I confess to a having a compulsion to record photographic images and store them away by the thousands. In years past it was paper prints and fragile negatives, and now it's CDs and thumb drives, but the process is pretty much the same. La Gringa has the same addiction and she didn't get it from me. We were each into our own amateur photography habits long before we met. We're shutterbugs. No getting around it. When we discovered this blog thing it finally gave us an actual excuse to take photos. Finally, we had a valid reason to do what we would have done anyway. We really like it when people make the effort to look at our photos. It's a bit like having visitors ask you to show them your vacation movies, instead of bolting for the door yawning and making excuses about the time.
We typically come back from one of our excursions with a couple of hundred images. I try to keep individual blog posts to somewhere around 30-40 images. Otherwise they can take forever to load on slower computers. So a lot of decent photos never get used. Many are never seen again.
This post is to show you a few of those photos that got passed by during the past few weeks. This sunrise, for example.
And the boat trips! It probably seems like we write a blog post for every time we step on a boat. But that's not even close. We write up maybe half of our boat trips. Sometimes on the spur of the moment we'll decide we need a 'Sanity Sail', and half an hour later we're out on the Hobie. We might spend two or three hours sailing and exploring, and never mention it here. I don't want him to read this, but sometimes we even go sailing without the dog. On real windy days we leave him at home and tell him we're going to the veterinarians office. He's always happy to miss those trips.
Here's a good example of a Hobie trip from a month ago that included the dog. We decided spur of the moment to go for an afternoon sail. No destination in mind, no plan. While we were sailing along we saw a nice stretch of beach, and Dooley the Drizzler was making those noises that I think mean that rocks are starting to look like trees and fire hydrants, so we pulled over for a rest stop.
We found a nice little stretch of beach, with a sheltered cove for the boat.
We'd seen these rocks before, but this time we had the new camera with us. I decided to wander around and see if I could find any interesting subjects. We saw this bit of orange colored material bobbing in the edge of the water and went over for a look. I was hoping it was a fancy life vest with rolls of money secured in a pocket. It wasn't.
I just bought this little hand-held mono-pod thing that lets me extend the camera up about a meter above my extended hand. It doesn't take up much space, and it's stainless steel. I was playing around with it, raising the camera up higher than the rock ledges with the 2 second shutter timer. It's a new perspective. It's also a good way to get an angle down onto this sharp 'iron shore' rock around here, without having to climb up onto it barefooted. This is not good barefoot material.
Almost all of the windward sides of these cays are like this. The soft limestone is eroded by the wave action. The tops are eroded jaggedly by the intermittent splashing water during rough weather, and the undersides near the sea surface are worn smoother by the steady, daily wave action. Eventually, these ledges get severely undercut by the waves. And they do break and fall off.
For some reason I have forgotten, Dooley the Delinquent was off exploring and unavailable for me to put in the photo as a scale. I tried resting my hand on the overhanging ledge to give you an idea of the size. This rock is about my eye level while standing in the water. The cold, dark, murky miserable water. You aren't buying that one, are you.
This ledge is amazing. It's shaped like a suspended hook, or arm, barely attached to the main shore. I was expecting it to fall off any moment. But realistically it could be here for years to come.
And it could break and fall off in the very next hurricane. Which we hope is years to come. Never would be good.
Like many marine limestone formations, these rocks have a number of small caves eroded into them. They're everywhere, in fact. I was experimenting with our new camera, and took this one with the flash on.
Many of these caves are plenty big enough to hide in, should someone be inclined to hide in a cave on a sunny day for some reason. And if that someone were very quiet, and muzzled a certain dog, it might be difficult to see them inside the darkness if you were standing outside in the bright sunlight looking for them.
I also found out that just because it's possible to quietly sneak up behind someone looking for you, that doesn't also mean that it's a good idea to sneak up behind someone that's looking for you. I've now heard it suggested that there may be some medical applications for such a waterproof camera.
At least, that's what I think she was talking about.
We decided to move on, hoist the anchor, raise the mainsail, and see what's around the next bend.
This is another of our little sailing trips you would never have read about. It didn't merit a blog post on its own. Another ho-hum day in paradise.
We spend a lot more time at South Side Marina than we report here, too. It's only a few miles down the road and we get involved with the cruisers who come through there from time to time. They have a couple of traditions that we appreciate. Every day at sundown the visiting sailors gather for drinks, and to watch the sunset. We like to stop by and meet the people that belong to the voices we talk to on the radio. These next few photos are not very good, because I had the camera set wrong. I'm still learning about it.
