Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Providenciales

This post is a recap of our visit to the Turks and Caicos. Really, only one Caico – Providenciales. Provo. We had opted to go to the south side of the island, to South Side Marina, to set us up for our next leg. First, I would have to say that I might not go back to South Side Marina. Despite having a few issues on arrival, the marina experience was OK.   But the location was not conducive to getting around Provo. With our draft, arriving and leaving requires timing the tides.
 
I will say that Bob and the staff went out of their way to be nice. The Wednesday we arrived they sponsored a potluck dinner up at Bob’s Bar. While the obvious reasoning is to get you to the bar, it did provide the opportunity to meet some other folks and tell stories with our slip neighbors - Ken and Sylvianne from Sylken Sea,  Rand and Ellen from Golden Glow, Polly and Byron from Twisted Sheets. Bob even provided free ice cream. He does seem to have a pretty good handle on cruiser priorities.
Ken and Sylvianne on Sylken Sea

The next day, Ken and Sylvianne were planning to rent a car to go exploring and invited us to go along. Nice! We ended up splitting the cost of a rental car from Scooter Bob down in Turtle Cove. I had read about Scooter Bob on several blogs so it was cool to go there with Ken to pick up the car. Bear in mind that in the Turks and Caicos you drive on the left side of the road. Always a challenge to remember. I have done that before in a few places and, remembering an incident circling a round-a-bout in London for 3 or 4 complete revolutions before I could get out, I let Ken drive. We went back and picked up Junie and Sylvianne and took off.





First stop- snorkeling! We picked a spot that indicated reef snorkeling access. We already knew that the water was a bit confused. Both Sylken Sea and SeaClearly had made the trip into the area on huge swells from the north – highly unusual for these islands. When those huge swells hit the north reefs, the effects are astounding. We had seen the breaking waves rolling and crashing ashore from 2 miles away when entering the Sandbore Channel to the south. As a result, the normally protected, quiet Grace Bay was turbulent, choppy and had a lot of seaweed. The reef itself, in this spot, turned out to be fairly unhealthy and a little sad. So, our snorkeling trip was short and disappointing.
Beach action. That could be me working the kite.
You can't really tell from here.

Lunch view

We moved on to lunch at a resort up the beach and felt better – fairly shallow of us, I suppose. The island was built up and had far more services, people and infrastructure than I expected. Ken and Sylvianne, who had last been here over 10 years ago, were amazed at the growth. They experienced quite a boom here during that time, apparently. It is almost reminiscent of a cruise ship stop yet there are no ships or facilities here. It is strictly resorts and residents.

Rumored to be effective.
Soon to be tested.


We rode around the island for a while longer and decided we might just as well return the car since Ken and Sylvianne were leaving the next day and we didn’t need it. While at Scooter Bob’s, Junie bought another fishing lure. This time, with Ken’s supportive agreement, it was a cedar plug. Junie has been looking for one of these as they are rumored to be a great bait.








The next morning, Sylken Sea pulled away from the dock to start their trek to the Dominican Republic. We started our trek to Graceway IGA. Bob provides rides to folks like us and even hooked us up with a propane refill while we were shopping. The IGA is, by far, the nicest grocery we have seen since leaving the US. We were dazzled by the selection and quality. Not dazzled enough to ignore the prices. They are just about double from what you would see in an average US store. Of course, the 46% import duty accounts for a lot of that. Still, we were glad to get a real shopping trip and bought a bunch of stuff.

Late in the afternoon, we had scheduled the gentleman from Customs to come back to the marina to clear us out on this Friday afternoon rather than make him come out on Saturday. After all the formalities, we had a great conversation with him and learned a little about him – including his island nickname. It seems that everyone from the islands of the Turks and Caicos has a given name that, basically, disappears once a nickname has been bestowed upon you. As he said, “Even your mother forgets your real name after a while”. I won’t reveal his nickname but it was fun. He also cared for the K-9 officers for the Customs Department and had to go by to feed his dogs on the way home. Pretty cool.
Women Who Sail

Saturday. Morning of departure. All we did was sit around waiting for the tide to come up. There wouldn’t be enough water for SeaClearly until noon. So, we sat. We settled up the bill, prepped the boat for sailing and waited. Polly showed up in her ‘Women Who Sail’ shirt for a photo op with Junie in her WWS shirt before we left. This is a cool group comprised of some amazing women sailors and boaters and they have an outstanding website which I am not allowed to peruse. I can, however, submit questions and get advice through my woman who sails.

With that, our visit to the Turks and Caicos comes to an end. We are off to Puerto Rico!

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