Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #108 Finally Back Aboard—For the Moment

I had long ago stopped counting down to this day, having no idea when it might arrive. And as I typed the above date I realized that this is the first log posted in 2011. It’s certainly about time.

To fill in the last few months: In my last log I was counting on not being in Indiana for another winter. Alas, our anticipated return to Caloosa Spirit didn’t happen in January—or in February or March. No, we got to experience another Indy winter—one of the coldest and snowiest on record. One of the main reasons we wanted to escape Indiana to go cruising, in fact.

But let me quickly add that our winter sojourn in Indy wasn’t because of poor health. My last CT scan in early January was stable, and my lungs are still clear. In December I had reported here that in January I was due to see an allergist about some possible immune issues. That appointment happened one week late, but when I finally saw him the allergist was quite thorough. However, he concluded that I really needed to see someone more specialized in the field of immunology, so he arranged an appointment with yet another specialist. (After all, there was at least one doctor in the city that I had yet to meet!) Of course, several more weeks passed until that appointment. When that time finally came in mid-February, the immunologist found nothing glaringly wrong with my immune system, but he suspected that I have a rare, recessive-gene deficiency that can lead to pulmonary bacterial and fungal infections. How exciting it was to find someone who had some familiarity with my particular condition! Now, what to do about it?

The next step, in order to confirm the immunologist’s suspected diagnosis, was to send a blood sample to a singularly specialized lab in Paris, France—apparently the only lab worldwide presently working on this rare condition. That blood draw could only be done on a Monday or Tuesday, as it had to make the trip to Paris and get through Customs in a timely manner. When the sample was finally on its way, there was some confusion about how long it would be until results would be available. The nurse told us a couple of weeks, so we decided to wait around a little longer to learn the outcome. After not hearing anything for about three weeks, I called the doctor’s office once more (previous requests had gotten no response) to try to get some answers. At that point I learned that the lab would probably have nothing to report for another 2-3 months! Apparently, a fair amount of research is involved, and my particular sample would probably be low priority since I am presently healthy and asymptomatic. It was time to head for the boat—long past, actually, but we tried not to dwell on that.

Another week passed while we made preparations to leave our apartment, and while we monitored Jim’s progress in recovering from the worst cold he’s had in eight years. Also, if Jim’s cold was going to transfer to me, we wanted to be around to see the immunologist—something he had requested if indeed I did happen to get sick and start coughing. I guess he wanted to see my symptoms for himself. But with Jim well on the road to recovery and his cold passing me by, we packed the car and pointed it south yesterday. Today we arrived in Gulfport, eager—with some apprehension—to lay our eyes once again on Caloosa Spirit.

I mention the apprehension because, after another several months’ neglect, we weren’t really sure of what to expect. Caloosa Spirit’s condition last fall was so heart-breaking, I didn’t think I could manage to deal with that again. I was desperately afraid mold and mildew would again cover the interior, and that the boat would be unlivable until after several days (weeks?) of scrubbing. Also, unlike during other extended hiatuses, we had left the bimini canvas on with the expectation that we would be returning in a matter of 4-6 weeks. Knowing that the canvas is feeling its age, we weren’t sure if it would still be in one piece.

Blessedly, none of our apprehensions materialized. Of course, the exterior decks need scrubbing, but the interior looks pretty much the way we left it in December. Just a few swipes with some Lysol should be sufficient. And the canvas is holding its own. Another bonus: the obnoxious birds that bedeviled us in the rigging last fall seem to have gotten out of Dodge.

108-1 CS in Gulfport.jpg
Glad to be back

All that said, however, we’re opting for a night in a motel on the beach for this evening. Arriving at 5:00 PM today we just weren’t ready to undertake even the slightest cleaning task, much less unpack the car. The “affordable” accommodations are hardly first-class, but we’ll have an evening to unwind with a seafood dinner, a walk on the beach, and a bed that doesn’t need to be made. Tomorrow we move aboard.

By the end of today we managed to get the necessary touch-up cleaning done and our stuff out of the car and on board. Cooking on board is delayed another day, though, so this evening we had a sumptuous dinner at O’Maddys in Gulfport. The Bananas Foster mahi-mahi that I enjoyed and Jim’s fried Ipswich clams both got five stars from us. That restaurant is now on our list of favorites.

It occurred to me in looking back over yesterday’s entry that I neglected to mention that this is a temporary stay on board. We plan to keep our apartment in Indy indefinitely, and we’ll be heading back north in a couple of months or so, as soon as we can no longer stand the heat and humidity of the Florida summer. By then my blood test results should be forthcoming, and we’ll see what’s next on that front.

After a couple of days of basic essentials, such as grocery shopping and balancing our checkbook, the deck has yet to see soap and water. But we’re trying to pace ourselves and avoid the drudgery we experienced last fall. The weather calls us to relax and enjoy the Florida lifestyle. (I think that’s a commercial or something.)

