Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pirates Hideaway on Salt Cay

There is a secluded oasis on Salt Cay and when the Seas are rough for swimming we feel lucky to be able to go to Pirates Hideaway and enjoy the beautiful pool. Yesterday, I hopped on my bike with towel, water bottle and camera to ride South on Victoria Street to Candy's (aka Pirates Hideaway). The other ladies were already there when I arrived relaxing on the Salt Cay chairs and discussing New Year's Eve plans.

The pool is surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and is a refreshing change from the salt water. Don't get me wrong... the beach is my preference - but on windy, rough days it feels so luxurious to lounge around this beautiful crystal clear water and take a dip when it gets hot!

With butterflies flitting about and birds chirping in the trees, it's easy to lose yourself for a few hours of true relaxation.Pirates Hideaway is the only place on Salt Cay with a papaya tree and look at the fruit... it will be a few more weeks before these are ripe and I'm hoping that I'll get a bite or two!

There is another reason for our visit to Candy's lovely pool oasis... yesterday, December 30th was Debbie (Salt Cay Divers) birthday! Happy Birthday Debbie. :0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Osprey of Salt Cay

Salt Cay has been home to many osprey over the years. They have nested in many places on the island... on North Beach using abandoned telephone poles as nesting platforms, on the hurricane damaged communications tower on the West side of the island, on the old windmills in the middle of the Salt Cay main salinas and the latest spot is one of the new platforms built last year on the Southeast side of the island by South Creek.

In March 2009, two new osprey platforms were erected... one toward the North of the Creek and one toward the South of the Creek. And the wait began. The platforms are spread out enough to allow for three families of osprey on Salt Cay.

We took a ride down yesterday and the osprey are there!! As we drove up, the mother was sitting in a bush near the water close to the nest as the father osprey flew in with a fish for the two baby osprey.

The 2010 osprey family has choosen the pole toward the South of the Creek and there are currently two babies in the nest. I was not able to get close enough to take a picture of them, but Mama Osprey obviously loves the spot and feels very relaxed there. She just sat in her bush watching us.

Approaching the pole to try to get a picture of the little ones, the Father Osprey started to screech at us. We took the hint and left without bothering them.

When the osprey nested in the Salinas we loved to watch them fly over the house as they fished and fed their family. But, my lord are the baby osprey loud when they are out of the nest and calling to their parents!

Now we are able to watch as they fly over the island on their way South to feed their growing family and with luck the babies will be screeching a little further away once they start flying.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

It may be a little cloudy on Salt Cay the past few days and we've had a bunch of rain since we arrived last Monday... but that's perfect - nice to come from 20 degrees to overcast and "cool" 70-75 with the trade winds blowing. We spent the first few days cleaning and opening the house, hooking up the solar hot water heater and washing clothes. Darned mice came in the house while we were gone and left little piles of sea grape seeds everywhere! Have not had that problem before!

Mike's taken the boat to Grand Turk today to see if we can get the DSL turned on at our house so that I can actually have internet there! What a treat that will be although I will miss my morning trips to Porter's Island Thyme or Debbie's Coral Reef Bar & Grill, but it will be nice to be able to have more time to sit and work on this blog and other projects.

We took a trip down to South Creek to check out the osprey nest yesterday but I can't upload the pictures until tomorrow... so watch for Salt Cay osprey report coming soon!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Salt Cay... you can get there from anywhere

When we left Salt Cay in May, there were very limited options to get to, or leave the island. I breathed a sigh of relief when I got ahold of a schedule of airlines and flight times!! Since I started this blog, I've had a lot of people contact me about Salt Cay as their next island vacation spot... and I refer them to for lots of info!

Caicos Express: New to the airline business in the Turks and Caicos Islands, residents have been happy with their service and consistent operation. We'll be trying them if the scheduling works out and have good things about them!
Agent: Patrice 649-243-0237.
Mondays: PLS-SLX 6:30AM, SLX-GDT-PLS 7:00 AM
Wednesdays: PLS-SLX 3:15 PM, SLX-GDT-PLS 4:00 PM
Fridays: PLS-SLX 7:30 AM, SLX-GDT-PLS 8:00 AM, PLS-SLX 3:15 PM, SLX-GDT-PLS 4:00 PM

Air Turks and Caicos: This airline is on again, off again... and apparently on again. They have upgraded their internet service to provide for purchase of e-tickets but I have no reports on how well that works yet... (as as of the middle of July I cannot recommend them at all!)
Agent: Debbie Been: 649-241-1009.

