Saturday, October 12, 2013

Heaving Down Rock

I've written about this time of year before. It's a transition zone between seasons. There's something almost magic about a lot of the days in late September and early October.  We get most of our rain this time of year with frequent  squalls blowing through. We also get periods when there's not much wind for several days in a row.  The ocean smooths out into slow, lazy, glassy swells.  And we get some spectacular, Dooley rattling squalls, too.   He slept in his 'thundershirt' last night.  Well, "slept" is not very accurate.  I doubt you could have closed his eyes with a three pound hammer.   So I'll correct myself.  Dooley hid under the bed shivering and shaking  in his thundershirt during an impressive electrical storm  last night.  All night. 

 And it took the power company until noon today to restore power.  Now that's a squall.   Why do these things always seem to happen at night, and on weekends?   Oh well.  Price of admission, I guess.

 Here's a recent sunrise from La Gringa..

  Rain is welcome here, within reason.  We heard parts of downtown were flooded this morning. These next couple of photos are from another morning rainstorm last week when I was trying to get a good photo of a sunrise through a local squall.  It didn't come out the way I hoped, but hey you never know unless you try, right?  Can you see the raindrops in the photo?   Little dark smears in the open part between the sun and the clouds.

You might just be able to see the line across the surface of the ocean where the edge of the squall is fingerpainting the top of it. The sheets of rain looked like transparent curtains drifting across the ocean. Of course I wasn't actually in the rain taking the photo.  Nah, I was up under the roof overhang with my morning coffee, fat dumb and happy. And dry.  My momma didn't raise no fools.   Well, maybe one.

That PVC pipe you see coming under the roof is part of our rainwater collection system.  The rain runs into the gutters, and then into these pipes, which connect to  two 9,000 gallon cisterns built into the house foundation.  We  usually get enough rain to cover almost all of our water needs throughout the year. We sized the roof with a four foot overhang all the way around.  This collects more rainwater and also provides shade when the sun is high.  We typically do have to buy about two water-truck loads of water a year, or 5,000 gallons, at six cents US per gallon.  US gallon.    And that usually happens early in the year, during the start of the 'dry' season.  Which also typically corresponds to when we have a number of house guests still left over from the holidays.  Once the guests go home, the rain alone is enough for the rest of the time. I should mention that this is also one of the last parts of Providenciales to get town water, so eventually we won't be relying on rain water.   I didn't say we won't use it,  because even with town water available.We prefer the soft rain water to the hard RO (reverse osmosis) desalinated water.  It's okay to mix it.

We went down to Leeward-Going-Through last Sunday to see if anything of interest was going on.    We miss hanging out at Leeward.  We were there quite often in our first two years here.  It was a different place in those days. It was quiet for a Sunday afternoon. This is typical for the season.  The overall population of Providenciales is at its lowest this time of year. A lot of local people take their yearly vacations during September and October.  Many of the people we know here are 'off island' right now.  And  the number of visitors from the USA, Canada, and the rest of the world is way down this time of year. They have their own autumns to enjoy, and kids  in school, and let's face it, this is the smack dab middle of hurricane season here. And I am not going to say anything else about that at this point because I'd have to go touch wood if I did.  I don't want to  jinx anything. We do get a lot of divers this time of year.   The diving and snorkeling is about as good as it gets. The calm water lets all the little particles of sand settle out, and the clarity is astonishing.  Some of the best underwater visibility on the planet, in my experience.  Thirty meters would be average, with more not uncommon.

This is a Google Earth satellite view of where we took our kite and camera setup last Sunday:

This is a photo looking down at a local point called Heaving Down Rock, which is at the tip of that big yellow arrow in the above photo. This is right at the very end of the Leeward Highway, with Leeward-Going-Through there between it and Mangrove Cay across the channel.  Don't you just love the names here? So descriptive.

