Sunday, May 29, 2011

Miscellaneous stuff and a big hunk of wood.

I have no clue how many sunrise and sunset images we've taken in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but I know it's a bunch. Pockets full of sunsets. A veritable shirtload. Then we pick one we think is representative of what it looked like to us on that day, and we post it. And then I delete almost all of the ones we don't use. Saving sunset and sunrise photos seems almost pointless. They're old news within minutes. The prettiest of sunsets existed for only the exact instant the shutter opened on the camera. It would have existed longer if I had not deleted the files... and.. oh, well... before I drift off into quantum physics.. Here's a recent sunrise on a nice, almost cloudless day here on the Caicos Bank:

Sometimes I wonder if this entire blog is just an excuse for us to take photos. We've both been 'shutterbugs' for a long time. No real explanation for it, is there? It's a pure hobby. Ongoing attempts to capture images for the fun of it and the pleasure when one comes out like we'd hoped it would. Then, when we have one just nearly right, we look at them, say "oh, nice picture!', and in most cases, never ever look at them again.

This blog lets us do one more thing with the images that we were determined to make anyway. It lets us share them with other people. It's kinda neat for other people to say "nice photo!", and it totally justifies our addiction. So thanks for looking at them, by the way. I guess that's what I was trying to say.

Lately most of our posts have been about specific trips or events. Usually a boating trip. That's probably predictable. I mean, this little country is all about the beaches, water, and reefs. And boats are a huge part of it. When we want to get away and do something fun, 90% of the time here, it involves a boat. At least as far as we're concerned. Now, if you're into golf, Providenciales has a really nice golf course. I've been told by people who are semi-fanatical about these matters that the Provo Golf and Country Club is first rate and has been getting better.

But we don't play golf, so boats it is. Mixed in with some diving, and soon again, fishing. But we also realize that most people who visit a little country like this for a short vacation don't have ready access to small boats while they're here. So I need to talk about something other than boats on this blog. And DIY. The DIY is part of living here, but it's not part of visiting here.

So in this post I thought I would just reach back into the previous couple of weeks and pick out some random images that we recorded that are NOT so much boat-related. These are photos taken between the boat trips, for the most part. These are just some scenes that would not have otherwise been posted here, as they were not part of a specific trip. These are more part of the journey between the destinations. And they are things you can do here without a boat.

On that nice sunny morning briefly immortalized (is that an oxymoron?) in the photo above La Gringa decided to take her camera and the dog and go for a walk down along the local shoreline. She got some nice photos on her little beach walk.

One of the first things to happen when Dooley the Dry and Dusty gets near the ocean is that he jumps into it. The nearest water on this trip was one of the small local marinas. I don't know what he thought he saw across the water. Probably hoping it was something he could chase, or at least bark at. I know it wasn't something he smelled, because that wind drift across the water , and the waves, pretty much tell us that the wind was coming from the left.

Maybe he heard something. I'm convinced that his eyesight isn't that great. Oh but his hearing is outrageously good. I swear, I would believe it if someone told me that dog can hear cheese being packaged at the dairy in Wisconsin.

And like most dogs his sense of smell is also excellent. Terriers are alert little beasties. He's always paying attention to something. And we don't have to worry about a "three second rule" for quality assurance if we drop a morsel on the floor here. It's history before the first bounce.

A little west of the marina there's an area of soft beach. I know I've already expounded the difference between quartz sand and limestone / coral sand, so I won't go back into that. This is soft powdery sand, right in the tidal zone and there are plenty of plants here who find that environment just dandy.

There are also quite a number of animals who happily get through their day while alternating between hours of baking sun and being a foot underwater. These, for example, seem as happy as a clam.....

Or maybe they were just chilling out after flexing their mussels.

