Sailing across the Caicos Banks

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Fri 1 May 2009 22:05
21:43.29N 072:26.33W    West Caicos
Today we sailed the 100km's across the Caicos Banks, which is a massive shallow area - in many areas only 2 to 4 m deep. This is in contrast to the sea between Grand Turk and the start of the banks which is up to 2 kilometres deep.  Because these sandy  banks are so shallow the water is very calm and the sea the most incredible turquoise.  We had to take great care in planning our route so as to avoid the coral heads that could rip open the keel. The trip was going very well, with about 15 knots of wind, we had our smaller spinnaker up (see picture below), and dolphins kept coming by for a visit.
Our first problem occurred when the radar packed up, making it a little difficult to navigate, as the outside navigation display could not work without the radar..But with such calm conditions, clear skies and 3 of us on board, and the main chart plotter inside, it only meant going down below occasionally to check that we were still on  track.  About twenty minutes later, Johnny and I watched the top of the spinnaker come loose was slow motion .. the shackle broke and the head of the sail collapsed into the water. It then ran under the boat, and we needed to anchor quickly, as we had coral heads in front. Unfortunately you have to start the engines to lower the anchor, and the sail got caught around the one propeller. Damn!!!  Mike jumped overboard with his flippers and had to cut this beautiful sail off the prop - very sad but I am sure we can get it fixed. This sail has been the wars before.
We are now anchored off the north end of West Caicos, in about 2m of water and the guys are fishing again. Today they managed to catch a few barracuda, but we have thrown them all back - the danger of Ciguatera remains. Tomorrow we will head up to Mayaguana, the first of the Bahaman islands