SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.
The wind was kind and allowed us to sail through the twisty channel approaching the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos. As we scooted along under full sail, the deep-water channel opened up into Sapodilla Bay where the sand at the beach continues into the anchorage. The sandy bottom makes for good holding, crystal clear water and excellent snorkeling. Before the anchor was even set, the boys were jumping overboard, excited to be in a new country, to get to fly a new flag and for their home to quit moving.
Like the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos are mostly low, arid islands. Provo is no exception. The same characteristics that allow for little dirt or vegetation and make the island look like a tan dot on the horizon, also provide it with gorgeous, clean waters in a kaleidoscope of blue hues.
As is required, the captain went to shore alone in order to check in. The walk is short, from the dinghy dock on the beach to just around the eastern point where the shipping yard and customs is located. Customs and immigration was pleasant and inexpensive. We were allowed to stay for 7 days by paying a $5 "boarding fee," though we were never boarded. If you plan to stay in the Turks and Caicos for longer than a week, a $75 cruising permit is required.
Before returning to the boat, Dave walked to the nearest grocery store to buy a treat for his travel-weary crew, after a 3-day passage from Georgetown, Exumas. The store, one of only a few on island, was little more than a convenience store with its lights off in order to help keep the heat tolerable. But he found a cooler full of cold drinks, the only luxury we were craving.
Provo has been used as an anchorage for centuries. Sailors of old carved their names in the rocks on the hill above the anchorage in Sapodilla Bay. Many of these inscriptions are still legible today. Shore offered us cold drinks, a place for the boys to ride their scooters, interaction with people other than our little crew, quaint neighborhoods to explore, exquisite vacation rentals to gawk at and spectacular views. But it was the sloping sand beaches, clear water, snorkeling, swimming and large, mostly empty anchorage that kept us there longer than we'd planned. Though we were Caribbean-bound, the crew was grateful for the layover on such a picturesque island. Perhaps we'll make it a destination some day, instead of just passing through. You can never have too much of a good thing.
We have been asked many times how it is possible to leave to go cruising without waiting to build a nestegg. MONDAY we'll share some of the ways we have seen sailors finance their sailing dreams before they are eligible for social security.
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