Friday, January 17, 2014

Devil's Cut Aerials

This is going to be a continuation of our last trip out to Pine Cay before the holidays.  I'll explain why, too. We just spent a month in the USA with our boys.  And one brand new grandson.  We're back in the islands now, but I had to tap into our last trip out to Pine Cay to come up with some posts during our absence. Did you notice there was no Christmas Stump this year? We had a white Christmas for a change.  First one in nine years. I had to wear shoes! And socks! And buy long trousers and a hat and walk around shivering all day.   It would be an understatement to say we're glad to be back in the tropics where ice behaves itself and usually has nothing to do with driving.

So, back on topic and continuing our little aerial survey of Pine Cay, we were trying to get some decent photos during  clear mornings before the day eventually got around to that annoying little habit of turning into uncooperative squalls by the afternoon. This was a pretty good morning, but the cirrus was starting to show up, along with some alto cumulus.  "Mare's tails and mackerel scales / Make tall ships carry low sails."    I kinda like the photo, though.

What that all means from a practical standpoint is that an old procrastinator like me  needs to get up and get started early in the day.  Because when the mornings start out like that one, there's a good chance that the afternoon will be doing something else entirely with all those atmospheric components.  

And I like to get started early.  Really.  I do. It's just that my definition of  "early" has a fairly loose tolerance built into it. It can change.

La Gringa had business on Pine Cay, which left Dooley the Delinquent and me free to mess around with the kite. We thought we'd see if we could get a  better angle on the little opening known locally as "Devil's Cut".  It's a dangerous little opening in the north east corner of Pine Cay. I've labelled it here on a Google Earth image for you..

To be accurate, Dooley doesn't really care all that much where we go on these excursions.  He's quite good at finding ways to entertain himself anywhere, within reason.  Sometimes he disappears for ten or fifteen minutes at a stretch, and just about the time I start getting worried about where he's gotten off to, he'll show up exhausted with his nose covered in sand. In this case, he was breathing hard and refused to answer any questions about what he'd been up to. I didn't see any blood, so I let it slide.  I try not to pry.  You know how they are at this age.

I would have sworn that we'd posted photos here somewhere of Devil's Cut from the water surface.  I did a search through the blog looking for those images, but could not find the one I was searching for.   I wanted to explain how I think this place got its name. From a perspective at the water's surface, this opening between two small cays looks like a good place to scoot through in a boat.   The water color here is usually a good indication of depth, and this water looks deep.   I thought perhaps putting a camera up over this formation might clarify things a little.

It was a pretty thin excuse to go fly a kite, but it was good enough for Dooley and me. We'd goofed around most of the morning and true to form it was clouding up pretty well by the time we made our way to the far, remote ends of Pine Cay. We were losing the light already by the time I got the kite, the string, and the camera all sorted out.

In addition to the squalls starting to blow through, we were having a difficult time getting the kite to fly steadily in  changing wind conditions.  I did manage to get a few aerial shots before we decided to head for the house.  This one shows you how the water color between these rock formations could lead you to believe that the water is deep through here.  And it is deep, for the few feet where it flows strongly during the tidal surges.  But look at how shallow it gets immediately once it opens up.  Pay no attention to the Bozo on the rocks.   He's just there for photographic scale.  And as a place to tie a kite string.

Off to the left side of this next photo you can see the real channel that everyone uses here.  It goes through a much larger cut called Grouper Hole.   It's got a lot more clearance than Devil's Cut.

While I was perusing  old blog posts looking for the Devil's Cut photos I wanted to show you, I ran across a lot of images from the time Preacher cooked us a traditional New Year's dinner on the shore over at Grouper Hole. Our little cookout was on that point of land right in the top left corner of that photo.  We had conch, and fish cooked in a pot sitting in a fire in the rocks.  We ate off of palm leaves. Nice memory.

I was thinking of wading across the little cut and taking some photos from the small cay there.  Then a squall blew through and I found myself frantically pulling the kite down and running for the golf cart.  I backed the cart into a thick group of bushes to shelter from the rain. Then when the rain stopped I put the kite back up, still thinking of making my way over for another perspective.   You can see where I found a good spot to back the golf cart in for some shelter.  The only spot around, come to think of it. And not really all that much shelter, now that I  study the photo and think back.  I guess shelter is a relative term.  It was slightly better in the cart than it was in the driving rain.  How's that for positive spin?

