Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #92 Once I Met A Phor

So we’ve made it back to Florida, and we’re already deep into boat work. To recap, we left Indianapolis last week and arrived in Ft. Pierce two days later. We would have arrived the next day but for a detour to Green Cove Springs. Where’s that, you ask? That’s a question we often hear when we give out our “address”. Green Cove Springs is a small town on the St. Johns River about 25 miles south of Jacksonville. Our permanent address is there because that’s where our mail service, St. Brendan’s Isle, is located. (Actually, Green Cove Springs is well known among cruisers, many of whom share our address.) The detour was occasioned by a snafu in the mailing of my inhaler medication. It was supposed to have been sent to Indianapolis, but ended up being shipped to Green Cove Springs. Mail order medication may be cheap, but it’s not necessarily convenient. I can hardly wait to see where the next order ends up. Fortunately, I don’t have to reorder for a couple of months.

As for the boat work, it seems that many boat projects are akin to running a maze, and a bottom job is no exception. Let me explain the analogy. When a mouse enters a maze, it typically starts down several blind alleyways and must retrace its steps several times until it finds the path that leads to the goal, i.e. a hunk of cheese. If the mouse runs the same maze several times, presumably it will learn to find its way to the cheese more quickly on each successive run. So it is with boat work. Any new project requires a number of false starts and changes of direction. Eventually, if the project is repeated any number of times it becomes easier and less daunting with practice. Also, the bigger the job, the larger the maze.

Keep in mind that we’ve never before done a bottom job on 42-x-14-ft. Caloosa Spirit, and this maze is gargantuan in scope. We’ve taken up residence at a Days Inn in Ft. Pierce, so that we can escape the afternoon heat and take comfortable showers—amenities not offered at Riverside Marina and Boatyard. Home Depot, on the other hand, has become our second home. Jim initially planned to use his 20-yr.-old air sander to completely remove all seven layers of bottom paint, in order to start afresh with a new brand. In preparation for that plan we tented the hull with plastic sheeting to contain most of the sanding dust. We made a run to Home Depot to acquire the necessary sand paper, respirator, etc. After discussing our plans with one of the yard managers, Jim had second thoughts and decided to return to Home Depot for a new electric hand sander with a catchall bag. Of course, different sand paper was required. Upon returning to the yard, Jim got some additional advice from some fellow boaters also doing boat work. They suggested yet another sander connected to a shop-vac. Back to Home Depot we went to return one sander and purchase another, along with a shop-vac, additional vacuum hose, and, of course, more sand paper.

Yesterday afternoon Jim tried to finally get a start on the sanding, but the mid-day heat was too much to tolerate. So this morning we hit the yard soon after day-break, and he was able to make some progress. Not a lot, but some. Once he started sanding it didn’t take long for Jim to jettison the plan to remove all the paint. It was just too stuck on to come off in any timely manner. So now the plan is to remove a couple of layers of paint before repainting with a yet-to-be-determined brand. And, of course, today we made two more trips to Home Depot for—all together now—more sand paper.

Another blind alley of the maze may be the plastic tenting. In the tropical heat the plastic creates an oven that could probably bake bread. Jim must be encased in a protective suit, respirator, and goggles to avoid being smothered by the sand dust, although the vacuum collects most of it. So the tenting has mostly bitten the dust…er, concrete. With the efficiency of the vacuum, the tenting appears to be overkill—which could be all too literal if Jim continued to work under it!

Spaceman Jim
Spaceman Jim

Miserable job.
A miserable job…

Hot work
…in a plastic oven!

And then there’s the occasional errant mouse who, hopelessly cornered, opts to scale the wall and escape the maze altogether. We’re in Sarasota house- and kitty-sitting for Mike for a few days. He and some fellow musicians are going on the road for some gigs in several different cities.