I found out something useful about the software that Nikon ships with these cameras, too. When I took this photo of the little shelter where the imbibing tidal tribe subsides, I had no thoughts of making a panoramic photo of it. I was just taking a photo of La Gringa in conversation with Jo, from the sloop Xanadu (which is for sale should anyone here in the TCI be interested in a nice boat). I also wanted a photo of the TCI Customs and Immigration Land Rover. These guys come to the marina and clear your boat into the country. And out of the country. And around the country. And money changes hands each time. Every island nation does it. Two of the cruisers were in the South Side office with their paperwork clearing in through customs while we were there. I thought it was nice that they could enjoy a few beers ashore while waiting. The Customs guys here are generally pretty mellow professionals as long as they don't get any grief or the feeling they're being mislead. The job is part of the game.
Then, I took a couple of steps to the right and snapped this photo of the several visiting monohull sailboats presently visiting Providenciales on their cruise. Again I had no intention of putting these shots together. There are some things you do when planning to combine images to make them fit well. I didn't do any of those things.
And I didn't take more photos of the monohulls because, well, to us die-hard multihull aficionados, a monohull is sometimes referred to as 'half a boat'. Of course this is all friendly rivalry. The monohullers have their pet names for multihulls, too. And no, I am not going to list them here. I'm on the other team, remember.
Well, when I was looking at these photos of South Side while trying to make up my mind whether or not to even post them here, I saw these two and decided to try a program called "Panorama Maker 5" that came with the Nikon AWA100 camera.
In the past I had sometimes used a program called "Stitch Up" that will put up to three images together, but to be honest I haven't been that happy with the results. You have to get everything just right. I was curious as to whether this "Panorama Maker 5" stuff would work with two lousy photos like this. I only had to load them up and pick three common points on both photos. I picked that street light, the corner of Bob's gazebo, and the corner of the short concrete wall. I didn't expect much, since the photos are admittedly pretty lousy, and the perspectives were different. I was very surprised when the software munched it all together and spit this out:
That's pretty good results. Notice the two people walking way down the sidewalk along the quay? Their legs and postures are different in each photo of course, since they were walking while I was taking the photos. And they are in the area of the overlapping zone between the two photos. It appears that the software is good enough to handle that without blurring them. I'm impressed.
So, eventually I did read the manual for the camera and discovered that it has a totally automatic panorama mode that eclipses both this software and the earlier 'Stitch Up' program. I've now deleted the old program from the computer. This new stuff is way better. Now, I just need to pay more attention to the images themselves.
Not all of the photos taken that day are totally bad. Here comes another cruiser making their first stop since leaving the Bahamas. They're just in time to clear customs, too, if they hurry.
We'd hoped for a good sunset image over the water, but as is often the case, the sun and clouds had other ideas. I did try, and although the sunset was a flop this was an okay image of Bob-the-marina-owner's own boat. It's been undergoing a complete retrofit for two eons now. I think it's one of those things when you have to have the time, materials, and money all at the same time. That happen a lot where you live? I didn't think so. Here neither. But his boat is looking good. We'll try to remember to ask him about it. He's trying to get a restaurant finished here, too. There goes the time and money for the boat, right off the bat. But we can usually count on some decent weather here. And I guess any sunset you can walk away from is a good one.
Yes, alcohol is sometimes a factor in these sundown meetings.
And with a 'like mother, like son' segue, here's another of my stepsons, Ben, on his first scavenging trip to West Caicos. Does it look to you like he enjoyed himself?
You really didn't think you'd get through a post without a mention of another West Caicos beach combing trip, did you? Ben wanted to see the place, we don't need much of an excuse, and we didn't let the threat of some ugly weather scare us off. I'll try to keep this one mercifully short.
We did the usual shopping for mahogany and teak and anything interesting. I found this little beach arrangement and thought it worth a photo. I liked the glass bottle and fishing net float theme.
And when nobody was watching, I confess I picked that bottle up and gave it a quick rub, just in case. There was no flash of light, no smoke, and no genie. But I'm not complaining. I already have a lot of what I would have wished for, anyhow. (A big part of which is sitting at her desk studying Spanish with that "Rosetta Stone" software as I write this).
You've probably heard something along the lines of 'one man's trash is another man's treasure'. They don't mention that a lot of one man's trash can also be a dog's happy hunting ground.
He's lucked out with a lot of his wishes too, come to think of it. Should have named him Riley.
(note from the future, October 2012, I just looked back at these photos on a new computer, and see that the right side of many of these photos is being cut off. Dooley's thoughts above, for example. If you are seeing the same thing , sorry about that. If you ever want to be sure you are seeing the entire image, just click on it.)
