Day 83, A Full Day.
08 June 2012 | Albuquerque Cays, Columbia
Thursday, June 7,We only had 30 nm to go today, so when we left was not important. By 8:30 we had had breakfast, checked in with the SW Caribbean net, and were ready to go. We raised sail before anchor and motorsailed out past the destroyer. The wind was lighter, only ~10 kts and when we shut off engines and unrolled gennie we were only making ~4.5 kts. Even 30 nm is a ways at that speed. Fortunately this was only wind shadow from the island. We were soon seeing 15-17 kts and making 6-7. Seas were moderate, 6-8'. There were a variety of rain clouds that gave us good wind, but we never got wet. When we were about 10 nm out from the entrance to Albuquerque Cays, I heard a snap and felt the boat lurch. Looking about, I saw dink hanging lower than he should. Did the clutch slip? I pulled it tighter and then realized that the bridle that went to both sides of the stern had frayed through and broken on one side. The other didn't look much better. It was where the control arm of the outboard rubbed on the line. Fortunately the bridle had a loop formed by a knot instead of just being continuous, so the port side was still holding for now. The waves were slapping up and hitting the underside of dink with each passage so I knew I had to do something NOW. I undid the stern lifelines and went down the steps until I could lean and catch a line through the eye bolt on the dinghy starboard stern and ran it up to the back lifeline which is 1 ss tubing. I then did the same for dink's port side knowing that line would not last long. With Deb's help I slowly recovered dink to his normal travel position. I had tied it with a clove hitch (my favorite knot) so I pulled a little slack and Deb took it up. It was heavy going as I usually have a 4:1 purchase to lift dink, but eventually we got dink out of the waves and in a safe position to travel. That was exciting! By noon we were approaching Albuquerque Cays and the wind and waves had dropped considerably. We dropped sail outside the lagoon and motored the 3+ nm into the lagoon, around all the obstructing reefs inside and eventually to our anchorage in 6' of water over pure white sand just off North Cay (where the military base is). It took 45 minutes to wind our way in, but we left breadcrumbs so going out should be easier, though I still wouldn't do it at night. An error of even 20' could put us on a reef that's only ½ a boat length. Total course turned out to be 26nm, time, 5 hours so we still averaged better than 5 kts even with our slow entry into the lagoon. After we were anchored, I went ashore with our papers, found the commandant, and was officially welcomed to the islands. He was very polite and friendly, as we had experienced last time. We can stay as long as we want. When I returned to the boat, we still had most of the afternoon left, so we loaded the hookah and went out to dive one of the mini atolls behind the boat. The center of the atoll is ~5-6' deep, there is a coral rim that breaks in places, but can be crossed by dink in several, and the wall on the outside drops to ~30'. Really a miniature of a coral atoll in every way. The structures of the coral were amazing with long arms reaching out in all directions. We started into the wind, of course, and worked our way 360*. Nice coral, lots of sponges and great fish even three large ocean triggers swimming together. We then swam the inside looking for conch. We only found two, but they were the biggest conch we have seen in ages. Sundowners and FRESH conch salad in the cockpit. And after dinner, the stars were brilliant as we lay in the tramp. That was a full day.