Saturday 11 May, Turks & Caicos day 3: Scooter trip around Grand Turk, from the north lighthouse to the south cruise-liner terminal.
Lovely sleep apart from being woken at 3am by the anchor chain clanking as Cloudy Bay kites back and forth in the wind. On deck I find that the grapple, which secures the shock lines to the chain, has somehow fallen off the chain. Very odd. But a quick fix to put it back on again.
For breakfast we feast on the delicious fruits we bought in Dominican Republic, and we are glad the customs didn’t board us to make us discard of all fresh fruits and veggies. And yesterday, of course we declared we have none onboard.
We take the dinghy ashore and this time beach it and pull it high above the waterline, which is a bit of an effort, but easier with the lighter 6HP engine. At the dive shop we organize a double dive for tomorrow morning and also rent a scooter at $50 per day. Very expensive compared to what we are used to, but we really want to see the island. And by 11am we are on our trusty Zooma scooter heading north out of Cockburn.
First of all we explore the North Creek, a hurricane hole, where in the 1960s Rothschild dredged a channel planning to make a marina inside. But the channel kept silting up and the project was abandoned. We see the channel, which still exists, but it’s only 2m deep now.
Meanwhile, adjacent to the channel, in the western beach side, we find a very spooky setup. A set of dead trees surrounded by a circle of old wooden benches and a small wooden platform in the tree in the middle of the circle. It really looks like somewhere a cult would gather to sacrifice a virgin! Oana poses as the virgin for photos (even though she’s far from qualifying… she doesn’t have a white dress on) and I pose as the crazy cult leader, which suits me perfectly. We have some fun 🙂
We then head up to the east side of the creek, to the old light house and also the site of another USA military base. This one was dedicated to ocean research, primarily relating to sonar and submarine detection. Long since abandoned and now the island’s community college.
The steel Historical Lighthouse is from the 1850s and has lots of stories around it. The most ominous was that for the first 40 years of operation it often was not lit as it should be, accidentally or otherwise. The result was that many merchant ships (while looking for the light) floundered on the treacherous reef and the islanders gladly salvaged the cargo, not apparently caring about the many drowned seamen. Today the whole area around the lighthouse is turned into an activity center for when cruise liner passengers invade the island. There is the lighthouse itself, plus zip lining and horse back riding. But no cruise liners today, so it’s totally deserted. Lovely, just how we like to find tourist attractions 🙂
As we pass back through town to head to the south end of the island, we stop at a bakery and buy beef patties. Basically they are beef in curry sauce, wrapped in a pastry. Very Caribbean and very yummy. The town still has a bit of a deserted feel, as it did last evening. It doesn’t seem to particularly have a center, it’s just widely spread all over the place.
At the southern end of the island we pass the airport where there is a replica of Friendship 7 space capsule, commemorating the John Glenn astronaut’s return to earth. The Gemini missions … or was it Mercury? My bad for not remembering. Anyway, the capsule looks very “original”, including burn streaks on the heat shield. A very cleverly done mock-up.
Further along on the east side, we spot an abandoned house on probably the nicest part of the beach. Clearly it was once a very grande residence, but now in a very sad shape. Later, we find out that it used to belong to an ex-premier of the Turks & Caicos who was involved in corruption and drug running. Maybe he was the reason the British came back and took away the self-rule of these islands in 2009. Anyway, after exploring the house, complete with huge bulls in the garden and garage (yes, real ones!!) we go for a dip and cool off in the stunning water. We really can’t get enough of this crystal clear stunningly coloured water. It’s likely the best we have swum in, in the Caribbean.
At the far south of the island, in the commercial dock and bay where we checked-in, we come to the cruise liner terminal. But they won’t let us in, it only opens on cruise liner days. Not that we needed to visit their diamonds shops anyway.
So we head to the beach where we saw restaurants and hundreds of beach chairs. But it’s totally deserted here too and again we are told these beach facilities only open on cruise liner days. But we wander through anyway, observing the row upon row of empty sun beds and try to imagine what it’s like when two cruise liners and 5000+ passengers descend upon this place! On Monday there will be two cruise liners in dock.
Our hopes of finding anything open for a beer or refreshment are dashed. Looks like we have to head back to Cockburn Town for that. On the way back we drive on the last couple of unexplored roads then arrive to The Sand Bar and we are surprised to find even that is closed. On a Saturday? But it’s also a great time to calibrate and fly the drone over Cloudy Bay and capture the general scene of the island.
After the drone flight we head to the last place we know that may just have a bar open, the Bohio Resort in the north of the town. Its bar is open, but no one there. Plus their drinks are outrageously expensive: $8 for a beer and $14 for a cocktail, plus tax. These are upmarket New York prices… so we leave. But they do have a nice setup and apparently will have live music tonight. Maybe we come back later.
So we give up on refreshments and head back to Cloudy Bay for our usual late lunch, which turns into sunset which turns into evening drinks onboard while we have the privilege to have a WiFi connection. Long story short, we stay on board for the evening, saving our energies for the diving tomorrow.