Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Fresh Look At Pine Cay

We're going to do something completely different this week.  We've got some really nice photos of Pine Cay, and we didn't take any of them.   When I say nice photos, I really do mean nice ones.  Like a sunrise with stars behind a beach cottage, for example.

 Wil Claussen is a family friend and  photographer from Colorado. You've seen him in this blog before if you've read all of the posts.  He's been down to visit us here on Providenciales several times over the years.   Wil was just here earlier this month and he spent a week out on Pine Cay with his best friend, our Ben.   Did I mention Wil is a photographer?

Funny, he doesn't look like a photographer...

But then nobody looks much like what they look like at home when they come here.   Most of them get semi-naked right off the bat.  This beach will do that to you.

So this week  you get a break from my pocket camera photos of broken boat parts and views of South Side Marina at 6:45 compared to South Side Marina at 7:00.    I'm going to post a fistful of Wil's photos of Pine Cay, instead.  I think you'll like the photos.  There are almost three dozen of them here, so I'll try to keep the chatter to a minimum.   For me, that is.

Pine Cay is a special place  even when compared to a lot of other special places in this little island nation.   And without a doubt the best part of Pine Cay is the beach.

This is what we would consider a very typical day on Pine Cay. And a typical view of the beach.  This is looking northeas  toward the Meridian Club and the small island of Fort St. George Cay with it's ruins and bones and fading evidence of times long ago.  There are almost always clouds in the views to this direction.

And this view is to the southwest.  Providenciales is six or seven miles in that direction.   Not many signs of the "big city" from here.  Thankfully.

This beach has been pretty much just like this for over twenty  thousand years.  Or it will be as soon as the tide once again washes the footprints away.   I think this kind of easy solitude is pretty rare these days.

It's a fair hike from the beach house to the ocean.  I measured the turns and dips as well as I could from Google Earth and I think the total stroll from back door to wet sand is about 300 yards.    The dunes and ridges of limestone act as a buffer during storm surges.

Polly and I don't get out to Pine Cay much any more. We have our hands full three islands over.  Seeing these photos reminds me of that first summer we were here.   We spent months staying here in this cottage, rebuilding this walkway and that deck on the left.   I'm glad to see it's still standing.   One never knows in a place like this.  This land is hard on lumber.

If one takes the path off the end of the boardwalk, eventually they reach a small hut just on the sand dunes overlooking the beach.   Sometimes we carry beach chairs down.  And a cooler.  It's also a nice place to string up a hammock or two.

Of course that means it all has to be carried back again, at the end of the day.  Or not.  It'll still be there in the morning.  I think I once left a beach float under there for six months.

I mentioned son Ben earlier.  He and Wil have been best friends since they met in school almost a decade ago.  Here's the handsome devil himself on that same deck.

Oh, wait.  That's the wrong side of him.  Lets look at another view.  Ben sitting in the only form of transportation on Pine Cay with wheels.  Electric golf carts.
And he doesn't normally look like this.  He was making a face.  I hope.

No automobile traffic here.  I'm not sure the main highway would be able to handle much of it anyhow.   This is the route from the beach house to the Meridian Club.  Typical Pine Cay traffic jam.

And it's not going to stretch anyone's navigational capabilities to get to the club.  One drives one's cart along until one sees a small sign with an arrow pointing to the left and the cryptic letters spelling out "club".  Good clue.

We've posted a lot of photos of the Meridian Club elsewhere in the blog, and we don't have any fresh ones to put here.   Wil did take a photo of the anchor Polly and I found and hauled back to the island some years ago.   We donated it to the Meridian Club.  It's falling apart rapidly, as iron things from the ocean tend to do when put ashore.  Iron that has been submerged for hundreds of years needs to be carefully treated and conserved using a chemical bath and low electrical currents. Otherwise, it starts dissolving in the air.  And it doesn't matter how well you try to encapsulate.  To remove an old piece from a shipwreck and leave it in the open air is the kiss of death.

We learned the hard way, with this very anchor.  Now when we find something really special on the bottom of the ocean, we look at it and maybe photograph it, but we leave it in place.   And you may have noticed that we no longer talk about things we find underwater when on the internet.  The airplane wing full of lobsters taught me that one.  Some secrets stay best if kept secret.  

