Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #15 Water, Water Everywhere

Jim: Not down Island yet, as you probably can tell from our logs. We just ordered a ton of equipment from BoatUS Outfitting Dept, so we’ll be here to receive it unless we sneak away between deliveries! Lately, we have done very little sailing. Yesterday we installed a new Garhauer adjustable genoa car system which I have wanted for a long time. It never seems to fail that we set the jib and then realize the cars are in the wrong position. This should make it very easy to change the sheeting angle (for optimal performance of the jib sail) without getting my hands smashed by a flailing car and sheet!

We finished the revamping of our house battery box and now have 675 amps in our house bank. Today we finished the second of two rails on either side of our master cabin to keep books in place when heeling. The next project is to hook up the Link 2000 battery monitor, but that will entail running a new 15-20’ battery cable.

Alice: There’s always another project, but getting each one finished is gratifying. We’re now sitting in Honeymoon Bay (yes, that’s really what it’s called!) off of Water Island. We moved from Charlotte Amalie Harbor at the end of last week because the traffic noise was getting to us, and swimming in the harbor was not an option. We’re still within dinghy distance of downtown on St. Thomas, although it’s a longer dinghy ride (about 15 minutes instead of 3). The payoff is that this is a much quieter and more peaceful anchorage. The only regular disturbance to the tranquility comes from the Kon-Tiki glass-bottom/party raft (locally known as the Bimbo Barge) that daily brings a crowd from the cruise ships to the beach here. The beat of the steel pan band can be heard approaching long before it rounds the corner into the bay. Today just as the barge pulled up to the beach the overhanging clouds let loose. No one seemed to care, however, because the water was soon full of swimmers as the rain poured down. Sometimes as the barge leaves the bay the drum beat escalates and the revelers can be seen doing a Conga line and other gyrations. They seem to party hardy all the way back to the cruise ship dock. We’ve noticed that there must be at least a couple of dozen excursion boat businesses of all types and sizes operating out of the harbor. I guess there’s gold in them thar cruise ships!

Honeymoon Beach at Water Island

Last Sunday we were invited by another cruising couple in the bay to walk around Water Island. Until the early 1990’s the island was owned by the U.S. Navy, and during World War II there were troops stationed here to ward off German submarines. There was a U.S. submarine base on St. Thomas that required protecting by gun emplacements, the ruins of which are still here. On our tour we saw the huge gun turrets and underground bunkers that were active 60 years ago. Along with the vistas of the Caribbean Sea and St. Thomas it was all quite awesome. Having been sold by the Navy to the VI government Water Island is now considered the fourth Virgin Island, joining St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Hopefully, as time goes by it will retain its quaint and peaceful lifestyle. Accessibility to the island is only by water, all goods must be purchased on St. Thomas, and the only restaurant is the back of a trailer on the beach. The steak sandwiches were excellent, and they were the left-overs from the prepared dinners the previous evening. The “restaurant” drives away on Sunday evening and returns to the beach the following Saturday.

Water Island

Alice: Well, our two things to do today were supposed to be starting the installation of the Link 2000 and shopping (with e-mail in the same trip). But last night we discovered that our deck light on the mast wasn’t working, so that replaced the Link 2000 installation. Then the head (the other one) backed up, so that replaced the deck light fix. Now, on land replacing a light bulb is a fairly simple thing, right? Not so here. After spending the morning unclogging the head, Jim had to go up the mast to determine that the light bulb needed replacing, and to try to figure out what kind of light bulb it is. Then we had to dinghy to town for shopping (and e-mail) and try to find the right kind of light bulb at the local marine store. This was one of those rare times when the right bulb was available at the FIRST local marine store we went to! Okay, so it cost a prince’s ransom compared to a land-side light bulb, but what’s a little extra spending in Paradise?! Of course, by the time we got all this done and back to the boat it was almost dark, so the job of going back up the mast to replace the light bulb will wait until tomorrow.

