Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Sunday Sojourn

We were hoping for some really memorable photos for this 250th post in this silly web-log thing. (You did know that's where the word 'blog' came from, right? And so ends the educational portion of our program today...)

Anyhow, up until Sunday all I really had that was new were some local 'boat-in-trouble' type photos, and a bunch of DIY stuff from inside the garage. Not really very exciting. Pretty ho-hum, actually. And I am really leery about wishing too hard for dramatic photos when we are in the beginning of hurricane season. I mean, I'm not all that superstitious... but years of working offshore have also made me cautious in what I wish for. Is that superstitious? It's not the same as never allowing bananas on a boat because they are bad luck. I never understood that one. Hey, years ago it was considered bad luck for a woman to step on a boat. These days it just means that some changes are going to be made. Not necessarily a bad thing. But before I top load this post with too many words, here's a new sunrise photo:

So with the now traditional La Gringa photo of a nice tropical sunrise behind us, I can get around to telling y'all what we did on Sunday. We decided to go on a picnic, and to give our new GoPro Hero HD™ camera another try. Our picnics almost always mean a boat trip. The wind was blowing from the east on Sunday, and the Caicos Bank looked a little too choppy for the relaxed frame of mind we were looking for. We don't mind some wind when we are in the mood for fast, wet sailing, but we were seeking 'mellow' on Sunday. So we decided to duck up into the lee of Water Cay. There are usually plenty of isolated, undisturbed places along the beach to enjoy on Water Cay. That's because the only way to get there is by boat. Or swimming. We haven't tried swimming to a picnic yet but I sure wouldn't rule it out for a future post.

Our entire route Sunday was only a little over ten miles round trip as the seagull flies, so we took the Hobie Tandem Island. Of course one never travels in a straight line for the entire round trip in a sailboat, so we probably covered a lot more ground than ten miles. But this was the route without all the tacks and gybes and such:

I mentioned the GoPro camera. We bought this a couple months ago, thinking it would be ideal for these fixed mount, action videos and photographs that we like to do. We got a whole bag full of accessory mounting doodads for it. And we had already tried to get video from the top of the Hobie mast a few weeks ago. We were disappointed. The waterproof case fogged up inside, and all the video after about 20 minutes was useless. That was bad enough, but we also had to admit that the 20 minutes of video that was usable was pretty much useless, too. Boring.

SO, this time we made some changes. We reset the camera so that instead of taking video, it took a single snapshot every ten seconds until the battery died. The GoPro's plastic housing includes two different back plates. One of these back plates has two holes in it, which allows air to circulate. I was nervous about putting a no-longer-waterproof camera on the top of the mast. We have enough confidence in the boat that we don't anticipate flipping it over, but we also recognize that.... well..... poo happens. And even if we didn't somehow put the top of the mast underwater, we worried bout rain squalls. But in the end we decided that a camera that couldn't live in our world was probably best put out of its misery early, anyhow. So we went for it. First, the open back DID solve the fogging issue. And a photo every ten seconds.... well... that needs some more thought. I just had to sort through over 1200 photos. Ouch. And you can see how many I am actually using out of that 1200. Not many. This whole GoPro thing still needs some re-thinking, I think. But then I thought that before, too.

But here's one of the first ones, not long after stepping the mast and while launching the boat from Sherlock Walkin's marina down at Leeward:

I am sure that the people who designed this camera have some reason for this fish-eye lens effect. But for the life of me, I have yet to figure out what that reason or advantage is. I find it enormously distracting, myself. So, I am going to intersperse the GoPro mast cam photos with some we took with our old standbys, the Olympus Tough 8010 and the Pentax W80. I won't bore you with the 200 or so GoPro images the mast cam took getting out of Leeward Going Through (unless you really want to see them). We were pretty happy to get around the corner of Little Water Cay between the rain squalls.

We scooted up the beach in a relaxed and leisurely manner in the intermittent sunshine and despite the random threats the squalls were making. We've got a new respect for squalls since that last French Cay trip.

We really like sailing along close to the beach at Water Cay. We never know what we might see washed up on the beach. This time we noticed that someone has made at least three stacks of rocks along the shore near the wreck of an old barge. We sailed in close to get a photo.

We were looking for a spot in the shade of one of the little rock cliffs, but this time of year the sun is beating straight down and there isn't much shade at mid-day. We finally found a spot that looked good from the water, and we hopped out of the boat and hauled it up on the beach:

This is the little spot we chose. We figured we had a good chance of finding a soft place to sit and some nice shade under this little Casuarinas tree. We had an added bonus in that the top of the cliff exposed us to the breeze that would have been blocked by the rocks if we'd stayed down on the sand. We were probably trespassing, come to think of it. Whoops. Sorry. We didn't leave a mess, if that counts for anything.

I really liked this tree-on-the-rock image, so there will be a number of different photos of it from different angles. Hopefully you'll see at least one image you like.

Dooley the Devious immediately saw the possibilities of our intended picnic spot and he went up to check it out first.

Here's another angle, from up on top of the line of little limestone cliffs. That's Pine Cay and Ft. George Cay off in the distance:

I have also discovered that I can use some image processing software to take out the 'fish eye' distortion of the GoPro camera. It seems to move the distortion to the near field, so if I level the horizon, I warp the boat. Oh well. Here's a photo with the horizon flattened, and with La Gringa setting up our lunch under the neighborhood tree:

The image is skewed because, well, the camera is 18 ft. up a mast, which is on a boat leaning over as it sits on the slope of a steep beach.

