Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter Wahoo Rodeo

We have been flirting with the idea of entering a fishing tournament. This started last month when we watched the weigh-in of an early season tourney here, and realized that we had caught fish that would have won it. We also have no illusions about us knowing what we are doing. We are persistent in our fishing, and that's about all we can claim about it. We catch fish in spite of ourselves. We learn from experience, and what we can find out on the internet and from talking with local people who do know what they are doing.

We watched this "Wahoo Rodeo" tournament date approaching on the calendar, deciding not to decide until it was either too late to make the commitment or perhaps until we assembled sufficient excuses to blow it off regretfully. (Commonly called "playing it by ear" in the lexicon of the lazy.)

(The poster is misprinted by the way. The largest dolphin was second place with $ 2,000. prize money. Tuna was third. Little things like a thousand bucks one way or another can become important.)

We honestly had lost sight of the fact that the tournament was upon us. We had started moving into the house last Tuesday, initiating a series of long, hot, frustrating and tiring days, and by Friday afternoon we had totally forgotten all about the tournament on Saturday. That would have allowed us to snap our fingers on Sunday morning and say "Oh DARN it! We missed the Wahoo tournament! Oh well, maybe next year ...."etc.

If by some freak accident someone had reminded us of it before it was too late, we were also prepared to cite the windy conditions, rough seas, and our small boat, lack of experience, and that we were totally tied up in moving. We had a house guest. We had fallback excuses in that our fishing gear is on the wimpy side, we don't have outriggers, had neglected to sign up in time, etc. etc.

Then, Friday afternoon the phone rang. It was our friend Jay Johnson, the owner and operator of the Bottle Creek Lodge on North Caicos. Jay said that he had brought his boat over for the contest and had room for a couple extra fishermen. La Gringa offered to keep tabs on the house situation so that Jon and I could fish in the tournament, bless her heart. The invitation was totally unexpected, and more to the point, Jay's generous offer totally negated any and all of the excuses we had assembled. He had the boat, the gear, had already paid the entry fee, and just needed a 'yes' or 'no'. So, with my enthusiastic son hopping up and down with excitement about the opportunity to see how a real pro would fish a tournament, we accepted Jay's offer. I saw it as a chance to learn to be a better fisherman myself. I might be an old dog, but I still love them new tricks.

We met Jay, his mate Ron, and one of Jay's friends from North Caicos, Brodie, at 07:00 Saturday morning at the Turtle Cove Marina. Jay's 30 foot Grady White , the "Reel Job", was all rigged up and ready to go:

At the stroke of 08:00 ( give or take a few minutes) it was full speed ahead as the 24 boats in the contest hit the throttles and scattered as soon as they left the cut in the reef:

"Reel Job" steps out right smartly, with a pair of Yamaha 225 horse four strokes on the blunt end. Four hundred and fifty horsepower....Oh yeah!!

Jay was all over that boat like a seagoing chimpanzee. He was setting outriggers, rigging ballyhoo, adjusting drag on the reels. We ran a spread of lures with a teaser. This was the first time I had fished with outriggers, and I have been thinking about adding them to our boat, "Cay Lime". I watched Jay setting up things that up until now I had only read about on the forum. And Jay was great, explaining why and how he was setting things up the way he did. And it all made perfect sense. Hallelujah.

Around 9:30 am, maybe around the end of the first brunch beer, one of the reels suddenly jumped and did that attention grabbing shriek as the line flew off the spool. "Fish On!!" Jay grabbed the rod, set the hook and then handed it all to Jon. With a belt slapped around him to hold the rod, Jon found himself suddenly fishing big time. Maintaining an outward calm, while I know he was munching on the top of his heart...he worked a nice rainbow dolphin almost up to the boat.

Jay helped him set the drag on the Shimano reel. This equipment was all new stuff to us. In fact, it made me realize that our own gear is basically toys for this kind of fishing.

Just as the Captain was grabbing for the gaff, the dolphin lept into the air in a brilliant array of colors and flying water droplets.... and threw the hook. "Oh....gosh... dangit" is not even a close approximation of what was said in the sudden silence that follows the realization that the fish is gone. The line is slack. It's over, and ain't gonna happen. You are left with the emotional equivalent of an adrenaline pressure wash, and little else. It gets real quiet, but the realization that the fish is history sets in pretty quickly. So we replenished the bait and set everything back out.

