Monday, June 29, 2009

Aibonito Flower Festival = Great Fun!

My favorite booth and place of most spending ($80) was this heliconia booth. They had heliconias great and small, hanging and upright and every color that exists and some that shouldn't! Here is the place we got a pink banana (fruit is pink and seedy but edible) and carnivorous, pendulous jack-in-the-pulpit "organic" looking basket, a couple pink torch gingers (common but spectacular), and the prize of all prizes... a She Kong fuzzy red/orange heliconia that towers at 8 feet or so!

This is the lovely She-Kong...the photo doesn't show the true fuzziness.

Of course there were orchids. Orchids big and small, delicate and huge, brown, green and everything in between. This purple patterned one caught my eye...

and then the charge card. A necessity for the jungle room I think.

Orchids orchids everywhere!

and more. Other finds were some strawberries (why not) and a blackberry in a hanging basket (which I don't understand). A Dancing Lady ginger (photo to come later) and a bunch of free pineapple tops to make a pineapple bed! We sipped a yummy pineapple drink and noticed the guy was piling up pineapple tops (each drink was a pineapple). He said we could take some and showed us how to plant them correctly - twist off the top of the pineapple and pull a few leaves off the stalk so you see the little hair roots. Then plant them. We planted the whole tops before but haven't gotten fruit yet so we'll try this with the lucky 13 tops we picked up - por gratis! So all in all a wonderful day in the central area looking at nature's beautiful things. Some day, when the gingers and heliconias reach full height we will see flowers, so I guess I better plant them somewhere soon!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Flamboyant Time

Every flowering tree or shrub here is wonderful but the Flamboyants are simply magnificent! Their graceful branching structure, delicate leaves and fake looking flowers amaze me whenever I see them. I especially like looking at the petals on the ground after a good rain. So until mine are flowering (I planted them from seed) I have to drive around oohing and ah hing. Here is a nice orange one along highway 2 near Ponce.

I didn't think there were many yellow ones until I started looking closer. So many trees here flower yellow that you have to really look down the trunk to realize there are yellow ones.

Here's a nice red one. I think the red ones are the most common ones.

More red...

More red. They are kind of at their peak or a little past prime. I had to photograph them anyway! I swiped pods off orange, red and yellow ones and my trees are now 6 or 7 feet tall. I also planted 2 blue ones but haven't seen any to photograph. I believe the blue ones are actually Jacaranda trees and don't know if the others are Jacarandas or not. Can't wait for the surprise year that they bloom it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Solar Power (long post)

(Click on any image to make it bigger)

Even as a kid I have always been interested in Solar power. When I was 12 or 13 my parents gave me one of those electrical kits with the little springs that you could wire up and make all kinds of neat things. You could make a tiny AM radio that used an earphone and power it off of the solar cells. That was enough to keep me interested for life.
Over the years I ran the numbers several times to see if we could go solar. First when Katrina and I bought our house in Duvall, WA. Then again before we moved into our Puerto Rican house. The cost just couldn't be justified, not even close. Then just a few months ago I see a flyer on a co-workers desk. It was for training for solar panel systems and installation. We got to talking and he tells me there is a 75% tax credit for installing solar power and he was taking the class to become a licensed installer. Unfortunately I am not a licensed PE. In my 20+ years as an electrical engineer in the states it was never asked of me nor did I ask it of the many people I interviewed. Just another bit of PR BS that prevented me from taking the class or getting certified. None the less I wasn’t going to let that stop me especially since Elvin was licensed and taking the class. I borrowed his class book and did a lot of research on the Internet. I basically found everything I needed in his book and on the Internet. I did spend a lot of time researching everything.
But before I started looking at the technical stuff I tried to understand that “Tax Credit” requirements. This proved to be the hardest part of the whole process. It was all in Spanish so that didn’t help! Depending on the person I went to for translation I got a different meaning! Sometimes they couldn’t give me a translation!

We did our best reading the law (Ley 248) and made many phone calls (never got the same answer). Basically there was 5 million dollars set aside for fiscal year 2007-2008 for 75% tax credits for homeowners. Then 50% for 2008-2009, then 25% for 2010. Things lined up as they did for us to be on the edge for us receiving the 75%. The 5 million was spoken for and we probably just missed it! We ran the numbers. With the government paying for 75% it was a no brainer. But 50%? Maybe. With 50% it becomes a cool fun project for me that might pay for its self if oil goes back to $150 a barrel. Costs: If I had someone design and install the system it would have cost $30K. We did it for about half of that. Then figure in the tax credits and the system could cost 4 to 8K. The panels account for less than half of the system. The inverter, batteries, charge controller, and mounting HW accounts for the rest.

