I just happily snapped away right to the end of this one at the water's edge. This is also from location , looking generally westward across at the uninhabited island of Water Cay.
We've been to the Aquarium many times. La Gringa tells me this is the 8th post that mentions it, in fact, so I am going to keep the scientific explanation out of this post in our never ending fight against redundancy, repetitiousness, and saying the same thing over and over. As I keep telling you time and time again, I never repeat myself..... uh... please just forget I even said that. While I'm thinking about it, though, I want to mention that Sara Kaufman did a nice write up on it in Caribbean Property magazine. There's a lot of good Pine Cay info in there. And her write up is much more concise than mine tend to be. I tend to ramble, in case you haven't noticed.
Back on topic, I wanted to mention that in all my visits to this very spot, I never really thought that much about the little humps of rock you can just barely see by the water in that photo (above). This photo is in a sequence, but I wanted to point those rocks out for some more discussion later.
I am going to use this image of the Aquarium from another one of our posts, since it's already uploaded with the Picasa image hosting service I use. This is my own mental laziness equivalent of the paperwork reduction act. Or just an excuse to entice you to read earlier posts, take your pick. You can see that this was once an open, deep channel between the ocean and the Caicos Bank.
I know the writing on there is confusing since it's out of context for this post. That's about a kayak trip from hell. If you do want to know what all those frustrated words are about it's on this Mid-Winter Slog Blog post. I don't even like thinking about that trip, but it did teach us some valuable lessons about getting caught on the flats at low tide.That image shows you the geology of the Aquarium and should also help with making sense of these photos.
This is a view of the little beach you can see in the aerial, and was taken from location . Now it's all reminding me of an episode of CSI. I'm not so sure about this numbering idea. I'll wait for your feedback before doing it again.
We've often seen the water here so clear that you can easily watch big schools of snapper swimming back and forth ten or twenty feet down, over the edge of this underwater ledge. I almost used the phrase 'with the naked eye' there, but then I got to wondering what other kind of eyes there are. Aren't they all naked? I know mine have never been dressed. At least, not while I was wearing them. My eyes are nudists! Oh my. Do I have to register them or something?
The water was still a bit stirred up from recent winds on this brief visit, and not as clear as we would have hoped. You should be able to see the windrows, or Langmuir streaks as an indication that it was still blowing enough to affect the water. You can just make out the lighter colored ledge here.
And you can really see the ledge looking down from above up in that aerial photo with the numbers on it. It's off to the left of position ―I'll say no more about what that reminds me of― and you can see that the water gets pretty deep immediately there. We've seen sharks, tarpon, and dolphins in here despite the shallow nature of all the water to the south. I wonder if there's still some genetic memory in these sea creatures of habit. Do they have a dim feeling that great granpa said there should be an opening to the sea right about here? One that must have existed for centuries before the 150 mph winds of Hurricane Donna closed this up just a few generations back in the grand scheme of things. Is Grand Scheme of Things supposed to be capitalized? I was going to call it just the GST but find that this acronym has already been firmly taken.
While I was playing around with my new kite aka 'latest toy', La Gringa took the little pocket Nikon for a walk around on the big limestone outcropping. She was impressed by this plant coming up through apparently solid rock although we know that can't really be the case. There has to be some dirt involved somewhere, doesn't there? I meant dirt for plants, not for the blog! I'm saving all that dirt for the uncensored ebook version.
She tried to get some good images down into the water, but even with the sun overhead the turbidity had not settled out enough yet to show it at it's crystalline finest. Needs another day or two, but it does eventually get almost as clear as you can imagine. Kind of like an aquarium, come to think of it. Full of fish.
She got another view of our nominee for healthiest hardy plant of the day. This includes the little cays off to the south. And some of those treacherous shallows that have thoroughly schooled us on some of the realities of getting stranded at low tide around here. That's potentially much more serious than it might sound. This is all part of an education that has greatly affected our choices regarding boats. And we don't travel without fresh water.
Okay, in my roundabout but semi-logical way we've gotten back around to the little piles of rocks I made such a big deal over earlier. This is another view that we took as we traveled from the south end of the Aquarium up to the closed off end. I wanted to find another spot to redeploy the kite. See the line of rocks? I still wasn't even thinking about them at this point. They just happened to be in this photo. It wasn't until I looked through the aerials that I even realized what I was seeing.
What I mean about nice picnic spots? There are plenty shady places under the trees. You can see the little Casuarina groves in the first aerial, all up in the general area marked .
And the view is pretty much along the lines of what most people would probably consider a fairly nice beach.
We put the kite up into the air in the vicinity of that first aerial where it's marked with the Arabic numeral . This is looking back at the Aquarium to the south, from the eastern edge of the historical cut. The tidal currents must have really been ripping to cut the edges that clean. The rocks on both sides are near vertical in places.
