Friday, June 21, 2013

Looking Down on Malcolm

We took the KAP setup over to Malcolm Beach. We wanted some aerial views  to solve our long standing curiosity about what's  between the beach and the reef.  We've never been snorkeling in this area, and I'm not even sure why not.  Perhaps because from our usual beach view out over the water at ground level it looks somewhat foreboding for barefooted swimmers.   Or perhaps it was just poor planning on my part. That's always a distinct possibility that I've learned not to dismiss out of hand.   Is this one of those things that supposedly comes with age? I've always known that humans make mistakes, of course.  I've  complained about that for years. The new part that's been unsettling me lately is having to finally admit that I'm human. Thankfully, I haven't graduated to only human, yet.

Our last visit here was just three months ago.  We took a lot of conventional photos.  And I think they're  pretty good  beach photos in their limited scope.  But I've now been spoiled by what we can see from a couple hundred feet up. Not sure yet if I want to explore the obvious birdbrain comparison components of all this. But I do admit to liking that view.  I think it must be psycho logical.

 The view here doesn't really change much from year to year.  Different clouds.  Different boats.  Seeing that  big  liveaboard dive boat out on the reef typically means that this isn't Friday.    That boat spends Fridays at the Caicos Marina and Shipyard. The little Hobie catamaran zipping back and forth between us and the edge of the reef tells us there might be some splashing going on later.  We didn't think these guys were very experienced, just making a random judgement based solely on observation.

We  decided to walk down the beach a ways.  Or was it, perhaps,  up the beach?   I just spent 10 minutes online trying to find a clear definition of  which direction on a beach is 'up' and which is 'down', but no luck.  I did find out a lot about swash zones, longshore currents,  and beach drift, in the process of not finding the answer to my question. I read that destructive waves move sand down the beach, and constructive waves move sand up the beach.  This tells me you can't use the wave direction or sand motion to tell which is which. Could be either. There's still something puzzling about it all.  I guess this just proves that after all these years, I  still  don't know which way is up. On a beach, I mean. This is nothing new. It gets me down when I get sideways trying to look up what I'm trying to get over. Okay. I'm through.  

We walked over a nice beach, both up and down.  I guess that covers it.  Just enough sand to play in, and enough rock to make it interesting.   Those long, wide, smooth sand beaches like Grace Bay are nice to look at for a while.  But some of us think that they get boring eventually.  Like standing in the middle of the Kalahari with a sand pail and shovel.  Some of us need things to pick up and mess around with.  Things to kick over and look under.  Totally smooth beaches probably fulfill some  people's needs to run and throw footballs, but  I like the  natural clutter here better.   Without the football, baseball, and Frisbee players.  Dooley would be okay with a single tree for shade and relaxation, but he operates comfortably in the dimension of smell and is rarely bored in a windy place.  This beach has all the components, though.  Trees, rocks, sand, and hardly ever any other people.   And we can drive to it.

I found some  more interesting beach info on the internet while struggling with the 'up the beach' and 'down the beach' concept.  Did you know there are beaches that are more than 100 miles long?  Lots of them. 

Whoops on the Hobie. I bet these guys are glad they're not 50 miles from either end of the beach.  We pretty much saw this one coming.  Knew it was a matter of time.   Being the old experienced sailors that we are.  Our bet is that this particular catamaran belongs to the nearby Amanyara resort.  Because these guys were beating it like a rented mule.

I thought this urchin looked like a Lilliputian version of an old contact-fuse style sea mine.  I have a bit of a history with those things, so I'm somewhat preprogrammed to see explosive threats in my imagination.  It probably looks totally innocent to the rest of you, while I know some EOD people who will  be thinking of ways to slip a firecracker up next to this and....neutralize it.    But don't worry. The urchin was long gone to that big swash zone in the sky, anyhow.  That's just a hollow exoskeleton. And we don't have any firecrackers. 

We've been working at making this kite thing easier.   I built a heavy duty reel for the string.    I'd learned very quickly what a gust of wind can do to a 9 ft. kite, so I wear gloves now.  String burns are painful.   And on days like this we're learning to just pick a spot and relax for a while and let the camera do it's thing.   I think kite flying can be quite a relaxing hobby, once the details and stress are all factored out of the equation.  I guess that could be said about most activities. I mean, train wrecks could be a relaxing hobby if you took the details and stress out of it.

Here's my kite reel  See the Starboard brake pads?  

I was just looking at that photo and realized that if that wing nut unscrews, I'm screwed.  I think I better drill a hole in the  ends of that piece of shipwrecked rigging I used for an axle, and safety wire it. 

It took some doing to get the kite launched.  There is a shifting mixture of disturbed wind burbles and eddys and swirls as it comes over the land and trees and reunites with the flat ocean.  Once again, we learned something.  We have to quickly get the kite up above the turbulence level and into 'clean' air and stabilized before attaching the camera rig. Or there's a possibility of the camera discovering the old phrase... "pounding sand".  This is not good for cameras. The kite steadies with some altitude.  I've found that flying off a hill top can be tricky too, for the same reasons. Living here has turned us into students of wind dynamics.

