Friday, August 9, 2013

More Aerial Photos of Little Bitty Islands

I'm going to upload a couple randomish dozen of the several hundred photos we've taken recently. I'll post them here with some brief explanations, recognizing that brief is a very subjective concept.

Here's a photo of an obnoxious little dog  running along the beach at Mudjin Harbour over on Middle Caicos.  He had been investigating that far clump of stuff on the beach. He didn't get excited or want to discuss it.  We didn't go over to personally identify whatever got his attention.

The things that Dooley finds interesting  on remote beaches  are very rarely things that we'd want to take home.  Or photograph. Or even get downwind of.  I'll leave the rest of that to your imagination.  He's a very material dog. We've learned to use some caution whenever Dooley goes into his " Hey, you guys just gotta come over here and get a good whiff of this" mode.  He's never that keen  on fragrances of a floral nature.  It's a shame the way he abuses that good sense of smell of his. I guess it's good for a dog to have some sense. 
We recently had visitors who'd never seen North or Middle Caicos.  They had  already seen  Pine Cay and Providenciales. I don't think either of those extremes is very representative of the Turks and Caicos Islands, or people, in general. This trip was also an opportunity to try out a new  kite and camera system I've put together for traveling. I've managed to fit a kite,  flying line, pendulum rig, and camera inside a  backpack. Even though we had some learning curve problems with it, we did get a few aerial images to show you. This next photo of the Dragon Cays is not one of them.  It was taken from a table on the deck of the new restaurant at Mudjin.

Some of our regular friends and family who read this blog might wonder why there are no "Preacher in Cay Lime" photos this time. That's because we decided to go over on the TCI Ferry for a change.  I didn't think to take many photos of the ferry boat itself, but if you're interested you can see it on their website, along with their route and schedule.

I did, of course, take a photo of the part of it that interests me.  I was discussing the engines with Trenton as he checked the oil in their three Yamaha 250 horsepower Four Strokes.    I asked him what happened with the big Suzuki's they used to have on this boat.   He told me the Suzuki's were good engines, but when they broke it was too difficult to get them repaired quickly. I would have to admit that Yamaha has the majority of what outboard market exists here, and there are a lot more Yamaha mechanics around than there are Suzuki mechanics.  And parts.

I'll get back to the subject now.  See how easily I drift away from the concept of "briefly describe"?  I'm going to have to start exercising some self control with the keyboard if I want to get this post finished any time soon.

We were last here in October of 2012. Back  then we took photos of a new restaurant under construction at Mudjin Harbour.  We had heard that it was open for business now, and decided to check it out for lunch. This is the new Mudjin Bar and Restaurant:

That trail that the happy young couple are walking down looks like this  to another happy  young couple walking up.

We spent a very nice hour or two on the outside deck, enjoying the view.   This is the view from inside the dining area and bar:

As you can see, it wasn't very crowded while we were there. We got there a bit early and the lunch "crowd" was just starting to settle in as we left.

This is a view of the restaurant and the bluff and cave from the air:

I didn't think to take a photo of the lunch menu.   All I remember of it is that La Gringa and Natalie had some kind of sandwich wraps which they thought were excellent.  Daniel and I had burgers, which were also pretty good. We did get a photo of the dinner menu:

One member of the group was pretty upset that he didn't get a menu.  Had to settle for a few dropped pieces of various sandwiches.  I think he was just happy to be out and exploring. He loves these trips.

He's not real happy about the leash arrangement, though. He says I treat him like a dog, sometimes.   Go figure. He got away from our group later, which he justified by claiming he was looking for me.   I was off to get the kite out of the car.  He was supposed to stay on the beach with everyone else.  Kind, concerned strangers in the parking lot informed me that our "puppy" was back upstairs at the restaurant.  Sitting under this same table.  I guess he figured this was a logical rallying point.  With provisions and a half dozen kind strangers dropping little fried tidbits to the cute doggie while he waited for us to find him. They're clever, these terriers.

This is the view from the corner table of the outside deck.  Nice  That's a pano of three images and it just makes the railing look crooked.  The deck is well built and the railing is actually straight.

See the trail or road or whatever we should call it meandering off into the distance in that pano photo above?  La Gringa and I decided to take a walk down to the end of it.

It's getting taken back over by the local plant life, but still makes a pretty good walking trail.  This view is looking back at that view in the photo above.

We thought this would be a good spot to launch the kite. We were well upwind of the restaurant and the Dragon Cays. Speaking of which, here's a vew from the trail looking up the coastline.  Or is it down the coastline? Do people in the southern hemisphere have a direction called down north?

Here's a wide angle aerial view from where we first launched the kite:

It's difficult to see in the photo from the kite, but there was a group of people on the beach having their own photo-shoot with Mudjin as the backdrop. There were also some people crossing back over from Dragon Cay while the tide was coming in.  La Gringa got a much better photo of all of that:

I'd like to take a kite out to that cay, but we didn't come prepared to go for a swim this time.  Well, most of us didn't.  Dooley the Delighted is just about always up for a swim.  One of the advantages of being short is that he doesn't have to go far to be belly deep.

