Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #14 People Who Need People

We’re back in Charlotte Amalie. Right now we’re in the marina here, because today we changed out the house battery bank. We had two 4D batteries that died about 6 weeks ago, but we kept using them. We knew we wanted to change the house bank to 6-volt golf cart batteries, because they’re easier to move around. It takes two 6-volts in series to equal one 4D, but they provide more power, they weigh less, and they fit in the same space. Between the two of us we managed to wrestle the 110-lb. 4D’s out of the boat, and get the golf carts installed. So now we have sufficient battery power to keep everything on board running. Jim plans to carve out the battery box to create more space to add another two 6-volt batteries next to the other four to increase our power supply, so we can add other things, like the watermaker. We ran out of water for a couple of days last week, and I wasn’t a happy boater! We had taken our primary anchor and primary bow roller to have them straightened and they weren’t fixed in the 24 hours that we were told. It took 4 days!

Cruise ship leaving St. Thomas

When we arrived back in this harbor yesterday we anchored for the night before coming into the marina this morning. About 18-20 years ago when we were anchored in No Name Harbor in Florida on Phantasie II there was a big domestic disturbance on a nearby boat. The screaming went on for several hours until the Coast Guard Auxiliary finally convinced the couple to take the boat to a marina. Well, just our luck, we managed to have almost the same experience here last night. Jim was asleep and I was reading in the salon at about 9:00, when I heard yelling that I thought was coming from the shore. When I looked out to see how close we were to the shore, I realized the yelling was coming from the water—an approaching dinghy, in fact. The sailboat anchored next to us was the same one to which we had towed a couple one evening two weeks ago. Their dinghy engine had failed so we gave them a tow, and they were very appreciative. I expected to meet up with them again this time, and maybe get to know them a little. WRONG!! The approaching dinghy with the screamed obscenities stopped at that boat! His drunken, loud, foul language was pretty offensive, and she wasn’t much better. After they got onto the boat, it got worse. I woke up Jim when the guy started beating on the woman, and then we thought about calling the police. (I didn’t really want to get involved, because we’ve both retired from family conflicts!) Not long after that, as she was trying to get into the dinghy with a packed bag, a police boat approached. They were loud enough for several other boats in the harbor to hear them, so someone else must have called. Soon a Coast Guard boat also came in as “back up”. The guy had fallen into the water and gotten himself into the dinghy but not back onto the boat. The woman got off the boat into the police boat. We had heard her say something about a broken nose and black eye before the police showed up, so she may have needed medical care. After talking to the guy briefly, the police snagged his dinghy painter and towed him away. He was still yelling. The one I felt sorriest for in this whole mess was the poor dog that got left on the boat! She had been left all day before the couple showed up at 9:00, and then was left again until the woman returned in the middle of the night. The poor dog howled and whimpered for some time after everyone left. It was heartbreaking. We didn’t observe the woman’s return, but the dinghy was there this morning, and Jim saw her leave the boat in the dinghy. We’ve seen no further evidence of the guy. Hopefully, he’s in jail until Monday morning. I don’t want to know it if she lets him back on the boat. She is American and he is British, but the boat is US flagged, so maybe (hopefully) it is her boat—a very nice and expensive Island Packet. Obviously, the cruising life isn’t idyllic for everyone. Unfortunately, on a boat domestic disputes are easier to overhear and observe than in a house. So we try to keep our voices down!

We went to church again this morning at Frederick Evangelical Lutheran Church to hear the senior pastor. We satisfied our curiosity about that, and probably won’t return again. We’re not sure how much of the church services here are island-influenced, or if the Lutheran and Episcopal services are typically similar in nature. But our experiences at both kinds of churches here in the islands have tended to leave us cold. We weren’t cut out for “high” church worship. We haven’t given up sampling worship services here, but First Congregational in Indy still holds our unwavering allegiance!

We’re still in the marina so that Jim can enlarge the battery box. Laundry, grocery shopping, changing the engine oil, and straightening out a computer problem and a banking problem have interfered with the schedule, however. Sometimes we miss the ease of doing laundry at home, using a car to haul groceries, taking the engine to Jiffy Lube, and having unlimited access to the internet and phone. But the weather helps make up for the inconveniences! It’s consistently in the mid-80’s during the day and the mid-70’s at night, with occasional showers lasting from 5-20 minutes. Deciding what to wear for the day is never a problem. Curiously, though, K-Mart changes their clothing inventory to match the seasons, just like up north. Their fall/winter clothing is now on clearance and they’re showing new Spring fashions, even though it’s summer year-round!

Last night we had another enjoyable evening socializing with other cruisers at the Paradise Point Tram Happy Hour. We got more advice about cruising, primarily to stop working on the boat and get going! We’re starting to pare down our expectations and put off a number of projects until we get back to the States. At this point our plans are to finish the battery project (so that we have plenty of electricity), to install the watermaker (so that we have plenty of water), and to install the single side band radio (so that we have plenty of communication). Then we’ll be off to see some other islands.

Sunset at St. Thomas

The first day of Spring!! Congratulations, Northerners. You made it! As noted above, we’ve hardly noticed any weather changes.

This morning we went on another shore excursion for materials to finish the battery box project. Anyone who ever visits St. Thomas should certainly avail themselves of the $1 bus/taxi service. That’s right—one can travel to most places on the island for $1. The open-air safari taxis and the occasional buses are very popular with the locals, and there’s no better way to get a flavor of the island color—no pun intended. K-Mart shoppers, working stiffs, moms with pre-schoolers, cruisers (like us), school kids, mental hospital refugees, and self-styled Bob Marleys can all be found riding together. It’s usually quite an experience not to be missed. But I’m not sure if I’d go by myself. That might be too intimidating.

Last night I was awakened by the noise of the wind in our rigging. When the wind blows at just the right strength and direction the rigging and spars vibrate and hum like a string bass throughout the boat. In these troubled times it somehow reminded me of how we, as a community of God’s children, with enough strength and direction, are able to reverberate a message of love and peace throughout the world. Sometimes the wind eases and abates, but it never quits completely. So it should be with us. Let us continue to “hum” the song, “In Christ there is no east or west” with strength and direction. We are all people who need people, regardless of our religion or culture.

As “people who need people” we always enjoy the notes we receive from our northern friends and family. So keep them coming.

Caloosa Spirit

May peace and fair winds be with you until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Sunday March 23, 2003

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