This place is a wonderland for people who like to look at sea shells. Or just beach combing in general. We can spend hours on a stretch of beach, just looking at all the interesting stuff that washes ashore from the rest of the world. Here on Providenciales the easily accessible beaches get walked fairly often, but the tide does refresh them a few times a day. And you don't have to go far to get to a beach that might not have been visited in weeks. Months in some cases on the other islands. That reminds me that we want to make a boat trip out to a beach facing the Atlantic on North Caicos and take some photos of the things that wash ashore from the open ocean. It's always interesting stuff. The last time we were there I recognized bits of oceanographic and ASW equipment from at least three manufacturers in the New England area. I'm sure we can get at least one good blog post out of beach combing that one section.

On this stretch of beach on this day, La Gringa was also experimenting with her camera. Trying out the macro functions on a nice unbroken shell, for example:

There is a lot of sea life that can be observed without a boat around here. The marinas are great places to look down into the water. And the water is typically so clear that you can see to the bottom in most places. You might not always see big fish, but you are almost certain to see a lot of little ones. And jelly fish. And crabs.

Looking to the south southeast, those little islands are called the " Little Five Cays". It's easy to get a little confused when you first hear of them. That's because there is another entire area of Providenciales called Five Cays. And those Five Cays are different from the   Little Five Cays. And all the cays have names. Some of the names include the word 'rock'. I am not quite sure yet what the difference between islets, rocks, and cays are. I think it might have something to do with vegetation. Or maybe islets are permanently attached to the earth, and rocks are not? No.... that's not it, either. Sugar Loaf in Rio is a rock. So are Gibralter and Ayer's. I think those are attached pretty well. I've seen islets equated to cays, and to rocks, but we all know Cays and Keys that are bigger than a lot of islands. Hmm. This bears some research.  I guess cays are good for unlocking minds.

This is a good spot for kite boarding when the wind is right. And kite boarding is another thing you can do on vacation here without a boat.  You can rent the gear, and lessons are available. The water here  is very shallow out for several hundred yards offshore. If you watched your footing, you could easily walk out to these little cays. It might be prudent to do the 'sting ray shuffle'. Shoes would be a very good idea to wear on the rocks, anyhow. Trust us on this one.

And remember what I told you about this dog of ours? Well, given that he hadn't been in the ocean for probably ten minutes at this point, he took this opportunity to once again go for a swim:

This dog swims for the pure joy of it. Notice nobody else is in the water but him. Normal behaviour for a Portuguese Water Dog or a Labrador Retriever, but this is a JRT.

Or, at leat he claims to be.  I've also heard him claiming to be a lawyer from New Jersey.

He'll happily paddle back and forth, trying to figure out what we are looking at with the camera. It's difficult to get a beach photo without him in it. And if we yell at him, to 'get out of the picture DOOLEY!!'.... he's likely to just come straight into it.

And his whole attitude about being yelled at is: "You rang? I heard shouting. Something fun going on over here I should know about?"

Well, at least that moved him out of the viewfinder long enough for her to get another angle looking further to the south, without the imposition of a wet dog wedged between you and the mangroves:

La Gringa spotted a large hunk of wood washed up into the bush at the extreme edge of the high tide zone. Of course the moment she started paying attention to it, Dooley the Detrimental had to hop right into the middle of the investigation. As he is wont to do..

It's not easy to tell from these angles, but that appears to be a hunk of very hard wood. It is square on three sides, and I think it was the first piece to be ripped off a hardwood trunk at a lumber mill someplace that has large, hard trees. Once this first cut was made, subsequent passes through the saw would produce boards flat on both sides.

So this is basically a big slice down the side of a tree, that shaved off a big knot. It's got some interesting grain to it. She knows I like that kind of stuff.

This thing was way too cumbersome and heavy to lug back by foot, so it was left on the beach until we could come back with a truck and take a closer look at it.

On the following Saturday morning we were listening to the local "Cruisers Net" on the marine VHF radio when we heard about a 'flea market' being held at Turtle Cove Marina that weekend. We like going to Turtle Cove. That's where a few nice outdoor restaurants are located, and usually the creme of the local boat crop shows up there on their way through. Yes, I know I said I wouldn't talk about our boats in this post. These are not our boats. And this is something to do that doesn't require a boat.   You can do it while vacationing here.   So I'm covered.

I also imagine it gets a little confusing when I jump back and forth talking about different marinas here. I will try to explain myself better, realizing that not everyone reading this knows the island all that well.

