Okay, Happy Monday, again, and now for a change from sailboat DIY to something different. A sailboat without the DIY. And that's a big change for us, too. I'll explain in a minute. I got ahead of myself. I need to get the opening sunrise out of the way first.
Maybe you'll remember our previous post about a trip on one of the Sail Provo boats. Well, we've done it again, and hope you'll enjoy some of these photos of something different than our usual blog posts.
Sail Provo is one of the local catamaran day charter companies here on Providenciales. The company is owned and operated by a friend of ours named Jay Stubbs. Jay is a brother of Preacher and Joe Stubbs. Joe also goes by the nickname "Hammer" which is short for Hammerhead. Which Joe's brothers have assured us is, indeed, an appropriate nickname for Joe.
We were invited along on another Sail Provo sunset sail last Friday. A group of about 30 employees of a Pennsylvania company came down to Providenciales for a company conference, and they chartered one of Jay's boats for a late afternoon sail. We went along.
We've had strong winds blowing from the east, which made for a nice smooth beach landing on Grace Bay to pick up passengers.
Grace Bay is the vacation center of the Turks and Caicos Islands. By our local standards, this is another crowded Friday afternoon at the beach. The congestion is just terrrible. This mob scene is one of the reasons we rarely go to the beach. Heck, there must be twenty or thirty people on that beach! How do they find room to breathe in that crowd?
Those white round things are not vacationers, by the way. They're just little buoys to delineate where boats can and cannot come into the beach. Nothing but animals allowed inside the corral. Some of them are human, but not most.
Here's another view as we were loading up the Sail Provo catamaran Arielle. The bow boarding ladder makes beach access easy. When it's calm. I guess when it's rough on Grace Bay they'll pick up passengers somewhere a little more protected. But on Friday, the beach at Grace Bay worked just fine.
As you can see in that photo there were a lot of other boats out on the water Friday for the sunset. There are two other sailboats in that photo in addition to Arielle. And a few more were in the area.
I was messing around with my camera as we left the beach. I realized that if I timed it just right I might catch a photo of that sailboat in the bright beam of light the late day sun kept flinging across the water at us. I set the camera up as one of the day charter power boats zipped by. I was thinking "now if I could just somehow get that sailboat to turn left just precisely as the beam of sunlight passes it..." and I knew it wasn't going to happen. We were moving. They were moving. The beam of light was moving.
And for some reason I'll never understand, the boat immediately turned left. I was disappointed in the photograph but amazed by the timing. Some coincidences just seem to be.... too coincidental, ya know?
Both of us carried cameras on board the boat for this trip. So this is a mixture of photos, some being taken at the same time. This boat is also out on a Sunset Sail with its own load of merrymakers. It was tempting to 'photoshop' a fake line from the parasailor to the bow of Phoenix, but that would be wrong. Fun... but wrong. I never know where these photos are going to end up.
Here's another of our favorite day charter boats, the Wharram-design Beluga. I call it a favorite even though we've never been on board. We like it because it sails more than the rest of the Provo charter boats put together from what we've seen. It seems to me that anytime I look out to the north west from Grace Bay or Water Cay I see two or three boats with their sails furled and motoring, and one boat sailing. Always sailing. That's Beluga. We keep looking for the chance to get aboard and take some photos but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe some day.
I should mention that I realize these photos are not as bright as our usual stuff. Please keep in mind that this was a sunset sail, and as such it took place late in the afternoon. We had a low slanting sun and lots of shadows. Other than that, I'd say the day was just about perfect for the middle of this terrible winter we're experiencing.
This is another one of Sail Provo's boats, by the way. This is Andiamo. It's a much smaller boat than the Arielle that we were riding. It's a great boat for small groups who don't want the crowd scene on the bigger catamarans.
Meanwhile, back on Arielle, Captain Rock was demonstrating the proper way to don a life jacket. He even went though the demonstration twice. Once inside the cabin for those passengers orbiting the buffet table and refreshments...
And then he went through his safety lecture again for those catching some late day rays on the trampolines. I think it's good to get these things done during the first round of rum punches. While memory is sharp.
I alluded to refreshments earlier, and there were plenty. Platters of conch fritters, chicken tenders, cracked conch, nachos, and barbequed meatballs, for example.
And the crew circulated with pitchers of high octane premix, keeping glasses topped up as desired. I should mention that they also carried a goodly assortment of iced soft drinks and bottled water on board for those who want something without the solvents.
