Monday, August 26, 2013

An Unusually Short Blog Post

I've fallen way behind on my intended blog post schedule here.  This time it's not because nothing new has been happening, because a LOT of things have  been happening around us recently.  We have plenty of new things to talk about, and plenty of new photos to show you.  We just haven't had much time to deal with photos and explanations.   We've been too busy living this life to sit down and write about it. 

We're into that time of year when the warm ocean starts really messing around with the atmosphere.   To the point of finger painting some nice sunrises.     

There really has been a lot of new stuff going on.  New aerial photos, repairs on all three boats.  Getting Twisted Sheets back in the water and moved over to South Side Marina again.  After eleven months sitting high and dry, it took a fair bit of time to get it ready for the water. And that's not all.
In the past two weeks.... A boatload of Haitian refugees landed within sight of the house and that livened things up for a while. People were splashing around in the salina trying to hide from the police.  The police were splashing around the salina looking for the Haitians. Lightning struck our home VHF antenna and blew it and the radio right out of existence. We've been undergoing renovations to the house for several weeks. Well, you get the idea.

 We've continued to take aerial photos with the kites.  I won't load this post up with those images, although it would be easy to do. I'll give you a break from the aerials for a change.   We tend to use the kite as an excuse to take the little boat out when we get a window of good weather and the time to do it. Here's a few shots of yet another trip out to Bay Cay. We like this spot because it's only a short sail from where we launch the boat.  Some people have written asking about the kites we are using.   We have two main ones that cover most wind conditions here.  Here's a photo of my favorite one, a 9 ft. Delta design.   Dooley the Demented was supervising:

I'm posting these to show you , again, how the perspective from a few meters up can identify physical characteristics of an area that might go unnoticed otherwise.

We've been out to this little beach dozens of times. I usually just tuck the anchor behind a rock somewhere to hold the boat while we eat our picnic lunch or take photos.  Or swim.  This time, there was a convenient little group of rocks right where I wanted to anchor, and I wedged the anchor in place without paying much attention to the rocks.  You can see it, barely, in this photo:

It wasn't until we started really looking at the photos that we realized the rocks I anchored to are the remnants of a structure that once stood here.  It's not easy to see here, but this was once a small rectangular wharf someone built with stone and mortar.   Some of the mortar joints are still there.   Otherwise, I would have taken this for just another pile of rocks.   Yes, I hooked the boat to an archaeological site, again.

That jumble of dark material just off the beach  is actually the remnants of  many thousands of old conch shells. Now, knowing there was once a small wharf here, it's not difficult to look at the area and see where boats once tied up to the little wharf.  And fishermen cleaned their conch and threw the shells overboard.   That clear area of sand between the old conch shells and the Cay is just about the width of the average conch boat. Maybe the old saying is true, and every picture does tell a story.

And some of us prefer to write our own stories.  Dooley the Distracted, for example.  He doesn't care about dead conch shells and tales of days gone by.  Unless they involve the memories of iguanas, rats, or thunderstorms.

Have you guys ever heard of a fruit called guinep?   I had no knowledge of this at all until we moved here. These are a local fruit that I don't think are widely known outside the local tropics.

We were shopping in the local grocery store when we saw a new display in the produce section.  There was a bin full of these little green round things. Green leafy substances in plastic bags? Of course we had to try some.

That bag was full when we started with it. We'd eaten a big portion of the things before I remembered to take some photos. They're delicious. These are fruit, and they remind me of a large tart grape in many ways. The skin easily splits and the large seed is surrounded by a layer of delicious tasting pulp.  You just slowly suck on the seed until you've removed all the tangy pulp.  Then, (if you're me) you spit the seed into the nearby underbrush.  And start on another one.   This is neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. I only mention it as an example of the kind of things that moving to an island exposes one to. New exotic fruits. What other excuse could you possibly need?

I know I briefly mentioned this 3D printer last year. I ordered a kit via a crowd sourcing site called Kickstarter. We received our PrintrBot Plus over a year ago, and I managed to get it mostly assembled.   And then it got shelved while we got involved in flying up to Florida, buying a sailboat, and getting it back to the islands. And since then, it seems that there's been one thing after another keeping me from putting any effort into getting the printer going.  