This morning we attended the monthly SSCA breakfast in St. Petersburg, and had the opportunity to meet some other local cruisers. We’re encouraged to participate in the planned cruise next weekend to Longboat anchorage, one of our favorites which we’ve sorely missed for the last two years. While there are some tasks that need completing in order to get out of the slip, we think leaving for a few days might be doable. We’ll see how that plan comes together. We’re determined not to put ourselves on a schedule, though, so we’re taking the attitude that if it happens, great; if not, oh well.

The deck and cockpit are finally clean. Yay! This being Sunday it was supposed to be a Sabbath. But since we really haven’t been working long hours, it seemed okay to put in a few laborious hours amid the sunshine to complete the job we started yesterday.

While the deck wasn’t unspeakably dirty, I was slightly appalled to find this little fellow taking root in the caulked seam around the main hatch. No, I didn’t let it be or try to transplant it; it met with a watery demise after posing for this shot.

108-2 Plant growth on CS.jpg
I prefer to grow my plants potted… in soil.

Yesterday we saw a sailboat re-enter the marina with something that looked quite strange at the masthead. “Is that what I think it is?” we asked each other. “Well, it certainly looks like it,” we both responded. So today we set out to find the boat to confirm that what we both thought we saw was indeed what we both saw.

108-3 Masthead broom far.jpg
Do you see what I see?

In case you can’t really tell what that is at the masthead, here’s a close-up.

108-4 Masthead broom close.jpg

Yes, indeed, that’s a CORN BROOM sticking right up there, broomstick and all! “To discourage birds?” we wondered. Hardly, since the broom is some 2+ feet above the masthead, allowing plenty of room for the feathered fiends. Or, maybe the owner had some poetic purpose in mind—something like “sweeping up sunbeams” or “swiping at the stars”. But, seriously? A corn broom? Not really so poetic. I admit that there’s a brushy-type thing sticking up on our masthead that’s supposed to discourage lightning strikes by dissipating charged ions. But it’s made of METAL (I don’t think a corn stalk would serve the same purpose), and ours doesn’t really look like a broom.

So, try as we might, we really are at a total loss as to why anyone would strap a broom to the top of their mast. We’re open to any forthcoming enlightenment on this matter.

Bottom scraped: check. Bimini and dodger waterproofed: check. Walk in the park: check. (Okay so that last item wasn’t a necessity, but it was good for the soul.) Oil and filter changed: check. Fuel filters changed: …ummm, no check. When Jim removed the Racor fuel/water filter there seemed to be an inordinate amount of water & junk in both the filter & the fuel/water separator bowl—very inordinate. Not sure where this is leading….

Well, the dirty fuel filter led to a day spent taking the filter housing apart and ordering a new one, then checking on the condition of the fuel and deciding that the tank needs cleaning. Yesterday we spent several hours at the beach, since plans to head down to Longboat went off the table (sigh) with that first glimpse of diesel crud. Actually, I shouldn’t use the term “plans”, because I’ve learned to stop making them. I attempt to live within each day—not always easy, but usually more rewarding and far less disappointing. At least the weather continues to be glorious.

Aft head shower/faucet replaced: check. Dinghy and outboard functional: double check :). Visit with Mike: check. (He drove up last evening for dinner and conversation. Or in his words, “hanging out”. :)

Diesel tank cleaned: check. Fuel filters changed: check. Engine purring: CHECK! Deposit on new marina slip: check.

What’s that last item about, you ask? The other day we happened to discover a small liveaboard marina that we didn’t know existed—Pasadena Marina. It’s more or less around the corner from where we are in Gulfport. Gulfport Municipal Marina has served our needs well with excellent protection, sturdy docks, and slip-side pump-out. However, living aboard, even for a few weeks at a time, has been stretching the limits of their rules, which specifically state “No liveaboards”. The other downsides at Gulfport are no laundry facilities, day boats parading past our stern, and—most significantly—no other boaters. Most of the other boat owners are absent for long stretches of time, and those that put in an appearance are either on their way out or in, providing no opportunities for social contact.

When we visited Pasadena Marina the other day we were quite taken with the dockmaster Mirella, the protection in the small bay, the shoreside facilities (including laundry), the inviting pool, and—most significantly—the other liveaboard boaters. While the monthly liveaboard fee will stretch our budget somewhat tighter, while we’re in Indianapolis the slip rental will be about the same as what we’re paying at Gulfport. Plus, we hope to get acquainted with some other boaters. We’ve learned from our past cruising experience that the boating world is filled with friends we have yet to meet.

The move won’t happen for another couple of weeks, as the slip we’re renting isn’t due to be vacated until May 1. We were impressed that there is a “bon voyage” party planned for those same boaters, as they begin their spring migration north to Virginia. It seemed quite congenial that the marina folk seem to care enough about some of their own to throw a party in their honor. We hope to become members of a warm and hospitable community there.

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

Posted Wednesday April 20, 2011

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  1. Glad to know you’re back on board and healthy
    Ken V
    a reader form Ohio
    — Ken V    04/21/2011 11:18 AM    #
  2. Thanks for the kind words, Ken V.
    — Alice Rutherford    04/27/2011 05:58 PM    #
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