Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #105 Reconnecting And… Reconnecting

Well, I suggested at the end of our last log that I would probably be in touch in another couple of months, so I guess I’m right on schedule.

As many of our readers have heard from Jim, my lung surgery went as planned on May 10. Better than planned, actually, in that it lasted only two hours rather than the proposed three. Not that I knew the difference. Beyond the point when I looked up at the gargantuan lights in the operating room, wondering if by chance they were actually UFOs that would soon beam me up, the rest of that day is lost to my memory. I rather wish I could remember waking up to see Jim and Lauri, because, to be honest, not waking up was probably my biggest fear. Anyway, the pain meds were fantastic, and my lack of awareness of discomfort was actually quite blissful.

I hadn’t been in a hospital for an overnight stay since Lauri was born 34 years ago. (Not counting the two overnights that I spent with Jim when he was hospitalized for prostate surgery; I wasn’t the patient so it just wasn’t the same.) So I wasn’t at all looking forward to spending the better part of a week in a hospital room. When the time came, though, there really wasn’t any place else I wanted to be. After the surgery I spent two nights in a critical care unit and got exceptionally tender loving care. While being awakened every hour during the night certainly didn’t qualify as spa time, I felt very pampered and safe. With several tubes coming out of different parts of me, moving around was difficult to say the least, so getting constant nursing care was a treat of great proportion.

I got moved to a “regular” room (blessedly, a private one) early on my third day and stayed there until five days later. During that time I actually got to sleep for all of two hours at a time through the night. But I still had no complaint, because again the nursing care was exceptional. I felt extremely well cared for. I even had good food—not exactly world-class cuisine, but tasty and nutritious—easily ordered and delivered in a timely fashion. All my docs came in on a daily basis to keep a close eye on my recovery. The best news from them was that the fungus seemed to be contained in the lobe that was removed, and that it was not as aggressive as originally thought. So my prognosis is good at this point, although there are still no guarantees regarding the recurrence of the bacterial infection. Right now, I’m just enjoying each day as it comes.

And these days each day is a gift. When I was ready to come home from the hospital, I was really ready, physically and emotionally. Jim has been an absolute saint and the best care-giver, pamperer, and partner I could ever ask for. And the cards, prayers, meals, visits, and phone calls from family and friends have made a world of difference in my recuperation. Presently, I still have some minor pain in my ribs (and apparently that will be around for a while), but the incision pain has diminished significantly, and the scar is healing nicely. Fatigue still haunts me, so my activity level is not yet at 100%. But I’m doing most of what I want to do. We’ve taken pleasant walks along our brook, spent a day at the zoo, enjoyed family gatherings, wandered through museum galleries, picnicked with the symphony, and attended church regularly. I’ve even gotten back to singing, and it seems easier than it has for the last 6-8 months. Life is good.

So since I’ve now been fully released from my surgeon, and my other docs don’t need to see me until August, we’re staging a jail break. Of course, at our apartment we have a much better view and setting than any jail, but still, a change of scene will be welcome. In a couple of days we’ll start driving to Florida, primarily to visit with Mike and Bonnie and some friends, and to check on and start some clean-up on the boat. Whether we actually get out of the slip will depend on how quickly we can get some things accomplished, given the high temps down there currently. We have several weeks to play, and we plan to make the most of it. We’ll stay in Florida as long as we think we’re productive and we’re having fun. Further plans for the boat are deferred until after my next tests in August. We’re keeping our current apartment indefinitely.

After two days of packing and errands we thought we were ready to head out tomorrow morning. But there are some air conditioning issues in our car that need to be addressed, so our departure may be delayed another day. No worries. We’re not on a schedule. As I consider this, however, I’m strongly reminded of how many times in our cruising life we’ve planned boating departures that didn’t materialize on schedule. Land life imitates boat life, I suppose.

So we left yesterday anyway. It turned out that replacing the battery that had been bedeviling us with undependable starting for several days actually fixed the air conditioning problem! Who knew? The trip went well and we’re now in the company of our wonderful son Mike and his equally wonderful Bonnie. Tomorrow we’ll get our first look in six months at Caloosa Spirit. Not sure what to expect.