The ground under the tree was covered with a thick blanket of soft Casuarinas needles. I know they look like pine needles, and this tree is sometimes known as an Australian Pine, but it's not a pine tree. We were grateful for the shade, the soft blanket, and the breeze. Dooley the Diligent made sure there was nothing hiding in the tree. At least, I think that's what he was doing. I could be wrong. He could have been making a mental bet with himself about how far up that tree he could reach if he drank all our water and stood on a rock and...... well..... never mind. He has been known to entertain some lofty ambitions. I think he tells the local dogs that he's a lawyer from New Jersey. And that's just wrong. He's actually from Pennsylvania.

This worked out to be just about the perfect place for a picnic on this particular summer afternoon.

It's not that easy to describe how peaceful this spot was. Nobody else was on the beach in either direction for as far as the eye could see. It was pretty much like having the entire island to ourselves. We had a good view, shade, and the cool breeze. Maybe one of La Gringa's videos would explain the whole ambiance a little better:

(music is 'Guitar Romance' by Armik)

As I took that photo above the video, I saw something rolling up in the surf down the beach about 50 yards. So I took another shot to get that in the frame, too. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. At least, I hoped I was right about that. The alternative was kinda ugly to think about.

Looking back to the south you can tell that this beach is never crowded. There is another boat anchored off that small point almost a mile away. Not bothering us at all. Now the clouds..well that's a different worry. Remember, we have this new camera at the top of an 18 ft. mast with the back of it exposed to the elements. This is to keep it from fogging up this time. No fogging is good, but filling up with rain water would kind of negate all the positives from the lack of fog. We were really hoping to avoid any rain showers, despite the cooling effect the squalls have on the ambient temperature. Which has been in the high 80's by the way. I think we have seen 90 degree outside air temperature maybe once or twice this summer, so far. It rarely gets above that here. And even when it is 90 degrees outside, the trade winds make it feel much cooler. All you really need to be comfortable is shade.

The boat traffic was pretty sparse for a sunny Sunday. It was Father's Day, and I would have thought there would be more boating going on. The day-charter Atabeyra came by close enough to see what we were up to with our seemingly unattended and funny looking yellow plastic boat beached there in an isolated location:

That old rum runner is an interesting boat, but I like the view better when there's nothing on the horizon except ocean.

I took one more photo behind the visual line of the beach so you could see what is behind the cliffs on Water Cay. Just another uninhabited island. I think that out of the 40+ islands that officially make up the Turks and Caicos Islands, only 8 of them are described as being inhabited.

It was very nice relaxing in the shade but eventually lunch was over and we trooped on back down to the beach. We were keeping our eye on the line of squalls blowing through Leeward off in the distance, and figured out that if we killed a little time we could maybe let the worst of them get by before heading back. Like so many things in life, it's all about timing.

I've been putting some time in on the 'landscaping' at the house. For me that basically means another skirmish in my never ending fight with the weeds, and maybe moving some rocks around to see if they look better here than they did there. Sometimes they do.

Anyhow, right now I need some flat paving type rocks to use as a little walkway. I've been looking in the usual places on Providenciales, but have not been able to find just what I want. Then while I am climbing down to the beach on Water Cay I realized that I was literally surrounded by perfect paving stones. PILES of them:

Boy, wouldn't I love to have that entire pile teleported to the back yard of a certain house about three islands south of here. We may have to come back with the skiff and pick up a half dozen of these loose ones. Maybe from Pine Cay, where we know the property owners. Heck they'll just get ground into sand if we leave them here. In a hundred years or so.

Back down on the beach I decided to go and investigate the object that had been rolling in and out of the surf for the past hour. From closer up it was pretty easy to discern that it was in fact a coconut and did not have the hair or gold ear ring that my imagination had added from a distance.

Just another sea-going coconut on another deserted beach on another perfect day. Nothing special or unusual about that.

This gave me a chance to get yet another image of that tree from another angle. (Hey, I think it's a good visual and I am milking it for all the cool photos I can get.)

While we were lollygagging in the shade and investigating shipwrecked coconuts the mast cam was sitting up there snapping away every ten seconds. I liked this one because it caught a small wave just as it picked up the sand along the little underwater step that runs just a few feet off the low tide mark. Notice that the sand gets lifted by the wave, and stirred up, and falls right back into the same spot. It doesn't drift out and cloud up the rest of the water, like some sands that I won't mention by name on other beaches. How considerate is that?

You might also notice that the boat has been moved by the waves since we beached it. Or you might not. The big footprints are mine. The little footprints are La Gringa's. And the sixteen million little paw prints frenetically arranged in sets of four belong to you-know-who.

At this point we decided to go for a swim to cool off. And yes, this gave me yet one more camera angle on my favorite tree of the day. And a good shot my favorite boat, too. That little box up on the top of the mast is the GoPro camera.

By this time it was early afternoon and we knew we needed to start back. Time is always a factor when sailing to a schedule. But the squalls were lining up one after the other some five miles to our south, which was just where we needed to go. Seeing a particularly nasty looking rain storm clobbering our destination, we decided to delay our departure for awhile and explore along the beach a little. Not far from our picnic spot we saw this little collapsed sinkhole. Basically, the roof of one of the many small caves fell in. This left a little limestone bridge with an opening behind it.