The first step was to find out how much electricity we actually used for the year. On average we used 7 KWH a day but that dropped to less than 6 after we got a new refrigerator. This also includes using the 5HP scuba compressor, something we have to switch over to a 8HP gasoline engine because the inverter cant power it. Since our electrical usage was less than 6 KWH a day that was the place to start the design. It would have been more economical to stay on the grid but we wanted to be off-grid. First decision done. Then I had to find out how much solar radiation we get. I am still not sure about this. I found information showing 5 to 5.5 solar hours a day for our location. The only problem I have with that estimate is how do they know how many clouds we get? 3 miles behind our house in mountains they have clouds most of the day. 5 miles to the South West and its desert. I ran the numbers using 5. I also wanted enough panels so if it was cloudy for a week we would still have enough energy to run the refrigerator and a few lights and a couple of hours of tv. That’s about 2.5 KWH a day. I was told to expect about 20% output with thick clouds. 2000 Watts of panels for 5 hours a day is 10KWH * 20% is 2KWH. That’s close.

I searched for companies on the internet and locally that sell solar stuff. I really wanted to buy locally but the prices these guys were charging here were insane, 25% - 40% more than the internet and they didn't have most things in stock! I found a company that had good ratings with the BBB and they had good prices. They gave us really good prices and service. Not everything went perfect but I would definitely recommend them and use them again. They are now selling a pallet of panels (200Wx28pc) for $2.86 a watt. I think I kinda pushed Elvin into really making this happen. By us ordering together we split the shipping and we were able to use a whole pallet of panels. Our order was so large we got another discount. With the 75% tax credit ready to run out this was our best chance to do this. I made the calls, got the quotes, and got the ball rolling while Elvin took the class, took the test, and got certified. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do this.

I found that our best deal was a pallet of Evergreen Solar 205W panels. I needed 10 and Elvin could use the other 18 (I think he only wanted 16 but he took the 18). With this decided I needed to figure out which inverter to use. I picked the Xantrex 4548 on/off grid inverter. I looked at many others and went back and forth. I am glad I bought the Xantrex. Since I went with the Xantrex inverter I also picked the Xantrex charge controller.
This stack of 10 panels may produce all the electricity Katrina and I will use at home for the rest of our lives.
The batteries I selected were Deka 8L16 6V 370AH@1/20C. These things weigh more than Katrina! We got eight of them for a bank capacity of 48V*370AH= about 18KWH. The less you use them the longer they last. The power we use from 5pm to 7AM is 3 – 4 KWH, about 20 to 25% of the battery capacity. You never want to go below 50% capacity because you reduce the battery life.

20KWH of storage! Arh Arh Arh. 8 6V batteries in series. All housed in a nice plastic shed Katrina found at Home Depot. If there was an eclipse for two days and we didn’t conserve we would be close to the 50% limit but since that won’t happen I expect to get 20% (2KWH) output on the cloudy days. With a little conservation I would expect we could go 5 days without hitting the 50%. More conservation and we can go longer. I looked at circuit boxes for all the breakers and connections for the system. Xantrex wanted something like $1500 for their box. I had the bright idea I would make my own for just a few hundred. I found an e-panel from Midnite solar and it only cost $700. I started looking into the documentation for it and started pricing parts for my panel. Katrina pushed me to spend the few hundred dollars extra and get the Midnite solar e-panel box. I am glad I did. It would have taken me forever to build that box.

This is the Midnite Solar E-panel with the Xantrex charge controller attached. Everything is all wired up.

I also went with the Midnite solar Combiner box. This box is on the roof and combines all the panel arrays.

Mounting the panels:
This was physically the hardest part of the whole process. We researched all the commercial systems available. I haven’t seen any in person but I thought they were weak and they also cost way too much. We decided to make our own. Whatever we did it needed to withstand a strong hurricane. I also didn’t want to drill to many holes in the roof. I wanted to go with Aluminum but after checking some out I didn’t feel it would be strong enough. We looked at 1/16” 2x2 and doubled them up to try and see what 1/8” would be. They sagged under my weight and I was not jumping on them. I then looked at some 16 gauge 3x3 Galvanized Steel. I jumped up and down on it and it didn’t bend very much at all. No need to get the 14 or 12 gauge, this stuff is strong.