Global Airways: Airline charter service from PLS-SLX-PLS whenever you wish to fly. We've used them many times over the years and Lindsey always does a great job! If you want to be sure to get there from anywhere, fly Global.
Agent/Owner: Lindsey Gardner

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Into the Water on Salt Cay

Yesterday was one of the last, lazy days. We are going to be leaving Salt Cay next Wednesday and like to spend a few days just relaxing. I was sitting in my hammock chair reading a book after lunch - well, I was reading and spending time just looking out at all the colors of the Sea and Sky. There was a bit of a breeze, but not bad. I took a break from taking a break...

And I went kayaking!
Just a short paddle down to the Lighthouse Cliff and back. It was wonderful. Just in front of the Salt Cay Harbor a turtle was swimming on the surface. She popped under the water as I came closer. I stopped for a bit to see if she would come back up, but she was off somewhere else so I continued my paddle North.

It was about a 45 minute paddle all together. A little bright in the middle of the day, but well worth the time. I'll be going out again this afternoon. Last year I was able to kayak around the entire island of Salt Cay (in a little over 2-1/2 hours) on a calm day, but we just haven't had any days calm enough to do it this year (and without Mike's boat in the water to check on my progress, I don't want to try it).

Ahhhhh, it was a great afternoon. Mike took pictures from the beach deck as I pulled in after my paddle. Then - into the water for a swim and float about. Wonderful.

Out of the Water on Salt Cay

On Wednesday, the last day of April, it was time to take Mike's boat out of the water. Mike's homemade Salt Cay Dump boat trailer made it's maiden road trip to the harbor. We were a little concerned that with the weight of the boat (approximately 700 pounds) and the weight of the trailer (approximately 400 pounds) our little buggy might not be able to pull the boat out.

A few years ago, Mike watched (and laughed) as Nathan Smith - aka Teddy - tried to pull a boat out of the harbor with his truck and the truck roll into the harbor. It's not a laughing matter - Mike and others jumped to Nathan's rescue that day. But this day, Mike was hoping that he wouldn't have that problem!

Our friend, Paul Corti, helped Mike move the boat around from the dock to load it onto the trailer. All was going smoothly! The seas are calm, the tide is high, the sun is out and there weren't alot of other people around...

Once the boat was pulled onto a little bit onto the trailer, Paul disconnected the rope, connected the wench line and started cranking. It was quick and easy. Mike jumped out of the boat the make the final adjustments to the boat and was ready to haul the boat and trailer out of the water.

Mike hopped into the buggy, I crossed my fingers hoping the boat, trailer and buggy did not go backwards into the harbor (Mike told me later that he wasn't really worried about that and knew it would be okay - hah, thanks!)

He didn't roll backwards into the water, but the buggy just wasn't heavy enough to pull the boat and trailer out. Barber Selver had been sitting by the dock in his white truck watching the whole thing and as Mike spun his wheels, Barber pulled the truck around to the boat launch and got ready to pull.

After hooking the rope on to the back of the truck, it was a breeze! It took about 2 minutes to pull the trailer and boat out of the harbor. What luck that Barber was there or we would have had to go find someone to help. And even though Mike said there was no chance of the buggy rolling backwards into the harbor, I was really relieved!

The buggy towed the boat and trailer home without a problem and Mike got ready to put the boat away. He knew there was a leak somewhere so he took all the floor boards out of the boat, washed the boat, found the leak and will be prepared to fix the leak and put in new floor boards when we return.

It took the rest of the day to get everything out of the boat and ready to "put away" until we return. We leave Salt Cay next week, I'm not ready. But then, I'm never ready to leave the island.

P.S. Did I mention that Mike decided to name the boat "the Tub" as in "rub-a-dub-dub-tub"? He just didn't think the boat felt like SalVage. :0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Salt Cay Soldier Crabs

I think we may have found the smallest soldier crab (aka hermit crab) on the island of Salt Cay! This little hermie is so small it was not even curling up when Mike picked it up but kept crawling around all over his hands.
And this little guy was quick! The first couple of photos I tried to get were blurred because he just kept scooting around from one hand to the next. Salt Cay's smallest soldier crab is about the size of 1/2 of my baby fingernail! Amazing

From Widipedia -- "There are approximately 15 terrestrial species in the world, and of those, the following are commonly kept as pets: Caribbean hermit crab, Coenobita clypeatus, and the Ecuadorian hermit crab, Coenobita compressus. Other species such as Coenobita brevamanus, Coenobita rugosus, Coenobita perlatus or Coenobita cavipes are less common but growing in availability and popularity as pets. In certain regions of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and the Florida Keys, hermit crabs are commonly used in a sport known as crab racing, where they are placed in the center of a ring and whichever crab reaches the outside of the ring first wins."

