So much has happened since my last blog. Crooked Island, overnight to Caicos, Iridium GO dies, Caicos for 4 days, planning of our longest non-stop trip of 3-4 days.
Before I go further, let me explain the reason I called this blog "The Thorny Path". The Thorny Path is a known expression used to describe the path we are taking (partly) from Florida to the Virgin Islands, keeping close to shores. The currents, waves, weather, winds in this section of the trip are inconsistent. This make the trip "thorny" and longer, but also less risky and, if you plan it well, more comfortable. We can only travel in short distances on specific days. The other option is I-65, travelling East to Longitude W65 then South to the Virgin Islands. That option is about 10 non-stop days.First, Crooked Island. The marina at the northern tip of Crooked Island is brand new, still under construction. We heard that many boats are afraid to go to this marina because of the crooked route to enter it in order to avoid corral reefs. (Reefs can really damage propellers. If we lose the propeller, it makes sailing in a marina 10 times harder.) The entrance and inside the marina are at least 10 feet deep. As we approached the island, we called the harbour master who guided us through the reefs (turn right after this reef, turn left after the red buoy, etc.). We felt safe.
We, and another catamaran, were the only customers. Excellent! We found out later that the third boat was the home of the marina manager and his wife the cook of the restaurant. To Frank's happy surprise, Carolina the Cook, is from Munich! We spent 3 days waiting for our next weather window for Turks & Caicos. We met six other American men staying in cabins. They were there for daily fly fishing expeditions. We shared scotch and cigars after dinners. The only downer for me was the noseeums having a feast on my legs. I look like I'm wearing polka dot socks.
We sailed Crooked Island to Turks & Caicos in 30 hours. It was very plaisant; winds, weather and waves were perfect for us.
Second, Turks & Caicos. What a beautiful island! Clear blue water, palm trees everywhere, friendly and laid back people, always breezy. This is where our 2-month-old satellite communication device, Iridium GO, died. This is a real setback for us. We relied on it for weather downloads en route and trusted it for communication with our family/friends at any time. The customer service is located in New Zealand. By the time we called them on Thursday, it was Friday morning for them and they don't work on weekends. As the service is through PredictWind, they couldn't do much for us in a day, besides telling us that Iridium GO can take 3-4 weeks to process a replacement (!).
The marina we're staying at is far from everything. Cab service is excellent. I hadn't done laundry since Jensen Beach, FL. So that was one of my priorities. Frank cut my hair and his own. Today, we provisioned and cooked some meals. We're leaving tomorrow morning.
Instead of continuing on the Thorny Path which would bring us next to the Dominican Republic, we decided to jump to Puerto Rico, a 3-4 day non-stop trip (another reason we miss our Iridium GO). We will sail across the Caicos Banks, then South of Turks Islands, then follow a curve East and South to San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is our longest non-stop trip to date. Wish us luck!
The Thorny Path