Turtle Cove marina is on the north side of Providenciales, protected from the open ocean by the reef that is only around 0.8 miles (1,400 meters) off the beach at this point.

I have talked about it here before. Probably most recently when we posted the snorkeling photos we took while splashing around on Smith's Reef. In fact, this would be a good map for people wanting to go snorkel Smith's Reef.

That line you see snaking between the little patch reefs is the only safe way into Turtle Cove from outside the reef. If you think it looks complicated for that little section above, take a look at the whole route:

The other line coming in from the right side and ending there in an anchorage off the beach is showing how you come down along the beach from Grace Bay to get to this spot. Interesting that there isn't a direct route marked out from Sellar's Cut to the beach anchorage. Might be a classic case of "you can't get there from here". And if you don't know these waters really well, or don't have a nice sunny day with calm seas and clear water, you don't even want to try. The chances of damage are high.

Here's the "latest" Google Earth image of Turtle Cove, showing the island in the middle. I believe the smaller, undeveloped island to the left is called "Little Diddle" Cay. I can't tell you why it's called that, other than to maybe point out that many of the place names here are descriptive. For whatever that's worth to your imagination.

I wrote "latest" Google Earth image, because if you'll notice down in the left hand corner of that photo you can read that this imagery date is 2004. The Google Earth images of most of Providenciales are that old. And this place has changed a lot in seven years. Streets have been paved. There are sidewalks and street lights where there were mud holes in 2005 when we got here. It will be interesting to see the differences whenever Google gets around to updating their satellite images. I guess the good news from our standpoint is that nothing of global interest is happening here to make the world look at these islands too closely. I would hazard a guess that most people have never heard of them.

So, that Saturday morning we headed down to Turtle Cove to the island in the middle, to check out the flea market. We were there fairly early, and the crowd was already arriving.

I very quickly reach my low tolerance for crowds so we decided to take a walk along the dock to see the nice shiny boats that were in the cove that weekend. It wasn't as crowded as some popular weekends during holidays or fishing tournaments, but there were still some fairly serious toys in town:

I think it's another level of boating entirely when the dinghy has a 150 horse outboard.

Or when the stainless steel in the anchoring system is worth more than someone else's entire fleet...

It's humbling.

We love seeing stuff like this. It stokes our imaginations to know that there are people living on boats quite comfortably with a constantly changing world just outside their windows. There's a whole set of sub cultures of motor yacht cruisers that we don't typically get involved with because our interests are more into sail. It's the stuff of dreams, of course. And from a practical standpoint we don't even want to know what the fuel bill is on dream boats like these. I think our own personal ceiling on boating would be well before the point where we would need to consider adding staff.

The big motor yachts are not the only boats that come into Turtle Cove, of course. Plenty of large sailboats come in here. It's not the only protected marina on Providenciales, but it does have the deepest draft. I think you can get a boat that draws 8 ft. into Turtle Cove. Both marinas on the south side near us are limited to between six and seven feet and only at the highest tides.

While strolling around the marina admiring the yachts we noticed Mike Robertson's Osprey Marine Services truck, backed up with the welding cables stretched out.

Osprey was on the job, repairing a visiting catamaran's broken dinghy davit. Welding barefooted, as usual. I've never yet seen him in shoes.   That should tell us something.   I think one has to be pretty good at this to do it barefooted.    For years.     Heck, anyone can weld barefooted for  a few seconds.   But Mike NEVER wears shoes.

Mike specializes in stainless steel and aluminum welding, along with rigging in general. He's a real resource on the island, and is often called out to one of the marinas to fix or fabricate something for a boat passing through. I took this opportunity to ask him about making us a combination grab rail/windscreen frame for our little skiff console. I guess I had better "Sketchup" what I want, unless I can find one already made online to buy or copy.