This was an opportunity for a different sort of camera angle, so I climbed up on the top of the little cliffs again. That probably doesn't sound like much effort to you, sitting there in your nice air-conditioned computer reading spot with a nice comfy rug under your feet. Well, try climbing around this stuff barefooted a few times and you'll see what I am whining about.

I think I can already tell that I am not going to get any sympathy on this, am I?

Here's the little collapsed sinkhole from the top:

Climbing down into it, I found that it formed a delightfully shady little spot out of the sun. It's cooled by the surrounding limestone. It also made for some nice photos. I must have taken about a dozen of them. This is one of my favorites:

Looks like I needed to trim the ceiling. And move some rocks out of the living room.

We only walked about a hundred yards or so down the beach. We saw a number of these small caves in the limestone.

We also began to notice that Dooley the Devious was paying a whole lot of attention to the small holes in the rocks. More than usual. So La Gringa walked up to one of the smaller ones and looked inside, and discovered that a lot of them are taken up with seasonal nesting Tropic Birds.

We didn't want the dog to disturb the birds so we decided that was enough beach exploration for now. Besides, this beach is too clean for proper beach combing. Remember that photo of the waves picking up the sand that I posted up above? Well, that is essentially turning the sand over, many thousands of times a day. It keeps it really, really clean. But it's not someplace to find interesting stuff washed ashore, unless you like the isolated coconut. Big stuff like fishing nets wash ashore, but the small stuff gets taken back out by the tide. We have other beaches in mind for beach combing small stuff, and we'll show you a couple of the better ones in some future blog posts. But for now, we decided to take our chances with the squalls and head back to Leeward.

The mast cam caught us shoving the boat off the beach into the shallow water:

And a few seconds later, soaked to the armpits, away we go. Bye bye, tree:

The Go-Pro camera was at the right angle to catch a lot of beach photos on the way back. Hundreds of them, in fact. Once I got them all uploaded I started playing around to see if I could improve upon them by applying a thick coat of software. I'll show you an example. I'm interested in what you think about all this.

This is a photo taken by the GoPro as we sailed back, close along the beach. I am sure you can see the fish-eye distortion of not only the horizon, but also of the boat itself. It's not that banana-shaped in reality:

This is that exact same photo after applying a "115% fish eye correction" to it:

I'm not overjoyed about the resolution along the outer edge of the image or the distortion in the near field, where the boat is. The boat is not that wide. Although the dog is.

This is basically our second trip with this camera, and we're happy that we've finally got it working. I'm hoping that with some further experimentation we can improve upon these images. The view of the coral from up above should be really nice, on a clear water day. This was not a particularly clear water day, by the way. I realize it has the Mississippi River beat hands down for clarity, but for here this is a stirred up day. It gets much, much better than this. It's not uncommon for us to be able to see the bottom 80-100 ft. below us. We just need about three days of calm weather and the sun directly overhead. We'll keep an eye out for a good day to show you that. The camera on the mast should be good for that.

This is another day-charter excursion boat with a load of people having a picnic of their own. The boat to the right is the trimaran Minx, of which we have written before. I just realized that the phrase "have written before" is redundant, isn't it. I hate reading my own writing. I can never stop trying to change things. It's never finished, is it. It always needs improvement. Discouraging.

That photo catches two squalls passing through Leeward, with a nice window of clear weather between them. We had to decide whether to try for that, or to sail around wasting time until the next break.

We decided that sailing around wasn't actually wasting time. Far, far from it.

There is a dramatic change from the broken up island rock to the smooth sand here. This is called Donna Cut. At one time it was a separation between Water Cay and Little Water Cay. Hurricane Donna hit here in 1960 and changed the topography of these islands for a long time to come. All this sand from the Caicos Bank was washed through, and filled up the space between the two islands.

This is the turn around the southern end of Little Water Cay. A lot of people have been referring to this as "Iguana Cay", which makes some sense. It's absolutely loaded with iguanas. Dooley has been kicked off this island by park officials, by the way. He only wanted to play chase. He wasn't actually planning to eat those lizards. They were bigger than he was, anyhow. That's all I am going to say about that incident.

What a difference the angle of the sun makes with this camera. The photos looking forward toward the clouds all make the water look gray and uninviting. But looking back behind us, it's totally different. This is what the mast-cam sees looking back with the sail in the picture:

And the image looking forward with one of our other cameras just catches the edge of the squall we are ducking behind. That area in the middle where you cannot see the shore is being obscured by the rain. You may also notice there is no dog on the side of the boat nearest the thunder clouds. This is always the case.

The rest of this trip was pretty uneventful. We had a good run up through Leeward and even ran into our buddy Preacher at the marina. We got caught up with the local news. We had spent a week in the USA since the last time we saw Preacher a couple weeks ago. He is caught up in the political situation going on right now between the Turks and Caicos Government and the British. Most of the people here are following all this closely, and there are some strongly held opinions on how this country should be run. You can find out about all that if you do an internet search for either of the local newspapers. I try to keep the politics out of the blog.

