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The Voyage of Spectacle 2007 January

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for January, 2007

Great Guana Cay

Posted by: andy

On Sunday, December 17, the three of us ventured out to Great Guana Cay for a visit to the infamous Nippers and its weekly Sunday pig roast. 

The Rainbow Bulldozer Marks the Path to NippersAs beach bars go, it’s pretty tough to top Nippers, and getting there is half the fun.  After the ferry (about 30 minutes), one follows the signs on a Candyland-like adventure — turn left at the fence, right at the graveyard (complete with picture of the grim reaper on the gate), left at the rainbow-colored bulldozer, steer clear of the poisonwood tree, up and over the hill and you are there (we managed to avoid Molasses Swamp).Nippers Beach Bar at Great Guana 

Nippers itself is a multicolored, multi-tiered, cacophony of wood planking and American tourist jackassery.  It appeared to be South Carolina day at Nippers, as evidenced by the number of sun-burned necks protruding from Clemson and University of South Carolina tanktops. 

The pig roast was pretty good (alas, the pork was already carved and in trays, so there were no porcine rotisserie displays), the “Nipper” (a frozen rum punch concoction) proved excellent, the weather was perfect, and a good time was had by all.  We took a long walk along the beautiful beach, returned for a final round, and got ready to head home.

Just as we were closing out, Erik attracted … well, let’s just call it what was … a gay stalker.  This guy tried everything – herd separation tactics, inviting the three of us to dinner, etc.  He even invited us to stay at his apartment.  This dude was PERSISTENT.  He was accompanied by one of his co-workers (reasonably intoxicated, not particularly annoying) and a fall-down, Stacey Toran-drunk Australian (there’s always at least one wherever you go) who was some sort of boat captain/crewman.

The six of us sauntered back to the ferry dock (past the graveyard, the rainbow bulldozer…) to await the last ferry of the day.  Shortly thereafter, a very distraught woman holding a very small plastic bag arrived at the dock.  As we came to learn, she was holding her friend’s fingers.  We were told that the friend was building her own house on Great Guana and was the victim of a table-saw accident. Apparently, the owner of the fingers had already been transported to Marsh Harbour, en route to Nassau, inexplicably sans digits. 

Fall-down drunk Australian sprang into action.  Apparently, he’d come over to Great Guana in some sort of small powerboat that was affiliated with the bigger boat of which he was captain/crewman.  He dashed (ok, staggered) off to retrieve his powerboat so that the fingers could be sped to Marsh Harbour. Gay Stalker, apparently in a hurry to get home, suggested that we all hop on the boat.  Needless to say, we declined – we’re not getting on a speedboat, at night, in a very tricky harbor, with a fall-down drunk Aussie driver and the gay stalker co-pilot.  Equally needless to say, the gay stalker then changed his mind and decided to wait with us, and off roared the speedboat at triple the recommended speed. Yikes.  All I could think is that it takes a true friend to hop on drunken Aussie’s speedboat to make a nighttime delivery of your severed fingers.  More Pictures 

Happy New Year!!!

Posted by: andy

Happy New Year with Dan & Selena!!Happy New Year from Providenciales, Turks & Caicos!  We spent our New Year’s Eve with our new friends Selena and Dan here at the nearly excellent Coyaba restaurant and the quite chi-chi Grace Bay Club.  Selena and Dan were down here honeymooning at the Grace Bay Club from their home in St. Louis, where Selena is a law student at an excellent law school and Dan is a sales rep for an excellent golf company.  We actually spent three very fun evenings with them, and I expect they’ll be our friends long after we leave the boat.

We also spent New Years Day with Selena and Dan, this time sitting on our behinds at what passes for a sports bar here in Provo (and, by the way, it passes pretty well, all things considered) and watching the Trojans shred the heretofore ballyhooed Wolverines, followed by the eye-popping Boise St./Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl.  During the games, I realized that this was the first Trojan Rose Bowl I have missed attending in exactly 30 years – and I’m only 34 years old.

As some of you likely have heard, our passage down here from Marsh Harbour was not exactly “smooth.”  I am working on a comprehensive integrated write-up of “Fiasco Autopilot” and “Fiasco-Plus Turks & Caicos Passage.”  The passage really was a borderline Calamity, except that (a) it was never dangerous, and (b) it always was at least somewhat funny.  I promise you a full (which will mean VERY lengthy but quite entertaining) account in the next couple of days. 

The Dilapidated Geo TrackerFor now, we are enjoying Provo, except for the third-world marina in which we are staying.  The marina is a very bumpy 20-minute drive down a dirt road from anything resembling civilization.  It has no hot water (so I haven’t shaved since Marsh Harbour) and is generally filthy, so we’re trying to finish our boat projects by around 2:00 p.m. each day before having a (cold) shower, getting dressed and heading into town (in our sweet rental Geo Tracker that is about to fall apart). 

We expect to be here for about another week before pushing off for St. Thomas.  It is unfortunate to be behind schedule already, but if there is one thing that the trip down here taught me, it is that you simply can’t use a “land” schedule for a “sea” trip.  We may have to skip an island or two that we’d previously planned on visiting, but that’s just how it goes.

Caicos Marina & Shipyard

Posted by: melissa

Andy has already mentioned our less-than-stellar marina accommodations, and he will soon expand on why we need to be here.  Until then, suffice it to say that we have a Half Sunk, Rusted Out, Abandoned Tug Boat at Caicos Marinaguidebook published in 1999 describing the Caicos Marina and Shipyard as the up-and-coming marina of the entire Caribbean …  hundreds of slips planned, along with state of the art facilities, blah blah blah.  Imagine our surprise when we were instructed to raft to another boat (still charged full fare), found out that the laundry machine was broken, and noticed the lovely view of half-sunk, half-rusted-out industrial equipment.