Elvin went with 1/8” 2x2 Al and it should be strong enough. I had a design in mind but at the last minute changed it to match Elvin’s. The angle of our panels can be changed. This is important if a storm is coming. We can lay the panels almost flat. It was also our idea to lay them flat in the summer to improve on the collection of solar energy but as I built my first frame I saw shadows on where the panels would be. Even a small shadow can reduce the output by 50%. I am going to leave my panels at 17 degrees unless a storm is coming. Elvin built two sets of legs he can change out so he won’t have shadows. After a year let’s see if he is still changing them :)

Here is the bulk of the system all wired up and ready to go. It was a lot of work and I had to miss a few good days of SCUBA diving to get it all done. Just look at the mess below. That mess got smaller as I used more and more of the supplies.

This is all the technical stuff. It's not really that complicated once you have all the information.

We have harvested 8 to 9 KWH a day. The peak output was 2150 Watts. We are not using 8KWH a day. Most of that extra power just gets waisted. Battery charging is very inefficient. Getting 90% of the charge is somewhat efficient but the rest of the charge isn't. Once the system has run for a few months I'll know if we really have extra power to waste. If we have a few extra KWH I might think of using it to heat some water in the day. I do want to keep night usage at a minimum to make the batteries last longer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Veggies are Difficult

Cherry tomatoes are the way to go, but they seem to all come at once and it is hard to know what to do with them all! Usually I get sick of eating them so I cut the plant back by two thirds so it isn't like starting new (and waiting forever) but it gives me a tomato break. I let a lot drop and I leave them to make new starts for the next round.

The cinder block bed system is working pretty well - we'll see if we ever get rain. I tried raised rows and found that most things sprouted in the dips (were washed away or into the dips). I tried big mounds and they would meld into the ground as well. This seems like a permanent thing so far. I've got basil, cucumber, a couple squash and 2 aji dulce "trees" (they are 4 feet) in the close bed and tomatoes, pineapple, cucumber and a pepper in the other bed.

This is the first cucumber! I am excited. I've been cooking a lot of Thai food since it is "clean" (not saucy, greasy, cheesy, fried, goopy) and since it requires things we can actually get here - like cucumbers! I am growing lemon grass and ginger which are other main ingredients. Freshmart has fish sauce and I found green chili paste at Pueblo (still looking for red chili paste).

This is one of the aji dulce pepper trees. I want to prune it to make it look more tree- like, and keep waiting for the blossoms/fruit to finish. It just keeps going and going. These little peppers are a main ingredient in sofrito and they freeze well. So...gardening in Puerto Rico. The good thing is that once something has started, it grows pretty well. Some things just don't want to grow though, like zucchini. I am paying $1.47 for my favorite squash and in Seattle you just never ran out! It is great on the BBQ and in Thai stuff. One trick I've learned is to add sand to the soil. Another is to cut things in half when you think they are done producing. I've had one berejena plant that has produced 3 times after being cut down and fertilized. I still have to get more loamy stuff in the soil and water more (soil is pretty hard) and have got to figure out what to do about bugs. It would help if I could clean up all the tall weeds and grass around the area, but it just grows back so fast! On the right on the cinder block bed photo I planted Dichondra from seed as a ground cover. It has helped nicely on that section, and I weed as it creeps out and takes more space. You can walk on it and it holds the soil. I gets some weeds in it but has really helped keep things down. It just takes a while to establish. Ultimately to do it large scale I think the answer is gardening inside an enclosed area. It can be enclosed in shade cloth to keep insects out. Before that project happens I need to think through whether that area is where I want it permanently and I need to clean it up and put in permanent pathways or something around it. I would normally lay down cardboard, put weed block over it and then gravel, but when the torrential rains come I am afraid the gravel will merge with the mud or wash away. Any suggestions for vegetable bed maintenance? My garden is producing, but it sure looks bad! Maybe hydroponics are the answer?

Monday, June 15, 2009

We are Harvesting Electrical Engery from the Sun!