Half an hour later Capt. Jay himself got hooked up with another dolphin, with the same result as Jon. A few minutes of good fight, and the fish threw the hook. That's two fish hooked, and two lost, but at least Jay losing one made Jon feel a whole lot better about the one he tangled with. We were pretty happy at that point, two hours into the day and we had already had two decent fish on the lines. That said to us "Right boat, right Captain, and right bait". This is optimism at it's finest.

But then the day got quiet. Too quiet. We trolled for hour after hour, in the broiling sun and six to occasionally eight foot seas. We watched for birds diving on bait, studied the sea for jumping fish. Kept an eye on the rigging...

We kept out of the sun as much as possible and studied the horizon. We watched the spread behind the boat. Many of us drank beer. We waited...

Jon is replaying his brief but exciting connection to a fighting fish over and over in his mind, and the hours drone by without another bite. At this point, for all he knows he will go home with nothing but the same old story of the 'one that got away'. People didn't wanna hear it five thousand years ago, and they ain't gonna wanna hear it today, either. Welcome to offshore fishing, son.

Jay went back and forth from driving "Reel Job" to adjusting the outriggers.. checking drags, watching the spread behind us.

He kept the lures untangled, tried changing a few of them to another color ( blue and black did not work on this day) and checked the bait to be sure it was running the way he wanted.

He told us tales of other tournaments he has won. He took second place in this very tournament last year, and didn't get a single bite until 2:30 in the afternoon. Could happen any moment, the man said. Watch the bait. Be ready.

Ten o'clock became eleven. Noon came and went. We munched sandwiches, listened to the stereo ( Heavy on southern rock), and watched the ocean. One o'clock in the afternoon and Brodie announced that if we were not going to catch any fish he was going to just drink beer. We were well equipped for that, but he was just venting frustration. Nobody gets drunk on a few Presidente Light beers in this sun. Not even Brodie. The constant rolling and pitching in the seas pretty much kept everyone in place. Jay broke the monotony every now and then by busting a wave, soaking the appreciative people on the windward side of the boat. Kept us awake, though.

The hours went slowly by, with five sets of sunburnt eyeballs watching silent reels, spooled up with line and the drag levers in the strike positions.

Jay's well used fighting belts sat close at hand, just in case we got a strike:

But after four listless, non-productive hours with no fish, it was not looking good. At least the cooler was chock full of refreshments.

Then around one thirty in the afternoon, the lethargic silence was suddenly busted wide open by that "ziiinnnnnnnnnggggg!!!! sound a fishing reel makes when a big fish hits the lure and runs with it. Two seconds after Jon grabbed the first screaming rod, a second one went off as well. Two dolphin had streaked in, each grabbed a hook, and tried to make for open water. Jon and Ron were both fighting fish and cranking reels. Jay and Brodie were scrambling around the deck trying to get the other four lines aboard so the live ones did not get tangled. I grabbed the boat's wheel and tried to keep it out of the way of a large motoryacht that was bearing down on us. From dead quiet and boring to heart pounding excitement in less time than it takes to holler "Holy Shoot!" or something that sounded kinda like that...

This time, we got both fish on board. This made for a very happy crew. Especially when we realized that both of these fish were probably contenders in the dolphin category.

This was my son's first Rainbow Dolphin (Mahi-mahi to the Polynesians, Dorado to the Spanish). He had never seen how one of these "lights up" changing colors in the sunlight. It's always thrills me to watch a dolphin leap out of the water, changing colors right before your eyes. They go through vivid, brilliant, almost irridescent greens, with neon blues, yellow, and even sometimes they turn an albino looking silver with spots. This can all happen within minutes. And they are all muscle and speed when they decide they do not want to be hooked. I am sure it was a fight Jon will never forget.

After the two dolphin, it got quiet again. After the high-fives all around, and cleaning up the blood splattered deck, heartbeats returned to normal. Listening to the other contestants on the radio we heard that someone had a large wahoo, but since we had no wahoo ourselves, we were more interested to hear if anyone else had caught any dolphin. And yeah, one boat reported that they had two "small" ones on board. Ah oh. What do they mean by "small" exactly? Competition. Anxiety. A determination to keep fishing. We need a bigger fish.

