Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is winter finally over?

We are finally getting out of the windy days of winter, we hope. The islands have been getting "stretches' of two to three days in a row without the high winds and high waves. The sunrises are creeping a little closer to the old wrecked freighter each morning.

The calmer weather means that we have been able to get away for some brief fishing trips from time to time. We have not caught anything noteworthy lately, but that doesn't stop us from trying. All we need for an excuse is a nice afternoon and a few free hours, and we are out on the water:

Dooley the Disgruntled gets a bit bored when the fishing is slow. If the seas are calm, he will go into his stand-by watchdog mode. Or at least that's what he tells me. He assures me he is vigilant, and ever alert. I am going to have to trust him on this.

He wakes up quickly enough if one of the reels goes off. He loves that 'zinnnggggg!' sound. He also consults when I am changing lures. Do any of you know what this type of hook is called? They fit up inside skirted cedar plugs, and I cannot find them here locally. Instead of a round eye, these have an eye formed more like that of a needle. I would order some on the internet, if I knew what the heck they were called:

(I asked Dooley, but he didn't know, either. He's more clued in to teeth than he is to hooks.)

Lately the low tides have been running extremely low. I don't know whether it's a yearly cycle or just something going on with the position of the moon, but we rarely ever see any part of the reef exposed offshore. This is a photo of one of Sail Provo's boats outside the reef, and you can tell that it's actually sticking up at least a foot out of the sea at low tide.

Really makes it interesting running the deep-V hulled Contender over the shallow flats, shoals, and coral heads over on the Caicos Bank side of the islands.

We had a nice time last week when my oldest friend came down from Texas to visit. Well I don't mean my 'oldest' friend as in we have lots of friends who are definitely older. What I meant was that he and I have been friends since we were fifteen years old. This was his first trip to the TCI. Dooley and I waited outside the International Arrival terminal at the Providenciales International Airport to pick him up. It's not exactly as congested as some of the airports we have seen. This is the crowd waiting for arriving passengers, and Customs is just inside the door to the right. (Can you tell that it's pretty laid back?)

Keith operates an award-winning fly fishing lodge up in the mountains of Montana (Blue Damsel Lodge) and he wanted to come take a look at the fishing down here. He had a few days yet until the lodge opens in the mountains, so he came down to check this place out. We decided to take him over to Middle Caicos to get away from the "big city" of Providenciales. So along with our friends, Dwayne and Preacher, and one visiting offspring, we took the water taxi over. This was a new experience for us.

It turned out to be more cost effective than taking our own boat once the cost of fuel was figured in. Besides,we were planning to spend the night and would just as soon our own boat stay home nice and safe in it's own slip. One less thing to worry about.

Dooley the Depraved was absolutely mellow on the water taxi. I strongly suspect that he would be perfectly happy if we traded in our boat for one just like it.

We did not borrow JR's pickup truck this time around. There were six of us plus Dooley the Devious Dog and luggage, which warranted a rental car. We arranged a late model Toyota van -a model none of us had ever seen before - from Clifford over at the Pelican Beach hotel. The controls were all slightly different from anything we had ever driven. All the labels were in Japanese. La Gringa took the wheel, and check out that funky gear shifter:

So there is our merry mob for the next couple of days. Preacher navigating, La Gringa driving, Dwayne and Keith in the middle, and bringing up the rear we have offspring, Dooley the Delighted, and me. In the back of the bus, as usual.

La Gringa got the hang of driving this thing pretty quickly. She never did overcome a tendency to squirt cleaning fluid on the windshield when she wanted to signal a turn. A minor thing, really. Especially when you factor in the fact that most of the time when you are driving on Middle Caicos there's nobody else around to see if you signalled a turn or not.

We stopped at the old ferry dock where boats used to take people back and forth between North Caicos and Middle Caicos before the causeway was built. This is a good leg-stretching spot, and Dooley is usually in the water as soon as he is out of the car.

We have friends on Middle Caicos, Daniel and Sara, who live there full time and have recently opened a new eatery. We headed straight for "Daniels Cafe" to see if we might be able to find some local food for lunch. Daniel's place is located right at the beginning of an ancient footpath that crosses the island of Middle Caicos. The sign there beside the Toyota marks the Atlantic end of the Crossing Place Trail. And that's the little Toyota van we rented for the trip.

Mr. Daniel Forbes and his son Devon managed to feed the six of us with fried yellowtail, an apple salad, and thick slabs of home baked bread. There was also a bowl of "peas and rice" which is actually beans and rice and which I didn't think to get into the photo. I was more interested in the fish:

Daniel Forbes relaxes in his restaurant after cooking lunch for us:

We made reservations for dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning, and arranged to meet a man with a boat to take us fishing, all at Daniel's Restaurant there in the little settlement of Conch Bar. Speaking of conch, that's what we ordered for dinner and judging by the piles of shells starting to grow around the restaurant, we are not the first customers to ask for it.

My friend from Texas wanted to see if he could scare up some bone fish, so we took him to some places where he could wade from shore to try a few saltwater flies:

Nothing like being under pressure from an audience, eh Keith?

We didn't have much time to fish this first day, but even so we spotted some bone fish near the shore. Keith tried to get one to bite, while I tried to get Dooley the Dejected NOT to bite. Well, not to swim, anyhow. Him splashing around in the water was guaranteed to spook the fish, and he doesn't understand why he was getting yelled at for swimming. He prefers fishing offshore from a boat, where the fish and the fishermen are not so high strung and nervous.

"Sheesh. They're JUST fish, dude. Lighten up.."

We went back to Daniel's place for dinner, and I was looking at some of the model sloops that are used for races here. I am thinking I could build one of these, if I can get the right kind of wood. Preacher knows what we need, which is wood from what is locally called the "gum-elemi" tree (Bursera simaruba).

I have posted about the sailboat races here before, so won't go into that again. Until we win the race next year with a boat I have not even begun to build yet, of course. Yeah, I know, big talk. If you are interested in this little race, you can learn more about it at Middle Caicos Sailing Association. There are some photos on that site, and we should be in some of them. But we are not. Ah, but wait til next year, when we actually enter a boat!

I am going to end this post now,since it's a while past the last one. But this is not the end of this trip to Middle Caicos. We got up the next morning and went fishing. And then we toured the limestone caves at Conch Bar. We even managed to get my Texas amigo offshore for some more fishing before he had to leave, so there are plenty of other photos. In fact, with the other stuff that's been going on I just realized I have enough photos for three more posts sitting here. I'll start the next one where this one left off. Which is with a sunset:


Anonymous said...

I hope you've been bowled over by beautiful weather.

The rising sun any closer to the wreck?


Capt. Lee said...

Gringo. try this for your hooks...

here is the link...

As always, enjoyed the post...

Anonymous said...

Terrific time! Looks like the start to a great summer!


Anonymous said...

Actually, I'd say it's the 3412D with long shank.

Mike in Bda

Anonymous said...

Hope you're busy doing island stuff & don't have the time to update. Miss the escapades of Gringo, LaGringa, & Dooley. Went fishing this past week but the water was muddy & the porpoise chased the fish away.