At home we continue to watch the sea every day. It's always there in the background no matter what we're doing. And it's an ever changing canvas. Besides the sunrises, and sunsets, and the squalls, and waterspouts, and electrical and tropical storms, we get to watch a variety of boats going by every day. We have come to recognize most of the local boats now. For example, recently we spotted this trimaran approaching the boatyard under mainsail alone:

The fact that it was under sail in that location pretty much told us it was a local before it ever got close enough to see the details of the boat. Most visitors would be going slowly here, under power, feeling their way into the channel, on the radio with Bernard or Donovan at Caicos Marina. Only the locals blast along in whitecaps like they know where they're going. We could also tell it was a multi hull rather than a single hulled sailboat by the upright angle of the mast.

Well, before they turned onto a broad reach into the boatyard we knew the boat was the Minx.

And sailing right into the boatyard, and up to the dock, is pretty indicative of someone who knows his boat, and this water, and the wind.

The Minx is a fiberglass trimaran that is probably one of, if not the, fastest cruising sailboat in this area. It was hand built by Mike Robertson, the barefooted welder, and the Robertsons sail it often. We know they took it up to Bermuda and back just a couple years ago. That's a nice little 2800 mile jaunt, before you add in the squiggles and changes in direction.

Now on another day we'll look out and spot a boat like this one:

And we would likely assume that he's probably not local, or if he is he doesn't come to this part of the country often. He probably needed fuel, and draws more than six feet in that monohull. Otherwise, it wouldn't have made sense to travel past Southside marina to get to the Caicos Marina unless they also needed repairs that Southside couldn't handle. They're sailing along downwind on a light air day with a partially furled headsail. So we figure they are being real prudently tentative about our cornucopia of coral, but they like to sail rather than run the motor. It's also possible that this is a boat normally stored at the boatyard and it has just been launched and we never saw that sail before.

See what a fun game we have built into living on this spot here? "Guess the Boat" and no batteries required.

Oh, before I forget, I wanted to ask for opinions on this hunk of wood La Gringa (and Dooley the Detective) found on the beach. After she told me about it, we went down in the small Defender and picked it up. I don't know what kind of wood it is. It's very dense, but obviously it floats or it wouldn't be here.

I was thinking of bolting it to the wall above the door and just using it as a shelf. Or I could run it through a saw and end up with some interesting grained planks to work with.

That's pretty much cleaned our my little stash of un-associated photos from the past few weeks. I tried to keep our boating out of this post, just to give y'all a break from the same old 'wet-dog-gazing-at-thunderstorm photos.

But before we close out this post, there is one little video that was taken from our boat. We were headed over to Pine Cay one day recently in the skiff when we spotted a large group of 8 Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin cruising around in relatively shallow water inside the sand bars at the mouth of Pine Cay cut. We have seen a very definite interaction between the dog and dolphin before. He acts completely differently around dolphin than he does for cold blooded fish. When Dooley sees a fish, he just wants to bite it. Without exception, and no matter how big the fish is. He'll bite a Barracuda just as quickly as he will a Pilchard (that's like a sardine except not in a can surrounded in olive oil or tomato sauce).

But when we encounter Dolphin, Dooley always seems to get into some kind of discussion with them. His ears perk up, and the Dolphin usually head right over to the boat. In this case, the big group of Dolphin we initially spotted broke into two groups of four. . One group held back while the younger crowd came right over to the boat and were obviously very interested in the dog. I didn't think to start the camera until well into it, but they were still talking to Dooley when I started this. One of them was rolling belly up, and I was (excitedly forgetting my self) pointing at it in the video. Maybe he just wanted a scratch. Who knows what Dooley told him?

We had drifted almost over the sand bar, and I had the boat in reverse to pull us back into deeper water. After we were back in deeper water, the dog kept whining and the four dolphin came back yet again. This was the third time they approached the boat. Finally, when the first four dolphin moved off for the final time, the the second, standoffish group came over to see what we were doing, with one of them swimming under the boat. Then they joined the first group. The second group seemed more interested in just checking us out and then moving on. They didn't pay much attention to Dooley, but of course they had probably heard all of the original conversations. Or maybe they were just 'cat people'.

