Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #77 Boatyard Blues

It’s been somewhat difficult to get back to this log. Mostly because we’ve been so busy with boat work. Today we finally got a day off, so here we are.

Today Caloosa Spirit is being moved from the storage yard to the work yard, so hopefully the bottom painting will start soon. We worked somewhat feverishly to get the on-the-hard jobs completed prior to the bottom work, so the last couple of weeks have been hectic indeed. But the result is that the hull is clean and polished, the dinghy bottom is freshly painted, and the mainsail is back in place (although that job could have waited). The clean deck is no longer clean due to the constant boat yard dust, but that should be easily remedied later.

We hope to be able to move back aboard soon after the electronics assessment. We think we can at least enjoy sitting at anchor while we wait for parts, but that time is probably another week or two away. Yesterday we explored an anchorage off Maximo Point in St. Petersburg that seems to have possibilities. From there we could get to one of our favorite UCC churches, which is about 1.8 miles away from the anchorage. Of course, covering the distance would be easier on our Dahon bikes—if only we had the seat posts and seats to sit on. Another story!

We also explored a couple of liveaboard marinas in the Bradenton area. Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto sits directly across the Manatee River from Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton, and they both host liveaboards. For a fee, of course. A significantly substantial fee, in fact. While both marinas have appealing amenities, to us neither appeared to be worth the prince’s ransom charged for the privilege of using their facilities. Especially when you have to motor six miles up river from the ICW to get there. If the price included daily maid service and general maintenance (much like a comparable land-side resort), it might be somewhat reasonable—but only somewhat. We prefer sitting on the hook, anyway.

As for the weather, the sweatshirts and jeans are packed away, and shorts and tees have become our daily attire. The temperatures have been consistently above 70 (and frequently above 80), and the sun shines regularly. We’re beginning to lose the northern pallor and to feel and look healthier.

Upon visiting Caloosa Spirit today (much like visiting a loved one in rehab, I suppose) we found that her bottom was being sanded and prepped. The painting should be completed in the next few days, so maybe she’ll be splashed on Friday. One variation in the bottom paint this time is the color. Ever since Caloosa Spirit went into charter service her bottom has been black. I’ve always thought it looked dingy at best and morbid at worst, but the charter company made the decisions back when. The first time we had her painted I lobbied for green, but Jim balked at the bright mint shade that was the only green available in the chosen brand at that time. This time we decided on a different brand, and the boat yard folks are kind enough to mix colors to create the appropriate shade of hunter green. Granted, the paint will still fade and lighten over time (as it’s supposed to do as it works to discourage barnacles and slime), but we’ll finally be rid of the morose color that didn’t match anything else. Yes, it’s a small point, since most of the bottom color is underwater and not readily visible. But Jim knows that it never hurts to keep the admiral happy, especially on the small points.

Well, without a boat to enjoy being on the water the beach is the next best thing. We’ve spent the last couple of days sitting and walking on the beach at Lido Key, and soaking up the sun has been uplifting. This morning, though, we got a call from the boat yard manager saying that there’s a problem with the bottom paint. It’s not adhering to the bottom—a significant problem that’s apparently a mystery to the painters. So it seems that a different paint will be tried (probably a more expensive one—go figure), but we’ve been assured that it will still be dark green. Of course, the new paint will most likely have to be ordered, so the splash date will be moved back for another week—at least. We’re trying to be patient. You’d think that by now we’ve had enough practice at that, but it’s still a struggle. The weather—and the beach—help somewhat.

Lido Beach
Lido Beach

And because it’s been entirely too long since there’s been a sunset picture in this log, here’s a recent one.

Siesta Key sunset
Sunset at Siesta Beach

Last night we got to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures—dinner at a favorite restaurant. What made the dinner extraordinary, however, was the company. Recently I’ve reconnected with a friend from my old Massachusetts high school who has lived most of her adult life in southwest Florida. We lost touch many years ago, but with the magic of e-mail and cell phones we’ve been able to regain our long-lost friendship. Last night was the first of many (we hope) evenings we will spend in the company of Fran and Gil, who presently live in Bradenton. Fran and I have lots of catching up to do—some 40 years worth.

