Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #76 Back In The State Of Sunshine

In these times of wondering where we’re going and why we’re in this handbasket, it’s a joy to view a reminder of from where and how far we’ve come in this lifetime. This morning in north Georgia as we were having breakfast we noticed the two men occupying the booth behind us—one white, one black. I vividly remember the time when such a scenario would be unthinkable, much less enacted. We also observed two different interracial couples at the IHOP. In north Georgia. Hallelujah.

Paul and Gail of Puffin gave us overnight accommodations but no home cooking. They’re having their kitchen completely remodeled and it is presently totally gutted. We were delighted to be with them again, and we wish them well with their home project—and we’re happy that it’s not ours!

This afternoon we got to stop by the boat yard in St. Pete to visit Caloosa Spirit for a brief time, mostly to off-load some of the utensils and such which we had taken up north. She looks just fine, although she desperately needs a bath. She seemed glad to see us, and we were glad to see her. We look forward to moving back aboard in the not-too-distant future.

We’re also glad to see Mike again. We came on down to Sarasota to spend a couple of weeks (or more) using his house as home base while Caloosa Spirit gets once more seaworthy. It’s really nice to have adult kids who like having us around.

Yesterday we were just too lazy to make a run back up to St. Pete to attend to the boat, and we had some errands to run anyway. We’ve been through Venice several times on the ICW, but we’ve never really seen the town. So, since we had to drive down for something at their West Marine, we took the opportunity to see what we can’t see from the water. It seemed that we really haven’t missed much, since the up-scale shopping district was very much like others we’ve explored.

This morning we got an early—well, early for us—start to get to the boat for some serious cleaning. We also had to make a stop at JSI to replace half (6’) of one of our four mainsail battens (a rod to help stiffen the sail) which was splintering. Would you believe it cost $9.88 with a fitting on the end, including labor? What a deal! After a diligent day Caloosa Spirit is again looking like someone is paying attention to her. More work awaits, but the boat yard is locked over the weekend, so the next project will be delayed until next week.

With the weekend and a rainy day intervening we didn’t make it back to the boat until today. While we accomplished a couple of things—mainly making arrangements for bottom paint and a reservation for summer storage—more rain prevented us from doing anything constructive on Caloosa Spirit.

The rain may be frustrating, but Indianapolis can see our two days of rain and raise us 12 inches of snow. According to Lauri the city is in shut-down mode, and the current situation may rival or surpass the famous Blizzard of ’78. We’ll take the rain, thank you.

With Mike’s house (our current bed-and-breakfast) in Sarasota and the boat yard where Caloosa Spirit still sits in St. Petersburg, we’re getting daily opportunities to experience one of the great engineering marvels of the 20th century, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Designated as a stretch of I-295 it spans the width of Tampa Bay connecting Bradenton with St. Petersburg. The first Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened in 1954 with lengthy approach causeways on both sides and a “cantilever-truss” in the center span crossing the Tampa Bay ship channel. The vertical clearance for the channel was approximately 150 feet above the water and approximately 750 feet in width. Increasing traffic across the two-lane span spurred the construction of a second parallel span which was completed in 1971, giving the bridges two lanes in each direction.

On the fateful morning of May 9th, 1980, during a violent rain squall producing high winds and almost zero visibility, an empty phosphate freighter slammed into one of the supports on the south side—over 700 feet from the center of the channel. The collision knocked 1261 feet of the bridge into Tampa Bay. Thirty-five people, most of them on board a Greyhound bus bound for Miami, plunged 150 feet to their deaths in what is now one of the worst bridge disasters in history. Rescue crews and divers were immediately dispatched to the scene, but of the victims who made the fall there was only one survivor. Wesley MacIntire’s truck had luckily landed on the deck of the Summit Venture, the hapless freighter. After the disaster the northbound span carried one lane in either direction until the current bridge opened in April of 1987.

The main span of the northbound bridge was finally demolished in 1992. The remnants of the old bridge were deposited around the old north and south approaches to provide an artificial reef for the fishing piers they were to become. Today these piers, comprising the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, regularly host day fisherpersons as well as overnight campers.

The new “cable-stay” bridge is a remarkable and stunning structure. It has a main span of 1200 feet and a vertical clearance of 193 feet. These days the bridge is equipped with a protection system involving 36 large concrete bumpers (called “dolphins” of all things) that are built to withstand an impact from any errant ship in the vicinity of the bridge’s piers. These structures are quite evident from the water, and they definitely give the appearance of providing a high degree of security to the bridge. The bridge’s clearance from the water is 175 feet—more than sufficient for our 60-ft. mast—although each time we’ve passed under it the immense height is illusory. We look forward to the day when we can once more pass under the Sunshine Skyway rather just driving across it.

Sunshine Skyway approach
Caloosa Spirit entering Tampa Bay in 2003

Sunshine Skyway under
An awesome sight from below

Okay, so we’re in Florida and we have no right to complain about the weather. So I won’t. Let me just say that our pale northern complexions are still intact, due to the layers of clothing protecting them. We really hope to one day soon shed the sweatshirts, jeans, and jackets which we got so sick of wearing up north. As I said, I won’t complain about the weather, especially when the sun is shining brightly.

The days of working on the boat are starting to blend together. So far we’ve washed the topsides, freshened the waterproofing on the bimini, serviced one winch, cleaned the barnacle residue off the dinghy bottom, removed the ugly brown water-line stain, and waxed half of one side of the hull. Our goal is to get the rest of the hull waxed and (maybe) get the dinghy bottom painted before the end of the week. The yard is planning to move the boat and do the bottom-painting next week, so we want to have the out-of-the-water projects completed first. We thought it would be a good idea to service all the winches while errant pieces and parts couldn’t jump into the briny deep, but time is running too short. That job will wait until after re-launching.

After Caloosa Spirit is splashed, the assessment and repairs on the electronics will begin. Back in October when we moved the boat to the boat yard we realized that several of our instruments were either working erratically or not working at all. With the consultation of the boat yard experts we determined that lightning damage was the culprit. The alternator/regulator was also damaged, but it is “miraculously” not covered by our BoatUS electronics endorsement insurance because it is not necessary to navigation—it says in the fine print. So, soon the mystery of what-needs-fixing-and-how-much-will-it-cost will be unraveled. Stay tuned.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

(Some text taken from St. Petersburg Times)

Posted Wednesday February 21, 2007

* * *

name Remember
  Textile Help