Well, the boat wasn’t as dirty as I’d expected. Apparently, the resident pelican or heron had confined itself to sitting on the binnacle cover, which is now pretty gross, but the rest of the deck and cockpit look relatively unspoiled. Our goals for the day were to again shock the water system with bleach, check the batteries and re-stow the gear around them, and remove all the bedding for laundering. Two out of three isn’t too bad, I suppose. Make that one and a half.

Removing the bedding was the easy part, although the 95-degree heat doesn’t really make anything all that easy. After finally realizing that there wasn’t anything wrong with the water pumps and that we had actually left the water tanks mostly empty, Jim began the process of filling the tanks with gallons of bleach and water. Just after filling the forward tank (the largest at 50 gallons), we heard the bilge pump go off—and go off and go off and go off again. Something was obviously amiss. Jim accessed the forward water tank that’s under our berth and saw water leaking out of its hose fitting into the bilge. As he tried to adjust it, it broke off in his hand, so then the water poured out. (We’ve had a minor fresh water leak for some two or three years, and we’ve never been certain of where it was coming from, so it hasn’t yet been fixed. Well, I guess now we know.) We then spent more time emptying that tank with the faucets, so that the bilge pump wouldn’t have to do the whole job.

So the batteries and re-stowing will have to wait for another day. And, of course, now there’s another job on the list. But we’re taking the attitude that nothing absolutely positively has to be done right now. Tomorrow we’ll go to the beach.

The beach yesterday was a pleasure. There was even a mild breeze—a hot breeze, but breeze nonetheless. Today we enjoyed a leisurely morning (did NOT get up at 6:30 for church!), went for brunch with Mike and Bonnie, and spent a lovely couple of hours at Marie Selby Gardens. Wandering the paths that meander through the lush tropical flowers and shade is good for the blood pressure.

This evening we got treated to Mike and his buddy/business partner Julian playing their drums in Phillippi Estate Park. They’ve been playing together for some 15 years, and it shows in their precision, timing, and creativity. Bonnie’s graceful and sensitive hooping to the beat of the drums is always a pleasure to watch, as well. For any readers who are unfamiliar with drumming and/or hooping, I’d love to provide some images. However, the guys view their drum circle time as something of a spiritual activity, and cameras can interfere with their engagement with their music. So my camera remained in its case. We’ve really enjoyed the time with Mike and Bonnie.
(Note: For any curious readers, images and videos of Bonnie hooping can be found at her website: http://outwardspiral.net/photos/.)

Sometimes things fall into place when you least expect them. No, I’m not talking about the fitting for the leaky—make that gushy—water tank. The where and when of that item is still a big question mark. Yesterday Jim got the batteries topped up and the stuff stowed, and he felt really good about disconnecting the broken fitting from the tank without breaking the tank or anything else. But, of course, West Marine doesn’t carry just the right part, so maybe we can get one from the factory. Maybe. I have to be honest in saying that I did very little to be helpful yesterday. It seems that, just as my surgeon said, my recuperation is not yet complete—maybe only half. I just couldn’t get up the energy to work in the 95+ degrees.

So today we got lazy and, while Jim attempted to locate the needed water tank fitting, never got around to driving up to Gulfport to the marina. I called our dear friends Gail and Paul to see if we could get together with them tomorrow, and serendipitously they happened to be in Sarasota getting ready for lunch with mutual friends Pat and Kat. On the spur of the moment we joined them, and had a delightful time catching up on the better part of a year since we were last together. Good times.

We got to engage in another extraordinary experience this evening. Mike attends a weekly gathering with friends called a Sat Sang. It’s an occasion to share impromptu music-making, and a time to connect on a personal/spiritual level with those in attendance. Mike has described the experience as something akin to church for him. Since we enjoy having visitor participants at our church, we felt honored to be invited to visit and participate in the Sat Sang. The music was created by a variety of percussion instruments, a santura (Indian dulcimer), a harmonium, and voices. When I felt moved to do so, I contributed my voice in a free-form, improvisational style. It wasn’t something I had a lot of confidence in doing in that forum, but, as I’ve found many times in the past, when I allow the Spirit to take over, the results can be remarkable and inspirational. Thank you, Creator Spirit, for the gift of my voice, and for helping me to give it back to others.

This morning we left Mike and Bonnie in Sarasota to spend a few days with friends Gail and Paul in Belleair. Two of our many dear cruising friends, it’s always a pleasure to be in their company. Not to mention the added plus that they both LOVE to cook. We always eat well with them.