We were in a hurry and real busy tacking our way up Leeward-Going-Through, so we didn't get a lot more photos of that trip.

This is the last of the over 1200 images that the GoPro recorded before the battery died. We were within sight of the marina. It's back behind that boat coming toward us from the left. So at an image every ten seconds, we got over four hours of battery life. One of the changes I want to make before the next GoPro experiment is to change the interval to one photo every thirty seconds.

Now we want to try something different. You've seen the still photos, and read the sequence of events for our picnic trip. La Gringa Suprema has put all the 1200+ still images into a 3 minute video. It's not really video I guess. More like the old early movie frames. You can follow along, sort of, and see how this whole four hour period went from the perspective of the GoPro camera. You can tell where we tacked the boat in and out to move into the wind, especially as we worked our way back into Leeward. We also tacked a few times to get closer to the beach on the way out. If you want to stop the video to look at a particular image, you can do that with the 'pause' button. Just like up town.

(music is 'Ketto' by Bonobo)

That's all I have from that trip. I had accumulated a few other photos since our last post, but nothing much to get excited about. I have scads of DIY stuff, of course, but don't want to overwhelm people with that. I know some of you have shown some interest in the little hoist I built inside the garage, so I'll show you how that's working out. I just did my first test project with it.

You may recall I wanted to be able to lift about 300 lbs or so straight up from the floor, with a boat winch. I want it primarily to be able to 'stack' both boats inside the garage during hurricanes. I haven't built the little frame I need to attach to the kayak trailer to lift it, but in the meantime I found another good use for the hoist. I lifted the outboard off the skiff with it.

I've been wanting to experiment with the jack plate setup on the skiff. I've had problems trimming it down the way I like it, and am semi-convinced that the weight of the motor has been levering the stern down and the bow up. The boat came with a six inch spacer between the transom and the jackplate. I wanted to see how it ran if I took that out. It looked like this, originally:

That puts the weight of the motor about a foot behind the transom. This is only an 18 ft. boat, and fairly light. That motor weighs 350 lbs, and it has a few more pounds added with steering, cabling, oil, etc. Plus the jackplate and extension. It would be well over 400 lbs total. That has to put some torque on the transom, and wants to lift the bow out of the water.

Here's my new home-made hoist lifting the Suzuki off the boat. It worked like a charm. The rope is a safety line. Just in case.

And this is the motor while being reattached to the boat without the six inch spacer. I also moved the jackplate up about an inch and a half.

The whole job took less than a leisurely hour. The hoist worked perfectly, and I now have no qualms about hanging the 300 lb kayak and trailer from it while moving the skiff underneath the kayak. Now we just need to take the skiff out and see how this change affected the performance and especially the trim. And if I desperately needed some more bow-down trim-for safety reasons you understand-well....I know just where a pile of nice flat ballast rocks is sitting on a deserted beach not too far from here...

The hoist is a success. I used some suggestions you guys made, and attached the free end of the cable up to the bolt holding the upper pulley. I can see this being useful for a number of things. It would hold the weight of a Land Rover motor, for example. Not that I ever hope to have to remove one, but one never knows, does one? Stranger things have happened.

There hasn't been much going on around the house lately. We just went through several weeks of extremely unsettled weather. This is not unusual for this time of year. As the summer sun heats the ocean, the rising moist air builds into some really dog-shattering thunderstorms. We had that big low pressure thing going on for a week south of Haiti, and that affected us. We feel bad for the people who just happened to schedule their one week vacation during one of the few rainy weeks of the year, but it happens. Maybe we could convince the local hotels they need to issue 'sunshine rainchecks' or something. Give people a break on the hotel rates for future visits when this visit got rained on. Or even a discount for rainy days. They could afford it, and it would make good marketing tools. Advertise a reduced rate for any day with more than 50% cloud cover. It wouldn't cost them much at all over the course of a year. (Susan, Val, and Sonya... are you guys listening?)

I'd try to get you some video footage of Dooley during a storm, but he shakes and vibrates so much that all the photos come out blurred. He's either terrified or he's a vampire, near as I can figure. Maybe I should try to get a photo of him in a mirror to be sure. I do know the little sucker is terrified of thunder. Like you wouldn't believe. We're going to try wrapping him in an Ace bandage the next time. This is after reading an ad for a compressing vest to aid doggie anxiety. I saw it in the airlines gadget catalog on our trip to Pittsburgh last week.

One day about two weeks ago we kept hearing a boat calling for a tow from the other side of West Caicos. We were interested in this, because as sailors, we often wonder why other sailors drop their anchor and radio for (expensive) help when they have engine trouble. We might be naive, but we sort of think that if it were us, we'd just hoist a sail or two and head on in. Broken motor and all . Isn't that the very purpose of having all those big sticks and canvas and ropes and stuff on the boat in the first place? To move it without a motor?

We never did find out the reason this boat wouldn't sail to Providenciales from West Caicos. We've made that trip in an inflatable kayak. We do know they spent the night out past West Caicos, offering to pay someone to come get them, and that the local Marine Police finally went out and towed them in the next morning. The boat looks all right to me, but as La Gringa pointed out.... it might be that they lost their electronics and were nervous about sailing among all these thousands of coral heads in unfamiliar water with no lights. That makes sense. I suppose.