I wanted to mention something unusual that happened while we were strolling the uninhabited beaches of West Caicos. We heard, and then saw, a USCG helicopter coming north across the Caicos Bank headed back toward the airport on Providenciales. This isn't unusual, we see the USCG here quite a bit. They have a thing going on with the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas called "OPBAT", and I made that a link if you want to read up on the program.
What was unusual was when the helicopter suddenly slowed up and descended into a hover just above the water. They were in this hover for 15 minutes or more, and kicked a lot of mist into the air. I hope they have their WD-40 ready when they get home....
We could not see any reason for their interest from where we were standing on the beach about a mile away. Nothing was protruding above the sea, and we didn't see any rescue swimmers or basket activity. Just a long hover, over one specific spot.
I cropped that photo to give you a better look at the aircraft and the water they were kicking up. I did take a compass bearing (121 deg. mag) from us to that location, and when we left to head home we drove the skiff out on that heading hoping to see what had caught their interest.
Privately, I was pretty excited. I figured that maybe rubbing the funny shaped bottle might have worked after a fashion, and my third wish was in the making. I was all set for a shiny, waterproof briefcase full of money to float into my life. I was wrong. I kept the bottle though. This is getting interesting. Does anyone know if it's possible to rub a genie the wrong way?
Well, what's interesting to me is just another distraction to Dooley the Destructive. He was off exploring a really nice big solid hunk of boat that had floated ashore. That's an oxymoron, isn't it? A solid hunk of boat? No clue as to what he was thinking.
Right before we left for the ride home we spotted a sting ray I thought was snoozing in the shallow water off the beach. I saw this as a good opportunity to get a close up and personal photo of one of these with my new camera, and without having to frantically flipper faster and faster to finally focus in frustration. So I boogied on over, camera at the ready. Sneaking up from behind, again.
And once again I got a different reaction than the one anticipated. This one actually stuck his tail stinger up out of the water, to show me what he thought about me startling him. He also wanted to show me that he was 'carrying', I guess. I wasn't trying to harass him, mind you. I do have a healthy respect for these guys. I remember what happened to Steve Irwin, and we've used the 'stingray shuffle' when we had to walk through murky water. Which doesn't happen very often here. We only have sandy water for about two days after a big storm. The rest of the year it looks like these photos we've been posting right along.
We see various flavors of rays all the time around here, and it would be a rare day on the boat if we didn't. Rays, barracuda, shark... it all becomes part of the neighborhood gang if you spend enough time in tropical waters. And the Southern Sting Ray is one of the most common.
They're not exactly cute, and while I would admit they're a bit standoffish, I'd never had one actually pull a weapon on me before. I decided that I would leave this guy alone with his switchblade. I guess stingrays are grumpy when they first wake up or something. For all I know, he was hiding from the Coast Guard. Probably has connections to organized slime.
This is another example of a boat trip that I wouldn't have even mentioned if I wasn't doing some photographic house cleaning here. Some of these images are worth posting, don't you think?
I put some of my DIY projects on the blog, but not, by any means, all of them. And I'm not going to turn this into a DIY post, either. I don't scurry around with a camera taking photos of every little project I get into. I never mentioned it, for example, when I was re-sawing beat up old driftwood to make this box to hold our binoculars at the house:
A lot of the auto and boat repair stuff involves greases, paints, and chemicals and I don't want the camera anywhere near that stuff. But we usually don't even make any mention of it here because there's so much of it. I don't think a day goes by that I don't have to stop whatever I'm doing to fix something that just packed up. Or fell off. Or rusted shut. Or rusted open. You know how it gets when you're afraid to scrub the paint on something too hard? I couldn't even estimate how many tires I have changed since we moved here. It would be less than 100, but by how many I can't tell you. And a lot of the little stuff just doesn't merit attention, as it's no longer something we'd consider to be unusual.
I just went looking for an example of what I'm talking about and noticed a recent project sitting right next to me. My favorite sunglasses broke a few weeks ago. I like these polarized ones with a reading insert right in the lens. I'm only fuzzy from my fingertips to my brain. Like almost everybody over 40. It's maddening, but there it is. I was down to my last pair, and they broke. I went through all the usual reiterations of Krazy Glue and duct tape, but the time comes when things just won't fly any more. One of the advantages of a shaven head is that it extends the possibilities for a DIY artist with duct tape. But there are social costs with that. People refuse to be seen with you. Strangers seem to always be crossing the street. And themselves...
