Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #21 Greetings From South Florida!

After our refreshing trip north to Indy we’re now back aboard Caloosa Spirit, our Catalina 42 mkII sailboat, preparing once again for cruising. It was heartwarming to visit with many of our northern family and friends while we were back in Indianapolis for 6 weeks during July and August. Thanks to all of you who gave us an opportunity to reconnect while we were there.

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we moved out of our house in Indianapolis to begin live-aboard cruising. While we were up north we left Caloosa Spirit at a live-aboard dock in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and she faired quite well in our absence. When we returned to Florida a week ago we drove our van down in order to bring more of our earthly possessions which we want on board. These were items that didn’t make the cut as baggage when we flew to Tortola, BVI, a year ago, or as shipments to St. Thomas, USVI, while we were there last winter—things like our bikes, cool-weather clothing, books, a TV, and extra tools. We also bought new cookware and a new microwave while in Indy, so they came along also. Being seniors on fixed income we decided to camp out of the van for the trip down, so camping gear was also part of the stowage. Yes, the van was heavily packed, and somewhat cramped for camping. But the trip down went well, and we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday afternoon, 8/25/03.

After checking over Caloosa Spirit we spent the afternoon unloading the van, and went to bed exhausted. Neither of us slept well the night before, because it was so hot in north Florida where we stopped to camp. Tuesday we spent shopping for boat stuff and food, so nothing got put away except the bare essentials. Wednesday we had to bring the boat up to Pompano to a dock behind a private home where a stern arch is to be installed. We had ordered the arch and measurements were taken before we went north, and it was fabricated while we were away. It was a lovely trip up the Intracoastal Waterway, gazing at the variety of mansions along the way. The couple who live here at the house in Pompano are very nice retired folk (friends of the arch builder) who have graciously let us use their pool, which, given how hot it is, has been heavenly. While Jim helped in the preparation for removing the stern pulpit, the arch builder drove Alice down to Ft. Lauderdale to get our van, so we haven’t been stranded here. Two days were spent getting the arch put on the boat in preparation for taking it off again. Don’t ask. It’s a complicated installation involving cutting the stern pulpit, welding it to the arch, removing the whole thing, taking it back to their shop to weld it permanently, then bringing it back again. They probably won’t bring it all back to assemble it until Tuesday.

While Jim has been helping with the arch, Alice has tried to get some things unpacked and put away. What a slow process. The bikes are still in the van. So far she’s gotten through the pots and pans, the books, and the food. Yesterday we unpacked the clothing box and managed to get all the clothing stowed. Of course, other things had to be moved and are still strewn around the cabin. But we at least have a few places to sit! The weather has been mostly lovely, although it rained or was cloudy all day last Thursday. Did we mention that it’s hot? Air conditioning would make it easier to get things done, but we’re still not desperate for it. The fans have been a life-saver.

Friday evening we went to a cruisers’ gathering. The office of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, of which we’ve been members for a few years, is here in Ft. Lauderdale. Jim called Friday to check on their hours and found out the monthly pot-luck was that evening. So we had fun meeting and talking with other cruisers. The couple we sat with are going on a 68-day cruise through the Panama Canal and the South Pacific. They’ll be gone from October to January. Understand this is on a cruise ship, not their own boat. Imagine spending that long on a cruise ship!!

Today we went to church at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Ft. Lauderdale. We were really pleased to find a UCC church here, especially since they’re non-existent in the islands. No, it didn’t measure up to our home church in Indy by a long shot, but we’ll give it another chance while we’re still here. This afternoon Jim installed the new microwave. We chose to replace the white one the charter company had installed because the original microwave was black, and we wanted a Sharp. The boxes are diminishing, and the boat’s sense of being a construction zone is diminishing also.

Labor Day. Jim’s been laboring on the head (toilet) again. He got it unclogged, but it needs a new valve to keep it from backing up. And our other head has been out of service since the Bahamas. When the hoses fill up with calcification from the salt water, nothing gets through. That’s what happened to the aft head, so we have to replace a 12-ft. hose. Oh, joy. And we’re trying so hard to be responsible cruisers at this private residential dock. When both heads break down you quickly develop an appreciation for the simple things in life!

The last few days have flown by. The arch got completed (and the head got fixed) and we’re back at our slip in Ft. Lauderdale. It’s still hot, but at least we can go to the bathroom! So far no hurricanes are in the offing, although a tropical depression in the Gulf is giving us some rainy weather. Over the next couple of weeks we have to work on a few more projects, as well as getting everything stowed.

The dinghy is now suspended on the davits! No more hauling that behemoth up on deck! Of course, hauling it up on the davits will still be more than sufficient exercise for our biceps and pecs. Now that we’re in the States the dinghy has to have a name on it to avoid state registration. So yesterday Alice started painting the name (T/T Caloosa Spirit) on one side—only to have the paint wash off when the rain started again. Today the rain held off until she got the one side finished. The other side will wait for better weather. Well, yes, we’re actually having worse weather than folks up north. Tropical Storm/Depression Henri has been dumping buckets of rain on us, but not much wind. This seems to be the downside of Florida in September. This slip is very secure in any case.

Caloosa Spirit's new stern arch

Alice finally got the other side of the dinghy painted today, because today‚ĶIT DIDN’T RAIN!! Aside from the rainy weather, and except for the super-size West Marine store and the BoatUS store, we’re really not crazy about Ft. Lauderdale, because it’s just a little too… well, upscale, for our taste. But this evening the city somewhat redeemed itself in our eyes. On our trip up the ICW and back last week we had seen a restaurant right on the water that looked somewhat appealing. Now that the dinghy has a name and is therefore usable in Florida waters (by the way, the T/T stands for “Tender To”), we decided to take it out for a spin. So we chose to dinghy a little over 3 miles to that restaurant, Charlie’s Crab. What exhilaration to once again commute by dinghy! With no traffic lights to slow us down we covered the distance faster than we could have by car. And the view from the dinghy is so much more scenic than the road. In addition to the fun of the dinghy ride we were treated to an outstanding dinner and service at Charlie’s Crab, probably the best since we left the Virgins.

More blurry days. The weather has improved, but it’s still hot. We’ve accomplished several projects that needed doing before we can leave Ft. Lauderdale. We moved the stern navigation light and our awesome GPS antenna/receiver to the top of the new stern arch, which entailed running wires through the tubes of the arch. Our plan is to return this Saturday to Indy with the van, stay a couple of weeks, and fly back down here. At that point we’ll leave Ft. Lauderdale and head down the Keys. Our destination is St. Petersburg at the end of October, where we’ll stay through Christmas. There seem to be at least two advantages to staying in Indy for another couple of weeks. First, we hope to see several friends that we missed in July and August. Second, we hope to miss Hurricane Isabel and any of her relatives that may come this way during the rest of September. South Florida in September isn’t really a fun place to be!

By the way, one bike finally made it out of the van. But it’s going back in with the other one, and they’re both going back to Indy. We miscalculated in thinking that they would fit in the aft locker. While the locker is more than big enough the opening isn’t, even with both wheels and the seat off. We finally decided that further dismantling the bikes would be counterproductive when it came time to get them out to ride them. So we’ll enjoy them when we’re up in Indy, and we may get some folding bikes that will be more convenient to keep on the boat.

At this point we’ll close out this log for now. We wanted to stay in touch and let our friends and family know where we are and what we’ve been doing. But we really don’t think you all want to keep hearing about equipment installations, foul weather, and clogged heads. So we’ll wait until we’re back out on the water and going places next month before we share more of our adventure. Hope you’ll all stay tuned!

Fair winds,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Saturday September 13, 2003

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