Sunday, April 29, 2018

Skinny dipping

We are anchored off Six Hills Cays on the Caicos Bank (map), part of the Admiral Cockburn National Park. Yesterday morning we weighed anchor around 9:30 after a leisurely coffee, bound for Long Cay on the edge of the bank. But adverse current, heavy chop, and a stiff wind had us doing just 5.3 knots at our usual 1500 rpm, and the plotter said we would arrive at 7pm, just before sunset.

Sunset from our aft deck, as we dined. This never gets old.

We ended up increasing to 1600 rpm to get our speed up, and set our end-of-day sights here instead, about three miles short, and the first lee available on our route. It turned out to be an excellent choice; with the wind a bit south of east, we have excellent protection here, in calm water with just a bit of swell circling around the cays.

Crossing the bank. This is the view to the horizon in all directions. We're in 16' here and we could see every coral on the bottom, and a pair of sea turtles, too.

This is also some of the clearest water we've been in. We can clearly see the bottom some dozen feet below us, and our underwater light illuminated it as well. The water here is now 84°, and with no current pushing us away from the boat here in the lee, we went for a nice swim after we arrived. We have the place entirely to ourselves; the nearest soul is six miles away in South Caicos, so no swimsuits required.

This is a sharp contrast to Sapodilla Bay, where, while clean, the water was murky enough that we could barely make out bottom features, I think due to some kind of suspended fine sediment. Even in Grace Bay I had a hard time finding my reading glasses on the bottom, 15' down, after dropping them while working on the tender. I did go fetch them once I spotted them.

The beach at Sapodilla Bay, just before we left. It's a long way; this is as close as we can get.

The tender work, by the way, which I neglected to mention in my last post, was to jury-rig the shift linkage, which broke on our way home from our massage in Grace Bay. Fortunately it gave up just as I was trying to maneuver alongside Vector, and it broke in neutral rather than in gear. I grabbed the painter, jumped off the dinghy, and swam us back to the big boat before we could drift too far away. It's now held together with a pair of zip ties; a proper repair will have to wait until I can get parts.

We had the hook down here just in time for cocktail hour, and had a lovely dinner on deck in this beautiful location. From here we can make out the buildings (and lights) of Cockburn Harbour on South Caicos, about six nautical miles distant, and we have an excellent cell signal from there as well. Six Hills Cays themselves are uninhabited, and the only sound we hear is the surf battering the rock shore of the cays.

Approaching the Six Hills Cays. Three hills are on the closer cay, dead ahead, where we anchored, and the other three are on the cay at left, separated by a narrow cut.

This afternoon we will weigh anchor and cruise off the bank into the Turks Passage, turn north, and come back onto the back at Cockburn Harbour. We had discussed making the crossing to Grand Turk, but the anchorage there is good only in settled weather, and we need to hunker down for a few days as this storm system passes. We'll do that in the greater protection afforded at South Caicos.


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