Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Middle Caicos

The sun has finally moved far enough North to get it and the old freighter wreck into the same photo again.

I remember taking pictures of the sun rising right through the old wreck last summer. That must be when it is about at it's peak in the Northern Hemisphere.

This photo was taken from our patio, but really has nothing to do with the rest of this post. I'm going to put up some pictures we took while my friend Keith was visiting us from Texas. We took him over to Middle Caicos to check out what the TCI is like once you get away from the "bright lights, big city" aspects of Providenciales. Well, it's a city to us. And it's beginning to show some city problems, lately. But Middle Caicos, ahh...that's a nice place.

Keith had tried a few casts the afternoon we arrived but didn't hook into any bonefish. He wanted to give it another try the next morning so we hired Dolphus to run us over to Windward Going Through in one of his boats. We met up with Dolphus near Bambarra beach. This is an area where several of the Middle Caicos inhabitants keep their boats either on anchor or pulled up on the beach. I thought it was kinda neat to see traditional, hand built wooden Caicos Sloops alongside roto-molded plastic Hobie Cats. A two hundred year old design and a modern plastic marvel.

On the boat trip from Bambarra down to Windward-Going-Through we passed by Joe Grant Cay. This little island has been approved for development of one of the next big resorts here in the TCI. Or at least, development was approved by the government that was in power until recently. That may not be the case any longer, with the British taking a closer look at all of these development projects. If you look at the top of the small hill, you can see the ruins of what Dolphus told us was Joe Grant's home here.

I have tried to find some history on who Joe Grant was, and why an island is named after him, but so far I have not found anything. I do know we buy fuel from a gasoline/diesel station named "Grant's" on Provo, and think there might be something in common there, but I don't know for sure.

We pulled up into some protected water between Middle Caicos and the big, uninhabited island of East Caicos. It's kind of ironic that at this point we were very close to the ruins of "Jacksonville" on East Caicos. This is a place I have wanted to explore for four years now. Well, we couldn't do it on this trip. But at least now I know how to get to it by boat.

We dropped Keith off with his fly rod to experience the totally isolated nature of this part of the TCI.

He is going to be totally on his own here for the next two hours. And I do mean totally. No other boats. No other people. No airplanes. No traffic. No people. Just him, his fly rod, and his thoughts. It's about to get really really quiet for him, as we slowly back the boat away into deeper water...

We didn't even leave him a cell phone.

While Keith was trying to hook up with a bonefish, La Gringa, Ben, Dooley the Damaged, and I boated around the corner with Dolphus to try our hand at some bait fishing. First, we needed to get some bait. We had come woefully unprepared to spend the morning fishing, but what the heck. We were on vacation. Dolphus and I waded around for a while, and eventually I found a couple of conch. Dolphus baited a couple of hooks and within a few minutes La Gringa pulled in a small Mutton Snapper. Not long after that, Ben caught a small yellow tail. Of course none of us bothered to take any photos. Dolphus got a laugh when we tied Dooley the Demented up while we were fishing.

Dolphus didn't understand why we would be concerned about such a small dog while we were just peacefully sitting at anchor and fishing. So, to explain it to him, we untied Dooley to show him what was going to happen.

This is Dooley demonstrating to Dolphus just why the litte booger has to be restrained. Dolphus thought it was pretty funny to watch Dooley the Dangerous go after his fish in the splashwell of his boat. What he didn't realize is that Dooley is dead serious when it comes to fish. At the end of this little video clip Dolphus suddenly understands that the dog is not kidding around, and he grabs Dooley before he destroys what was planned to be dinner.

Next time, I bet he won't have to ask why we always tie him up.

We had only hired the boat until noon, and it was an hour's run back to Bambarra, so we had to cut the fishing short and start the return. It's an interesting trip, dodging coral heads and rocks the entire way. I left my portable GPS unit turned on the whole way so I now have a "dotted line" to follow through all the dangerous spots when we return on our own boat.

Coming back into the little dock at Bambarra, our resident lookout dog Dooley the Diligent let us know that we were approaching landfall. He's usually the first one on the boat. The first one in the water. And after a day offshore he is definitely planning to be the first one in the trees.

That little dog has the bladder of a St. Bernard.

We still had a few hours to kill before heading back to Provo, so we decided to check out the Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos. La Gringa had taken the tour a couple years before. I had not been there, as I usually opt out of any long walking trips over uneven terrain. My knees are just not up to it. This time, however, I deceided to trail along to see these limestone caves. And I am glad I did. I had a mental picture of basically a big hollow spot in the hillside. This cave runs back almost a mile, though. It was difficult to get good photos, but in general it looks like a variation of this:

There are plenty of stalactites, and stalagmites, and all that cave talk stuff to look at.

For people who enjoy caves. I am not one of those people, typically, but did make an exception this time since my old buddy was visiting.

This is a small root from a tree or something that comes down to the floor of the cave and water runs down it and slowly builds up the carbonate stuff over thousands of years.

There have been ancient artifacts found in the cave, from when the Lucayan Indians used it back in pre-Columbian times. For people interested in more about it all, you can find a little bit more at: Middle Caicos and can probably find some other web sites with Conch Bar info.

And before anyone complains about defacing national parks, let me say I had absolutely NOTHING to do with this:

We had an uneventful trip back to Provo after our overnight stay on Middle Caicos. We still had some time before Keith flew back to the USA, so we showed him around Provo a bit. We even took him to one of Preacher's favorite local restaurants for a meal of bonefish. This was a first for us as well. We had often heard that bonefish were too boney to eat. This is not so. Boney, yeah, I guess so. But also delicious! A mild tasting white fleshed fish. A plate of it looks amazingly like this:

Mr. Walkin, the owner of the cafe, told us that he sometimes gets bonefish fillets without any bones in them. Hmm. I never heard of a boneless bonefish, but fully intend to come back to check it out at some later date.

