Monday, March 16, 2015

Terrier of the Tropics

Wow, a week goes by fast when you have a deadline.   Even though it's pretty much self imposed it's still there, ya know?   Nipping at my heels, slapping at the back of my head.   Fortunately we seem to have had a fairly busy week when I look back at it.   Plenty of material.  Not hectic, not slow, somewhere around mid-throttle as our lives have gone lately.  And the deadline bit actually seems to help, somehow.  I think I just need direction.  And adult supervision.

I have a sunrise photo I took yesterday morning that I was going to post here, but then today La Gringa took this one.  A nice sunrise at the last moment just as I was writing this post. I liked it better than mine.

We had this great thunderstorm going on between us and the sunrise.  Well, two of us thought the thunderstorm was nice.  We do have one small quadraped in the family who sees no value, no use, and absolutely no humor at all in thunderstorms.  He was nowhere to be found while these photos were being taken.  This dog will hide from memories of thunderstorms.  He'll run from a rumor if it has lightning in it.

This is the shot I was going to use, until my better half trumped me with her better eye and fancier camera.  pfttt.  Maybe I put too much weight in the departing sloop.  A lot of that going around in my head, lately. Envy.

I'm just kidding, of course.  I liked her photos better and that's the long and short of it.  My masculinity can handle the fact that my wife is quite often the better photographer.   She zoomed in on the sunlight on the water just under the cloud.   That's a little break between squalls.  Like this:

Okay that's enough sunrises for one morning.  Some might say more than one sunrise in a day is cause for alarm, come to think of it.   Unless you're an astronaut, I suppose.

Anyhow, moving onward, we had a busy week again at South Side Marina.   We're there a big part of most days as has been the pattern of our lives now since the beginning of the year.   We're working on our boat, and we haven't been doing anything of a fun nature for what seems like centuries.   I guess we could say we're committed.  Or should be.

We do get breaks from the drudge work.  This week was a nice surprise for me personally. Once again we've been fortunate to get to meet an internet pen pal in person.  And this was a good one.  Not all of them are, you know.   I suspect you've discovered that on your own already.

John Pederson and I have exchanged messages on a variety of boating related issues over the past several years on a multihull sailboat forum.  John lives in England and also sails a small catamaran.   Usually in England.

This is the view from Bob's Bar three days ago.

If you look out onto the Caicos Bank, just above the railing you can see two catamarans anchored just off the beach here.   The wind was blowing 24 knots from the east, and Sapodilla Bay was getting bumpy.  So some boats moved over here for some calmer water.  And to take on fuel and water from South Side Marina.

The yellow boat in the foreground is John's boat.  It's a Richard Woods design called the Sagitta model.  That is the s/v Scrumpy.

My British internet pen pal just sailed that little boat alone from England to St. Lucia.   He'd never done a trans-Atlantic crossing of any kind, and his first one was in a small, non-production catamaran.  With no crew. It took him 21 days to cross the Atlantic, 2800 miles in storms that had him surfing down waves at 20 knots while doing everything in his power to slow the boat down.   He has some interesting stories to tell, and we were fortunate enough to hear a few of them when he visited us on Twisted Sheets at the marina.

For example, in addition to the howling winds and heavy following seas, his two old outboards had finally given out, and he sailed into Providenciales with no other form of propulsion whatsoever.   He picked up a six hp motor while he was here, and that's all he has on the boat in addition to the sails.

Now here's an even better story, he's leaving here bound for Nassau and Bermuda and then he's sailing s/v Scrumpy back across the North Atlantic, alone, for the second time. I'm not sure I've met anyone who was doing two solo trans-Atlantic sails in one season before.    Certainly not in a 30 foot boat.       There's hope for us all.    The crazies, I meant.

We'd hoped to get together again before he left,  I wanted to hear more about how you sleep when you have to sail for 24 hours a day.  He wanted to know more about putting a 3D printer on a boat.  But the winds changed to briefly favorable and we looked up from our boat work yesterday afternoon to see John's mast moving away from the anchorage.   I dropped my  globby old glue scraper and belatedly checked my email and saw  that he was grabbing the weather window to head up to Mayaguana.   On the move again.  La Gringa and I hopped in the car and charged up to the top of the nearest hill to try to get a good photo of  him leaving under sail.  He goes everywhere under sail.  No kidding.  This is the road at the top of the hill.  We've shown you views from up here before.