Leeward-Going-Through is self descriptive, I think.  It's a channel that lets boats through between the islands. I sometimes tend to forget that not everyone who reads this blog is up on their nautical terms, so Heaving Down Rock might be a bit of a puzzle for some.  It's not the seasick sailor  kind of heaving.  Here's the simple definition from one of the online dictionaries:
heave down
(Transport / Nautical Terms) (intr, adverb) Nautical to turn a vessel on its side for cleaning.
We don't know  what this area looked like back in the "heaving down" days.   I think you can see how this area would have lent itself to pulling a wooden boat over on its side to clean the hull.   That's no longer done this way, here.  These days we pay for a travel lift to pick the boats up out of the water and they use pressure washers  to clean   hulls. I know my own imagination can easily erase the man made marina, and picture a wooden boat snugged up alongside the rocks here  200 years ago.
"Pressure Washer Rock" just doesn't have the same cachet, does it.

This area has a lot of significance for us.  Finally, for the first time, we can see the bottom over which our former boat Cay Lime got swept along with the floating docks that got torn away from their moorings during Hurricane Hanna in '08.  The boat was upside down right there where I am standing at the bottom end of  that kite string. By the way, the pickup truck in that photo contains two of the notorious Stubbs boys, Preacher and Joe. They had come over to say hello  after coming in from a fishing trip.  The back of that truck is half full of live conch.  And one barracuda.  These guys love barracuda.   And we've tasted it.  Not bad.   We've just got an irrational and ingrained worry about ciguatera.  It's irrational because we don't seem to mind eating grouper, and they eat the same small reef fishes the barracuda do. 

This is actually a better photo.  I had walked out onto the end of the rock itself.  This photo shows it all, Heaving Down Rock, Sherlock Walkin's Leeward Marina, and in the distance, the Conch Farm.  And that's Leeward Highway taking off to the right, up island.   Or is it down island? I'm still confused about which way is up when talking about islands and beaches.  Thought I had it almost figured out for a while, but then I gave up.  Or gave down, as the case may be.

That sandy spot between the floating dock and beached boats in the bottom right corner also serves as a local boat ramp for those who don't want to pay the $5 Mr. Walkin charges to use his boat ramp.  La Gringa thinks that this side of heaving down rock makes more sense as a place to  haul boats over.   There have been so many modifications over the years, I'm not seeing much evidence of where the original "marina" would have been 250 years ago.  I guess we need to mentally subtract all the man made stuff and try to visualize what the natural shoreline would have been.   I suspect the basin in front of today's marina has been dredged in modern times.

I find it interesting that such a simple thing as a well placed rock outcropping could have so much impact on the local history here.  I can't find much information from the early years.  I know there must be ships logs and personal journals somewhere.  Maybe in the museum on Grand Turk.   I'll have to look into that, because it interests me. For example, in modern times, this is where the very first motor vehicle on Providenciales was offloaded onto the island.  It was in 1966, and the vehicle was a jeep.   What an experience that must have been for the several hundred people then living on Provo.  That was the year I started driving in Texas. Legally.  There were sure a lot of cars on the roads in Houston back then. And one beat up jeep on Providenciales, with no roads at all. Cart and foot paths.

Discussing this with La Gringa, she had just recently read a story about that jeep, and how it influenced driving in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  We naturally assumed that we drive on the left here because this is a British territory.  I was somewhat surprised to find out that this isn't the case.    The 28,000 inhabitants of the Turks and Caicos islands drive on the left because of that first jeep.   No kidding.

According to a correspondent on the Turks and Caicos Islands Historical Society's Facebook page:

"The story behind why we started driving on the left. According to Mr. Bengt Soderqvist, the first vehicle which came here in 1966, which was a jeep had an accident, the tie-rod was bent and began to favour the left, hence the driver found it more comfortable to drive on the left, "and we started to drive left from that day". That puts paid to the belief of those who insist that driving on the left on the island is due to the fact that the traffic rules are patterned after the British."
So the driving laws in the Turks and Caicos Islands are based upon steering damage to a US built vehicle, and are totally unrelated to England.  Still doesn't explain why someone thought badly designed roundabouts would be a great idea at intersections, though. 

