Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #83 A Time To Work, A Time To Cruise

Happy Thanksgiving. We hope all out there had a pleasant and fulfilling holiday with family and/or friends. We spent ours here at Mike’s house with him and his friend Germaine. It was relaxing and refreshing, just as we wanted it to be—homemade turkey dinner and all.


As always, we’re thankful for our family and friends, our health, our church, and our good fortunes. These days we’re also thankful for little things, like completed boat projects and a day off from them. Our friend Paul of s/v Puffin, when asked how long his and Gail’s kitchen renovation would take, would respond, “Forever.” I was beginning to see our refrigeration-insulation project in the same light. It went on for days, and now I’m thankful that it wasn’t weeks. It’s finally done, and the refrigerator is finally ready for use. We’ve even gotten the five months of boatyard grime off the deck—well, most of it, anyway. We have an appointment for splash on Wednesday of next week, so whatever is going to be done will be done by then.

I like birds. Many are the happy hours I have whiled away observing them live their lives. At our house I kept numerous backyard feeders and birdbaths filled on a daily basis. And while the grackles and mourning doves, with their coarse and crude eating habits, were never as enjoyable to watch as the colorful cardinals and cheerful chickadees, I never played favorites. I loved having wildlife in the yard, and my attitude toward providing food and water to my feathered friends was, “Come one, come all.” These days living aboard precludes hanging out bird feeders, but I still enjoy watching the feeding habits of the local herons, ibises, pelicans, seagulls, and my personal favorites, the ospreys.

There are times, though, when some bird species fall into my God’s-mistake category. Today was such a time. Here in the Tampa Bay area there seem to be some blackbirds which congregate for periodic feeding frenzies. When they gather in the trees they can be raucous and disturbing. But when they take to the masthead and rigging… well, let me just say their behavior goes beyond the pale. As they swallow and chatter simultaneously, seeds and other droppings rain from on high. Our clean deck, which we spent several hours yesterday swabbing and scrubbing, was again today littered with black spots, most of which will require further scrubbing to remove. Yikes!! If I catch the culprits in the rigging, they’ll get a good throttling!

With Mike’s help we got both sails rigged, so now Caloosa Spirit looks more like she’s ready to go sailing. But when we got out our newly repaired dodger and bimini (zippers needed replacing), we discovered that three of the zippers in most need of replacement hadn’t been touched! And, of course, the canvas shop was closed today. Two steps forward, and one step back.

Well, the canvas lady was apologetic enough to fix the dodger in a couple of hours, so it went up today. We also got the hull cleaned and most of the offensive bird droppings scrubbed off the deck. The birds came back this afternoon, so I went on the offensive by swinging the main halyard to discourage their roosting. However, at one point I was so intent on saving the deck that I smacked my toe on some hardware, and now it needs ice. Ouch!

Each day Caloosa Spirit looks more livable, and with any luck we’ll be ready for splash tomorrow. It’s been a long time coming.

Jim had arranged for the replacement outboard to be delivered this morning just prior to launch. We didn’t want to leave a brand-new engine unattended on the boat in the yard where we had already been burglarized. The engine was delivered and we were all ready for splash by noon. However, the water wasn’t ready for us, it seemed. An extremely low tide left only a few feet in the lift well, so we had to wait all afternoon for the tide to rise sufficiently. We finally left the yard at about 5:00, and now we’re anchored in a small basin next to a marina. It’s good to be back on the water.

This was an auspicious day. First, we moved to the Vinoy anchorage in downtown St. Petersburg and had no trouble anchoring—even though it’s kind of crowded. Second, we tried out the new outboard and (drum roll)… it worked! Maybe holding our breath helped. This evening we took a pleasant walk around the nearby park to see all the Christmas lights, and we were happy to see our anchor light as well. Last night we weren’t sure it was on, but, sure enough, it’s working. So far everything else on the boat is working, too. We’re hoping this was the first of many hassle-free cruising days this season.

This was an auspicious day for another reason as well. Mike’s birthday is always a happy day for us.

Another auspicious day—the last day of Hurricane Season, 2007. Florida and Caloosa Spirit were spared once again.

After a day of work and provisioning yesterday we decided that today would be a play day. Breakfast at Too-Jay’s started off the day (with a serving of the best French toast I’ve ever tasted), followed by the Santa Parade through downtown St. Pete to the waterfront. We expected that the Santa Parade would be a neighborhood event lasting about an hour. Not really. It seemed that every child’s organization in Pinellas County was represented, along with several marching bands, floats, antique cars, and anything else anyone wanted to enter for the purpose of free advertising. Santa finally made his entrance on the very last float almost two hours after the parade began.

Santa Parade
The Santa Parade

Santa’s arrival signaled the official start of Snow Fest in North Straub Park, which is easily viewed from the Vinoy anchorage. The name is descriptive. Yes, snow actually appeared here in central Florida today. Early this morning we heard what bore a marked resemblance to the roar of snow-making equipment at the Michigan ski resort we often visited in our younger days. Sure enough, snow was being made in Straub Park and it was still there until mid-afternoon, 80+ degrees notwithstanding. Snow Fest is a family-fun festival, so the snow was used to build child-sized toboggan hills. How amusing to watch one youngster after another ride down the snow hill on a saucer—in shorts and Ts rather than snowsuits and boots. For many of them it was obviously their first experience with snow, and for some it wasn’t a pleasant one. Many others, though, gleefully bounced and bumped their way into the hay bales at the bottom, eager for another ride.

Sledding in Florida

Other activities included trampolines, slides, crafts, rock-climbing, and—wait for it—ice skating! Not on real ice, mind you, but on some kind of rigid plastic-type material that apparently made it possible to move on skates—for short distances, anyway.

Ice skating
Ice skating Florida-style

Because the activities were all geared for kids, we didn’t partake. But it was an enjoyable hour or so just watching the fun. A good time was had by all.

One success is always better than none. When we dinghied back to the boatyard, we couldn’t find the missing plug that keeps water out of the dinghy hull. We discovered its absence when we launched the dinghy the other day, but Jim cleverly used a wine cork as a substitute. The big success of the day, however, was getting our computer navigation up and running. Yesterday “Ray” refused to return to duty, but with persistence and a little luck Jim managed to cajole him into getting back on board and ready for action. If the weather cooperates we hope to leave St. Pete tomorrow and head for Sarasota.

Happy Birthday, Alex! We enjoyed sending a “son-in-law” card for the first time.

Well, the forecast winds were less than what we wanted, but we motor-sailed out of St. Pete anyway. We’re now sitting in one of our favorite anchorages at Longboat Key. The projects aren’t done yet, but we feel as though we’re sort of cruising.

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

Posted Wednesday December 5, 2007

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