Monday, February 06, 2006

Off to Luperon (Jan 28- Feb 2)

We are anchored in Cockburn Harbour, touted by Steve Pavlidis to be the best natural harbour in the Turks and Caicos. South Caicos protects from the north, Long Cay to the east, and the Caicos banks stops the waves from the south and west. This is a small village, population 1200, not touristy, as most of its inhabitants work in the fishing industry, either fishing or at the processing plant, or building the airport on Ambergis, the island about 10 miles to the south. Ambergis, is a private island, and apparently Canadians are building a resort there. This morning being Monday, there were a flurry of small boats heading south, taking the workers to work, and on Friday afternoon they return to the village, we saw the pontoon boat bring them back.

It looks like the windy weather we have been experiencing since Friday is going to break tomorrow, so we hope to leave here for the 110 mile south to the Dominican Republic tomorrow. It should take us about 20-24 hours for the trip, and we want to arrive in Luperon in the early morning.

So today, is a get ready day. Ross is running back and forth to the fuel dock, refilling the diesel and the dinghy. We mainly motored all the way from Georgetown, and we expect the trip to the DR will be all motoring so we need to fill up. Bev is baking bread, and making spaghetti sauce so we will have some quick meals for the trip. There are lots of stores in the village, seems like on every block there is a store in someone's living room. Not that they have much to sell, we have yet to see a supply boat to come in yet, and have only seen one plane a day coming into the airport.
Streets of Cockburn HarbourOne of the many in house bars
Yesterday, we went for a nice walk with George and Mary, off Avalon V. We walked around the salt flats, saw a flock of pink flamingo, walked the beach, not as long or nice as GT. On the return to village, we stopped at one of the little stores (size 6' x 15') asked if they had cold beer, which they did and would sell to us on a Sunday. So we walked around the village, green Heiniken bottles in hand. Then we saw another bar open, and we checked it out, and were the only patrons there enjoying a second green bottle. But there isn't much else in Cockburn Harbour.

We left mid morning, after the winds had finally died down some and clocked a little to the south. We had a fantastic sail to Great Sand Cay, toured the anchorage from offshore, it looked really nice. Another beach to explore another day...and kept sailing south to Luperon. By early evening, the winds had died down and we had to use the engine to assist. We had loads of time, as we didn't want to arrive at Luperon until first light, so only needed to average 4.5 knots. So we adjusted sails and motor to the wind and had a very leisurely trip. By midnight, the seas were so calm, you could see the reflections of the stars, it was quite spectacular. A few fishing boats, and two freighters showed up on the radar. We knew from radio conversations that there were a number of boats taking advantage of the weather window. As we arrived at Luperon, we found out we were first, of about a eight boats, and even though we had never entered the harbour before, we were given the honour of being the scout. We had the new Wavy Line Charts, and used their way points as well as Van Sant's range, and it really wasn't that difficult. Another plus, is that there was no winds, currents, or white water to create further excitement.

Rounding the corner into the harbour, it looked like another Georgetown, on a smaller scale, boats anchored everywhere and where were we to go. A couple helpful boaters pointed out the mud shoals, and without incident we got the hook down. We had made another milestone!!

We had barely settled, when Wendy from Off Call, knocked on the boat and welcomed us and very soon after the Port Commodante and his "Intelligent" man came out to inspect RAFT and our documents, and gave us permission to stay in the harbour. We rested a little, and after noon went into town to check in with the other officials. It took about an hour, with 5 different officials handwritting out forms and collected money. Then we had to return to RAFT for the Agriculture and Animal officers to come out. They filled out some more forms and we paid a little more. ($76US in total) All of the officials were very pleasant, and most spoke some English and with our limited Spanish we go by. We were checked in and ready to explore the DR. Dinghy Dock in LuperonCustoms & Immigration Office