The  summer sun here is strong enough to blister a bald head and boil a covered one, but we did have a cooler full of iced drinks with us.  Dooley hasn't yet found a hat he's comfortable with, but he uses that to his advantage.  It's his excuse for dashing out into the ocean for a cooling dip at every opportunity.  Then he runs back to do his doggy shake thing, sharing the salt water with the rest of us.  How considerate.

So, here we are, the three of us ensconced in our little temporary camp for the next half an hour.  I've gotten the kite up about 75 ft, and just attached the camera as I let the Dacron line out.   The camera that just took this photo was casting it's shadow on my toes.

After our earlier experiences I added a piece of nylon webbing to this reel thing.  And when we have steady winds over about 12 knots, the kite generates more than enough pull to lift itself, the camera, and even this relatively heavy wooden reel weighted with 1000 ft. of Dacron.  To the point where I can almost relax and let it fly itself, hands off.   If I were on some low friction surface like the water or wheels, it definitely has enough pull to move me. I'd mention ice as another low friction surface, but the chance of me sitting on a sheet of ice doing this.... well..... that's even more remote than this beach.

That piece of webbing started its tropical career as one of the rear seat belts in a Land Rover Defender 90.  Being the incorrigible and inveterate packrat that I've proven to be, I rolled it up and kept it for the past couple of years  after we truncated the canvas top of the Land Rover and removed the rear seats.  I just knew I'd find a use for this, eventually. I mean, if you consider the concept of eternity, it's all going to be useful... some day.  Right?  Just need a place to store it forever.  Such a simple concept, and yet such a hard sell to significant others.

Unfortunately, the down side of this is that in the five years we've been living in this house, I've managed to basically half fill a garage with bits of things I just can't bear to part with. I still pick up pieces of shiny stainless steel hardware when I see them winking at me seductively from the packed dirt of a parking lot. I've developed a respectable collection of stainless steel bolts, and nuts, and washers over the years. I never seem to stop to ask myself... 'if they were doing such a good job, why'd they fall off?' Doesn't matter.  If it's shiny I go into crow mode.  I want it.  It'll be good for something... someday.

As I let string out, the camera just soars up into the blue, snapping away every five seconds. 
The same wind that gave me fits in the turbulence behind the trees now does me a favor.  It's lifting the kite straight away from the beach and out over the water.  And so, here's why the offshore area looks so rocky from the beach.   It's because it IS rocky. 

I liked this last  photo of the camera's shadow before it crossed  over the wet sand and got lost in the ocean.    The shadow, I mean.  Not the camera.  The camera has a string on it.  It might get wet. It won't get lost. It managed to catch that breaking wave from above, just as it happened to break.

The nature of the bottom immediately became as clear as Caicos water to us once we saw these photos.  This is definitely not the kind of place to splash around barefooted. If we wanted to swim from the beach here, the best technique would be to get floating as soon as possible, and not touch the bottom at all. Or to wear some of those neoprene beach bootie things. Those work pretty well.  We had a couple pairs of really nice ones that we used when climbing up onto little islands from the boat.  Unfortunately, our beach booties were packed in Cay Lime with our diving gear when the storm took it, and them, out of our lives. We lost a lot of stuff in that storm.  But you know something?  We gained a few things, too.

This is another view up, or down, the beach stretching out toward the sands of Amanyara Resort.   That's the group of buildings off in the distance.  And you can see, the near shore swimming isn't all that inviting until you get to the resort.  That's probably why they chose that spot for it.

We were surprised to see how many pockets of sand there are out between the rocky parts and the reef.

One of those rare, undistorted views in the other direction, to the north, reveals a nice little gem of a spot for snorkeling. This is relatively undistorted because the line of the horizon just happened to bisect the camera view.  We still have a wide angle barrel distortion radially around the middle of the image, but it's just so much less obvious when the camera points straight at the horizon.
But what I'm excited about is the collection of connected sand patches that extends out from the beach through the rocky areas all the way to the reef.

This image reveals that there are several areas where a swimmer could wade from the beach out to clear sand bottom without stepping on anything unpleasant or carnivorous.  Now we know we have no excuses not to come back and actually get into the water here.  Drat.  Another excuse for a day at the beach.   I better bring the underwater camera and diving gear next time we head this way.  Are you guys tired of Malcolm Beach yet?  Are you interested in seeing what those ledges look like underwater?  And the dark patches.  What's all that about?   I don't know about you, but I gotta  find out.

We've got a lot more photos, of course.  But I am really, really giving this new approach to blogging a fair try.  The older, long posts would have 30-40 photos in them, and take a week to read. IF I can restrain myself to a dozen photos at a time, it's looking entirely reasonable to get one of these posts out every week.  If I could somehow limit the words.  I think I must be subconsciously trying to compensate for shorter posts with more words.  I think I can get this verbosity under control if I can accept that the posts are now shorter on purpose.  Of course, people can always just look at the pictures and ignore the words. That's what I do.

