The anchorage at Abraham’s Bay was a little choppy but protected from large swells by the reef. It is also absolutely beautiful and we were the only boat there! The water is shallow and very clear. We didn’t see a lot of sea life except for a few rays and some large barracuda which hung out by the boat and followed us around when we went swimming.
After a couple of days, another boat came into the anchorage. Russell recognized the boat Adrenaline from following their YouTube channel Tula’s Endless Summer. The next day we stopped by to say hello and met Billy, Sierra and their dog Jetty.
We heard if you were going to Turks and Caicos, it wasn’t necessary to check out of the Bahamas but if going directly to the DR it was. Even though we planned to stop at Turks and Caicos, we wanted to check out anyway just in case.
That meant going ashore, which proved to be a bit interesting. The approach to the dock is very shallow with a line of markers to follow in. There isn’t anything to indicate which side of these markers you should be on, but it doesn’t really matter because at low tide you’re probably going to bump bottom anyway.
Abraham’s Settlement is a very small community on the island. The people were all very friendly but conducting any kind of business there was quite different from what we’re used to. Our first stop was the Administration building to try to check out. We were told that unfortunately they wouldn’t be able to help us because they were out of forms and didn’t know when they would have any. We were instructed to walk down to the police station and they would write us a note. Uhhh, what??
So, the next morning we took our cruising permit down to the police station and they very kindly stamped the back and signed off that we were checking out. We later checked into Turks and Caicos without any issues.
There isn’t much available in Abraham’s Settlement but we did find a grocery store. We were disappointed that the bar next door didn’t really open at 4 pm, even though that’s what the sign said, so no cold beer for us.
There’s a small park near the dinghy dock with lots of palm trees where we had a blast collecting coconuts.
The next day we saw another boat coming into the anchorage. From a distance, it appeared to be a motor cat but as it got closer, we could tell it was a sailing catamaran that had been dismasted. Russell went over and introduced himself to Florence and Philippe, a French couple, on sailing vessel Kermotu. He found out their mast had come down near Devil’s Point and they had to cut away their rigging using a hacksaw to avoid additional damage to the hull of their boat. All of their rigging was lost at sea.
They had decided to try to make it back to Saint Martin for repairs and we agreed to stay with them as far as Providenciales (Provo) since they had very limited radio, radar and AIS signal. We gave them ten gallons of diesel so they would have enough fuel and they repaid us with a bottle of French wine (score for us!).
It’s best to navigate into Provo in the early morning so our original plan had been to leave Mayaguana around 5 pm and sail overnight. Since Philippe wanted to allow extra time in case he had any issues, we pulled anchor and headed out around 2 pm. We spent the next eleven hours following along and behind their starboard (right) side keeping about a ½ mile distance between us. We made it to the Sandbore Channel Cut around 1 am. We were approached by an official boat who radioed us asking where we were going, where we had come from, how many aboard, etc. Since we have a rule not to navigate into any unknown anchorage after dark, we answered all of their questions and let them know we would stay out on the bank until daylight. Kermotu chose to go on into the anchorage.
At daybreak we headed for Sappadillo Bay and anchored near Kermotu. Later that morning they passed by to thank us again and let us know they were heading out after topping off their fuel. I’ve since had a few emails from them and at this time all is well and they’re still making their way down the islands to Saint Martin.
Since we needed to check in, we started looking for the dinghy dock that was shown on our map. It didn’t seem to be there any longer. Another boat had come into the anchorage, so we decided to see if they were familiar with the area. That was when we met Dale and his crewmember, Kris, on Sixth Girl. We had actually heard of Dale since he was one of moderators for the cruiser’s net in George Town but we had never met him. It was his first time to Provo as well, so we ended up just beaching the dinghies near the government dock and were able to find the correct building. Once we checked in, Russell and I walked up the beach and had a drink, or maybe two. Unfortunately, there weren’t any grocery stores or really anything else of interest within walking distance, so we headed back to the boat. That evening, we had drinks on Sixth Girl with Dale and Kris who were leaving the next day.
We spent one more day at Provo then headed to South Caicos. Winds were light so we motored the entire way. Coming into South Caicos is a contrast. Crystal water with beautiful rocky islands to one side and a resort overlooking the water on the other. However, once you get around and into the anchorage at Cockburn Harbor you see a sunken boats, dilapidated buildings and poverty.
We needed to check out, so we went ashore looking for Customs and Immigration. They were closed but a helpful gentleman directed us to the grocery store. Seems they call the officials who bring the forms to you there. Half of our paperwork was completed on top of the freezer in the store and the other half through a car window.
After we took care of our paperwork, we stopped at a local restaurant for dinner and then walked around the town. Seems to be a very poor area but everyone was friendly and helpful, and we felt perfectly safe.
In the category of ‘it’s a small world’, there was another sailor doing his paperwork at the grocery store the same time as us. Turns out he grew up near where we lived and his father worked for the same company I did. Who would have thought we’d run into someone from our area of Louisiana on this little island?
Weather windows to get to Luperon were getting fewer and farther between so when it looked as though we had one the next day we had to take it, even though we would have liked to stay longer on South Caicos.
We pulled anchor at 10 am and motored out to very little wind and a flat calm sea. While I’m always grateful for calm seas, this was actually getting pretty boring after a few hours. We hadn’t seen any other vessels, fish, turtles or anything else all day.
Around 2 pm I had just told Russell I wished we would see some dolphins or something when we saw some dark spots in the distance. As we got closer, we could see dorsal fins. We think they were some type of whale. It was a pod of around a dozen and they were just hanging out there motionless until we got closer. Then they dove and disappeared from sight. I’m the worlds worst photographer and was so busy looking at them I forgot to try to get any pictures. By the time they came back to the surface we were too far away to get a shot.
We finally got some wind and were able to raise the sails around 4:30 in the afternoon. About a half hour later something hit the bait we had been trolling. Russell grabbed the pole and I let out the sails to slow us down while he fought the fish. It was a really big, beautiful mahi-mahi. I didn’t want a repeat of my earlier mistake, so I grabbed my camera. Luckily I did because after a long fight, and just before he gaffed it, the darn thing got off the line. At least this time we had pictures!
Around dusk, the wind and waves picked up so Russell took down all of the sails except the main and started the motor. We saw a barge being towed a few miles off which we made sure to avoid. We also saw a sailboat light in the distance in front of us and Russell mentioned that he thought it could be Sixth Girl.
By 3 am we were near enough to the coast of Hispaniola to notice an earthy smell. We slowed down and tacked a couple of times to kill time until daybreak. At daylight Russell took down the main sail, we started going into Luperon and there was Sixth Girl in front of us. They had left South Caicos a day before us but made a stop at Big Sand Cay.
The entrance into Luperon is clearly marked but there were fish traps in the channel that we had to avoid. Just one more reason we never try to enter an anchorage in the dark! Sixth Girl, Ddraig and a third boat, Kraken, who was behind us, all made it in safely.
At 7:15 am, we dropped anchor at what will be our home for the next few months while we wait out hurricane season.