Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Fri 18 Mar 2011 22:07
En Route to Provodenciales - aka Provo
We leapt to it and Beez was all ready to go at seven. We had a quick conflab about what the clouds meant, decided they were just threatening out at sea and off we went. Soon as we had passed the motorboat anchored in front of us, he was on the radio warning us about a reef and to steer back toward him. Confidently we said we had our sonar on and thanked him for his concern. We picked our way out to 'sea' - all two miles in "normal" depth - before we turned into the Caicos Bank that we call Grand Bank - a forty three mile journey in the shallowest water we have sailed in. Let's get to it. The wind was steady at sixteen knots, occasional gusts to twenty. Depth 4.6 metres, I slowed to three knots until I got used to the shallow reading, as it soon dropped to the 3 metre mark - over a flat seabed ???. The GPS screen above shows our whole course across the middle of the bank, as shallow and north as we can go with our draught. Many cruisers go miles further north so they don't have to go across the bank, we wanted to give it a go.
Chuffed to bits I was, when a young osprey came right over our heads to check us out. He did a couple of circles and went about his business
Depth dropped from 3.9 to 2.9 metres, genoa out and off we zoomed, slowly we got used to not worrying about the depth and went faster
The view was spectacular. As the water got shallower the colour just got more beautiful. Bear checked his water maker was not pouring fresh water back into the sea. The last picture is looking over the side, the dark bits are the bits we avoided as they were coral heads. For as far as the eye could see there was nothing but water the colour any posh hotel swimming pool would be proud of. The Emerald Effect is a well known phenomena here, the clouds reflect the sea colour so their undersides show a greenish tinge, not very visible at this distance, but we did see it.
Meanwhile we had the troll trugging along and caught these two chaps. Barracuda get hoyed back I'm afraid (ciguatera risk and all).
This GPS shot shows us when we were still in the four metre contour not far from 3. Under the keel in the next picture, showing 1.2 metres below us. Our guide book said: If you see any dark patches by all means steer round them. You can always find deeper water between them and plenty of room to steer round them. Right. Right then. OK. When we entered the area where the book says there are many coral heads we fell into a great pattern. I stood up looking over the pram hood with my fingers on the auto helm buttons (single degrees) and Bear sat looking at the depth gauge calling the numbers. We only got a little taught below when he repeatedly said the point four metres. We did several miles with me hearing point 5 .5 .5 .5 .4 .5 .5 .4 .6 .5 .4 .5 .6 .9 .8 .7. My fingers were like a concert pianist, but at no point did we touch the bottom and our best speed was six point six knots. As we approached Provo about six miles off we suddenly hit very deep water. 2.2 metres. Wow.
Provo ahead. But a huge surprise..............
JoJo. Is a national treasure and will have his own blog. We had read about him and his antics, preferring people to his own pod, but as he officially lives on the other side of the island we didn't think it was him. Close up pictures and checking later on-line, proved it was him. Amazing. JoJo tucked under the starboard side, only coming up for air. He KNEW I wanted to take his picture, I would gauge where he would surface, finger on the button, focus ready.......... No he would zig zag at the last second. Loads of pictures of bits of him, or nothing, but I did get a few. He cruised at six and a half knots, slowing to keep our pace when the genoa was wound in. As we came in to anchor he did a quick once round us. Bear was stunned when JoJo went off to check the anchor, gave Bear a look of satisfaction, came back to check that I had put the swim ladder down and got the hoist ready to lower the outboard onto Baby Beez and off he went. I normally do the engine hours, switch off the engine, turn off the instruments after clearing the GPS course, ping the sat phone which gets a new position fix on Mailasail, (so you all can see we have arrived safely and the time we got there). Well. I only started those jobs after JoJo had left. When the anchor has gone down, Bear puts on sail covers, gets Baby Beez ready for launching by getting a rope ready for me to winch wench her up (while Bear guides her over the edge of Beez and pushes her away) as I lower the rope to settle her on the water beside us. Well he admitted he did faffing about stuff first as he watched in awe as JoJo had done his checking and made sure Bear knew all was well.
We settled for a well earned sundowner, tired and happy at a quarter to four. My eyes feel like squeaky windscreen wipers after the long day watching for coral. Bear thinks a game of Backgammon and an episode of Dexter after supper - as a full movie he may snore through. We leave the last of this blog to our new friend JoJo.
ALL IN ALL WHAT AN EXPERIENCE