Well, this past week when we finally managed to get the sailboat out of storage and started working on  renovations, I thought of several things I needed to replace.  And since it's an old boat, a lot of the little things are obsolete and no longer available. Here, I'll give you an example. I needed a dozen new latch toggles to keep the deck hatches closed. I was about to try to cut them from Starboard, until I realized that I have the ability to design and build little things like that out of ABS thermoplastic.

So, finally, a year and a half after I assembled the kit, I finally got the software and CAD program going, and have started printing parts. Finally. The process of turning a thought into a warm piece of plastic that works is daunting for an old dog. I won't go into a list of all the little bits I've made, item by item, but this printer is really working out well so far. This photo has nothing to do with the boat. This was a small model of a "Dalek", for a stepson who is a Dr. Who fan.

In addition to the usual 3-D printed "toys" and gimmicks, I've started designing and printing boat parts and other useful things. I've come up  with a new KAP camera mount that uses pendulum motion to rotate the camera through 360 degrees continuously, and the parts are 3D printed.

Here's a part I designed  and printed  that attaches the camera mount to the kite string:

  and this is a drawing of the hatch latch toggles I was talking about for Twisted Sheets:

I've now got designs for cup holders, vent covers, fan mounting brackets, and every time I step on the boat I think of something else. Yesterday, I realized I could improve upon all the old curtain rod holders we've been struggling with.  We no longer need to deal with old bent brass screw hooks.   I can make something specific to form and function, and out of ABS.  Should be really good stuff for this environment. (ABS is the same kind of plastic that the Hobie Tandem Island is made from).

And the big news for us this week that's kept me too busy to sit here writing blog posts is that we have the boat back in the water.  We've gone from this nice view of Sea Munchkin in the Caicos Marina:

 To this nice view of us in South Side Marina:

That 4 mile  trip from one marina to another only took us an hour on a Saturday morning.  Well, one hour and eleven months. Getting Twisted Sheets ready to sail again is going to be a big topic with us in the short term here, so  I hope you like a lot of "working-on-the-boat" stories. I'll try to put in enough tropical scenery stuff to keep it from getting too boring.  Hopefully, it won't be too much longer until we can transition from "working on the boat" stories, to "sailing on the boat stories".    But I just remembered what a friend once told me about sailboats.  He says that the term "cruising" is just basically an euphemism for "repairing boats in exotic locations".

Well, that's it for this post.   I know it's brief and disjointed.  And there are likely going to be a few more like this until we get caught up.   If I don't worry so much about quality, I find I can increase quantity.   We'll try for a happy medium.


Unknown said...

Been following your blog for the last couple months. Noticed you post on a 3D printer. I have one also, tricky little buggers on occasion. One of things, I am getting ready to do is prototype the piece on a 3D printer and then cast it in silicone. Very useful if you need to make a dozen of something or looking for strength. Thanks for the entertaining read!

Anonymous said...

How do you keep TS ventilated on the hard & in the marina? Must be hard with twin hulls. Regards,Brazz

Anonymous said...

Henry, after you make the mold, what do you use to cast the parts? We're pretty limited as to what materials are available here, and two part compounds that use hardener don't seem to last long.

As for Twisted Sheets, there is a 4 inch diameter ventilation port in the port hull head. It has a small scoop to keep rain out. I'm planning to wire up a small "muffin fan" to run continuously, if I can remember to buy a 12 volt one next time we're up in the USA.

Anonymous said...

Yay...more scenery! -Chris

Anonymous said...

I like these "fill in" blogs, bits and pieces of what you guys are up to. Since we're all friends it is preferable to long silence then long elaborate blogs about one subject. Seems incredible Twisted Sheets has been on the hard nearly a whole year now?? Wow. Where has time gone, it feels like only a few months ago you guys sailed it in.

Anonymous said...

We've definitely now got a feel for how long it takes boatyard companies to do things. I would have thought all the work we had done on Twisted Sheets would have taken two months. It stretched out for almost a year. Then I spent a week "fixing the fixes". Bolts missing. Belts on wrong pulleys. Little things like ignition wires left out entirely.

And we're still having issues with one of the diesels. Runs fine in neutral, but dies when I put it in gear. I'm spending a lot of time greasy again.

If the short posts are okay, that's good news for me.

Anonymous said...

The fruit are "genips":

We depleted the island of Anguilla of them many years ago. Awesome. Stomachache after the first few hundred or so.

Keep the posts coming - they're all interesting!

Anonymous said...

Found lots of other names for them in that link I posted.

They're definitely guineps here.