It was not to be.

We trolled until around three o'clock, when we got into a school of small barracuda. After bringing two on board (Brodie insisted that those were his) we called it a day. The 'cuda were biting off all our baits, and we did not want to head out to deeper water again because we needed to be back at the marina before the contest closed at four o'clock. So we went in early. We were the first boat in with fish. And the first boat to put a fish on the scoreboard. This is something else Jay taught me on Saturday. In case of a tie (two fish of equal weight) the first fish on the board would win. "Ah ha!", thinks I. (For no particular reason other than I needed something to think, and "Ah ha" fit as well as " Oh Ho!" or "I see!"....but joking aside, that's good information to have.

So we carted the bigger of the two fish up to the scales, and after what seemed a long and needless series of readings, the official version of the weight was recorded as 23 lbs. I am sure it seemed a lot heavier when we caught it. Still, 23 lbs. ain't bad.

For the next hour we waited while other boats came in to add their catch to the contest. Many of the other contestants would walk up first to see what was already recorded, and if their fish couldn't beat what was already entered they did not bother to take it out of the ice. Finally, the official version of four o'clock rolled around, and the weigh-in was closed.

And our 23 pounder won the dolphin category.

Jon, Gringo, Capt. Jay, Ron, and Brodie. The team from the "Reel Job".

Out of the 24 boats signed up for the tournament, seven of them ended up entering fish. We don't know how many fish were actually caught, of course, since fish smaller than the entries stayed in the boats. The wahoo category was won by a team led by Froggy Williams. Froggy is the brother of our electrician, Derek Williams. Froggie's "Team Pursuit" also won this same tournament last year. Hmm....He must know something....

Here are all the final entries in a pile at the weigh-in scales:

The winning wahoo was 61 lbs. Not bad.

Another long-time friend of ours, Chad Stubbs, was interviewed on the local radio station as a member of the team with the first place wahoo.

The gray haired gentleman in the background was surely incredulous over something other than what Chad was saying, although the man can tell a fish story . If you need an opinion or fish story, Chad has probably got one. He's kinda photogenic, too.

A lot of photos were taken by local media, the contestants, and of course visitors who were hanging around the marina and the Tiki Hut watching the excitement. The next weekly newspapers have not come out as of yet, but if there is a write-up on the contest I will post it here.

After it was all over, Jay gave Jon a lesson in cleaning and filleting fish back on the "Reel Job"

Brodie claimed the two dolphin after Jay removed the filets, said us white guys left too much meat on them to just throw them away. The local guys make fish stew from this, and they are right. There is a surprising amount of good fish left when you just take the filets. Brodie kept the two barracuda, as well.

So, after basically giving up on even entering the contest, we got to fish on one of the winning boats. Capt. Jay won $ 2,000, and four tickets to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. And he certainly earned it. I don't think he even needed the rest of us, the way he fishes. Jay took care of everything just as though we were a paying charter. Oh, we brought our own beer and food, but he did everything else from rigging the bait to determining the spread. The rest of us received t-shirts and trophies.

I did crank in one of the barracuda, but we didn't bother to even enter it in the contest. It would not have won, anyhow. For what it's worth, our second dolphin would have also won that category if we had entered it instead of the larger one Jon brought to the boat. They were both winning fish.

La Gringa 'held down the fort' at the house for us, and yet managed to be waiting with a rum punch in hand when we hit the dock. She also talked Chad out of a sizeable hunk of the winning wahoo. Then, to top off a pretty spectacular day she and I were invited to fish on another friend's boat for a five day billfish tournament this coming summer. We don't know nuthing about no billfishing, either. But we can sure learn.

Anyone who wants to experience offshore fishing or bonefishing with a good captain with a great boat, contact Jay at the Bottlecreek Lodge on North Caicos. Jay and Sandy run a nice lodge, with fishing, snorkelling, exploring to your heart's content. Full bar with sat TV and internet, away from the crowds of Provo. Their website is :

Thanks, Jay. It was a day to remember.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Move-in week.

