Our previous post was full of photos of what we did on a Saturday when the wind was blowing. We went sailing, naturally. This is part of our plan. And why we have a little sailboat. The night after those Chalk Sound photos the wind dropped and the waves mellowed out considerably. We woke up on Sunday morning to calm seas and light winds. Not a good day for sails, but an excellent day for small skiffs, small dogs, and small ambitions.
And we have just the skiff for the job, sitting there smiling and gleaming in the early morning light. Well, okay, skiffs can't actually smile. No matter how anthromorphic they wish they were. They can gleam though.
Looks all ready to boogie, doesn't it?
For a while there the wind dropped to near zero and we thought we might have one of those exceptionally calm and glossy days. The salina across the road turned into a reflecting pond for the mangroves.
We rarely see totally calm weather last very long and by the time we had packed up and launched the skiff a slight wind had picked up. We could see a line of clouds building off to the west but we decided to go for it anyhow. We had never seen what the shoreline was like between Sapodilla Bay and West Harbour.
As we turned the corner through Southside Marina we couldn't help but notice one of the largest catamarans we'd ever seen here. It's the one with the bright yellow sail cover in this photo. We had to go take a closer look at this baby.
We motored past for a good look. It's a Catana 52 and it easily dwarfed all the other boats in the marina. Very nice.
And after taking a good long look at the Catana we noticed that there were indeed some squalls blowing through the area we intended to explore. So we decided to head in the other direction for a while and see if the weather to the west of us improved. It doesn't typically improve in the afternoon. In fact, it usually gets worse as the day warms up. It's the same here as with thunderstorms everywhere.
The Caicos Marina and Boatyard is a few miles east of here. That's where we now keep our "big" boat and this was a good time to go check on it. We headed out of the Southside entrance, right past our friend Stanley's fishing boat Five Cays. Normally we would have stopped to talk for a while but he had company and they seemed busy today. We did say hello of course. Would have been rude not to.
The water was nice and clear, and I tried to get a photo of a decent looking fish as we went over it. The photo didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, but maybe you can make out the fish if you squint your eyes right. The water is only about seven feet deep here, and normally this would be an easy photo. But our boat was moving. The fish was uncooperative. The light was wrong. And I've run out of excuses.
I realize that the names of some of these places don't mean much to someone unfamiliar with Providenciales, so here's a screen shot from Google Earth with the major points labelled.
We started and ended at the Southside Marina. Leaving there we went east to the Caicos Marina first, then back down as far as Osprey Rock via Taylor Bay and Turtle Rock. Then back to Southside. Our path was not nearly as straight as the lines I drew here, so we probably travelled a little more than 30 miles total. We didn't have a GPS with us so it's our approximate track. Imagine a lot more curves and squiggles.
Just before we arrived at the Caicos Marina we decided to scoot in near the shore to show you some photos of a couple of the really outstanding homes here. I know you've seen these from the road side photos a number of times, but we don't usually take photos from the ocean side. As nice as they look from the front, it's the private beaches that really make these properties special.
Despite appearances, there are only two homes there on the point. Yeah........ I know. You think they're probably not big enough to actually live in. But you have to keep in mind, these are not primary residences. They're just beach houses. Vacation homes. Just the basic amenities.
The house on the right was just bought by the musician Prince. Or the artist formerly known as.... well.... Prince. I don't know how to spell that other name he used for a while. Of course that's been the buzz around here lately. And just around that rocky point on the right side of the photo....
Is another nice little beach. I think there's room enough for a decent beach party or two.
From here it's only a short trip into the Caicos Marina and Boatyard. We tied up the skiff behind one of the Dive Provo day charter dive boats. Their morning dive customers were just headed to the company bus that will take them back to their hotels over on Grace Bay. I think these boats typically make one trip in the morning and another in the afternoon. There are several companies running dive charters here. And if you are a diver, or a snorkeler, there are very few places in the world with water and reefs like the Turks and Caicos. I can think of a few places where it's arguably just about as good, but no place nicer. And this place is so convenient to the USA. The rest of them are hard to get to.
