Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #78 Reaching A Near Horizon

Finally! We’ve made it to one of our favorite anchorages. We’re kicking back, soaking up the sunshine and relaxation, enjoying sundowners, and thinking that life is very good. April Fools!

I was determined not to write anything more in this log until we were actually cruising once more. Throughout this log I’ve written—and our readers have read—ad nauseum about malfunctioning alternators, non-existent refrigeration, unusable heads, and other non-adventurous adventures—or adventurous misadventures, depending on the event—aboard Caloosa Spirit. Enough already.

We almost made it to that fantasy anchorage—a horizon so near and yet so far. But then the alternator decided to mutiny, and things went downhill from there, so we’re still sitting behind Carl and Cathy’s home in St. Petersburg, attempting to get things shipshape enough to move away from the dock. The good news is that the weather has been lovely, Caloosa Spirit is mostly livable, the dinghy is working just fine (after a West Marine trip for a new fuel line hose, anyway), and our friends haven’t yet kicked us out. The best news is that we have an appointment in a couple of weeks to finally get the supplemental refrigeration system installed—the one we had scheduled for last fall until we got delayed in Indianapolis. The day we can run the refrigeration directly from the batteries rather than from the engine will be a fine day indeed—even while we’re still tied to a dock.

In the meantime, the alternator is again acting up, so we may be without refrigeration again this week. More “adventures” to come.

The alternator wasn’t broken after all. After exhausting all other possibilities Jim called the boatyard to have someone come look at the regulator—the new one that was just installed a couple of weeks ago. The decision was to replace the regulator again, and hope that solves the charging problem. We’re really getting tired of sitting.

While we’re sitting we’ve been trying to get some maintenance chores done. Today Jim finished servicing the winches. He had an audience for much of the time he was working on them. We expect that the next time anyone in the local pelican colony needs a winch serviced, this will be the go-to guy.

Jim's audience
What do you mean it’s not fish?!

Happy Easter! We had a lovely (but cold) day with Mike in Sarasota. I know, I know, cold is relative. We didn’t have the freezing temperatures reported up north, but 62 still felt cold to us. The sunshine helped, though.

We thought we might leave for a short cruise this week, but two days of rain scotched that plan. The regulator is supposed to be installed tomorrow. Friday we’ll leave “Marina del Petersen” and head to the Holiday Inn Harbourside in Indian Rocks Beach to get settled in for the refrigeration work next week. We can hardly wait to stop listening to the infernal twice-daily engine rumble.

It started out as a marvelous day for sailing—bright sunshine, an easterly at 14 knots, the promise of mild seas. However, just as we were waiting for the only bridge on our path to the Gulf, “Otto Helm II” (our newly-installed autopilot replacement) hiccupped and passed out. The thought of hand-steering for the 25-mile sail to Indian Rocks Beach made us both pale. We hoped it was just a loose wire or something else easily fixable, but taking the time to diagnose and solve the problem would mean a later arrival than we were comfortable with. At that point we also began wondering what other equipment would mutiny during the day. And given our record I’m sure you’ll agree, dear reader, that possibility was a better-than-even chance. So after briefly bemoaning our fate of another motor rather than a sail, we started up the ICW. About 30 minutes later—long enough for us to be firmly committed to the inside passage—Otto regained consciousness and cheerily stayed on task for the rest of the trip. We’ll never know what ecstasy (or misery?) was in store for us on the Gulf today, but, with the exception of one under-construction bridge that gave us a little excitement, the passage was relatively uneventful.

This vessel was the most interesting thing we saw all day. I thought about suggesting this venue to our daughter for her wedding, but it’s actually too small. Can’t beat the view, though.

Wedding chapel
Floating Chapel on the Bay

Getting up this morning to attend a cruisers’ breakfast was difficult, but we were glad we did. Networking with other cruisers is always a pleasure and often a boon. Several other attendees mentioned a flea market at the local JSI headquarters this morning, so we stopped by on our way back to the marina. We never expected to bring back a new set of cockpit cushions, but serendipity stepped in. I noticed that the set was marked as fitted for a Catalina 42, and the attendant added that it was for a mkII as well, Caloosa Spirit’s exact model. The cushions were even green and made of the same material as our tired ones—duplicates, in fact, except for the youthful glow that ours no longer have. The JSI rep was willing to sell them to us for a single boat buck, so it seemed like the thing to do. We wouldn’t have been replacing our cockpit cushions at the present time, but in another year or two it might have become mandatory. This way we got ahead of the curve on this one item of boat equipment—non-essential, though it may be.

While the northeast prepared for a raging nor’easter, we hunkered down this morning listening to the rain. We were prepared for some serious thunderstorms, but none materialized. The skies cleared after noon and the northwesterly took over. Fortunately, we have a three-story hotel to the west of us, so we were mostly protected from the brunt of the 35-knot gale. We went for a walk on the beach to see some of the largest waves we’ve seen on the Gulf—3-5 ft. breakers. Too bad we hadn’t taken a camera, because the kite-surfers were loving the wind and waves.

The aft cabin is officially off-limits for the next few days (we hope not weeks!). It is stuffed with gear and paraphernalia that had to be moved from their homes to allow access for the 12-volt refrigeration installation scheduled to begin tomorrow. Hurray!! True, the process will be agonizing and chaotic, but for now we can enjoy the moment.

We have refrigeration without running the engine!! Yippee!! It took two full days for two guys, but the job is finished. We even got some of the chaos straightened up before the end of the day. Caloosa Spirit will spend the next week or so sitting here in the Holiday Inn Marina just to make sure no glitches arise. (Glitches? Us? Pshaw!) Jim will stay aboard working on a few projects, while I fly up to Indianapolis to celebrate Mom’s 95th birthday with her. When I return on April 26 we’ll start thinking about the next near horizon.

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

Posted Wednesday April 18, 2007

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