This next photo is not totally unrelated to England at all. The rather nice little home there in the middle of the photo is the former residence of the former Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  He's been on an extended vacation in Brazil awaiting extradition by the Brits for quite some time now.  Nice house.  But I bet he has some 'splaining to do.  Eventually.  This is going to be one of the most expensive Portuguese language courses in modern times.

This next one is another view more to the north west looking up Leeward Going Through.  We had noticed a "new' catamaran anchored out in the channel,which you can see in this photo.   We found out that another of the notorious Stubbs boys, Jay, had just bought that boat and sailed it down from Florida the week before.  We spoke for quite a while with Jay about his trip down. It took him a week.  He told us about some of the troubles he had, and why it took him an entire week.  We heard tales of having to wait a day for wind while anchored in the Exumas.   

That same trip took us 40 days.  Lack of wind was never an issue. I'm not going back into all that here. We all have our sea stories, don't we?  

As you can tell, the ratcheting camera-turning gear is still working fine on the kite setup.  We get photos in all directions just by tugging the kite string. This view is out over the Caicos Bank.   I  walked out to the end of the   remaining floating dock at the marina  for these next few images. Before Hanna in 08, there were three.

This is the view  looking back up the dock.

It's not  too difficult to take a look at the water on each side of that dock and tell which way the wind and current are running.

And I thought you'd appreciate what might be considered a somewhat rustic approach to ferry boats or water taxis. Yes, this started out as a home built conch boat. One of many here, of identical design, from the same pirated hull mold.  And now here it is a commercial ferry, tied up in the Pine Cay slip at Leeward Marina.  

A view from the end of the dock in x and y, with an additional z component of a couple hundred feet of altitude....

The camera just keeps rotating, so we get hundreds of photos to choose from on these excursions.  Don't worry, I'm not going to post hundreds of photos.  But I mention it because if anyone has any good use for an aerial image of anything in this area, there's a good chance we have it.

For example, I think this is a decent photo of the layout of the Conch Farm.   You can see the circular pens where the conch are allowed to grow until they are big enough change from looking for sea food to becoming it.  I know you probably won't be able to make it out, but on the horizon just to the right of center is a black dot.   That's the wreck of the old freighter La Familia Express.    You've sure seen plenty of images of that on this blog.

If you ever find yourself on Providenciales looking for something unusual to do, try taking the tour of the Conch Farm if you can. It's been going through some legal hassles lately, which is understandable. That's some prime real estate right there. Only a matter of time before someone figures out that a whole lot more money could be made than is justified by raising conch.  So, you might not want to put that tour off for too long.

Speaking of land issues, we just spent almost three weeks away from home during the growing season here. That creates issues of its own. I found a good use for the stainless tank we salvaged on West Caicos.  It makes a great little portable incinerator for sand spurs.  Or grass burrs.  Or stickers.  Whatever you call those things that puncture the bottom of bare feet and stick to your clothing if you let them get out of hand.  And  three weeks is definitely long enough for them to get out of hand.  I rip up the thorny little boogers and burn them.  Then I spray the area with herbicide.  Buys me about a month before I have to do it again.

And when I mixed up my herbicide, it necessitated another little DIY thing.  I discovered that particles in the stuff were clogging up the screen on my little hand pump sprayer.  So I balled up a piece of cotton fabric to use as a filter,  and siphoned the mix down through it. I can see four different projects going on at my work bench.  It doesn't always look this bad. The siphoning and filtering worked like a charm, by the way.  This is good info to have here.   Bugs and weeds grow year round, and the regular application of  'cides of various denominations has become a way of life for us. It's  definitely a case of better living through chemistry.

One more little DIY photo and then I'll end this. Several people have expressed an interest in the 3D printer.  I've continued to improve and tune it, and now have it printing surprisingly well for a home-built kit of plywood and cable ties.  It's to the point now where I can actually print projects taller than a few inches. The precision of the various carriages has to be pretty tight in order to stack this many layers and have it come out well. I've also learned more about printing things with  supporting
columns to hold up overhangs.  That all gets broken and cut away when the print is finished, leaving the supported part. It's still very much an old dog/new trick scenario with this thing, but I'm learning.

