Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another potpourri of photos..

Good place to get some shade on the beach at Water Cay:

Dawn at the Golf Course:

In the summer here, its off-season. Plenty room at the slip.

The cloudy looking swirls are salt crystals forming in tidal pools after the high tide:

And I'll tell ya whut...walking on this stuff will toughen up yer bare feet, I don't care who y'are. not to mention that its somewhere around 16 million degrees Fahrenheit..

I bet this thread will look a whole lot better around Jan-Feb...I do have some winter pics from here, but they don't look much different. La Gringa Suprema puts on a windbreaker at night sometimes on the beach. Lowest temp we saw this past winter was 63 deg. one night. Winter before it was 64. But those frigid cold snaps don't last but a day or so. Then its back to the high 60's-low 70's at night, and in the upper mid 80's during the day. Hottest month here is September.

This was taken in mid-February:

I think I wore a long-sleeve t-shirt one night, but we were out late and it was windy..I think that was about when I started moving from flip flops to Crocs, too...

Getting wimpy in my old age I guess.

We just spent the last few days moving out of the condo we have been staying in for two years...into a house where we will stay until our new place is completed. Been playing with the camera trying to get a full moon photo. I sure wish I could find the manual for the camera..

Boated back to Pine Cay this afternoon. Tied up at the concrete fuel dock at Leeward. I don't think they teach how to tie-up to the ghost of a cleat in Seamanship 101....

But it works, (although I wouldn't want to leave it unattended for long):

The newer cleats are much more high-tech:

I DO wish I had thought to have Andros add a couple more pop-up cleats forward of the console, though. Its a pain not being able to hang a fender up there to keep the boat off the concrete. And I don't dare use the bow pulls the rub rail right into the concrete.
Wonder if anyone makes cleats with suction cups.

Our new living room ceiling as of yesterday....

Here's what our future rear patio looked like yesterday:

After a squall:

Boat, tree, for ME....

Here's a Tropic Bird. They nest in the cliffs in the spring.

'Nuther crowded beach, boats everywhere...noisy......not..

Reckon the anchor helped? It drew 9 ft. of water, and its sitting in 5 ft. over two miles out on the banks..

Relatively clear water..


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More misc. TCI and house photos.

"I think that cat is, like, way stoned, man..."

Cactii grow all over the place, like mini-saguaros. I think they are agave, but not totally sure. We have some big prickly-pear type cactii, too, except they have trunks like trees and I have seen them 8-10 ft. tall:

The stone cat is near a really neat cave. We went back and found another similar carving, more of a leopard shape but I didn't have a camera that time. I will get a photo next time we are there.
Here's another angle on the cat:

A local friend told us about the cave. We went looking for it from his directions (TCI people are terrible with directions, btw) and had a camera, and found the cat, but not the cave. next time we went looking, we found the cave and the other cat carving, but didn't have a camera. The cat is gazing out to sea. Our friend said it had been there long as he can remember and he was born here. The cave is easily big enough to live in, totally sheltered. And its hard to find. But the local kids party in it, obviously, from time to time.

Needed something for dinner yesterday, so we took the boat outside the reef with some lures and my last two ballyhoo. Caught a chicken dolphin and a barracuda, and then zipped back in as it was starting to blow pretty good. I snapped some photos as we approached the cut in the reef and thought I would post them. Nothing exciting, just day-to-day boat trip. This reef is about a mile offshore, and the depth drops to thousands of feet outside it within a half mile. The wind was blowing offshore, knocking the tops off the swells, but it made it pretty lumpy outside:

Ever notice how hard it is to get photos that actually show a 4-6 ft. swell? Pix never look like the real thing.

We were on Middle Caicos, and stopped at a local hangout called the "Passion Bar". Out front are two concrete pillars with bug lights under glass domes. I thought I recognized the domes, and took a close look to confirm...yeah, they are halves of a glass deep ocean instrument housing manufactured by Benthos, Inc. of North Falmouth, Massachusetts. I know the company well:

When I find something here I recognize from my old oceanographic days, and try to explain it, people look at me funny. Like trying to tell the guy who built this boat that "this glass is poured in a mold, and then the edges are milled so flat that the hemispheres seal together and are good for thousands of feet of ocean depth. The guy who put them together is named George Warner, and he lives on Cape Cod....and sometimes you might find some with some ports and feedthroughs because they sometimes have batteries and electronics inside connected to a transducer on the top which means they were used for LBL navigation systems...."

Oh, never mind. Yeah, it's a real nice boat. Let's go get a beer.

I have also found XBTs and sonobuoys by Sippican, Inc. and a subsurface buoy by ORE, Inc. washed up here. I used to be in that business, and its a trip to find this stuff lying around down here.

Here's a shot of the new resort going up at Leeward-Going-Through....near "Bird Rock" and "Heaving Down Rock"

Someone please forward this to the Hon. Michael Misick, or the Hon. Galmo Williams in the TCI government for me! Tell them I would love their approval on a Permanent Resident Certificate or "Belonger" status... I am doing my best to show people why they should visit the TCI...

