Sunday, March 30, 2008

Excess Humidity..

Well, I promised to take more photos today, and we did. And NONE of them are about the house or construction. As of yet. It was more of the type of day this blog was originally intended to highlight, I think. You know, riding around on the boat, clear water, colorful reefs, the whole tropical thing. Well, we got the tropical thing today, for sure.

The day started out pretty well. We got up before dawn, as we usually do if we haven't been socializing the night before. There were clouds from the very start.

But all in all, the morning didn't look too threatening. Ha. What do I know?

I took a look at the forecast online. I use "WindGuru". They have been pretty good on the wind and wave forecasts for the past year or so I have been watching it. Today is supposed to be the calmest day, wind-wise, for the next week. There is a storm forecast for tonight and tomorrow, with 12 foot seas, rain, and high winds. We wanted to take a look at the family's vacation home on Pine Cay to get an idea of what shape it's in. It has been occupied by vacationing North Americans now almost continuously for months. We have about a ten day window before the last guests of the season come down.

There are constant little repairs needed at the Pine Cay house. They are usually small things. Jammed up sliding screens and windows. Broken appliances. Loose hardware. Just the normal wear and tear on a dwelling that gets rode hard and put up wet. Besides, with today's forecast for calm seas, it was a good opportunity to get out on the ocean and run the boat. Get away from the house, and the hilltop. Get a break from being surrounded by all these little things that need repairing......hey...wait a minute...

Well, its an excuse to get on the water, anyhow. I guess repairs are going to be in my schedule no matter where we go here.

By the time we got away from the marina, we were already seeing some pretty decent squalls developing.

Yep. That's a squall, all righty. Our choices were to try to loop around it, blast through it, or wait and let it pass. It was moving too fast to go around. Rather than just run through it we decided to hang around south of it and wait it out. We thought we would just mess around in the boat until it passed by in front of us. Take some photos. Enjoy the water, and the day. We were in a pretty scenic little area, anyway. So I turned the boat toward the beach, and we just watched the ocean. And the weather.

As you can see, the skies are clear behind the squall. Well, relatively clear anyway. It's moving off from right to left in the photo.

The dog, of course, was nervous as soon as he saw the clouds. He hates dark skies, and rain, and he worries about thunder. I think he worries way too much about the thunder. He should be more worried about the lightning.

We were in the vicinity of some rocks just below the surface, which need watching when boating through here. The dog is good at watching things that he thinks are out of place. He thinks rocks out in the middle of his ocean are out of place.

We could title this one..."Dog staring intently at Rock." Just in case it decides to move or something, I guess. He's like that. He likes his ocean to be flat. He will bark at buoys, too.

I think right about here was where the dog came up with a fourth alternative to the squall situation, which was to call the whole trip off and haul butt back to the marina.

Since we were essentially just wasting time waiting for the storm to blow through, we took the boat over for a better look at the rocks. We have been through here in the dark, and in storms, several times. And in storms in the dark it's good to know the enemy. Rocks sticking out of the water definitely qualify.

The water here is about six to ten feet deep in most places. Safe enough water for a little boat like ours. But obviously, there are some spots where one would NOT want to be in a boat whether it was dark or not. So I noted where they were on the GPS, in case we ever need to be here in low visibility.

That's a pretty respectable shoal. It would eat a fiberglass boat and outboard motor quite nicely at 30 mph. You can also see that the skies out to sea are starting to turn surly, as well. Good thing we didn't try to loop outside the storm. We would have been a mile or so offshore and the visibility can get really bad in these things. More on that subject later.

The storm finally started to let up, with a clear patch behind this first squall line. We started to ease our way up the coast staying fairly close to the beach. It was a good opportunity to get some photos to post. Something besides house photos and sunsets for a change!

See? Pretty blue skies, fluffy white clouds, just a few minutes away. Well, they WERE fluffy white clouds last time I looked at them. By the time we took the photo they were starting to develop a bit of an attitude, though.

Then, something actually interesting happened. Well, interesting to us, anyway. I spotted a dark shape angling in toward the boat. It turned out to be a rather large dolphin.

They are not that rare here, especially this time of year. But this one showed a definite interest in us. It circled the boat several times, swam away, and then came back. It was within five or six feet of the boat several times.

There was no doubt whatsoever that this animal was specifically trying to get a good look at us.. It would roll slightly so that an eye was out of the water, and it was clearly giving us the once-over. It is a strange sensation to be examined by a large, wild mammal. There's a look of intelligence there, and it is very noticeable eye-to-eye.

After a few minutes watching, we figured out that it seemed to be pretty much blase about La Gringa and I, but was interested in the stern of the boat. Which happened to be where the dog was sitting. Of course none of this was lost on the dog in question.

The dog was behaving unusually calm (for him) as well. Normally, he gets real excited about fish. Any fish. He growls, and barks, and acts agitated. He will bite them if he gets the chance. And he will tell them, loudly, that he intends to bite them repeatedly at the very first opportunity. But this time, he just watched the dolphin, intently, and the dolphin was definitely watching him.

