Wednesday, August 8, 2007

People, aerial views of Pine Cay

Just got back from a 30-mile round trip on the boat over to Provo. Hadda buy a belt sander to finish some projects I am doing over here. Man, I got raped on the $$$ but what can ya do? We ran the boat pretty shallow today, since it was calm. My better half took some shots while I drove.

Here's the wake with the jackplate up and the tabs down. You can see how it 'squashes' the water down, instead of plowing it aside:



The dark blob's coral, about 2 ft. down. Water depth around it about three feet. The boats running pretty flat. Normally I run it bow a lot higher, better mileage. But more draft. Nuther



Naaah...I ain't nervous. heck, I missed that one to starboard by several inches.



Some decent houses along this stretch. This is the side of the island we chose to build on. Away from the busy, resort side. its peaceful, and remote.



Another broken up Haitian sloop. They are not built very well. I think they are held together mostly by paint and prayer, just enough to make one passage:



Mobile office, TCI style. (she was seeing if she could glom onto the marina's wireless from 900 yards away...and she can heh heh heh..)



Hey, here's TCI lawnmower...with Carbon Credits! BillyGoatGruf Inc.



The new house as of yesterday afternoon. We added the low wall around the patio as an afterthought. Original design had the patio ending flush at ground level. This view is from standing height on the dirt road between us and the water. The wall will deflect some of the constant breeze, and also gives a little more privacy. There is also some salt spray during storms, and the wall should help move the wind flow upwards over the house.

We decided to leave the end of that 'pergola' thing open, so I can add steps or a small landing thing there later if we want. The two yellow tanks are going to be buried for gray water, which will feed a drip irrigation system. The entire roof will be encircled by gutters that funnel rainwater into a double cistern that holds 18,000 gallons.



The crew expects to be installing doors and windows next.

La Gringa Suprema just read this thread for the first time. She says I should write more descriptions on some of the earlier photos, because some of them have a small story to tell. I have been trying to keep the word count down, but wanted to ask..do you guys want more descriptions of what was going on?

This is one she said I should have explained instead of just posting. This was not long after we got here. We were sitting outside at Gilley's watching the world and the boats go by. We didn't have a boat yet. People started showing up on the dock, getting into boats and leaving. First, a half dozen at a time. Then, a steady stream. All black people dressed all in black clothes. Black suits. Black dresses. Boarding white boats, and leaving on the blue sea. My memories of that day are all black, white, and blue.

It was for a funeral being held on North Caicos. A local developer/builder had been killed in a traffic accident late one night returning from a party. A young man, still in his 30's with a lot of family, a lot of friends. Well liked. A golden future. All gone.

Over the course of a couple of hours, people kept arriving, loading on boats in their Sunday finest, and departing for North Caicos. We watched several hundred people leave for the funeral in this way. It was quiet. Orderly. White shirts, white purses, and white smiles, of course, but not many of the latter.

Its about 11.5 miles by boat, and the boats would come back empty in about a half hour, and load up more. There had to be a dozen boats ferrying people, some just a few like this one, some with 20 people. All black and white. A reminder that some things in life have no gray areas.



Local frog sticker:



I thought I would put some people pix in here for a change. We have met so many people since we have been here. My wife had spent 15 years in NJ, and I had spent 20 years on Cape Cod, then two in NJ, before we moved here. We have ten times more of what we would consider good friends here, after two years, than we had in the Northeast US after 20. Maybe that says more about us than it does that part of North America. Not their fault that I didn't fit in.

I think that's part of it, we meet people here who have much more similar outlooks to our own. We met two other Texans here, yesterday, out of the blue. Totally unrelated to each other, too. One is passing through on a sailing catamaran, and lightning hit his boat, and he will be here weeks for repairs. The other one moved here a year and a half ago and is doing construction project management. He told us he and his wife love it here. We hear a lot of people talk about the heat here. Heck, this ain't nothin' to a good old boy from East Texas. It’s like Springtime. A cross between the Hill Country and Padre Island 100 years ago.

This is Derek. He is doing the finish plastering and stucco work on the house. He is from Freeport, a Bahamian who moved here. He is a San Francisco 49ers fan. He loves the house, says the breeze is so cooling and the location so calm, that the guys on the crew all find themselves taking naps in the shade at noon. We have found them like that, stretched out on the cool concrete, hat over their eyes, snoozing away. La Gringa Suprema says its like walking into a kindergarten class during naptime.



This is Bernard. He is from Haiti as are many others here. Bernard works at the marina where we keep a slip when on Provo. He's always smiling, always willing to help jump a battery, change a flat. He likes the dog. The JRT is different from the local dogs which are called ‘potcakes' like in the Bahamas. They are so laid back that they are usually horizontal. The Jack Russell is into everything, and very smart. I would trust Bernard with him.



This is "Preacher", one of our best friends here, crossing a tidal stream on Salt Cay. Preacher is one of the best boat handlers I have ever seen. His family is one of the oldest on Provo, and he has some tales to tell from back when the whole island had less than 200 people. No grocery store, no electricity, living on what they caught and grew in an area that now sells for over a million an acre. He has sea stories, too. Drifting for days without food and water out of gasoline in a small uncovered boat headed back from the DR. And stories I know he wouldn't appreciate me printing.

Preacher is developing a new $50M condo project on Provo, going through the planning/architect stage now. Keep an eye out for Tom Footerock Landing in the future.



