25 March 2022: Double or Nothing
25 March 2022
Landrail Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas
Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
Once you have done your first overnight sail, why not double down and make your next sail a double overnighter?
The weather window coming up was perfect! And, if I was feeling ballsy, I could maybe even extend it into a four day sail straight to Samana in the Dominican Republic. However, I am all about playing it safe and slowly pushing my limits. Signing up straight away for a four-day sail did not seem like a conservative decision. So, instead, I planned to head to Turks and Caicos, with a couple of plans to aim for either West Caicos (closer) or South Caicos (further, if it was going well). With coach Jamie checking the weather while I was out of reception and messaging me en route on the Garmin In-Reach, it was decided to head for South Caicos. Heading to West Caicos, though less miles, would involve more upwind sailing, have me arrive in the dark and concerned about coral heads (or slowing down to arrive in daylight making it a two day sail anywhere and covering less ground) and have me making less good use of the wonderful weather window presented to me by mother nature by not making as many miles east as I could.
This time of year on the thorny path to windward, you needed to make the best use of every weather opportunity your stamina and vessel would allow! They only get shorter and shorter and come less and less frequently.
Jamie was also advising me to go a little bit out of the way to make the best use of the currents in the area. So many things to factor into weather routing! So I aimed up towards Samana (the Bahamas Samana, not the Dominican Republic one) and continued east while waiting for the wind to swing and riding a slight current before I turned south. The gentle push noticed in my speed over ground and I kept a comfortable pace.
I had my predict wind downloaded into my offshore app so that even though the weather I was looking at was a day or so old, at least I could visually see the things that Jamie was advising me about to help me learn.
My first night was relatively uneventful other than watching a lot of cruise ships and cargo ships on the AIS, none of them really even coming close enough to me to visually pick out their lights at night. But as a result of the crappy anchorage at Crooked Island, I started the evening very, very tired. It felt like sleeping under sail while anchored – or worse! There were times I would wake up in the night ever so slightly airborne!
So I went into night #1 of this sail exhausted. Despite having my alarm connected to my Bluetooth speakers somehow I managed to sleep through it. For over an hour and a half! I was pretty bloody shocked and made sure to not rest as deeply for the rest of the night, I was pretty lucky that nothing occurred and no ships were close to me in that time.
Day #2 left me tired but not exhausted. It spoke volumes of that anchorage that my interrupted sailing naps left me more well rested than while at anchor! I continued to nap and read and just keep a simple watch shift. I was conserving energy so did the bare minimum sail trim and adjustments, just enough to be happy with my speed and keep the old girl on course. I snacked and enjoyed some pre-made food, my favourite being chocolate chia pudding with sliced apples on top. I hoped to have an even better night #2.
And night #2 was easy breezy. Literally uneventful, no more accidental deep sleeps so I considered my first two day sail a success. A total of 49 hours and arriving in daylight to enter the harbour. I dropped my anchor between a few other boats and put up my quarantine flag. I checked on my Solis Lite Global Wi-Fi – activated before departing the Bahamas to ensure I could continue to passage plan in Turks and Caicos – and checked on Pianissimo and the weather forecast.
Pianissimo had stopped at Mayaguana for a rest and so was more than 24 hours behind me. But they were messaging on the Garmin In-Reach (one of the benefits of us both having one) and keeping me in the loop so I knew whether or not to worry. Another informal buddy boat friend of mine, Troubleshooter, arrived about 24 hours after me: Savannah, Jason and their 7 month old Vera. After reviewing the forecast and talking to Troubleshooter, we decided to check into Turks and Caicos as it looked like we would be there for about a week. After I used one of my E-med video proctored rapid antigen tests (negative, of course) and headed ashore to check in, we were then free to roam town and enjoyed a few snacks at the harbour café.
Pianissimo arrived in the middle of the night that night but would spend the week on board their boat because they were not vaccinated and so were not allowed to check in to Turks and Caicos. However, they had anticipated and planned for this.
I planned to spend the next week catching up on digitising captains logs and checking weather (obsessively) to see when I would get a window to get to Samana in the Dominican Republic (as I really wanted to knock it all out in one go; heading to Luperon would mean hopping the Dominican Coast for a couple of weeks waiting on weather windows).
“If you risk nothing, then you risk everything.”
– Geena Davis