title- Turks and Caicos Islands

Anchoring at Grand Turk

Pulling into the dock at Grand Turk Island, looking at Cockburn Town.

As our day ended in Puerto Plata, the weather settled down, and we enjoyed mild winds for the rest of the week. We left Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, late in the afternoon, and the ship had an easy 115 mile cruise to the north to arrive at Grand Turk by 8:00 the next morning.

The Turks and Caicos Islands have been owned by various European countries over its history, most recently by Great Britain. It got its own governor in 1973, which Britain dissolved in 2009 due to corruption. Self-government was returned in 2012, and the islands remain a British Overseas Territory.

The original inhabitants of the islands were the Taino people who migrated from nearby Hispaniola. As the Taino people of Hispaniola were decimated by the Columbus settlers, theTaino people were completely removed from the Turks and Caicos to replace them. In the late 1600s, the British from Bermuda took slaves to Grand Turk to evaporate salt. Donkeys were used to assist in this heavy labor. Today, the salt ponds are visible but not used. However, donkeys continue to roam at will around the island.

Today, tourism has replaced salt as the primary driver of the economy. Grand Turk has long been a dive destination, so seven of our group signed up for a snorkeling trip. The water was comfortable, with perhaps 100' of visibility. About 95% of the coral in the Caribbean has died, but the calcium outcroppings exist and provide hiding places for a good many fish.


Ships tied up at Grand Turk.

Grand Turk is only about six miles long, but the western side has spectacular beach.




Heading out to go snorkeling.


On the snorkel boat.

Enroute to our snorkeling spots.


Don and Rob on the boat.

We snorkeled a ledge and then a flatter area.



Departing Grand Turk

Backing out of the dock at Grand Turk.


title Key West

A 150 mile string of coral islands stretches from the tip of Florida to the south and west. Numerous long bridges connect these islands, and the last island, where the road ends, is Key West. I spent some time in Key West in my Navy days, and I loved the laid back atmosphere of the sun soaked island, where flip-flops and shorts was somewhat overdressed. It has long been a place to either fish or just hang out. A major coral reef parallels the islands to the south side, and shallow water to the north between the islands and mainland Florida has long been a fishing paradise for Tarpon and other species.

Our last port on the cruise was Key West, and we had signed up for a snorkel trip to the reef about five miles south. There the water suddenly drops from about 15 feet to much greater depth and the reef supports a good many fish and turtles.. Key West has its own style of victorian-colonial architecture, featuring ornate wooden homes, big covered porches, and all shaded by big Banyan and Royal Poinciana trees. Its main streets are full of touristy shops,and several of the many open sided bars were made famous Earnest Hemmingway, who spent many of his last years in his home in Key West.

In middle March, we shared our boat with a good many college students on Spring Break, but they enjoyed the snorkeling as much a we did and were still in good form despite the free beer that was available on the ride back to Key West.


Snorkel boat Key West

In Key West we boarded one of Fury's large catamarans to snorkel the reef about five miles off shore.


Washing windows on the cruise ship.

As we passed our ship we saw them catching up on some window washing.


Going past the cruise ship.

Our catamaran moves past the Eurodam.



Large banyan tree in Key West.

The banyan tree and this Key West home have both been here a long time.


Key West sidewalk tacos

This Mexican restaurant evokes the casual feel of Key West.


Dingys tied up in Key West.

The dinghys from yachts anchored outside the marina attest to Key West's popularity as a boating destination.

The cruise was a relaxing vacation and good friendships evolved. It was fun to spend time with Pat's side of the family.

Following the cruise with a book on Columbus gave an added dimension. His events happened 500 years ago, and the Caribbean is different and mostly self-governed today. But, it was fun to try to picture the islands before great changes took place. I hope you enjoyed coming along.

Don Webster

The End