It was well into mid afternoon by this time, and and I was seeing one rain storm after another heading my way.  This next one finally made up my mind to pack up the toys and head home.  I could tell it had my name written all over it.   Until the thunder started.  Then it was Dooley's name, definitely.  After that first surprising lightning bolt, he was shaking so hard his footprints  were six inches across.  I watched a mosquito make three missed approaches on him.  

I'll confess that I used to make fun of Dooley's lightning phobias.  But after getting hit twice in the past 18 months, I've started listening to him. I think he's pulling my leg about dogs being especially sensitive to electromagnetic threat, but I don't argue with him any more.  We used to laugh at lightning.  These days, we boogie. There have been a couple time lately I wanted to climb into his Presidente beer carton with him just to wait one of these out.

Warning... the rest of this post is mostly about boat stuff.  DIY kinds of things. You probably wouldn't like it.  I know I don't. This life has NOT turned into a Corona advertisement.  But changes are in the wind.

We did get some more aerial photos on this trip, mostly of the sand swirls and patterns over on the beach side of the island.  I'll save those for the next post.   I'm sure you can tell that we're running a bit thin on the open water explorations lately.  That's because we're spending  almost all of our time working on Twisted Sheets.  Now, that's a subject I could write many pages about. We've been trying to spare you the nuts and bolts of it all. I can't really talk much about our present activities in Provo without talking about the boat, though.  It's going to be a long haul, composed of dozens of smaller projects.  We're finding patchwork repairs here and there that need rework before they fail entirely.  

For example, I was recently frustrated while trying to track down a small oil leak under the starboard engine. It's a simple banjo bolt, with two copper crush washers, and I couldn't understand WHY it kept leaking.   I learned how to anneal the copper by heating it.  I put a torque wrench on the hidden bolt head.  I took a small file and dressed the flat mating surfaces.  This is all simple mechanical stuff, but for two days no matter what I tried, this leak persisted.  Was driving me nuts.   Finally, I decided to remove the entire oil line.  This involves removing the starter and a number of bolts. And what I found was that the previous owner had glopped a badly corroded oil line up with some epoxy compound.  He never bothered to repair it properly when he got to a place where he could buy parts.  He sold us the boat knowing we'd get stuck with a major oil leak sooner or later.  And we did.   5.4 liters pumped into the bilge. 

Do I sound happy? I mention it here because of the frustration level.  I spent the better part of two afternoons trying to chase down this leak, never suspecting it was because of a bad repair a previous owner left for me. Bless his little heart. If I had known about the epoxy band-aid, I would have spent about ten minutes ordering the correct parts instead of several hours trying to figure out a leak.  Guess I should just be thankful it didn't let go somewhere between George Town and Provo.  And I am finding a lot of these scenarios. I guess the upside of this one is that now I know you can return copper washers to new conditions by heating them with a blow torch. This is good information to have.

This is the oil line in question, by the way.  A sixty dollar part, in the US.   Ninety bucks here. Plus shipping.  Plus handling.  Plus expediting fee. So bottom line, $120 worth of oil pipes cost me $234.58 Ah, sailing. Yes, the wind is free. The sails, however, are about five grand each...  I examined the same part on the other engine and realized that it, too, was about to break and spew engine oil all over the place.  So I ordered two of these.  Should be here next week.

I told you already that we've replaced one of the toilets in the boat with a Nature's Head composting toilet.  I won't drag out photos of that installation, but did want to mention another small example   of the 3D printer in use. I needed a transitional fitting to go from 1.125 inch PVC pipe to a three inch exhaust fan hole.  This is for an exhaust vent for the composting toilet.   The fitting that came with the toilet is too tall.  Keeps the door from closing. Visualizing what I needed, I drew it on a CAD program and sent it to the printer.

And when we returned to the house later that afternoon, the print job was finished and I had a new vent component that fit perfectly, held the PVC  snugly, and gave me plenty of clearance for the interior passage way hatch. I don't know for sure how many ABS and PLA parts I've now made for the boat, but I bet it's up into a couple dozen, at least.  And I know I definitely want to take the printer on the boat with us when we do eventually  move on board.

