Sunday, December 5, 2010

West Caicos to Turtle Cove

It wasn't exactly the most restful night on the mooring with the winds we had -- northeast at 20-30 knots -- but it was still fun being together aboard, out on the ocean! We had a leisurely cruise from French Cay in the morning; we fished as we went, with Dan happily bringing in his first couple of fish, a barracuda and a Cero mackerel. It was definitely catch and release, since neither are fabulously edible in our opinion and we were hoping for mahi or wahoo. We had some unexpected visitors as we neared the south end of West Caicos, with a large pod of dolphins joining Equinox to play in her bow wave. They surfed in front of the bow for quite some time, clearly enjoying themselves, and us them. It was delightful!

Five of the dolphins surfing the bow wave as we came
around the south end of West Caicos.
They were having a blast!
At West Caicos we hooked onto a mooring line near The Gullies, and while conditions at the surface were rolling pretty good with the northerly swells, Ron Trish and I had a great dive below! As we descended, two good sized reef sharks were already there, cruising the sandy areas beneath us. They each made a singular pass near us, before heading off down the reef and later circling back. It was very cool! Ron was so excited that Trish could see some sharks, and to see them so closely was a treat. Ron brought his new camera down to document Trish in the water with the sharks although visibility again was not the best, and much less so for photography. We also saw some flamingo tongues, tiny and shy garden eels, lots of juvenile reef fish of all description, plus several black durgeon and a large queen triggerfish. As we retraced our route, we also saw a small southern ray scooting across the sand and had a reef shark escort back to the boat until we ascended for our safety stop. It was a great dive!

We decided we wouldn't stay out on a mooring for the night, since the brisk winds, combined with the 3'-5' waves on top of the northerly 6'-8' swells were really tossing the boat about on the mooring. So, we headed from West Caicos and made our way around the Northwest Corner of Providenciales towards the reefs along Grace Bay. The waves were really breaking along shallower edges of the reef, and it was somewhat intimidating to watch the swells crash and break as they did. Not having come through Sellar's Cut before and being unfamiliar with the route zig-zagging across Grace Bight, we called ahead for one of the marina's courtesy guide boats to lead us in. Ron did this more to appease me, as we actually had it charted quite well, but...better to be safe than sorry, especially since the sunlight wasn't the best for reading the water in the late afternoon! It reminded us a bit of the Devil's Backbone off the north side of Harbour Island and Eleuthera, but it wasn't nearly as hairy since the Backbone is unmarked and inside Grace Bight there were several sets of channel markers. The last couple of doglegs into the marina were interesting, but there was plenty of water even at mid-tide, and soon we were tied up and secure at Turtle Cove Marina.
Following the guide boat from Turtle Cove Marina in through
Sellar's Cut and across Grace Bight
Dinner and drinks ashore at the Tiki Bar followed, before an early night, as we were all pretty tired from our day's adventures. Captain Ron didn't even make it through the DVD we watched after dinner, and no one minded having an early night. I do believe that 9 o'clock is the cruiser's midnight! :)

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