This week we have a whole lot of not-much news to report. Interspersed with some really big news that I almost hesitate to report. Big news for us, anyway. And news that should help improve the quality of this blog again in the not too distant future. But first, the now traditional sunrise photo. And the usual drivel before I get to the good stuff...
We get up before dawn. We really don't have to, but we are much more the kind of people who want to maximize the day than we are into the nighttime party scene. Oh, don't get me wrong we enjoy a late evening that runs into morning laughing and talking with friends..but most of the people we know down here tend to be early risers. With the exception of a couple of professional party animals whom shall remain unnamed at this time. YOU know who you are...
I think it's because most houses here are set up to maximize the breezes. A lot of open louvers and sliding doors and windows. And not many curtains. Because curtains block the breezes, they billow in them. So the standard seems to be light curtains that are pushed to the side. This means when the sun comes up, the room lights up right along with it.
On the subject of houses, there is not much new to report. Oh, finally the replacements for the aluminum roof caps arrived.
And we were treated to the wonderful sound of the pitter-patter of booted feet on the roof, repairing a big part of the minimal hurricane damage.
I just noticed I caught the reflection of the shoreline in the photo. I suppose I should pretend that I did it on purpose to add some character to the photo, but I didn't. Pure coincidence.
We still have a dump load of broken outside lights to deal with, but that will come in time. I also notice that with the aluminum roofing, the mangled sat dish, and the piece of ugly art Hurricane Hanna made of our boat's T-top..
...we are accumulating quite a bit of aluminum here. I have been looking into what it takes to weld aluminum. This strikes me as a good skill to have here. But so far, the TIG and MIG welding machines I am finding online are 'cost prohibitive', as the saying goes.
I might be limited to my imagination on projects I can bolt together to make use of this stuff.
The repairs to the roof came just in time. This being late fall, this is our rainy season and we do get the passing storm. Yesterday we had a real storm, with winds gusting to over 30 mph, and rain blowing horizontally. Yesterdays sunrise was ominous to begin with:
And then it got worse. Glad the roof doesn't leak any more.
Heres another view of a recent sunrise. I know its pretty much redundant, but I also figure you guys just starting into a Northern winter will appreciate it. We sure would have ..when we lived up North and dreamed of tropical islands.
So we have fallen into the habit of watching the sun come up with a fresh cup of coffee in hand.
We feel we are becoming connoisseurs of tropical sunrises, and sunsets. Lately our morning coffee sessions have been shared by some of the 'locals'. For example, this morning an American Kestrel stopped by to share it with us:
They have gotten to the point where they are accustomed to us, and don't fly away as long as we don't make any sudden or threatening moves. They sit on the little wall surrounding our patio, shredding the things they eat, as messy as a teenaged son. And they are just assuming we are okay with that. Raptors seem to have a bit of an attitude. I guess that's understandable when one is at the top of the food chain as one knows it. The kestrels are now almost daily visitors to the house. They act like we built it for their enjoyment. And watching them gives us some enjoyment as well. It's a good trade. From a practical standpoint, I guess it's a whole lot more comfortable sitting on a roof than on a cactus, when one is watching for stuff to kill. I know it would a no-brainer if it was me sitting on the cactus.
We have not seen the Ospreys yet this winter, but it's early in the season yet. They'll be here. We can see their nest from the patio. It's high on a telephone pole in a deserted part of the boatyard.
The DIY projects continue. I don't even keep a list of all the little things I have to fix, but it seems there is a new one almost every day. This week, for example, La Gringa finally hit the roof over something as silly as water pressure. We have had a problem with it fluctuating from weak to non-existent. This has been going on since the house was built, just one more thing in a long list. Over the past 8 months, I had gotten accustomed to taking the three minute shower. This week La Gringa informed me that she had just upped the priority on fixing the water pressure. I think it had something to do with the water stopping entirely when she was standing in the shower with a head covered in shampoo. Women are funny that way. I guess I don't get the shampoo thing, takes me all of three seconds, but anyhow I had called a plumber to come sort this out....three or four weeks ago. He hasn't shown up, and rather than restart the clock with another plumber I decided it was time to educate myself about water pressure. Seems like one of those things a homeowner should know about I guess. So I got onto the internet and found a site all about plumbing and pumps, and pressure switches. "Aha!" (thought I) "Pressure switch!!"
SO after reading up on pressure switches, I located that sucker and promptly tore it apart.