We just drifted for a few minutes watching these two mammals. There was no doubt there was a mutual interest. And Dooley is never this calm around another animal, no matter what it is.

The dolphin hung around for as long as we stayed there. It would circle under the boat, and return to where it could see the dog. This went on until we decided the weather window was now or never, and we pulled away and headed up the coast to the little Pine Cay marina. I am still thinking about what was going on between this big marine animal and this little terrestrial quadriped.

We made it to Pine Cay between storms without further incident, other than I discovered the boat's trim tabs are not working. (Oh Goodie!. Something new to repair!)

Transportation on Pine Cay is by electric golf cart. No noisy gasoline engines allowed. Here is La Gringa and Dooley the Demented, Delerious, Devious dog splashing through puddles left by that squall that just passed over. This is pretty much typical of roads on the island.

It looks almost tropical, doesn't it? It does to us, after spending most of the past month on that dusty, bare, sunbaked, unlandscaped hilltop where we live.

We visited the house, got some measurements we needed to replace a broken glass table top, worked on some troublesome windows, and picked up a few of our belongings that we had left there. After an hour, we noticed that the weather had gone from spotty to solid bad. There was another line of squalls even worse than the last storm, headed directly toward us. We were going to get clobbered if we stayed. We decided to make a run for it and see if we could get back to Provo before it caught us. We didn't take time to snap any photos, at that point. We just wanted to get back to the boat and cast off.

We did not make it. The storm caught us halfway back.

I was heading the boat in toward the beach in this photo. I had looped out near the reef trying to avoid getting soaked. It didn't work. Just left us almost a mile offshore in driving rain. The visibility was also dropping rapidly, and in this busy part of the 'road' between Provo and North Caicos, that concerns me. We could still see the shoreline at this point. I don't like being crosswise to the normal flow of boat traffic here when the visibility is down. And it got WAY down before it got better.

The dog was pretty miserable. He wanted to find someplace to hide out of the stinging rain, and this was the best he could come up with. Snuggled up next to the only shelter he could find.

We had to throttle back to near idle as the storm and visibility got worse. We got completely soaked, of course. We considered jumping in the ocean to dry off a little. We saw a few other boats out, and they were also trying to head back into Leeward to get out of the weather. The low visibility made it pretty slow going. Can you see the rather large boat we are about to pass in this photo?:

That's the 77 foot long schooner "S/V ATABEYRA", from the stern, heading into Leeward. They are doing maybe 5 mph, and we are doing maybe 20 mph. Well, we were doing about 20, we slowed it down a bit at this point. Just in case there were any other surprises lurking just out of sight. Keeps you on your toes, this weather.

This schooner ahead of us is a boat that sticks maybe eight or ten feet out of the water, with a thirty something foot mast. This is the "Atabeyra"

So....what would a small, unlit, slow, 16 foot plywood and fiberglass boat painted blue with four or five people in it look like under these conditions? When THAT boat looks like this:

Oh yeah, I slowed way down. It was basically IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) only at that point, anyway.

So, we made it, obviously. We got the boat tied up, and I tested the trim tabs (yep, still didn't work) and noticed the skeg on the outboard is bent. Someone obviously hit it with a boat while it was tied safely up at the dock. Oh gosh dang and fiddlesticks! SO, we can add "straighten the skeg" and "fix the trim system" to the 'List of Things that Need Doing'. This list is gaining on me. It's becoming the size of a novel. Well, a short story, at least.

Oh, I was standing in the pouring rain doing all this boat inspecting and ephithet uttering. I bet I said "shucks" and similar things in the heat of the moment. I was soaked through and through. My waterlogged shorts were trying to inch their frigid way down over legs. Hey, we signed up for this adventure...didn't we?

Well, finally three very wet, cold animals climbed into the Land Rover and headed back to the house to dry out and watch the weather. That was actually enough adventure for one morning.

Looks a whole lot better from in here:

And the sound of rain on a tin roof is everything I remembered it to be.

Hey, the cisterns are almost full, now. That's a good thing.

What the heck, by the time I wrote this it was sundown. Since I started with today's dawn, I will end it with tonights dusk.

And I got through a post with no photos of the house.


Anonymous said...

Great pics. I cant imagine you get as much feedback here as you did on THT but never fear, we are following and admiring nearly every time you have a chance to post. Thanks again for the brief escape from the cubicle.

Anonymous said...

You are right, we did get more immediate feedback from that forum. But many of the comments we get now are direct emails and do not get posted here.

Strangely enough I received one of IB's email notices just yesterday that someone sent me a new Private Message on that forum. I guess they forgot they kicked me off for deleting my own photographs. After claiming that they owned them.

Then they kicked La Gringa off for....well, we never did figure out what she did that upset them, except for marrying me, of course.

So, please tell 74Bajabronco, if he wants to contact us about fishing in the TCI...he will have to do it here or on because I am persona non grata on that other boating forum.

Malicious Intent said...

The photos are just breathtaking! I am so jealous about the dolphin!!!