But if so, that points out one of the dangers of relying too heavily on electronics surrounded by salt water. Japanese wrist watches with built in compasses aside, of course. Maybe I better shut up at this point.

Dooley the Disinterested was paying more attention to the pack of feral dogs barking it up in the salina than he was paying to this disabled boat.

It's not just the big complicated boats that break down, either. Since we have a ring side view of the major boat repair facility in the country, we get to see a lot of these kinds of things. Having a fair bit of experience with broken motorboats, we had some sympathy for this next guy. He had the top cover off of his outboard for a long time one afternoon, as he drifted slowly by in the longshore current:

This is a pretty typical design for the small local 'conch' boats. They rarely have radios on these boats. Most of them don't even have compasses. Not even on their wristwatches. Imagine that.

(Hey, do you guys know how to determine which way is south using a standard analog wristwatch? If you want to know, write us and I'll tell you. It can be useful.)

There's just something universal about the motions of a man yanking the starter rope on an outboard motor, isn't there? One glimpse, and some of us know exactly what he's going through.

He eventually did get it started, and limped off to the south with one hand on the tiller and the other on the choke. Just in time, too:

It's not much fun being inside one of these squalls in a small boat when things are going wrong. Heck, it's not much fun even when they're going right, come to think of it.

And for those of you who wrote to me after our last French Cay trip, I have purchased a compass for our own small boat. I don't want to be caught offshore again with no visibility trying to navigate with just a wristwatch compass. That's the kind of thing that's good for a nice "whew!" when it's over. Once.

But what I wanted to say is that if you have some ideas for blog post photos that you would like to see, please let us know and if it seems reasonable we would be happy to give it a try. Same thing goes for the videos. La Gringa is really getting into editing and putting sound tracks to the videos. As one last example in this post, yesterday I set up the GoPro outside to see what a 30 second time lapse of an approaching squall line would look like. La Gringa turned it into a movie and added some music. I thought it was pretty cool the way the clouds are going in two different directions at the end. Fun stuff to play with.

(music is 'Above the Clouds' by Little People)

Are you guys enjoying the videos? We realize that they might take a while to load for someone with slow internet connections. We're looking for ways to make this all more entertaining.

And of course if anyone has any ideas how we can make any money at it, we're all ears!

Well, to be accurate, Dooley is the only one who is largely ears, unless it's in a thunderstorm. Then he's mostly wide eyeballs and shivering fur that flinches at the slightest horrendous earth shattering crashing noise. The little wimp. I don't understand how he can face down five dogs that each outweigh him by fifty pounds, and yet turn totally useless at a flash of light a mile away.

I think I have just about run out of fresh photos for this week. La Gringa Suprema contines to keep her eye out for decent sunset photos. She got this one over the Juba Salina recently:

We've got plenty of ideas for some future posts. We still want to show you the 'trash beach' beach combing experience. Lots of fun stuff there. And we have yet to explore the Jacksonville ruins over by East Caicos, and Joe Grant Cay. Joe Grant has been in the local news again lately. Seems the government has recovered that island from development plans. Yee haaa! Way to go, TCIG!

Don't stop now.


satbeachbill said...

That last video of the storm at 30 second intervals was cool. 30 seconds seems about right vs 10.
We have two small yorkies, one about Dooleys' size. They both HATE the thunder too. And especially 4th of July. You know what works? 1/2 a Benadryl. It will mellow them right out.
I know what you mean about wet vacations. we just got back from a week in St Martin and it rained 6 outof the 7 days. But, hey, we weren't working!!

Anonymous said...

That was a good one...the GoPro's cool.Who's Gringa's background music on the GoPro videos...sounds like Budda Bar stuff or maybe Hotel Costes???
Also like the spanish guitar stuff...
Anxious to hear how the different jack plate configuration works out..keep 'em coming...

Anonymous said...

Bill, I think part of the difference is that with the camera up on the mast, it's moving all over the place between shots. That's why it's jumping all over. Everything is moving. The video from the patio, the camera wasn't moving, so the only movement is the subject. We're still learning with this camera. It's got some possibilities.

La Gringa said...

The music on the time lapse sailing is 'Ketto' by Bonobo. The music on the time lapse weather is interestingly 'Above the Clouds' by Little People. I really enjoy the music of this band and eagerly look forward to their next release. I have also been oddly obsessed with Spanish guitar lately and the music from our picnic spot is 'Guitar Romance' by Armik who is a standout. I use his music a lot. Checked out Buddha Bar and Hotel Costes - some real possibilities there! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Happy to see the GoPro going! Results are fantastic. Great perspective from the top of the mast. I think you'll be learning up on cinematography soon enough as it's all art. Fromm everything seen with the wide angle, there's always a point of reference, be it the camera is behind the surfer so he is in the frame all the time, or the sky diver himself is as well, etc etc. others it's just that massive fish eye satellite looking shot. Which is cool on its own of course.

There is a regular lens housing, which maybe someone can pick up for you on their next visit. For the breathing holes as was mentioned before, cover them with loosely with gortex incase it fall off, or tape some polystyrene to 3 sides so if it does fall in the water it self rights.

Can you put it in the current housing backwards, so the lens is flush aganst the clear backing?

Lot's of interesting and fun things to be had. Be interested in some dive shots with it, which may make a difference when filming closer, some conch shell diving would be cool.