(music is “Stairway to Heaven” by Rodrigo y Gabriela)

That's pretty much the end of this post. I just need a sunset to close it up. I was out washing the boat off one afternoon when I looked up and was convinced we had the makings for a great sunset from that angle. So I got my camera all ready.... and blah. Nothing colorful at all. It looks more like a morning-after photo or something. But I put so much time in to waiting for this to turn into a good sunset I am going to post it anyhow. Another photo never to be seen again:

And that clears the old buffer out and lets me finish with one of La Gringa's nicer sunsets. As usual. Same view, different day:

And please, friends and neighbors, keep those emails and comments coming. It's good to know that someone out there is reading some of this. Otherwise, we would stop doing it.

Hey did you notice not one word about DIY in this post? Awwww.... I just went and ruined that. Okay, then, not two words about it...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taylor Bay, Osprey and Turtle Rocks

Our previous post was full of photos of what we did on a Saturday when the wind was blowing. We went sailing, naturally. This is part of our plan. And why we have a little sailboat. The night after those Chalk Sound photos the wind dropped and the waves mellowed out considerably. We woke up on Sunday morning to calm seas and light winds. Not a good day for sails, but an excellent day for small skiffs, small dogs, and small ambitions.

And we have just the skiff for the job, sitting there smiling and gleaming in the early morning light. Well, okay, skiffs can't actually smile. No matter how anthromorphic they wish they were. They can gleam though.

Looks all ready to boogie, doesn't it?

For a while there the wind dropped to near zero and we thought we might have one of those exceptionally calm and glossy days. The salina across the road turned into a reflecting pond for the mangroves.

We rarely see totally calm weather last very long and by the time we had packed up and launched the skiff a slight wind had picked up. We could see a line of clouds building off to the west but we decided to go for it anyhow. We had never seen what the shoreline was like between Sapodilla Bay and West Harbour.

As we turned the corner through Southside Marina we couldn't help but notice one of the largest catamarans we'd ever seen here. It's the one with the bright yellow sail cover in this photo. We had to go take a closer look at this baby.

We motored past for a good look. It's a Catana 52 and it easily dwarfed all the other boats in the marina. Very nice.

And after taking a good long look at the Catana we noticed that there were indeed some squalls blowing through the area we intended to explore. So we decided to head in the other direction for a while and see if the weather to the west of us improved. It doesn't typically improve in the afternoon. In fact, it usually gets worse as the day warms up. It's the same here as with thunderstorms everywhere.

The Caicos Marina and Boatyard is a few miles east of here. That's where we now keep our "big" boat and this was a good time to go check on it. We headed out of the Southside entrance, right past our friend Stanley's fishing boat Five Cays. Normally we would have stopped to talk for a while but he had company and they seemed busy today. We did say hello of course. Would have been rude not to.

The water was nice and clear, and I tried to get a photo of a decent looking fish as we went over it. The photo didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, but maybe you can make out the fish if you squint your eyes right. The water is only about seven feet deep here, and normally this would be an easy photo. But our boat was moving. The fish was uncooperative. The light was wrong. And I've run out of excuses.

I realize that the names of some of these places don't mean much to someone unfamiliar with Providenciales, so here's a screen shot from Google Earth with the major points labelled.

We started and ended at the Southside Marina. Leaving there we went east to the Caicos Marina first, then back down as far as Osprey Rock via Taylor Bay and Turtle Rock. Then back to Southside. Our path was not nearly as straight as the lines I drew here, so we probably travelled a little more than 30 miles total. We didn't have a GPS with us so it's our approximate track. Imagine a lot more curves and squiggles.

Just before we arrived at the Caicos Marina we decided to scoot in near the shore to show you some photos of a couple of the really outstanding homes here. I know you've seen these from the road side photos a number of times, but we don't usually take photos from the ocean side. As nice as they look from the front, it's the private beaches that really make these properties special.

Despite appearances, there are only two homes there on the point. Yeah........ I know. You think they're probably not big enough to actually live in. But you have to keep in mind, these are not primary residences. They're just beach houses. Vacation homes. Just the basic amenities.

The house on the right was just bought by the musician Prince. Or the artist formerly known as.... well.... Prince. I don't know how to spell that other name he used for a while. Of course that's been the buzz around here lately. And just around that rocky point on the right side of the photo....

