Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #85 Wastin’ Away In Sarasota-ville

It was a merry little Christmas here. Yesterday Mike joined us for a sail—well, actually a motor over the flat calm bay—to Longboat Key, and we settled in to wait for Santa Claus. He didn’t disappoint, as we found our stockings filled this morning. This afternoon we walked on the beach, although the water was a tad nippy. Germaine, a friend of Mike’s, joined us for the day, and Mike returned to Sarasota with her this evening.

Christmas Day at the beach
Christmas Day at Longboat beach

Another treat we got this morning was a chance to meet someone who had been on Caloosa Spirit when the boat was in charter service in the BVI. A woman on the only other boat in the anchorage hailed us to say that she and her husband had chartered a Catalina 42 with the same name some nine years ago in Tortola. When I declared that this was presumably that boat and that we owned her then, the woman was astounded and so were we. She was quite complimentary about the boat, and she couldn’t wait to share the discovery with the friends with whom they had chartered. It was a delight to have this brief encounter with someone who had previously been just a name in our guest log.

So with Christmas behind us it’s time to think about our next move—and our next project. There are still a few glitches to work out, but this week we’re on vacation. There’s another cold front forecast for next week, so we’ve decided to just sit here at Longboat until after it passes, rather than ride it out in Sarasota’s Bayfront. Winds this week are forecast from the south anyway, and we’re learning to wait for fair winds before moving.

Longboat peacock
A Longboat Key resident

Today was the day to try out our bikes. We haven’t really needed them so far, and we’ve been putting off uncovering and unfolding them, fearing some major repair or refurbishment. But aside from flat tires which we quickly remedied with our handy bike pump, they worked just fine. We had never been to Bradenton Beach, eschewing the relatively unattractive anchorage there, so we rode our bikes a couple of miles north to see the area. Bradenton Beach is a quiet, somewhat quaint little hamlet with a long lovely beach on the Gulf. We stopped in to see the marina on the bay side, but despite the amenities we considered it over-priced. We’ve read something about some attempts to foster a mooring field in Bradenton Beach. If that ever happens we would probably take advantage of the opportunity to spend a couple of days there. For today it made for a pleasant bike ride.

This evening we enjoyed the company of John and Barbara on Lazy Jack, an Island Packet 38, which came into the anchorage yesterday. John’s brand new Tohatsu outboard refused to start, and Jim had tried to help earlier today without success. John and Barbara extended an invitation for cocktails to show their appreciation for Jim’s efforts anyway. They presently live in Winter Park and hope to do some extended cruising aboard Lazy Jack in a few more years. We wish them well with their plans.

When we first visited Longboat Key the Sarasota bus service didn’t extend to this end of the island. The bus now runs the full island length, so we decided to ride to the shopping center mid-way down the island just to see what’s there. We debated riding our bikes, but decided the six miles would be more easily and comfortably covered by the bus. We definitely made the right choice. We had a tasty lunch there, but the only other attraction was the Publix supermarket. Several shops appeared vacant, and those which were occupied held little interest for us. A lengthy bike ride would have been quite disappointing. As it was, by the time the bus got us back—a mere two hours later—fog was rolling in off the Gulf. Riding through the pea soup would not have been pleasant. Fog is a rare occurrence in southwest Florida, so it takes us by surprise when it happens. By the time it dissipated the stars were shining brightly.

Another success. We finally got up the courage to start up our watermaker. As with the bikes, we dreaded some snafu that would require more time, work, and money to resolve. With one exception the whole system worked like a charm. The exception was a malfunctioning sensor which kept shutting down the system, but once Jim disconnected the sensor we were able to make enough water in one hour to take showers and wash dishes. Yes, the sensor needs to be fixed or replaced, but at least we know the system is working and we can depend on it. Maybe it’s a sign of a fortuitous new year.

Well, so much for good omens of the new year. A front arrived yesterday—the coldest, meanest one so far. The northerly winds have been howling at 25-30 knots for entirely too long, and the temperature has plummeted. We’re not sure when we’ll be comfortable leaving Longboat, but it won’t be until we can stand being outside.

The winds have finally dropped to 15, but the chill is still excessive. We awoke this morning to about 40 degrees in the cabin, so we didn’t get out of bed for a while. The sun is finally shining brightly, but being outside isn’t pleasant. Our small propane heater has been getting a workout today. We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

Staying warm
Trying to stay warm

We’re back in Sarasota. And it’s WARM again! Cold snaps like the recent one make us appreciate the warmth of the sun and our good fortune in being able to experience it in January.

We’ve made a list of what needs to be done before we can leave this area, and soon we’ll be crossing the items off the list. Some of the items won’t get crossed off until we spend a little time further south. We really need a change of scene.

I always wanted to go to the beach on my birthday, so this year we did. Since moving aboard there have been reasons each year that we haven’t been able to get to the beach on this day—especially the last two years when we were in Indiana in January! But today the weather was warm and lovely, the beach was accessible by car, and the crowds weren’t excessive. In the evening we had a celebratory dinner with Mike at Sam Seltzer’s Steakhouse (worth a visit for anyone in the area). All in all, a very pleasant birthday—although I’d like to stop counting them.

This evening we enjoyed a gathering of SSCA members at a wine rating party at the home of our friends Cathy and Carl of Persuasion in St. Petersburg. Interest in SSCA in St. Pete has mushroomed, primarily as a result of the hospitality of Jeff and Elise on SeaSpan. It was a terrific evening, even though I rated the wine that we brought—one that has been a favorite—as quite low! Well, now I have an idea of what other wines to try.

Well, fog used to be a rare occurrence, but we’ve seen it several times here in Sarasota. Several times today we couldn’t see across the anchorage—not a good day to be out and about on the water. We finally got some much-needed rain—enough to rinse the boat, but not enough to be dreary.

So we’ve been wastin’ away here, searchin’ for our lost southerly destination. It may finally be in sight, though. We had ordered a new alternator and regulator, because Jim wasn’t satisfied that one or the other (or both) was working optimally, and spares seemed like a good idea anyway. (Yes, it’s true—we should probably buy stock in the alternator companies!) Surprisingly, the package arrived in a timely manner, so yesterday Jim changed out the alternator, and it seems to be working better. Today it will get another test, so the regulator replacement is questionable. As we wait for another front to pass, we’re planning another road trip to St. Petersburg in a couple of days to get other spare parts. We’re also watching the weather for a decent window to make our escape to Boca Grande, and from there on to the Keys. It’s time to start cruising, especially to warmer climes.

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

Posted Wednesday January 16, 2008

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  1. Jim and Alice: Great blog as always. Love to read it. WONDERFUL seeing you and having you at the party. Hope the weather window opened by now and you are already “gone” down state and down island. Any plans to go to Bahamas or other islands? I can recommend Cay Sal Bank of Bahamas as a wonderful recluse. Wherever the winds take you, enjoy your much-earned cruising time together. Peace. Jeff Hazzard
    — Jeff Hazzard    01/23/2008 09:10 AM    #
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