That's my white kite string on the left hand side of that photo. The camera is on a DIY pendulum mount about a hundred feet below the kite itself. As it swings around it often includes the string in the photos. It's not hard to crop it out in most cases. I've read that black string is easier to 'photoshop' out. I guess it blends into backgrounds better and doesn't need so many pixels moved around.
Here's another view looking off toward a cloud bank. That sure looks to me like it might be forming over the nearest end of the island of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. It's about 44 nautical miles in just that direction. We anchored there for a few hours on our sailing trip home from Jacksonville with Twisted Sheets. We didn't take any photos there, and I wish we had. You can see the glow of the lights of Provo from there at night. From here, you can only see the clouds that form over that island without the light pollution. I think we got the better deal on views although it is nice to have a glow to steer by when you've been up for fifty hours, it's pitch dark, you're in a shipping lane doing 3 knots on one engine into the wind,rain, and seas, and your electronics are failing. Yes, it is. Light pollution can be your friend.
More nice picnic spots. That's the far northwest point of Providenciales way off in the distance, about 12 nm to the west.
So far the camera swings and swoops through the air taking photos at a preset interval. I don't yet have a way of aiming it other than to plan the entire setup for orientation in a general direction. That works surprisingly well, we're finding, as we gain some experience. I'm hoping that you can already see the improvements in these photos over my first efforts. Some new tricks take old dogs longer to learn. Possibly I just need a couple more cookies as incentive. It works with Dooley. Sometimes. When he's in the mood.
This is another view back up the beach to the east, where you can just barely make out the trees around the Meridian Club in the distance. There's nothing but clean unbroken beach between here and there.
That's pretty much it for our latest set of Aquarium photos. We also did some walking up and down the beaches experimenting with the kite. I have to tell you, it's a bit of a nervous feeling putting a camera out over the ocean downwind at these distances. We're getting accustomed to it, and have a list of things we want to change about the kite setup for future optimization. This has been a real learning experience weekend so far. Pretty easy to spot the three of us on the beach in this one.
This photo was taken by the GoPro as I attached it to the kite line. You get a lot of out-take photos with this thing flopping around on the ground, too. We might use one from time to time. In this example, you can see that I have the kite up almost directly above me in stable air as I'm attaching the camera rig to the line.
The trees along the right border of the photo show that the distortion of the horizon hasn't really been removed. It's just been redistributed, in a manner of speaking. The trees are distorted and blurred along with the road, the rocks, everything around the edges. The top of the cart is no longer rectangular, and the little palupa roof is unsymmetrical as well. This would make any measurements I tried to make inaccurate. After looking at that, I've decided that I would rather have the information in the photo. This is going away when the new camera gets here, I hope.
I've already mentioned issues with the kite reel. We started with an open spool normally used for hand line fishing. It was a bit of a physical challenge. I had to keep a tight grip on this spool, wearing gloves to grab and control the line. Reeling several hundred feet of dacron back onto the spool without twisting it was tedious and tiring. I can't just wrap it around, you have to rotate the spool like a little winch drum to get the flat line to lie straight. It's a braid that flattens. Here, this is a photo of the old spool. It's an old photo. Taken last week.
See the strain and concentration? The trickle of sweat? The stupid open mouthed look of an idiot trying to remember "left hand, right hand, left hand ...don't let go of it, repeat"... Just look at the knots in those mighty forearms.... well,okay, the actual knots are all in the forehead so please forget that part. Physical, mental, it's a strain after a half an hour of this. If this spool got away from me it would really change the pace of the afternoon. Imagine chasing a $500 hat for three hundred yards in the wind over the beach just to watch it fly a half a mile offshore and sink. I could follow the string to the bitter end, swim halfway out to the reef and it might make for a good blog post. but it wouldn't have any more aerial photos in it after some point of impact way down wind.
Now here's the shiny new kite reel. Just recently fabricated from scavenged materials in my very own home workshop.
It's not quite finished yet, but while I fine tune it I went ahead and loaded up 1000 ft. of 200# dacron string on it. This is lighter than the heavy white line we were using. Thinner, and black instead of white. I'm following directions I found on the internet, although I modified the brake setup on the reel.
I meant to take some photos of the construction of that reel for a DIY section here. Had my camera sitting right on the work bench. I even managed to take a couple shots before getting totally lost into it. Put on the headphones, and then it was an afternoon piddling around with making things with tools. Lyle Lovett, Paul Butterfield, Trombone Shorty, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Papa John Creech all explored the acoustics of the empty concert hall between my ears. By the time I remembered the camera, I was just finishing up cutting the threads into the axle. I cut that from a piece of the standing rigging salvaged from a shipwrecked catamaran.
I've also discovered this photo technique of blending the cluttered shop into the dark background. The optical equivalent of sweeping the dirt under the rug, I suppose. But hey, it works! I think that this is a cool photo for us DIY geeks. That's a 3/8-16 thread in what I think must be 316 or 316L stainless. It's harder than what I am used to, and shows no sign of oxidation after years in the ocean.
