Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #84 A Christmas Medley

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. In Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Not here in Florida, though. We’ve had warm, sunny days for over a week now. Okay, so I won’t rub it in. But it is lovely weather. And we love soaking it up.

We’ve been in the Bayfront anchorage in Sarasota for about a week. This anchorage can be raucous and uncomfortable for more than one reason. It’s very exposed to the north and west, so when a cold front brings strong northwesterlies the boats hobby-horse constantly. The other reason has to do with the anchorage denizens who can get loud and obnoxious at times. This week, however, the mild easterlies have allowed the boat to sit docilely, and the locals have been on their best behavior. So it’s been quite pleasant. Surprisingly.

Sarasota sunset
Sarasota sunset

We’re still here for a couple of reasons. There have been a few more projects to complete, and having the car available while the projects are in process seemed sensible. (Our car stays at Mike’s when we’re cruising.) The burgled radio has now been replaced and installed, and the new traveler that I bought Jim at the boat show is in place. (Yes, it really was my idea. It’s something he’s been eyeing for some time, and I hadn’t given him anything for his birthday in October.) We had to wait for over a week to get the panel we had ordered to re-install the VHF and SSB radios. And then of course there’s Christmas. On-line shopping was definitely the way to go, but now we must wait for the packages to be delivered to Mike’s house before we can leave Sarasota.

The boat parade on Saturday was quite an event—a vivid reminder that Santa Claus is coming to town. When we returned from our shopping excursion and saw what appeared to be at least half of the total Sarasota populace swarming into Bayfront Park, panic started to set in at the prospect of no parking spaces west of I-75. While I waited with our purchases as Jim went parking-space hunting Mike and Germaine wandered past, as oblivious as we had been about the coming spectacle. They had merely been out for a pleasant walk, and decided to see what was going on in the park. They decided to join us for a tasty dinner and a view of the lighted boats. It was a long-distance view, though, since the boats didn’t really parade very close to the anchorage. Still, it was interesting to see the variety of creations—everything from Santa and his reindeer to a hot-air balloon to a marine nativity scene to a huge “Ron Paul for President” banner. The Christmas correlation of that one escaped us, however. We were all glad we got to witness the event without having to contend with the crowds.

I finally dug our Christmas tree out of its storage spot—buried under the heater, the vacuum cleaner, and paper goods. It hadn’t seen the light of day since we last had Christmas on the boat four years ago. Fortunately, it doesn’t look too worse for wear, and all the lights work. O Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches. Some ornaments should help tremendously.

Fun times. My high school friend Fran and her husband Gil came out to the boat to join us for dinner this evening. A threatening sky and a few showers dampened the cockpit but not our spirits. It was a great evening of catching up and getting reacquainted. And the beautiful poinsettia Fran brought certainly added to the holiday spirit.

Christmas poinsettia
Poinsettia for Christmas

With a strong cold front forecast for the weekend we opted to head out of the Bayfront anchorage for the more protected anchorage at Longboat Key. While the southeasterly at 10-15 knots would have made for pleasant sailing, we chose to motor the distance in order to beat the coming stormy weather. We expected to see the sky darken at any moment, but the weather remained sunny and warm all afternoon. So we decided to take advantage of the moment and sit on deck with good books. It felt like a mini-vacation.

Well, the storms finally arrived during the night. Thunder, lightening, and 20-knot winds made sleep elusive. This morning the sun was back out, but the 25-knot northwesterlies have made the temperature drop precipitously all afternoon. We’re expecting our first really cold night of the season.

We awoke with no frost on our noses, so it wasn’t really too cold overnight. With the winds having somewhat abated and shifted to the northeast we headed back to the Sarasota anchorage. We were already very glad we had moved to Longboat, since with the northwesterly protection we rode out the winds in relative comfort. When we observed several boats washed up on shore once more (it’s a common occurrence in this anchorage), we were especially grateful that we weren’t here when they caromed through the anchorage. Knowing just where two of them had been moored, we envisioned being mowed down by both of them.

This afternoon we attended a city commissioners meeting at which the main topic of discussion was the proposed mooring field in this very anchorage. We have mixed feelings about the prospect, because, while a mooring field may cure some ills (e.g. ridding the anchorage of derelicts [human and otherwise], having a pump-out boat available, no more flying boats in stormy weather), it will likely create some others (e.g. mooring expense, possibly inhospitable management, boat-unfriendly mooring balls). We were impressed, however, with the questions and concerns expressed by the commissioners about the management, hospitality, and general wisdom regarding the proposed mooring field. Changes will still be many months in coming, though, so we won’t witness them for some time.

Today we’re less ambivalent and more hopeful about a mooring field here in Sarasota. After a chat with the dockmaster, Sam, at Marina Jack’s, we now have more info about dinghy dockage, showers, laundry, and other amenities that will all be available as part of the mooring field. We had previously been under the impression that the showers and laundry would be available, but that dinghy dockage would be not much different from the present dinghy “beachage” that we now use at a cost of $2.00 per day. The walk from the beach to the showers would be about ½ mile—inhospitable at best, totally impracticable at worst. Sam, however, pointed out a newly installed dinghy dock right there at the marina, convenient to both showers and laundry, and he spoke of a shuttle boat to transport boaters to the marina, actually negating the need of a dinghy. A pump-out boat will be available, and the showers and laundry appear to be first-class. We have typically found Marina Jack’s to be hospitable to us as cruisers (their easy-to-use and always-available pump-out is free), so we’re greatly encouraged that the coming mooring field will be a boon rather than a hindrance to our future cruising life in this area.

Our decorating is finally done. Some of our light strands from several years ago refused to come to life, but a trip to Wal-Mart yielded some replacements. Well, sort of. So close to the holiday the appropriate length was, of course, not available, so we settled for something longer—much longer. We ended up overlapping strands and stringing lights across the ceiling, but were ambivalent about the overall look. When we saw the power drain on the batteries spike to a new high, though, we went back to the drawing board, so to speak. At K-Mart we found some LED strands in the right length, and, best of all, their power usage was a fraction of our previous light sets. Sure enough, the strands fit just right, and the batteries didn’t go into shock when we turned them on. Something I’ve had some trouble getting used to, though, is the bluish cast to the LEDs. That may take me a few years.

Christmas decorations
Ready for Santa Claus

Well, the stockings are hung (not from the chimney) with care, and we’re hoping St. Nicholas soon will be here. Christmas will certainly be different this year. The balmy weather is decidedly un-Christmas-like, and we miss being home with family and friends in Indianapolis. But we’ll greatly enjoy having Mike join us for our small but intimate celebration on board.

There’s no place like home for the holiday, but over the past year we’ve learned that “home” can be in many places. A small apartment in Indianapolis was home for several months after Jim’s prostate surgery, then again during the summer for Lauri’s wedding. But “home” was also at Mike’s when he gave us room and board for several weeks (twice) while Caloosa Spirit was uninhabitable. And, of course, Caloosa Spirit is our home on the water. Christmas will descend upon us here, and it will be a blessed one. We’ll be home for Christmas.

We wish for all our family and friends—and kids from one to ninety-two—a warm and peaceful Christmas surrounded by the blessings of home. Have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

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

Posted Sunday December 23, 2007

* * *

name Remember
  Textile Help