We've flown the kite up here a few times for aerial photos, too.   This time we drove to the end of the road and I climbed up as high as I could get for a good vantage point another couple of meters above La Gringa there at the end of the road.

And we were too late to get a good photo.  The wind was buffeting me and I only had my little handheld pocket camera.   And the boat was getting smaller by the minute,  so I only got crummy photos, but hey they're better than nothing.  Besides, I promised you guys some blue water photos last week as I recall.   Here's Scrumpy heading out, with Bay Cay in the background.  Big ocean out there for such a little bitty boat.

If you want to follow John's progress, he has a pretty good sailing blog going at
Sagittacatamaran.  Some great photography, too.

That day was an unusual break in what's been a very windy season so far. After John and Scrumpy left there were two other boats who departed for various scattered destinations.   We met all of these cruisers while they stayed at South Side.  We get to know a little bit about people passing through, as most of them stay several days to a week or so.  And we get together at the bar, and we talk thoughout the day and often help each other with lines and fenders and advice and parts.   We know where they came from, some of their  thoughts and experiences, and in most case we know where they plan to go next.  

In this  next photo, for example, you already know that the boat on the left is heading north up through the Bahamas to Bermuda and across the Atlantic home to England.    The middle boat, a Beneteau monohull, is heading south to Luperon in the Dominican Republic and then down the Lesser Antilles into the Caribbean.  The trailing monohull under power on the right is heading east, skipping Puerto Rico to avoid paying US taxes on the boat he bought in Panama, and planning to cruise the British Virgin Islands for a while.  That's all I'm going to say about that, but you get the idea.  They sail in, hide from the wind for a few days and get replenished.  Then they scatter and it all reorganizes, and it happens again.  We'll have a new batch of neighbors in the marina shortly, and they will all be different but with commonalities as well.  Like minded people.

 I think someone should start writing a regular column about this place, Tales from the South Side or some kind of thing.  The marina gets a pretty reliable stream of interesting people coming through.  Especially this time of year.  People are starting to head back north after a season in the islands. Things have shifted in their worlds, as many return to corporate and community lives after a sailing hiatus.   There's plenty of material. And it's constantly changing.  I didn't even tell you guys about Trevor and the Princess, or the Russians, or the drowned dog.  Maybe some of this stuff needs to wait for the book.  After we're safely away.

After these three boats left on the favorable departure winds the marina was just about emptied out for the short term. It's never completely empty this time of year of course.  There are fishing boats tied up, several dive charter boats in and out, and there's our old boat still there being refitted.  Slowly.

Breaks in the weather generate a sort of sailing peristalsis up and down the Bahamas and Antilles.  Boats  leave here bound for their next destination, and in a big slow game of musical nautical chairs other boats leave places like George Town, Gt. Exuma, or Clarencetown, Long Island, or Luperon D.R., headed here.  And it continues throughout sailing season.

Not everyone who comes here stays in the marina the entire time.  Many sailors are on very tight budgets.   These guys spent several days tied up at South Side and then moved out here to save a few dollars by staying 'on the hook' in a protected  anchorage.  It's a good way to live on a boat that's largely self sufficient to begin with.  They're also only a short dinghy ride to the dock if they need help or supplies.

There's a young family with three pre-teen boys on that boat. A floating version of a tuning fork.  I'm surprised someones' not in the water, yet.   I'd be.  It might even still be this water.

We hear rumors that things might be changing in that view in the photo above. And soon.  Plans for dredging and building apartments on the shoreline.  Oh boy. Lots to write about.

While  up on the hill I snapped a photo of "our" hill off to the east.   We live in the little house with the white roof right in the middle of this image.  Not the big house on the right.  That belongs to the artist formerly and now again known as Prince.  Our part-time neighbor.

