Friday, March 30, 2012

South Side Marina, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

South Side Marina
Youch.  The Turks & Caicos have changed their Customs & Immigration fees since we were here last year.  Instead of $15 to enter the country it is now $50 and then $300 for a 'cruising permit' if you stay more than 7 days.   They hit you again for another $50 upon checkout!  I'm told that if the weather is raging and you are on the 7th day, trying to check out, they give you a bit of leeway so as to not send you out in the storm....But...that is not written anywhere....  The island needs more money (who doesn’t!) but this has potential to backlash.   This is a small area of islands that one could decide to simply cruise straight through, going on to Dominican Republic or northward to the Bahamas.  That translates into no money spent here in these islands.  In my opinion, there is not much here anyway except diving...and there is diving up and down the Caribbean chain....

Boaters sharing cooking the meal for all
Here we sit,  at South Side Marina, awaiting another weather window so we can depart for the Bahamas - another long passage to get into that island chain - but feeling very much ‘at home’.  

This is the greatest marina EVER.  Small, tucked in off the south side of Providenciales, near Sapodillo Bay, nothing fancy, but oh, the friends one makes here.  Bob and his small staff go well Above and Beyond for boaters.  Regular runs to the grocery store, any other shopping need?  Just ask and hop in the car!  Need to go to the airport?  Right away -- 6:00 AM departure?  No Problem.  Hop in the car with Bob or Charlyn at the wheel.  

Making new friends at Happy Hour 
We LOVE the 5:00 PM Happy Hour every day under the gazebo where all boaters and Bob and Charlyn mix and mingle, sharing BYOB and a dish.  On Thursday’s Bob hosts a BBQ - BYOB and your own meat and a dish to share.  Bob provides the ice cream dessert.  These evenings go well into the night, with boaters sharing funny stories, helpful tips on where to anchor, where to go, what to do,  and later seen helping each other out with an always present “boat task”.   
We made new friends last year here that we’re still keeping in touch with and crossing wakes with from time to time as we cruise.  This year, a new batch of boaters from all around the world expands our circle of friendship.  Gathered around the table in the gazebo,  or out to lunch as a group at the Conch Shack, (Thanks to Bob & Charlyn for setting it up and transporting us there!) chatting away, mostly in English, were sailors from Portugal, Belgium, the UK, Australia, Poland, along with us and two other couples from the USA.....All three American couples arrived in DeFever trawlers!
Izzy & Jeff  --  DeFever Izzy R
Mo & Pollie  -- DeFever Motivator
Another reminder the world is small. 
IzzyR, a DeFever 49 from California, pulled in on Tuesday, shortly after we did, with Izzy, Jeff and friendly dog, Ben, aboard.    Buddy boating with them was Motivator, with Pollie and Mo  from Washington, DC at the helm of their DeFever 49. 

We’d met Jeff & Izzy  last year in Staniel Cay, Exumas and boom - here we meet again!  Via email and each other’s blogs, we’d kept in touch over the year.  They’d told us months ago they decided to cruise to Grenada after reading our blog.  Humm, does that mean that they thought, “Well, if THOSE TWO can do it, so can we!”  Grin 

It was quite a sight to see the three large DeFever trawlers at the dock!  We were the only Americans and the only power boaters...wonder what message that sent to the foreigners?
Brrr.  The couple from Belgium’s story of sinking quickly off the coast of Portugal a few years ago was a scary tale and a reminder of how quickly life can change.  In a STEEL hulled sailboat, at night, they hit what was believed to be a large container or container platform that had fallen off of a freighter....a much more common occurrence than one would think!  BOOM!  JOLT!  Quickly running below, they found themselves already almost knee deep in water!  Immediately sending out MayDay, MayDay calls, giving their position in the black of the cold night they donned their survival drysuits with the claw like fingers on them.  Lumbering about, like two Telly Tubbies, they tucked passports & what little cash they had on hand into their survival suits, turned on every light in the boat and then heaved the life raft into the ocean.  Climbing into that life raft was a very sobering moment they said.  Watching the sailboat sink below the water, lights ablaze was astounding they also said.  The Sea Gods were kind.  A Russian freighter heard their MayDay and chugged to their position, plucking them from the ocean and taking them to Portugal.    Their tale of clambering up a net thrown over the side of the enormous freighter, still in the black of night, was terrifying.  Wearing those survival suits, with the claw like fingers and bulky boots, they finally each made it to the top of the freighter.  One slip, one miss of the net and it is doubtful they would have survived the fall into the water -- and under the hull of the freighter.  Andy and I were thankful we heard that story AFTER we’d completed our 54 hours, 2 nights at sea....
Rum Punch @ The Conch Shack

New friends sharing lunch at The Conch Shack

More fun times, telling stories and pouring over charts together with suggestions freely given of where to go and what to see and who to contact by those that had already ‘been there/done that’. 
Departing the Turks & Caicos .  Ah, THE MOST beautiful water ever!  Note the coral heads!

1 comment:

  1. Sharon, that's where we met last year. I can't believe it's so expensive to check in there now! Also sorry to hear about your dinghy!