Of course, the intelligent thing to do would have been to take the photo BEFORE I disconnected all the wires. But hey, it's only five wires. Not rocket science. At least I remembered the important part: Turn the electricity off before you start.
Sure enough, the contacts were burnt on the relay, there was silt in the little pressure port hole, and the adjustment was all wrong. I tried to just buy a replacement, but none of the stores I visited had any in stock. Par for the course. Could order one for, say, three weeks from now. I didn't get the impression La Gringa wanted to go another three weeks without water pressure.. So of course the answer is to just rebuild the one we have.
I took the opportunity to add a pressure gauge to the plumbing, and once I got everything hooked back up I used my new knowledge of pressure switches to adjust the pressure cut-off upwards from 40 to 60 psi. And wow, did that make a difference. Not only in La Gringa's shower, but the washing machine, dishwasher, and these high-tech toilets are all suddenly working better as well. Must be related. Thank goodness for the internet. Arms me with the info I need time after time.
Okay, now the good news. Actually it's fantastic news. Almost unbelievable news.
So fantastic a bit of news that I have hesitated to even mention it here because I did not want to jinx it. But I cannot stand it any longer! I have to tell someone.
It started a couple of weeks after our posts on the hurricanes, and the photos of our smashed up boat, "Cay Lime". You have to understand that Cay Lime was our first boat. We had studied boat hull designs, we looked at where we live, we specified every part of that boat. It was built for us, equipped just as we requested. And we loved it. It was like a member of the family. Only more reliable. We were not looking to replace it. We had a lot of plans and dreams involving Cay Lime. Hanna put an end to all that. We were left high and dry, literally. We really missed the boat, so to speak.
After I posted the photos of our barely 18 month old boat smashed upside down on the rocks, La Gringa received an email from someone who has been following the story of our life down here. He goes by the screen name 'Marlinsix' on one of the boating forums. He wrote us that he was a long time boater and fishing fanatic and that he likes the blog. He has ordered a new custom built, 35-foot Calyber sportfishing boat. We are familiar with these beautiful boats, as a friend and neighbor on Pine Cay has been running one down here for a couple of years now.
That was a morning photo back in December, and it didn't come out all that great, but you can see what a nice boat Calyber builds. (Besides, it's the only photo of it that I can find)
These are Carolina boats, built by people who understand the ocean, and combine style, class and function into some of the finest boats you will ever see. Marlinsix's new boat is bigger than the one in the above photo, and he has sent us photos of it being put together:
The Calyber is a big step forward from our kind of small boating. From an open deck, single outboard, day-boat, Marlinsix is going to a twin engine inboard. A Calyber is a mini-ship. From spending the day with food and drinks from a cooler full of ice, he has graduated to a boat in which people can go below to take a nap. Or brew a pot of coffee. Or open the fridge for a Coke. Or fry up breakfast. This is a boat where you step down from the deck into the cabin.
You could live on that boat. This is a different animal from the open deck fishing boat setups we are accustomed to. Its the next step all serious boaters aspire to. Marlinsix has made that leap, and somehow in the grand cosmic scheme of things....we have gotten attached to his good fortune. He is expecting delivery of his new boat later this month. Now here comes the good part of all of this, Marlinsix told us...
If we wanted it, we could have his "old" boat: a Contender 25. It was that simple and direct. He told us that he needed to either retire it or sell it to make room for his new boat. He knew of our misfortune, and said that he would rather see his Contender with someone who appreciated it and would be posting photos of it exploring the TCI than to just sell it to some stranger in Florida. Wow. This kind of luck just doesn't happen very often. And you sure do not run into people this generous and thoughtful on a regular basis, either. At least, not in our experience.
When La Gringa read me Marlinsix's email, I thought about it for about sixteen or seventeen milliseconds, looked at La Gringa and said "yeah, right. Whats the catch?"
But we were soon assured that there really was no 'catch'. It was just someone being incredibly nice to us.
Thats pretty much a bombshell in our little world. The Contender is set up for just the kind of boating we do here. The owner sent us some photos of it tied up to his dock in Florida.