Nicknamed the “shanty shower,” the bathroom looks like somebody tried to turn a mobile home (complete with hitch) into a bathroom on a bet … and lost the bet.  Filthy and dilapidated, it is not for the faint of heart or overly modest.  We avoid frequenting after sundown lest we compete with swarms of ants to use the sink and vanity.  It’s frankly atrocious. 

Sadly, the only thing this marina has going for it is the wireless internet connection so we become quite cranky when it’s not working (as you can imagine).  There’s also the suggestion box which I will cram full of scribbled post-its shortly. 

However, the marina includes a fairly reputable and possibly even successful shipyard.  It is the only place for a boat haul-out within 200 miles which is a pretty big deal.  A huge fancy power catamaran came in today to be hauled out as it was taking on water and listing to port.  Without this facility, it might be on the bottom by now.  The dry-dock storage appears to be a hodge-podge of actual long term storage and perhaps abandoned collateral for unpaid repair bills. 

Shipyards also attract a number of interesting, if not downright unsavory, characters, and of course, the typical pack of stray dogs.

Beyond the inconveniences, we’ve met quite a few nice people here at this crazy marina!  The Canadian couple on Manx Cat and their two adorable kids, Jack and Jesse, have been here for 8 months.  They have liked Turks and Caicos so much that they found jobs and are exploring their options of moving to something more permanent on land.  Jack and Jesse have adopted several of the stray dogs.  They helped “Mama” with her litter of 6, got the whole pack fed and spayed and neutered and adopted, and even saved one of the puppies from drowning in the ocean.  Very cool family.  We also met Gary and Faye of Hullabaloo who basically split their time between the ocean, St. Lucia, and Virginia.  We hope to catch up with them in St. Lucia!

Additionally, we have met two other cruising boats whose crews are not only knowledgeable but also super fun!  Shiba is a British-flagged, 42 foot Hallberg-Rassey. Howard and Lindy have spent many a vacation cruising around Greece and finally decided to dedicate a full year (at least) to cruising the Caribbean.  Shahrazad is an American-flagged, 47 foot Mariner.  Mitchell, the owner, and his friends, Perry and Ron, trek from Westport, Connecticut to Tortola every year.  More Pictures 

Turks and Caicos

Posted by: melissa

Well, Turks and Caicos was not part of our original plan; nonetheless, we are definitely making the most of this unscheduled stop (in work and play)!

With 8 islands and a bunch of smaller cays, the Turks and Caicos Sapodilly Bay, Turks & CaicosIslands (TCI) are located on the southeastern tip of the Bahamian archipelago about 575 miles southeast of Miami and 100 miles north of Haiti.  The name Caicos may have been derived from the Spanish word for ‘cay’ (cayos), and the name Turks is believed to come from the resemblance of an indigenous cactus’ red dome to a fez.  Both Grand Turk and the Caicos islands are low altitude, scrub-covered limestone with huge coral reefs and striking turquoise water.

Our current port, Providenciales (Provo) is the most developed and populous island of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Local legend says that Providenciales was named in the mid-18th century by the survivors of a shipwrecked French boat called La Providencielle.

Provo’s residents are a combination of native islanders (called “Belongers”), American, European, and Canadian expats, Haitians, and Dominicans.  Even with the diverse cultures, Provo is decidedly Americanized due to the development boom, increasing tourist industry, and rapid decline of other industries.  Throughout our stay, we sought out native food, activity, and entertainment … to no avail.  Though totally Americanized, Provo has no American fast food restaurants, which is quite refreshing.

Tourism is alive and well here as huge resorts and timeshare condominiums clutter the Beautiful Ocean Around Turks & Caicoscoastline.  It is our understanding that TCI is the destination of the rich and famous (evidently home to a Keith Richards lair) and prices definitely reflect that.  After experiencing a lot of what Provo has to offer, we probably would not recommend that you spend your hard earned dollars on the $850 average nightly room rate (with a 10 night mandatory minimum stay) at the big three resorts of Grace Bay Club, The Palms and Point Grace.  Don’t get me wrong, the beaches are fantastic, and some of the resorts are very nice … but I get the sense that most tourist things here are at least 20% overpriced.  From a value perspective, go to the Grand Wailea on Maui, or the Princeville Resort on Kauai … Hawaii may be a more crowded but a lot cheaper for comparable, or better, amenities.

When we were researching Turks and Caicos for trip planning purposes, we consulted Tripadvisor.com (we never leave home without doing so).  Most of the reviews were positive but with two major complaints: prices (which I’ve already talked about) and mosquitoes.  I expected the latter to be a bit silly or the kind of nitpicky complaint that some Tripadvisor.com users get so worked up about … I mean, really — it’s a tropical environment and there are gonna be some bugs.  As it turns out, it’s a valid complaint — the mosquitoes are plentiful and unusually vicious!

Around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., we usually head out on the frightening dirt road towards the super fancy Grace Bay.  We’ve crashed just about all of the swanky resorts and since there’s really no such thing as the traditional “hotel lobby” here, we have peeked in the windows of ground floor rooms and condos to gauge how each swanky resort actually compares to the others (we think Point Grace might be the winner).  Plus, we’ve been to almost every restaurant in Grace Bay, from the swanky restaurants at the “Big Three” resorts down to the Irish Pub (where not a single Notre Dame fan was available to be taunted by Andy during the Sugar Bowl), Bella Luna (a decent Italian restaurant with a highly coveted taleggio appetizer), and the very cute Barefoot Café located below the yoga studio.


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