Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #94 Lessons Learned (And Not)

Thunk, thunk. That’s a welcome sound. That’s the sound of a firm, well-inflated dinghy. Our old companion seems to have finally been revived and, hopefully, has a few more years of life to share with us.

As scheduled, with a tow from Bob on Irish Whisper, we delivered the dinghy five days ago to Eric, the local inflatable boat specialist, with the understanding that he would survey the dinghy for leaks and let us know how fixable it was. Earlier that day we had made a trash run and taken a walk around the nearby park with the expectation that we might be consigned to the boat for several days. So we were pleasantly surprised when Eric called two days later to tell us the dinghy was ready to be picked up. With the help of another tow, this time from Bryan on Uhane, our dinghy was soon once again nestled behind the mother ship. The following morning brought an unwelcome sight, however. Despite Eric’s reassurances—not to mention the more-than-several boat bucks which had already changed hands—the sagging dinghy was obviously still leaking—worse than before, in fact.

Regular readers here know that we have a track record of frequent frustration with having boat work done. Someone doesn’t show up, parts get lost in transit, our equipment is unfamiliar to the particular worker, the job isn’t done right the first time—choose your scenario. So this was one of those times. After eying the dinghy for several hours, hoping that the evident squishiness was due simply to temperature change, Jim finally called Eric back to report that the dinghy was still leaking. To his credit Eric agreeably said he would take care of the dinghy’s needs at no further expense to us. Another two tows from Bryan and twenty-four hours later the dinghy seemed to be holding its own. Thank you, Eric.

So this morning, when we once again mounted the outboard on the dinghy transom, we were happy to hear “thunk-thunk” rather than “squish-squish” when we poked at the dinghy’s air tubes. And how pleasant it was this afternoon to again experience independence and the ability to leave Caloosa Spirit for a time, even if only to make a trip to West Marine. Cruising does help us learn to take nothing for granted.

There really hasn’t been much news to report. The dinghy is holding air like a champ, and nothing on the boat is in dire need of repair. That’s not to say that there isn’t a list of items waiting. It’s just to say that there’s nothing that we can’t live without today. That’s kind of the determining factor in setting priorities.

Although the other day we set off on our bikes…well, that was our intention anyway. We never really got to the setting-off part, because my bike’s chain was so badly rusted it refused to budge. Also, several spokes had somehow mysteriously gotten broken since last the bike saw the light of day—some seven months ago. We haven’t used our folding bikes since we left Marathon last spring bound for the Abacos. It seems we’ve been more than a little neglectful of them. These Dahons are the ones we bought two years ago to replace the ones that were stolen in Sarasota. At the time we were told by Dahon that this model was lighter weight than our first set had been, a slightly better model, and a very good buy. Not from where we sit. We’ve had problems off and on with one or the other of them, and they’ve never been as convenient or as comfortable as our others. Now it appears that they’re not as rust-resistant as our others, either, despite being stored on deck in the same place in the same bags as those. With the help of WD40 and penetrating oil Jim has gotten most of the moving parts functional again, although the rust is still apparent. But the chain on mine has been obstinate in returning to its flexible state. And what’s to be done about the broken spokes? Indeed, these bikes have not been worth the price we paid for them. But today we can live without them, so there’s do dire emergency.

The clouds which hovered for several days have been a vague memory for the last week, as the sun and moon have steadily gleamed in the heavens. Although they come earlier than we’d like now that Daylight Savings Time is gone, we get lovely sunsets in Boot Key Harbor. Here’s a sample.

Sunset 1
It’s only 5:30!

Sunset 2
A great time to relax with a sundowner

Pelicans seem to be rather indiscriminant fishers. I watched one for a while this morning and it just kept diving without seeming to catch anything. I’ve seen the pattern before—rise up from the water, flap to some height, soar briefly, fold wings, and dive. The thing is, they don’t seem to take the time to look for anything to catch before diving. So they come up with nothing but water (and maybe a little seaweed) in their pouched bill, only to start the process all over. I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere. Let me give that some more thought.

And then there are the vultures. Once associated only with the TV westerns of my youth, I’ve come to expect swarms of soaring vultures as a customary component of the Florida skies. As they circle endlessly, presumably eying the trees and waters off our stern for nutritious morsels, I can’t help but wonder how they manage to sustain themselves, since I never see any of them catch or scavenge anything. Perhaps for them it’s the sense of weightless wonder that keeps them aloft for hours with no apparent effort or goal. I’ll have to think about that lesson, as well.

One of the greatest joys of cruising is meeting up with old cruising friends in new harbors. Or meeting up with new friends in old harbors. Or meeting up with old friends in old harbors. We’re thrilled that old friends Dawn and Bruce on Ladyhawk arrived today in Boot Key Harbor, the old harbor where we met for the first time last February. They may not be our oldest cruising friends in the chronological sense, but after spending two months together in the Abacos last spring, they certainly are old cruising buddies in the togetherness sense. After three long days of spectacular sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, they were more than appreciative of our offer of dinner aboard Caloosa Spirit. We look forward to more fun times together in the weeks ahead.