Salt Cay has some great hermit crab races! None this year, but with luck next year we'll be able to do a few races. The hermit crab races were used as fund raisers for the Balfour Town Public Library on Salt Cay about five years ago and for other community projects too. Lots of fun!!

If you're ever on Salt Cay when we have hermit crab races, be sure to ask for Soldier Crabs from Mike & Ann! This is a picture over our north fence of just a few of the hundreds of soldier crabs in our "stables"!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

To Market, To Market - Salt Cay Style

Grocery shopping on Salt Cay is not just a drive to the local IGA or supermarket. We have four small island shops that have potatoes, onions, flour, eggs and assorted other "staples" when you need them, but many people get on the Government Boat (aka Brittany Leigh) on Tuesday to take the 45 minute boat ride to Grand Turk to buy groceries. Grand Turk is the capitol of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is about 5 miles North of Salt Cay as the osprey flies.

I don’t do the shopping. Mike makes the trip every week or two to buy vegetables, meat and whatever else we need. Personally, I'm glad that Mike does the shopping. I don't really mind the boat ride, but the other end of the journey can be challenging. The Salt Cay boat used to pull up to a nice small dock with stairs going up to the main dock in Grand Turk. Then, about five years ago the configurations changed and now there's a horrible ladder that you have to climb up to or climb down and jump onto the boat. Not me! The Government keeps saying things will get changed, but I am not holding my breath on that. I suppose one of these days someone will really get seriously hurt (people have already been hurt) and they might think about giving Salt Cay back a dock that works for the small boats.

I used to go shopping with Mike, it was fun. We’d take the plane or boat over, go to all the stores (you can’t shop in just one store because each store has different things) and then go for lunch before heading back to the Salt Cay dock to get on the boat home. Those days are over, even if the dock was fixed, without a vehicle on Grand Turk to use for shopping Mike often walks everywhere and there is no way my short legs will keep up with his long ones! But hey, that’s not to say it can’t be done… just not by me.
I think Mike likes riding the boat with the ladies who do take the boat from Salt Cay to Grand Turk! The younger women will often go over to have their hair or nails done and visit their friends. Miss Netty is also a regular on the boat and he loves to tease her. (From what I hear, he knows just about every shopkeeper on the island!)
Salt Cay seems to have a bit of a problem when it comes to keeping a boat running. Some years ago, Shine (Alan Dickenson) bought a boat to ferry people and building supplies back and forth. One of those boats, the Lucky Lady, sunk in the Salt Cay harbor during Hurricane Ike, his other boat (the Buccaneer) ended up in a tree in Grand Turk (word on the street is that it has been turned into a tourist attraction.) There has been lots of talk about how to get Lucky Lady out of the harbor.
In the Adventures of Captain Mike I think I talked about how the dock at Salt Cay slid into the harbor on March 6, 2000. (the link will take you to that day!) The Government was going to fix it but never got around to it. Plans were drawn and budgets made, officials came over to inspect the damage but the dock still sits pretty much like it was after it collapsed - there is a wire frame filled with rocks to keep the rest of the dock from falling down.

This year, 2009, the government days for the boat are Tuesday and Wednesday. They’re called government days because the government subsidizes the trip for the boat owner those days. I’m not sure if that’s happening this year because the government is broke. Everyone pays to go on the boat – Round trip for men is $12 and $8 for women (don't ask - that’s just the way it is) Mr. Barber Selver collects the fees for the boat trip. When we first arrived on Salt Cay it was $4 for women and free for men because the men would help unload the boat but now that there's a crew to do the loading and unloading everyone pays.
Mr. Maurice Simmons (pictured here) collects for the freight on the boat - $1.00 per box, bag, cooler or packet on grocery day. Building materials and gasoline are charged at different rates. Seas willing, on grocery day the boat does not leave Grand Turk to return to Salt Cay until about 2:30PM.
There are no gas stations on Salt Cay, if you need gas for your buggy, propane tank or boat you send tanks and cans on the boat to be filled. Gasoline does not go on the boat on grocery day. If you don’t go on grocery day you can bring some groceries back on gas day but gas day is a short day with the boat leaving Grand Turk at about 12:30PM.
When you’re shopping on Grand Turk you take a pen to mark your boxes and bags with your name or mark. After all the passengers are off the boat, the crew starts unloading the groceries. They’re piled onto the dock and you’ve got to be there to put your stuff in a pile for Mr. Maurice to count and charge you.