It's now been over a week since we moved into the new house. It's been quite a week. We laughed, we cried. We howled at the moon. We threw things and thought unkind thoughts. But we had a whole lot of kind thoughts, as well.

And sunrises these days have improved, as hard as that would have been to believe:

Maybe it's watching the view from your own patio that does it.

It started last Tuesday morning. Kendall Thomas sent his moving crew and truck to the storage bin where most of our earthly belongings have been sitting since the year before last. This is the third time we have called Kendall for help, and he's been there for us every time.

Our "stuff" almost completely filled an 8x10x20 foot bin:

Kendall sent four hard-working guys over, and they quickly and efficiently moved all our dusty boxes and blanket-wrapped "treasures" into the back of their truck. (They had to work fast; elapsed time was being measured by the slow but steady drip of fluid from their left front brake line)

Within a couple hours the bin was empty, and the truck was full. It was not all good, unfortunately. We found that a lot of things suffered water damage and are unsalvageable. What was worse, we found out that rats had caused a lot of damage. The rats have obviously have had a great year living in our bedding, clothing, and linens while leisurely dining on leather upholstery and furniture. And these are not your cute little Disney field mice, nor are they the pink eyed cuddly white variety. These are full grown rats with no socially redeeming qualities whatsoever. Kendall's Haitians used a couple of them for soccer practice, and they paid the ultimate price for their decadent lifestyles :

And I somehow got the idea that this was not the first time these guys had dealt with rats.

They got the load strapped up for the slow rough trip out the road to our new home. It's been a long journey for our possessions, both geographically and through time. I know we have changed in three years, and unfortunately so did some of our belongings. Packed up in New Jersey in August of '05. In storage there for a year, then picked up and trucked from NJ to Miami in '06. Loaded on a cargo ship and transported by sea to the TCI. It sat sealed in a container for several months at the dock in Provo until customs issues were worked out. Then Kendall's guys unloaded it into the storage bin, where it has sat gathering dust and rainwater, and providing a home for rats until last week. Whew.

By the end of the day all our possessions had been moved either into the still unfinished house or stacked inside the still unfinished garage. Which sits down at the still unfinished driveway. It is all still a shambles, but it's good to see our stuff again. It was almost like a good Christmas morning, seeing things we had forgotten we even owned. A few things became obvious to us as we opened boxes and started assembling furniture and searching for specific things like linens and kitchen utensils. One thing that we realized was that we have been surviving quite happily without all this stuff for almost three years. We are very glad to have most of it back now, but we also wonder what we were thinking in bringing a lot of it to the tropics. We threw over two tons of stuff away in New Jersey ( they weigh garbage in NJ so they know how much to charge you for dumping it) and we still brought too much down with us. Oh well, live and learn.

Our own vehicles got pressed into service moving bits that would not fit into Kendall's truck. Jon drove the Suzuki down the 'driveway' for the first time to unload it into the garage:

He just shoved it into "4-wheel, Low" and crawled back up the as-yet unfinished slope. Me.....I am gonna find a Sherpa with a driver's license. (Does Segway's offroad model go up hills?)

And the inside of the garage itself now resembles a warehouse after an earthquake. Waist deep just "stuff" that now needs to be dealt with:

Of course we don't have a clue where anything is.

While setting up the beds, we realized we had some issues in addition to the local rat damage. I've managed to keep this entire blog pretty positive so far, but I am going to make an exception here. Not only to vent some anger, but to let other people know about a New Jersey moving company that ripped us off.

We hired a firm called "Affordable Movers" of New Jersey to pick up all our belongings and store them until we moved down here. Well, someone associated with that company stole some of our belongings entrusted to their care. They took La Gringa's iron bedframe. They took a nice antique dining room table that belonged to her mother. They took a box spring and mattress set. We don't know yet what else might be missing from the shipment. That will only be discovered as we continue to unpack. but we are pretty sure we do know whose custody it was in when it was stolen.

So if anyone reading this is considering using these crooks, my advice is to find someone else. And for the thieves themselves: I hope the furniture you stole spontaneously combusts in your home in the middle of the night. While you are away serving jail time, of course. Wouldn't wish any injuries on anyone.

