Things look very different when you arrive by sea and that is surely a big part of the pleasure of sailing – not to pass through the roads, roundabouts and carparks before that first view.
Low cliffs and trees, framed by the aquamarine waters of Sapodilla Bay, and the luxury houses built to enjoy the best positions were our introduction to Providenciales Island in the Turks and Caicos.
We anchored in 6.5 feet of water over the clean sandy bottom of Sapodilla Bay, far enough away from the popular beach to lose any sound from the activities there of American holiday makers. More on that later…
We had our local Turks and Caicos courtesy flag flying (It has a Dalek, a lobster and a small Union Jack on it. Feel free to disagree.)
The start to most days was to dive off the scoops on the back of the boat for a swim, followed by an outdoor shower
Also the yellow “quarantine” flag, so the first job is for L is to wash, brush up and get to the Customs and Immigration office in the dinghy with all the paperwork. Only the Captain is allowed ashore initially but it did mean I was all ready to pass him down his shoes when he returned for them 5 minutes later.
The start to most days was to dive off the scoops at back of the boat for a swim, followed by an outdoor shower using the ingenious fresh water shower hose thingy that pulls out of a hole in the hull. When the engine has been running it is even hot water!
Getting around was easy thanks to lots of locals in this British Overseas Territory actually being Haitian (or “Asian” as it sounded to our ears, which made us stop and think for a moment…) and having at least two jobs. The jittneys are a source of income for many; informal taxis that beep at all pedestrians who might want a lift, local and visitors alike, running them around the island for modest sums.
These low lying islands are built from the creamy chalky coral stone which certainly makes for spectacular beaches and many premium hotels (see Tripadvisor for that bit). It also means that away from those tidy areas, every pile of rocks and bare patch in the scrub looks blindingly brand new and the effect is rather like a war zone.
The waters round our boat had a few dark rocky bits, but not being divers we hadn’t explored what sea life was using these hideaways on the sandy bottom. We were curious though about the owner of a British built catamaran in the next beautiful bay, whom we watched dive down to these rocks again and again for hours. And that is how we met David, our lobster obsessed Canadian friend!
His first visit aboard Pentesilea was cut short when I noticed his dinghy had come untied and was drifting 500 yards away, prompting he and L to race off in ours to round it up again.
Despite initial impressions he was very good at knots and his lobster catching techniques improved considerably. He proved great company especially while I was away and a particularly crass bunch of holiday makers arrived and made our two boats into the marker posts for noisy jet ski races.
David and L plotted fitting revenge on the tourons (tourist+moron) and shared a Christmas eve restaurant dinner of coconut shrimp and mango cheesecake.