Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #103 A Happy New Year? Here’s Hoping!

As I attempt to begin a new log in this new year, I’m struck by the fact that our last log began on October 16, 2009, exactly three months ago. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m loooooonngg overdue in posting to this site.

So now that I’ve decided that it’s time to write, I just have to figure out what to write. I suppose I should begin with sharing how and where we are. The answers: fine and still in Indianapolis, in that order. So you may be wondering, dear reader, why, if we’re really fine, are we still in Indy and not aboard Caloosa Spirit, especially in the middle of the winter! That’s a fair question to which I’ll try very hard to provide an answer, without boring you to tears.

My last CT scan in November gave us some surprising results—it was clear! For the first time since my lung infection first cropped up almost two years ago, both of my doctors were encouraged that I’ll actually beat this thing, and that I’ll be off the antibiotics in another 6-8 months. We certainly celebrated the good news! However, the good results after staying away from the boat for an entire three months were not lost on us. At some point in the fall we had learned of a study involving mycobacteria and showerheads. The study suggested that mycobacteria had a way of building up in showerheads, and we began to wonder if my personal mycobacterium was in the showerhead on the boat. So with the holidays coming anyway, we decided to err on the side of safety and keep the apartment a while longer. In early December Jim returned to the boat in Gulfport, FL, to spend some time disinfecting our entire water system, with consultation and guidance from our good friend David, who is a chemist and works with industrial water purification systems on a daily basis.

Throughout this process we’ve learned way more than we ever wanted to know about non-tubercular mycobacteria and water systems. For instance (and we only mention this for those who may have an interest or concern in this area), non-tubercular mycobacteria (NTMs) are present in some city water supplies, and they are resistant to the usual municipal doses of chlorine. Most people’s immune systems fight off any possible infection, but a few people—especially non-smoking women of slender build in their 50s-60s (and I thought I was being so healthy!)—are vulnerable. The 09/09 showerhead study of residential homes suggests that showerheads should be replaced or chlorinated annually. [http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16393.abstract].

As an aside, we always had bleach in the water tank of our Catalina 25 in the off-season, and even in-season, because the boat would often sit for a week or more. But cruising on Caloosa Spirit meant using the water regularly, so we had not taken this precaution. However, in the last few years we have left the boat unattended for several longer-than-anticipated time spans, primarily for medical issues and our daughter’s wedding. A word to the wise: whether you are living on land or sea—chlorinate your showerheads and, if applicable, your boat’s water system. Also, if you have a UV germicidal lamp in your water system it should be changed annually (be sure to check the fine print!).

Our chemist friend David believes that, given my susceptibility, we would be safer using our watermaker exclusively, rather than risking even traces of mycobacteria in city water supplies. Provided, that is, that we keep a close check on mycobacteria levels. However, frequently changing filters when we are in clouded water can be time consuming. Whether our water comes from a dock or our watermaker, we’ll have to regularly test it for mycobacteria and chlorine levels.

Just before Christmas I drove down to Florida to pick up Jim in Gulfport, and we then went on down to Sarasota to spend Christmas with Mike and his girlfriend Bonnie, along with Bonnie’s mom and step-dad. Upon returning north, we dropped off some water samples for testing at a lab in Norcross, GA, just to be sure that the disinfection had been effective. Some preliminary tests are quite encouraging, but we really need to wait a full 8 weeks for the culture testing to be absolutely certain that there are no mycobacteria in the boat’s water supply. So that’s why we’re still in our apartment in Indianapolis. We hope to get back on board in early March. Then we’ll begin the process of getting Caloosa Spirit habitable once again. She’s looking somewhat neglected after all these months.

As for the holidays, we had a delightful Thanksgiving with Lauri and Alex, a wonderful Christmas with Mike and Bonnie, and a quiet New Year in Indy by ourselves. Of course, I couldn’t help thinking of Mom as each holiday approached. The holidays were always one of her favorite times of the year. Prior to Thanksgiving Lauri and I had a baking day when we prepared the various breads that Mom always made. I also spent a day making her annual plum pudding—not a family favorite (except for Jim and me), but traditional nonetheless. And when I shared the plum pudding with Alex’s parents, they became fans, so it was time and effort well-spent. A week ago when we shared a late Christmas with family friends, I contributed Mom’s favorite salad as one more way of keeping her close through the holiday season. It’s difficult to believe it’s been almost a year since her stroke. With the current tragedy in Haiti I’m reminded once more of the fragility of life and the importance of making the most of each day. Easy to recognize and verbalize, much harder to actualize.

From all reports much of the U.S. has struggled through some frigid temperatures as we’ve launched into this new decade. Global warming, we believe. It was only a few days ago that the temperature here finally made it above the freezing mark. At this point there’s just a smattering of snow on the grass around us, but a week ago we were in a world of white. It was really quite lovely, especially when we didn’t have to drive in it each day.

Snow at Oakbrook
Snow at Oakbrook Village

Frozen brook
Our frozen brook

Recognizing that all things are relative, I’m glad that through the worst of the nation-wide cold snap we’ve been in a snug, centrally heated apartment, rather than on our minimally insulated, propane space heater heated boat. Call me a wuss, but temperatures close to the freezing mark—as we heard reports from Gulfport—are not my idea of ideal cruising conditions. That said, I admit that now that the deep freeze has lifted, the warm, sunny days in Florida are calling. Perhaps we’ll be able to answer that call before too much longer.

Well, my intention had been to get this log posted after adding some other interesting tidbits about our life. But time seems to plug along with not much happening in our lives other than church activities, which are mostly enjoyable. This morning we actually had a party at our New Creation service, complete with balloons, streamers, and a roof-raising rendition of “Celebrate Good Times”. The point was that ours is a religion of celebration and Good News, and rules about how to worship can be tossed out with yesterday’s newspaper. We definitely have good times at First Congregational!

After over a week of rain and overcast skies, the sun peeked out briefly this afternoon. Only briefly, though. The gray continues. We’re envious of friends and family in Florida, as the warm, sunny days there continue to beckon.

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

Posted Sunday January 24, 2010

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  1. It was so good to hear from you and glad that things are “looking up” for Alice! We are in Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia – been here for about 2 months because it has been too cold to unplug and head farther south. Hopefully, we’ll be back on our way again around the first of February. Keep in touch – your friends, Sherri and Clyde
    — Sherri and Clyde Leatherwood    01/24/2010 04:30 PM    #
  2. Hola!

    Glad you guys are still on your adventure.
    I’m with Blue Water Sailing Magazine – still sailing as well.
    Running a few boats here and there.

    Stay Warm,

    — Scott Akerman    02/02/2010 09:16 AM    #
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