Monday, September 3, 2007

Boatyard, New House,

Due to the great response to this thread, I am now bopping around here with a camera in my pocket just looking for an excuse to take a photo of something. Yesterday I took some of the boatyard, those of the little cave, and of course every time we visit the house site I take a bunch. So until we have a chance to go find something more interesting to talk about, it might be about the house for a day or two.

Coralin's crew has framed in the interior loft and done a bunch more finish plaster, put some primer paint on in some rooms, finished the concrete on the front porch etc. But I figure you guys ain't all that interested in a step-by-step on our new house so I haven't been putting those in, as much.

I have been experimenting with panoramic photographs with this new camera. I have found out a few things. First, you HAVE to stand in one spot and rotate. Second, you need to hold the camera at the same height. You want the horizon to match up, for example, from one shot to the next. And you need to limit the number of photos to less than a 180 degree arc. Probably something like 45 degrees would be ideal. Or if you put all those photos together, its confusing. I did a 360 yesterday and its totally disorienting to look at on a flat plane. I think panoramas probably should be just two or three photos.

I did one of the Caicos Marina boat yard, and this is the result of seven photos put together, cropped, etc:

Not great. I like the looks of that power catamaran there in the left of the photo. Its got some good lines. I dunno, just something about it.

Looks to me like that sucker would HAUL A with a couple 250's hung on the back.

What I need is some kind of large format printer to do anything useful with the panoramas. Have any of you guys used that new (new to me, anyhow) Epson 1400? I saw one of those at Best Buy in Massachusetts, and it looked pretty cool. It's under $ 300 and that's a heck of a deal. It would cost me probably $500 to get one shipped here but it might be worth it.

That's the biggest pain living here, getting stuff. The local TCI mail "service" is almost useless, Fed Ex is semi-competent, but costs an arm and a leg. Haven't tried UPS yet. There are couple freight companies in Florida who send a boat down once a week and that's probably what we are going to start doing.

What the locals do is save up their shopping lists until it's worth it, then fly to Miami and load up and bring it back down as checked baggage. We watched a family of 10 unload about 20-30 heavy bags off the conveyor belt at the airport yesterday. Man, what a zoo.

I did not include this photo with the cave stuff, but maybe should have. This is the view you get if you climb out and walk another 20 yards or so to the water's edge.

The water was really stirred up yesterday, with lots of seaweed floating in it and the sand kicked up. Probably something to do with the storm south of here. I took this photo to see if I could pick up the piece of boat hull right there to the left of center. It didn't come out so well, so I did not include the picture. It's a keel, and several ribs sticking up off the bottom just under the surface. If you look out towards the horizon, you can see several other dark splotches just under the surface of the water. These are also pieces of old boats sunk in this area. We keep thinking that one of these days we will take the Andros over and snorkel them just to see what they are, exactly. Might be a good test of this little Olympus.

We stopped by the house site yesterday at noon. The crew is doing a great job and still telling us we might be able to spend Christmas in our own house. After two years living in borrowed places, that will be great. I have a lot of plans for that workshop.

They have been framing in the little loft over the office and kitchen:

We stopped by during lunch, and of course caught half the crew sacked out snoozing in the breeze coming in off the water:

We have heard some news since we returned that is making us a bit sad. First, we stopped at Gilley's at Leeward for lunch on Sunday. There is a big sign at the entrance to the area that says it will all be closed starting September 30 for demolition. That means our favorite waterside restaurant, favorite fuel dock, and the floating docks in many of these photos are going to be torn down to make way for new development. I don't know where the guys who make a living running Catch the Wave and Silver Deep charters are going to go. I am sure they will find someplace. But all the conch boats will have to leave. The entire character of the place is going to change forever. Condos and dock space for "yachts from 65 to 200 feet" is on the sign. Well, that ain't us. Adios, Leeward-going-through...I am glad I got to know you before you got pimped out to the highest bidder.

Then yesterday, we ran into some friends from Salt Cay. They are on Provo looking for leads on a place to live. The small B&B places on Salt Cay are being forced out, bought up, and just outright coerced by the big Eastern European group who are developing the island with condos, villas, a golf course. They essentially bought the entire island from the current administration. They have an ad in the newspaper for a Civil Engineer to oversee the development, and I noticed that the job requirements are NOT that he have an Engineering Degree, but that he speak Czech and other European languages. What does that tell you?

So, if you want to see the TCI as it has been, and before its going to be whatever it's going to be, you should come see it now. This year. Especially if you want to see the old Salt Cay. Its already too late for Leeward, Dellis Cay, West Caicos, Big Ambergris, and North Caicos.

Not sure if its treated or not, actually. I will check and find out. That all will be enclosed in drywall, in any case. I wouldn't think that there is a need for treated lumber up there, its a long way from the ground. But having said all that, our GC guy definitely knows what he's doing, and if he wants to used treated there, after his 28 years experience building high-end homes here, I am gonna go with his recommendations.

