376 miles in 11 days
Well we've reached George Town! After an arduous 11 days of paddling it's fair to say we're more than excited to have a rest day scheduled! Although a rest day never turns out to be a rest day the prospect of not having to wake up at 4am and prepare for another long day kayaking is certainly a great feeling.
Looking back on the last 11 days we've experienced so much. A variety of marine life, some absolutely stunning uninhabited islands and we've continued to be utterly overwhelmed by people's generosity. Leaving Grand Turk feeling fully rested and itching to get back on the water we blasted down to South Caicos. The East Bay Resort were so welcoming. We were well fed, fixed up with some food for the boat and managed to grab a few hours sleep before waking at 1am to make it all the way to Provo.
Having been shown a picture of a 12 foot tiger shark the night before that was 'lurking' in the area we were certainly fully conscious of every splash as we left in total darkness. 15 minutes after passing through Shark Alley we felt our paddles touching something beneath the boat. A shark? A whale? Were we imagining it? 5 minutes later and we were no longer moving. We had successfully ran aground on a sandbank at 2am just half a mile from Shark Alley.
The only real option was to laugh and after seeing the comical side of our situation we jumped out of the boat and began to drag the kayak out to sea. An incredibly disconcerting and slightly strange feeling. When we signed up for this we didn't picture ourselves walking in the middle of the ocean in total darkness and dragging our kayak! An uneventful hour later we had reached deep enough water to get back into the boat and carry on to Provo! Darkness turned to light and the day continued without drama. As Provo grew larger and we reached about 4 miles from land we both spotted two large, dark and fast moving objects speeding towards our boat in the crystal clear water. The rest of that story can be saved for another day.
A fantastic welcome from the Big Blue dive centre and Tanya sorted us a great place to store the boat for the night. Ben, our host, was brilliant in aiding all our needs. He took us for a great meal, made us very welcome at his home and introduced us to Dr Sam, who runs the local clinic and assisted us with replenishing medical supplies, and Tim, a man of fantastic knowledge who built his own catermeran Beluga before sailing it down to T&Cs. Both have been vital to the course of the next stages of our expedition. A huge thank you to everyone from Provo!
The next day was an exciting prospect. Despite the long 45 miles ahead we would be entering the Bahamas! Mayaguana was our destination and we once more set out in the early hours to commence the crossing. We faced some strong winds but all in all made good time and managed to arrive in Mayaguana in time to be charged the extortionate Bahamian yacht cruising fee... for our 22 foot kayak...
Fully set to bed down for the night in our hammocks a local Bahamian, Murphy, was adamant that we shouldn't sleep amongst the savage sand flies on the beach. He welcomed us like nothing we've experienced before. Having known these two salty, smelly Brits for the best part of just an hour he gave us his personal bed in his home for the night and made sure we were fed in the morning. Incredibly kind! Similarly on the north side of the island the owners of Baycaner Beach Resort found us all nestled into our hammocks and brought us a couple of dinners and some snacks for the next day! Even the local policemen came down to see how were were and offer any help. We were certainly very content going to sleep that night!
The next couple of days saw us continue through the Bahamian islands at some speed. Camping on some stunning uninhabited islands and watching the sun go down as we cooked up our dinner. As the sun sets around 1730 we were nicely tucked up in bed by 1800 on these nights!
The paddle over to Crooked Island was as enjoyable as the last few days. Having a look at the map we decided to cut through the sand flats. Amusingly as we approached the shallows Will mentioned the prospect that this could be good shark territory. I quickly dismissed the idea claiming that the water would be far too shallow. 2 minutes later and two dark 6 foot finned shadows glide past the kayak. Turning to briefly catch a glimpse of the yum yum yellow kayak and then continuing on their way. Nerves were high.
The water once again became shallower and shallower and soon we found ourselves once more playing drag the kayak. Having seen numerous sting rays we were conscious of the hazards lurking around our feet as we powered on to find deeper water. After a good half hour walking we spotted a fast moving shadow heading towards the kayak. The water so clear and shallow that it was perfectly easy to make out the distinctive fin. We threw ourselves into the boat and watched cautiously as a smaller 3 foot shark charged past. It was fair to say we didn't much fancy getting back out to drag the boat but we soon found deeper water and all was well. We were able to get back into the sea and find another great place to camp for the night.
On Crooked Island we were kindly hosted by Sonya at Blue Horizon and Willie from Gibson's Restaurant. Here we had a great dinner with Griff and Andy. Two friends on a fishing holiday who had some wonderful stories to share. Chris from Crooked Island Lodge was so generous in assisting us and we would like to extend a huge thank you to David for his very kind support... we hope you are reading!
From Crooked Island we travelled to Long Island. A slightly choppy crossing slowed our progress but we were able to reach our desired camping spot prepared to set up for the night. Here we ran into an American family just going for an evening swim in the sea. Assistance was once again right on our doorstep. They so kindly gave us a delicious meal and a much needed shower to wash off the salt and nurse the salt rashes!
Long Island is, as you would imagine, rather Long. With a cold front sweeping the island we to had to battle strong headwinds the next day to make good progress up the island. 20-25 knot winds were forecast and they certainly didn't feel any weaker than that. Good distance was however covered and after a kind local allowed us to sleep in one of the huts we were all set for the night!
At this point we made contact with Kevin and Audrey, two of the most amazingly friendly and kind people in the world and they provided the perfect TLC we needed after a the past ten long days. They treated us to copious amounts of food, hospitality, great company and snacks for the coming days. It was just amazing. Kevin and Audrey then revealed another brilliant surprise... the hot tub located just around the back of the house was the perfect relaxation before being dropped back at our camping spot. Fighting the tale end of the cold front yesterday we managed to jump across to the Exumas.
Here we are. With not too long to go now we'd like to say a huge thank you to all the donations so far and please could everyone keep donating and spreading the word.