Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #24 We're Dreaming Of A Warm Christmas

Marina expenses were not originally in our retirement budget. We had envisioned living on the hook and, thereby, on the cheap. Our experience in the Virgins allowed us to do just that—except for the cheap part, anyway. Down there anchorages far outnumbered marinas, and anchoring restrictions were unheard of. But Florida isn’t the Virgins—the temperatures attest to that—and anchoring here in St. Pete is not a simple matter of choosing a location. Anchorages are somewhat few and far between, and most seem to have restrictions on length of stay. The downtown anchorage around the corner from the Municipal Marina is a lovely spot, and we enjoyed our stay there during the boat show last month. But conflicting reports from other boaters of how carefully the marine police monitor the posted 7-day maximum made us nervous. With Mom and Lauri coming for Christmas we didn’t want to be in the position of getting chased out of the only anchorage within walking distance of downtown. Moreover, the only structure resembling a dinghy dock now has a boat rental concession filling the space, and the likelihood that dinghy dockage will become off-limits appears to be quite high.

So we’ve chosen to stay at the Municipal Marina for another month. We can both think of things on which we’d rather spend the king’s ransom…er, dockage fee, but this way we can be assured of a relatively peaceful Christmas. Plus we’ll have ring-side seats for the New Year’s fireworks display!

We awoke this morning to rain that threatened to cancel our plans for church, and to the news that Saddam Hussein was finally in captivity. That news made going to church more urgent, so we called a cab. We felt the need to give thanks for the end of a tyrannous reign, and to pray with others for the reconstruction of a fully freed Iraq. Although we were not in favor of the war, especially the way Bush declared it, we are glad that Hussein will no longer terrorize his own people along with the rest of the world. Many sacrifices have been made to get to this day and we are glad for the troops and their families, especially for the families of the troops that were lost. Surely around the world this Christmas will feel more peaceful after today. What better timing for this event could there be than at this Advent season of hope?

We had a delightful visit from a northern friend this afternoon. A fellow church member, Bill, stopped by on his way north from Key Largo. Bill keeps a boat there and frequently comes down from Indianapolis for short cruises. After having lunch with us he graciously drove us to K-Mart and Winn-Dixie (a grocery store) to help us with a few provisions. We always greatly appreciate such assistance and support, but mostly we value such friendship.

Alice: Christmas up north was never quite complete without a day of shopping by myself. Some of the best Christmas shopping days were snow days from school, when the stores were almost deserted. Last year in the BVI shopping was relegated to a quick trip through Road Town on December 24. But this year, with the help of the PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) I was able to spend the whole day Christmas shopping at a Wal-Mart and a mall, just like old times. Needless to say, I felt like a pack horse carrying everything I bought in bags (for my MCE friends—Edna would have been proud!), and I was exhausted when I got back to the boat. But it was worth it to get to play Santa Claus again.

Alice: Another goody from past Christmases—spending a cold, blustery day reading a Clive Cussler novel. I got to do that again today. A mixed blessing. The novel was great, as usual, but the weather was something I had hoped to escape.

Alice: I completed a varnishing project—a first for me—and it actually came out looking pretty good. Changing the engine oil was more of a chore than usual. Food shopping, changing engine belts, and getting the boat’s bottom cleaned of barnacles took up the rest of the day. Why does it always seem as though there isn’t enough time for Christmas? Maybe someday I’ll learn not to get uptight about getting everything done, but today wasn’t the day.

Finally the food shopping is done, and the engine doesn’t need any more major maintenance in the immediate future. So this afternoon we went to enjoy a Christmas event with some friends. At the St. Pete boat show we met a local couple who annually devote their home to decorations in remembrance of a deceased grandchild. Actually, the decorating was something they did with their granddaughter, then decided to continue it after her death to honor her memory. Each room has one or more Christmas trees and is decorated with a unique theme. What an amazing sight! It’s possible to wander through each room several times and see something new each time. They have an open house on the weekend just before Christmas and the weekend just after, and have about 100 people come through each day. They even serve a buffet of casserole dishes and desserts. We were delighted to have our St. Pete friends, Cathy and Carl of Persuasion, accompany us to this special treat and to meet the hosts, Annamarie and Bill. While decorations do not a Christmas make, this was an opportunity to share the magic of the season with some special friends.

We survived the freeze watch last night none the worse for wear. We even got up and out early enough to go to church for the last Advent Sunday. This time we chose a different UCC church here in St. Pete, and were treated to a contemporary service with electronic instruments and informal order of worship. It was a very different experience that we would like to sample more of. One benefit of being nomads and therefore not looking for a regular church is that we can enjoy a variety of experiences at different churches, while still maintaining our ties at our home church in Indy. This somewhat global worship outlook seems particularly appropriate at this Christmas season.

We wish for all a peaceful holiday season filled with joy, and warm winds at your backs.
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Wednesday December 24, 2003

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