Now, enough about two and four legged rats.... back to the positive. Living here for the past week has been a dream come true. The house is chock full of unfinished details, and we have people here starting at 07:00 every day except Sunday. Some of them even work Sundays. The list of things yet to be completed would fill a blog page, so I won't list them all. But day by day it's getting done. As one example, the solar water heater is still sitting in the crate waiting to be set up:

Inspiring as it may be with its silent but sage advice, it will be nice to have it installed and working.

We have now arranged our first water delivery. This was another new experience for us in a land of new experiences. It was a little more complicated than it should be because we have yet to get a filler pipe installed for the cisterns. Our water delivery driver, Lincoln, took it in stride despite having to string hose from his pump across the driveway, up the side of the garage, and around to one of the cistern covers.

Lincoln is Guyanese. While he pumped water into the house we talked about his home. We know a lot of the same places. I spent several months living in Guyana,working up in the jungle on the Essequibo River back in the 70's. Small world. But man, it sure helps break the ice. Would be like him telling me he spent several months in Texas.

Lincoln from "SkyJuice" calling to arrange another truck full.

The truck holds 2600 gallons, and our cistern capacity is 18,000 gallons. In a normal year, we should get enough rainfall to meet our needs. But it's nice to know we can get water seven days a week with a phone call. Of course we started out empty so we have to buy water until rainy season gets here.

Just put the hose in and fire up the pump.

This is "RO" (Reverse Osmosis) water made from the ocean. Eventually we will be using rainwater, and it will go through a three stage filtering system. The plan is to eventually have our own small RO plant set up at the house since we obviously have a seawater supply close at hand. This will also allow us to have either a seawater or freshwater swimming pool built as well. With a supply of fresh water year round, we think we can turn the landscaping on this barren hillside into something pretty nice.

Other than living with ongoing construction issues, it's wonderful to be here. La Gringa and our new neighbor have taken to walking the dogs after lunch:

They walk miles down dusty roads, across rough ground, down sandy beaches, up rocky hillsides...But all with this scenery around them.(I caught a peek of them at the end of a walk still discussing whatever it is neighbors discuss while walking dogs after lunch. I am pretty sure it isn't all about dogs.)

We only just got telephone, internet, and wireless set up yesterday but even before that we could pick up a sporadic network wifi connection by taking the laptops out onto the patio:

(Thanks, Neighbor! Whoever you are...)

That's son Jon catching up on his emails from his home back on Cape Cod. He left two days ago to return to the land of ice and snow. He wasn't all that keen to go, either. Was sure nice to have some young muscle around for the moving.

We have a ringside seat for activities at the marina here. We watch the Marine Police leave on patrol every night at dusk, and they return not long after sunrise:

We watch sailboats, dive boats, and large power boats coming and going. We also get to see a few aircraft during the day. Fortunately we like watching boats and aircraft. It all goes real quiet at night, starting when the workers leave for the day around 5:00. Suddenly the drills, hammers, and voices stop and it gets really peaceful. We hear the wind, and the waves breaking on the rocks down at the shore. And that's basically it. The "big city" of Provo seems a long distance away.

This photo reminds me that this is a good place to get into the habit of setting the emergency parking brakes on the trucks. It will get real exciting if one of these ever slips into neutral with the brake off.

I have already posted myriad photos of the views from this little hilltop, but none taken at night yet. Those will come. The first night here, we were treated to a perfect view of a full lunar eclipse. We watch meteorites streaking across the sky. We watch squalls and storms coming across the Caicos Bank from 20 miles away. At night, strange birds we don't even know the names for wander up seemingly unafraid:

This one is about 18" tall, and all we know about is so far is that it tolerates humans quite nicely but is easily annoyed by small dogs with big mouths.

So far we have seen Kestrels, Ospreys, doves, flamingos, hummingbirds, and several species of birds we cannot yet name.

And of course, we continue to get sunsets that we think are a little better than average.

Yes, of course we are biased.

All in all, we love the place. And it's only going to get better as it gets completed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Waiting for Internet

La Gringa here to give you a quick update.