You can also see the bare fiberglass overhead that was exposed when I ripped the old vinyl and foam off the ceiling.  We still need to come up with a good way to cover this cosmetically.  Right now it's that ugly open weave fiberglass cloth look.  I need some thick gloppy paint or some other way of making it nicer. And smoother.  Two  part aliphatic resin paint has been recommended.  Whatever the heck that is.  I have a hunch I'll be finding out.

While I'm on the subject of that composting toilet, I been meaning to show you this photo. "Been meaning" is a Texas term, I think.  It means approximately the same thing as "I been fixing to..."     First some background.  These toilets need a composting medium in order to work.  Many people use peat moss, or even sawdust.  La Gringa was reading up on these heads on an online boating forum for women who sail.  She discovered that people have been annoyed by gnat eggs hatching in fresh peat moss.  I guess getting rid of the gnats in the boat isn't that big a problem, but she also learned that using coconut husks instead of peat moss eliminates the problem entirely.  And the coconut husks come packaged in compressed bricks instead of being loose in a bag like the peat moss. We like that better for storing it on the boat, so we ordered up a goodly supply of the coconut husk bricks.

And when I walked into the boat salon and saw this pile of toilet supplies stacked up, I figured I'd better make sure they all have the identifying labels on them before we stash these away in some hidden cabinet. Now, I just need to be sure to get the customs officials that can read English.

So that's mostly how our days have been going lately.  We try to get the house  maintenance and business related things done in the morning so that we can devote the afternoon to working on Twisted Sheets.  The afternoon rains are actually a boon in that they make it easier to find small leaks in the deck fittings and  I've been concentrating on finding and stopping fresh water (rain) leaks as a high priority.  The good news is that they're easy to find.  The bad news is that with 21 windows and 13 hatches, there are a lot of leaks to deal with.  For the hatches, I've found it easiest to just completely remove them entirely.

Removing the hatch frame lets me scrape all the old sealant off entirely. It also lets me inspect every single bolt and screw, and to replace those that need replacing.   And of course they all get wrapped in butyl rubber before being re-installed.  This is the largest hatch on the boat and is right over the inside helm station.

I'm also finding that most of the deck fittings are way past needing re-bedding.  The dark gray material stuck to the fiberglass deck in this photo is all that's left of what should be a solid sheet of waterproof gasket material of some kind. No wonder rain water was dribbling into the boat. The hatch to the left side of this photo also needs re-sealing.  And, I just noticed that you can see one of the  bolts that I sheared off when removing them. It's in the upper right hand corner of the photo.  This is typical.  This plate needs four new bolts and to be resealed.  And there are about a dozen of these on board.  At least. Excuse me while I go look up the definition of "patience" again. This is going to take a while. Ooooh..... there's "procrastination"... guess I went too far.  Maybe tomorrow.

Working on the boat down at the marina is a pleasant experience for the most part.  Now we're into the cruising "season", and there's a steady stream of sailboats and trawlers coming through over the next few months. Most of them will be headed south for the first half of the season.  These are the intrepid sailors who manage to free themselves from "Chicken Harbour" in the Exumas, and actually make it down to the Caribbean for the season.  Then in the spring time, we'll be seeing boats coming  through heading north as sailors head for their safe spots before hurricane season shuts the long distance boating down for a few months.

Recently we were privileged to have LA and Susan from the S/V Genesis tie up next to us in the marina.   We had a great week, showing them around the island a little.   We knew it was getting a bit chummy when we investigated a commotion on board and discovered that Dooley had decided to go visiting their cat, Lulu.  When I just typed those words, "Cat, Lulu" something from my distant past flashed between my ears. It was a little bit of a  Twilight Zone moment for me to realize my dog was involved with a cat named Lulu.  This was some kind of Zen or something.  A link to my earlier life.

But wait a minute, back in the here and now, I mean, for goodness sakes it's a monohull, Dooley!    Get back on board Twisted Sheets! I suspect the word 'cat' is causing the poor little fellow some confusion. He thought he knew what a cat was.  And they didn't have sails in his previous world.

Susan had to escort him off the premises.

We had a great time with Susan and her husband, Capt. LA while they were in town. They departed to the Dominican Republic while we were up in the USA getting frozen and snowed upon. Dooley has since tried to find Lulu, the contraband cat on another boat docked in the same spot. Or was that the felonious feline?