We're getting a fair bit of use from this Printrbot.  It's fascinating to watch it. I'm convinced that 3-D printing is going to be making some big changes in the world of manufacturing and home hobby projects. Do you remember that line in the movie "The Graduate" about plastics being the way of the future?  These days, I think it's 3-D printing.  And graphene, of course.  That's going to be even bigger.

Well, that's it for this post.  We should be able to get back out on the water in the  next few days as life gets back to normal after being away.     In the meantime..... keep smiling.


Anonymous said...

Nice. Photo's as awesome as usual. Need to leap over 3D printing to scratch 'n smell photo's over the internet so readers can get a real sense of how nice it is here in TCI. Still here :-) undecided when to leave ! Was outside when that storm arrived. Stood right underneath it as the claps of thunder took place. Quite something else as the clouds seem quite low. Haven't experienced that since child hood. Seen quite a few lightning strikes in the last few days, all offshore. But what stands out to me is they are all 'pitch' white. Not the same in North America where it's got a blue or purple hue. Just pure white lightning. What is the reason for that? Clean(er) air or something? Seemed less ominous in that colour while occurring actually.

kristine barr said...

Wow! that purple and orange sunset is gorgeous! The photo almost looks photoshopped. So, if you drive on the left , do you need cars with steering on the right?

Heather said...

We toured the conch farm back in 2004 and loved it. We are a geeky family....

Anonymous said...

There are cars here with steering on the left, and other cars with steering on the right. Our Land Rovers both were right hand drive. Our present vehicle is left hand drive. Going back and forth between here and the US, we find we've gotten completely comfortable driving on either side of the road from either side of the car. The biggest single adjustment for me was shifting a manual transmission with my left hand. But now even that seems normal.

We are now well trained for driving US Post office delivery jeeps.

Gary Worden said...

My wife and I are coming NOVEMBER 24, first time. What's the least expensive way to get to Middle Caicos and see the caves? Are there guides?

Obat herbal kanker payudara said...

thank's for your information and i like your post

Anonymous said...

Very very interesting post. Thanks!

Couple notes and comments.

1. I think you may need to upgrade or install the latest google earth. There's a time line feature showing the mappings from earlier to latest. For this Fort island its from 2004 to 2012 and you can see the difference. If your google earth is only showing 2004 image of it, something is not right. Here's a pic detailing that, you should see a button at the bottom on google earth called tour guide and a date next to it, click that date and a task bar as above with a slider for the image dates will appear. In the pic below, top is 2004 bottom is 2012

2. Went to the blog linked and read some about those guys surveying everything and a little bit of the history of the place, still not clear to me what they were protecting exactly, and specially with the cannons aimed in that direction. Obviously that's a channel to the north leading to South side of North Caicos. Must be some interesting info or reason for this protection? What could it be and where might it be?

3. Based on the size of those cannons, has anyone determined the range of them, and how far inshore the enemy could come before firing them? Seems so very shallow all around the cay. Based on your knowledge and experience of the depths around there, what size ship might come forward and how far? Unless it was drastically deeper everywhere 200 years ago?

Kite pics are amazing, hope you compile enough pics of everywhere and put it into a book. You can self publish today on the internet for nothing. Even based on print to order. Seems so little info on the islands anywhere, your casual documenting them over time will be immensely important and interesting to the future!

obat kanker payudara said...

Thanks for your information

obat benjolan di ketiak said...

Kite pics are amazing, hope you compile enough pics of everywhere and put it into a book. You can self publish today on the internet for nothing. Even based on print to order. Seems so little info on the islands anywhere, your casual documenting them over time will be immensely important and interesting to the future

Anonymous said...

Yes, we realize that we are documenting some of these views for the very first time. And we have thousands and thousands of photos we don't post in the blog.

We'd love to do a book about this experience and this place, but don't really have a clue where to start.

I think this blog alone would run several pages if it were all printed out. A book of photos of the TCI in the early part of this century is a very interesting idea.

We don't really expect to be living here full time for much longer, so we should probably grab all the material we would need while we're still here.