Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Thursday 10th February 2011

Posted by yachtmoonlight on March 10, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Whilst sitting in the cockpit, early on Wednesday 2nd February, our enjoyment of the bright sunny morning was abruptly disrupted by the sight of a Frenchman swimming past our boat wearing nothing but a pair of gloves which bemused, confused and alarmed us in equal measures.
Needing to fill up with fuel, water and groceries before we set off for the Turks and Caicos islands, we upped the anchor and sailed away from the nudey French loony as fast as the wind would carry us.
We had decided to treat ourselves to a couple of days in the marina in Road Town, so we could easily fill up with water and get all the shopping we would need, so we headed across the water towards Tortola and stopped at the fuel dock to fill up with diesel before moving round to our berth.
Once we were settled, John serviced the engine (wiggled a screwdriver in it and smothered himself in oil) while I had a meander around the town to peruse the small and not terribly exciting selection of shops, and came back with little more than a big pile of Walkers Prawn Cocktail crisps from the British Shop.
The marina was quite expensive and one of the luxuries we were looking forward to was making use of the showers, so we were very disappointed to find that not only did the marina charge an additional $3 per shower but the two showers in the Ladies were both filthy and one was broken, so we declined to purchase any tokens and stuck with the seawater washes with freshwater rinses from the solar shower that we were used to.
That evening, we heard a band strike up at the marina bar. The first song they played was a slow miserable blues number, which wasn’t made any happier by the admittedly very good vocalist.
This was followed by an equally morose number as was the next and the next. They all sounded the same and they all made me want to slash my wrists, until about the tenth song when I wanted to slash the singer’s wrists as well (it’s called the Blues for a reason……actually I thought they were great – bit like early Cream with Eric himself on the guitar! John).

We had a lot of food shopping to do and so we set out first thing on Thursday morning on our first supermarket run (we wanted to visit both of the two supermarkets in town as they sold slightly different things).
Not being sure what we would be able to buy in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas, we needed to stock up on enough dried and tinned food to last us a few months.
We managed to get everything we needed with one trip to each supermarket and then had the not insignificant task of stowing it all way!
All the tins live in one large deep locker and it suddenly occurred to me that if I wrote what was in each tin on the top with a marker pen it would be much easier to find what we needed. Why it took 18 months for this brainwave to come to mind I have no idea but it worked a treat.
In the afternoon, we dropped off a huge bag of laundry at a nearby laundrette and John had a fiddle with the main boat GPS as it had suddenly decided that it couldn’t be bothered to pick up any satellite signals any more and hence didn’t have the faintest idea where we were.
When we collected our laundry later that afternoon, I noticed that the washing liquid we had left with it (a large bottle of Ecover, which we brought from home and like to use as it is quite eco-friendly) but it was nowhere to be seen.
The lady in the laundrette said that if it wasn’t there, the lady who had done our washing earlier must have used it all up to do our washing. John pointed out this was a little absurd as there was enough liquid to do another 20 washes in the bottle and if it had all been used up in one go we wouldn’t have been able to get into the laundrette as it would have been full of bubbles.
The lady serving us didn’t seem particularly bothered, which was almost as annoying as having lost our bottle of Ecover, but after much arguing (from our side, she clearly didn’t give a monkeys and didn’t try to argue back, she just kept saying it must have all been used up) she eventually agreed to call the laundrette manager, who spoke to John on the phone. It transpired that the lady who had done our washing in the morning was new and hadn’t realised the washing liquid was ours and had carried on using it all morning until it had been used up. The manager was extremely apologetic and offered to do 20 free washes for us to make up for it, but as we were leaving the country the following day, we accepted an apology and no charge for the two loads of washing that they had done for us. These things happen and it was a genuine mistake but the frustrating thing was that we had lost our eco-friendly washing liquid and we couldn’t buy anything similar in the shops here.
That evening we went out for dinner to a restaurant called ‘The Dove’ which had been recommended to us by our friend Sam in St Maarten.
The Dove turned out to be a very nice restaurant indeed that was unfortunately fully booked, but we managed to get a table in their upstairs tapas bar, which was a little expensive but fabulous.

Having stocked up with all the dry and tinned food we would need, all that was left to buy on Friday was fresh food and we headed to the supermarkets again in the morning to get fruit, veg, eggs, cheese, ham and bread to keep us going for the next few days.
Once the shopping was all packed away, I spent some time rearranging the storage cupboards, mainly to get out some of the warmer clothes that we would be needing for sailing overnight and possibly sometimes during the day as we were heading into cooler climes (bearing in mind that we feel chilly if the temperature gets below about 27 degrees these days).
John went to Customs and Immigration to check us out of the country and we spent a very pleasant afternoon with a copy of the Sunday Times that we had bought at the British Shop and had set us back £10!
As the night drew in, we heard a band strike up again at the marina bar, similar to one that had played the night before except that this time the singer couldn’t really sing and we were subjected to the longest, slowest, most miserable and least in-tune rendition of Hotel California we had ever heard.