One of the reasons there aren't any photos of the Meridian Club restaurant and bar here is because Ben and Wil were roughing it while on the island.  That meant cooking for themselves, with provisions they brought and some they found.  

It's not difficult to find coconuts here.  It can be a bit more of an operation to open them up sometimes.     And it obviously can leave a bit of a mess.

The results are worth it, though.

Pine Cay is one of those places that makes  you just want to walk the beach.  Every day.    Here are some more of the images Wil recorded during the week they were living like Robinson Crusoe.  I hope you like sunsets.  This is quite a collection.

From up on the rock ledge at Water Cay.  And it's high tide.

You can walk for several miles down the beach at low tide, on the packed wet sand between the water and the weathered rock ledge.  But if you allow yourself to be caught by the tide, you suddenly find yourself running out of sand.  Then the path home gets a lot more complicated.  Especially if you're barefoot.

This is one of my favorites.

At first I wasn't sure why he took this photo, as it looks like just another ho-hum view of a near perfect beach on a nice day.

But then I spotted the two people walking about a half a mile down the sand.  Must have been the weekend crowd.     I think it's telling that after several days walking this beach, Wil thought the distant view of two other humans was worth a photo.   That might tell you something about this place.

Some people just have a good eye for composition, don't they.

These photos are cut way down to load easy and fit on this blog.  If you see any you especially like, just right click on the photo and it will take you to the Picasa page where these are stored.  Then you can zoom in and out all you like.

These guys must have gotten a good sunset every night they were on the island.  It's almost enough to make one jealous.

Here is another view of the rocks and cliffs of Water Cay at sunset.

That location is a nice long hike from the beach house.  But this is the kind of place where you really don't mind walking home in the dark.  In fact, some of us make a habit of it whenever we can arrange it.  My favorite night walks here are just in ankle deep water when the surf is down.  The phosphorescence around my ankles makes me smile.  Been that way since the 60's.

I probably shouldn't tell you this, but gold coins have been found on the beach here by people walking along in the shallows where things collect in the rocks. Not often,  but it has happened.  And may be happening yet for all we know.  If I found a coin here, for example, I don't think I'd divulge exactly where I found it to the world of the internet.   Would you?

Another view of the trip back to the beachy part at high tide.  Good thing these Colorado guys are all rock climbers.

We weren't with Ben and Wil for this trip, they had the place to themselves. So I can't say much about what they did every day while out there.   But from personal experience, and these photos I can pretty much imagine it.  I hope you can, too.

You can go there yourself, you know.  Contact the Meridian Club.  There aren't many places like this left.

At the end of the week, Ben and Wil took the Meridian Club boat back to Providenciales to spend a couple of days with us.  It's hard to leave here on a nice day.  It's easier when it's raining.    

Once back on Providenciales we took our guests down to South Side Marina to show them our sailboat, Twisted Sheets.    

 We told Wil that Bob's place was a good place to get sunset photos.   Well, you just know how he feels about tropical sunset photos.  He brought his camera.

We took them to a couple of our usual hangouts while they were here, of course.  But as is the case with tropical vacations, they all come to an end eventually.  Polly snapped this photo at the Providenciales airport on the way out.  Wil is headed back to Colorado.   He's been getting some spectacular photos of spring in the Rocky Mountains, by the way.  You can check them out at: http://www.wilclaussen.com/.    Ben was on his way to Europe, furthering his education in the fine art of leaping out of airplanes.  He gets some pretty good photos from 10,000 ft. too, come to think of it.

I know neither of those subjects are exactly aligned with the 2 Gringos in the Caribbean theme, but they might liven things up around here.

In the meantime, Wil took one last sunrise from our patio right before he left for the mountains.   It's at the end of the post instead of the beginning.  Oh well.  I like it.


kristine barr said...

They are beautiful photos. Bt, yours are excellent too.

Unknown said...

Awesome photos! Was looking at Pine Cay on google earth and wondering if the other homes are private or they all related to the Meridian club?

satbeachbill said...

Great shots!

Anonymous said...

There are around 35 privately owned vacation homes on Pine Cay in addition to the dozen rooms at the Meridan Club. Several of the private homes are available for rent, and the Meridian Club handles that, too.

What happened was that the people who collectively own the island established a small club to justify and help offset the costs of having a club's amenities, including bars, a restaurant, a swimming pool, and staff. So the Pine Cay Homeowners Association owns the Meridian Club.