An air-conditioned bus to take you right from the hotel to the boat and back. Pretty nice.
This water is about 10-12 ft. deep right off the dock.
I hope this is the only time I ever look back over the Suzuki and see these boats behind me. Those are all Marine Police boats. These are not the same guys who enforce the fisheries laws. These guys are more for security, similar to the US Coast Guard on a very, very small scale. Illegal boats from Haiti and the Dominican Republic keep these guys pretty busy patrolling borders. Interesting that they have several of the pangas for inshore operations. They also have an RIB named "Hurricane" that we didn't see on this day. They were probably out patrolling in it. (For any non-boaters reading this, an 'RIB' is a Rigid Inflatable Boat. That's an inflatable rubber boat with a hard shell bottom. )
When we moved here in 2005 the marina office here was in a trailer in the parking lot. They have since built a nice new group of buildings that serve as headquarters for the police, as well as a nice new marina office. I think there are some other businesses in there too, but don't know what they are off the top of my head.
After checking up on Off Cay (doing well on it's trailer) we headed back out to see if the weather had improved out west of here. It looked slightly better, but with rain squalls still blowing through from time to time. We decided to head down to look at Taylor Bay anyhow. If we got rained on, well, it wouldn't be the first time. For the record, Dooley the Dissenter voted against anything related to thunderclouds. He always does. And as usual, he was outvoted.
By the time we got down to Taylor Point Hill, there was another ominous looking storm headed right toward us. We swung in close to shore to take a look.
Dooley didn't seem too concerned as far as I could tell. I never really know what's going on in that simple little mind of his, anyhow. He wasn't panicked, so I figure he had forgotten all about the threatening weather at this point. His mind was probably a million miles away.
It started raining on us just as we were about to idle into Taylor Bay. There were a few people standing knee deep in the bay so we could tell how shallow it is. It also appears to have a nice smooth sand bottom. We didn't want to hang around long, or disturb the swimmers so this is about as close as we got. I realize it's not a good photo and doesn't show the bay to it's best advantage. But that just gives us an excuse to return on a nice sunny day and do a better job. But on this day, we still had a few miles to cover so we continued onward.
As soon as we turned out from Taylor Bay we spotted what I later found out is Turtle Rock. This was pretty interesting looking to us, and we headed straight over to check it out. It was also right on the edge of the currently annoying squall, so it made for a good destination in case we needed to shelter from the wind and rain.
And unfortunately for our plan to get nice tropical, clear water photos there were squalls developing all over the place. We were now close enough to see some of the nearest high points of the island of West Caicos off on the horizon. We actually took our inflatable kayak out to that island just about this time last year. Strangely enough the weather on this day was just about the same as it was then. You can read about that trip on this other post.
I brought the skiff up in the lee of Turtle Rock and we started a slow circle around the islet to check it out. This looks like a really cool place to come back to with our snorkeling gear. This is the view as we came around the south side of it...
That big loose boulder to the right side of the photo has what appears to be a natural cave in it. It appears to be big enough to almost stand up in, and goes far enough back into the rock that we couldn't see the back of it. Interesting stuff, eh wot?
Do you guys like exploring caves and stuff as much as we do? I get totally fascinated by places like this. And of course it's one of Dooley's main reasons to exist.
We now had at least two reasons to plan another trip out here specifically to explore this. The snorkelling around the rock, and the cave, and then we continued on around the western end of the rock...
and were quite surprised to see that the little island is split into two pieces with a very interesting area of water between them. We had already decided to come back to do some some diving and this just cemented our plan. So you can look for a future post with underwater images and hopefully some cave photos in the near future. 'Near future' is, of course, a relative term with us. But it does have a high priority. We'll want to wait for a calm sunny day for this one. Shouldn't take long.
