Monday, March 23, 2015

March Mix

That was one fast week, as fast weeks go.  And go it did.  I'm hoping this is just my 'magination (humming) 'running away with me'... but have the weeks been flying by quicker than usual lately?  I think maybe it's because I want things to be completed here, and they take many times more time than I have time for.  If you know what I mean.   We are finding ourselves spending time on the boat even when we're not working on it.  It's making that transition from the boat to our boat.  Or maybe we're the ones making the transition.

This morning was a real corker of a sunrise.  Not that this is something unusual, as we get a pretty good string of sunrises here.  Speaking as experienced sunrise observers.  But some just seem to have an extra drop of vivid in them.  Like whomever was putting them together had an exceptionally generous morning with the cosmic paintbrush.  Do cosmic paints have solvents in them?

This one was changing quickly even while I was snapping away. We had near clouds heading east, and high clouds heading south. And the sun was flicking the water up and down the scale.  I didn't know which photo was going to be the good one.  So I turned on the timed interval function on the little Pentax and just left it clicking away at one minute intervals.  This is not the way we usually do it.  But it sort of worked.  Here's a one hour sample of this morning's sunrise:

We still find ourselves oohing and aahing sunrises like we did when we moved to this island ten years ago.  And we all still grab our cameras for the nicer ones.  Well, two of us grab cameras.  One of us is still miffed about the  whole opposable thumbs allotment thing.  He feels slighted after he saw some chimpanzee documentaries on the nature channel.  He immediately saw the applications possible with thumbs, and I don't think that he realized that some animals could operate a can opener.  Oh my.  I don't even want to imagine a world of Jack Russell Terriers with working thumbs.  It could be worse than a huge tribe of psychotic raccoon.

This week followed one of the two familiar patterns we've fallen into lately.  We have one pattern for windy days, and one for calm days.  We are just now coming to the end of a week of very calm weather.   Also known as bug time.

When the trade winds give us a break for a few days, the seas calm down and all the sand suspended in the roiled waters settles out and becomes sea bottom again.   We see the clarity of the ocean just driving down the road to town.  The water is about two meters deep  just  off the shore.  When it's stirred up it's a milky turquoise color.  But on days like this we can see every detail of the bottom from fifty meters away.

 When the seas are calm and the winds take a break from buffeting and shoving La Gringa and I like to take the paddleboards out for a quick run.   This week we were at it again.  The paddleboarding, I mean.  The skies were doing their best to try to intimidate us.  But the water was calm and we decided that after two lightning strikes within ten meters of us in a year the chances of a third were pretty slim.  Statistics, right?

I am not even going to attempt to tell you what Dooley the Disgusted thought of this entire idea.   I thought we were going to have to tape his feet to the board.  I kept telling him "Dooley, look over in this direction.  See?  It's nice and sunny to the east!"  Unfortunately, the weather was coming from the west.  Which is the direction of that photo above.   And the dog knew it.

So we didn't make a morning of it but settled for an intense little workout while we paddled madly out to the little cay where we always turn around and head back.   I thought about bypassing this one and heading upwind to the next little cay but it would double the trip and I figure even suggesting it would have cost me at least of third of the crew.   Maybe next time.  That's our next goal, there in the middle distance.  We've taken the Hobie out there a few times, but haven't quite made it on the paddleboards.  Yet.

We've saturated you guys with SUP photos over the past two months so I'll try not to dwell on that again.   Unless something interesting happens.   It's pretty much the same thing over and over that we wrote about before.   Like my old West Caicos diatribes. I have noticed that the trip is taking less time these days. We're becoming more comfortable standing on the boards. La Gringa took to it immediately, but I'm pretty clumsy and have had to work at it.  It's amazing how much faster that I can get to my destination when I don't fall off every fifty meters , bashing something organic and painful against the board, snorting sea water while bruising body and ego.    Ah, those were the days.  We've made it to the first stage of eventual enlightenment, or something.  Practice, I guess.

This is approaching the little cay still standing on the board, for a change.  I'm usually walking in the knee deep water and pushing the SUP by now.

And this is getting all involved with standing up and holding a camera with forward momentum up to the point where I suddenly realized that this thing really doesn't have much in the way of brakes.

I don't remember actually taking that photo.  I had intended to take one, and then suddenly realized that I was about to merge much more closely with my suddenly changing environment. I do remember what happened about two seconds after I must have pressed the shutter.  Ouch.