We have moved into the house although we're still somewhat under construction. We are still waiting to get the phone (and therefore, the DSL) hooked up. We have lots of photos of the move, of the house and a Wahoo tournament that Gringo and Gringo Jr. participated in. They won the Dolphin category!

Please stay tuned - we have so much to tell you!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Moving on up...

We apologize for the space between blog posts here. Life has gotten pretty busy this week. Son Jon is extending his stay another week to help us move, and activities at the new house have been ongoing. We have been making a couple round-trips a day to the site, spending hours at it. Although we have been to the marina during the week, we haven't taken the boat out since the last Turtle Cove trip.

We were at the house last night at sundown, installing our first curtain rod. We were pretty happy to see the electricity up and running, and got a feel for what the patio area looks like with the outside lamps lit.

(photo is a little grainy. As usual, we run up against the limitation of the little Olympus 770SW in low-light conditions)

The place has been crawling with electricians, plumbers, masons, and cabinet people in addition to the builder's people. Our buddy Romeo put down his paintbrush and took up heavy equipment to smooth the driveway out a bit more:

It's still a bit daunting to sit at the top of the driveway contemplating the downhill run into the garage. We are glad we have chosen to drive the vehicles we own here, both of them 4x4's. But hey, at least we don't have to deal with ice and snow in the foreseeable future:

Looking on the bright side, the landscaping possibilities are myriad.

We have also been involved in some activities this past week that did not lend themselves to photographs. Although I am sure they had some interest potential.

For example, a couple days ago La Gringa pitched an absolute gem of a micro-fit in the new house. She raised her voice. She explained that we were going to be moving into the house this week whether it was finished or not. She pointed out fairly dramatically that she expected electricity, water, and plumbing to work when she did so. Here was this room full of big strong construction workers and one Norwegian architect nodding their heads and saying things like "Yes m'am! Yes m'am! We understand, m'am! Okay, m'am..." I was keeping my own head pretty low during this, I have seen her at this point before a few times, and, well, it can go either way. I stayed close to the door. I did not whip out the camera. But I have to admit, the pace did pick up noticeably. Starting immediately after she stomped from the room in a cloud of sudden silence. It's always a relief when one of these squalls moves on and you realize you have survived the elemental fury. It makes you want to avoid the next one just a little bit harder.

Did I mention we also have some spectacular electrical storms here?

Jon and I took a trip out to the Provo dump, which is not for the faint-of-heart, either. ( although emotionally safer than experiencing one of La Gringa's full gale tirades) The dump is not one of the more scenic areas of Provo. In fact, it's more like a scene cut from a Mad Max film but with smell and a billion flies added for realism. Imagine a hundred acres of unregulated landfill, with fires smoking over a barren landscape of raw garbage, discarded appliances, rotting produce, blowing dust, smoke from burning rubber, and flies. The stench is enough to test your ability to hold your breath. It makes you honestly consider momentarily blacking out to draw your next breath. And that next breath would certainly awaken you as surely as an ammonia capsule held beneath your nose. But without the pleasantness of that stimulating fragrance.

The sun beats down on you, and dust and other particles you would rather not think too deeply about cling to your hair and clothes. Well, in my case, beard and clothes.

We were there to look for some stackable milk crates, but struck out this trip. Which means another trip in a few days. We did spot a nice stainless steel stand up refrigerator that we might canibalize for a workshop application I have in mind. But we could only take the atmosphere for about a half an hour, so we did not search in any detail. It was ugly.

The other incident this week we don't have images of was Jon's night out with the boys. Well, I have images, all right, but nothing in a digital format. Preacher, Dwayne, Duran, and Jon went out on the town. All I know for sure is that the four of them started the evening around 5:30, and Dwayne and Jon finished it up sometimes around 03:00 the next morning. I do know that they included a trip to a birthday party celebration held outside in the Lower Bight area of Provo. I hear there were several hundreds of people there, and Jon the Caucasian was a definite minority for a change. Something new to him. I personally don't know the musicians performing at the party, but some of our younger readers might recognize the names. A hip-hop band named "OneRepublic" was on the makeshift stage. And a reggae performer named Marka Diamond was there, and tried to get "that sexy white boy" up on stage to dance by coming into the audience and grabbing him by the hand.