If you really want to wet yourselfs, watch this in full screen. Totally nuts!

Winch and pulley looks great. Pretty serious. Can open up an engine lifting service in there :-)

Anonymous said...

I love that video. We have the helmet/head mounts but haven't tried them yet. I am planning to put a camera mount on Dooleys life jacket, too.

I noticed in that video, however, that it doesn't have the fish eye distortion. Maybe it's another version of the camera.

I can't put the GoPro in the housing backwards. The lens has to fit inside the little lens dome, and the buttons have to line up.

We'll figure it out. It's fun to play with, anyhow.

Anonymous said...

You can edit out the barrel or fisheye look. It's preferable to have the wide angle as default and "downsizing" as need be vs not and wanting it which of course can't be edited upwards:

Anonymous said...

Here's another one, nothing's ever simple with anything out of the box when it comes to digital 1's and 0's.

There's probably some default software in the latest windows or from GoPro to edit this effect out if wanted.

Probably a simple "click" on an option to fix it all without having to buy anything else.

Anonymous said...

btw-I'm in the market for the GoPro myself hence my interest and enthusiasm, and interest in seeking info/solutions etc. with encountered problems. So please do detail solutions / info you find as you go along discovering and working with it. Thanks!

rumblewagen said...

Love my little GoPro camera!

Would rather be taking pics of the scenery down there vs Texas roads here.


rumblewagen said...

Oh yeah, what are you guys using to put the photos into a video?

Golfdock said...

I loved the "video" of your boat trip. A friend of mine uses the thundershirt for his dogs and he can't say enough about how much calmer his dogs are during a storm. Love the blog and can't wait till our vacation to Pine Cay.

NatGeoWannaBe said...

Excellent job pairing the music with the "video"!

Jon said...

great post. I think removing the spacer on the skiff will help a lot.

about the fisheye distortion. I'm no expert on the GoPro but have done a lot of diving and some U/W photography. I usually see fisheye lenses in under water applications. I wonder if your housing is intended for underwater use and therefore has the fisheye lense. Maybe there's a housing intended for terrestrial use and has a normal lense. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

We'll be giving it a try underwater pretty soon.

Jon said...

I believe you'll find the fisheye lens will have zero distortion when used under water. Looking forward to those U/W clips and commentary!


Caitlyn said...

I actually really love the fisheye effect in the photos. Makes for something different in your pics, once in a while. If you do remove the effect, add it back in again once in a while.

Some of the stuff I'd like to see you post more about is the stuff you probably find run of the mill now... Like that recent post where your son said: "incase you haven't noticed Dad, there's some really nice looking water here!"

I'd like to see posts about:
-flora and especially fauna
-the roads
-all the different colours of water you can find in one week
-locals you know well
-things locals love to do that you don't "get"
-something you miss about life 'back home'
-things you thought you'd miss but don't
-things you definitely don't miss
-Where the hell TCIers buy their clothes (still can't figure this out. Especially bras)
-the process of shipping stuff to yourself from afar

that kind of stuff. daily life stuff. in addition to more gorgeous water and weather. :)

La Gringa said...


Funny you should mention where to buy bras. I found this to be a particularly perplexing question myself. Finally after a year of living here, I was shopping for groceries at the IGA. When I got to the check out lane, I leaned over and said to the checkout woman, "I have to ask... where do you buy bras in this country?" She simply replied.. "Miami"

Caspar said...

They sell a flat lens specifically for filming underwater here (check out the shark video)

The other neat timelapse suggestion is to put it on a egg timer and get a 360 timelapse.

Only thing I can think of with your videos is higher resolution. Youtube will display at low resolution for those with low download speed but I would love to see it clearer unless it is your upload that makes you limit it.

Anonymous said...

More Comments! Great! we love it.

Jon, I am hoping that moving the weight of the motor forward will help with the trim. I already know what effect having the prop up close to the transom will have: I won't be able to go as fast in real shallow water. However, I am interested in being able to go slow in shallow water. A lot of the places we want to explore will require us to kinda feel our way through. It's tough to do that when we need to stay on plane. It's pretty white knuckled when going flat out in unknown water full of rocks and other surprises.

I just looked up the specs on the Yamaha Enduro two strokes ( You can't buy them in the US anymore) and their 75 HP three cylinder weighs less than 250 lbs. ( ) I strongly suspect that would be a great motor for this hull. Thats about a hundred pounds less than the Suzuki DF90.

There are far, far more Yamaha Enduros here than any other outboard, hands down. If anything ever happens to this four stroke, I would replace it with a lighter motor.

Anonymous said...

Caspar, thanks for the link. I obviously appreciate any help with this camera, to get something out of it that you guys want to see. I plan to try it underwater, but I am also pretty happy with the Olympus Tough 8010 in it's underwater housing. I suspect that will be the Go-to vs the Go-Pro for the underwater shots. I am thinking of ways to rig a remote shutter button pusher for the point and shoot waterproof cameras.

re: resolution, we are already shooting at the highest resolution the Go-Pro has. Its on the 'r5' setting. Is there some way to control the resolution with youtube uploads? If so, we haven't been aware of it.

Anonymous said...

If you watch the video on youtube you'll see the setting:

It's only 480p.

1. There should be a setting to click HD on youtube when uploading

2. You want to save the movie in its original format after you've edited. I suspect it's being saved as a smaller (lower quality) file to save on uploading time?