As we find ourselves with a new vehicle to tow boat trailers with, and with our old sailboat Twisted Sheets about to go back into the water, we expect things to actually pick up a bit around here blogwise. And we are very much looking forward to that.  We're tired of being land locked.  Or island locked, to be more accurate.

On top of our other whiny little setbacks, the weather has not been very cooperative for photography this last week.  We're pretty flexible as far as wind goes, but we absolutely require good light to make the pretty pictures.  We've been in this strong flow of moisture associated with tropical depression #2  that is over messing with the Mexicans right now, even as I write.  So no good sunrise/sunset stuff this week.  And I have to tell you, having two storms form around us already this season makes us nervous. We'll be staying within a day's sail of safety for the next few months of hurricane season.  Then we'll venture out a week from safety again. Just kidding, mom.

In lieu of a good sunset, I bet some of you might wonder what a 42 knot rain squall in the face looks like, right?   Yes? Well, I hope so.  Cause that's what we got here.  You can see the waves react to the sudden increase in wind velocity.  I was SO glad we were not ten miles  out there in a small boat, this time.  We must be learning.


Gail said...

First day of summer here in Colorado and we could sure use some of your moisture! Thanks for the great post. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gringo and Gringette. I know all about the "strange shiney things I must have" partner has it too! We have a shed full of stainless steel bits and pieces for just in case. He was actually contemplating "relocating" a massive stainless steel turnbuckle off an overhead sail at a resort in Central Australia....until sense took over the bright and shiney things haze in his brain, and he realised how futile his yearnings were! Once again, loving your blog...keep 'em coming! Regards from sunny downtown Dungowan Valley in New South Wales Australia, Jan O

kristine barr said...

Are we gonna get a picture of twisted sheets when you get her back? Also how is the new car/truck doing? How are you keeping it from rusting away too.

Anonymous said...

" Such a simple concept, and yet such a hard sell to significant others."

A-MEN, brother!! I don't know how many time scavenged bits of hoarded objects have repaired SO's or grandkids stuff - and she still complains! Aaahhh, c'est la vie - or whatever they say in Turkey.

Thanks for another dose of the good life, Gringo.


Anonymous said...

We've put a lot of effort into the new vehicle. Researched various undercoating types and had Butterfield Motors do an undercoating job on it. I bought a gallon of undercoating for touchup etc. Also crawled around in the dirt and painted exhaust with hi-temp paint. Bought 4000 psi pressure washer, and a four nozzle thing specifically to blast the underside of cars. Did all this while it was new, and before any rust started. We sure hope it makes a difference.

bfljax said...

Love your post full of verbosity or brevity! With Reader gone I thought I lost you blog but I'm connected again. Living a caribbean life vicariously through your beautiful pictures and words.

La Gringa said...

Kristine, hoping to splash her very soon after some badly needed repairs! :-)

Unknown said...

Yeah, I have to say I concur with everyone else of the scavenging part. Except mine is more of hoarding, since I work for a hardware company and stainless parts come VERY cheap to me. I'm stockpiling for when I grow up and be like you guys.

I have to say that I love the new format on the blog. It's the frequency of posts. Long or short doesn't really matter. Having a post of just photos would be great in between also. I really enjoy the aerial shots out over the water. I'd like to see what you find underwater at Malcolm Beach also. Hope to see you guys out on the water again soon too.--Eric

Anonymous said...

Thanks. We had a busy weekend, but not sure it's worth posting about. Friday we finally got back on the water, sailing the Hobie sixteen miles to Pine Cay marina and back. Our longest trip yet in the kayak, and a little "shakedown" trip for the new trailer hitch and car. Haven't pulled the skiff yet.

Parts are here for Twisted Sheets and we are hoping to get her re-launched soon. Spent Sunday walking the beach at Leeward with a new kite Pentax camera setup. found out that I need to tweak a few things with the pendulum rig. A picovet would be a nightmare here. We've now got higher resolution than the GoPro, but giving up the wide angle has it's trade off in a narrower field of view.
Funny, it all looks so easy online, but doing it repeatedly in 15 knots of wind is not so simple.

Anonymous said...

Short posts, long posts. Whatever. Love the DIY love the dog posts. Love the camera posts. I guess I am just an overall fan. My time to read is after I retire for the night. I'm always overjoyed when there is a new post. When there isn't I find an old favourite. Thanks for all you do to keep us with you

Unknown said...

Almost forgot about this. With regards to your undercoating, have you seen rustoleums neverwet? They finally released this product; I remember seeing it a year or two back. They claim it will prevent any corrosion where it is applied. It's worth a look anyway.

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen Neverwet here, yet, but will keep an eye out for it.

We've had the new vehicle completely undercoated with a two part, hard compound. I've got a gallon of a different compound to coat things as needed. Also have a set of plastic ramps to make it easier to get under the car, and I've got this four nozzle sprayer that does a heck of a job underneath the chassis when hooked to a 4000 psi pressure washer. I think it's the most we can do.