The night we spent headed to Turks and Caicos was one of the more pleasant that we’ve had on this trip. There were only three of us in driving condition, John, Jackson and I, but the wind was nonexistent, so we simply ran one-person 3-hour shifts, which afforded me an unheard-of six hours of sleep before I even had to go on watch. Once I did, I was alert enough to read even John’s soporific “Diplomacy”, by Henry Kissinger (a book so adept at causing drowsiness, I would unhesitatingly prescribe it as a sleep aid), while watching out for freighters and occasionally changing the course by a couple degrees on the autopilot. I almost regretted waking Jackson up at the end of my shift because it was so pleasant that I wanted to remain on deck, but I ended up succumbing to sleep for an hour or two before we reached the Caicos Bank on our way to Southside Marina, when visual piloting became necessary once again.
We spent two nights on Providenciales(the largest island in the Turks and Caicos, and helpfully shortened to “Provo” by locals who don’t want to wait around all day for you to finish pronouncing their island), and truly didn’t experience much, as we were planning on returning after visiting the Dominican Republic. Instead we prepared for our sail down, picked up some groceries, and took our first showers in a week. We also hung out with a Canadian couple our second night there, who, in their twenties, were some of the youngest people we’d met in a month. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Provo was how hot it was. Despite being a mere 60 miles south of Mayaguana, the days were almost oppressively hot, with the sun searing your skin as soon as you left the shade. The only person who seemed positively influenced by this incandescent atmosphere was Ellen, who made a miraculous recovery and was out “bronzing” within hours of our arrival.
We departed for South Caicos the morning of the third day, and beat straight into the wind for the first day, making it literally 11 miles from Provo in about 10 hours of sailing(for those of you not familiar with sailing, this is what we call a “bad ratio”), due to the horribly placed wind, and were forced to anchor in the best place we could find. This happened to be right out in the middle of the bank, literally out of sight of land, and at the mercy of the wind and waves. Now, the bank is shallow, so anchoring wasn’t problematic and the waves couldn’t get too large, but without any sort of cover, our main concern was that a large enough wave might coordinate with a low enough tide to slam our keel on the bottom. Fortunately no such slumber-impairing event occurred, and we completely ignored our sails the next day, motoring our way straight to South Caicos, and arriving just after noon at the small outpost.