That's where the HD is being lost or if not, you may have to select HD when uploading.

It's an interesting point because the main idea with the GoPro is its HD capabilties and crips sharp movies. But if the Olympus does the same (so far all its videos have been SD),and just a file saving (smaller = lower quality), then all is well. Just save all videos in largest / original format and select HD when uploading. We'll have the crisp sharp HD movies regardless of which camera.

For the highest quality, YouTube now recommends the following setting for your video:

MPEG4 (DivX, Xvid, H.264) format
1280×720 resolution or 1080p

128k Mono or 320k Stereo MP3/AAC audio

24,25 or 30 frames per second

Up to 2GB file size and 15:59 min. duration

YouTube accepts a wide range of video file formats such as .WMV, .AVI and .MOV but you may get the best results from converting your file to MPEG4 video with MP3 audio


Anonymous said...

Thats some great information. Thank you.
I just checked the Olympus, and it's only settings are the Image Size "720p, VGA,QVGA" and the Image Quality "fine and Normal" settings in the video menu. That's what we use.

LaGringa is reading up on the YouTube site as I type. And she pointed out to me that we haven't uploaded any Hero videos to Youtube yet. Those time-lapse sequences of sailing and the squall were compilations of stills.

Sounds like the Go-Pro should have the better video quality. I think I just need to keep it to short bursts of intense subjects.

Now if I can just get back out there and find some intense subjects...

Anonymous said...

Have a look at how crisp the following video is:

You can see what resolution it is playing in 720p HD on my end. Click on that button and you can adjust the quality and see how it deteriorates the lower the resolution. The GoPro should be as crisp as this video.

jeeperman said...

I too am interested in the same run down requested by Caitlyn.

I wonder if the fogging issue with the sealed housing can be solved with a packet or two of that desiccant. Some was likely inside the retail box it came in.

Jon said...


I think you'll also find the boat handles tighter without the spacer too.

Agree with you on your engine ideas. 4strokes are common in the states but not so much elsewhere. the 4 strokes are much more complicated to work on and much heavier than the old 2 strokes were great. I had Yamaha "2 bangers" for years -- great engines. Enduro is probably your best choice since it's so common where you are. You might also consider the Evinrude Etecs. They're 2 stroke with much improved efficiency. I've heard good things about them but again... servicing an Enduro in TCI is a big advantage.

Anonymous said...

awesome post, the vids were GREAT!!

Anonymous said...

Go-Pro has come out with some very thin anti-fog inserts for the camera. There is only enough space inside the housing for something like a matchbook cover doubled over. I tried to find some close to where we were in Pittsburgh two weeks ago but no go for the Go-Pro. I'll get some when I can.
I've got lots of the packets, and some tubes. I dry and re-use them.
none of the standard granular silica gel stuff will fit inside the housing.

Anonymous said...

Jon, these guys rebuild their Enduros in an afternoon using standard tools. I can't tell you how attractive that sounds to me.

The only thing more attractive would be an outboard that rarely needs fixing until it just eventually wears out. So far, this Suzuki is running like a top shelf Seiko. And I understand a lot of the parts are identical with Suzuki automobile engines.

It's heavy for this little boat, but that's not the Sukuki's fault.
I'm working on that. Keeping the bow tank filled helps. A combo 'roll bar' windshield and front console seat would help, too. Boats need constant fiddling with.

Good thing I like fiddles.

Anonymous said...

shark attack between french cay and provo. that's your haunt?

on your map it looks like quite a distance, certainly not like inshore. more like a proper ocean channel. Or is that distance misleading?

La Gringa said...


Congratulations Gringo on your 250th post!!!

Anonymous said...

250 posts, and I just finished reading every one of them. Great blog, guys. Yo, Gringo! Keep the DIY stuff coming, I'm a big fan!

S/V MoonPie
Pass Christian, MS

Caitlyn said...


... oops. How'd we all forget that? Not enough fanfare in your post, I say! For your 300th, I expect more tooting of your own horn. {You decide whether documenting The Tooting of the Horn will require the fisheye lense or not. Or perhaps LaGringa can chime in on that one. Also, keep in mind, this may present more problems when trying to attach it to your mast.)

Thanks for the Bra tip, La Gringa. We're moving to town in October so I will be sure to ship a lifetime supply of bras with me when I come. What does that mean, in Miami, anyway? I've heard that for SO many things. Does EVERYONE hop a plane once a year or something, or do they fedex all their bras (and other items) in??

lol. So much to learn. So little time. So minimal a desire to trip on my own unsupported girls when jogging gracefully down the beach.

Jan O said...

La Gringa, you just get better and better with your videos! LOVED the time lapse movie of the whole trip, and especially the last storm front one! I am in agreeance with "Caitlin" in what subjects I would like to see you cover. Also please can we see some of Dooley in action? He is such a daggy dog, and has a real following here with me....and I don't even like dogs that much!
Best regards from Jan O in Sunny downtown Newman Western Australia

La Gringa said...