The Contender is a nominal 25 feet long, but that is a little bit misleading. With the way the outboard is mounted on a bracket outside the enclosed transom, the length is actually 28.5 feet. This makes it six and a half feet longer than our "Cay Lime" panga. It also has a newer Yamaha (our favorite brand, too!) 300 hp. outboard on it. That is twice the horsepower on Cay Lime:
But it gets even better. The Contender already has a good GPS, a sound system, a VHF radio and a pair of outriggers for some serious fishing. In fact, the name of the boat is "Wahoo Serious", and it's set up ready to go do exactly that. Serious wahoo fishing time in the TCI! (can you tell I am moderately excited about this? If I suscribed to that old cliche about pinching myself to be sure I am not dreaming, I would be a walking bruise by now)
The console is laid out similar to what we are used to running, with Yamaha gauges, and the same type of hydraulic steering and controls that we have been using on our boat. I basically already know a lot about the systems on the boat, without ever having seen it.
This boat differs from "Cay Lime" in a lot of ways. "Wahoo Serious" is more of a 'deep-v' style hull. This is a heavier constructed boat, with the center of gravity lower in the water than "Cay Lime". It needs a little deeper water than "Cay Lime", but should run fast offshore in heavier seas. It also has a lot more range than Cay Lime. Another nice features of a deeper hull is that there is room under the deck for plenty of storage:
As if the gift of the boat itself is not enough, Marlinsix is sending it down with one of the best boat trailers around. Its made of aluminum, and has three axles.
This is going to be perfect for trailering the boat over these rough roads, and make it easier for us to launch it at some of the unimproved boat ramps around here. And I guarantee you, no matter where we end up keeping the boat, it will be on this trailer and secured if a tropical storm gets within a few hundred miles of us. Oh yeah, we learned that one. Yessiree Bob, we did.
Here's another view of "Wahoo Serious", being inspected by it's former crew and Marlinsix's best friend Mickey:
Knowing our little furball Dooley, I think it is going to be fun watching him go crazy sniffing around our "new" boat looking for the dog who was last on board.
Okay, well this post basically turned into my doing mental cartwheels about us getting back on the water again. This should be in about a week and a half, or as soon as we can arrange to ship the boat. Oh, I wanted to mention something about that, too. When I called the shipping company with the dimensions of the Contender, they quoted me $13,000. to ship it down from Florida! Ouch. When we heard that, La Gringa and I decided that we would fly up to Miami and drive it down ourselves. I spent days mapping out our trip, making lists of what we would need to run a 25 foot open boat almost 700 miles down through the Bahamas. We were looking at a fifty mile crossing across the Gulf Stream from Florida to Bimini, clearing customs and immigration there, and then island hopping all the way down the Bahamas to the TCI. The trip was planned to go something like this:
I picked a route that would let us stay protected from most storms. And an alternate route, just in case. I researched hotels, and marinas all the way. The plan was for us to try to travel 100-150 miles per day, and pull into the next port well before dark. This is easy in the northern part of the islands, but it gets a little more sparse in the Southern Bahamas.
And just as we were about to call the airline and start that hassle you get these days when you try to buy a one-way air fare, the gods smiled upon us once again. The phone rang, and our contact at the shipping company had come up with a way to ship the boat, and trailer, for less than half of their previous quote! As exciting as the idea was of us two old fogeys (well, one old fogey and a young chick) running an open boat down through the Bahamas for a week, the new quote made it actually cheaper to ship everything. And of course the risk factor goes way down.
One good thing came out of the planning, once we had made our minds up that we were going to make the trip. I got online with various resorts and hotels in the Bahamas, and have now struck up an email correspondence with a fellow named Shorty. He runs the only lodging (that I can find online, anyway) on the island of Mayaguana. We are not making the trip down the Bahamas chain this time, but we are planning to run up to Mayaguana to meet Shorty one of these days. It's only 45 miles Northeast of Providenciales. This Contender should do that.
SO, back to Plan A...and Marlinsix kindly arranged to have the boat put on the trailer, and shrink wrapped for the trip:
As I write this, our new boat is already at the freight terminal in Florida waiting for boat space. It's most likely to be on a freighter this coming Friday, which will put it in Customs here around the following Wednesday, November 12th. Want to hear something weird, and somewhat too cool to be totally coincidental? Ok.. I figure we should be able to clear the boat and haul it home on Thursday November 13th. We will have to buy some lifejackets, fenders, get it registered, that sort of thing. But I am betting that we can get it launched and fired up some time during the day on Friday, November 14th.
Did I ever mention that La Gringa and I have our birthdays on the same date? It's true, we have the same birthday. What's more, we decided to get married on 'our' birthday, so that date is also our wedding anniversary. Guessed the weird part yet? That date is November the 14th.
I think a celebration may be in order.
And finally, we should once again start having some interesting photos to post here other than these boring sunsets.