In this picture, Miss Netty is making sure her stuff all comes off correctly so that she can transport it to her shop. Lots of flour, cartons of eggs, cases of coke and fruit juice, rice, canned beans and lots of other tins of food are brought over every week so that those who do not take the boat can purchase from the little shops on island. Even though we go to Grand Turk at least every two weeks, we still go to Miss Netty’s (Miss Netty’s Variety Store with our friend Coral Jennings in the doorway). or the Dickenson’s Store for eggs, flour and juice (Mr. & Mrs. Dickenson’s Variety Store – closed but I’ll try to get a picture of the lovely Mrs. Eloisa behind the counter before we go!) They have freezers with chicken, pork chops, bacon and a few other things to make it through until the next shopping day.

Even though it's been a long day, Mike and Carolyn manage to exchange a few laughs about the boat ride home. It’s usually a wet ride even on a fairly calm day and District Commissioner Carolyn made me promise to photo shop some of the water off her clothes. (and I did!)

Before leaving Mike makes sure that Mr. Maurice has the proper count and pay for our freight. (No they're not dancing, just goofing around!)

The buggy is loaded - it’s time to go home, unload and take a nap!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sounds of the Island, Salt Cay

Stretching slowly as I wake in the morning, I am greeted by the unique sounds of Salt Cay. Every day the sounds are different and every house on Salt Cay greets the morning with different sounds.

Often, the first thing I hear is the wind howling through the windows (screens & shutters, no glass windows) and the sounds of the Sea crashing off the walls and ceiling - that’s when the sea has kicking up and the waves are pounding the reef and beach. On other mornings I can barely hear the waves and my eyes fly open so that I get up quickly to take a look!

Those days when the Sea is almost quiet and just sending a small whisper through the house, it will be a perfect morning to put in my kayak for an early morning paddle to the cliff by the Lighthouse. When the Sea is quiet, I can also hear the sound of roosters crowing in the distance. Depending upon which way the wind is blowing, I can hear either the South District roosters or – even more faintly – the North District roosters.

South District roosters were elusive as I tried to catch a photo of them this morning. They were taking their broods into the bushes for a late morning bug or two when I happened to catch this one heading into Periwinkle Park. At 9:30AM, he was quite finished for the day – having started at about 4:30AM (possibly a little earlier) with the South District Salt Cay wake-up call that is kind of… “Caa Coooooooooo Coo.”

Not to be confused with the North District Salt Cay wake-up call that goes something like… “Caa Caa Cooooooo Ca”. Of course there are a few variations to the crowing depending upon – well, I’m not sure what it depends upon.

While I was trying to take a picture of Miss Netty’s rooster (North District) she was telling me the old timers on Salt Cay could tell the exact time by the way the rooster was crowing and which rooster crowed.

It does take a little while to get used to the call of the Salt Cay Rooster in the morning and throughout the day. Many homes both North and South (this is a picture of Miss Netty’s and her rooster) have resident Roosters. Mike and I had a Rooster that used to sit on the wall outside of our bedroom window one year. Thankfully he has moved back South – I don’t miss him at all.

Occasionally a donkey will stroll down Victoria Street and stop in front of our house to bray (at 4AM) because he can’t break our gate open to get in and chomp my flowers and plants. And there have been a few times that we’ve had to get up after hearing the donkeys hooves on our walkway because they’ve managed to get into the yard for a very, very early morning snack.

Sleeping in late (7AM) I hear workers on their way to work signing hymns or bantering back and forth among themselves. A bicycle squeaking past my house is not enough to wake me - but if I’m already awake, it’s enough to make me smile, stretch, and start another day with all the adventures it has to bring.

Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Churches of Salt Cay

Salt Cay is approximately 2.5 square miles with a population that includes Turks & Caicos Islanders, Dominicans (Dominican Republic), Haitians, Americans, French, Dutch, Grenadians, Canadians and a host of other countries. The population varies from about 70 people to about 150 people depending upon how many guests or workers are on island (or how many Haitians come snuck in). There are no resorts but a number of small guest houses and lodgings. You can find out more about all that at There are three bars (two with restaurants), one restaurant without a bar, four small grocery stores and five churches.
Beginning at the airport (North), The Church of God of Prophecy is the first church you pass when you arrive on right hand side. Pastor Antoinette Talbot (also knows as Miss Netty) presides over the lively, dedicated congregation. Any Sunday you will pass by (or stop in), the joyful sounds of song and praise fill the air.