Caitlyn - The retail business here is evolving but there is still so much you can't buy. Some folks do all their shopping in Miami and yes, they hop a plane just for that purpose. You will notice the large volume of luggage that comes back from Miami with people who live here. Things CAN be FedEx'd but it is costly and you will pay customs duty no matter what. UPS has become a standout but you are still shipping internationally. We usually buy what we need when we visit the US. Or we internet shop and ship to our kids when they visit or other family members that are headed this way. Mostly, we just learn to live without stuff!

Jan O - Glad you like the videos - this is a new creative outlet for me and I'm having a blast with it. Gringo rigged Dooley up with the GoPro on his life jacket the other night as a test - stay tuned! ;-)

Anonymous said...

LOVE the videos! 30 seconds is just right! Thanks so much for keeping us enthralled! Congratulations on the 250th post. Tripp sends Dooley happy sniffs and wags.

Anonymous said...

i'm guessing master dooley will have nothing to do with having a camera attached to him? most if not all dogs hate having foreign things on them, though since he's used to the lifejacket, wonder if he'd notice it attached to that. maybe squeezed inbetween the handle even if it films sideways? Still think if you attach it to the landrover bumper and gave us a tour of the island on a nice sunny day, the results would be spectacular.

In the meantime check this out, a seagull steals a gopro camera!

Anonymous said...

I managed to get the GoPro helmet mount for bicycle helmets with vents attached to his life jacket. We now have over an hour of video from Dooley's perspective. It needs a lot of editing. It's bouncing all over the place when he's running, but there are lots of usable spots when he's stopped, and some pretty decent footage from him swimming. That stabilized the life jacket.

We just need to edit up the video. By 'we', I actually mean La Gringa. She puts the little videos together, adds the music, and uploads it. I just take pictures and write captions. And not even all the pictures.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great! Dooley the Camera man. Don't forget that in the credits at the end.

For the dessicant. just open a few packets, and empty the beads directly into any available spaces between the camera and the housing. The packets are just that nothing more. Once finished empty it over a table or into a container and recoup and redo the next time etc.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog! I'm an ocean/island/boat loving DIY'er, so this is right up my alley...oh, and a huge dog guy too so I love the Dooley disquisitions!!

Have a great day!

justaroofer said...

Do you know if Bottle Creek Lodge is still in operation? I checked them out on your recommendation and it looks great. Their website only had rate info for 2007/2008 though and I sent them an email and haven't heard back. We're planning a trip to TCI in November and their place looks right up our alley.


Dorkmanship said...

Man, I love reading your blog. You two add a touch of happiness, humor, and adventure that I just find intriguing. You should look at expanding your YouTube channel. Start posting more often, of better yet, more regular (like an every Monday show). Through editing, keep them between 5-10 minutes but since the subject is so interesting (and least to me) make a part two on Wednesday or something (still below 10 minutes) and it would be perfect. Thus subject, this consistency, you two and the pup, you'll build subscribers. With that, apply for YouTube partnership and then you'll have an add on your YouTube page next to your videos. The more subscribers, likes, views, comments you'll be making that paper!

Love you guys and be good!

Anonymous said...

Joe, my last several emails to Jay and Sandy (Bottlecreek) have gone unanswered. I know they moved back to Virginia, but I thought they were working on a way to keep the lodge open. But I have no more info on that.
In the meantime, we are hearing great stuff from people hiring Darin Bain to take them bonefishing in his boat from Provo. If you need a contact for Darin, let me know.

I've heard there is a new bonefishing operation going on Middle Caicos, but I can't personally vouch for them as so far I don't know much about it. I'll try to look into it.

And for you GoPro fans out there, we are continuing to educate ourselves and experiment with this interesting little camera. We just picked up some dessicant packs for it in Austin this week ( got back yesterday) and have some ideas for fun stuff. Hopefully, if the weather stays reasonable we will be back out with it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeremy, and thanks for the Youtube suggestions. As you can tell, we are just starting to use more video in the blog, and having a lot of fun with it. So we welcome any help and advice.

We don't yet know how to make any 'paper' using the blog, or videos. Google Adsense blocks us from making any money using their ad system. If it wasn't such a hassle to change over we would move to something other than Google for the entire blog.

We do receive a few dollars from our very few unobtrusive advertisers, but basically that doesn't even cover the gasoline for the outboard, much less the cost of cameras, batteries, etc. While it would definitely be nice to at least break even on the costs, the truth is that we got into this on our own nickel and I expect us to continue in some form or other as long as we keep seeing any interest.

So far, people do seem interested in our little micro adventures. That helps make it fun.

Dorkmanship said...

Absolutely. Part of the reasons I like your blog and videos so much is the fact that you are obviously very much interested in it. So the fact that you have a love for it and are willing to do it regardless.

You'll develop your video technique out and continue to grow. If you get enough followers on YouTube, I'm telling ya consider I think if you talked into the camera (Vlog style), edit in photos and videos you'll be fine. With Dooley the Director I'm sure you'll be perfect!

You'd only have to watch out using copyright music, but that is something you could figure out later.

Keep up the fun an interesting posts, mate.

Anonymous said...

First off I would like to say great blog!
I had a quick question which I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.

I've had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!

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Anonymous said...

I guess I really don't consider this to be what I would call 'writing'. I would describe this more as what to expect from someone trying to write captions who doesn't know when to shut up.

I don't do anything different than when I am writing a comment here or responding to an email. It's basically just whatever is running through my mind at the time. Hopefully influenced by the subject matter in most cases.