Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just a short update

I remember saying that I would try to post a few new photos at least once a week, so that's really the reason for this post. The fact of the matter is that nothing noteworthy has really happened this week. Oh, the sunrises are still pretty much worth the effort of picking up the camera:



And I do try to catch them even though we must have posted a thousand of these by now.



But they're all slightly different, you see. I guess I could get a little more creative, or to be honest, less lazy, and walk across the patio to try to add something else to the image. Could do these, of course:



Or fool the autoexposure mode in the little point-and-shoot cameras we use:



Sunsets have been mostly obscured by clouds this week, except for those spotless days when there were no clouds at all. Neither scenario makes for good sunset photos, but we are keeping an eye on them. Tough job.

We did manage to get back out to Pine Cay again this week. That has become much more frequent lately. We were invited to a luncheon at the Meridian Club by some visiting friends who were getting ready to return to the USA.

We do take videos, but have not posted many here because we realize that not everybody has DSL and watching them takes a while on dialup internet connections. However, in an effort to add something to this otherwise fairly lame post, here are a couple.

This is what it looks like to us on all those trips to Pine Cay when we zip along on the 'front side', which is the deeper water side between the islands and the reef. That is Water Cay on the right, and we were in Preacher's new boat "Cay Lime":




video



When the water is too rough on the reef side, we often come zipping back on the "back side". This is the route over the Caicos Bank. It is immune to the offshore swells, although it does develop a nasty chop from time to time. The biggest white knuckle factor on this route is that the water varies between zero and three feet deep until you get about a mile out. This route is harzardous, with uncharted water full of small rocky islands, sand bars, and coral heads. We tend to avoid it because of the shallow water and in the late afternoon the sun is in your eyes making it hard to see the coral heads and shallow spots. "Cay Lime" can plane well in a foot of water, and if you look at the ocean alongside the boat you can just make out the water is only about 12-14 inches deep here. The trick is to keep the boat on plane. If you slow down it settles deeper into the water, and things start to go really bad.



video




While we were on Pine Cay driving aroud, I was reminded of a question someone sent us about the lack of 'real' trees here. And I realized that most of our photos have been of coastlines, or places exposed to the ocean. With some exceptions, trees in general don't do that well close to the ocean. There's essentially no topsoil here to speak of, and fresh water is also scarce. So the only things growing near the shore are the Casuarinas (Australian Pine although they are definitely not softwood pines) and thatch palms and stuff like that. But I did remember to snap a few photos of some of the more interior parts of the island, just to show those who asked that yes, we do have some trees here and there:



here's another one:



It's actually pretty nice when the underbrush is cleaned out. And this one was taken just a few yards from the nearest seawater, down by the Pine Cay marina:



If I had turned the camera to the left just a bit, you would see the ocean through that opening. The golf cart gives an idea of scale, and the tall pine-looking things are Casuarinas.

We stopped by our friends house, and I managed to get just one quick shot of one of the local rock iguanas...



Before Dooley the Dangerous Dog discovered him and ran down in utter outrage at the nerve of a lizard that big invading HIS island. Yep, he chases em off. Every time.

From there we went to lunch, and apparantly chasing Iguanas is thirsty work:



(Dooley said he couldn't tell the difference between this and the stuff that comes in bottles with twist off tops. But don't take that kind of advice from a Jack Russell. Really. They have no words in their language, for example, for "bad meat".)

Before leaving the island we got together for some photos down by the docks. I wanted to post this one for those who have been here, because it has the Pine Cay dock sign in the background:



There we have a Californian, a Texan, a Nicaraguan, and a TC Islander. Quite a mix.

This one is a much better smiling faces photo, but didn't have the same background as the other one:



Back at the house, things have been quiet since the holidays. I did suffer a minor tragedy that has left me dazed and confused more than normal- my last pair of my favorite sunglasses broke! We bought two pairs each last time we were near a Bass Pro shop in the US. These are not just any sunglasses, mind you, they are polarized and they have these little magnifying lenses built into the bottoms. Polarized lenses are almost a necessity here when boating, they really make a huge difference cutting the glare and preventing us from not seeing coral heads and rocks under the water when the sun is reflecting off the surface. And the magnifying lenses make it easy to see both the horizon and do fine work like reading and tying fishhooks. So, anyway, after two years of wearing them every single day of the year, both pairs of mine were rebroken:



And I say 'rebroken' because as you can probably tell I had already repaired them well enough to wear a couple times already. But this time, that pair on the left was pretty much shot after the plastic in the middle where the wire was started crumbling. And it will most likely be a long time before I am near another Bass Pro store to buy more of them. I think I will get three pair next time. Six years worth.