Most of these afternoons tend to come drifting to a natural stop sometimes around 5:00.  I typically notice that activity on the nearby boats has come to a halt while everyone heads up the hill to Bob's Bar.  Oh, that's the official name of the place, by the way. Bob's  Bar. I can't tell you how many fanciful and exotic names were tossed around up on that hill over the past few months.  T-shirt designs were discussed.  Potential issues of trademark infringements were evaluated by sundown barristers. Marketing and merchandising issues were examined in great detail.  The list of names grew, bit by bit. And finally, after many hours of sundown revelations, it's settled. It's subtle. It's perfectly descriptive, and easy to remember.

It's Bob's Bar.

 Here's the sign before it was carried out to the surfboard that's stuck next to the driveway.  I understand there are still some issues with the solar light, but don't worry.   You can find it.   It's the only surfboard standing by the side of the road with a sign saying "Bob's Bar" on it.   I'll get a photo of the surfboard eventually.

And Bob's Bar has made helped make the end of the day a real nice time to be in Southside Marina at sundown. And for some number of hours thereafter.


Anonymous said...

As usual enjoyed your posting. I just wanted to tell you also that a lot of us that follow your blog are boaters, and we enjoy very much when you are working on your boat, and yes there is a good chance we (I) can learn something new.


kristine barr said...

I've said it before. I too enjoy your boating things. I don't have a boat now but live vicariously through your blog.

Unknown said...

Gringo, your starboard hatch spacers are a great idea, however I'm wondering what magic sealer you used since none I know of will hold to starboard.

Yipster (FCB'er)

Anonymous said...

I have read of some type of glue people use for Starboard, but we didn't bother importing any as I agree with you. This stuff is the marine equivalent of thick Teflon.

However, for the hatch "gaskets", I am hoping I don't really need a glue or strong adhesive so much as a way to fill all the little voids between the smooth starboard surface and the textured deck. I replaced all the wood screws originally used to install the hatch with threaded machine screws and stop nuts with washers. The spacing of the bolts gives us more than enough mechanical attachment strength. I used 3M 4200 as more of a sealant than an adhesive. I made the size of the starboard pieces slightly larger at the base than the contact area of the hatch coaming itself. This gives me a broader surface to seal. I've scraped some of the cured 4200 of the starboard inside the hatch, and it stuck pretty good. I wouldn't trust it alone to hold the hatch to the boat, but with all those bolts, it's not moving. I just need to be sure there are no places for water to get under it. So far, so good.

Bill said...

I Enjoy your boating posts. That little 3-d printer is something else! I was also delighted to read that you plan to move aboard the boat. I didn't realize that was part of your long term plan.

Unknown said...

The upper left side of Devil's cut looks manmade; perhaps that was a dock at an earlier time. Looks too straight to be natural.


Anonymous said...

Bill, you know how these things develop. You get so tied up in the details of day to day that the original goal gets shoved back in priorities. You know the old line about alligators and draining swamps. When we decided to try living outside the USA, our "Plan A" was to establish a base, buy a boat, and go cruising and exploring. The economic storm that has characterized the Turks and Caicos since 2008 set us back three years in buying a boat. But now we're working to get back on track. We bought the boat, but the present tax structure of the TCI makes it impossible for us to import it. We plan to move on board Twisted Sheets, and sail and explore the rest of the TCI, the Bahamas, and we are especially interested in the Caribbean coast and islands of Central America. We haven't decided what to do with the house yet.

Anonymous said...

Great usual. Sorry you had to wear shoes & socks :( -Chris

Anonymous said...

I would suggest regular white gelcoat for the ceiling. It is very thick, durable and looks good. I removed the headliner and monkey fur sides from the cabin of my Bertram. The gelcoat looks great and is extremely easy to clean. Great post and pictures.


Chelle said...

I just discovered your blog while searching for something...I forgot what it was after being sucked into your punny writing. I have now wasted many hours pursuing the TCI and 'helping' you and Gringa with the boat projects. My hubby and I lived aboard a 41' Morgan O/I for 8 years, so many of your posts bring back the fondest of memories. I just wanted to let you know that you, La Gringa and Dooley feel a bit like long lost friends. Cheers from Key West!