I think I got a few dozen more sunsets and beach photos laying around somewhere, mixed in with boating and fishing stuff, too..

Here's the future patio. That thing in the back is the pergola. It will have a little square roof on the end section, and the rest will have cross beams set on end. Like I arbor. Its all about shade..

This will be paved underneath, and is sort of an architectural buffer plus it provides a place with mixed shade all day. They just knocked the forms off it this morning:

View from patio wall looking down. That's the Caicos Bank in the background. Its pretty shallow for about 20 miles or so, then its the reef again and deep blue after that.

We just got the Landy, a 2006 Defender TDi. Owner was transferred back to the USA, and its a right hand drive. We are having problems finding a trailer hitch for it. Nobody in the USA knows diddly about Defenders built after 97, and prices in the UK are astronomical due to the exchange rate. Plus I need a 2" tow ball and hitch for it to tow the boat, and UK hitches are 50 mm...and US aftermarket guys don't build anything for a 2006....I am probably going to find a local welder and design one myself. This would have driven me mental two years I just go with the flow. Cant find a trailer hitch? Build one.

Well, this is what the back of the Defender looks like. There are holes with threaded nuts welded on the other side:

and I found this guys version of a hitch that I like, and I contacted him, but he doesn't make them for Defenders...just the older ones.

So, since he wont sell me one, I think I will just modify his design. I need the receiver dropped down a bit, and I want a flat plate on top for a step.

Of course, what I would REALLY like is something like this:

But I am thinking that expecting to find someone who can fabricate me one of these is just a pipe dream...(pipe dream, ha ha...get it)

These guys are always around. When I hop in the water to go get conch, I just tell myself "hey they are just big fish. So don't be dumb and act like big fish food..." its worked so far..

There I was, free diving down at 14.7 ft inside the reef, making my way silently across the sea bottom, just about to run out of oxygen. My lungs were screaming for me to surface. I knew I didn't have much time left on that last gasp...

Then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught motion. I swivelled my head to the left, and it was suddenly in full view right in front of me. That sight that free divers whisper about down here, a Queen Conch making it's move! It slowly extended its hideously clawed foot out an inch or so, sunk it into the sand, and with a sinister lurch, moved toward me. My heart thudded, and it wasn't just the lack of oxygen, it was a sudden thought, "was it making its attack run?" I couldn't tell, the conch settled into a waiting stillness. I could see its ominous black snout and beady little clusters of blue eyes considering me, and thinking about its next move. Or its next meal....

I had to decide whether to attempt to capture it then and there, barehanded, or flipper back up to the surface for another gasp of air. If I did that, I would be turning my back on it. Conch are unpredictable in the wild; it might just sit there watching me, it might make a run for it. You have no way of knowing. you have to take your chances.

I thought to myself, "if I miss this chance, I might never have this angle on it again..." and so I turned suddenly and my right hand shot out in a practiced move. I snagged the back of its shell on the first attempt! My fingers slipped into the smooth shell opening, and I could feel the black, fingernail-like claw retreat into the shell as I grasped it.

I then kicked for the surface, weighted down by a full grown conch that was still stunned by the rapidness of its sudden capture. Breaking the surface near the anchored boat, I mumbled out "Got another one...whats that, three to go?".

I made my way to the boat, and reached up over the transom to get the wily creature over the splash well before daring to let go. A slip now, and I would have to repeat the whole capture, but this time.......UNDER the boat!!

anyhow, I had four teenagers camped in the vacation home in addition to the wife and I, and teenagers get hungry. Six people to feed. Conch is cheap, and good. And a certain thing when fishing never is.

Cooper Jack Bight area:

Casurinas tree at the Meridian Club, Pine Cay. Also called Australian Pine, but they are not pine. Not even close. Dense, hard wood, with a nice grain. Great for grilling. I hope to make some furniture out of some of the driftwood when I finally, eventually, get a shop set up.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The rest of the story....

There is so much more to this Goldberg story that Gringo conveniently omitted. That little boy coming up to us on Bamberra Beach, Middle Caicos solved a mystery that spanned several years.

The first time Gringo came to these islands, I was already on Pine Cay and I flew over to meet him in Provo and then we flew back to Pine Cay together. (It's a 6 minute air taxi ride each way). In the airport in Provo, several local men walked up and introduced themselves to Gringo and they'd shake hands. I already knew the local people here were wonderful but this was a bit more than I'd expected.

The second time Gringo came to these islands, he had a black eye and a big knot on his bald head. (I'll let him elaborate on that if he wants to!) Again, in the Provo airport waiting for the air taxi to Pine Cay numerous local men, this time, walked up and introduced themselves, shook hands and asked him how he was doing. I know Gringo is a special kinda guy - but this was a bit over the top. I told him that the locals must think he's Bruce Willis or someone famous. (Bruce Willis has a villa on Parrot Cay. It's available for rent: Just ask for the "Willis" villa - no kidding.)