And you, too, can be Prince's neighbor for a while, if you like!  No kidding, it's the once in a lifetime opportunity to live next to a rock guitarist's vacation cottage.  Our house here will be going on the market  shortly after we move onto our sailboat full time.  Quiet neighborhood.  Smashing views, to boot.

I've heard from some readers that they miss the more frequent updates on Dooley the Demented.  I can assure you he's presently out on bail and doing his usual Dooley routine.  I was working on some shiny metal stuff for the boat this week and decided to take some photos of it in case I desperately needed some DIY to fluff up a section of this blog.  This was my backup in case nothing else happened to write about.   The dog has a love/hate relationship with the camera.  He gets nervous when I aim it at him.  I think this is related to the automatic flash, which sometimes goes off during a photo.   I also use it for fill sometimes when the sun is causing me shadow problems.  And I think he relates that flash of light to things like fireworks and lightning bolts.   Remember this is a dog who gets the vapors watching Boston weather forecast reruns, and he's never even been to Boston. But anything that reminds him of his storm experiences with us scares him and the camera makes him nervous.  But at the same time whenever I pull it out and hold it up he knows that something has caught my interest.  And that gets his interest.  He will invariably come over to see what I am so absorbed about.

It becomes difficult to get a photo without the dog in it, sometimes.  There was absolutely no doggie reason for him to give this anything more than a cursory sniff and  then move on.

And telling him to go away doesn't work.  THEN he gets suspicious about whatever it is I don't want him to see.  He knows something is going on.  He just can't always figure out what it is.   We have different scales on what constitutes 'interesting'.

I find very little of interest in a dead lizard or the lower foot and a half of a tree, for example.   And Dooley just can't get into close ups of flowers or boat parts.

So typically I just have to be patient and hope that something else comes along and distracts him for long enough for me to get the photos I actually wanted in the first place.

While we're on the subject of Doolance Winchester McDog I wanted to ask you for some advice.   See, we're planning to start exploring quite a bit of a wider area once we're moved onto the boat and mobile.  This has long been a plan of ours.  We just got distracted.  For ten years. 

 It's common for cruisers on boats to have little business cards printed up, called 'boat cards', that have the boat name, some contact info and that sort of thing on them.  They exchange cards with other cruisers, and keep in touch via email and radio and telephone.  We've got quite a collection already.

We've got our own boat cards, but I also wanted to print up some t-shirts with the boat name on it.  Just something a little different.  Printing t-shirts is not that big a deal if you want to go through the trouble.   So I had this mental image of a cartoon Dooley the Demented, Terrier of the Tropics thing going on.  But I need the graphics.   I'm not a good artist, although I can eventually work my way though a sketch.  No natural talent there, though.   So I found out about this Fivver thing, where artists and suppliers will sketch your pet for five dollars.  Supposedly.   I contacted an artist in India based upon examples of her work on Fivver and good reviews.  I sent her a link to Dooley's Facebook Page and told her I was interested in a drawing of Dooley standing on the bow of our boat.   I cobbled up some pirated (no pun intended) bits of clip art to show her kind of what I had in mind:
I can't use that really, because it's someone else's work that I sliced and diced, as an example of what I had in mind.    I wanted something original. I was thinking of Dooley with a caption, and I could come up with a new one every six months when the old ones wore out.  A series of unique t-shirts.  This kind of thing appeals to us. I was expecting a drawing for five bucks  within a day or so.   It didn't work out that way.  Probably due to my own naive inexperience dealing with Fivver.  I sent the link, a bunch of photos of the dog, and  I also sent the artist a rendition of a Catalac 12M boat.  And we only need the bow, with the dog on it.

And I thought I was pretty clear that what I wanted was something that looked like our dog, standing on the bow of something recognizable as our boat.  For a t-shirt.  I'll do the words and design, I just need the dog drawing.  I'm getting redundant again, aren't I?   Well, it didn't work in India.

 We eventually progressed to this point, with this being her first sketch back to me that we thought looked promising.  But it took a long time, and I started to get the feeling that I wasn't doing a very good job of communicating.  Still, this is workable.  

