The Turks Islands are a must see!!!

By January 1, 2012Caribbean, Cruising, Turks & Caicos

This week started off by having a visit from Santa.  Later Mike and Kay from Finisterre joined Joel and I for Christmas dinner.  Growing up, one of Joel’s favorite meals at my house was my mom’s lasagna, so I surprised him with it and peppermint pie.

On Monday the winds died down from 20-25 to 10-15, but it was still from the direction we were headed.  So we filled with fuel at South Side Marina and motored across the Caicos Bank with a night anchored out in the open (bumpy but manageable).  We arrived at the easy to enter and well protected South Caicos harbor and had lunch ashore before walking to the “Boiling Hole”, which is a hole from the middle of the island’s salt pond to the ocean.  Over 100 years ago the locals build a wall with gates around it and used the salt water to feed the salt producing flats (see 1st photo).  We both found it fascinating and the flock of flamingos (2nd photo) just added to the moment.  After the hole we had a great time snorkeling on the protective fringe reef and saw a turtle among other things.

I wanted to visit the Endymion Wreck at the south end of the Turks Bank, so we motored 25 miles (wind still on the bow) across the blue water passage to the coordinates provided in the Explorer Charts.  I love these charts for the Bahamas and they are always accurate…except this time.  We did not find the wreck and later I got coordinates from a local dive shop and we were over a mile off.  If you want to visit the site the correct GPS coordinates for the Endymion Wreck are 21* 06.91N by 071* 18.469W.  Once we gave up the search for the wreck we sailed (yea!) to Big Sand Cay.  This is basically a giant sand dune (see 3rd photo) with a non working light on it.  That is all, so revel in the simplicity of this island!!!!  The bay southwest of the bluff with the light is 13-18 feet deep with gorgeous white sand and no coral heads to worry about.  We stayed longer than planned and the island made up for not seeing the wreck.

We sailed (no way, twice in a row) north right on the edge of the bank (40 feet on the starboard side and 1000+ on the port side) to Salt Cay.  We anchored in 20 feet among sand and rock just south of the small boat harbor.  If you visit DO NOT anchor closer than this, because the underwater wall is so steep the beach was being pounded while we swaying gentle under the swell.  For the same reason use the small boat harbor to land your dinghy.  The first thing you should do when you get here is pop into Porter’s Island Thyme so Porter and Haidee (4th photo) can give you the low down on the island (it seems like this is the hub of the island and you can ask Porter about becoming a Zoo Keeper).  They got us in touch with Tim, who is 7th generation on Salt Cay.  He gave us a tour of his family house, which is called the White House (5th photo).  For Joel and I this was the highlight of the island, because we got to see inside the most successful salt raker’s house,
built in 1740.  The living quarters are on the top floor and the bottom housed four warehouses to store salt.  This was defiantly a working house and even though it is still lived in we found the architecture and antique furniture fascinating.  The 6th photo is the top of the entrance stairs (I love this patio).  In the evening we joined a Texas Hold-Em game at Porter’s, where I came in second (of course this was winner take all – darn it).  The next day Joel and I did the four walking tours on a pamphlet Porter provided.  We saw practically the whole island with some of the highlights being pirate graves, a cannon with a great view, ruins on the tallest hill, the north beach, a historical list of a lot of the building in town, and the old Benevolent Society (where there was a coffin in inside – see 7th photo).

Yesterday we sailed north once again to Grand Turk Island.  This has been the capital of Turks and Caicos since the mid 1700’s and the Bermuda style architecture is enthralling.  We visited the national museum where the entire first floor is devoted to the oldest shipwreck found in the America’s and dates from 1513 (see last photo) (remember this is only 21 years after Columbus’s first voyage).

If you are ever anywhere close to these islands you should do yourself a favor and plan a visit (the best time is February-March when the humpback whales migrate here for the winter).  The reefs and walls are within half a mile of the beaches, so there is plenty of scuba diving, snorkeling, and beach combing to go around.  The only disadvantage is the lack of protected harbors (the anchorages are open roadsteads).