We were bumped awake at our remote spot way out on the Caicos Bank at 4am on the next falling tide. The wind and waves had subsided a bit, so it turned out to be a gentle landing we could sleep through.
We woke up wary of the Clear Sand Channel and both decided to take our chances going off route on what looked like the shortest path to deeper water. About thirty minutes after our last bump, we set off on a course due west. It wasn’t long before the water depth was consistently above two meters and climbing, allowing us to breathe big sighs of relief.
We set sail, shut down the motors and ghosted over the beautiful blue water at a couple of knots in just a hint of wind. There wasn’t much going on otherwise, but sailing for miles and miles over such clear water without a hint of land in sight really had us spending the whole day in disbelief at where we were.
Maryanne had just finished making a nice Greek Salad for lunch when we got a call from Provo Port Control. Not knowing our name, he called for a vessel at a specific Lat/Long, His call was accurate to minutes of three decimal places, (about 60 feet accuracy) so we knew it had to be us.
He switched us to a working channel and then started peppering us with questions about who we were and where we came from. I realized just as I am writing this that it was because he spotted us on radar, we were clearly going sailboat speeds, and we hadn’t called him. Almost everyone entering the country clears in first at Provo. The rule, which we did not know, but is regularly broadcast when you’re close enough to Provo for it to matter, is that we should call within twelve miles of Provo to notify Customs of our arrival (recall when we tried to contact anyone on the radio in Grand Turk, the only answer was from a friendly local, so I guess we were out of range of such officialdom there).
I suppose it’s possible that the data pertaining to our actual arrival didn’t get forwarded from Custom’s car in Grand Turk. He seemed pretty confused when we repeatedly insisted that we had already cleared into the country and would be stopping at the Provo offices to clear out the next day. Prior to our arrival, we had pre-filled out the necessary online forms and we had all of the necessary reference numbers handy from our inbound clearance. He seemed to acknowledge that there was, “No problem”, but still insisted on re-asking us every detail that they should have already had about our vessel, our journey and ourselves over the radio. It took forty minutes. Lunch would have gone cold if it weren’t, you know, salad.
Leaving the Bank, and arriving in Sopadilla Bay
After a full day on the Bank, we dropped anchor at Sapodilla Bay around an hour before sunset. While Provo is the cleaned up tourist area of the country, among cruisers it's also considered an overpriced party town that could just as well be in Florida. Sapodilla Bay is convenient to the Customs and Immigration offices and is actually just a little too far from the main drag for walking, so it looks like we’ll miss out on that scene anyway. The bay itself is actually very pretty, with a semi-crowded beach and a nice sunset view past the distant islands. When I swam to check the anchor, I surprised a big barracuda that was hanging out under the boat. The rumor is that there are also turtles to see around sunrise, so we’ll be getting up early for that.