Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #93 The Old Dinghy And The Sea

How does that song go? “We’re back in the saddle…er, water again!” Yep, the painting got done and Caloosa Spirit splashed yesterday afternoon with no drama—the 25-knot easterly notwithstanding. (Somehow we always manage to pick the windiest days to get out on the water for the first time in the season.) Anyway, Jim managed to get us into a slip without hitting anything inappropriate.

The plan is to stay here at the marina for several days while we refurbish our dinghy. Since the end of last season it has refused to remain inflated. We think it may be tired and trying to tell us something, but, the economy being what it is, we just have to keep coaxing it to live a little longer. Declaring a directive of “Do Not Resuscitate” isn’t an option for the dinghy.

Well, the dinghy is finally back on board in its davits, but the fix wasn’t a total one. After one attempt to patch a leaky seam, Jim tried again but the tube was still getting soft after we launched. That, by the way, was a tricky proposition considering the dinghy’s 200-lb. weight, but Jim is good at jury-rigging, and a ladder and some ropes were involved in this one. (Don’t ask; you had to be there.) Anyway, the dinghy job had to be squeezed in between rain showers (we’re tired of being soggy) and other odd jobs, such as putting the genoa and wind generator up, fixing a head, and stowing gear. At this point we’re almost shipshape, and we were hoping to leave for Lake Worth on a hearty northeasterly in four days (winds before then are due to be robust, but the seas are due to be stouter than we want). But we’re now thinking of finding a professional fix-it person for the dinghy before heading south. For us, being without a dinghy is worse than being without a car, since there aren’t any buses on the water and our bikes won’t cut it.

“Wow! Is it breezy down here!” Those were my words upon descending into the cabin after relaxing in the cockpit for awhile this afternoon. It’s breezy because we’re no longer at the slip. We’re at anchor! Yippee!!

The dinghy is still leaky, but we decided to get the fix done in Marathon, our immediate destination. So today we actually pulled away from Riverside Marina. Well, I should say we BACKED away from Riverside. The wind is still blowing 15-20, and in the marina confines Jim just wasn’t able to get Caloosa Spirit turned into the wind to head out the channel. So, yes, that’s right—he backed the boat all the way out Riverside’s channel to the ICW. It worked just fine, and we had a delightful motor down the ICW. Why motoring with so much wind, you ask? Well, the ENE winds would have been great for sailing (although, of course, a better direction would have been nice), but the seas? Not so much. Seven- or eight-foot seas for our first time out in several months just wasn’t our cup of tea—or, cup of seawater, had we made that choice.

So we’re anchored in Peck Lake, and we have the entire anchorage virtually to ourselves. (There’s one other boat, but it’s a distance away.) We have full water tanks, empty holding tanks (thanks to the friendly staff at Harbortown Marina), hot water, plenty of electricity (thanks to motoring for several hours), plenty of breeze, and—wait for it—TV reception! That was a plus, since we really didn’t want to miss tonight’s final presidential debate. Our guy is doing really well, and we want to cheer him on again. We really like what the polls are showing presently.

Peck Lake
Finally at anchor again

Tomorrow we’ll continue on to Lake Worth. From there we plan to sail outside to Ft. Lauderdale, where we’ll visit with cruising buddies Dawn and Bruce on Ladyhawk. (After spending two months in the Abacos with them last spring, it seemed odd to anchor without them nearby today.) Presumably the winds and seas will abate, and we won’t have to negotiate the 18-or-so bridges between Lake Worth and Ft. Lah-dee-dah.

After three nights in Ft. Lauderdale we’re now in No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne. We had an uneventful motorsail from Lake Worth to Ft. Lauderdale. Fortunately, the seas had abated sufficiently, but, of course, so had the winds. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Dawn and Bruce (and Scooter, our favorite wire-haired terrier), and their hospitality was exceptional. They are tied up on protected Hendricks Isle in a liveaboard slip. The slip next to them was not in use, since the dock had fallen down some time ago. So we simply rafted up with them and got to enjoy some quality time together. Dinner at a restaurant on the New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale was especially fun, because we went by dinghy (theirs)—something we’ve missed doing recently.

We had planned to leave Ft. Lah-dee-dah yesterday, but we didn’t care for the overcast skies and the forecast 5-7 ft. seas due to the first front of the season. So we waited another day, only to get an updated forecast of 5-7 seas again today. We left anyway, and had a pleasant sail. The seas never really made it above 4 ft., but the northeast swell was starting to build when we came in at Government Cut in Miami. Biscayne Bay was delightful, and this is one of those times when I long for the shallow draft (less than 4 ft.; we have 5) needed to sail down Florida Bay to Marathon, rather than heading outside again. However, Florida’s reef is just a short distance south, and the seas lessen dramatically inside the reef. So over the next couple of days we’ll continue down Hawk Channel and (hopefully) arrive in Boot Key Harbor in another 48 hours. The sailing should be superb.

