Sunday, October 12, 2008

Interim post

I noticed we have not posted anything since the first of the month, and thought I would put something up here. Just as a change of scenery if nothing else. The truth of the matter is that things have been relatively slow since the hurricanes of last month. These islands were all affected, some more than others. And repairing, rebuilding, and moving on takes time. We are still warily watching all our weather sites, keeping a suspicious eye on anything that looks swirly coming this way from Africa. We are hoping to make it through the rest this hurricane season with no further surprises.

This is the time of year for nice sunrises, and since we are usually up by dawn we tend to still snap photos from time to time. I am not sure why we have this fascination with sunrises. Maybe it's something to do with some subconscious realization that for each of us, one of these sunrises will be the last one and most people never know exactly which one that will be. Wow, that sounded depressing! In the meantime..there is also the drive to enjoy every one of them as though it were the last. We had a decent sunrise a few days back, and I took a number of photos as it developed:

I guess that one was a bit before dawn. Here it is a few minutes later with the actual sun in it:

And with the old zoom lens cranked up a bit it looks even more different:

I am not sure which one I like best. Doesn't really matter though, it will all be deleted shortly. And there will be another one any day now. Seems to be a trend. I, for one, would like to keep it going as long as possible.

I have been stripping stuff out of our boat, "Cay Lime". Most of the engine is now in pieces. I really did not need a few hundred little projects added to what had already been planned. Woodworking, for example, has taken a back seat to fixing things that broke. We don't know what to do with the boat. Some locals tell us it can be repaired. Others tell us to junk or sell it as is and cut our losses. Meanwhile, it is sitting in the driveway while we decide. And of course all this time we are 'boatless'. Some of these parts must be useful to someone, somewhere. Three carbs, for example, that I can honestly say were working perfectly the last time they were used. Only a month ago. Honest, they were.

I have removed most of the stuff out of what remains of the console. I never realized how many wires it takes to run that many electrical systems. Sadly, most of what survived the actual diaster is never going to work again. I still had to remove it in order to get the busted up console loose. The console was smashed beyond repair:

The hydraulic steering is still good. Not that I have any need at the moment for hydraulic steering, but I just cannot bring myself to throw it away. Not yet, anyhow.

That short section of aluminum tubing with the flanges is all we have left from a fairly expensive T-top. Maybe I should mount it over the fireplace. Oh, wait a minute. We don't have a fireplace.

I suppose I should look on the bright side. I no longer have to worry about my old nemisis, the inconsistent fuel guage. It's become extremely consistent these days:

Now, I am no expert, but I am pretty sure that thing has fooled me for the last time.

Driving around the island we notice that there are boats in various stages of damage sitting in a lot of driveways. There area lot of missing parts in these islands these days. This one is at our friend Preacher's house:

It spent a week sunk out at Pine Cay, with just the tip of the bow out of the water. All of the problems we have with our motor, this boat has times two.

And of course the damage from Hanna and Ike is not limited to the hundreds of damaged boats. People are still having issues with roof and structure damage to their homes and businesses. This block of small shops on Leeward Highway is conducting business under the soft glow of sunlight shining through blue tarps where there used to be a roof:

A month after the last storm, and there are still shortages of roofing materials. The guy we hope we have hired to repair our own roof recently reported that "the island is completely out of nails" for example.

We took a drive down to the marina Saturday. We have been interested in seeing what we might be able to find on the bottom when the water clears up to it's usual crystal clear. A lot of things fell out of our boat's storage compartments when it went over. Some of it, like the stainless steel gaff for example, should still be somewhere on the bottom. I figure the boat went over when all the boats were slammed into the concrete section of the fuel dock:

And where "Cay Lime" ended up on the rocks there near that small white SUV:

I think some of our tools and other parts are very likely on the bottom in that area just this side of the barge. I doubt we would find anything useful, but it's worth a shot. The water has not cleared up much here in Leeward Channel yet. It will take a week or so of calm weather before all the stirred up sand and silt settle out.

We did notice that the marina is re-installing the floating dock sections that broke away during the storm. This is where our slip was located:

I was not all that encouraged to see that they are re-installing the floating docks exactly as they were installed before. They broke loose before. They destroyed over a dozen boats. I am thinking that we will keep our next boat on a trailer until we have a better protected slip to keep it in. We never want to have to go through something like this again.

As for putting the same docks back in the same places, I suppose the thinking is that we should not see another storm like that for many years to come. It also occurs to me that, statistically, maybe we are just getting caught up for all the storms that missed us over the past 48 years...