This is basically about all I have heard, but suspect that as a father, that's enough. Preacher did call the next afternoon to see if Jon made it home okay. At the job site, one of the electricians recognized Jon from the night before and seemed surprised that he speaks some Spanish. In any case, he got to see a side of the TCI that neither Beaches nor Club Med is likely to highlight in their brochures.

So, as mentioned, last night we were at the new house at sunset. We have posted a lot of photos here of the ocean views from the house, and many of the salina and sunsets. The sunsets just keep coming, and vary in color and intensity from day to day. Every one of them different, and I suspect we will have quite a collection of them over the coming months. Last night's was no exception.

The distant view of Providenciales is part of it all. Those bright lights to the right are one of the sports areas, where soccer ( football) games are held. (This is also pretty much the view we have in mind for the web cam that some people have asked for.)

Now, we really need to be coming up with a name for the house. La Gringa has been working on the options we have come up with so far, and has generated a poll for people to vote or add comments or suggestions. We would really appreciate any feedback.

Please take a look at: 2 Gringos House Poll and help us come up with a good name for this very special place in our lives.

And yes, it WILL be 'carved in stone'.

Monday, February 11, 2008

For our frozen boating and fishing friends up North..

After having the boat out for several days, we were able to get it launched Saturday morning and we spent about half of both Saturday and Sunday cruising around just enjoying this winter weather. The winds have been reasonable, and the seas down to just a few foot of swell. The skies have been mostly clear, such as at sunrise today:

Jon is having a reasonably good time so far this week. He especially likes hearing that the weather in Massachusetts is 18 deg. F tonight with a high of freezing tomorrow. Meanwhile, in the TCI, he has tied into a couple small Yellowfin Tuna, and a nice little Skipjack tuna.

Of course the old man gets to handle the bloody parts, like standing by with the gaff:

And, of course, actually using the gaff:

I will spare you the details of what became of this feisty little tuna after this photo was taken. Let's just say that it got a little messier before we cleaned it all up. I am SO glad we got the washdown option for the boat. Makes it easy to hose it all off while still out at sea fishing.

Hey, nobody ever said fishing was pretty. It can be pretty good tasting, though.

Marinate in teriki and ginger, then grill it. Nice.

The YFTs are so cute when they're young, aren't they?

(if you need a hint here: I ain't the young one)

Yesterday we decided to try taking the boat into Turtle Cove Marina. This is the first time we have boated into that harbor. We have heard tales of how tricky the cut through the reef is. We have heard of people coming to some grief on the coral along the channel. We hear boats heading for Turtle Cove on the VHF radio quite often requesting assistance from a pilot boat to navigate through. But since we might someday be wanting to come into Turtle Cove to hit the start of a fishing tournament we decided to do it first in bright sun on a calm day. That's opposed to us trying to find it for the first time in the early morning hours. This way, we can have a trail of dots on the GPS to follow next time.

The path even looks a little complicated on the chart for the area:

All those white areas are reef structure. There are also numerous coral heads along the way. Another view of it is from Google Earth, and in this one you can get more of an idea what the area really looks like:

Now that's some serious reef right there.

Some of the buoys are a little confusing from a distance, and there is one spot, in particular, where the navigation is actually pretty tight by any standards, even on a calm day. In this photo, you might be able to see where we need to keep the boat. Which would be between those buoys. And away from that coral:

But of course being the unusually lucky folk that we seem to be, we made it through just fine without needing to call for help. We now have two dotted lines stored on the GPS that should make it a lot easier next time. And that MAY be later this month in another wahoo/fishing tournament. We haven't decided how bad we want to embarass ourselves for those t-shirts, yet.

This is the entrance to Turtle Cove, which is all but completely hidden from view until you come around that last green buoy:

There are some nice properties surrounding the entrance, especially on the narrow spit between the cove and the ocean:

Many of these are available for rent, if anyone is interested in a nice place on the beach for a vacation. Right next to a great protected marina with restaurants and shops.