I don't think I've ever met a dog that loves the beach as much as this one.  He doesn't need a stick to chase, or a Frisbee to catch.  His happy little feet dance across the sand for the pure fun of just being alive.

Speaking of happy feet, there have been a few of those traipsing over the sand in the cave at Hidden Beach. La Gringa took this photo of the stairs that come down from the hole in the ground. There are other photos of this in the previous post from last October that I linked to above.

It reminded me of an Etch-a-Sketch that never gets erased, but that is constantly being slowly over written.  It never rains on this sand. What a great time lapse that could be. Between storms.

I know we've posted more than a few photos of this place, but I had to just put up one more  from Hidden Beach. 

It's impossible not to drag the camera out on a day like this, on a beach like this, with weather and a view like this.

We didn't just visit Mudjin on this trip.   We actually started out at the far end.   Our original idea was to see if we could get any information from aerial views of the old Haulover Plantation area a few miles south.  We wrote about Haulover last October, too. 

I won't repeat all of that info here, it's easy enough to go look at if you're interested.   I wanted to know if we could see much more of the old dock and waterway structures from an aerial perspective.

This is a much more isolated stretch of beach than the fairly well visited Mudjin Harbour area.   

We were using a new kite for the first time on this trip.  It's a soft, or parafoil type of kite.   The good things about it are that it folds up and packs really easy in a backpack, with no sticks or rods needed to support the kite. It also has a wide wind range.  It's complicated, with a lot of strings to get tangled and wound up wrong. It can suddenly collapse. We used it for the first time here.  This is a view of the old opening to what was once a series of docks for working on boats.  The entrance is filled in with sand these days.  If you look at this on the Google  Earth image from years past, it was still open to the sea  until fairly recently.

If you've looked at the earlier post about Haulover Point, you'll see a couple of structures standing on the point of land that extends out into the water here.   Here's what they look like from about a hundred feet up in the air:

I walked up and down the beach a bit, getting accustomed to the differences with this kite as compared to the delta design we've used for our other kite photos. The soft kite has a wider wind range for flying than the rigid kite.  But it also flies at a much lower angle.   This means that I have to let out a LOT more string to get the same altitude. The camera is much further away, and it's harder to judge it's orientation. It also means a lot more effort to pull all that string back in. Especially with heavier winds. Oh, I  am no longer using the kite reel that I originally built for this KAP stuff. I've gone to a much simpler line winding device, which I guess would most accurately be described as a figure 8 on a bobbin instead of a rotating reel.  No moving parts.  No metal components. Simple and fast are some nice characteristics for mechanical things.

This is a fairly rugged stretch of beach.   Here are some images from the ground.

We were here at low tide, and the combination of wind and waves and current had brought some floating grass and seaweed in.   And of course this is just NOT the kind of place where you'd run around barefoot for very far.   Check out that ironshore.  This is no place for worn Croc flip flops, either.

It was low tide while we were here, so there were plenty of little stretches of clear sand to walk on while the water was out. This would be a great spot for a picnic.  At low tide.

I walked around the end of the point where the old structures are standing, to try to get the kite and camera in a better spot. I was trying to see where the sand has filled up what was once the entrance to a nice sheltered little "marina" in years gone by. Doing this at a minimal tide gave it a different look. There was a dark  cloud of some kind of finely ground still barely vegetable matter settled into the sand ripple pattern of the sea bottom.  It was outlining the rocks where it came to rest momentarily as the tidal current slowed to a stop. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, this stuff was organic rust. This will all be washed back out  into the big grinder within six hours.

I'm not posting all the photos here, or we'd be here a long time. And for every photo I got, I got ten mosquito bites. I was looking at one of the local newspapers later, and read about how many problems Middle Caicos has been having with mosquitoes this summer. Seems a bit early in the year to me. It was such a problem for us on this trip that we cut the Haulover Point visit short. I had to budget some extra time for scratching and cursing.  We decided to head to the Mudjin  Bar and Grill from here, where they stock antiseptics and various plasma replacement options.

Mosquitoes don't seem to bother Dooley the Dehydrated much.   He does get hot and thirsty, though.

When the dog starts tripping on his tongue, it's probably time to go find some shade, anyhow.    And that's how we ended up at Mudjin Harbour.

In addition to the trip back over the MIddle Caicos, we've been continuing to experiment with kites and kayaks.    We've discovered that the best way to do it seems to be to just tie the boat up  and get out to fly the kite.  This is one of the small cays just north of Leeward Going Through.

Looking off toward Water Cay to the north east you can see several of the string of these little cays stretching out between Donna Cut and the Caicos Bank.   That indentation in the far bank in this photo is labeled "Hurricane Hole" on some of the older charts I've seen.    We'll have to go explore that too, one of these trips.

This next one is looking back toward Leeward from our stopping spot   It really makes it easy to see where the deep water channels are located with this bird's eye view stuff.  No WONDER they are so good at fishing.