While we were looking around the Leeward end of the island we stopped by the boatyard to take a look at "Phoenix" again. I was hoping for a better angle for better photos than I got before. But since we were there last the Beaches Resort's catamaran,"Kitty Katt" has pulled in and tied up.

That limited my angle for a good unobstructed photo of "Phoenix", but I did get this perspective:

I'd asked Preacher what the story was with "Phoenix". She went missing from Leeward during Hurricane Hannah, and then turned up here about three weeks later. Preacher told me that a US Coast Guard helicopter spotted it adrift about half way between Mayaguana and Great Inagua island up in the Bahamas. They got the name and country of resistration from the transom, and called the Marine Police here in the TCI. The Marine Police contacted Jay Stubbs (owner of Sail Provo, and Preacher's brother) and Jay somehow managed to go get the boat and bring it back. I have emailed Jay for the details, but he has not gotten back to me yet on that.

There seems to be a story about this boat from back even before it belonged to Sail Provo. Preacher told me that it was originally recovered up in the Bahamas, smashed up and abandoned some years ago. Jay bought the hull from the former owners, brought it to Providenciales, fixed it up and put it into his charter business. Hence the name, "Phoenix". Now the same boat has been smashed back to a floating derelict by another storm, and was blown back up to the Bahamas. And it will live again. If a boat ever lived up to it's name, "Phoenix" has. She was totally adrift throughout both Hanna and Ike, and yet did not sink. This boat seems to have some instinct for survival. Preacher figures she just wanted to go visit the Bahamas again.

This has nothing to do with the Phoenix:

I just thought it was a neat looking pile of chain that has rusted completely into a solid block. If I could figure out a way to get it home, I think it might look interesting sitting in the yard. I am not so sure La Gringa shares my opinions about what looks good in a yard, but it's worth a thought.

While we were looking around the boatyard we parked near this truck over by "Phoenix". I thought, while I was snapping photos, that I would show it to you as I am sure most of our blog readers in North America have not seen one like this:

So down here, if someone tells you to look for a "blue Toyota pickup truck" for example, you might have to broaden your mental definition a little from what you're used to in the USA. This is a blue Toyota truck.

Before I forget, I wanted to put this photo in for the owners of the S/V "Maja":

In the days right after Hurricane Ike, we were getting a number of emails from people who were concerned about their properties and boats down here. We drove around and took photos for people, and emailed them with the information we could find. We had been asked about "Maja", since it is stored at the boatyard and a lot of boats there were damaged. I no longer have the email address of the people who aked us about this boat, but if you are still reading the blog, here she is as of yesterday. Not a scratch on her, as near as I can tell.

This boat was in the local newspapers last week. Seems it was caught fishing illegally here in the TCI when it was supposed to be in the Dominican Republic.

The Marine Police confiscated the boat. They also arrested the captain and engineer on a number of charges, and deported 18 crew members back to the D.R. They also held a quick auction at the dock, and sold something like $ 19,000. worth of fish, lobster, crabs, and conch that were iced down in the hold. The government here is getting serious about fishing violations, finally. We are glad to see it.

I wonder if they would sell me one of those confiscated panga-style boats that are on board. There were at least four of them impounded along with the rest of it.

I have noticed that we are seeing a few more of these types of boats around these days. Boats that really don't fit in with what we have become used to seeing. With the devastation that Haiti and the D.R. experienced last month I would not be surprised to see the influx of desperate illegal immigrants on the rise. We are only about 130 miles from Hispainola. I think about that every time I look up and see a boat like this chugging by:

Should I call the police and mention it? There are no registration numbers on it. No home port on the stern. No radio antenna...are they fishing illegally? Do they belong here? Or should I just mind my own business and assume its just a local whose boat I am just not familiar with. I tend to err on the side of 'minding my own business' unless I see something that I know needs intervention.

So that's basically what's been going on with us. Picking up the pieces and counting our losses and moving on. Trying to figure out how and when we are going to get another boat, of course. We hope to have some really good news to report on that front in the near future, but I don't want to jinx the possibility by talking about it until it happens. Rest assured the whole tone of these photos will change for the better when we get back on the water.

In the meantime, while we think about another powerboat for fishing and transportation, we have been toying with the idea of something like a small sailing catamaran. Not the floating mini-RV we dream about having eventually (Gemini 105), but something more along the lines of a Hobie cat. It's a shame to not be taking advantage of the wind here.

I still have an 8 foot diameter piece of dented up aluminum taking up a lot of floor space in the garage:

It was a whole lot of fun getting that thing down the driveway and into the garage in a 40 mph wind. It wants to fly.

