Friday, August 30, 2013

New Camera Thingamajig

I made a new gadget for kite aerial photography that I want to show you.   This is something different from my usual DIY stuff as it's my first real project using the 3D printer to manufacture parts.  It's not such an interesting thing as to actually warrant a separate blog post on its own. But I can use it in lieu of actual interesting content in order to justify one so soon after subjecting you to my last blast of blather. This photo is just a sunrise of an already threatening morning.  Nothing to do with the doodad.   We're getting a lot of squalls and showers this time of year. Makes for some interesting cloud formations.

Having a DIY theme for a change doesn't preclude me from sticking in some other  recent photos.    This one was right after we launched our sailboat Twisted Sheets at the Caicos Marina and Shipyard last week. We moved the boat over to the main dock just in time for the live-aboard dive boat, Explorer II, to come in.  They dock every Friday to change passengers, refuel, and re provision.   They managed to get the boat between me and the fuel pump, with what felt like about six feet between their bow and our dinghy.  I'm sure it was much more clearance than it looked.  Still, it was good to be back on the water and concerned with the motions of other boats.   For the past year TS has been in the yard surrounded by boats that don't move.   Much.
Sometimes safe equals boring.

I did take a few photos as we put the boat back in.   Thankfully, it was not very exciting.   We're definitely not looking for excitement when we move the boat. Boring is good some times.  The travel lift took us from our eleven month snooze on blocks back to the ocean.                   

There was a fair bit of work to do on board Twisted Sheets before I was ready to put her back in the water.   Even if you're not a boater, I suspect you've heard of bilges.   That's the low point of the boat hull where all these bits and pieces of stuff accumulate.   After all the work done on our engine wiring I thought I'd better make sure ours were cleaned out before we added some sea water. I think bilges are easier to clean when they've dried out for the better part of a year.  It's a dirty job no  matter what.   This is what I scooped up from under one of our engines.   Can you tell an electrician has been at work here? Can you spot pieces of an old manifold gasket? 

One of the reasons to keep the debris out of the bilge is because this is also where the pumps are located that move water out of the boat and back into the ocean.   Managing sea water to be where you want it is a big part of sucessful boating. The morning after we relaunched Twisted Sheets, I did my daily engine room check and found that there was about six to eight inches of seawater in the starboard side.   I found out that the problem was the bilge pump was frozen up due to loose debris that got inside the housing and  stopped it from rotating.  I had cleaned the bilge, but there must have been some junk in the pump inlet already. It had gotten hot enough to melt and deform the plastic pump housing.  I bought a new pump and switch and mounted them on a piece of thin stainless steel.  This allowed me to mount the entire contraption securely by using only one screw through the plate into the inside of the boat's hull.   The stainless steel plate came from that tank we found at the site of a  shipwreck on West Caicos.  I guess you could say we do a bit of unplanned recycling here.  I know this isn't very exciting, but it's an example of one of the little time consuming projects we have to get involved in.  This project took all day. A trip to the boat supply store, the hardware store, and I finally took the parts home to work on them in my shop.   And there are four of these on the boat.

Several people have written asking about our plans for sailing the boat.  Well, we do have some destinations in mind.  But before we get to that point we've got a lot of work yet to accomplish.  I have to screw  up my courage enough to climb up that mast and start removing all the things that got zapped by the lightning strike.  The burnt, nubby little thing projecting out toward the camera in this photo is the remains of our VHF antenna, for example.  That's toast.   So are the wind instruments.   And the wi-fi.  And the radar.  And the lights. And all the cabling.  The single sideband radio antenna is suspect. And that's just the stuff on the mast.

I was looking around at some of our neighbors in the shipyard over the past year, and got some ideas for possible improvements to the boat.   I noticed several examples of catamarans with hull extensions.  These come in different shapes and sizes.   These, for example, look like they were part of the original boat plan. Simple,light, and strong.

And these look like they might have been added on later, and they are much more complicated than the simple designs.  These have storage compartments, and rudder linkages, and a boarding ladder.   

We have some thoughts on different ways to make access to the water easier from Twisted Sheets.  I'd been looking at beefier access ladders, since ours is on it's last legs.   Then this whole idea of hull extensions got me to thinking about it as a real possibility sometime in the future.   I roughly "photoshopped" the boat with a sketched in hull extension and different hardtop setup.  What do you think?   Imagine it sitting in the water with just the white part showing.  Not too bad.

Another imagined view, during one of those brief  periods when my imagination was working.  I was envisioning something along these lines:

Sure would make it a lot easier to get into and out of the water, board the dinghy, and  climb back on after falling overboard.   Hull extensions typically help with boat motion, and increasing the water line sometimes increases boat hull speed, too.     Thoughts and suggestions welcome.

Okay, enough about that.  I'll use a recent sunset here to illustrate a change of topic.

And the change of topic is to...... Kite Aerial Photography!  But you already knew that, so I'll skip the whole "ta-daaaaa!" bit.  This is my second prototype of this new camera rig I've been playing with.  I'm so proud of this one that I've practically worn a thin spot on my t-shirt from patting myself on the back.   Heck, I'd think this one was cool even if I didn't build it myself.   Lets face it, if I could have ordered one of these from Amazon, I would have done exactly that.

One of the aggravations of taking photos from kites has been dealing with camera orientation.  I made a couple of rigs where I could pre-set the camera pan and tilt and then we'd run the kite up for a few minutes, and then bring it back down to change the camera angles.  Over and over again.  I used a wind vane to steady it.  I knew I could come up with some fancy radio controlled pan and tilt stuff, but the whole idea here is to keep this as simple, light, and waterproof as I can make it.