If you look at the Google Earth images of this area you can see that there are a series of channels eroded into the bottom from the ebb and flow of the tidal currents through these openings between the little islands.  It can be tricky to see where they all are from water level.  Easy from the air:

That's the area called Donna Cut there in the middle of that photo.    The little group of trees to the left is what's being increasingly referred to as "Iguana Island" by visitors and some locals.  That's probably as good or better than the correct name for it,  Little Water Cay. It's full of rock iguanas, and the Turks and Caicos runs a small park there. I won't go into the details, but Dooley has been kicked out of there. He sure generates some excitement when he gets into a group of big, fast lizards.  Park attendents get a little bit huffy about it all, though.  It's  natural for iguanas to shed their tails like that while being pursued. That was back when he was young and we didn't realize how terriers are wired.  He's much better behaved now.  And we know to secure him.

But he still can't buy an admission ticket to Iguana Island.

We took the boat over to that stretch of beach in the above photo, and put the kite back up.   This is looking over Donna Cut to Little Water Cay:

I believe that everything that's filled in with sand in that photo was once open water.  I think that  it all changed with Hurricane Donna in 1960. I've tried to find some photos of the area prior to that, but so far, no luck. I'm sure somebody must have taken aerial photos of this place before 1960. It's 140 miles east of Cuba.

Here's another view that also shows what I am thinking is the ancient shoreline of Water Cay.  There are still some natural depressions and sink holes along here that fill with rainwater.   I doubt that this is where Water Cay got the name, though.   I think I have an answer. I'll get some evidence for what I think happened, and will show it to you if it makes sense.

After getting the kite up for that photo above, I walked aross the sand toward the beach in the distance for a few hundred yards.  I was trying to get the camera in a better position to photograph that corner where the edge of Water Cay meets the beach at Donna Cut. This is one of those photos:

You can see that there are some pretty well defined trails around Water Cay.   You can also see some of the underwater rock structure just off the point.  It amazes me that this was once a channel between all these cays.

I brought the camera down and re-positioned it to get some aerials of Water Cay itself.   I've got the camera set up to take a photo every five seconds.  A typical trip up and back with the kite takes about fifteen minutes.   On this particular day, we put the kite up four times.  So if you do the math, you'll realize that we got something over 720 aerial photos of this area alone, on this one excursion

Here's one of the views looking up Water Cay toward the Aquarium and Pine Cay:

That little enclosed bit of water on the right side of the photo, at the end of that trail, is the area I've seen referred to as a Hurricane Hole on some sea charts.  It does look like it would have been a good spot to secure a boat back in a previous century, before it all got sanded in.

I intended to put together a time lapse sequence for this post, but someone keeps interrupting me here.  Something about a stupid ball.

And this annoying whining noise that has me totally distracted.  I'll save that one for another post.  I have a dog to mollify.

I swear, sometimes I think the little booger plans it all out ahead of time.

We've got a lot more photos and sometimes that makes it difficult to decide when to just stop uploading them.  I need to finish this post, so we can start thinking about the next one.  This one could keep creeping onward if I let it.  We've since taken another kayak/kite trip out to get some small remote cay photos.  I've finally got the 3-D printer going, and  La Gringa has been getting some decent sunrises lately.    And we're just about ready to put the skiff back in the water, as well as 'splashing'  Twisted Sheets again.    Should be plenty more of this kind of fun stuff to keep the old blog going for a while yet.   We hope.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post! & Dooley's collar is on right side up...did he have a bath recently ; - )


Anonymous said...

We hope, too. It's a wonderful vicarious life you've addicted us to!

By the by: which camera is Sra La Gringa using?


Anonymous said...

I was wondering what the numbers on the menu represent. Prices I guess, but is that in American dollars?

Tommy N.O. La.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, especially the DIY stuff. Have you ever thought of getting into the new RC helicopters? I saw a post on The Hull Truth. Mount a go pro underneath to get some amazing video!

Keep up the good work...

Anonymous said...

Dooley gets a fair number of baths. We wash a lot of salt off that dog.

La Gringa has been using her Pentax DSLR for the better shots. She often grabs one of the little point and shoots, too. Keeping the sensor clean on the DSLR has turned out to be somewhat of an issue. Dust gets into everything here.

The currency here is the US Dollar. The TCI does have it's own money, but we never see it in circulation. I think it's almost on the order of commemorative coins. Can buy them at the Treasury.

We have looked at RC helicopters. This just isn't the environment for those. I am looking hard at the RC quad copters, hoping someone eventually comes out with a marinized version. It's pretty hard to beat the kites for cost, portability, simplicity, and ruggedness. My kite/GoPro setup has been in the ocean a couple times now. Total damage, zero.
I shudder to think what it would cost to dunk a RC helicopter in sea water.

Anonymous said...

Good news! Google Earth's finally updated the sat pics of Provo, 2012. Trying to scope out Dooley's Dwelling. Is it the cluster off of Venetian Drive?