I stopped myself from cutting it up into pieces. I just know that a few days after I decide to make a pile of 2x2' squares out of it for convenient storage, I am going to suddenly and desperately need a 3 foot section. Meanwhile, here it sits awaiting a good idea of some kind.

And until that project manifests itself, we can take photos of sunrises..


Anonymous said...

No fireplace?!! And temps dipping into those frigid 70s? I see another "honey-do" on the list...


Anonymous said...

The original "honey-do" list got buried under the subsequent "gotta-do" list, which has now been superceded by the "what-to-do" list.

We got a call this morning that our boat's t-top had been hauled up onto the shore, and if we wanted it we had better come get it.

Well, we went down there and spent an hour or so getting this mangled aluminum t-top lashed to the top of the Land Rover, and back to the house. Where it now sits behind the smashed hull. And the ruined outboard. This place is starting to look like a junkyard, and I suspect a new version of the "honey-do" list will be out shortly.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Gringo, good to see your sense of humour is making a welcome recovery too, battered though it must be. I reckon that satellite dish would make a great hotplate for steaming open shellfish over an open fire. But that's just me - everything is either a meal or a way to a meal. The one thing I did think about your Panga - it's looking a lot more like a TCI boat now. Tiller steer outboard ... coupla beer crates to sit on and you'll be there. Whaddaya want all that flash malarky for anyway?

Anonymous said...

he has a point...
Interim boat anyway!
Hang the dish from the ceiling...that way when you cut the piece out it will be in the wrong place for the size of the piece you need for next project, but at least you will have the WHOLE thing,
I know you know this...sometimes its good to hear it from a fellow packrat!

Anonymous said...

You know how some of the USVI folks watched out for you guys during your hurricane nightmares? Well, could you throw some good wishes back? Omar is about to pound on USVIs. Not that it was a big surprise but, it wasn't supposed to get this big and strong...sound familiar?

Any good wishes will be greatly appreciated!!

Glad to see you are getting back into "normal" again. LOVE the photos!!!


Anonymous said...

Hello Marcia,
Well, if you live in the USVI you must be accustomed to the 'hunker down' procedures by now. It looks like y'all are going to see 80 mph winds tonight. I can just imagine the scene at the local grocery, hardware, and liquor stores right about now.

Really, I can.

I suspect you are keeping an eye on what's now called "Invest 90" off to your east, as well. That one is maybe coming at you from the other direction.

Hang in there, and when you have to make choices, make them early and err on the side of caution.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, Gringo. I am hoping that invest 90 goes the way most of the models show it, away from land. It's so early to know though, but, like every storm, you just watch and watch and watch.

Actually, we do not live in the USVIs but, our very best friends do (in STJ) and some other great friends, as well (in STJ AND STT). And, we are there so much we feel like we live there! We're just not there now.

We are getting constant word from our STJ friends that most things are "calm" as far as stocking up, boarding up, etc...on STJ. Curfew set at 6 pm but, most businesses that are not closed already (bars/grocery stores) are closing at 5 or sooner. Roads are already a mess due to a heck of a lot of rain earlier. Oh, and the earth quake that occurred last week (6.1) which actually did very little damage, all things considered. But, mudslides and boulders in the road have made some of them impassable. It's time now for most people to hunker down and ride it out.

Our friends have done their best to break down their boat and secure it but, it's one of just a couple left in the harbour. They had no place else to put it.

It's very, very difficult being here and not there, to help.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and help. You've been through this so recently, I'm sorry to scare up such horrid memories.

La Gringa said...

Actually, they are not "horrid" memories. It was an experience and an adventure like most things in life depending on how you go about it.

Yes, we have been greatly impacted by the loss of our boat and we're sad when we think about it. But horrid? Naw, not really. Commpared to what some lost and what we could have lost, we did well.

What we have learned, on the other hand, is invaluable. We learned about the integrity of our house and roof in a Cat 4 hurricane. This is good information. We learned what we would do differently. Lots of things.

But best of all, we learned more than ever, that we are an awesome team even in the face of a one-two punch like Hanna and Ike! :-)

Strictly Business said...

Gringo~ Just wanted to let you know i have started a Panga forum for everyone who owns panga style boats and anyone who wants to learn a little more about the Panga style. After talking with Andy at Andros we have some great ideas for growing the forum in the future, and i would personally love for you to be a part of it. I have been following your stories since the hull truth and i truly feel like i have gotten a grasp on what Caribbean living is all about! The forum address is .

Capt. Tyler