Monday, November 9, 2009

Weathered in

I feel like I owe some of you an explanation. Which is meant to be slightly different from an excuse. Even though I do have both. I had said that we were going to take the boat to Pine Cay this weekend and that we anticipated some nice blue water/tropicalish (is that a word?) type photos. Well....this is what actually happened....

The weather was looking pretty good Thursday when I wrote about our boating/fishing plans for the weekend. When we woke up Friday morning, it was still looking pretty good:

And even later in the afternoon on Friday the ocean was flat calm. The clouds were starting to roll in, yeah, but that's not unusual this time of year. We get a lot of afternoon thundershowers. Goes with the package. But the ocean looked absolutely great and we made plans:

And Saturday morning we DID arise before dawn and saddle up the motorboat. Or maybe we saddled the dog. In any case, we decided to go. We had the best of intentions. I grabbed five fishing poles, some lures that have produced in the past, and I dumped about 12 gallons of fresh-from-the-pump automobile grade gasoline into the boat. The boat is picky about what it eats as you probably remember. By the time we left the ramp we knew we were in for a less than pristine photo op. Big time. This was what Wind Guru had to say about it:

Now, Wind Guru is pretty good generally. I would say that from our experience here they tend to hit the forecast right on the money about 95% of the time, and for weather forecasting that is actually pretty phenomenal. When the weather gets complicated like it is right now, their accuracy suffers a little. And it's complicated right now because we are between the late season hurricane "Ida" and a strong weather front in the Atlantic. We took off thinking we could handle six foot waves okay. That's nothing to this boat, actually. We loaded up and fought our way up into the wind and chop on the Caicos Bank, and watched as the clouds rolled in and the wind kept picking up. This is what it looked like coming our way right after we made the turn (near the old wrecked freighter just visible in the background) toward Leeward-Going-Through:

This is on the protected side. No more flat calm ocean here, so we knew what we were in for.

Then we got through the channel and outside on the reef side and things went from ugly to borderline hideous. Having made the commitment we were determined to see if we could catch a fish, so I managed to get three of our lines in the water between getting bashed against the gunwales and soaked by salt spray, but the fun just wasn't in it. We were seeing solid six foot, nothing less. But what we had not expected was that just about every half dozen or so waves we were getting seven and eight feet with a 20+ mph wind blowing another foot or two of chop on the top of them. Six foot waves are no biggie. A cumulative steep 10 foot starts to become a little more serious. Still photos never do the waves justice, we have found, but that's immaterial here. Neither one of us even thought of the camera. We were too busy holding on to the boat. And wiping the ocean out of our faces. It was miserable. Nobody was in danger of dozing off. The rain didn't help.

Oh, we managed to troll up outside the reef as far as the cut to Pine Cay. This is pretty much the path we took:

We started at the bottom left there in the Google Earth image, went outside the shoals, then through Leeward and the reef, and trolled to the Northeast. That's deep ocean, open water. When we finally gave up on fishing and turned in toward Pine Cay (there at the top center of that photo) I had to turn the boat broadside to the waves and keep a real close eye on them. Let's just say it was interesting.

We made the shelter of the cut between Pine Cay and Ft. George Cay and decided to take a break and dry off. We knew some longtime friends of ours were down here in their vacation home on Pine Cay so we walked over to their house to say hello and dry out. Again, it was such a lousy day we really didn't think to take much in the way of photos. Oh, I snapped this one as we strolled along the boulevard..

It felt good to be out of the wind for a while. Even though Pine Cay doesn't have much in the way of sheltering terrain we were protected by the vegetation. Squishing along in our soggy wet clothes, I snapped one other photo of some young seagrapes along the path.

We should be used to it by now but it still gets our attention to see plants bearing ripening fruit in November. These grapes should be about ripe just around Christmas or New Year's. It's a long way from scraping ice off of car windows and shovelling snow off the driveway. Oh yeah.

By the time we said goodbye to our visiting friends on Pine Cay and started back the wind had picked up even more and the waves offshore were looking even uglier. So we decided to try something we had not done yet in this boat. We took it back over the Caicos Bank instead of going out to the deep water. We ran this way all the time with our previous boat but had not risked it with this one because it draws a foot and a half more water than the panga. BUT this week, in my ever-expanding DIY mode, I had discovered that the trim tabs on the boat had not been working properly since we got it. I won't go into all that now, but let's just say that I found a problem and fixed it, and now with working trim tabs the whole thing changes dramatically. We were able to crank the tabs down, and the motor forward, and scooted over sandy shallows that we would not have dreamed of trying in this boat a month ago. Of course, it wasn't running worth diddly a month ago anyway, but heck, you know all that already.

For those who have been following the saga of the Yamaha situation, that trip was about 42 miles total before we were back at the ramp. And the motor never missed a beat. Yahoo. Yippee. Finally. Oh, I still have to rebuild the water pump, but after the other issues that's easy beans.

SO anyhow, that's our story. We tried for some nice tropical blue water ocean photos. Really we did. And we will try again when this weather clears up.

And with the weather still crummy, we have essentially spent the last two days inside getting caught up on things. I am in the final phases of finishing up La Gringa Suprema's computer desk. It's just waiting for another sanding and a coat of paint.

Still haven't figured out how we are going to carry this ten foot long, 200 lb. sucker up the hill and into her office, but we'll figure it out. Might have to invite some friends over and ply them with alcohol.

And that's it for now. I don't have a fresh sunset photo to end this post with, but I thought I might put in one of what that sunrise Friday looked like a half hour after the photo I started this with. Of course the weekend wend steadily downhill from this point, but as sunrises go this one is not too bad, eh?


Anonymous said...

TELL Randall how much Obama is screwing up this country....

Anonymous said...

thanks for another post guys, i think seeing a tropical weather front is just a cool as seeing crystal clear blue water with barely a ripple from the wind

besides i'll bet that is a trip you shall remember for a while! it looked like much more of an adventure than a calm slow and mildly successful fishing trip, im sure you have had plenty of those, and you wouldnt be where you are today without being adventurous spirits!! try and tell us you didnt have fun powering through the weather and making it back :)

out of curiosity what are sea grapes like? i wonder if you could make wine from them ;)

regards from a frosty and foggy england

Dillard said...

Thanks a lot gringos!!! Great post. What was the computer program that you have all the weather data on?? If you check this tonight, check the weather for Athens, Ga. :( Wish I was there.

MrPat said...

When we have six foot seas with a seven second period and increasing winds, we just stay home. The boat is willing, but the flesh weak.

Unknown said...

So let me get this straight. No pictures of fish? Glad the boat ran well for you Gringo. Not sure I would be in 6 ft with a 23 ft boat though.

Jay said...

Ciao from Italy

Dad said...

OH - MY - LAWD!!!!

It is JUST possible that these pic's are your most incredible to date. I'm glad I'm sitting down!

Just so you know, southern England is being battered with heavy storms.


Anonymous said...

Hey fella... this is Radd... been wondering if you were still alive?... you do take chances now... dont you?

CSM Mac said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Thanks for the great musings and pictures. May the Gods of the sea and sky continue to keep you safe.

Thanks for keeping my psyche healthy.


Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving Gringo y Gringa - and you too, Dooley. Here's hoping today's DIY is for nothing but fun.

Lookin' forward to your next post...


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