Just in Time
March 19th, 2020
We arrived in Big Sand Cay, an uninhabited island in the Turks and Caicos in the middle of nowhere. Exhausted and relieved to have the crossing behind us. The day after we left, Dominican Republic closed their ports and confined cruisers to their boats for 14 days. No going ashore. Thank God we got out! The crossing was brutal. We left when we knew the weather was going to be difficult but we thought we will just bang through it. Well, the winds were supposed to be a max of 19 kt, instead they were consistently 27 kts. We had put two reefs in the main before we left knowing that the winds are a little underpredicted sometimes. Being out there in the middle of the night, we pulled the jib in and just sailed with the main. It was too dangerous to pull the main down. Seas were coming frontal and sideways at times, crashing over the bow and sides of the boat. It was loud, cold, and scary. The waves slam against the boat and when below it sounds like it may come apart at times. One of our cabin hatches leaked but we were able to soak it up with several towels. Although we have the safety fix on our escape hatches that have failed on some Helias, I am always worried that there is still the possibility of failure on ours too. We wore our life vests on watch, and tethered ourselves to the jacklines so we didn’t fall overboard. While on watch, I curled myself up in a ball at the helm with my hoodie up and said multiple prayers over and over to God and to Kevin’s Dad. Kevin and I did our thing but we were both serious and quiet. It is hard to not think about how you could die out here and both of us admitted having those thoughts the next day. This is something we hope to never repeat again but we could not wait for a good weather window under the circumstances.
When we arrived at Big Sand Cay, it was a choppy anchorage and we were the only ones there but we were thankful to rest for a night.
Being anchored next to a tiny spit of an island in the middle of nowhere is also a bit unnerving but we were so tired and glad to be in calmer waters we didn’t care. We hit the sack early and woke up at 4:00 a.m. to pull up anchor in the dark. Note to self, dim all helm lights when pulling up anchor in the dark, know your surroundings and only do it when you have to!
We then sailed across the beautiful Caicos Banks to Sopadilla, Turks and Caicos. The banks are only about 10 ft deep for miles. Gorgeous light blue water. Kevin through out the rods out and managed to hook two Mutton Snapper at the same time. I teased him about putting the lines in such shallow water that they may get snagged on a reef and when both lines went off at the same time, that’s what we first thought had happened. Kevin furled the jib and I began backing up the boat. Low and behold, first fish brought in and then a second. Mutton snapper ranks up there as one of the best tasting fish in our book!
We arrived in Sopadilla Bay around 4:00, put up the quarantine flag and had a great dinner. We knew the Turks and Caicos were closing their borders in a few days and that the Bahamas were likely not far behind. We didn’t bother to check in for we wanted to be on our way before the sun came up to get to Mayaguana, Bahamas.