The house next door to the one in the first photo on this post is available for rent, for example.

Needles said...

I love being reminded of this very special spot. Thank you for sharing.

Bill said...

Beautiful photos, what a gorgeous island.

Jen H said...

No new posts since May? Should we worry about you? (I've been enjoying your blog since I found it before our trip to T&C a couple of years ago - now I read it just for fun.) Please don't stop writing!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, we're in the process of making another big life change. We're putting the house on the market, getting rid of all our stuff, and heading to the western USA to spend hurricane season in a travel trailer. The past three weeks have been full of contractors spiffing up the house for the market while we dealt with disposing most of what we own and working on getting the boat ready to live on when we come back in October. I don't think I can carry on writing about life in the islands while we're in Colorado for four months, although things should get interesting again when we move onto the boat full time and go sailing. We may start a separate blog this summer about our new 'life down the tubes' as we alternate between a sailboat and a travel trailer. Dooley is a real trip in the mountains. He's spent his life in the islands, and things like elk, antelope, rabbits, squirrels, snakes and especially marmots give him visible palpitations. That might be worth a blog, but I don't think people tuning in expecting Gringos in the Caribbean would want to see Colorado instead. So it would have to be separate.
But nothing to worry about. It's just us firehosing off the old life to make way for new adventures.

Jen H said...

Whew, ok. Thanks for the update. Please find some way to let your readers know if you start a new blog.

Linda said...

Gorgeous series of photos!

Bill said...

Yes, please do keep up on blogging in one form or the other! You have a unique style of writing that I have very much enjoyed for the past few years. Looking forward to the cruising adventures.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I'm glad you get some enjoyment out of the blog. We're in Texas at the moment. The house in Provo is pretty much emptied out and we signed an agreement with a realtor last week. The boat is out of the water and strapped down. The last of our apparently priceless possessions are on a boat somewhere between the TCI and Florida. We'll be heading up to the mountains in a few days, and I think we might let Dooley try his paw at writing a blog for a couple months. See how he works out as a canine journalist. We already know he'll need help with the photos. He's staring out the window in rapt amazement at two squirrels climbing 60 foot pine trees right now. I'm not sure what's amazing him more, the squirrels or the trees.

I've got a few more photos we took in Provo over the past few weeks, and I'll post those here shortly. I'll post a link to the interim summer blog once we get it started. It's difficult to keep Dooley away from religion and politics, but we're going to try.
Thanks again for all the feedback and support.
More to follow.

Wilma said...

Thanks for the update and looking forward to Dooley's posts. I'm sure he can handle the challenge of the 60ft tree while standing on 3 legs!

Unknown said...

Stumbled across your blog and have to admit I'm envious of you two. Excellent writing skills too which along with the photos feels like an adventure novel with illustrations. Might be one of the few readers who is from across the seven seas, India.

Pine Cay looks like paradise on earth. But it does look remote, so is it actually dangerous to visit it even during day time. Chances of being robbed or other crimes ??

I have to admit, I am falling in love with Turks and Caicos.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thank you for that comment, Jenson. It came at a particularly good time, as I was just wondering if it might be time to put the blog to bed after a good run.

But when I see that there are still a few people stumbling across our scribbles who get some amusement from it, well, it gives me a little boost of incentive to look around for something else to photograph or write about.

Pine Cay is just about as safe as can be, crime wise. You would have next to zero percent chance of ever being robbed there. For starters, nobody has any money in their pockets. Cash isn't used at that resort, but this is an unimportant aside. The only "crooks" on Pine Cay are probably the odd politician ( is that redundant?, and a few stock brokers. Parrot Cay is the same way.

What little crime there is on the other islands in the TCI is mostly the old "grab the purse from the beach blanket" type of opportunistic crimes that tourists face everywhere. Its not hard to prevent if common sense is used. Don't leave valuables visible where they tempt petty thieves. It's really just that simple.

I hope you get a chance to visit the TCI while it's still semi-wild and uninhabited for the most part. Once you get off the island of Providenciales, it's like rolling back time to before Facebook, cell phones, and cable tv. North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Salt Cay are like another world compared to Provo. I know it will sound silly to someone familiar with huge populations, but Provo is the local equivalent of "the big city" in the TCI. And Provo is only about 20,000 people.