We left the marina at 9am on Saturday morning, headed for the Turks and Caicos Islands, escorted for a short time by a solitary dolphin.

(The friendly dolphin)

It was quite windy and choppy, but I had taken every precaution known to man (and a few more I made up) to prevent me feeling seasick as it would be a three day sail, the longest passage since we crossed the Atlantic.

(On passage)

All was going well until two and half hours into my first three hour night shift, when I had to wake John up as I was feeling very unwell.
After some more seasickness tablets and a sleep, I felt much better, although still a bit queasy and was able to take over from John at the end of his three hour shift and so passed a quiet, starry night.
We passed the next day taking it in turns to keep a watch while the other snoozed and took shelter from the sun.
It wasn’t until the Monday that I started feeling more normal, although I still couldn’t read without feeling sick, so stuck to listening to my iPod to pass the time, mainly back-to-back episodes of The Archers Omnibus.
In the afternoon, we spotted a large cruise ship called the Carnival Liberty, which passed close by, so John called it up to make sure it had seen us and to just to say hello.

(The Carnial Liberty cruise ship)

The chap on the cruise ship seemed a little bemused that we wanted to say hello to them and commented that he thought it was very windy for a little boat to be so far out to sea!

We finally arrived in Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos at 11am on Tuesday morning, after just over three days at sea, and were greeted with a beautiful shallow anchorage of crystal clear water and no other boats!
After we had anchored, we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed ashore to check in with Customs and Immigration.
We stopped in a small supermarket to get a cold drink and directions to the Customs office, which was a short walk down very good roads, covered in English-style road markings, sand and very few cars.
The Customs office was closed for lunch, so we had a wander up a nearby hill for a closer look at a derelict wooden house that must have been quite something in its day before heading back to sit on a wall under the shade of a tree and wait for the Customs officers to return from their lunch break.
When the office re-opened, I brushed a trail off ants of our hats which I had put down on the wall, and we went up the outside stairs to the second floor of the beautiful old building to check in.
The next job was to find the Immigration office, which was a little trickier. We followed the directions given to us by the Customs office, but we soon got completely lost and would probably still be there if a passing local chap hadn’t kindly shown us the way.
The Immigration office was in a very small concrete building which it shared with several other government departments, including the Department of Road Safety (which seemed like a cushy job to me as we hadn’t yet seen a car) which each had a tiny office off a large waiting area.
We had to wait a short time for the Immigration officer to appear and we sat at her desk while she stamped our passports and I noticed a trail of ants marching from my hat to the nearside of the officer’s handbag and exiting the other side with her lunch.
Back on the boat we were completely exhausted after three nights of not much sleep and a long traipse around the town in the heat of the day, and after a very early dinner, we were asleep by 6pm and didn’t wake until the next morning.

(The anchorage in Cockburn Harbour)

I was still feeling a bit worn out and a bit under the weather the next morning, so we had a quiet day on the boat and while I read, John went for a swim over some nearby coral heads.
After spotting some lobsters on the coral, he popped back for his homemade lobster catcher and headed off again to see if he could catch us some tea and returned a short while later with four small (but above the legal minimum size) lobsters.
We put the lobsters in a bucket in the cockpit and thought we had better double check that we weren’t in a national park before we prepared them for dinner as we were aware there were some parks around this area where fishing is not allowed.
Checking our guide book, we looked at a small chart of the area and noticed a big red square which marked the boundaries of a national park, and we were right in the middle of it, meaning that fishing was not allowed anywhere in the bay we were anchored in. Oooops. Apologising profusely to the lobsters, we put them back and they shot off back to their coral dens very much relieved I’m sure.
Another boat arrived in the anchorage that afternoon and after sundowners under a beautiful sunset we settled down to what turned out to be a very windy night.

I spent some time catching up with the blog this morning while John amused himself with a cryptic crossword book.
After lunch, we took the dinghy over to the coral heads and had a great snorkel with a huge selection of fish including French grunts, parrotfish, Nassau groupers, a large porcupine fish and a small black fish that kept nibbling John’s fingers when he dived down to have a look at it.
All was going well until we were joined by a rather large big-toothed barracuda that was a little too interested in us and kept following us around and getting a bit too close for comfort, so we headed back to the dinghy and back to the boat, where we had another swim around the boat. There wasn’t much to see other than hundreds of sand dollars, which were scattered everywhere we looked.
That evening we enjoyed the first beer we’d had for a week (we never drink on passage and hadn’t felt like one since we’d arrived!) and had a nice peaceful dinner on the boat.

Categories: The Caribbean

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