Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Time to Depart the Turks and Caicos!

After getting our refrigerator repaired, it was time to move on.  We were anxious to continue on our journey. But, we were not actually LEAVING the Turks and Caicos island chain yet. We were heading to Big Sand Cay, the jump off point from the Turks and Caicos to the Dominican Republic, our next destination. 
Approach to Six Hills, Turks and Caicos

We departed Providenciales on Wednesday, December 18.  We had to leave the marina at high tide, which was 11:00 a.m.  We had plenty of time to make the 40 mile trip to Six Hills, Turks and Caicos, for an overnight stop.  There was little protection from the wind so we got up the next day and headed to Big Sand Cay. 

The 4.5 hour trip to Big Sand Cay was only 28 miles, but it seemed like 28 hours to me! The wind was against us and the seas were very rolly with large, short period waves which made for a very rough passage.  

I got SO seasick!  I wore my seasickness wrist bands, and even tried the earplug in the non dominant ear trick. Nothing worked!  I didn't take any Dramamine or other motion-sickness medicine because I didn't want medicine hangover.  But, looking back, I should have! We were on a short trip, and we were going to be at Big Sand Cay for several days at least. I had plenty of time to get over drowsiness. Ah, hindsight!

My hero! LA had to be captain AND nurse on this passage!

I was of no help to LA on the passage (not that he needs it!). Usually, I am helping with watch during the day, navigation, and snacks. I looked green as a gourd! (Thankfully, no photos taken!) LA tended to me and put ice packs on my forehead and neck. I was able to get some sleep and get some some relief.  

LuLu wasn't feeling too sporty either!  She wedged herself against the winches and the side curtains and hunkered down the whole way.

About one hour before we made landfall, I woke up and felt better.  The anchorage was pretty calm and I made a quick recovery.

Our plan was to anchor at Big Sand until we got a good weather window.  (What's a weather window?? A weather window is a period of time (in hours or days) that allows you to safely travel from one destination to another in the amount of time that you THINK it will take you to get there… plus another 10% to allow for changing sea and weather conditions.).  We planned to travel from Big Sand Cay to Samana Cay, Dominican Republic, a 215 nautical mile (nm) trip which we estimated would take us between 36 to 39 hours traveling 5.5 to 6 knots/hour.  

So, how do you plan for weather when you are on a deserted island with no Internet?  Fortunately, we have a single sideband (SSB) radio which can broadcast radio signals from all over the world.  SSB allows an unlimited number of people to listen to a transmission at the same time.There are designated channels and specific times where we can hear weather reports by a weather guru, Chris Parker.  When Chris gives his weather reports for different parts of the Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean, South American, Panama, or Central America, anyone who wants to listen can glean information about the weather for your area.  You can subscribe to Chris's service for $195/year and receive customized weather reports by calling in on the SSB radio during the weather report transmission and Chris can give you advice about whether it's a good time to leave.  In other words, he helps you pick a weather window.  

Here's the catch, though.  Chris actually has to be able to HEAR you call in.  When we were at Big Sand Cay, most days he could not hear us transmit! Finally, one morning at 6:00 a.m. (yes, I got up at 6am every day to listen!) someone listening in heard us and relayed the information to Chris and we finally got one customized weather report!  The weather was not in our favor.  Every day, we had winds over 25 knots and big seas. We wanted a little calmer weather for our trip to Samana.  Finally, we decided to change our route from Samana Cay to Puerto Plata, a 88nm trip instead of 215 nm.  The trip would take us 15-17 hours instead of 36-39 hours.  Even then, we waited 7 days at Big Sand Cay to get a good weather to depart.

Genesis in a protected anchorage at Big Sand Cay

So, what did we do while we waited?? Read the next blog story to find out!

1 comment:

Mary Connaughton said...

Coleen says you're keeping her hanging... better write the next installment soon :-)