Backup shades just won't do. They feel like someone elses shoes. So looking at my favorites in three pieces last week, I had an idea. I salvaged some aluminum satellite dish that the hurricane ate, made staples from stainless bicycle spokes and I think I've managed to get a few more months out of these.
Not pretty, but they're not very likely to get stolen, either.
Some of the photos that usually don't make it are the ones we take for no particular reasons. Oh, they seem to have a reason at the time, but then later I look through them and ask myself why I bothered. What was I thinking, for example, when I decided to take another photo of yet another stick we picked up, brought home, and varnished? I spare you a lot of those, usually.
Or those photos of moments that seem triumphant at the time that feel pretty silly later on. For example, I finally decided to try my hand at growing tomatoes here. It's tricky, because the dirt here is essentially the same thing as the bags of lime some people have to dump on their lawns to combat acidity. Here, we seek acid. I've had good luck with coffee grounds as an acidic organic, believe it or not. My new tomato plants and I enjoyed our morning coffees for the past couple of months.
Until we ate them.
This was our first attempt, and the result wasn't going to win any blue ribbons out behind the pig squealing competition, but these were the best tasting tomatoes we've had in six years.
I guess there's nothing like home grown. I need to find another strain, though. Or plant a whole lot more of them. I grew these from seeds I took from a Kew, North Caicos, tomato.
Some photos, well, they just kind of made sense at the time, ya know? Like last week when we had to truck in two 2600 gallon tanks of RO (Reverse Osmosis, i.e. desalinated sea water). We were sitting in the house and noticed that it took the guy only about as half as long as usual to empty a truck load into the cisterns. So I went out to see why. We've found it a good idea to pay attention when proven procedures suddenly get different, and to ask why around here sometimes. Well, in this case, I spotted the reason right away. They have a new Honda pump on the truck. Vast improvement over their old pump, which worked when it felt like it, and was really tricky to start. Kind of like an old motorcycle I once owned. If it didn't fire up on the third kick, you had another shot at it around the seventh one. If you had the choke, throttle and spark advance just right. And didn't flood it. This new pump starts right up as Honda products usually do. I was grinning, the water guy was grinning, we were both just so happy about his new pump. So happy I went in the house and got the camera.
What was I thinking?
About how much faster he can deliver water, and how that will help him make another couple of deliveries a day, seven days a week. He gets $115 a trip. His life just got better. I guess I got caught up in the moment. And we have a lot of those kinds of photos that never make the cut.
Oh, and the experimental shots. There are scads of those. Especially when we get a new camera.
This is one of my first tries at a full moon (photographically speaking, of course) with the new camera.
I've since found out how to better set up the camera, and know I can do better. OF course, I gotta wait a month to prove it, now.
I think the last category of photos we tend to relegate to the cyber-dusty shelves of a thumb drive somewhere are the cute Dooley shots. I think I told you about one of his new tricks when he thinks it's meal time, and I'm not moving fast enough for him. He'll squirm his sneaky way up and try to wedge himself between me and the computer.
Don't let this furry little face fool you. His, I meant. He's a conniving little con artist.
And we somehow find ourselves taking a lot of photos of him, as you well know.
I recently found out that the new camera will also do both slow and fast motion video. My first tries at Dooley the Delighted catching a tennis ball in the air are encouraging. Remember those National Geographic videos of the Great White Shark chomping down on a sea lion in extreme slow motion?
It's kind of like that except that none of the fuzzy stuff in Dooley's video bleeds.
I probably should lump this one into the category with the water truck. One of our friends down the road (the first M of the M&M family) called me up for some ideas on getting this hunk of 1/2" steel rebar out of the dirt road near his house. No, please don't ask me how this got there, or why it was so well embedded there, or why no one else had removed it. I can't answer any of that.
But remove it we did. And I thought it was worth a photograph at the time.
Now that the adrenaline rush of 4x4 and chain is over, I can see that it wasn't. See what I mean?
Well, I seem to have nattered on here until another blog post is big enough to get away with. I'll leave you with a photo of our lucky bottle, recently found in the sands of West Caicos. I'm still waiting for that briefcase full of money. We're in the boat-buying mood again. Maybe one more rub will do it. I just missed the full moon, was that supposed to be connected?
Oh wait a minute. Even with a completely non-standard blog post with no plot, story line, or coherence whatsoever, I can't end it like that. Ending things with a bottle can get dangerous.
So I'll end it with a bizarre sunset from just last week. When I first saw this one, I thought maybe someone had swayed too close to a tiki torch during Happy Hour. I flinched and waited for the sound and shock wave, but nah. Just another sunset..