Is another nice little beach. I think there's room enough for a decent beach party or two.

From here it's only a short trip into the Caicos Marina and Boatyard. We tied up the skiff behind one of the Dive Provo day charter dive boats. Their morning dive customers were just headed to the company bus that will take them back to their hotels over on Grace Bay. I think these boats typically make one trip in the morning and another in the afternoon. There are several companies running dive charters here. And if you are a diver, or a snorkeler, there are very few places in the world with water and reefs like the Turks and Caicos. I can think of a few places where it's arguably just about as good, but no place nicer. And this place is so convenient to the USA. The rest of them are hard to get to.

An air-conditioned bus to take you right from the hotel to the boat and back. Pretty nice.

This water is about 10-12 ft. deep right off the dock.

I hope this is the only time I ever look back over the Suzuki and see these boats behind me. Those are all Marine Police boats. These are not the same guys who enforce the fisheries laws. These guys are more for security, similar to the US Coast Guard on a very, very small scale. Illegal boats from Haiti and the Dominican Republic keep these guys pretty busy patrolling borders. Interesting that they have several of the pangas for inshore operations. They also have an RIB named "Hurricane" that we didn't see on this day. They were probably out patrolling in it. (For any non-boaters reading this, an 'RIB' is a Rigid Inflatable Boat. That's an inflatable rubber boat with a hard shell bottom. )

When we moved here in 2005 the marina office here was in a trailer in the parking lot. They have since built a nice new group of buildings that serve as headquarters for the police, as well as a nice new marina office. I think there are some other businesses in there too, but don't know what they are off the top of my head.

After checking up on Off Cay (doing well on it's trailer) we headed back out to see if the weather had improved out west of here. It looked slightly better, but with rain squalls still blowing through from time to time. We decided to head down to look at Taylor Bay anyhow. If we got rained on, well, it wouldn't be the first time. For the record, Dooley the Dissenter voted against anything related to thunderclouds. He always does. And as usual, he was outvoted.

By the time we got down to Taylor Point Hill, there was another ominous looking storm headed right toward us. We swung in close to shore to take a look.

Dooley didn't seem too concerned as far as I could tell. I never really know what's going on in that simple little mind of his, anyhow. He wasn't panicked, so I figure he had forgotten all about the threatening weather at this point. His mind was probably a million miles away.

It started raining on us just as we were about to idle into Taylor Bay. There were a few people standing knee deep in the bay so we could tell how shallow it is. It also appears to have a nice smooth sand bottom. We didn't want to hang around long, or disturb the swimmers so this is about as close as we got. I realize it's not a good photo and doesn't show the bay to it's best advantage. But that just gives us an excuse to return on a nice sunny day and do a better job. But on this day, we still had a few miles to cover so we continued onward.

As soon as we turned out from Taylor Bay we spotted what I later found out is Turtle Rock. This was pretty interesting looking to us, and we headed straight over to check it out. It was also right on the edge of the currently annoying squall, so it made for a good destination in case we needed to shelter from the wind and rain.

And unfortunately for our plan to get nice tropical, clear water photos there were squalls developing all over the place. We were now close enough to see some of the nearest high points of the island of West Caicos off on the horizon. We actually took our inflatable kayak out to that island just about this time last year. Strangely enough the weather on this day was just about the same as it was then. You can read about that trip on this other post.

I brought the skiff up in the lee of Turtle Rock and we started a slow circle around the islet to check it out. This looks like a really cool place to come back to with our snorkeling gear. This is the view as we came around the south side of it...

That big loose boulder to the right side of the photo has what appears to be a natural cave in it. It appears to be big enough to almost stand up in, and goes far enough back into the rock that we couldn't see the back of it. Interesting stuff, eh wot?

Do you guys like exploring caves and stuff as much as we do? I get totally fascinated by places like this. And of course it's one of Dooley's main reasons to exist.

