Turks & Caicos, BWI -- 3/00 & 4/00

* (Denotes a link to a chart for the region being discussed)

Our Plan

Our journey from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Turks & Caicos, BWI through the Bahamas on "Outrageous Conduct" took us just over three weeks during which time we covered 600 miles at sea, enjoyed beautiful sights and wonderful diving.

We were scheduled to take on several sets of guests mid-April and planned to use the two weeks before they arrived to ready the yacht and rest up from the journey from the United States.

Our first guest Fred, would arrive a week ahead of the others and had booked two weeks with us. Mark, Jeff and Connie had a just over a week so we would take Fred to some of the outlying the islands, returning to Provo in time to meet the others and then take a different route to the areas closer to Providenciales.
* (The Trek Around Turks & Caicos)


Providenciales

As we approached Providenciales, I enjoyed the sense of returning to an island where I had spent considerable time in the past and looked forward to seeing some old friends. one of them, Carole Klinko formerly with Provo Turtle Divers had been promoted to Marina Manager for the Turtle Cove Marina. * (Providenciales)

Though both Chris and I had been there before, upon approaching the channel markers to enter the bay we radioed the Marina and took advantage of Carole's offer to send a pilot boat to guide us safely though the rocks and coral heads.
* (The Approach to Sellar's Pond, Providenciales)

The cut through the fringing reef is clearly marked however the zig zag approach to the Marina itself is very tricky. It is shallow and scattered with coral heads and rocks.

Smith's Cove is very sheltered and the Marina is full service with power, water and in close proximity to some of my favorite watering holes and restaurants;
The Shark Bite, The Banana Boat and The Tiki Hut Bar & Grill just to name a few. Scooter Bob's Car Rental (cheapest on the island) is also located close by, so all our land side needs would be sorted quite easily. * (Turtle Cove Marina)

A few well placed words by Carole to Customs and Immigration greased that process to not much more than a formality.

We passed the next few weeks quietly, diving Grace Bay, sightseeing, visiting with friends and exploring the island. When Fred arrived, settled him in and then brought him to our favorite bar & grill, Calico Jack's. We introduced him to our good friend and host, Peter and passed the evening in with a party celebrating both Fred's arrival and our departure for West Caicos in the morning.  
   

Me (left),Chris (right) and Rock (middle).
Rock is Captain for Provo Turtles Dive Boat.


West Caicos

  We departed Provo for the three hour run southwest to the Island of West Caicos fishing along the way. Fred managed to catch a few barracuda which were released.

On the Island's west side there are a series of mooring balls, securely attached to the ocean floor which were placed there to preserve the reef system from anchor damage. We tied off to one at a dive site named "Whiteface" and promptly dropped in for a scuba dive. * (West Caicos)

Immediately upon entry, we encountered a fair sized nurse shark sleeping on the bottom. He was reasonably patient wish us as we took his photo and then we were off to drop down the wall just a short distance from our mooring. The drop off is dramatic and the coral vibrant and rich with reef life. We passed the afternoon and most of the next day diving and relaxing at Whiteface before moving south to French Cay.  
     



French Cay, West Sand Spit & Long Cay

A small uninhabited island, French Cay provided us with safe anchorage for the night and the opportunity to hunt for a lobster dinner. * (French Cay)

The next morning we moved on to West Sand Spit, an interesting spot west of the Caicos Bank. Divers in this area had been reporting sightings of a Tiger Shark and though Fred and Chris took a dive there, they were not fortunate enough for an encounter.
* (West Sand Spit)

       
Fred & I Passing Time Fishing         West Sand Spit

West sand Spit is not a proper island, but rather a hump of sand rising to just a few feet above sea level at high tide. On the west side there is a steep drop off to 3000 feet while the east side rests on the Caicos Bank. Home to nothing more than flocks of birds and sand crabs it is an idyllic place to wander or even just place a chair in the sand and enjoy a bit of solitude.

Having spent the afternoon at West Sand Spit, we crossed the Caicos Bank to Long Cay where we anchored for the night. While there is a small settlement on the island we did not leave the yacht, anticipating an early departure in the morning for Grand Turk, the second most populated island in Turks & Caicos.
* (Long Cay)



Grand Turk

We awoke to poor weather, the wind and seas had picked up considerably overnight and after some difficulty weighing anchor, we made the crossing to Grand Turk in six foot seas.