This morning some cruising friends (Don & Nori on Sea Dreamer) headed out for St. Croix for the weekend. I was really envious, mostly because we haven’t yet been there, or anywhere else unfamiliar for that matter. (I consoled myself with the belief that the weather would be as rainy as it’s been for the last couple of days, and the sail wouldn’t be any fun anyway. Of course, the weather turned out to be beautiful.) At one point I had made the comment to someone that we’ve been “stuck” in the Virgin Islands for several months. In view of the miserable winter up north, I realize that that sentiment will engender no sympathy whatsoever. However, let it be understood that our plan has been to be live-aboard cruisers, not live-aboard sit-in-one-placers. It’s really frustrating to us that we won’t get to see much (if any) of the Caribbean islands before having to start back north through the Bahamas. And we won’t see much of those islands if we don’t start back soon enough. Anyway, after a sunny but blustery morning spent sunbathing on deck (there’s only room in the head for one person to unclog it, I rationalized), I watched as another boat approached the anchorage, noting the many ways in which it resembled Sea Dreamer. Eventually, as I was telling myself that I was delusional, I could see the name on the boat and realized it really was Sea Dreamer! Don & Nori returned because they decided that the 8-10 foot seas crashing over the boat really weren’t fun, and the trip was not going to be worth it. At that point I was no longer envious. There’s something to be said for sitting in one place after all.

Alice: This was definitely the wettest day we’ve had since being here. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were both gloomy, but today was reminiscent of rainy, dreary days in Indiana, complete with thunder and lightning, which is also unusual. The sun barely peeked through just before sundown. The upside was that it wasn’t cold like those rainy, dreary days in Indiana. Remember the deck light bulb? It didn’t get changed. For some reason Jim was a little skittish about going up the mast with lightning in the vicinity. We have a tarp for covering our forward hatches so that we can leave them open for air when it’s raining. It is suspended in the middle by the spinnaker halyard. However, Jim had been using the spinnaker halyard for the mast climber, and we had taken the tarp down last night because the wind was making it too noisy to sleep. Great timing. Late today we got the tarp up again, but it hasn’t rained again since.

Rainbow afternoon at Water Island

The light bulb still isn’t changed. Jim went up the mast only to discover that the boat was rolling too much to connect the little-bitty wires while holding on at the same time. We’re getting antsy to move to a different anchorage. We’ve found that about 1 week is our limit with the same view. We look forward to the day when we don’t feel tied to one place.

Finally, in between rain showers, the light bulb got changed. No lightning lately.

It’s always fun to observe the various pets on other boats. It’s surprising how many cruisers have dogs. There is one on a nearby boat that is really cute; her name is Lupe (as in LOO-pay) and she’s just a mutt. The three kids who live on another nearby boat often take her with them in their dinghy, and she’s usually eager to go. She tends to whine and whimper if her “mom” visits in the anchorage and doesn’t take her along. Two large cats live on another boat. A really “interesting” pet we saw recently was a parrot in a cage in the cockpit. At one point we had trouble determining where some loud, raucous noise was coming from, until we realized that the parrot was the culprit! With the squawking as loud as it was from a distance, we were grateful the boat wasn’t closer.

This seemed like a more productive day than the last few. We got a cleat installed in the anchor locker to secure the bitter ends of both primary and secondary anchor lines. That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the previous attachment was so deep in the locker that it was almost unreachable. That could have been a problem in an emergency requiring immediate detachment from the anchor. We understand that such things have happened to others, such as another boat (especially a bigger one!) drifting down against them. Besides, the cleat was a Catalina upgrade design, and we usually like to add the goodies that Catalina innovates. We finished this project just before the rain poured down—again.

The second thing we accomplished was putting in the various pieces of the Link 2000R. What’s that, you ask? Hmmm—how to explain. It’s some kind of electronic gizmo that miraculously watches the batteries—how many electrons, what they’re doing, and where they’re going—and tells us what it sees! The project meant taking out pieces of the boat. Don’t worry, they were all above the waterline. Who would guess that a saber saw would be so useful on a boat!? Not to mention the cordless drill/screwdriver. The gizmo isn’t functioning yet; the wiring comes tomorrow. Let’s hope that the electricity gods smile on us as we connect all those vari-colored wires that at the moment look like spaghetti.

We just listened to our nightly weather report, and it sounds like more rain is expected. Apparently April showers happen here, too!

Wishing you sunny skies and fair winds until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Tuesday April 8, 2003

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