We now had at least two reasons to plan another trip out here specifically to explore this. The snorkelling around the rock, and the cave, and then we continued on around the western end of the rock...

and were quite surprised to see that the little island is split into two pieces with a very interesting area of water between them. We had already decided to come back to do some some diving and this just cemented our plan. So you can look for a future post with underwater images and hopefully some cave photos in the near future. 'Near future' is, of course, a relative term with us. But it does have a high priority. We'll want to wait for a calm sunny day for this one. Shouldn't take long.

When I got home I zoomed in on Turtle rock using Google Earth (love that program!) and the split island with the protected interior water is very visible. I can hardly wait to come back to this place better prepared. We not only need to bring our swim gear, but we'll need sturdy climbing shoes, too.

We made one more pass on the northern and more protected side of Turtle Rock. The water is very shallow here and it will be a great place to anchor the skiff or even the kayak. Climbing the rock itself...well it's not immediately apparent where the best approach for that will be. But we'll find it.

And as we turned back around the eastern end, I finally remembered we need to take more video. Duh....sorry bout that. But I DID remember. Eventually. Hey, better late than never. I waited until we had some sunshine, at least. I wish I could say it was intentional. There is not a clear view of the interior between the rocks from this angle, which is why we missed it the first time around. But you can tell where it is if you know it's there.

(music is “Smell of Desire” by Enigma)

After that we decided to head right on over to Osprey Rock to see what that looked like from this angle. I look absolutely miserable, don't I? It's torture in this tropical sun, I tell you.

Sure enough there was another squall about to blow over us as we got to Osprey Rock. We've posted lots of photos of this from the other side in the past but this is the first time we've been over on the west side of it. We saw some guys up on top fishing.

We gave them a wide berth on the first pass. We didn't want to disturb their fishing and they were casting their lines way out from up there. We were hoping to see them pull a fish all the way up that cliff, but they didn't catch any while we were watching.

We then went into the little protected area there, which is called West Harbour on some charts. It's very well protected from the prevailing winds in most cases. It would be a great place to anchor, except for the fact that there is nothing in the way of shore side businesses on this part of Providenciales. In fact, the road from here back to 'civilization' is one of the longest unpaved roads on Provo.

And it's real shallow here, so a lot of monohull sailboats would have a hard time fitting up close to the rock for protection. Would be a nice place for a multihull, though. Anything drawing about four feet or less would be okay in most of it. Good sand bottom. Silty nearer the beach up out of the longshore current. Nice holding for an anchor.

This is probably a familiar shot to anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time. We went into this cave for a look when we were using the inflatable kayak.

If you want to see more of the inside of this cave, please check out Playing with Sharks from almost two years ago.

The water looked inviting on this trip, but the sky didn't. Dooley was convinced that there must be the fire-hydrant equivalent in there somewhere but we resisted the urge to anchor and swim. We needed to head home before we got caught in more rain.

We were running a bit late as usual. We tend to get carried away and forget we still have a ways to go to get home. So we didn't take a lot of photos on the way back to the marina. We did swing a bit closer to the guys fishing up off the top of Osprey Rock this time. One of them laughed and did his best to drop his sinker in the boat, but he fell a little short. We did remember to take another video on this pass:

(music is “The Wind Cries Mary” by Johnny A.)

He tried to hit us with a fishing sinker. I invited him to jump into the ocean, or something to that effect. It was all sign language. We all laughed. It's all good. Look for him winding up with his hand line, and then the splash just short of the boat right before La Gringa laughs. Nice toss, eh?

Now, for you DIY folks out there I wanted to put up a couple updates on little projects going on here. I have now put up the wood and winch for this thingum in the garage. I've been trying to lift the kayak with the nylon strap that came on the winch, but it doesn't work very well. The winch says it can lift 1200 lbs, so that's not the problem. Oh, it'll be working before I'm through with it. But I suspect that there is too much friction between the strap and the two rotating pvc sleeves I put on the bolts. Even though I liberally greased them up. I haven't taken any photos of it all finished yet, because it's not finished yet. It doesn't work right...yet. It's still in the head-scratching and fine tuning portion of the process.

