Monday, May 4, 2015

Indian Summerlike

I like to open these posts  up with a good sunrise photo when I can.  And I usually can.  Even on this new weekly schedule, there seems to be a decent sunrise or two out of seven.  Not this week.   This is what our mornings have been looking like lately. We seem to have lost  track of our horizons. This is the first coffee view here on a day headed for 92 degrees F and 86% humidity with light and variable winds. These are rare here, too.

The good news is that the water is going to get fantastically clear after a day or so of this.

This weather has been unseasonably hot all week.  We've seen  daytime temperatures  over 90F every day lately. The weather has been hot, still, and humid. We don't typically see weather like this until September. September is the north american equivalent of August down here. The forecast is for it to return to normal next week.

But in the meantime, we've got hot and still.  Good thing we have lots of water around to cool off in.  With lots of salt.  And speaking of salt reminds me of food and that we went back over to Kalooki's restaurant in Blue Hills on Friday. Wow, that was a stretch.

 It was hot and still on the north side of the island too.  But with even less wind.  This is absolutely the flattest we have ever seen the ocean between Blue Hills and the reef. The water looked like a rippled sheet of glass, as clear as as a mountain stream.  Every rock and fish and reef was as visible as if it were in a swimming pool. I'd never seen fish sweat before.  The beach was smooth and clean.


And nobody was on it.

I suppose that's not entirely true.  There were a few people around.   They were not obvious at first, but then I looked  and saw a few here and there.  Mostly holed up in shady places.  And being still.   They were away from the water because that's the only way to get out of the sun.   I was watching a couple of the local Blue Hills ladies with a baby stroller down by the edge of the water.

You didn't see the ladies with the baby stroller?   See,  I told you they were hard to spot. I had actually cropped the part of that photo that I wanted out already when I realized that I was cutting out some of the shady tables at Kalooki's.  I didn't want to give you the impression that we were all sitting in the sizzling sun frying up the top of our brains. It was fine in the shade. Or at least tolerable.

And these are the ladies and baby stroller to which I have been referring.  One lady is behind the tree.  I don't know what was in the stroller.  My guess would be a baby.  Or a cold six pack.  Maybe both.  Hey, it could work.

I won't post up another bunch of Kalooki's food photos here, as I've done that in previous posts.  I will say that all three of us had cracked conch, and that it was undoubtedly the best cracked conch that I have had on this island this year.  And it's been that way each time I've been back to Kalooki's.

And I take my cracked conch seriously.   I'm a fish snob.  I only like fish when it's fresh, and fresh to me means the same day it was caught, and never frozen.  So the only seafood I ever order here is conch because I know it's fresh.  Lobster here would be fresh, too, but  I'm not a lobster or crab guy.  Long ugly story that I will mercifully spare you.

A UNC-Wilmington ROV pilot named Lance Horn and a bunch of NOAA divers took me to a restaurant in Key Largo many years ago.  I was in the Keys to set up a telemetry and diver tracking system on the underwater habitat that  UNC was operating on the reef.   And  the subject of Key Limes came up, and over the next week we sampled every key lime pie we could find in the Key Largo area. I picked the one that I liked best, and rated that a "5".   I had to start somewhere.

I'll try to cut this short and eventually make my way back to the point I was working up to.   Over the next 20 years I compared every key lime pie I could find to that original one from Key Largo.  And surprisingly, to me at least, I eventually had to re-classify the first one as an 8 instead of a 5.   This was because I never found another piece of pie that I liked as well as the best one we had in Key Largo. I got close to duplicating it myself, but then I gave up making Key Lime Pie when I realized what a bad idea it was for me to always have a few sitting there in the fridge at eye level every time I opened the door.

I eat grapes now, instead.  No.  It's not the same.

SO, back to cracked conch.  The best I ever had in my life was at the Straw Bar at the Old Bahama Bay Marina on the West End  of  Grand Bahama Island.  I am sure I mentioned it in this blog already.  I rated that an 8.  It's been three years now since that visit to GBI, and the closest cracked conch I've seen since then was right here at Kalooki's.   And it's been consistently good the four times I've tried it. I'm going to give this a 7.

We were leaving the parking lot when we spotted the chef responsible for this conch.  I don't know his name, but I do know he was hard at work tenderizing and frying up  fresh conch.    And just the way I like mine.

So, if you're coming to Providenciales and like conch, by all means try out a number of places.  You will have a lot of choices. And make sure Kalooki's is on your list. And no, we have no stock in this restaurant.

We don't normally go out to lunch on weekdays without a reason.   And the reason is most often that we have a visitor.  This week was like that.

