Thursday, February 5, 2009

Another 'interim' post

I realize it's been a while since the last post. The thing is, we've not been able to spend much time out boating around the last couple weeks. It's winter here, and we have had back-to-back weather fronts come down from the north. You know, it's perfectly okay with us if you Canadians want to keep those air masses at home. And with the fronts, while we don't get ice and snow and sub-freezing temperatures, we do get wind. Lots of wind. Right now it's blowing about 25 mph and the waves offshore are 10 feet. It's not forecast to get any better for the next week. And it's basically been like this for most of these past two weeks.

The scene is deceptive here near our protected little cove. With a north wind, we are in the lee of the island near the shore here. This was just after sunrise this morning:



Doesn't look too bad on this side,does it? But the air temperature has "plummeted" all the way down to 70 degrees F, and out beyond the limit of this little camera lens there are whitecaps. And on the other side of the island the waves are pounding on the reef and beaches.

This doesn't mean we go into hibernation. We do get out from time to time. We go down to the marina, for example, to check on the boat every few days. Especially if there has been any appreciable amount of rain. We were just there a couple days ago, in fact. We'd had a real 'squally' day, with rain off and on. We don't mind rain. At six cents a gallon, we think of it as 'pennies from heaven'. One of the local terms for rain here is 'skyjuice'. Here is one of the squalls just as it starts to hit us:




I had to run back inside shortly after taking that photo. After a day like that, we go down to the boat to run the engine, make sure the batteries are charged, and that the automatic bilge pump float switch is working. We also check the dock lines to be sure they are still tied the way we want them, and that they are not rubbing on anything that will abrade them. The boat is quite happy in this protected slip:



This is a really nice place to keep a boat. It's a shame it's so difficult to get to, with over three miles of some of the worst road on the island. I notice that some other former Leeward boats are kept here fulltime now, too. This is Sail Provo's newest, a liveaboard charter catamaran for people who want to hire a boat and crew to take them on overnight trips around the area.



What a great place to keep it, protected from all but the most severe storms. And nearby, work on the salvaged "Phoenix" has been gotten underway by it's new owner.



Phoenix was moored in Leeward, not far from where we kept Cay Lime. Another victim of the storms.

When we were leaving the boatyard we passed the area where the Marine Police keep some of their smaller boats on trailers. I was interested to notice that for their real shallow water work they have a panga boat design sitting next to one of the patrol boats.



I would imagine these small boats come into play when they are chasing illegals into the marshes and mangrove swamps. Handy boats, those pangas.

Other than watching the weather and hoping for a couple of calm days to go boating, I've been getting caught up on a few small DIY projects here at the house. La Gringa went to a local artists' exhibit back in December and she brought home this little watercolor that she liked:



The thing is, it is an odd size and there was no way for us to find a frame that would fit it. Since I still have some wood from the demolition of Gilley's bar at Leeward, I thought I would put together some kind of a frame to fit it. I wasn't happy with how I did the corners on the last one. I had drilled holes and drove wooden dowells in to pin the corners. It was okay for that one, since it was going to be painted anyway. But I prefer being able to see the wood, and so this time I got on the internet and found out how to make a spline jig for the tablesaw. The internet is a real valuable tool down here. I use it a lot. That spline jig contraption looks like this:




It basically just holds a square frame at a 45 degree angle to the table saw. You can see the frame clamped into it. When you run it over the saw blade it cuts slots through the corner joints that look like this:




Then I cut some thin pieces of leftover Casuarinas wood to the same width as the slots, and glued those in to strengthen the corners:



Rough frame with the corners all double splined, waiting for the glue to dry:



Then it's just a matter of trimming the splines off flush and sanding it all down. Had to clean out the inside corners on the back with a chisel, but this is how it turned out before rubbing a couple coats of tung oil on it:



I had a piece of glass cut for it, and there ya go...an original watercolor, now hung in a rustic, hand-made, custom frame built from pieces of a demolished bar and a hunk of local tree, by a broken-down old ex-pat in his little workshop, on a small tropical island.