Yesterday evening I flipped the circuit breakers on. No sparks or explosions spraying acid and bits of molten lead. Phew! The displays all came on and power started flowing into the battery bank. It was late and very overcast so not much power went into the batteries. Today should be different. I cant wait to get home and see how much power we produced. We are still on the grid. I wanted to charge the batteries first and I also want to be home when we switch over but the system works and it is harvesting the suns energy.

Tomorrow I drive a couple hours to San Juan and hopefully get our 75% tax credits! Pictures will be coming soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Solar - Spousal Disputes

This is a huge project that Jeff has always wanted to do. He has put many hours into the design and researching where to get things, into filling out and visiting all the agencies required to get the tax credit, etc. But projects usually require both spouses to get the best result.

He knows all the engineering/electrical technical stuff, and I come up with good alternative ideas that he maybe hasn't thought of and that generally work better in some cases. Also, having just spent endless weeks painting and spending time on the roof I am more familiar with things like "how will we paint around that bracket if it is sitting flush?" "Is this enough space to navigate on the roof if something needs repair, do you think 6 inches will work? No." "Will a roller fit under that rack when we reseal the roof?" Stuff like that. Unfortunately when retrofitting an old house for new things it isn't always how you've designed it on paper - things come up.

I am sorry, but the batteries cannot just sit in the carport on the ground. Leaves and dirt and things blow into that corner. What about geckos? I don't want geckos shorting the system. I sure would like that panel above the batteries. Sometimes he doesn't think about the geckos and sometimes I don't know the codes (panel cannot be above the batteries). How high should the panel be? Do we need to read things? Which end to wires go in and out? What are the choices? Lots of stuff to work out.

This was a source of argument. Here is the finished "better" way to do the conduit from the roof to the wiring box. It required drilling a hole through the concrete balcony. There is spacing to keep the conduit a little off the walls so painting will be easy. Unfortunately the conduit can't be white and painting it is impossible.

I came back from diving (why stay home if I can't contribute) to find this plan - conduit across the balcony, over the edge, under and then down. Why not just go through? I imagined tripping on it, leaves gathering, cats messing with it etc. and just thought it looked like crap.

It is the entry to the house and I didn't want to look at that. Jeff did go through the balcony and now the conduit is straight down and it does look better. I better not go diving and leave him alone though!

Not good. Luckily Jeff can see there is a different way and since it doesn't matter to him he did it my way.

You can see the panels from the end of the lawn, but not when you drive up or walk up. Originally he would have liked the panels to extend 8 feet up for maximum power generation, but I didn't want a row of "refrigerators" on the roof. By moving them back a little and going a little lower it'll work great, he kept me happy and you can't really see them. So there have been aggravating things but together we got things figured out so they look good, will function well and be practical for maintenance. It just seems so easy though to have all your power in these relatively small pieces of equipment. Why isn't this done more often? When I was in college (UC Davis 1978 -1982) all new residential and apartment buildings had to be solar. A lot of European countries have solar water at least. Why not in the energy hungry US? Anyway, we look forward to being off the grid for about as "free" as it gets. If the tax credit thing is 75 percent we will be paying around $4000 and be set forever. Not economical, as we only pay $41 a month now, but as electricity goes up we won't have to adjust. But mainly it is just a really cool thing to do! So he has really done a nice job, and not made too many things for me to touch up. When I painted the solar project wasn't hatched yet or I would have waited. We still haven't had rain so it has worked out for the project and hasn't been miserable for the roof work. It is crunch time though because it has to be done or we have to reapply for the tax credit. Next up is finding a gasoline motor for the compressor to fill dive tanks. It requires too much power to pull from the batteries so we need an alternative. It is always something! Fortunately Jeff is handy in that way and will conquer that problem easily! (he posted things before this post about the solar - be sure to look at that post too!)

Poor Little Bepo

No, this isn't some twisted elephant stuffed animal, this is Bepo's butt after a near death experience. All I know is that she is the mother cat of Princess, Stripes, Blanco, Puff, and Mars and was the original cat on the property. She usually sticks around for a week or so and then takes off for 3 or 4 days so it wasn't odd that she was gone for a couple nights and 3 days. When she did show up she appeared inside the porch (they have sneakily pulled back the screen for quick inside access) and was just laying there. She didn't move when I approached and she had that "death smell."

I touched her and a pool of green severely stinky stuff pooled out of her and I couldn't see anything due to the long hair. I knew this was not your average abscess and figured it was perforated intestines or something so I got her into a carrier and off to the vet we went.