Since we plan to be staying in Marathon for a while (at least until after Christmas), today we rented a car to drive up to Ft. Pierce to retrieve our own beloved Grand Prix. The beautiful day started out with the “On-Time Taxi” 15 minutes late picking us up. Not a problem, since we really didn’t have any schedule. It did occur to us that our atlas and all our maps were still in our car, but we figured all we had to do was drive north until we hit I-95. Florida’s Turnpike appeared first, but with our Sun-Pass also still in our car we opted to forego the full-fare tolls. (Yes, we’re cheap.) So as we were pressing on to find I-95 (“It must be right around the corner”), we puttered through a gazillion stop lights on U.S. 1, oblivious to the fact that I-95 goes south only as far as Miami. Six hours after leaving Marathon we drove into Riverside Marina, eager to set out (using the Turnpike) and get back to Marathon before midnight.

We had arranged to leave the rental in Ft. Pierce, so we simply had to drop it off and be on our way. Well, it was supposed to be that simple. The rental agent had neglected to write down the address and phone number on our receipt, so we had only a vague idea of the rental agency’s location in Ft. Pierce. To complicate matters I had forgotten to pick up my cell phone upon leaving the boat, so as we were both driving separate vehicles we had no way to communicate with one another. Oh, joy. Sure enough, Jim hung a u-turn before I had a chance to change lanes in the rush-hour traffic, so off I went with no idea of where he was headed. Fortunately, I managed to make my own u-turn down the road and soon spotted Jim in a gas station flagging me down. He said he had seen the place to leave the car just back up the road a short way. We managed to get to that location together, only to learn that, no, that wasn’t the right place. The correct drop-off was about four miles down the road, described with the dreaded words, “You can’t miss it.” And, yes, miss it we did. After about ten miles—remember we can’t communicate about any of this—we both turned off successfully to ask directions. Of course, no one at the gas station knew where the rental agency was, but a phone book was very helpful. After ascertaining the correct address, we got there—at the same time, in fact. It only took us TWO HOURS to get the rental car turned in! And, by the way, the you-can’t-miss-it agency was a tiny storefront with an unlighted sign snuggled in the middle of a strip mall!

Well, we did make it back to Marathon before midnight, but not by much. The up side is that we now have “wheels”, and we had no further incident on the long, dark drive back to the marina.

Now that we have our car here we took the opportunity today to drive to just north of Key Largo to visit with Bill, our fellow church member who keeps a boat there. The weather, the placid waters of Card Sound, and especially the company all made for a lovely day.

Jim and Bill
Jim and Bill on Comfort Zone

Mike drove down from Sarasota last night to spend the holiday with us, and Dawn and Bruce joined us for a turkey dinner prepared on board. Yes, we have much to be thankful for.

After spending a delightful day yesterday with a dinghy trip to the beach, we took Mike out this morning for a birthday breakfast. He wanted to spend the evening with friends, so he headed back to Sarasota around noon. As usual, it was wonderful to spend the time with him.

Mike and Jim Mike and Alice
Mike with his proud parents

Well, yes, I’ve gotten lax about completing this log, and by now some folks may be wondering what’s happened to us. We’re still enjoying Boot Key Harbor, and don’t yet have any immediate cruising plans. A week from today we’ll pack the car and drive north for Christmas. With such outstanding protection Boot Key Harbor is an excellent place to leave the boat temporarily, and there are lots of cruisers around to keep an eye on things while we’re gone. We look forward to sharing the Christmas holiday with family and friends in Indy (Mike will be driving up, also), plus we both have some medical appointments during our stay. I must admit to some apprehension concerning the lung disease diagnosis (bronchiectasis) I got four months ago, and I have another CT scan scheduled on 12/17 to check on progress of treatment. Jim continues to get prostate check-ups, as well, and will see his doctor on 12/18. We’re really hoping the docs will tell us that all is well, especially since we both feel fine. But time will tell.

As this year closes and the next begins, we’re feeling both grateful and hopeful. After Election Day we feel far less apprehensive about the future, and we expect to experience a groundswell of hope on Inauguration Day. What a special time this is. We wish for all a blessed peace during this holiday season.

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

Posted Monday December 8, 2008

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  1. Alice and Jim,

    Sooooo enjoyed your log. Good writing, as always. Dan and I wish you a blessed Christmas and a happy, somewhat prosperous New Year (being realistic!) Hope to see you again this year. “Plan” at the moment is to head to the Bahamas sometime in Jan, ultimately winding up in the Exumas. Are you headed over, or staying in Marathon? You said through Dec, so guess you’re headed somewhere…? Cheers, s/v Trinity
    — Maureen O'Brien    12/12/2008 12:00 PM    #
  2. Hello Alice and Jim,
    Wishing you guys a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We are making plans to head to Marathon in February in route to the Exumas. Hope we can catch up with you guys again. s/v Little Wing
    — Judy and Steve Tedford    12/22/2008 06:20 PM    #
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