Monday 3 Feb, BHS day 35: Freezer drama followed by dinghy trip to explore the stunning Norman’s Cay beaches, and gentle 30nm sail back to Compass Cay.
Today, the only Monday morning blues on Cloudy are the deep blue sky and blue sea. It’s a beautiful day. Clear skies and a gentle cool breeze. After breakfast Pete comes by and we head off for a drift dive (well, actually a drift snorkel). He and Stu have their spear guns and I’m keen to observe them. But sadly the visibility is not good following all that wind yesterday, so we give up.
Back on Cloudy we seem to have a problem with the freezer. Oana has noticed its only -1 DegC. It’s chock-a-block full of food that we cant afford to have defrost. So out comes the R134 refrigerant tank and gauges. On the low pressure side it’s pulling -5psi, and the cooling plate inside the cool box is only 1/2 frosted. Clearly it needs topping up. All signs are that the refrigerant has leaked (which it clearly has). However, we have had this situation previously and after top-up it had continued to run perfectly for a long time. I know, odd. And we are hoping this is the case now. It doesn’t take much gas before I see the tell-tails signs of frosting on the evaporator return pipe. Once I see that, I bleed a bit of gas and fingers crossed, it should be good. We are glad we invested in the equipment to manage these situations.
While doing this, Pearl and Mahina pass us on their way out to sail south to Compass Cay. We will catch up with them later, but before we leave we want to explore the sandy area north of us.
So off we tootle in the dinghy. The interior of Norman’s Cay has a big lake where a shallow draft yacht can enter and shelter. Around the lake entrance is the most stunning area we have yet seen. A multitude of small beaches separated by coral limestone and waters that have every variable of the colour blue. Oana says it could be a paint colour chart. And in the bright midday sun the scene is simple breath taking. Needless to say we spend quite some time in and around there, walking on a beaches, tootling along the narrow blue channels in the dinghy, admiring clean sandbanks just emerging from the water, watching small turtles dart this way and that and lazy nurse sharks resting on the sandy bottom. It’s just magical. We are so glad we didn’t miss this area.
Back at Cloudy we are soon moving again, out to the deep water. The wind is only 3-8kts but we venture to sail anyway, given the sea conditions are perfectly flat. And indeed, with the wind beam-on we manage sailing at, and at times even above, the wind speed. And as we go, we wonder if the Exumas is totally spoiling us, for it seems an age ago that we were in any kind of bad sea conditions.
It’s 28 miles to Compass Cay and we take all afternoon to gently sail there. It’s only the last 4 miles that we put the engine on, just to ensure we arrive before sunset.
Entering Compass Cay from the south at half tide is a bit risky, but we have our previous track to follow. At this state of the tide (almost low) we know we can’t get into the main channel where the others are, but we do try to get as close as we can, anchoring in a very small pool that is 4m deep in the middle and shallows very quickly all around. But as we back up to pull the anchor in, we go hard aground on the sand! Luckily, the power of the Volvo gets us off and we deem that place too tight to anchor.
As we are heading back out, to a bigger but slightly more exposed anchorage, a motor boat approaches us from the marina and asks if we are OK. They had seen us go aground. That was kind of them.
As soon as we are settled in the new anchorage Pete calls us on the VHF and invites us over for drinks. So we dinghy over to them, across the sand bank, with outboard on kick-up mode. But we get there with no scraping on the sand bank.
It’s the usual gang on board and of course lots of boaty chat and the usual boaty stories. I can’t really settle though as I have one eye constantly on Cloudy. I don’t normally like to leave the boat so quickly after anchoring unless I’ve dived the anchor. We are back by 8:30pm and find Cloudy happily swung to the new tide and in 3m of water.
The rest of our evening is nice and relaxed while we continue with the video editing. Or rather Oana continues while I just watch and comment, before falling half asleep 🙂