2 April 2022: The Lone Ranger
2 April 2022
Cockburn Harbour, South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands
Big Sand Cay, 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
17 knots, upwind.
Not a cloud in sight!
Balmy for this time of year
Dry, thank goodness!
If I was to have my best attempt at getting all the way to Samana, especially as a solo sailor, I might as well give myself the best odds. So I headed for the furthest protected anchorage in Turks & Caicos in advance of the approaching window.
Coming to the realisation that my buddy was much slower than me, was happy to head to Luperon (while I wanted to get to Samana without stopping) and insisted on not motoring and using fuel (due to budget), it made the most sense to stop definitively travelling together. My sail plan was that I was happy to get as much of this difficult leg (the ‘thorny path’) safely out of the way even if it meant light winds and motoring. We could still ensure no one was stranded at sea by messaging on the Garmin In-Reach so there was still a bit of a secure feeling to knowing we were heading similar directions.
Troubleshooter had a similar mindset to Pianissimo and would rather travel with a bit more wind in the hopes of motoring as little as possible so they were going to wait to leave from Cockburn Harbour. That meant that I left alone for the 22 odd miles to Big Sand Cay. I would wait out that night and the next day, departing after dinner sometime depending on changes in the forecast. There would be no reception there but Jamie would keep me updated on the Garmin as to ideal departure time.
Given I was still in fuel conservation mode, I planned to sail north east along the coast until I could get a good angle on Big Sand Cay. I had used and filled one jerry jug in Turks and Caicos and was not quite full but close enough. Though I did have a nagging thought in the back of my mind about water in the fuel after leaving the cap off accidentally in the rain. But Savannah from Troubleshooter came over while we were in Cockburn Harbour and taught me how to pull off the fuel line and draw from the tank to check for water. We found no water in the diesel from the tank or in the filter but to be prudent we changed my primary racor filter to be safe. It was probably time for this change anyways and I hoped things would be fine. I did motor for over half an hour at anchor after all of this just to ensure nothing seemed off, but, after all of this, things sounded smooth.
And motoring out the cut resulted in no dramas. Phewf!
The trek along the coast to the north east had one near incident. Seeing only one sketchy little fishing boat I was trying to determine if he had lines in the water. I saw no rods at all or behaviour that suggested he was fishing so did not make a huge effort to leave room around him. However, evidently he was not a fishing boat as he had two snorkellers in the water. He had no dive flag up to signal anyone was in the water and did not respond to radio calls, plus it was not exactly the best weather for a snorkeling outing (I wondered how much they paid for this dodgy near death experience). And by the time I realised there were two people in the water – wearing all black with black fins and barely visible (at least I hoped there were only two) – they were uncomfortably close to me. And I was under sail so altering course is difficult. Lucky I was motor sailing so I could let the sails flog a little bit to get out of the way (or unlucky as I could have accidentally diced someone up)!
The encounter shook me a little and I was on edge for the rest of the coastline despite seeing no boats or swimmers. With the wind angle it was hard to get further away from shore to ease these worries. However, once I did get to turn south east towards Big Sand Cay, it was cruisy from there. I even ran across one other sailboat – Java Jive – who I knew from North Carolina and ran into again in George Town. He was headed for a solo multi-day sail from Turks and Caicos to the British Virgin Islands and I was a little jealous that he would be knocking out so many miles while I island hopped multiple countries.
But my watermaker was ordered to Puerto Rico on the west coast, so I had to swing by there – and as I said earlier – I did not want to bite off more than I could chew too soon! Baby steps!
I finished the rest of the sail and dropped anchor alone on a big, uninhabited sand island in beautiful clear water. It was a shame that I had not yet tried using my boarding ladder as it seemed a little risky to jump in solo for a swim, with the dinghy mounted on the back obstructing the main swim ladder. I worried that I would set up the boarding ladder wrong and be stuck off of my boat. And I did not know if any of the other boats were stopping by on their way to the Dominican Republic.
I had hard time deciding where to anchor. Too far out and I would have a rocking and rolling kind of sleep from swell wrapping around the edge of the sand cay. Too close up and the swell might bounce off of the shoreline and back at me and be even more uncomfortable. I ended up opting for a little further out. Once I dropped the anchor, I realised that I felt quite ill. When I feel sick, I usually feel quite sorry for myself. I also love to be taken care of when I am unwell so the I doubled down on the pity party as a solo sailor and singleton. My solution was to skip dinner and curl up in bed for a very early night as soon as everything was sorted on deck.
“Some journeys can be only traveled alone.”
– Ken Poirot
I always had a rule that there were ti be two methods to re-board in case one should fail. First was usually the main ladder. To add redundancy, I would run a heavy line (usually my bow line) from a forward cleat to a rear cleat with enough slack to be able to get a leg onto. Most times I used it regardless. As for the boarding ladder, I hated the thing and only used it once.
I am lucky (at least now I know) that I love that boarding ladder! IT WORKED GREAT! I obviously prefer the transom ladder but good to know when the dinghy is up. Though I will practice with the line from the bow so I know if I can do it and then that can be my backup!