Continuing down the road you will come to Salt Cay Methodist Church on the left side of the street. Pastor Noyal Hamilton has moved the small but mighty group of worshippers to the rectory after Hurricane Ike took off the beautiful roof on the church. The rectory building of the Methodist Church is also the emergency shelter for the island in case of another hurricane.

As you come to the intersection of Victoria Street and turn left you will come to St. John's Anglican Church on the right hand side of the street. Canon Been often comes to officiate, but in his absence Mr. Holton Dickenson is the Catechist. The picture on the right was taken by Michele Belanger-McNair (Compass Rose Guest Cottage) of Father Mark on Trinity Day in 2007.
St. John's Anglican Church also has a very old cemetery within it's walls that is interesting to walk through. Standing on the grounds of the church, looking out to Sea is most spiritual and peaceful.

Continue your walk toward South Town on Victoria Street, past the Balfour Town Government Offices, Mary Robinson Primary School and Balfour Town Public Library and just a little bit past The Folly and you will see Mount Zion Baptist Church. Pastor Gary Lightbourne officiates on Sundays with Miss Rosalie Glinton playing the piano as the congregation raise their voices in praise and song. Most recently the Mount Zion Baptist Church hosted an all-faith praise day on Easter Monday. Members of all churches and the community joined together to sing and listen to the Senior citizens and members of the Mary Robinson Primary School sing selections. This was the first time for the event that will continue every year! It was truely wonderful.
I don't have a picture of the fifth church on the tour... but if you continue down Victoria Street and turn left on Glinton Street you will come to the cricket field and Community Center. Pastor Luckner Mondesair presides over The New Jerusalem Church. Be prepared to speak Creole or French at this wonderful gathering.

Most Sundays you will find me looking out to Sea, thankful to be able to enjoy the beauty and peace of the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Animal adventures on Salt Cay

Want to adopt a cat? Some years ago, a woman came to Salt Cay with a number of cats. Slowly but surely the cat population on island has increased until there are too many cats. It has become a problem that has been addressed in various ways. Porter (Island Thyme Bistro) uses a Have-A-Heart trap to help relocate the cats but it's a very slow process and hardly makes a dent in the overall Salt Cay feline population.

Nancy Connolley fell in love with one of the cats hanging around and came up with a unique way to transport the cat back to her home in Oregon State, USA. Mike (James) used a tackle box, drilled holes in the top of it and created a cat carrier for her to use to take Rebella back. Nancy contacted the vet in Providenciales to make an appointment to give the cat the necessary shots and international health certificate. Fortunately, Rebella is a female! The decrease in population may not be huge but every little bit helps.

Salt Cay's premier Animal Advocate and Donkey Friend, Pat Coe, has contacted Susan Blehr, the Director of the TCSPCA, and hopes to bring volunteer vet Dr. Rich Sefcik over sometime within the next couple of weeks to spay/neuter as many dogs and cats as possible. Debbie Bean (Say Cay Divers) is coordinating this effort now that Pat has gone off island.

It is illegal to have an unspayed female dog in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but it does happen. Salt Cay currently has a puppy population in need of spay/neuter services and we welcome the services of Dr. Rich to help with the problem.
I am happy to report that the new donkey, April Sassy, is doing well and seems to be gaining weight steadily. She is shown here with Pat Coe. April Sassy is extremely tame around humans but is learning the skills she will need to survive on Salt Cay. We hope that one day there will be an opportunity to round up the donkeys and neuter them. The hurricanes decreased the donkey and cow population quite a bit but it doesn't take long for it to get out of control again.

One population we don't want to decrease around Salt Cay is the humpback whale population! I wrote that we hadn't seen any humpback whales for a bit and they may have been heading North, but I was mistaken! Ollie (Salt Cay Divers) and Mike (Hawkins) have both spotted many whales all around the island. Yesterday at about noon we watched from shore off the West side of the island while a pair of humpbacks played for about an hour. They seem to be waiting for the weather to warm up before they head North again (hmmm, I must agree with that).

No article about about the adventures of animals on Salt Cay could be complete without a mention of a rare species spotted just after Easter at the Cyber Cafe in Island Thyme. Bunny Dive Master Dave, one of the great dive masters from Salt Cay Divers.