Other projects this past week have included sorting out a pile of broken light fixtures:



The white flexible reading light reportedly didn't work, and the two outside lights were blown off a house on Pine Cay and damaged during the course of severe impact with the ground. This was caused by a hurricane. Hurricanes have been doing that a lot lately.

The goose-neck flexible light was easy. That just required following the electricity from where it was until I found out where it wasn't.

Oho! The blown fuse syndrome strikes again:



Piece of cake:



The outside lights are a bit more of a mess. They had weathered storms and wind and sun and rain year in and year out for 18 years. But Hurricane Hannah got them loose. And they did suffer some body damage:



This calls for basic sheet metal work, I think. So with a tap tap here:



And a clamp clamp there:



Old Mac Gringo fixed the light, E I E I Ohhh.... I used this epoxy called "JB Weld". Great stuff for metal. I had the local glass company cut new panes for them. Now I have to find some electrical parts and these should be good for another twenty years, or the next hurricane. Whichever comes first.

Another small project going on this week was trying to fix the rearview mirror for the Land Rover. The mirror itself started blackening around the edges a year or so ago. It had gotten to the point where there was just a narrow strip of mirror still usable across the center of the thing. Almost useless. It was so small, we could only use it to see short convertible sportscars behind us. You can see the extent of what was left of the original mirrored finish in this photo:




And YES, I broke it getting it out of the frame. Hey, who would have thought that in the entire Land Rover Operation Manual there is not ONE paragraph about getting the glass out of the mirrors? I certainly would think that is the kind of information one would want while on Safari in Kenya or blasting across the Kalahari Desert....but no. They leave you to your own devices when it comes to glass. Well, so far I know it doesn't lend itself to prying with screwdrivers.

So, basically, thats the kinds of things we've been up to lately. As you can see, not much of it is very newsworthy. This weather has us pinned down at the moment. I am still thinking about taking up bonefishing. Heck, with the salina just across the road from us,we could be fishing right now! Like this guy was doing yesterday, in fact:




We were just outside a few minutes ago, and noticed how exceptionally clear the water is on the Caicos Bank right now. I snapped a few photos to show you. The water there off the rocks is about four feet deep, and we can see the bottom very clearly even from the patio some two hundred or so feet away:



Another view:



And yet one more, probably the clearest of the batch:



This is the clearest that we have seen the ocean here in some time. And if it's this clear here near the shoreline, it's got to be swimmingly clear offshore. I feel a snorkelling or diving trip coming on. In fact, we have just such a trip in mind for when the winds die down a bit. We need fairly calm seas for this one, as it is about a thirty mile run out to the place we want to explore.

In the meantime we will keep on taking the sunrise photos and watching the forecasts.




In the local vernacular, we are hoping the good weather 'soon come'.

5 comments:

jschieff said...

Gringos,
Somehow I just can't work up much sympathy for your spell of "bad weather." Breezy, in the 70's, with a few rain showers -- I'll take it. My driveway is covered in a 3" thick slab of slick ice, the temperatures have been stuck in the 20's or teens for what seems like forever, and February has just begun.

I haven't read an overall review of your house -- after all the sturm and drang getting it built, and the difficult move-in period, how satisfied are you with the layout, siting, location etc? I'd love to see more photos of the "finished product." The view seems unparalleled.

The flats near your house look like a wonderful place to while away hours pursuing bonefish. I look forward to reading about your experiences trying to catch them.

Nice job on the picture frame -- and the artwork is appealing -- very cheerful and colorful.

Hope the "good weather" returns soon.

Don said...

What is the water temperature there?

Gringo said...

Last time I looked at the readout on the boat, about a week ago, the temp at the transducer was around 77 degrees F. That's on the hull of the boat, about two feet below the surface.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update! I would love to see some dive photos. Is the site a wreck or reef?

Thanks,

Craig

Gringo said...

Its a place where we are hoping the hurricanes uncovered some stuff.

Its still blowing way to hard to go out there today, though.

Just checked WindGuru, and as of right now we are looking at ten foot waves offshore until next weekend. dang.