to make a small depression. Next we tapped the holes for #10 screws, and filed the end of the screws pointed to try and fit the depressions in the bushing.

  Of course we only had tapered machine screws so the outer hub needed a countersink for the heads to fit and allow the screws to reach the inner bushing.

Lastly we started the screws with lots of “Tef-Jel” corrosion inhibiter, remounted the prop, and tightened the screws to again connect the prop to the inner bushing. Yes it worked!! But we still must find a new prop and be very careful not to hit anything again as the connection, now without the rubber cushion, may not prevent gear case or engine damage if we have another prop strike.

But meanwhile the family “car” is back in service! So we’re off to the Chris Parker (a.k.a. Caribbean Weather God) briefings and the tough task of socializing with other cruisers. Ahh…the list may have to wait a day.