As for us and the bottom job, for several days Jim worked doggedly from 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM, the point at which the day’s heat became too unbearable. Unfortunately, he developed an itchy, irritating rash on his face, arms, and legs, apparently related to the paint sand dust, the protective gear notwithstanding. When he was too itchy and restless to sleep the other night, and after his website research informed that the paint was toxic enough to need two protective suits (do we really want to put this stuff in the water??), we decided he just was not going to be able to finish the job himself. So we contracted with the boatyard to finish the sanding (what’s a couple more boat units?), checked out of the Days Inn, and got out of Dodge. We’ll return in a few days to do the actual painting, assuming Jim can tolerate the paint fumes, that is.

This evening we went to one of Mike’s gigs that was held here in Sarasota. We were highly impressed with the quality, variety, and professionalism of the performance. Of course, we’re somewhat biased about the percussionists, but we felt full of pride as we observed how far Mike has come in his musical accomplishments. He really is an excellent drummer and musician. We hope the audiences in the several cities where the group will be playing over the next couple of weeks will be equally inspired.

New experiences are the salt and pepper that keep the banquet of our daily lives from becoming bland and humdrum. Like cayenne, some new experiences bite back, but today’s “never-done” was more like fresh basil or parsley. We’ve never before attended a political rally. In years past Democrats have typically eschewed Indiana, and any Republican rally just wasn’t our cup of tea. This is only our second general election since leaving Indy, and we’ve never been in the right place at the right time to support our chosen candidate—until now.

Yesterday upon stopping in at the Democratic headquarters in Sarasota to pick up bumper stickers and buttons, we learned that Barak Obama himself was due to speak in Dunedin (just north of Clearwater) the following day. How coincidental that we had already planned to leave Sarasota and head to Belleair for a quick visit with Gail and Paul of s/v Puffin on that very day. We got the where and when of the rally and made our plans accordingly. We were warned that, because of the high turn-out expected, we should arrive VERY EARLY (7:00-8:00 AM), prepared to stand in line for several hours. Our lifestyle being what it is, we knew that was unrealistic. But this morning we got organized as quickly as possible, said our good-byes to Mike, and drove up to the sleepy coastal town of Dunedin.

Arriving at around 11:30 we were prepared to find no parking within miles of the venue—the spring training field for the Tampa Bay Rays—but we managed to find a public parking lot that still had available space—for free, even. We quickly hiked the quarter-mile distance to the park, pleased to find a lengthy queue snaking its way down a side street. Off we went in search of the line’s end, following the queue around three corners and down two more streets—a distance of well over a mile. The sheer number of potential voters waiting for hours in the Florida sun was a hopeful sign indeed. As the line began to move we were uncertain that we would actually get admitted to the stadium, available seats being filled to capacity long before we would reach the entrance gate. But we did manage to get through the security checkpoint, enter the stadium, and find seats all before Obama came to the podium.

Obama crowd
The crowd has gathered

After the clamor and catcalls died down, we heard Obama’s message of hope, action, and support for all of the American people. I was particularly inspired by his sense of inclusivity in stressing the need to bring all the demographics of American society together in order to prevail through the present economic crisis. He certainly sounded presidential—a leader we could follow and feel pride in— throughout his 20-30 minute speech.

The next POTUS

Barak Obama has been identified as a “rock star”, presumably because of his popularity among young voters. At today’s rally, however, we were struck by the cross-section of American voters in evidence. All ages and races appeared to be represented, with the majority being white middle-class types. With such a turn-out we’re hopeful for a new direction of hope, inclusiveness, and prosperity for our country.

A few days ago we made it back to Ft. Pierce without incident. We were pleased to find Caloosa Spirit’s bottom completely sanded and ready for painting. Yesterday Jim got the first coat of primer on, but today we got rained out. The properties of the primer are such that a coat of paint must be put on over the last coat of primer on the same day. Otherwise sanding (UGH!!) would be necessary. So we’ll wait for a clear day to take that step. We still hope to be back in the water by the end of this week. That’s our hunk of cheese.

First coat
Michaelangelo Jim

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

Posted Sunday September 28, 2008

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