But I have this pair of goggles that I used when flying ultralight aircraft, and it came with several sets of lenses for various conditions. I had never used the clear lenses, and quite frankly, never expect to:



So, I had this idea, and I popped out the lenses from the ruined sunglasses and the clear lenses for the goggles:



That looks pretty workable, doesn't it? Well I thought so, and with nothing to lose I took my trusty Swiss Army knife to them. The idea was to make the lenses I like the same shape as the clear ones I will never use. Probably.



That's getting close. Just needs some fine tuning on the edges, and then voila!



Well, the photo is fuzzy. So you can see why I need the closeup lenses. Hey, I can see perfectly from arm's length to the horizon. It's that close in stuff that gets blurry. The curve of the polarized lenses is slightly greater than the clear lenses, so now to make them really work I need to come up with some way of taking some of the bend out. I am thinking steam, or even hot water might do it. If I can solve that little issue, then they will fit perfectly.

Other than this kind of thing it's been a quiet week. Politically it's been interesting across the board. Obama is being sworn in as President of the US, and here locally the government is in the midst of some serious changes as well. We have no idea how all this will affect us in the long run, but in general we all hope it's for the better on both fronts. We well know that 'things change'. And once you can get around that universal truth it sure seems to make life's adjustments a little easier to ride through. But thats just our opinion.

I don't have a new sunset photo to close this post, but will use another sunrise one from this very morning before the rain started (Yay Rain! Pennies from heaven at six cents a gallon). The boat is one of the local marine police boats, and they have been spending a lot more time on patrol lately. I think it must be that they are stepping up their efforts to intercept the illegally arriving boatloads of Haitians. Which has continued to get completely out of hand. Four boatloads that they know of just so far in January. We get a ring-side seat to all this from our house, and we enjoy watching the boats come and go. I don't know what the Police were doing out there this morning, usually they come straight in from overnight patrol with no hanging around. But today they seem busy:



Maybe we should be keeping an eye out for another abandoned sloop to explore. We will do that, and we have some other boating trips being planned as well. Stay tuned!

11 comments:

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I was gonna say the same thing! Surely DHL delivers to the island..my friend just had them deliver sails to Haiti for a repair. We have a Bass Pro right on 45 here in Houston. I'd be happy to help as well!

Heather

MrPat said...

Yep, I'll mail you a new pair. Just give me the mag. power you need and an address.

Please keep posting vids. That add a new dimension to your blog. BTW, thanks for the tip about posting pics in the blog. I plan on using it when I write my fishing report next week.

lizabeth said...

i was wondering if you took a picture of the christmas tree branch this year ??

Gringo said...

Thank you all for the kind offers. The situation is that yes we could order some new sunglasses from Bass Pro and have them Fed-Ex'd down here. But the cost makes me hesitant to do that. I just have some internal angst about paying $30 for a pair of sunglasses, and then another $ 60 to have them shipped.

The mail service here is terrible. It really borders on the edge of 'no' mail service. We maintain a P.O. Box, but it commonly takes months for simple letters to arrive, and we suspect we only ever receive maybe 25% of what is sent. Two CDs sent to me a couple years ago took over four months to arrive. Other items have never arrived at all. So we don't use the mail. A postcard sent from Chile took over two months.

So, I try to make what we have work until such time as we are in the US and can buy stuff and carry it down with us in our baggage.

Gringo said...

Hi Lizabeth,
Yes, we did do a Christmas stump again this year. Those photos are at:

http://2gringos.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-stump-08.html

It kinda got bigger than a stump this year, since we had the room for it.

Anonymous said...

Gringo,

I have a friend here in Houston that just flew his plane down to Anegada with an overnight stop in Provo. He makes this trip quite often with his wife. If he is making the trip anytime soon..and still stopping overnight in Provo..I am sure he would not mind bringing them. He is a super guy!

Heather

Miguel said...

Hi there....Miguel here.
Saw your post...good and fresh as always. And I discovered something. Those sunglasses with the little magnifying glass....aint those cool?...and to think that I have been at BassPro so many times and never saw them.....Well as Dad said..you dont just look...you must see.

See ya

Joy said...

So, I read this several days ago, and thought I'd give you an idea for a future post. Could you give us a photo tour of your new abode (the parts you feel comfortable with), and tell us about how you decided on certain elements, if you're happy with it so far, etc.
It's cold up here in the NE US, and I'm pretty sure I've read every post in the history, and need a fresh dose of TCI warmth! Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Gringos, just checking in with ya'll. I've been patiently wating on an update. Hope everything is alright down there, I need a new sunrise/sunset fix.


Travis
RiverRunner

Gringo said...

I realize it's been a while since a new post, but basically all that's been going on has been some DIY projects here in the workshop.

The wind has been battering us from the North, typically getting up to 20+ mph, and the waves offshore are of an uncomfortable nature when one is in a 25 foot open boat. Winter time is here.
This morning the thermometer read 70 degrees! That's the coldest temp we have seen so far this winter. But with the wind chill, it probably feels like 68.

I will look through the photos of the last two weeks and see if any of them look like they might be of any interest.