On the way we stopped at the boat to leave some things there that we had taken off temporarily. I’m finding that I really can’t tolerate the humidity; it saps my energy more than I had anticipated. While I’ve never greatly enjoyed the Florida summer heat, in the past I’ve not had a great deal of trouble tolerating it. Operative words: in the past. We may be at a point of realizing that things may not be the same in the future. Hopefully, my reaction is just a part of my not-yet-complete recuperation. But the reality is that I now have less lung capacity than I used to, and that may mean that bad or humid air will continue to affect my energy level indefinitely. I guess change is the only constant in life.

After a few rainy and/or overcast days with Gail and Paul, we headed down to Carla and Greg’s at Burnt Store Marina for a few more rainy and/or overcast days. Fireworks on the Fourth were relegated to TV’s Capitol on the Fourth, as none of us cared to venture out for the evening with rain in the offing. We did greatly enjoy the company and hospitality of Greg and Carla, and we always enjoy being at Burnt Store, by land or by sea. The view of the harbor from their fifth-story condo is always refreshing and relaxing, even in steamy weather.

Incidentally, while we were still staying with Gail and Paul, Jim visited the boat one day without me, and he was able to get the water tank fixture repaired with very little hassle. I hated to let him work on the project alone, but I just couldn’t face another stifling day on board. Being able to spend some time in Gail and Paul’s lush, all-natural-growth yard and then returning to the air conditioning when I felt the need was the better way for me to spend my day.

Yesterday brought a visit with long-time sailing mentor Fran in Sarasota. She’s battling illness and grief, so it was good to offer some support to her. We pray for good health and happiness in her future.

Lunch today was with friends Nancy and Jay on Serendipity at Twin Dolphins Marina in Bradenton. They showed us around the lovely marina, and we now have thoughts about spending some time there when we can get Caloosa Spirit away from Gulfport.

That won’t be for a while yet, though. We’ve determined that, since being on the boat right now appears to be a non-starter, we might as well return to our apartment in Indy. We’ll spend a couple more days with Gail and Paul, then hit the road. While we haven’t accomplished much on Caloosa Spirit, we have accomplished our goal of reconnecting with family and friends in Florida. From that standpoint the trip has been well worth it.

And so another couple of weeks have passed since we returned to Indianapolis. I’ve thought numerous times of getting this log posted, especially so that friends who aren’t aware of our return would know that we’re back. Procrastination has gotten the better of me, it seems. That and the fact that our days seem to go by quickly whether we’re busy or not.

We’ve been enjoying the apartment pool several days each week. I’m grateful for that opportunity, since June of both this year and last year the pool was off-limits to me due to my health issues. Even though we’re not on the boat, the freedom from doctor’s appointments for a few weeks is a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of air, the temps here have definitely been cooler… er, less hot than in Florida. A high in the 90s is certainly not uncommon, but most days the temperature doesn’t get above the high 80s. And the humidity is less. And we have air conditioning. This is a good place to be right now.

We’ll be in touch again after my next round of doctor’s appointments and/or when we make further plans to get aboard Caloosa Spirit, hopefully in October when the heat starts to dissipate down there. If all goes well, we’re hoping for a mini-cruise for a month or so, but we’ll be back in Indy for Christmas—and presumably more medical tests to track what’s happening in my lungs. While I’m really feeling quite well presently, the future continues to be uncertain. We’re still keeping our fingers crossed.

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

P.S. It turns out that we actually will be out on the Atlantic headed for the Bahamas next month. To celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on August 20, we booked our first cruise ever… well, our first cruise on a cruise ship rather than on our own boat, that is. We look forward to a fun-filled three days and nights (we didn’t want to overdo on our first try) in the tropics, although Jim has some apprehension about allowing someone else to control the boat. :) Here’s hoping the hurricanes are elsewhere that weekend.

Posted Sunday July 25, 2010

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  1. So glad to hear you are recovering. You are in my prayers. I hope that when you get back to Florida, we can get together. Take care of yourselves.
    — Fran Carlson    07/26/2010 09:09 AM    #
  2. Glad to hear you are doing well. Enjoy the “big” cruise – maybe Jim can steer! Ask when you get on board, they sometimes allow bridge tours. Can’t wait to see you in early September!
    — Donna Tapply    07/27/2010 08:34 AM    #
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