Finally, three weeks and fifty dollars into it we agreed that she'd drawn a caricature of Dooley.  What do you think?
Yes, me too.  I have mixed feelings about it.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but I don't want to keep this exchange with India going any longer.  I played with the eyes a bit and discovered that I can change things pretty easily as for expressions. 

So if I can get the colors right and a sword in his hand or a bandana and pistol or some pirate stuff on him, it might work.  Oh, I did finally ask about the dog on the boat, and when I saw the final work I realized just how deep my communication problem with artists in India is running. Well, this is what we have so far:

That doesn't look like our boat.  And this is when we decided we need some artists who are more familiar with our intended lifestyle.   

I think I am going to send photos of Dooley to four or five other artists and see what they come up with.  For $5.  

But one way or another, we're planning to eventually have our own t-shirts with the dog and the boat.  Or a cartoon strip.  Do any of you guys know a graphic artist that likes to do dog caricatures, by any chance?  Will trade ya a t-shirt....

Okay, that's  it for this post.  We have just seen some cool photos of our long time friend Fishy Trish with a huge wahoo in a tournament here, and I wanted to use them but I'm still waiting for permission.  And well, it's Monday.  I have a commitment here.
And a sunset.   See you next week.

That is.....

Unless you also want a boat DIY update.  This is the DIY section, with nothing but toil and trouble and not a single pretty tropical photo to be seen.

If you read this far you saw the piece of aluminum that Dooley was sniffing around in the post.  What happened was that I needed something to cover up the hole left when I removed that nasty old holding tank pumpout fitting from the boat.  We don't have a lot of choices down here on the island for marine hardware, and sometimes I just decide to make my own.  Like now.    

I have several hunks of various materials in various configurations.  I save junk, to put it bluntly. And sometimes it pays off.   I used a piece of glue encrusted aluminum to make a deck plate.   A three inch hole saw on the drill press cut the soft metal well enough.

I'm not sure what the mist around the piece is, in the photo. It might be a cloud of the lubricant I sprayed on the metal to cut it.  The hole saw was spinning in the photo.

I hit that disc with some various grades of sandpaper to clean it up a bit.

It looked like it would do  the job at this stage, but I decided I didn't want that 90 degree sharp edge right where my bare feet would be slipping and sliding as I run from one end of the deck to the other in blind barefooted panic.  Should that ever happen.

Besides, when you look at it close up like that, it still looks ugly and sharp and un-smooth.   I wanted to take the un out of un-smooth.   That's not even a word, is it.

I cut a hole in a piece of scrap plywood and hot glued it to some 45 degree plywood supports.  This made it pretty easy to get a uniform bevel on the aluminum.  This drill press has become my machine shop several times now.

I polished that up a little more, and it really wasn't that much longer before I had a suitable (to me, anyway) deck plate.  I think it looks a whole lot better than the one that says, and means, 'waste'.   I know it's a whole lot cleaner.  And with a fresh history.   

In addition to this little deck plate job, this week I completed installing the port water tank we fiberglassed, and adjusted the pressure on a new water pump for it.  And we keep working on the interior.  That's finally starting to pay off.  We're now working in the other main "guest" cabin.  La Gringa finished painting the cubby holes in our cabin just last night.  And this is how it looks as the ugly old stuff comes off and the new hull liner and paint go on.

The white light and fan fixtures are new and I'm upgrading and replacing a lot of wiring as we go.  But we're starting to see the light at the end  Two weeks ago there is NO way I would ever have sat in this particular locker.  But now it smells like a new car.

Or as John Pederson said, like a brand-new boat.   

And us DIY guys don't needs no stinkin' sunsets, right?
or do we?  I guess some of us might, when nobody's looking. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

and now I can say 'see you next week'.


Unknown said...

I agree that you need to move to a different fiverr designer. Here is a link to one that I was happy with - very responsive and and able to follow direction. Given the name you will likely still be working with the sub-continent!

I wear an XL :-)

Anonymous said...

Well I've contacted a few more Fivver artists, and I have hopes that some design will result.

Anonymous said...

Squirrelwhisperer, if you see this, you need to send us an email address in order for me to reply to your message confidentially. Send it to

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