Here's another view of Phoenix. No reason, other than I just like looking at sailboats. And I had a camera in hand. I suspect that neither of those are surprises. I wouldn't expect a non-sailing reader to recognize this, so I wanted to point out that in general, adjusting the sails to be parallel is usually a good thing for maximizing lift. Think biplane.
Meahwhile, back on the good ship Arielle, we had a happy and mellow bunch of Pittsburghers on board this boat. I started to suspect that the rum punch might have been spiked. The word 'rum' probably should have clued me in. It was a great day for a sail.
The two and a half hour cruise started at the beach in front of the Ocean Club on Grace Bay. We traveled up to nearly the Aquarium between Water and Pine Cays, and then turned around to face into the sunset for the ride back to Providenciales. I won't try to draw in the squiggles and tacks, and have faith in your imagination to supply all of those that one might want.
We knew a few of the people in the group, but only a few. We were meeting most of them for the first time on this cruise. Most of them had flown down from the north eastern USA three days before. We got a chance to talk to a lot of new people who had been on Provo just long enough to realize that three days is not long enough to see the Turks and Caicos Islands. It's not really even long enough to see the island they were on.
And when they found out that we'd been living here for ten years there were a lot of questions. Fishing? Diving? Sailing? Kiteboarding? "Uh... yeah." Surfing? "Uh, well, yes and no. Got a boat?" A lot of temperature questions. A few tax and cost and living questions. And no, living here will not make you look like this. Don't worry. There were a lot of other factors involved.
It's been said that all good things must come to an end, and that includes sunset sails. Of course in this case that was the purpose of the entire trip to begin with so the ending was the goal in the beginning. Sometimes it actually is about the destination, Grasshopper.
We saw a nice sunset. I was hanging out up in the cockpit trying to see if I could get a good photo of the sun under the boom or something equally nautical looking. Besides, I was all talked out. I knew that between La Gringa and myself there was a good chance one of us would get a great sunset photo. She was up forward with the passengers, getting a lot of good people shots.
And I was back in a comfy spot of my own to watch the sun disappear over the horizon. It had already been over the yardarm since around 4:00.
When I smugly suggested that either La Gringa or I would likely get a stupendous sunset photo I sort of made a rash assumption that there would be a spectacular sunset. It was okay, but not one of those real eyeball grabbers that looked like Cecil B. DeMille with an unlimited budget. You know those real awe-inspiring cosmic technicolor atmospherics that we sometimes get around here. We just got another good Grace Bay sunset. Actually, I'm grumpy because I was in the wrong place for it. I must have taken a dozen shots from this angle, and they all came out about like this. Blah. By the time I smartened up enough to realize I should be on the other side of the sail, the boat had already left the harbour, so to speak.
We didn't have too many photos taken later in the day because, well, it was all pretty much after sunset. The group from the catamaran made it safely back down the now well-lubricated plank to the soft and forgiving sands of Grace Bay. I noticed an interesting weave pattern of footprints left behind as they gravitated to the outside beach bar at the Ocean Club. It was the last night in the TCI for most of them, and I wish I could have shown you more photos of how the evening progressed. But we had to get home. We'd had to leave Dooley the Distraught home alone while we went sailing. He absolutely hates it when we go sailing without him. I can tell how much he misses it when he smells the salt on our clothes and skin...
This next to last photo is by way of a clarification for the recent post in which I was telling you of how well oxalic acid works for taking rust stains off of sails. One of the first comments we received was from a reader (thanks Michelle) who pointed out that I neglected to finish the story on that.
After rinsing anything with acid, it's almost universally a good idea to use something to neutralize the acid, so that it stops being acid and stops doing those things that you wanted it to do a little bit of. Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda (NaHCO3) is really good for this, and it's cheap and easy to get at any grocery store. I modified the post to mention it, but it occurred to me that someone might have read it before I added that part about rinsing the acid. If you use acid on your sails, buy some Arm & Hammer to neutralize it with. The box looks like the one on the table in this photo. One of the jars I am using has the acid mixture, and the other the baking soda antidote for it. Don't burn your sails with a long acid exposure when you only need a quick singe on the rusty spots. Less than two minutes, in our case.
That's the end of another post. This every Monday thing is working out okay from our end, I can imagine it'll have to be pretty boring from time to time, every week can't be a sunset sail. Some weeks are clinkers, but a faster update rate should ameliorate that a bit. And I can at least finish this one with a decent sunset photo, taken from the catamaran.
Hey, I said that I was in the wrong place for the sunset photo. She's apparently got a lot more sense than I do.