And no, he isn't afraid of the cattle. We saw a hilarious home video of him and a cousin chasing down a cow they had bought to butcher, who got away and made a run for it. And made it.

This is from Windmills Plantation on Salt Cay. The little table in the gazebo is separated from the other tables in the outside dining area. Later that evening, a local couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary there, surrounded by candles, in a nice private setting overlooking the sea. The trade winds make a nice sound blowing through the Casuarinas trees. The waiter, Levi, is from South Africa, and every time he brought them another course, he would sing opera. In a variety of different languages, and he is really good at it. I'm no romantic, but I thought it was cool.

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The two pools are seawater, and gave me the idea of building a seawater pool at our new place. No chemicals, great buoyancy, and you just pump it through a sand filter and then back to the ocean. In my case, I would tap off the intake to make fresh water. Just an idea.

The man celebrating at the gazebo told us it was his second 25th anniversary, with his second wife. A couple days later we struck up a conversation with a local guy at a beach bar over on Grand Turk, and told him we had been at Windmills, and about Levi the African singing opera at a 25th anniversary. It turned out that he was the son of the man on Salt Cay's first marriage. Small world.

We took a camera, a pan and tilt unit, radio control, and a video downlink and attached it to a 6 ft. helium balloon. We ran it up a couple hundred feet, when the air was calm. This doesn't happen often, here.

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This is looking down Pine Cay in the foreground, across Water Cay, and that's Providenciales in the distance.



This is the landing craft making the turn into Pine Cay. Its how supplies are shipped around the islands



Another view over Pine Cay, looking essentially South. That's a fresh water lake, very rare here, in the foreground. The Caicos Banks, looking toward Hispanola.



The camera setup works pretty well, but we have a problem with wind. A spherical balloon is no good, the drag co-efficient of the sphere, and vortex shedding kills us with motion in winds over about 10 mph. We need a small helium blimp, like those Grand Opening car lot, advertising things, with fins on it. Needs about 3 cu. m. of volume, able to lift about a kg. If anyone has one lying around they ain't using....

This is the house on Pine Cay where we spend a lot of time. Its where we are right now. Very peaceful and quiet here in the summer, since its off-season. Some weekends last year, we were the only two people on the island.



We were playing with the camera controls on the balloon rig. With the video downlink, we can see what the camera sees using a small LCD on the ground. We can move the pan and tilt, compose the photo, even work the zoom, and trip the shutter, from the comfort of a shady porch. We put the whole setup on a 17 ft. Boston Whaler for some of the shots.

There are places here I really want to get low-level aerial photos, and if I can work out the kinks in the balloon system, it should work. We have a friend here, a pilot, who has been using radio-control helicopters to do this, and when it works, its great. But it has its own set of problems, especially here surrounded by salt water. Most of the best shots are from over the water. Well, you can see the implications. I think he is on something like his third or fourth helicopter, and they are not cheap.

These guys came over to the beach to see what the hell that balloon thingum was....



Crowded Pine Cay beach, as usual..



You can see the boats shadow on the sand bottom underneath.

Handling a six foot balloon in this boat was a real trip. With the new Andros, it should be easier, but first we need to buy a different shaped blimp for the wind. I want to take photos of some of the uninhabited small cays, some homes, some new resort developments, and mostly some ruins that can only really be appreciated and seen from the air. Low level aerials are tricky. Airplanes are too fast. Helicopters are too expensive, very obtrusive, and neither is supposed to be within 500 ft. of people or homes. Balloons are quiet. And they float.



Just getting a cylinder of helium from a machine shop on Provo out to this island is a day's adventure in itself.

3 comments:

Tom said...

Hi - Not sure if you read old comments or not - but I have been reading your blog for about 1 1/2 years now (caught up last November after starting at post #1 and reading about a post a week...).

Based on your aerial pictures, I attempted this myself. However, I didn't have the best setup. Just a 3' helium balloon and a RC Airplane camera that snapped pictures every 4 seconds. Got up there, took the shots, but the pictures were not clear at all. Not a good camera as far as resolution goes.

If my regular (old) Olympus would take shots until it filled the card, I would have sent that up.

Oh well - I will try again - thanks for the inspiration!

Gringo said...

hello Tom.

Heck yeah we read comments. I get them in an email as soon as they come in, no matter what blog post they are referenced to. I had to go back and look at this one. Wow, lot of changes since then.

On the camera, our limiting factor on being able to get good photos was the round shape of the balloon. Ours is a six foot diameter, with plenty of lift, but it bounces around in any wind over about 10 kts. And we ALWAYS have wind over ten knots. Except maybe five or six days scattered throughout the year. A better shaped balloon for this would be a torpedo shape, like the Graf Zepplin or similar. So that it could orient itself into the wind.

Good luck with your photos. I still have this setup, and even a tank of helium, but the Sony camera we bought for this went belly up about a year ago. None of my other cameras have the remote control jack on them to trigger from the ground station.

Joy said...

Is the freshwater lake in this post a sink hole? Your post a couple years back about Cottage Pond on North got me interested in sink holes, and I was excited to see that this month's Nat'l Geo had a pretty good article about the sink holes in the Bahamas (mostly on Andros and Abaco). You might find it interesting, too. I kept hoping throughout the article that they'd mention the ones in TCI, but they didn't. :( I'm always excited to see anything about TCI in the media, since most have never heard of it.