A long time 'internet friend' of mine was in town.  I guess that's an accurate term for it.  Back in the distant days of my youth when people actually used liquid ink on paper to communicate, they would have called this being "pen pals",  but Randy and I have been communicating on the internet  since we met in an online fishing and boating forum in '06, I think.   So this makes nine years we've been talking.  And we never met face to face, or even spoke to each other,  until Friday.  This is his first trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  And I never get up to Tennessee.

Randy was in town on a Hatteras sport fisherman and they were docked in Blue Haven marina at Leeward-Going-Through on the east end of Providenciales. La Gringa and I managed to snag him for an afternoon.   We took him to Kalooki's for lunch, and then gave him a quick tour of our neighborhood before running him back to the marina.  

We took him to a  little lookout point sort of place that has a great view of the water, the salina, the island, and  the home owned by the entertainer repeatedly known as Prince. I was curious as to what he was taking photos of, as the ocean is behind him, and Prince's beach cottage is that place through the bushes.

Ah, thought I.  He's looking at real estate. And there is some here to be had, for sure.  This is a sign for the Hawksbill Village subdivision, which is a series of small lots surrounding this as-yet  drastically underutilized marina. I put the little 'magnifying glass' thing on the photo to draw your attention to where we are standing on the map.

Yeah, yeah, I do know we were not actually standing on the map, itself.  Let me up.  It's hot. These bubbling noises in my head are distracting.  Maybe I do need a hat, after all.  Or a medication upgrade.

There are two new places being built on that marina already, and we've seen signs of other new construction at various places around the island.  We're hoping this will be good news for us when the house goes on the market.  Funny how one's priorities change with perspective.

Randy had heard of our obnoxious little dog, and since he is somewhat of an obnoxious little dog fan himself, we decided he could probably handle Dooley the Determined. We well know what Dooley will do to a fresh lap. It immediately becomes his.  That dog claims real estate faster than  Vlad Putin on a weekend bender,  but there were no problems in this case.  At least the ruble doesn't crash when Dooley does it.

We took Randy back to Blue Haven.  He had a flight out the next morning, and plans for his last night in town.   We like strolling around Blue Haven.  It lets us momentarily breathe some of the rarefied air that filters through these boats.  And these are some boats.

I'll show you photos of three of them and then I'll to stop before I'm overcome with emotion.  Or something like that.

This one caught our attention immediately.  I'm not even sure I should call this  a boat.  It's more like a science project by an artist.  They should hang this thing in the Louvre.

The boat has a rear garage for  toys.  I suppose the name of the boat is probably painted on that lid, somewhere, but we couldn't find it.   The logo or name "AB 116" is very prominently displayed there on the side.   I looked it up, of course.  Can you believe this boat does 53 knots?   That's 61 miles per hour, or 98 kilometers per hour.   Holy smokes.

And it does it with water jets.  Imagine, leaving here in a boat at sunrise and being in Miami for happy hour.   If you want to see some video of this yacht under power, as well as the interior, please check out the YouTube video.   I'd watch it again with you, but it makes me cry to see it.

I was still under the thrall of the idea of a luxury condo and office that can do 60 mph while carrying friends and toys, when we saw yet a bigger boat over at the deep end of the marina.  We had to go look at that one, too, so I reeled my tongue in and we traipsed on down the dock for a photo. A more traditional yacht, the Gallant Lady.  Of course I had to do the internet snoop thing on this one, also.  You knew I would, too.  I can't help it.  I think La Gringa and I were probably born to be boat people.

Gallant Lady was built for an American automobile industry executive, whose family business was listed as the 30th largest in the USA with annual sales of something like nine billion dollars.   I guess they can afford a nice boat. And the Gallant Lady is for sale for only thirty nine million.  I might have to sell the car for that one.  And a lot of blood.

Then, saving the best for last, we had to stop and just drool a while over this one. Yes, it's a sailing catamaran.   You didn't think a couple sailors like us would prefer a stinkpot boat, did you?     

Maybe I should explain that comment.   There is a friendly sort of ongoing rivalry between boaters who prefer power boats, and those who prefer sail.

We're pretty much surrounded by boaters full time these days so we tend to fall into lingo that is common in that group.  So please forgive me if I forget to clarify from time to time.  Anyhow, the sailors call power boats 'stinkpots' because they always have a trail of exhaust from them if they're moving.  And the motor yacht people call sailboats 'ragboats', or 'blowboats' for obvious reasons.   You see, sailboats under sail have the right of way on controlled water. This means the stinkpots have to maneuver around us, legally.  It makes for some interesting situations.

Well, this particular ragboat would outrun quite a few of the trawlers out there, and then some.   I'm not going to get into its max speed, because that's a very flexible number depending on a lot of conditions and factors.   Lets just say this is a fast sailboat.    This is a brand called Gunboat.  Carbon fiber, and faster than a fistful of Ex-Lax, if you know what I mean.