Yes it was definitely infected to the point of her being dead if I hadn't brought her in. Dog? Other cat? None of our 11 fight with each other. Could an intruder have attacked her? The vet says dogs will usually break the tail or a leg bone, but the spacing says it could very well have been a dog. Whatever it was it was not pleasant and still isn't pleasant. Bepo is the friendliest of the cats - she will come up to us and let us pet her - but still doesn't like being contained and is not happy about wound cleansing time (gross). I wasn't sure I'd be able to give her the antibiotics by mouth so they gave her a shot. She is living in the totally outdated shower and not loving it. Meow meow meow. When I let her out for supervised stretches and cone removal she jumps on the screen door and tries to get out the window.

This is a hard week. We are trying to finish up the solar. Sounds like it would be simple, but retrofitting an old house to accommodate all the wiring and stuff requires planning and then some rethinking. Jeff wants to finish and I want things to look as good as they can. All this and we've got a recovering Bepo meowzing and Tuca - not-yet-spayed living in the house and wanting out. Tuca will be the only cat that is a pet besides Dakota our WA cat and come and go Chicken. Tuca just jumped and scaled the screens to the top and catapulted down onto the printer. Yes - finishing solar (Sunday) and spaying Tuca (monday) and releasing Bepo (sooner the better but not when she is still oozing will make things peaceful again!

So the story gets more interesting. We haven't seen dogs in the yard since we put cyclone fence on the bottom and up the side where they had easy access. I am sleeping (Bepo has been hurt already) and at 3 in the morning I hear panting (in my sleep) and I run out and find 3 dogs in a pack running down the property. I have Jeff get the BB gun and when they are trapped at the bottom I chase them back up. I have not seen these dogs before but we decide the only way to be free of them is fencing. I know the cats will wander. I know cats fight. I just don't want dog packs or hungry/mean dogs on my property and the only thing to do it fence it. Cyclone is the only way to do it. On our drive out to the highway we often see 30 or 40 goats in the road, cows in the road, horses. All of these could eat my arboretum in an instant. Trouble is that it is expensive - $84 for 50 feet. We already have barbed wire up so we will attach it to that and to the bordering trees. It will be a slow and expensive project but we need to do at least three sides. The back is all forest land so I doubt dogs would come from there (horses will). Trouble is that with 3/4 fenced already it things get in they are trapped.

So yet another big project. Of course it has to be weed whacked first (grass if 4 1/2 feet tall). The weed whacking has been on hold. I have had to water new tree plantings (no rain here in forever - was hoping it would rain today, the Tuca kitty, finishing painting. I just want to read a book in the hammock and rest!

Batteries Scare Me

I am making progress but it's going slow. I worked 13 hours on Tuesday and every few hours Katrina would come by and say "it doesn't look like you did anything, what have you been doing?" She will never understand... But she did come back from Home Depo with a perfect box for the batteries. My "plan" is to finish on Sunday and go the Hacienda on Monday to get my tax credits. That's only one week of buffer for any unexpecteds. I sure hope we get the 75% and not just the 50% tax credit. The panels are all mounted and almost all wired up. Only the ground is left. The conduit and wires make it to the marquesina now, just 20' away from the inverter.

Here is the inverter, epanel, and charge controller mounted on the wall. Thanks Hamilton for helping me lift it in place. The inverter alone weighs 110#'s.

Just mounting, connecting, wiring, etc takes a lot of time!

Here is the battery box. It fits perfectly.

Here they all are wired in series. 48V at 420 AH. All full of Acid, lead, and power! 20,000 watt Hours of energy all ready to release in Micro Seconds if I screw up!

I put some nifty "water miser" caps on each cell. Its a catalyst to convert the Hydrogen gas back to water. I won't have to water the cells but a few times a year. It's going to be another dive free weekend for me!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oriental Bank

Some other bloggers (Summer and Stefan) were talking about not being able to get their mature CD money from Banco Popular. Our CD with Oriental was not tied to a mortgage or anything but I wondered how things would work when ours matured. Here's the scoop...

The CD matured on a Sunday of course and Monday was Memorial Day. I went on Thursday just to get a feel for what was required and to try to finagle a better CD rate than advertised to roll it in to. The original 6 month CD was 4% which I talked them up to (their rate was 3.65 or something close to that). I didn't know these things were negotiable! They were.