Upon arrival in
Grand Turk we availed ourselves to another mooring buoy ("Cables") just outside town and realized we were rolling and swinging about too much to be able to put our tender, "Outrageous Too" in the water and make land. * (Grand Turk)

       

Chris and I were anxious to see our good friend, Mitch Rolling who is the owner and operator of Blue Water Divers . We passed the day diving and occasionally calling Blue Water by radio without success and decided to settle in for the night to see if the weather might not improve in the morning, allowing us a launch of the tender. * (Moored at Grand Turk)

With no improvement in conditions the next day, I took the kayak to shore, and began running errands. First order of business, hire a taxi and circle the island looking for a calmer anchorage. I met with success around the southeast point near the
Arawak Inn & Beach Club. Next, track down Mitch and arrange to meet later in the evening for a food, drinks and catch up on old times. I found him in the Blue Waters' Scuba shop near the center of town and arranged to meet at the Salt Raker Inn later in the evening. Last, but certainly not least, the provision of beer on "Outrageous Conduct" was dangerously low, so I loaded up the kayak with all she would hold and returned to the yacht to report success on all fronts.

We moved off the dive buoy and ran down to the far end of the island where the Point protected us from the ocean swells. Launching "Outrageous Too' here was a piece of cake and before long we were on the beach of the Arawak, sipping beers and waiting for a taxi to carry us to meet our friends.

We passed several jovial hours at the Salt Raker before moving to the back streets of Grand Turk for a more local setting. After dinner and a few rums, we talked Mitch into returning to "Outrageous Conduct" with us for some Liar's Dice and music.

           

One thing led to another, and before long a real party had developed! Chris looks on as Mitch showed us some facial tricks and Fred makes good on a lost Liar's Dice bet.

           

All good things must end and so in the morning we bid farewell to Mitch and Grand Turk and began our return to Providenciales. We retraced our course to Long Cay where we moved north through the Caicos Bank, stopping overnight some 20 miles short of Providenciales. Scattered coral heads offered some pleasant snorkeling and a lobster appetizer and the next day we put the Jet Ski in the water and carried on, taking turns on the Jet Ski while "Outrageous Conduct" was underway.



Provo

Back in Provo, we were assigned a new slip, right within stumbling distance of the Banana Boat Bar and we passed several days there waiting on weather and the arrival of the rest of our guests.  
    Welcome to Mark & Jeff!

With everyone onboard and the yacht re-provisioned, we departed once again for more open ocean adventures. Unfortunately for the new arrivals, Fred had seen the best weather of some weeks and there was little relief for the remainder of our time in Turks & Caicos. We were determined to make the best of it and returned to West Caicos, taking advantage of the moorings on the leeward side of the island.



West Caicos

Once settled several hundred years ago but now deserted, West Caicos is over grown but there remains scattered ruins and bits of artifacts that make exploring an exciting and worthwhile pastime. Fred and I ventured to the island together, taking "Outrageous Too" to within fifty feet of the iron shore and then snorkeling in. We enjoyed walking through the ruins, peering into abandoned wells and sightseeing. Our explorations were rewarded with the find of an antique copper ring, set with a small opal. Later in the day Chris, Jeff and Mark explored the island but their treasure hunt yielded nothing more than broken pottery and interesting bits of iron.

           
Jeff Prepares to Dive             The Anchor

We stayed on at West Caicos, changing our mooring buoy from "The Driveway" to "Sunday Service", diving each site and enjoying the subtle differences each offered from one end of the island to the other. From "Sunday Service", we ran the tender back to "Whiteface" where an old coral encrusted anchor hangs exactly as it was lost on the wall's edge many years ago.



Northwest Point, Providenciales

  After several days we returned to Providenciales but moored off the Northwest Point at "The Crack". This deserted section of the island offers superb diving and a spectacular beach, complete with an abandoned Tiki Hut village. The wall is absolutely vertical here and the dive site, "The Crack" allows a diver to follow a deep ravine to the wall, exiting in the deep blue from a crevice with the sides towering above.

The weather continued to disintegrate to the point approaching the Marina would be hazardous so we made our way to the south side of Providenciales to Sapadilla Bay and anchored there waiting out the wind before returning to Turtle Cove Marina. We passed the time snorkeling and Jet Skiing and after several days made our way safely back to Provo for shore festivities and diving Grace Bay from "Outrageous Too" before seeing our guests off to the airport.

 

Click on these links for Regional Charts  
   
* The Trek Around Turks & Caicos  
* Providenciales  
* The Approach to Sellar's Pond, Providenciales  
* Turtle Cove Marina  
* West Caicos  
* French Cay  
* West Sand Spit  
* Long Cay  
* Grand Turk  
* Moored at Grand Turk  

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2001 John Petrak