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The Sailng Vessel Bad Captain at anchor off Boot Key

Wait, Turks & Caicos?

For those of you who have been following along, you might be asking why we are in Turks & Caicos when our original plan was to sail directly from Marathon, FL to St. John, USVI.


We left Marathon, FL mid-morning on November 27, 2021, and enjoyed a pleasant sail offshore, skirting the Gulfstream.  Once east of Miami, FL, we set course for the Providence Northwest Channel, cutting across the Bahamian Islands and onto the North Atlantic Ocean.  We planned to sail eastward north of the 25th Lattitude, turn south at the 64th Longitude, and head directly to the USVI.  A trip that was expected to take ten days.


As we made the turn east above the 25th Lattitude, the winds would not cooperate, and we found ourselves heading more north than anticipated.  We modified our tactics based on weather models provided by Predict Wind repeatedly as we searched for a more favorable course.  Unfortunately, we found ourselves on flat, serene seas despite predictions of close to twenty-knot winds. Days two, three, and four found us bobbing around at three knots.  


The S/V Bad Captain is an array of complex mechanical and electrical systems. Unfortunately, our Selden Furlex 400S Foresail Furler has been one of the two least reliable systems onboard.  This system allows us to deploy and store the Genoa.  Mid-day on our fifth day at sea, the furler failed, and we were forced to drop the Genoa, lashing it to the deck.  Think of trying to manhandle a giant parachute in better than twenty-knot winds, having a space of about thirty-six square feet within to work, while being tossed about on an angry sea, in twelve-foot seas, and you realize that this is not an easy task.  Soon we found ourselves hundreds of miles from land, without a significant piece of equipment, the Genoa, limited fuel, and a malfunctioning water maker.  


I have two pieces of advice for anyone thinking about making this voyage.  First, have that go-to person you revere for their sailing knowledge.  Second, have a solid land-based team upon whom you can depend.  John Schafer is one of those who magically appeared in my life some years ago.  John and I have sailed together in the Annapolis-to-Bermuda Race and Governor's Cup.  


Over satellite, John and I evaluated the options.  One was to set a course for Puerto Rico and endure an estimated fourteen more days at sea.  Another option was to consolidate our fuel supply, complete a series of complex math problems, and aim for Turks & Caicos.  We spent the next two days at sea slowly drifting towards Turks & Caicos, waiting until 4:00 p.m. on day six, to turn on the engine and head directly to the leeward cut on Providenciales.  We would have just enough fuel to make it there if our math was correct.  


Finally, we entered the cut at sunrise on day seven and arrived at the Blue Haven Marina.  Maria, a key component of our land-based team, worked feverishly with Ken Neely, Director of the Department of Environmental Health, and the Blue Haven Marina, to get permission to enter this island community and begin repairs.


With only a forty-eight-hour time window, we broke down our Selden Furler and made temporary repairs that we hope will allow us to use the Genoa, topped off our fuel tanks, and replenish our water supply. Next, we worked feverishly with our network of land-based friends to find a slip in Puerto Rico where, one we can move more freely about and, most importantly, find a wides array of technicians, materials, and supplies. 


We are scheduled to leave Turks & Caicos at 09:30 a.m. on Monday, December 6, 2021, heading to The Yacht Club Marina Palmas del Mar.  This leg of our trip should be a four-day experience.