Merry Christmas to everyone from the Gringos on Providenciales! With our sincere wishes for a Happy and prosperous New Year. We had a bumpy 2008, ourselves, and are hoping 2009 smooths out a bit.
Our winter has definitely arrived. One night last week the air temperature dropped to 73 degrees. At least it was only for a few hours, then it warmed back up. We've been having windy days lately. REAL windy days, 25 mph winds and offshore wave heights of 10+ feet. It's limited our boating somewhat, although we do keep our eye out for 'weather windows'. The mornings usually start out pretty calm around sunrise:
A typical December morning, clear skies and a light chop on the Caicos Banks. But the wind picks up shortly after dawn, and by mid morning it's blowing hard. Watching the "WindGuru" forecast for the week, we realized two days before Christmas that we needed to go find our now-traditional "Christmas Stump" before it got worse. Our Christmas Stump is 'traditional' only in that this is the third Christmas we've done this. We could of course buy a cut evergreen Christmas tree. The local supermarket has a couple container loads of them shipped down every year, and they sell fast. But we decided three years ago that putting up a Canadian evergreen here just somehow didn't seem appropriate to us. This is by no means a typical North American winter scene here. The imported Christmas trees are expensive, and let's face it, they have been dead a while by the time they get here.
So, we just find what we consider a suitable piece of driftwood, or a dead tree, and so far it's worked for us. And we don't have any needles or branches to sweep up.
Three of us took the boat up to the north side of Water Cay. The water inside the reef was choppy, but nothing to worry about. I anchored the boat in about six feet of water and our Christmas Stump Commandos had to swim for the beach:
(Hey, guys, "think Snow!" )
Yes, there was a little bit of a 'wave face slap' factor involved in this. Along with about a seventy five yard swim. I would have joined them, but the boat was pulling the anchor free and I decided to stay with the boat to make sure it didn't go off exploring on its own.
Well, now that I think about it...they probably had to swim a little bit more than 75 yards. Probably more like a hundred or a hundred and fifty..now that I look at the photos without the zoom lens. That's my two sons, Jacob and Jon...the specs on the beach shopping for a Christmas Stump:
Okay, so they will have to swim a little further than they would have liked. Good training for young boatmen. Besides, the water is 77 deg. and they are young.
Of course they had the wind and waves behind them..going ashore. I guess swimming back to the boat it probably seemed a lot further to them. Especially swimming against the wind, with a forty pound tree and a saw in hand. The outboard bracket on this boat seems to be a good way to climb back in from the water. We were wondering about that, and specifically if I was going to have to find a swim ladder and install it. This was a good opportunity for me to find out whether or not we needed one, without my getting wet. It worked just fine:
Hey Jacob, you gotta admit it beats the heck out of shovelling snow. Besides, there's cold beer back at the house.
I didn't have any trouble at all climbing back aboard. (Of course, I didn't get in the water, either. That's what kids are for.)
Once we got this potential Christmas Stump on board, I realized that it had a few drawbacks. One of them was that I was not sure how we would get it from the marina to the house in the Land Rover. And we would have to build a stand to hold it up. So the decision was made to go check out some other areas and see if we could find a more transportable stump.
Since my crew was not keen on the idea of another open water swim, I found a spot sheltered from the wind and waves this time:
You can probably see that the waves were breaking out on the reef in the distance, and that the little spit of rock made a nice sheltered area to anchor this time.
I like this spot. I think it's a good place for taking photos. It's also a nice sheltered cove for the boat.
It didn't take Jon long to find Christmas Stump candidate #2, and this time no digging or sawing required:
It was not as beefy or gnarly as Stump #1 was, but it would require another swim to the boat for my shore party.
Not nearly as physically challenging as the first one was, since I was able to anchor a lot closer to the beach this time.
Jacob is securing the final Christmas Stump in the bow for the trip back to the marina.
We managed to get this one lashed into the little Land Rover and back to the house without any incidents. In our version of 'trimming the tree', actual power tools get involved:
We managed to get it into the house, standing upright, and 'the boys' got enough Christmas lights and ornaments on it to qualify it as a Christmas Stump:
Of course, rather than sit around admiring their handiwork, they would rather play computer games:
I bet that's the same everywhere these days.
So today is the day after Christmas, which is a holiday here called "Boxing Day". So we have a house full of visiting kids to deal with. The wind is still blowing, the ocean is rough and the water too stirred up for good diving visibility. So water sports are not on the agenda at the moment. We have discovered that one can, in fact, fit six full grown humans into a Defender 90 without too much trouble:
Well, I know this is not a grand adventure kind of a post. But I wanted to get something up to show you that although we live on a tropical island we do still manage to put together a Christmas. We are missing one of our five sons who stayed in Colorado for the holidays but the other four are keeping us busy. We are assembling some photos of the local art scene here, and I can post those in the next few days if anyone is interested. If the wind and waves will subside just a bit we will be back on the boat and we want to try to get some fishing in while our guests are here. We are keeping an eye on the forecast, and we still use WindGuru as one of the most reliable indicators of what the wind and seas will be. For the next few days it looks a bit harsh for offshore fishing in a 25 foot boat:
26 mph winds right now, and nine foot seas. Thats just too uncomfortable in a 25 foot boat.
When the WindGuru people give stars, it's good for their sport, and bad for ours. We do realize that if we someday add a sailboat, then we will be able to go boating no matter which way the wind blows.
It's looking like things will improve late Monday, and stay calm for two or three days. We sure hope so. We have more family arriving in the islands this coming weekend who need a ride out to Pine Cay, and that will be good for a boat trip whether it's blowing or not. THIS time we will try to get some better rough water photos.
And as always we are keeping our eyes out for some nice sunrises and sunset images.