Turning around and paddling back to the island of Providenciales looks amazingly like this.  We're aiming for the little stretch of beach to the right of center.  .

You can see that the weather from the west is almost directly overhead by this point.  And we still had a bit of distance to cover.   I didn't mess around with the camera much after this.  For I had promises to keep, and miles to paddle while I weep.  Or something like that.   In the future we'll probably not bother stopping for photos unless we see something really interesting or different.

A few posts back we showed you some photos of  boats tied up in South Side Marina waiting out the bad weather.    And now after a week of good weather the marina is again full as all the cruisers who were trapped somewhere else for the bad weather head south in clumps.   I think they formed friendships while waiting out weather in Mayaguana and Luperon.  Now they're traveling together. It's been so busy we ran up to the top of Jim Hill to get some photos of the marina while it had a boat in every available slip, and two anchored off the beach waiting for slips.

The empty spots in the lower right are reserved for the day charter dive boats that operate here, and those spots will be filled by about 15:00 hours when the divers get back from West Caicos.

Here's another view, same day.  There are two sloops rafted together at the fuel dock.   And the bar has been doing a booming business throughout it all.  Bob told us he had his biggest night ever this week, judging by the amount of liquor that was dispensed.

We're working on our own boat  here on most afternoons, and if we finish up whatever project we're on early enough we'll make the new stair climb up to Bob's Bar while telling ourselves this is exercise and it's good for us.  This has been Spring Break week in many places and there are a lot of people stopping by to check out the marina.  And the sunsets from here are pretty nice, too.  La Gringa is usually happy to take photos of visitors who want a 'selfie' with the sunset behind them.  Knowing how she juggles sunsets and cameras, I'll bet they got a surprisingly good photo of themselves.   And it didn't even cost them a rum punch.

We saw the rare sight of another ancient English catamaran coming into the marina this week.   This is a Prout, about the same age as our Catalac.   These boats are very distinctive catamarans, as they have an area in the hull called a nacelle.  You can just make it out in this photo although it was close to the end of the daylight.  The nacelle is a large bulb in the bottom of the bridgedeck between the hulls.  I'm no expert on them, but have read how they increase interior space and can be used to break up wave slap between the hulls.  We watched them come in with some interest.

We found out later that they were watching us with interest, too.  We spoke with Gary, the captain of the Prout and he knows a lot about Catalacs, too.  His family has been living on that boat for eleven years, spending the past four deep in the Caribbean.   We spoke of storm seasons, and what to do with a boat when hurricanes threaten.  We heard tales of tying up in mangroves and riding out storms that destroyed boats in marinas.  This info is not lost on us.

We are starting to feel very much at home on our old boat these days.  That's a result of spending hundreds of hours on board scrubbing, painting, ripping, cleaning and sometimes just relaxing.   I don't think there is much of the original interior surface left.   So everything we touch these days, or rub up against, has never been touched or rubbed up against by anyone but us.  If you get my drift.   I'll talk more about the boat in a minute, for those of you who follow that part of all of this.  Of course the rest of you have long recognized that I've developed an unhealthy obsession with the thing.  It keeps me out of the pool halls and bars.  Well, except for one bar, of course.  Bob's is not a typical bar.  It's more like a back porch with a fantastic view, cold beer, and rum punches.  And a cookout every Wednesday night for the cruisers.

Meanwhile back at the ranch..... I bought some UAVs, which are mistakenly called drones these days.  I figured that these little flying beasties would come in handy on our trips.  We should be able to get some great photos with the kites and drones.   I've got one with some fairly serious horsepower, GPS, a brain, etc. but I also bought a little cheapo to practice with.  This is so that I could learn to crash with a $50 toy and save the expense of crashing one that cost ten times that.  This is on advice I received from some teenaged wizards that live and breathe multi-rotors.  I rarely take advice, unfortunately, and it's even rarer yet that I would take it from someone a quarter my age.  But this time I did.  Kid made sense.  Go figure.

The little quadcopter I'm using as training wheels does have a video camera in it, but of course for fifty bucks total the quality of the camera is not anything to write home about.    I'd been flying it inside the house and garage for the better part of a week because the normal winds here would eat this little thing for breakfast on most days outside.  But as you've already read, we've had some calm days lately.  I decided to take the quadcopter outside and see how badly I would do.  It wasn't the best of weather for tropical photos, but it did have the makings for a potentially fine sunset.

