Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Providenciales Turks & Caicos

We left our anchorage at 4am in the dark of night and set our course to Provo. About 7 of the boats from the Rat Pack was in Sapodilla Bay anchored. About 12 miles out we were told that we would need to check in with Provo Radio. Apparently Provo Radio is like DEA, search and rescue type all in one. They basically monitor radar and watch all traffic coming into their waters and traveling through and out. We called in to let them know our intentions and he said to radio them back when we anchored as he had some questions. We did call him back once we anchored amongest the other pack but he told us to stand by and never came back. Oh well. We did our part.
This was our route from Mayaguana to Providenciales

Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning to head over to Long Cay or Six Hill Cays. It would be a full day to get there across the banks and then the following day we would stage at Big Sand Cay for our jump to the Dominican Republic. We did not check in to the country and just flew our Q flag which is standard protocol. We pulled anchor at sunrise and started our trek south east. The winds cooperated at first but then we began taking them more head on. They were light so no biggie. Dolphins even came by to play in our bow wake.

We were about 4 hours into the trip when Dirk noticed one of our shrouds seemed a bit too loose. He did all the rigging on this boat so he knew how they were adjusted. We put the sail down and looked again, still loose, so he got his gauge out and measured the tension. All of them seemed loose. This wasnt good....he went below and discovered that our compression post was beginning to mushroom out and collapse. This was really not good. We talked to others on the radio and called marinas but with this being Sunday no one could really help us. Our only safe option was to turn back and return to Sapadilla Bay, wait till morning and try to hail marinas on the radio to see if there was a boatyard. We ended up being anchored by s/v Victorias Ghost who had also left with the group still sitting in the anchorage. Later that evening they radioed us and told us they were waiting on a new water pump to come in as on the way down theirs began to leak. They were renting a car in the morning and asked if we would like a ride around town to pick up groceries and since they were heading to the Caicos Marina and shipyard to check on the pump we tagged along to see if we couldnt talk to the boatyard to see if they could help us out. First order of business though was to properly check into the country. Dirk went to customs as soon as they were open which was an hour late this day. Guess they had a good weekend. He then returned to the boat, picked me up and we proceeded to head into the beach where we would leave our dinghy for the day. We did some running around and thank goodness they drove as it is the British way of driving and cars. Steering wheels on the wrong side, drive on the wrong side. More than my brain can handle......we ran lots of errands, ate lunch and checked out the boatyard. Yes they could help us.......we would wait a couple days before heading in as some bad weather was coming and we wanted to be in a secure place for that. Didnt want to spend anymore money then this was already gonna cost us. We also stopped at an IGA, wow, this was the first real grocery store I had been into in months. The selections were overwhelming, the deli section made me drool. Some items were more expensive than the Bahamas such as butter, same brand almost $3.00 more. Most items were cheaper. We bought some needed items and headed back to the boat to start thinking about this compression post issue. On the way back we noticed a new boat in the anchorage and we stopped in to say hello. They had just come from the Dominican Republic and were heading north. The following morning we talked to them again and managed to do a swap of some Caribbean charts for an older version of the ICW charts and some Caribbean charts. They also gave us a very nice Dominican Republic courtesy flag. Nice swap all in all. A day later we motored the hour to the marina and tied against the wall. The following morning we would have the fabricator of the new compression post come by to take a look. In the end Dirk and he worked a solution to the problem that would not require us to remove the mast. Whew, that saves alot of labor and money not having to rent a boom truck at $150.00 an hour.

The view of the marina from the boat. Its very small but its used for dive boats to base from and boats having work done.
My view while I did laundry
Basically what Dirk and the gentleman that helped did was first to jack up and brace the mast after loosening the shrouds just a bit. Once the weight was off they cut the compression post above where the rusted area was making sure there was good post left.

At this point the guy left to start fabricating a new boot and plate while Dirk worked to grind off the bolts and prep the post for the new boot. He was able to save many hours of paying these guys over $100.00 an hour that they charge for labor. Once he removed the old post he took it over to the shop and short time later we had the new boot and post to trial fit.
This is the bootm of the old post. You can see where it started failing.
New parts to trial fit.
Dirk was able to get the part back to him in time for it to be compleated that day.
The new section of compression post installed.
Well that was a lot less painful then we thought at first. Dirk spent the next day tuning the rigging and making sure all was a go while I did another load of laundry. We would wait a day or two before leaving as there was a weather window opening to head to the DR. Alice from the catamaran behind us Wild Vanilla was going into town, had a car and asked if we would like to tag along. I said sure as it would give me a chance to re supply my fruits and veggies once again. We stopped at this box store called Sunny's and were happy to see some really good prices. We bought a few case lots of stuff that we would use and they also had a non case area too. Then it was onto the IGA one more time for last minute items before returning to the boat. The following morning Dirk let the marina know that we were checking out and to call customs as they would come there to clear us out. Out intention was to clear out then head out the channel of the marina and instead of taking the hour back to Sapadilla Bay, just anchor close to the island which would save us time heading across the banks the next day. Next morning we arose early and made our way to Long Cay where we would stage for our crossing. The winds were not playing nice, 18 to 20 knots, gusting to 25. It was cloudy on and off which made it hard to see the coral heads one must dodge the 38 miles to get there. At one point while I was at the helm of course we heard a small thump as it was too late for me to turn once I figured the dark area was not a cloud. No harm done thank goodness, but from then on I avoided all dark areas, clouds or not. It took us so long to get here as the wind of course was coming from the wrong direction that we finally made it into the anchorage as the sun was setting which isnt good. There are so many coral heads in these parts and most of it is not charted. We crawled in and set the anchor then Dirk took the dinghy around looking at all suspect areas around us to make sure we were clear. We were.....time for a sundowner after that day. The boat was very salty as we took so many waves off the side that they would splash up and over. Oh well, not doing anything tonight and we would be on the move again tomorrow anyway. Or would we?

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