When I got home I zoomed in on Turtle rock using Google Earth (love that program!) and the split island with the protected interior water is very visible. I can hardly wait to come back to this place better prepared. We not only need to bring our swim gear, but we'll need sturdy climbing shoes, too.
We made one more pass on the northern and more protected side of Turtle Rock. The water is very shallow here and it will be a great place to anchor the skiff or even the kayak. Climbing the rock itself...well it's not immediately apparent where the best approach for that will be. But we'll find it.
And as we turned back around the eastern end, I finally remembered we need to take more video. Duh....sorry bout that. But I DID remember. Eventually. Hey, better late than never. I waited until we had some sunshine, at least. I wish I could say it was intentional. There is not a clear view of the interior between the rocks from this angle, which is why we missed it the first time around. But you can tell where it is if you know it's there.
(music is “Smell of Desire” by Enigma)
After that we decided to head right on over to Osprey Rock to see what that looked like from this angle. I look absolutely miserable, don't I? It's torture in this tropical sun, I tell you.
Sure enough there was another squall about to blow over us as we got to Osprey Rock. We've posted lots of photos of this from the other side in the past but this is the first time we've been over on the west side of it. We saw some guys up on top fishing.
We gave them a wide berth on the first pass. We didn't want to disturb their fishing and they were casting their lines way out from up there. We were hoping to see them pull a fish all the way up that cliff, but they didn't catch any while we were watching.
We then went into the little protected area there, which is called West Harbour on some charts. It's very well protected from the prevailing winds in most cases. It would be a great place to anchor, except for the fact that there is nothing in the way of shore side businesses on this part of Providenciales. In fact, the road from here back to 'civilization' is one of the longest unpaved roads on Provo.
And it's real shallow here, so a lot of monohull sailboats would have a hard time fitting up close to the rock for protection. Would be a nice place for a multihull, though. Anything drawing about four feet or less would be okay in most of it. Good sand bottom. Silty nearer the beach up out of the longshore current. Nice holding for an anchor.
This is probably a familiar shot to anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time. We went into this cave for a look when we were using the inflatable kayak.
If you want to see more of the inside of this cave, please check out Playing with Sharks from almost two years ago.
The water looked inviting on this trip, but the sky didn't. Dooley was convinced that there must be the fire-hydrant equivalent in there somewhere but we resisted the urge to anchor and swim. We needed to head home before we got caught in more rain.
We were running a bit late as usual. We tend to get carried away and forget we still have a ways to go to get home. So we didn't take a lot of photos on the way back to the marina. We did swing a bit closer to the guys fishing up off the top of Osprey Rock this time. One of them laughed and did his best to drop his sinker in the boat, but he fell a little short. We did remember to take another video on this pass:
(music is “The Wind Cries Mary” by Johnny A.)
He tried to hit us with a fishing sinker. I invited him to jump into the ocean, or something to that effect. It was all sign language. We all laughed. It's all good. Look for him winding up with his hand line, and then the splash just short of the boat right before La Gringa laughs. Nice toss, eh?
Now, for you DIY folks out there I wanted to put up a couple updates on little projects going on here. I have now put up the wood and winch for this thingum in the garage. I've been trying to lift the kayak with the nylon strap that came on the winch, but it doesn't work very well. The winch says it can lift 1200 lbs, so that's not the problem. Oh, it'll be working before I'm through with it. But I suspect that there is too much friction between the strap and the two rotating pvc sleeves I put on the bolts. Even though I liberally greased them up. I haven't taken any photos of it all finished yet, because it's not finished yet. It doesn't work right...yet. It's still in the head-scratching and fine tuning portion of the process.
Here's a photo of it right before I put the other 2x10 up:
I strongly suspect that I will end up taking the strap off, and using quarter inch steel cable with a single pulley in the middle of the span. The winch pulls a lot harder when the effective drum diameter is as small as possible. An old dog is still learning new tricks here. Nice to be able to use Google Sketchup to doodle these things into virtual existence, too. I would have run out of cocktail napkins a long time ago on this one.