Dooley the Disturbed doesn't know what to make of this little buzzing flying thing.   He followed me into the garage while I did a couple of warm up flights to make sure it was all working .  These next photos are screen shots from the video camera on the drone.  That's why they are low resolution.    This is Dooley watching me fly it under a table saw.   I like to think that he was amazed at my new skill.   But I don't think so.  He knew I never actually intended to fly it  under the table saw. I was hoping to hover over the Honda.

After I got the feel for it, we waited until we had light winds just before sunset.   Light winds here are still 5 mph.   We took it outside up on to the patio.  I worked to get it upwind, and on the way back I was hedge-hopping back to the house.  Literally.   And if the camera resolution was a bit better, you could see the concern in the worried fellow's beady little eyes.   The dog was  pretty nervous, too.

We grabbed our little drone weather window and took it up above the house.  I did manage to point it at the sunset for a moment or two in the grand scheme of things.  Makes me wish I had a better camera up there.

The experiment was not without incident.   The onboard camera managed to catch the dog's response the moment it crashed next to him on the top of the garage.   Color him surprised when this thing suddenly dropped out of the sky next to him with the noise of  four motors whining while I struggled to get it under control and back into the air.  I gotta say, the old boy still reacts well and the footwork is exceptional under duress.  Dooley, I meant.  

The under control part is important here.  Because La Gringa was also standing just a few feet away shooting sunset photos.  Made a convenient place for the little booger to find some long skirts to hide behind.  What a namby.

 Well, I did manage to get it back into the air.  This is from a hover downwind and above the house.   The crash from here was spectacular.   That little drone made it almost a week.   Now I need another one.

In last Monday's post I mentioned that we'd seen some photos from our long time  friend Trish.  She just won a local fishing tournament with a fairly respectable wahoo.    If you know these fish, you'll know that this one is plenty big enough to take an arm off.

We've written about Trish before.  She's one of the more experienced fishing charter skippers here on the island.  She managed to hook up with this monster from the sportfishing boat "Gwendolyn".  The wahoo was officially 103.5 lbs.  That's a lot of fish and chips.

When was the last time you caught a fish that took two of you to carry home?

Okay we're getting near the end of this week's post and I can't stand it any more.  I have to put in at least a couple photos of the boat.  I mean, this is mostly what we do during the week.   The SUP was one hour of the week.  Boat work is 30 hours plus.  So for those readers who like to bail out of this blog before the boat DIY stuff, this is your cue:


I bet that got your attention.  And it's true.  I think everything in a blog is graphic content, isn't it?  Funny how the media controls our language.  Or tries to.  I just caught myself using the term 'drone' repeatedly.  Even though I know it's wrong.

I've been doing a bit of fiberglass work lately.  The boat doesn't need much in the way of patching.  Most of what it does need  is cosmetic.  This was  a repair that was poorly done by someone else.  A cracked bulkhead had been globbed with a compound known as 5200, which other boaters will recognize immediately.  This is like the glue Superman would use.  If Superman used glue.  Someone glassed over the 5200, but with polyester resin.  Which I think is fine for auto body repair, but not the best patch on an epoxy resin hull.  I re-fixed it.  This was taken during the re-fix.  I didn't take an after photo. Just imagine it all smooth and strong and done right and checked off a list of endless pages of similar projects stretching into my future.   I hope.  It's good to have a future of some kind.

I've found that I can get a limited quantity of decent fiberglass down here, the West Systems 105 for those of you who also get into this stuff.   The local boat supply store has some limited stock.  For example, they have the resin.  And they have the catalyst.  But they do not have the special pump that mixes it in a 5:1 ratio.  Great.  I had to come up with something simple and workable.   I'm going to mention it here just in case anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation.

I  cut the top off of an aluminum can and marked it inside.  This makes a good disposable small-batch mixing container.  It gets hot when the epoxy is kicking over, but it doesn't melt.    For the 5:1 ratio, I made a mark at 50 mm up the side of the can, and a second mark 10 mm above it.    

For the 5:1 resin to hardener ratio I filled the can to the 50 mm mark with resin, and then topped it to the 60mm mark with catalyst.  I used the bottom of the top mark because I wanted the mix a little on the cool side in this climate.  Worked, too.

