Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crossing the Caicos Bank

Rather than clear customs in the Turks and Caicos, we headed immediately south from Providenciales the next morning.  The wind was still in our favor, no reason to dally.  Because we woke up late after our night at sea, we chose a short day and headed just twenty miles south to French Cay to lay up for the night.

It was on our approach to French Cay that we discovered a disturbing discrepancy between where the island actually was and where it appeared on our chartplotter.  Looking forward of the bow, we were three hundred yards off the northern tip of the island.  Looking at the chartplotter, we were two and a half miles west in the middle of a reef.  We tried turning the chartplotter off and then on again.  Nope.  We dug out the users manual and figured out how to recalibrate it.  Still wrong.  Apparently, the preloaded charts were just wildly inaccurate.  I said a little prayer of thanks that I'd decided against making straight for French Cay from Mayaguana the night before.  It was one of the options I'd considered.  If we had, we would certainly have been lost on a reef in the night.

We selected a rocking, poorly protected anchorage in the lee of the little cay late afternoon and spent the remaining daylight hours snorkeling and fishing.  Becca stayed aboard.  Mark, Nate, and I hurried off in the dinghy, fins and masks already on, eager to explore the shallow reefs that surrounded us.  By the time we returned, the sun was down and darkness descending.  The temperature was dropping and the wind still blowing.  After hours in the water we were shaking and shivering so badly we could barely operate the dinghy motor.

I had managed to catch three little fish which I slung aboard when we got back.  I thought they were Red Snapper.  They turned out to be Squirrel Fish.  Our fish book identified them as "technically edible" and so I set to work filleting them while Nate began dinner.  After dinner, I breaded them and fried them.  They weren't good.

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