I used the salvaged standing rigging, some black locust driftwood, and pieces of our destroyed aluminum satellite dish in this. The brake pads are scavenged starboard, and the fairlead is a bicycle spoke. The winch drum is made from the center pieces of plywood left over from cutting the rings for the outside lights.
We haven't tried it out yet. I'm sure some modifications will be forthcoming.
Preacher Stubbs was involved in a lot of this before he left us and returned to Provo. He knows a thing or two about kites. He was impressed with how well this one flew, in fact. About five minutes after the GoPro snapped this photo of us he was on the phone to Froggy the master kite craftsman over at Bottle Creek. I'm not sure if watching this one will affect J.R.'s own design, but it does fly pretty well. I know he'll be interested. Any competitive edge will get a lot of attention.
When I showed Preacher the jpeg images on the laptop, he was impressed and appreciative at what the overhead views were showing us. Seeing these islands fleetingly from an airplane at a thousand feet is different from this 100-200 ft. height perspective. He immediately thought of a few historical sites where this could be useful. Think about those old plantation ruins, for example. He and I still discuss putting together a book of the history of these islands from his perspective. The really big changes in the culture here have all happened during his life time. And he's got some great stories, if I but have the nerve to publish them.
I see that I have drifted well off the Aquarium theme a bit here. So this is probably a good place to put in one of Dooley's favorite videos from this weekend.
He probably rousted three of these guys on the road to the Aquarium, but rest assured that no iguanas were harmed in the making of this blog post. Other than a briefly elevated heart rate and spirited scamper through the underbrush, their lives go on unimpacted by the experience.
I'll bring this one to a close after a brief and free advertisement anecdote for one of our favorite beach dives on Providenciales. We'd mutually decided that we needed a cracked conch fix one afternoon and headed over to 'da Conch Shack' in Blue Hills. We were at one of the little tables out of the way on the beach side, shooting the breeze with friends, when Pete the manager came over. He said that a photographer was going to be wandering around taking photos for some magazine. He asked if we minded, as we might be in some of those photos. Of course we didn't mind. And we had our conch and forgot all about it. And don't blame the conch for the forgetfulness. These tropical days all flow together after a while.
Then recently I was reading the BBC travel news and saw this article on the world's "best beach restaurants". I looked at the photo and recognized some faces and realized that this is one of the photos taken that day. I'm sure this is a much better photo than the ones with us in them.
(photo lifted from BBC online article as credited in link above but this isn't being used for commercial purposes and it's free publicity for them anyway, so phtttt.)
Oh well. Worldwide exposure is probably not all it's cracked up to be, from what I've seen. If Dooley had been there, we might have had a chance of making the cut. But his behavior in restaurants is a tense situation at best. He thinks it was all really meant for him, and he resents anyone who doesn't agree.
Our next post should be finishing up this trip with some marina and boating photos, unless something more interesting happens in the meantime. We can only hope. And try to be careful what we wish for. That whole 'something interesting' aspect of life can really sneak up behind you if you're not careful.
I haven't been putting a lot of DIY stuff into the blog lately, comparitively speaking. But rest assured it's still going on here. Big time. I don't bother with a lot of it because I just don't think you'd find it all that interesting. I'm sure there are enough rusty metal photos on here to last all of us a lifetime. Or maybe it just seems like a lifetime in my case. Or perhaps I've just lost the novelty of having something break every day of our lives. And of the DIY's that aren't about repairing the result of life under a salty sun, most of them just aren't 'blog-worthy', if you know what I mean. I'll give you an example.
We've been having issues with our collection of kitchen cutting boards. We needed a larger cutting board and a way to drain dishes that we'd hand washed. I used some of that big hunk of starboard we found washed up on a beach to make one. For you other tool freaks out there, I'm still finding that pneumatic tools seem to work fairly well and last a long time. This 16" air sander has outlasted two electric sanders, as one example. They are real simple devices. Just be sure to put a couple drops of oil in them every time you use them. And dry out your compressed air. And it was cheaper than either one of those long gone electrics. If you ignore the cost of the compressor, which is a very useful thing to have anyway.
The electric router is still working–touch wood– so putting a drain groove around the edges was simple enough. And there we have it. A DIY that I normally wouldn't bother mentioning. And I only mentioned this one because I thought it might give someone an idea. This custom cutting board fits a spot in the kitchen so exactly that it doesn't move when it's in place. And it drains into the sink. I guess I can file this under fun facts for flotsam.
And of course we continue to look for ways to showcase this beautiful little country for you with our images. I am sometimes reminded of that old cliche' about the difference between men and boys being the price of their toys.
We're still essentially playing with crayons. A second childhood with technology added. Sometimes the results are worth posting, many times it doesn't work out. But it's sure a lot of fun trying to fill in the colors for your amusement. How are we doing so far?