I know, I know. There’s a big time gap in the log here. That’s because we’ve been busy with getting Caloosa Spirit back in the water and seaworthy again. It’s not totally ready, but almost. Last week she was splashed (with a lovely hunter green bottom, I might add), and the electronics assessment began. Incidentally, one of the new wrinkles of this bottom job was having the running gear (propeller and shaft) epoxied and then painted with a new bottom paint. It’s the same paint that wouldn’t stick to the hull, but presumably that was because of the previous bottom paint. But we don’t really know why they used bright blue instead of green. Oh, well. We won’t really see it, at least not until the boat is hauled again this summer. Then we can see if the paint really helped to keep the running gear free of the ubiquitous barnacles.

Caloosa Spirit's new bottom
Caloosa Spirit’s new bottom

Back in the water
Back in the water—finally

The workers at Embree Marine boatyard are definitely not slackers. Within three days the Link 2000R had the regulator, monitor, and circuit board replaced, the anemometer (wind speed and direction indicator) was replaced (both the masthead and helm units), the autopilot’s electronic components were assessed as malfunctioning and ordered, and the VHF radio was replaced (both nav station and cockpit units). In addition, the rigger replaced the masthead anchor light and windex and a new radar reflector which Jim had already purchased. He also installed a lightning dissipater (which looks like an upside-down splayed bottle brush) at the masthead—a little late perhaps, but you never know when lightning may strike twice.

Tomorrow the new autopilot is supposed to be installed and the wiring between the VHF radio and cockpit unit replaced. Then comes a sea-trial to calibrate the new autopilot. After that we’re expecting to be free of the boatyard. We still have some question about how well our single side-band radio is functioning, since we’ve yet to get a response to any transmissions. That’s not really unusual, though, especially in a crowded marina area, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be in communication over the SSB when we can get to an anchorage somewhere.

Yesterday we took some time to do something fun. Mike had yet to visit the Ringling Museums and the Ca d’Zan, so we spent the day exploring the extraordinary art collection, the opulent mansion, and the comprehensive circus museum. All are the legacy of John and Mabel Ringling. The Ca d’Zan sits on the shore of Sarasota Bay, and with 20-knot winds resulting from the cold front that passed by a couple of days ago, the bay was anything but inviting. We were told, however, that a wedding reception was planned for that evening. Sure enough, the catering staff was busy preparing tables during our visit. We were aghast and amused as we contemplated the gale-like experience awaiting the wedding party and guests. We expected the china and crystal table service to be blown completely off the tables, and we wondered how anyone would actually eat anything. Worse, the dropping temperatures bode poorly for anyone wearing a strapless (or almost) gown. Even in Florida planning an outdoor wedding is a gamble with the weather gods.

Ca d'Zan wedding
A windy wedding

Mike at Ca d'Zan
Mike at Ca d’Zan

We’re good to go. By noon today the VHF radio wiring and the new autopilot were completely installed. After a sea trial in mid-afternoon the autopilot was calibrated and Embree’s jobs were finished. We still have some questions about the single-side band radio, and we’re not sure the wind generator is functioning optimally. But the insurance surveyor assured us that we can still have those things looked into at a later date if need be.

So tomorrow after Caloosa Spirit gets the boatyard grime washed off her decks—oh, and let’s not forget settling the bills!—we’ll depart from the yard and head for an exotic destination. Well, that’s our fantasy, anyway. Actually, we’ll just be moving the boat to the dock behind the home of Carl and Cathy of Persuasion. They’ve been gracious enough to give us a stopping off place until we can get Caloosa Spirit thoroughly cleaned up and shipshape. We should be leaving Mike’s and moving back aboard within the week.

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

Posted Monday March 19, 2007

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