I do know Romeo, the guy in the checkered shirt on the floor, was miffed that some of his careful painting of the beams and clear coating the cypress ceiling was going to be partially hidden behind that loft. But we want the loft. We want a ceiling over the little office/computer room because it is going to be the only air conditioned room in the house. We wanted a ceiling in the kitchen, as well, so we could install suitable fans and vents, and lighting. I like the open roof but I don't like topless kitchens. There is also a breakfast bar with sink between the kitchen and the living room, and we wanted some more vertical wall space for artwork, etc. The loft is also for storage of all them things you guys up north have attics and basements for. Could also throw some air mattresses and sleeping bags up there for kid overflow if we had to. We have two small attics in addition to the loft. Hey, I don't want all that junk in my workshop and garage!! That's MINE all MINE ah ha ha ha ha ha ha....

Oh, excuse me.

We are stuck in Provo a few days getting stuff done that has to be done so I wont be taking many boating photos until later in the week. Could post more house photos if you want. Some of them have ocean in them, like this view across the rear patio (which I realize you have seen already but the roof on the pergola is new)


I am glad you like the thread. And I did spend time in the southern US. I was born and raised in Texas. Spent my first 20 years there, and I worked all over the Gulf Coast, from Tampico to Key West.

We don't have the same regulations here that you have in the US. In fact, we don't have a lot of laws made by people who think they know what's best for you and are going to force you to adhere to them. No laws about standing up in your boat, or how many people you can put in the bow. Basically, if you are not bothering somebody else, no one here will bother you, either. Including the police. We drove here for almost a year without a license plate. There's not a red light in the entire country, etc. There are seat belt laws, and helmet laws, but again, if you are not doing something stupid, nobody cares if you follow them. Sometimes I get the feeling the laws here are on the books just in case they need to use them because someone went over the line. Don't cause problems, and it never comes up.

This house is built to exceed local building codes, especially when it comes to wind loading, and cistern water storage. For example even the garage doors exceed Miami-Dade regs for hurricane resistance. There will be aluminum storm shutters permanently mounted so that they pull across the sliding glass. The windows have no glass in them, at all. they are cypress louvers. Its different here. Our coldest temperature last winter was 63 deg. one night in late Feb. This house has no heating system whatsoever and if we didn't want to climate control the computers and printers, we wouldn't even be installing an ac in the office. We have intense sun, but trade winds blowing every day keep it comfortable if you have shade.

The water view was one of the reasons we bought this piece of land. That, and the relative seclusion away from town. We tried to design the house so that there are really nice views no matter which way you look. Coming in the front door, from eye level, you will be looking right through the house and out the middle one of three 6.5 x 8 ft. glass sliders across the patio toward the water:

Watching these guys over the past year, I have learned not to try to second guess our builder on what works construction-wise down here. He is into overkill, which we encourage. All footings on this house, for example, are tied directly to bedrock. Some of them are seven feet deep. But that's the way he does it. stainless fasteners, treated wood, hurricane straps, extra re-bar, I have gotten an education in all that neat stuff you can choose if you are willing to pay for it.
FROST protection?!?!? Ha ha....the only things frosty around here are labelled Presidente, Heineken, Turk's Head, or Corona.

Here's a photo back when they were first digging the foundation. You can see the bedrock pretty clearly. The overburden is only about a foot or two deep on the windward side of the hill, but it gets to at least six or seven feet deep on the leeward side to the right in the photo. Every footing these guys put in is sitting on solid bedrock. They just dug down til they hit it, then pickaxed a hole or trench in it, and formed up as high as they needed to go. Nothing structural is sitting on fill.

Here's a photo showing the foundation of what's going to be a planter box in the back patio. That's two chorus of concrete block, filled with rebar and concrete sitting on a poured foundation on bedrock. For a planter. I think a lot of builders would have just poured a slab on packed fill for that. Not this guy. If any of you ever want a good builder down here, I got the team for you.

I ain't worried about frost heaves, nossir. I am more worried about the big bad wolf huffing and puffing to 140 mph. So we sat down with the architect and the builder in the early days and said 'first off, we want you to build us a house that wont blow away.' Then we went on to say 'and we're planning to be inside it when it gets tested..' Man, I cant believe that was almost two years ago.

We know it's just a matter of time before a hurricane blows through here. I have been through a few of them in my life starting when I was about ten years old and Hurricane Carla took just about everything we owned from my family outside Houston.

So now, I guess I tend to err on the side of overbuilding. But as a last note on that I just snapped a quick photo of two houses about a mile from ours. They are brand new nice houses. People live in them full time. They are about six or seven feet above sea-level and while there is some bedrock under the water there, the builder also used a whole lot of fill. Of course they meet the code for wind but I have to believe I would have built differently in this location. What will a six foot storm surge and hundred mile an hour winds with crashing waves do to this, do ya think?

Sorry for blurry photo, I was riding in the back of the Land Rover with " La Gringa de las Baja 500 " driving at about 40 mph and was doing dang well to hang on to the vehicle and the camera.

But I got some good photos (I hope) down at Blue Hills today. Will post those in a while.

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