Here's a photo of it right before I put the other 2x10 up:

I strongly suspect that I will end up taking the strap off, and using quarter inch steel cable with a single pulley in the middle of the span. The winch pulls a lot harder when the effective drum diameter is as small as possible. An old dog is still learning new tricks here. Nice to be able to use Google Sketchup to doodle these things into virtual existence, too. I would have run out of cocktail napkins a long time ago on this one.

One other little DIY project I thought some of you might be interested in started because the TCI government recently mandated that all houses must have house numbers displayed. It's all part of the 911 emergency program, during which all the roads finally received official names so that ambulances and fire trucks can find them. We didn't have this until last year. Before this people would be calling in an emergency and saying something like they were having a heart attack and the location was given as an approximate distance from some known location like the Glass Shack ( which hasn't been the Glass Shack in years) with a left on the third road past the big rock, look for a Chevy truck chassis in the yard, etc. No kidding. This is better. We now have street names AND house numbers. sort of.

We still don't have mail delivery , but having physical house addresses is also a great step in that direction. I won't go into the story right now, but we got to choose the name of our own road. I hope the neighbors don't mind that we didn't ask them, but we did use a name that was already in existence. More or less. Nobody's complained, yet. But back to the subject, we were way past the due date when we were told to display the house number. We needed to get with the program.

We looked around and saw that most people are using small boards with painted numbers on them. And I could have done that despite the fact that a paint brush is one of the three specific items that I am not supposed to mess with. But we don't really have a roadside wall or a post near the driveway entrance to put a number on. So I had to come up with something else. And I had an idea, using existing materials and the tools I already have. I did it with a hunk of rock.

First I just flattened the bottom of this piece of limestone using the needle scaler on an air hammer:

Then I sketched out the house number and cut it into the rock using an air chisel, and a 3 lb. hammer and hand chisel for the inside edges where the power tool tends to get away from me. It sure took a lot longer to do it than it does to describe it.

Almost done:

Once I had it cut in I just painted the rock with a white paint and used blue for the number. I barely finished it before we took off on our recent trip to Texas, but managed to grab a photo as we left for the airport at dawn. I think it looks a little better than the two inch high painted numbers, but of course I am biased. Carrying the rock up that slope was the hardest part of this, but at least this one won't blow away. ( And if it does, we are not going to be worried about blowing rocks at that point)

Anybody out there need some heavy duty house numbers, cheap? We got LOTS of rocks....

Oh I suppose the freight costs might make it prohibitive, but you can use the idea for free.

So that's it for this post. We're already working on the next one, too. La Gringa took a walk down on the beach recently and got some really nice photos and found a great piece of driftwood we are scratching our heads over. I'll post some photos and maybe you guys have some ideas what we can make with it. I am chomping at the bit for some wood projects for a change. All this mechanical stuff wears me down after a while. Moving parts make my head hurt. Working with the stone was kinda fun, though. The ringing of the hammer on the steel chisel, the stone chips and dust flying through the air...La Gringa yelling at me to stop the air hammer while she tried to make a phone call......I wonder how Michelangelo handled all that? Maybe they had quieter compressors. Or louder cell phones. Or worked further away from their wives...

We also picked up some nice DIY supplies in the US last week, including a whole fistful of various Hero HD ™ video camera mounts. I think we have a lot of videos in the future. I know you guys get tired of looking at still photos of Dooley's Derriere on a trampoline. One of these mounts has great promise for the top of the mast. It's the one for a roll cage.

We also procured some paracord and bungee for the kayak spray skirt project. Man, that big country north of Cuba has just about EVERYthing you can imagine if you but know where to look. Some of the hardware store owners get funny about me drooling on the merchandise, but hey, I can't help it. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I've found that flinging MasterCards and a smoke screen of various currency denominations will often placate them long enough for me to load up on goodies. They probably never saw a grown man go all estatic and teary-eyed over a US-made 6-32 tap and a roll of 3M's Scotch 33. I feel like John Boehner must feel sometimes.

So there's more DIY coming too. (Isn't there ALWAYS?) but in the meantime, how bout one of La Gringa's sunset photos?

Oh come on, you just had to know that was coming.