Last issue we started exploring the Turks & Caicos. We looked at the islands around the Caicos Bank and finished in South Caicos about to sail 20-25 miles across some deep water to the Turks Islands, which got its name from the Turk head cactus that resembles the little red fez hats Turkish men use to wear.
We are going to start at the south end at the Endymion shipwreck. The Turks bank extends this far south and is a safe 40 deep, except for the 10-foot-deep rocks the Endymion hit in 1790. It is fantastic diving and snorkeling…..when the weather is calm.
Just a bit to the north is Big Sandy Cay and the name says it all. I anchored in 18 feet of water on the southwest side and had a blast playing on this big sandy cay. It is completely uninhabited and is a great place to make a jump to Dominican Republic.
My favorite place in the entire country is next… Salt Cay, and everything seemed to begin or end at Porter’s Island Thyme bar, unfortunately Porter and his wife have closed shop to enjoy retirement. Hopefully someone takes over as the welcome committee and still offers self-guided walking tours where you will see amazing beauty and interesting history like the graves rumored to be pirates, the late 18th century Bermudan Militia cannon, St John’s Anglican Church built in the 1790s, the coffin in the social club building, and some mysterious rock mounds.
My favorite part of the island history is the old salt industry. Many people don’t realize how valuable salt was up to 100 years ago and this is one of the best examples of salt production I have seen. From the canals to bring in the salty sea water to the shallow pans used to evaporate the water to the windmills to move the water around. The jewel in the crown though is the White House. This Bermuda style salt plantation house is very typical of what you would find on the island in the heyday. The bottom level was a warehouse for the salt plus the old kitchen. Upstairs you would find the living quarters with some of the furniture dating to the mid 1800’s. This house is still a private residence and I feel lucky the owner was willing to give me a tour.
Our final stop will be the capital, Grand Turk Island. Here you can walk along the attractive waterfront and see historic buildings or dive the wall just offshore. The snorkeling is amazing because just a quarter mile from shore it goes from 20 feet deep to over a mile deep within two or three kicks.
Ashore I recommend two museums. The first is the Salt Museum that gives details of the history and production of salt. The second is the National Museum where they have wonderful exhibits on the Lucayan Indians, island history, salvaging, and more. But my interest was the display on the oldest New World shipwreck dated at 1513 a mere 21 years after Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage. Also of note is the lighthouse on the north part of the island.
Visit www.svGuidingLight.com to read more from Captain Shane about the Bahamas, Caribbean, life aboard, world traveling, and more. You might also want to check out his travel video series.