This photo was taken Thursday. We had picked up Big John at the airport and boated him out to Pine Cay. Then La Gringa Suprema, Dooley the Demented, and I brought his boat back to Provo, and we were trying to outrun the sunset to get back in before dark.
Getting around the coral heads and reefs and into Leeward in the dark is not that much fun. We do it, from time to time, but it's not for the faint of heart. There's a very high "pucker" factor in driving boats on the ocean down here with no light.
We had hoped to be taking our boat out for a shakedown cruise today after finally getting it out of the boatyard. We didn't get it out of the boatyard, but even if we had it's blowing 25 kts. and seas are forecast to be 15 ft. this afternoon. That's just too much for a 22 foot open boat. We did manage to get some sea time in yesterday before the weather kicked up. We drove Big John's 18 ft. Whaler over to Pine Cay to pick him up and bring him back to Provo. He was here to pick up a friend arriving from JFK, and then the two of them took his boat back to Pine Cay. This returns his boat to him, and opens up our slip for us to move our boat when it's finally fixed. It was not finally fixed as of dark last night. Maybe today...
Yesterday was pretty busy all around. We boated to Pine Cay and back, talked to people at Walkin Marina, and then spent the afternoon at the boatyard while people worked until dark trying to track down numerous little gremlins still haunting our own boat.
At Pine Cay, we watched Herbert catching bait with a cast net:
La Gringa Suprema talked with JR while two new Filipino staff members worked on one of the Meridan Club's new Parkers:
There are no automobiles on Pine Cay. Transportation is by boat, bicycle, or electric golf cart. You can tell when it's 'break time' at the little marina there by the number of carts circled in front of the office:
Doesn't everybody have a bit to tie their bow line up to underneath their tree?
We took Big John back to Provo and dropped him at a car rental spot so he could get his own wheels while on holiday. Our dusty Land Rover with all the controls on the "wrong side" is a bit too much to get used to on short notice. While he was filling out the paperwork, I was looking at a little storage trailer door repair project someone has going on. I thought it says a lot about what happens to things here, when considering that people buy WD-40 by the gallon.
I find I spend a large amount of time just fixing things. Houses, cars, tools, appliances, boats, you name it, this climate will tear it down for you. And quickly. Automobiles fall apart from rust here before the engines wear out.
We followed Big John and Mary Ella back to the marina to make sure they got away from the dock okay. He hasn't spent any appreciable time on his boat since last spring, and is getting the hang of it again. This was his first time getting away from the new slip, and the wind and current here are a bit more challenging than what he was used to. Of course, when his boat was launched a few weeks ago after six months in storage, I had a few more gremlins to fix. Story of my life these days. Bilge pumps and electronics seem to be particularly vulnerable. Anyhow, it's running fine now. That Mercury 150 moves it along quite smartly, too.
There they go, headed out into the big blue. Not bad weather for mid December in the Northern Hemisphere. (John! Tilt the engine down more before you goose it!)
While we were at Walkin Marina we spotted a couple local elves unloading provisions from a truck and trying to get into the Christmas spirit. It must be a little strange growing up with images of snowy Christmases and Santa driving a sleigh in a country where its likely to be 80 degrees on Christmas morning. But the spirit is definitely here.
Would have been a bad time for a good tickle under the arms, I suspect...
After we finished up with our roles as support troops, we went down to the boatyard where we had gotten the word our gas tank was repaired and the boat was ready to go. It wasn't. The small glitches included a fuel gauge wired backwards. The large glitch revolved around the fact that nobody had bothered to remove about five gallons of water from the fuel tank after they washed it out when the welders were done with it. Outboard motors do not run well on a water and gasoline mixture. Donovan and Paul worked until dark draining the tank, the fuel lines, the filters, and the carbs. We finally told them to just wait until daylight to finish. Of course today is Sunday, and the wind is howling. So it looks like one more day of waiting for the boat to be ready. After a few hours waiting at the fuel dock with the outboard in pieces, La Gringa was being philosophical about it all...
I was thinking of boats in general, and how much they mean to the lifestyle here. You could easily live here without owning an automobile. The road system isn't much to begin with, and you can catch a ride anywhere you need to go. But if you don't have access to a boat, you are really confined. We would go nuts with island fever if we couldn't get out on the water.
We also went by our new house site on Friday to see if any progress had been made over the past few days. They have almost finished putting the patio pavers down:
It feels like forever since we started this project, and these last few months are really dragging. But progress continues. While we were shooting the breeze with our architect, H. our three garage doors and the openers arrived via one of the biggest hydraulic wreckers we have seen on the island. We met a very nice guy named Tony who owns the truck. He has six air horns on the cab roof. I wish I had taken a photo, but I will see him around town and eventually get one. The truck is hard to miss, lime green with racing stripes. I asked him if the air horns worked, and he sheepishly said, yeah, they worked too well. The police had already talked to him because they were too loud. I imagine a blast from six airhorns might just cause some heart palpitations in this sleepy little country.
He backed that big sucker right up the driveway and set our crate of garage door down as gently as you could want.
I was watching him work the controls, and the man is an artist. La Gringa says I was salivating over the truck, but I like to think that I'm one of those people who just appreciate a good set of hydraulics.