I had been looking at for current rates and it was extremely dismal for a 6 month or even a year - under 2%. I wanted a CD for at least 2% and they were going to talk to a manager about it (which means yes) but... that's when the Oriental Money account was brought to my attention.

Get this...The Oriental Money account is a "tiered fixed rate" account. The rate depends on your balance. if $500 - $10000 you get 1%. 10000 - 25000 you get 2%, 25000 - 99999 it is 3.25% and over 100000 it is 3.5%.

Interest is compounded monthly and credited monthly. There is a $14.99 fee if you drop below $5000. It is the daily balance method for interest calculation. There is a $10 fee if you pull it out before a year but not if you put it into a CD through them. If you want there is a mastercard or checks (no ATH card).

So - this works out great for us, far better than a CD. And yes - FDIC insured. So how can they do this? I don't know, but my important questions were answered the right way so I am a happy camper!

Tasty Stuff...

I found this cool grater at the store you love to hate - Marshalls. This is the best tool ever for a lot of things. It has three different sizes you can snap into place. The first thing I made was a Green Mango Salad.

I've been cooking a lot more here in PR than in Washington because I've got too - there isn't much variety of fresh stuff. There is also the game we've got going of eating 3 things from the yard. So here is the latest installment - Green Mango Salad. This is a surprisingly refreshing salad that used 3 things from the yard!

Green Mango Salad
grate 2 green mangoes
1/4 cup grated coconut (toast it)

3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped basil
1-2 fresh red chillies

3-4 spring onions
chopped nuts - handful


This looks odd but it is more variety and was tasty. It was pork with tomatoes (from the yard) and all kinds of spices like cinnamin, nutmeg and other stuff. Something different.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Little Bit of Rain and...

we have cat antics.What is it about the laundry basket? Whether or not there are clothes in it or not they all love to play in it (the cats). Tuca has not seen the other cats in it but here she is inside on a towel. How do they figure things out?

The latest edition to the jungle room (porch) is this tree fern parrot. I think I'll get another one or two and strap orchids and ferns and stuff them them. Our house isn't fussy so I can water them and the mop or hose out the room. I got the iris for in the head since I think it looked like a parakeet. It didn't take long for the cats to figure out that this was a great scratching post. Blanco was sitting on top of the head swatting the dangling seed pod while Pollo was down below swatting it back! Tree fern carvings are the tropical equivalent of chain saw sculptures in the northwest (we didn't have any, but here I can't resist the whimsy).

8 days ago or so we actually had a half inch of rain and the cats came in. Only 6 can fit on the couch though, so the others...

slept in a box...

or a cat bed...or inside somewhere (the other 3).

Diving While Jeff was Working Hard on Solar

While Jeff was working hard on solar stuff I went out diving. There wasn't anything I could do to help him (I PAINTED all the stuff during the week - still haven't finished the rejas) so I went with friend David for some very nice dives over the last two weekends. This is the trail to Natural.

When you follow it down you get to the beach and it doesn't give any indication of how nice things are underwater. We dove on a Saturday and Sunday since it was great visibility and calm conditions. On Saturday it was turtle heaven when we saw 20 turtles or so (Jeff was with us on this one I think). The next day we saw a school of Sabados (tarpon) (we usually see these on the drop off at Corseca), Mero, blah blah it was just a schooling fish day!Fabulous!

Here are the cinder blocks Israel sits on when he "watches" the cars (for $3). His family is great, it is nice to be able to give someone the keys, and he gave me a Ceiba tree seedling that will grow up to be like this one I hope.

Last weekend Jeff was very hard at work and I went to Shacks with Raul (left) and David (right). Conditions were stupendous! We had a wonderful 96 minute dive with over an hour of that on the outside of the reef. No current, good visibility, sunshine.

It was soooooo good we came back on Sunday and conditions were pretty similar but a little more windy. We decided to try uncharted territory and headed to the east as far up the beach as we could walk. We went out and slipped into the "holes" and then found ways out to the outside reef. We headed straight out (north) for quite a while and since there was current went with it to the west when we came in.
Flat flat flat. The surface conditions were wonderful. We saw a huge eagle ray and a really big nurse shark - biggest shark I have seen here in our 1 1/2 years. We came out one of the normal holes after 96 minutes.

On the way home I saw a horse in a pickup. I just love how low the truck is to the ground and the horse just looking ahead at the highway in front of him!