North Long Cocos

7th to 11th July

On the way over we had our first engine failure in a couple of years. We smelt something suspicious and turned the engine off as a precaution. It turned out to be a major oil leak (about half of the oil in the engine was now in the bilge) from a blown seal around the oil filter. I’m guessing that I didn’t clean off the residue of the previous filter seal well enough. Anyway, easy enough to clean up and fix – although finding somewhere to dispose of the oil and oily cloths might not be so simple!

Our course to sail, after passing over the coral bar near Cary Cay, was directly into the wind. So, we turned to run almost parallel to Cary Cay’s off-lying reef, and sailed the majority of the way in a few tacks. Quite good fun, at we made an easy 3 knots average ‘upwind’ (sailing at 6-7 knots, but on a zig-zag course) which considering how lazily we sail and how out of shape our main is, we’ll take.

We anchored on our one remaining engine. Entry here is really easy from the West towards the center of the island, 3-4m depth over an off-lying bar, then deeper for a while, then 3-4m again all the way in towards shore over a mixture of seagrass and sand. We anchored maybe 150m from shore and settled in to find yet another anchorage to ourselves.

Eagle rays were almost constant companions – circling the seagrass area, seemingly undisturbed by our presence. Huge shoals of fish, “feeding frenzies” at dusk and dawn, Ospreys ashore… its nice here. We were thinking about visiting a couple of the other nearby cays, but decided to just stay until we have to revisit Placencia for sufficiently fast internet for a video call I have scheduled on Tuesday.

It’s a private island, but the caretaker said there was no problem with us visiting and spending time on the Northern beach or exploring a little. Arthur spent a while walking or clambering along the mangrove shore looking for mangrove snapper – he found a plank running between two mangroves over a small cove and spent a while fishing there, sometimes on his own and sometimes with Theo.

Charlotte revisited the coral reef off the south-west side of the island to take a few (hundred) beautiful photos. The reef on the north-west is pretty, too.

The supply boat that brings out food (and rum) for the island caretakers had been delayed, so we had visits from the caretakers of three nearby islands asking if we had anything we could share. We’re unusual cruisers in that we don’t have a stocked bar on board, and the lack of rum was disappointing for them. But, we did have some tinned chicken, flour, rice and beans so shared that with Edison (caretaker on Rendezvous) and Chris (caretaker on Jacks Cay). On a previous visit Edison had suggested taking the kids out to find lobsters, and later that day he, Chris, Arthur and Theo spent a few hours lobstering around Rendezvous. It was harder than it looks, but they had a lot of fun while Charlotte and Hector swam around the dinghy (I was on the boat working). After Chris and Edison took a share, the crew brought seven lobsters back to our boat. Some were steamed (Theo’s demand), the rest roasted with a variety of flavorings. Yum, and leftovers for lobster curry, although by dinnertime the kids were too tired to eat.

We visited again 10th-15th August 2022, but didn’t take any notes. Obviously took some photos:

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