Once inside the cove, hanging to the right ( we drive on the left here, but most boaters still use the international rules) you have a choice of going left directly into the mooring and dock area, or swinging around Little Diddle Cay straight ahead. The abandoned structures are part of the old Third Turtle Inn, which was, I believe, the first hotel on the island:

Plans have now been approved to build another resort on this site, to be called the New Third Turtle Inn, I think:

Coming around Little Diddle Cay you run right next to the dock where many of the local dive boat operators are based:

Turtle Divers has been around a long time. We have been told that the owner is a Jack Russell Terrier fan, but we have never met him. I am sure the day will come.

Next to Turtle Divers is the Tiki Hut restaurant, which has been detailed in previous posts. But this is the view from the water, don't cha know...

There is a nice paved boat ramp here, which doesn't seem to be too busy at the moment:

and the reason might just be that most of the boats in here this time of year are too freaking BIG to use a boat ramp. You won't be buying a trailer with one of these babies.

Ah, every radio capability known to man, and a stabilized antenna to keep in touch with internet and the latest satellite television. Roughing it doesn't have to be a pup tent and beans, I guess.

There is a good fuel dock near the ramp:

complete with a local version of a Wyland painting.

I don't think it's an actual Wyland Whaling Wall, but you never know. I suppose it's conceivable that he once staggered out of the Tiki Hut and someone handed him a can of paint.....stranger things have happened.

Continuing around the NW area of the cove there are some moorings for sloops, and more private homes:

Nice place. I guess a realtor might use this to stress the old "location, location, location.." adage, with Turtle Cove, Providenciales, TCI being a good set of the three.

And to the right, tied up to what used to be Diddle Cay, are a number of motor boats:

I think it's kind of classy to have the "little" dinghy painted to match the boat:

even has the same name.

And of course just when we think our little 22 footer is a decent fishing boat, somebody has to show us up with a heap like this:

Ouch. THAT is one sweet sportfisherman.

Here is the pointy end of "Barracuda", and their chase boat. We had posted photos of their stern in a previous visit to Turtle Cove from the land side.

That's a pretty sexy boat too. I love the portholes, although of course it's not set up for fishing. I guess with a chase boat like that, it doesn't need to be. Probably not too cost effective to use the big boat trolling...

Different boat, same designer and manufacturer. They do have a creative flair with portholes.

Skipping over photos of boats that I have previously posted on this blog, we come to the end of the marina. This is the entrance side of the Tiki Hut, and another hangout for local fishing charters:

Headed back out and retracing our route we pass more and more decent motor yachts down for the season:

Man, there must be six, maybe seven hundred bucks worth of boat in this marina!!

Cruising back out we pass the Sharkbite restaurant on the right. This is another of our favorite places for lunch when we can sit outside. I don't know if we are dressed for it today, in this mid-February weather:

This is a canal entrance right next to Sharkbite. It does not connect to the ocean through here. The fixed height bridge limits the size of the boats that can go through it, but for a small boat similar to ours it is navigable.

There are canal-side homes and building lots along it past the bridge.

With the frigid gales and blowing snow of mid-February behind us, we decided it was time to head home. Those are condos behind us:

(see, I told you we were not dressed for sitting outside in February weather)

Leaving Turtle Cove we took another pass by the Third Turtle Inn site, and I was very interested in how someone had cut a shelter into the limstone cliff, and cut steps out of the solid stone. It gave me some ideas for a driveway problem we are having at the new house:

On the way out of the marina, we passed another motoryacht "La Vida" coming in behind the pilot boat. They had been approaching the reef when we started our way in through the buoys.

I was interested to see that the pilot boat is a panga design, a 26 ft. version with twin outboards.

We had planned to do some more fishing on the way back to our home marina, but as those last few photos are beginning to show, the afternoon thunderstorms and squalls were threatening, and our guest had enough sun for the day. It's really easy to overdo the sun thing here. The winds keep you cool, and you don't realize the intensity of the solar radiation this close to the equator.

So, I got through another complete post without a photo of the new house. That's two in a row!! But I can't do it 'cold turkey', so here's a photo of one of the falcons sitting on a cactus in our soon-to-be-yard..

That was taken yesterday afternoon.

He ( or she, I didn't get THAT close) let me approach up to about 20 meters before flying off to another cactus across the "street":

and that's not a bad photo with which to end a post.