We had a nice weather day while our visitor was still in town, so we loaded up a couple of fishing poles and took the Contender out to see if anything worth keeping was biting offshore. Keith tied into a couple of decent sized barracuda, which gave him plenty of fight. Dooley had some menu suggestions for this small one:

and for the bigger one, too.

One of the things we really appreciate about this boat is that the gunwales are high enough that we can handle decent fish without the dog being able to get his teeth into them. Of course once we bring them on board, it's another matter. It's just a matter of time before one of the fish gets a tooth into the dog. Maybe he will change his wicked ways, then. But I doubt it.

We spotted some late season visitors in what looks like a new Lagoon catamaran just outside of Provo on the way back in:

In another month it will be rare for us to see large cruising sailboats here. They tend to either head north to the US or much further south before the start of hurricane season.

Here's a photo of Keith and I before he took off back to the US.

We have been friends for 43 years now, although we do tend to lose touch from time to time. Somehow we always seem to pick right back up where we left off. Looking at this photo, what strikes me the most is not the gray hair or wrinkles we have gathered in our different paths through life. What strikes me is that when we were young we were practically the same height, and I did not have bowed legs! I may have to do something about these knees before I end up in an all terrain wheel chair. (And it really chaps my posterior that Keith is now taller than I am. Grrr..)

So this post ends the short story of my oldest best friend's first visit to the TCI. I already have enough photos for the next post since we have been pretty busy lately. We have done some more fishing, and have a new acquisition in the vehicle department.

So, please stay tuned. And please keep the emails and comments coming. We really do enjoy hearing from people.


jschieff said...

Looks like good times. Water as always so deliciously clear and vibrant blue.

Can't believe the video of Dooley the Demented -- he gets real worked up around fish.

Did your friend catch any bonefish when you left him alone on the flats for a couple of hours?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Dooley is a real trip. A pain in the rear sometimes, but extremely entertaining. Usually.

Keith did not catch any bonefish on this trip. He only got in about three hours fishing total, and it was his first time trying it here. He actually didn't see any where Dolphus dropped him off to try fishing. What was ironic is that just around the bend, where I found the two conch we used for bait, I saw three bonefish, and one of them was huge.

Dolphus told us that ten pound fish were not uncommon.

Just didn't run into any on that day, at those times.

Anonymous said...

Being out there phone, people, planes, cars, nothing..had to be great. I would LOVE to do that!

When I saw the sailing cat, I had to do a double friends were talking of sailing theirs up from the BVI so I would have been the right time. Then I remembered they changed their plans and sailed closer in to the Spanish VI's. Probably for the reason you said. I hope they do next year..Mike would love it there. We will be on their yacht soon..toward the end of June. I am looking forward to escaping the rain in TEXAS! We still have this crazy weather! At least it is warmer..

Take care,

Anonymous said...

How them knees coming along, I take ya went for the operation?
My puter crashed and I lost all my favorites, just happen to be doing a google search for your blog and found it on post ya made in April.. :-)
Gotta love google.
Now I can get back to reading your adventures.

Anonymous said...

Ah, another nice report and escape for all of us landlocked these days.

christine said...

Ahhh...been hoping for another post! Love seeing the pics of the cays from the water. Gorgeous!


What an experience it has been following your story from the beginning. It seems as if I had been there myself. Through your words and pics I have some very vivid images of your life in the islands. Thank you so much for sharing...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the nice comments. I apologize for the disjointed nature of the posts lately. We just spent three weeks in the USA while I got a knee replaced. Now we are back on the island, and should be getting back to our lives and taking photos.

Memphis said...

It looks as if you are living a dream. I had applied for the "Best Job in the World" island caretaker job in Queensland, Australia, but didn't get chosen. It appears your life is very close to what I was hoping for (except I was hoping to get paid by Queensland's tourism department while I did it.)

Dick Zebo said...

Hello Guys and Gals:

This is Dick Zebo of Eagles Rest Villa's on Middle Caicos. I wonder if you can provide me some GPS Coordinates to save me some time ??

Just had an inquiry and among the other info, he requested GPS coordinates. For as many times as I have used my hand held unit, I never wrote down any numbers because I am in and out every 3-4 weeks and never had cause prior to this inquiry.

Dolphus Arthur is one of the best guides we have in Middle Caicos and I am surprised your friend didn't trip the light fantastic as most of our people average as many as 29 Bone's per day.

You can send me that information @

Glad you enjoyed our hidden paradise and love your Post...Hope to me you personally someday.

Stop by anytime at the " Shangri-La " Beachhouse in Bambarra or at the New Townhouse's under construction at the Turnup in Bambarra.... A cold one always awaits you..

Yoou can also find us at

Anonymous said...

Hello Dick,
Thanks for writing. I was just using that GPS on Sunday, and will take a look and see if I still have the info from our little Bambarra-to-East C trip. I don't remember if I did anything with those coordinates or not. Usually I transfer them to waypoints on Google Earth so I don't lose them. I lost a lot of data when Hurricane Hanna wrecked our boat and the GPS on it. I probably had two dozen good fishing spots offshore marked......but lost all that. So I have been trying to get more diligent about backing them up somewhere else. I am the same way about the computer. Terrible about backing up.

We plan to be out on North Caicos this coming weekend (Aug.21 2010) for a festival. If you are there and see us please come say hello.