I found a KAP design on the internet for a simple ratcheting clock gear type mechanism. It uses the pendulum motion of the swinging camera to turn it though all 360 degrees.    I  3-D printed the gears.  I also used the 3-D printer for the attachments, fittings and other parts.  In fact,  of the 14 parts in total that make this thing, 10 of them were 3-D printed.  The parts that weren't printed are the bike spoke, the destroyed satellite dish aluminum bracket, and the fishing pole and hardware.

The surfaces of the extruded plastic parts are a bit rough so I did have to do some fine tuning of the gears with a riffle file.   The faces of the gears have to be smooth where they slide together, and one set of cuts has to be vertical and aligned with the center of that screw.   Simple stuff to smooth and shape the ABS thermoplastic.  Took a few minutes. 

 I could put a wordy explanation of how this works right about here.   But  I think it will be a whole lot more expeditious to just show you.   Watch the camera in the first part of this little video.  You can see that it steps around in 24 degree increments as it swings back and forth.   Then we show you the gears and how they work to do that.  Easy beans.  I've already made the gear parts for another one.

Having the ability to visualize something, build it on the computer as a sketch in a CAD program, and then print it out and try it has really been a game changer for my experimental DIY stuff. I like the funky colors, too.  Looks like it all came from a Toys R Us or hobby shop, doesn't it?

Until I got the printer going, I was thinking that I would be carving these gears from wood or PVC pipe.  Boy, this was a whole lot better.

The first version of this design had a much shorter pendulum on it.  The camera swung back and forth at a rate that moved it three "clicks" in the five seconds between photos.  I lengthened the pendulum for this version, to slow the rotation down a little.  Still, even at five photos per revolution it came out much, much better for KAP than we had hoped.    We took it over to the hill upwind of South Side Marina to try it out last weekend.

Because of all the problems we've had trying to launch a kite in the lee of steep terrain, we took the kite up to the top of the hill to get it flying.   There's a new road built up there, and it's a good place to  get the kite up above the turbulence.  The wind fairly whistles through this notch.  Good view of the marina, too.

Once the kite was up and flying in clean air, I just walked along the entire road and let the motion of the wind and the string rotate the camera around and around and around.  Taking several hundred photos.   I'll post a series of six photos taken in sequence to show you how it works.

This one shows the notch at the top of the hill where we launched the kite, and also the Caicos Bank in the distance.  Notice you can see the road up to the notch, and the corner of the marina.    I'm the dot at the end of the string.

Five seconds later, the little rotation mechanism had moved  the camera several clicks around to the next shot in a clockwise rotation.

I really don't have to keep typing in words to explain this any more at this point, do I?  But we both know that's not going to stop me.

I really liked this next one.  It shows the entire length of the marina and the water on both sides.   You can get a feel for how close to sea level we are living here. I just realized that  this whole spit of land is technically an island in itself.  It's completely surrounded  by ocean, salinas, and canals.

The six roofs you see here, along with the swimming pool, are the Harbour Club Villas & Marina resort.   We put some of our recent guests up here, and they really enjoyed their stay.  They took kayaks out of the marina and explored the coastline, becoming betrothed in the process!  That's a pretty good recommendation, right there.   Oh, and that body of water in the middle of this next photo is part of Juba Salina, with Flamingo Lake off to the left.  Some excellent bone fishing, right across the road from Harbour Club Villas.  You don't even need a boat to get there. 

You do need an airplane to get here, though.  Minor detail.

This is the sixth photo in the series, and you can see that the camera is almost all the way back to its starting azimuth position.  The camera does swing around a bit in the wind, and not all the photos are equally aligned with the horizon. With several hundred images to choose from it doesn't look like much of a problem to pick and choose the views we want.

I notice that I didn't let the lack of any need for words affect my need to produce them. I'm working on that.

Here's the last photo in one fifteen step  revolution of the camera, back to showing you the road and the notch and the ocean and the corner of the marina.   And I'm still the dot at the end of the string.   Sort of an upside down exclamation point.  With a dribble.

Okay, that was basically my big news DIY for this post.  I guess it wasn't as impressive as I'd hoped.  But it still suffices as an excuse for another post just three days after the last one.  We plan to take the kites out over this coming weekend and see if making the pendulum longer will result in a slower rotation and more photos during the rotation.  That's purely an academic experiment on my part.  I'm very happy with our little auto-rotating camera rig.  No batteries required, and if it all falls in the ocean, no harm done.

And in case any of his Facebook fans are wondering, yes, it's already been Dooley Authorized.  

I know I've already put a set of sunrise and sunset photos in this post.  But while fanning through our collection over the past week I found these and thought I may as well throw them in here, too.  La Gringa and I had gone over to the Mango Reef restaurant at the Alexandra resort on Grace Bay for dinner last week.   As we were sitting there enjoying the view we noticed that the sunset was shaping up to be a potentially "blog-worthy" scene.  I took this photo right before the sun settled into the distant horizon.  We thought it looked pretty cool, suitably tropical, and were willing to settle in right along with it.
And then five minutes later as the sun finally disappeared, the shadows of the cloud formations made these nifty looking ray designs.  So we took  photos of that sunset, too.  

Good thing the drinks showed up at that point, or no telling how long I'd be sitting here boring you with additional photos.   But show up, they did.

And that's the end of that.

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.

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.