Incidentally, other cruisers familiar with No Name Harbor take note: We’re sharing this usually crowded harbor with only ONE other boat!! That’s a first for us.

Ah, home-sweet-mooring ball. Yes, we’re in Marathon’s Boot Key Harbor and we even got to be on the same mooring ball we had last season. We had so much fun then, we think it must be a good ball for us.

We had a perfectly lovely sail yesterday from Key Biscayne to Rodriguez Key. The winds were fair, the seas serene, the sun soothing. We thought we had a weather window that would provide us with the same conditions all the way, but, alas, today was another story. We awoke to overcast skies which darkened further as we sailed south. The winds were again fair, but the sea swell grew as we passed the miles. Halfway into the day’s passage the rain started, and it stayed with us for the rest of the trip. We never heard thunder or saw lightning, the visibility remained manageable, and the seas never got above three feet, but we arrived wet, tired, and more than ready for the journey to be behind us.

We were once again warmly welcomed by both the Boot Key Harbor bridge tender and by the City Marina staff. This is definitely a great place to be. We’re hoping for a little less liquid sunshine tomorrow.

The clouds hung around all day, but the rains stayed away. Rain or shine, though, we were thrilled to meet up with Indianapolis friends Dick (our church’s pastor) and Andrea, who are vacationing in Marathon for a week. They are on their way back from Nicaragua where First Congregational, UCC, Indianapolis has a sister church in Wiwilli. Dick and Andrea spent two weeks touring Nicaragua to appreciate the culture and the beauty of the country. They’ve never been aboard Caloosa Spirit before, so they finally got to see how we live when we’re away from Indy. Dinner together at Keys Fisheries was a must.

We had a sailing outing planned with Dick and Andrea, but the winds just didn’t cooperate, and the rains were predicted to continue. So we spent some time this afternoon at Crane Point Nature Center. We managed to do all the walking that we wanted to do without getting wet at this very restful preserve. Andrea and Dick graciously hosted us for dinner at the house they are renting for a week.

Crane Point
Good friends Dick and Andrea

A trip to Key West is always an entertaining event. With Dick driving their rental car we left this morning ready for a full day. After a stop at the Southernmost Point for the obligatory pictures, we spent an hour or so at our favorite venue, the Butterfly Conservatory. Dick and Andrea had seen numerous butterflies during their time in Nicaragua, so they were somewhat ho-hum about the possibilities for excitement there. They were pleasantly surprised. Like so many who visit the Conservatory, they were awed by the sheer number and variety of butterflies flitting about. The variety of tropical birds and flowers is also amazing. We all left with a sense of wonder and fulfillment.

One of God’s many wonders

We visited the Audubon House and the Wrecker’s Museum, had a great seafood buffet lunch, walked around gazing at the beautiful and distinctive architecture, enjoyed the Historic Seaport, and capped off the day at the Sunset Celebration. Once more Dominique and his performing cats were a huge hit. It was a great day made even better by spending it with great friends.

Once again the winds were too elusive to plan a sail. As forecast, the northeasterly was blowing at 25-30 knots this morning. By the afternoon, however, the day was sunny with only about 10-15 knots—just right for a pleasant sail, had Dick and Andrea not already made other plans for the day. As it was, they joined us this evening for Jim’s birthday celebration. The quote from Dick, who has told us more than once that we’re nuts for living on a boat: “I hate to admit it, but this is rather pleasant out here.”

Andrea and Dick will be leaving tomorrow for home, prepared to return to work in another several days. It’s now time for us to also get to work tending to some boat projects—the dinghy being near the top of the list. We’ve been able to use it this last week by pumping it up daily, but that can be only a temporary situation. Boot Key Harbor is a fine place to sit with no other destination in mind.

Don’t forget to vote!

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

Posted Wednesday October 29, 2008

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  1. Dear Alice, I absolutely love reading your emails. Thank you for including me. I can picture every place you talk about. I love Marathon Fl. We stayed there for 2 weeks a few years ago and I cant imagine what it would be like to live on the water there. The motel we stayed at also had a marina where people lived on their boats for the winter. They decorated for the holidays & we were there for the Christmas Parade of boats. What fun. God bless you and keep you safe on all your travels. looking forward to your next log.

    Brenda Cockrell
    — Brenda S. Cockrell    10/31/2008 06:12 AM    #
  2. Alice, Bill and I are still reading and enjoying your blog! It was great to meet you both in Ft. Lah-dee-dah.
    Best wishes and fair winds!
    — Julie    11/14/2008 09:12 AM    #
  3. Glad to know this site is enjoyable. I’ll keep it coming.
    Alice Rutherford    11/17/2008 08:54 AM    #
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