One other little DIY project I thought some of you might be interested in started because the TCI government recently mandated that all houses must have house numbers displayed. It's all part of the 911 emergency program, during which all the roads finally received official names so that ambulances and fire trucks can find them. We didn't have this until last year. Before this people would be calling in an emergency and saying something like they were having a heart attack and the location was given as an approximate distance from some known location like the Glass Shack ( which hasn't been the Glass Shack in years) with a left on the third road past the big rock, look for a Chevy truck chassis in the yard, etc. No kidding. This is better. We now have street names AND house numbers. sort of.
We still don't have mail delivery , but having physical house addresses is also a great step in that direction. I won't go into the story right now, but we got to choose the name of our own road. I hope the neighbors don't mind that we didn't ask them, but we did use a name that was already in existence. More or less. Nobody's complained, yet. But back to the subject, we were way past the due date when we were told to display the house number. We needed to get with the program.
We looked around and saw that most people are using small boards with painted numbers on them. And I could have done that despite the fact that a paint brush is one of the three specific items that I am not supposed to mess with. But we don't really have a roadside wall or a post near the driveway entrance to put a number on. So I had to come up with something else. And I had an idea, using existing materials and the tools I already have. I did it with a hunk of rock.
First I just flattened the bottom of this piece of limestone using the needle scaler on an air hammer:
Then I sketched out the house number and cut it into the rock using an air chisel, and a 3 lb. hammer and hand chisel for the inside edges where the power tool tends to get away from me. It sure took a lot longer to do it than it does to describe it.
Once I had it cut in I just painted the rock with a white paint and used blue for the number. I barely finished it before we took off on our recent trip to Texas, but managed to grab a photo as we left for the airport at dawn. I think it looks a little better than the two inch high painted numbers, but of course I am biased. Carrying the rock up that slope was the hardest part of this, but at least this one won't blow away. ( And if it does, we are not going to be worried about blowing rocks at that point)
Anybody out there need some heavy duty house numbers, cheap? We got LOTS of rocks....
Oh I suppose the freight costs might make it prohibitive, but you can use the idea for free.
So that's it for this post. We're already working on the next one, too. La Gringa took a walk down on the beach recently and got some really nice photos and found a great piece of driftwood we are scratching our heads over. I'll post some photos and maybe you guys have some ideas what we can make with it. I am chomping at the bit for some wood projects for a change. All this mechanical stuff wears me down after a while. Moving parts make my head hurt. Working with the stone was kinda fun, though. The ringing of the hammer on the steel chisel, the stone chips and dust flying through the air...La Gringa yelling at me to stop the air hammer while she tried to make a phone call......I wonder how Michelangelo handled all that? Maybe they had quieter compressors. Or louder cell phones. Or worked further away from their wives...
We also picked up some nice DIY supplies in the US last week, including a whole fistful of various Hero HD ™ video camera mounts. I think we have a lot of videos in the future. I know you guys get tired of looking at still photos of Dooley's Derriere on a trampoline. One of these mounts has great promise for the top of the mast. It's the one for a roll cage.
We also procured some paracord and bungee for the kayak spray skirt project. Man, that big country north of Cuba has just about EVERYthing you can imagine if you but know where to look. Some of the hardware store owners get funny about me drooling on the merchandise, but hey, I can't help it. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I've found that flinging MasterCards and a smoke screen of various currency denominations will often placate them long enough for me to load up on goodies. They probably never saw a grown man go all estatic and teary-eyed over a US-made 6-32 tap and a roll of 3M's Scotch 33. I feel like John Boehner must feel sometimes.
So there's more DIY coming too. (Isn't there ALWAYS?) but in the meantime, how bout one of La Gringa's sunset photos?
Oh come on, you just had to know that was coming.