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Written in Sand

August 23, 2014

by Greg
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Mayaguana to Provo (click for interactive map)

The plan was to stage to Southeast Point of Mayaguana and then sail a night passage south to French Cay in the Turks and Caicos, then after several more hops east through the T&C, south to the Dominican Republic. However, a firm schedule can be a dangerous thing to a sailor. Cruising sailors must be ready to sacrifice plans to events and to new information, and so here we are in Providenciales.

Monday afternoon we anchored at Southeast Point, prepared the boat, and rested. At 10PM we tried to haul anchor, but it had other ideas and stayed right where it was.

Red Lionfish: pretty yes, but venomous
and destructive.  And delicious. [1]
We tried hauling from different angles, but it was well and truly stuck. Options were to dive down to fix the problem in the utter darkness (no moon 'til 3AM) or to power it out by motor and risk damaging it and/or the boat. We chose option three: postpone departure by a day, play some cards, go to sleep.

Diving the anchor Tuesday showed this to be a good decision. It was so thoroughly wedged into a crevice that nothing but underwater heave-ho would have freed it, and it took me almost an hour of effort at a depth of 27'. (No scuba here - just
snorkel + lungs!) We re-anchored elsewhere and then shot ourselves some lionfish for supper. *

Head-on view of a lionfish. [2]
That night at 10PM we successfully hauled anchor and sailed a wet, close-to-the-wind course all night. At 6:30AM we were still under way and on track when it was time to receive a weather update over single sideband radio. Unfortunately this update revealed two things unreported in previous forecasts: increasingly unsettled weather with higher winds due to local conditions, and - worse - a possible tropical low pressure system headed our way.

None of the planned T&C anchorages were good for high winds, much less weathering a low-pressure system. So there was really only a single option - head for the most secure harbor, which was back north here at Provo.

Unplanned though it was, being at a dock is a welcome change - it has been 62 days since our last "land showers", and being in Provo is a welcome change after 72 days in the Bahamas.

Cruising plans are written in sand, not stone.


* A good decision earlier would have been to dive the anchor after setting it to inspect it. We usually do this whenever possible, but we skipped it this time to prepare for the passage and because we were pretty sure we had set it in a patch of sand.

[1]: Photo by Alexander Vasenin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

[2]: Photo by Jens Petersen, Edited by User:Olegiwit (cloned in part of fins) and Fir0002 (removed spots and noise) (File:Pterois_volitans_Manado.JPG) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lisa said...

I love your comment that plans are written in sand, not stone. I always like your writing style. Did you take those pictures of lionfish? Lily said you couldn't have. I love the irate guy.

Anonymous said...

Hi I hope you guys are safe worried a lot with knowledge of the coming storm. Glad you returned and are at a dock Hank