Grand Turk

As we approached Grand Turk on the day of our arrival, the engine quit. All the bashing to windward had stirred up all the junk on the bottom of the fuel tanks. We had already quit using one of the Racor fuel filters due to the bowl being full of crud, now the other was full of crud.

We were headed to Cockburn Town dock (1/4 mile north of the radio tower) which according to Noonsite.com (and others) was a port of entry. We double checked the chart and decided to sail in and anchor. I did not want to completely break down and clean the Racors at sea if I could help it.

We dropped anchor by 3 pm local time. By the time we secured the boat and inflated the dinghy it was almost 4:30. We had been unable to reach Customs and Immigration on channel 16, so I prepared to go ashore. Several locals later reported that Customs was supposed to monitor channel 16 twenty four hours a day, but they frequently did not monitor it. The Cockburn Town dock turned out to be a wreck. It was destroyed in hurricane Ike and never rebuilt. They now use the industrial dock and cruise ship dock two miles to the south. Because of this, Cockburn Town is no longer an entry point. A very nice young woman from the Tourist Board took the time to contact Customs and Immigration and let them know I was coming, then arrange for a taxi. Being almost 5 pm on a Friday, I was in no position to argue. One $40 taxi ride and an extra $10 to customs for after hours check-in and we were cleared in.

The customs agent said it was fine to anchor where we were. We were glad of this because it was a smooth anchorage and we had it all to ourselves. The dive boats would flit by in morning and afternoon, so it was easy to arrange one to pick us up at the boat each morning and drop us back off after our second dive. The diving in Grand Turk was spectacular! They were some of the best dives we’ve ever experienced and really helped us relax. Our dive master, Jesse, from Bohio Dive Resort was fantastic. He made our time more enjoyable, both below the water and above, and was helpful in so many ways.

Grand Turk has donkeys and horses wandering loose all around the island. It made for quite an interesting mix when the cruise ship was in town. We also found it interesting to note that in some cases, the posted prices only seemed to apply when the cruise ship was in, particularly in the resort areas. In fact, we noticed at least one beachfront business that was only open when the cruise ship was in town. We were welcome to beach our dingy anywhere on the western side of the island. I’m not sure about the other sides, that’s where we were. People were very helpful in giving directions such as “you can beach your dinghy at the Osprey resort and the Do It Center is right across the street” or “park you dingy by the library and the grocery story is two blocks inland up the road”. We were also able to just pull up where ever we wanted to eat dinner. Wifi was not easy to come by and was usually spotty when we did get a connection. Not surprising in the islands and maybe it helped us disconnect a bit.

I completely disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the Racors on Sunday. I noticed a bad spot on one of the O rings (for which I did not have a spare) and sure enough, that one leaked when I reassembled. It didn’t leak fuel out, but it lets air in under pressure so the engine will not run when trying to use that Racor. The engine ran fine with the other and we decided that would be good enough for now. We reprovisioned on Monday and arranged a fuel truck to meet us at the industrial dock Tuesday morning when we cleared out. The engine ran perfect and we tied up to the dock. We noticed the anchorage on that side of the island was crowded, with nothing really shore side except the industrial dock and cruise ship dock infrastructure. The fuel truck arrived after I left to clear out with customs and immigration. After I finished clearing out and headed back to the ship, I was informed that I needed to stop in the harbor office and pay a $20 fee for tying up to the dock, which I had to do to receive fuel. I did not find any other option for obtaining diesel in Grand Turk as they don’t sell it in the gas stations. At least they took all our trash at no additional cost.

By the time I returned to the boat, they were finished fueling. Jayne said they insisted on doing everything. I’m not sure if that’s a Turks and Caicos requirement or part of how they justified the nearly $5 per gallon price. We cranked up the engine and prepared to head out. Unfortunately, the engine died after a brief interval. We retried it and also tried the other tank, all with the same result; the engine will run briefly after being bled, then dies. I’m not sure if it is coincidental to taking on fuel, but it ran fine before that. Unfortunately they put fuel in both tanks and filled all the jerry cans. We had tied up on the leeward side of the dock, so it was easy to just slip the lines, drift away from Grand Turk, hoist sails and depart. We are familiar enough with Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke to anchor under sail if needed. I’m beginning to feel like Don Street, sailing around the Caribbean without an engine. The Racor bowl is clear of junk and does not show any water. The fuel looks clean, but after sampling one of the jerry cans, I’m not quite convinced it’s straight diesel. Maybe it’s just a low quality fuel. My only other hypothesis at this time is problem with one of the hoses. After bleeding with the electric pump the system starts and runs briefly, so I don’t think it’s the pump or the engine. Because that is the case, it probably is not the fuel either. I just need to find out why the fuel isn’t getting to the engine properly. But for today, the wind is from a more favorable direction than expected, the seas are small, we’re making good progress, and just going to enjoy that while it lasts!

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