Here's another example of why this old boat is taking me forever to refurbish. It's all the unanticipated little things that pop out when I start poking around.  This is what typically happens:

I am in the starboard head (right side bathroom)  just doing a general cleanup.  Looking for any little things that might need attention.  I notice that the overhead light is in good shape.  It's a quality fixture and works just fine.    I wanted to take a look at the wiring, anyhow.  I've found a lot of bad wiring and connections over the weeks.  So I thought this would be about a three minute job.  Take the light off, check the wiring, replace the light, move on to next project.  No biggie, right?

Wrong.  It is a biggie, to me anyway.  This is what I found when I removed that light. The heat of the incandescent lamp that some bozo installed in this fixture had melted the vinyl and set the plywood behind it on fire.   I mean  fire as in smoking, blackened generating actual flames kind of fire.   Unintentional fires are really bad news on boats.    There's no place to run from which to fight a fire. Imagine standing in the middle of a bonfire you're trying to extinguish.   It's not good.   We shall strive to eliminate potential sources of unwanted fires from the boat.

What really got me about this one was the previous owner's "fix" for this.  He used plastic tape to hold pieces of aluminum foil over the burnt hole, but he replaced it all the same way.  Think about that one for a minute.  If it was hot enough to melt approved marine vinyl, what would it do to a piece of Scotch Tape?  yeah, exactly.

So, my anticipated three minute job is a pipe dream.  I'll have to make some changes here. It will take time and money I had not planned on.  And this is just one little example.  I have to  wonder what else this marvel of a modern handyman might have repaired that I don't know about yet.  I mean have to as in am now required to.   I could do without surprises like this.  I do suppose it's good that I am finding these things now, at the dock.

We're also still removing things that we don't want on the boat, but  the rate has slowed somewhat.  This is as the decisions have gotten a lot  harder.  Last week I took the single sideband radio off.  Yesterday, it was the life raft.   This was added by the second owner for his two trans-Atlantic trips in this boat.  The third owner liked the idea of having a life raft in Jacksonville's St. John's river, I guess, because he left it onboard, too. For six years. We'd never use a north Atlantic style enclosed life raft here in the tropics, and we didn't want the weight or clutter on board so we removed it.  And now we need to figure out what to do with a never-used, $ 4,000 life raft.   Had a good time getting it off the deck, too.   It turned into one of those late afternoon jobs that kept us on the boat until after dark.  Again.

"Hang on, babe.  Just ten more minutes...." said thirty minutes ago.

I guess there are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than working on a sailboat on a tropical island with a patient beautiful woman for advice and support.

On a different note here's a photo that I have no reason to post other than it made me smile.   This is a Lincoln Continental with a custom paint job.  I don't know that I've ever seen a Lincoln with yellow flames on it, before.  I wonder if Ford is going to offer this as an option?

I know the flames are not that easy to see on that photo, so I cropped that part:

To paraphrase a song from my distant past... " Son your Momma must have sure been drinking when she gave you a paint brush and Grandma's Lincoln...."

And on that light note I'll finish with the photo that La Gringa was trying to take while I crashed my first drone behind her scaring the bejesus out of the dog, who promptly dove for the skirts.  The wimp.

And now that Monday morning blog post is out of the way, we're off  to the marina to go work on the boat.  Surprise surprise.


Anthony Parsons said...

After following your blog for quite some time (several years, actually), this post has prompted me to actually comment and maybe offer something of use.

I've been building a small sailboat from plans over the last while (well, too many years really ...but I digress). After going through a few sets of the little epoxy pumps and their sometimes vague measurement (hmmmm, that didn't feel like a full stroke ...more like a half stroke or a three-quarter stroke ...or maybe a back stroke that's something else), I finally broke down an bought a cheap kitchen scale. Now I measure off resin and hardener by weight.
It works a treat. Stick a plastic container on the little scale and "zero" it, pour in a dollup of resin. "Zero" the scale again and pour in 1/5 a dollup of hardener. Stir and you're ready to roll. ...or brush.
Don't even need the fancy graduated containers. A clean discarded yoghurt or margarine container works pretty well because they're flexible and you can pop out any hardened left-overs the next day and re-use.

Oh, we were just in Provo for 2 weeks on vacation (just returned on Saturday), and saw that same Hot Rod Lincoln at Kalooki's.
Thanks, by the way, for all the posts and photos over the years. They played a big part in our decision to visit TCI.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. I just bought a small digital scale, and will be using it shortly! I hope.