Fast forward a couple of years to about six months after our move here. Some Bahamian friends came to visit and we did a day trip over to North Caicos. We boated over, rented a car (well, a close equivalent) and did a tour of the island. A lot of the staff on Pine Cay are from North (as it's called) and their families are there. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant owned by the brother of our bartender (Bang Bang) and so forth. Later, we were standing outside of a small shop having just purchased a cold beer. Cars were driving by and honking and waving. Friendly people on North! One car honked twice and waved and then turned around and came back.

Ah, it was Jimmy Lee, a young waiter from the Meridian Club and all around good kid. He said he'd recognized Gringo (bald-headed, white dude) from afar. I told Jimmy Lee that everyone was honking and waving and that I believed the locals think he's someone famous - like from the WWF or something. Jimmy Lee nodding and saying yes, the WWF is very popular here - I asked him who?? Who do they think he is? "The Chief", was his reply. Later back home, we check "The Chief" on the internet. No way, this is a Native American guy with long, black hair.

About six weeks later we took the trip to Middle Caicos to see the model sloop regatta. This is when the boy came up and asked Gringo if his name was Goldberg. Again, we went back and checked out Goldberg. And guess what?? White guy, bald head, gold earring and goatee - the mystery was solved! Later, on Pine Cay, we were relating this story to some of the staff and they nodded and even THEY had thought Gringo was a wrestler when they first met him!! Scrape, who I've known for years, told us that he had thought to himself - good for her, she got herself a wrestler!

Finally starting to get structured, not organized, but structured..

Oh there are several good docs here. Couple decent dentists, too. I had my knee "aspirated" locally last year, and pumped full of steroids so I could go on a cruise to Alaska..he did a great job.

Wouldn't have any kind of surgery done here, but GP stuff certainly.

Riding the rip out from the flying over the bottom..zipping along at about 2-3 kts. Feels fast with mask and flippers, anyhow.

First year we were here we used a "loaner" boat. 17 ft. Boston Montauk, with a 96 Evinrude 70, a three cylinder two stroke. I seemed to work on it about as much as we used it the first couple months, it had been pretty neglected. After putting a threaded sleeve in a stripped spark plug hole, and replacing the fuel/oil pump with a leak in the diaphragm, she ran pretty good. The bimini ripped at the seams during a squall, and I re-sewed it with 30 lb. nylon kite string. Few other things. Great boat. We had her outside the reef in solid 6-7 ft. swells, several times. Sailed her into a marina one time out of gas with La Gringa standing on the bow holding a sweatshirt up, steering with just the skeg in the water. We sold it a few months ago to a local who bought it for his son's first boat. Still running strong, now on North Caicos.

A Hole. (I don't know WHY people keep calling me that???)

Have gotten used to diving with barracuda now. At first, they kinda made me nervous, but they are always around. This one followed me around for hours while I was searching a wreck site. I would glance over my shoulder and he would be a foot from my face. But every time I turned around to face him and try to get a photo, he would scoot off fifteen or twenty feet. Then I would turn around, and a few minutes later, there he was right behind me again. I think he wanted me to take him home or something.

Sail Provo:

Picnic spot steps from the water:

If ya fly into Pine Cay, be prepared for lengthy lines at the Arrival/Departure lounge:

And please pay attention to the airport advisory signs...

It changes from day to day. Some of it is weather dependent, of course. Some of it is dependent on what else is going on. Right now its slow season and I am mostly involved in maintenance and modifications to three properties, while building a fourth, and looking for another property to build on. I do a lot of the work myself. Things just take a lot longer to accomplish here, too.

This week, I have about 300 or so 16 year old redwood louvers to remove, sand smooth, and re-install. I do a few, take a break, write something obnoxious a few more... fix a window crank, replace screens as needed etc.

Fortunately, all this is spread over two or more islands and we have to boat between them. We have slips for the boat on two islands we travel between the most, and we can grab our fishing rods and be outside the reef in literally minutes. Its pretty busy for being "retired".

The gaff-rigged schooner “Atabeyra" and her crew waiting for their charter to arrive:

Towing the hookah..

Something wicked this way comes...

From first time we tried butterfly jigs. The part of the Jack the shark let us keep was still 18" long. Got a couple decent meals out of it..

View from Sapodilla Hill, which is littered with blocks of rock where sailors carved graffiti and their names and dates in the rocks while keeping lookouts.

Like this:

Lots of opinions here:

Haitian sloop impounded at South Dock. This is where all the freight comes into Providenciales:

The little critter right on the beach, close to the water, is a rock iguana. they swallow air, and basically inflate themselves, and swim from island to island.

Hang 40?

Later after a lot of whispering and arguing, these kids sent one of their braver ones up to me and asked me if I was "Goldberg". I didn't know who they were talking about, til I looked it up on the internet later. Goldberg is a wrestler, a white guy with a shaved head and a goatee. My wife still kids me about it.

I guess it’s true.....we DO all look alike...