Waiting for Weather

18 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
I wasn’t able to put it off any longer – it was time to sort out the blockage in the front toilet.  The holding tank empties by gravity, so it looked like either the outlet hose was blocked or the blockage was in the holding tank itself.   I snorkelled under the boat and poked a length of stainless steel cable up the outlet hose.  It went in fairly easily up to a metre, so I believe that the hose from the holding tank to the outlet seacock is clear.

I then checked that the overflow/breather tube was clear (by unfastening the top end and blowing down the tube) – yuk!   After tightly replacing the tube, I closed the outlet valve and then pumped more water into the holding tank from the toilet.  I knew that the holding tank was completely full when sewage came out of the overflow skin fitting – yuk!   Interestingly, when I opened the holding tank valve, it emptied a little bit, so I must have dislodged the blockage and then it re-blocked itself.

Another front comes through

I’m now in a dilemma.  The blockage is definitely inside the holding tank, but there’s no access into the holding tank except for the hose fitting at the bottom.  I can’t remove the hose because if the contents do come out, the sewage will go straight into the bilge – yuk!  I also can’t remove the holding tank while it’s full – there’s not enough room.  So my only option is to leave the system alone until we get the USA when I’ll be able to get access to a holding tank pump-out station.  I’m hoping that the huge vacuum will suck the blockage out.

We had a quiet afternoon lurking about – there’s a cold wind and we can’t be bothered to go snorkelling.

19 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
We’re still waiting for a weather window.  The forecast is very confused with a couple of large weather systems pulling against each other.  It looks like we might be here for another 4 or 5 days. 

Glenys suggested that we put some drain clear into the holding tank to try to clear the blockage.  I was very sceptical, but it was worth a try – especially because the powder has come from south-east Asia, so it’s likely to be very strong stuff that wouldn’t be allowed in Europe or the USA.  We put a hefty dose into the toilet and then pumped it into the holding tank.  After 10 minutes, I opened the holding tank valve and to my surprise the whole contents of the holding tank came out.  I filled the holding tank with water again and it emptied with a reassuring gush – job sorted.

We had a quiet afternoon on board.

20 March 2019   Elizabeth Island to Stocking Island, Exumas
At dawn, a cracker of a squall came through giving us 25-30 knot winds for a few minutes.  The weather then cleared up, so after breakfast, we upped anchor and moved closer to town, anchoring off Chat & Chill Beach.  

Lobster in the Bag

We last filled up with diesel in Puerto Rico and our tank was approaching ½ empty, so I topped up with the diesel from our three jerry jugs.  One of our cooking gas tanks is about ¾ empty, so I swapped that out.  Loaded with three jerry cans, a gas bottle and a big bag of rubbish, we headed into town to restock.  

While Glenys went to the supermarket, I dropped off the gas bottle and filled the three jerry jugs with diesel.  I met Glenys in the supermarket and helped her carry the provisions back to the dinghy and then went off to the liquor store to buy two cases of beer and some more wine.  By 11:30, we were back on the boat fully provisioned.

After lunch, I nipped into town to collect the full gas bottle and we then lazed around for the rest of the afternoon – it was blisteringly hot and very humid.

21 March 2019   Stocking Island to Elizabeth Island, Exumas
The day started off with a grey drizzle and the forecast is still frustratingly unsettled, so we have decided to wait here until after the next Norther, which will be in three days’ time.   The skies brightened up during the morning, so we pulled up the anchor and moved back to Elizabeth Island.  

Our initial plan was to go snorkelling out of one of the passages between the islands, but they were too rough with a large northern swell crashing on the rocks.  Instead we went for a snorkel on the reef just south of the boat channel, which was surprisingly good.  We found a large Nurse Shark; a Green Turtle hiding beneath a coral head; and best of all, I snared a lobster.

22 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
The wind picked up overnight to 10-15 from the north, so I’m glad that we’re here instead of the more exposed anchorages further north.  We moved a bit closer to the shore and settled down for a few days.  I spent all morning editing photographs and catching up on publishing my blog – I’ve been very slack and haven’t published anything for 6 weeks, so it was a real chore.  Most of the afternoon was spent reconciling our finances ready for the end of the tax year – yawn…

Walking on Stocking Island

Glenys dug out her shell collection and sorted through it.  We’ll have to pay to ship the shells back to the UK, so the idea was to reduce the numbers.  She tried hard, but at the end, she only found ten shells that she was willing to part with. 

23 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
It was a breezy, but beautiful day, so we went for a walk on the south end of Stocking Island.  We took the same route that we did last week, but extended it a little by taking a path that continued along the windward coast all the way to the long beach opposite the lagoons.  We didn’t fancy trudging along the beautiful white sand beach, so we returned to the dinghy via Sand Dollar beach.  It was a very pleasant 2 hour walk.

In the afternoon, the wind slowly veered to the east, but it remained a lovely sunny day.  I feel like a wimp for staying here in Chicken Harbour.

24 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
By morning, we had 20 knot winds and grey skies – the front has finally arrived.  We spent the day on board pottering about as the wind slowly picked up and the clouds built.  It started to rain about 16:00 by which time we had 25 knot gusts coming through.  We retired down below and watched a movie with our dinner.