We were looking at the cross section of the hulls from the bow.  I've seen photos of the interiors of these, and they look pretty good in the photos.  But using that dinghy for scale, you can see that speed does come with a price. I wouldn't fit in it anyhow, so I can just stop daydreaming about it.  Yeah, that's it. I'm too fat for a really fast catamaran.  Good thing we didn't order one of these from Amazon. Like that makes me feel better.

I've managed to get through an entire Monday morning post writeup without a single photo of Twisted Sheets, Southside Marina, or of any DIY whatsoever.  Did you notice that?  It wasn't easy, either, but rambling on about it would destroy the moment so I won't.

The closest I'm going to come is to mention that in addition to wreaking havoc with the sunrise, this warm muggy air has also been wrecking the sunsets.  I did a time lapse of one a couple nights ago, but I get the feeling that most people who read this don't look at the videos so I won't post it unless someone really wants to see it.

While the lackluster sunset was going on I put my little training-wheel quadcopter up to try to get some photos from above the house.    Here's a frame from the time lapse video with the little toy buzzing around in front of the camera.

And here's a photo of aforementioned little buzzing toy stuffed down into a bougainvillea bush, which cushioned a less than perfect landing in a crown of thorns.

And finally a shot from the pocket Pentax, of a good place for an old boy and his toy to watch a sunset. Shortly before the old boy began the bleeding basic to this beating around the bougainvillea bush business.

I guess the sunset wasn't all that bad, now that I think of it.

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to comment and make suggestions.  You can also email us through the blog, or via Facebook, instead of posting public comments if you'd prefer.   We do love hearing your thoughts and reactions.  And we're especially interested in what you'd like to read more about going forward, when there's water moving under us again.

Meanwhile, I've got an old boat to go work on.  See you next Monday.


Unknown said...

Bikini Bottom! So the lady at Old Bahama Bay(old Jack Tar location) had a place for a while called Bikini Bottom. It was a little down the beach towards Freeport. Best Cracked Conch ever! Totally agree with you.

rumblewagen said...

While we are drooling over shiny things made of carbon fiber have you seen Gunboats new G4? A 40ft foiling catamaran? I think they topped out around 32 knots in St. Maarten at the Heineken Regatta!

Anonymous said...

I have not seen a G4 in person. I don't know if I could stand the emotional strain.

I did look at the photos and videos on their website, though. Nice little weekender. Kinda quick, like.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
The current name of the beach bar at OBB is "Straw Bar". Or it was in 2012. I am guessing that this whole area must cook up the conch the same general way. La Gringa had a Queen Snapper at the same place and it, too, was absolutely delicious.
I had the conch every night for the three days we were there.

tw1rl3r said...

Best Key Lime Pie: 2006 at Hemingway's Restaurant at The Sands Resort on Grace Bay.
Love the sunrise and sunset photos, but you also inspire me with the DIY stuff. Please keep it coming.

Bill said...

What restaurant had the best Key Lime pie in Key Largo? As I live here, I could go test it out and report back if it's still up to snuff.

Irresistible Southern Sweets said...

Amazing photos!!! He is very talented. Bill, Lorelai's in Key Largo has delicious Key Lime Pie :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I could remember the name of the Key Largo restaurant. I want to say it was a woman's name, something like Annas, or Mary's or Momma's. I remember leaving the Holiday Inn where the African Queen is parked, turning left on the highway, and going only a short distance toward Key West. The restaurant was not right on the highway, but about a half block off of it to the north. We went through the parking lot of another place to get there. If that all makes any sense.

I've had the Key Lime Pie at Hemmingways.

Bill said...

Mrs Mac's kitchen has good food and pie, just south of the Holiday Inn on the North side of the road. I bet that was it. Old Keysy feel to it.

Anonymous said...

I took a look at that location on GE and it sure looks like about the right place. This was a long time ago, though. I seem to recall that the place we were eating in was not actually on the Overseas Hwy exactly. There was another building, or maybe part of the same establishment, between us and the highway. It was nice in that it was quiet and shady and we were not watching cars. I was there with a bunch of the UNCW and NOAA divers on the habitat. They were there pretty much full time. Had a house rented just south of the H.I. on the canal. I was staying in the Holiday Inn for the week I was there.

Lot of different types of Key Lime Pie. There's fluffy, and there's cheesecake thick. There's sweet, and there's tart. And levels in between. I think different people are going to like different things. I rate the crust in my own system. Has to be browned and slightly carmelized on top. Not sweet but too much tart is bad, too.

makes it fun to taste them all, doesn't it.

Bill said...

The only other restaurant there is Snooks which is right on the bay, but outdoor seating under a big tiki hut.

I like a creamy key lime pie with a bit of tartness. Publix, the grocery store actually makes a Damn fine pie. And the key lime pie slice dipped in chocolate on a popsicle stick is darn good too!