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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A wild ride round the Caicos Bank

We are at sea again, on passage for 150 miles, about a twenty four hour trip. This is becoming a bit of a habit, hopefully Gesa will forgive me one day.

We wish to be in Clarance Town, Long Island by Saturday. That either means a near constant series of long day trips, with tricky harbours at some of the stops, and no slack for poor weather, or it means two overnight hops, staging and recovering at Mayaguana for a few days, so this is what we are doing.

The Caicos islands rest on the rim of the Caicos Bank, the barely submerged summit of an enormous undersea mountain rising three thousand meters form the sea bed. The direct route to the Bahamas is across this bank, cautiously searching for a seven foot channel and dodging growths of coral. For fifty miles. Tough. We chose to go around it.

We then have two choices, around the north or the south. South is thirty miles longer, but it means that for a large part of the way, we will be in the 'lee', or shelter of the bank. No shelter from the wind, but it breaks up the big atlantic swell that is running right now. So here we are, having recently rounded the south west corner of the Caicos Bank and reaching fast on a wild, twenty five knot night. Ty Dewi is loving it, going at full speed under just half her mainsail and the little staysail jib. We are hanging on and hanging in there, some more than others. Gesa and MAx are confined to quarters, though thankfully not actually seasick so far.

We left south Caicos at midday and have made record time, rarely under seven knots which is fast going for us. We are aiming to arrive at about ten in the morning, which gives us a chance to get inside the reef at Abrahams Bay, Mayaguana, anchor for breakfast then wait for the sun to pass overhead and give us the much needed 'over the shoulder' sunlight that will let us pick our way across the coral strewn bay to the settlement four miles to the East.

I suspect I will have little sleep until then but otherwise, we're doing fine and will report our arrival in the morning.

All's well. N.

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