Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Provodenciales in the Turks and Caicos

We left Salina Point on Acklins Island at 9:25 Sunday morning the 15th and had anchor down in Provo at 9:35 am on the 16th. It was another one of those uneventful motor sails but who’s complaining.
We anchored in Sapodilla Bay which has room for anyone who could possibly arrive here. It can be rolly, and other than being a dinghy ride from Customs, there is nothing here. But there are several internet signals, although I could not Skype or post pictures. In order to use high tide to our advantage we motored over to Caicos Marina and Boatyard for fuel, with an easy fuel dock. With the wind blowing from the wrong direction it can be tricky getting in and out of here, and with our 5 ½ foot draft, we needed to arrive and leave two hours on either side of high tide.
It seems that Southside Marina, located between Sapodilla Bay and Caicos Marina, is sort of the organizer at Provo, Simon in particular. Each morning at 7:30 Simon runs a net on VHF 18, reporting the weather and providing info for anyone asking. Southside runs a shuttle (one day a week?) to the IGA Supermarket, which is like a stateside grocery, and if you can get to his marina, you can hitch a ride. On Thursday night, they organize a potluck cookout, providing ice, utensils, and ice cream. They will also shuttle anyone anchored out in Sapodilla Bay or the Annex (see below) to this event. It was great. Getting in and out of this marina (as with any of the marinas here, it seems) is a challenge for boats like ours without a bow thruster and a lousy turning radius.
Around the bend, and using waypoints Simon will provide, you can access the Annex, which is a failed marina project that was never finished, located in Cooper Jack Bay. This is incredibly protected and it would have been great. There is a lagoon with completed concrete bulkheading, but no pilings. In a few spots boaters find exposed rebar and tie alongside using them. Others run an anchor from bow and stern and dig them in the dockside gravel. We stayed here one day but anchored out (there is room for probably 4 boats to anchor in the basin if all cooperate) so Peter could dive the boat to replace the zincs. Once here though there is no place to go on land.
We rented a car which Simon arranged for us, complete with pickup at the Sapodilla Bay anchorage, for two days. We ran all over the island, provisioning food and liquor, marine supplies, pharmaceuticals, and even finding a pair of Teva-like boat/water/hiking shoes at one of the drug stores. (Don’t think this will be like a CVS; this drug store had no medications but a plethora of dusty odds and ends, fortunately including the shoes since Peter’s old ones fell apart along the way).
We toured a conch farm which was started by a shipwrecked sailor. After raising the conch they are sold for food. The tour was interesting but too short and a rip off at $10/person. We intended to tour an old plantation/slave quarters but found the tour guide to speak very little English, with a hint that the tour might be another $10 a head disappointment. So we shopped instead.
The uppidity side of the island is Grace Bay, where the resorts and restaurants are found. We had a drink at Da Conch Shack and bought takeout conch dinners which were OK but not world class, as advertised. The resorts appear to be quite luxurious.

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