Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #27 Weather Or Not

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” Sometimes that’s a good thing. Today God took away the clouds and chilly breezes, and in their place she left sunshine and 75 degrees. We spent the afternoon sun-bathing on the foredeck. Okay, so we promise not to complain about the weather anymore.

Jim did a quick fix on the dinghy leak; we hope that helps. A more time-consuming fix may be needed, as well, but that will require the dinghy being out of the water for several consecutive days. That means not getting off the boat for several consecutive days. That’s something we’ll have to plan for. Having access to some other cruiser friend’s dinghy would make doing the job easier. It’s kind of like having only one car with no bicycle and no feet!

So did the groundhog see his shadow? Or did the little rodent come out of his burrow and stumble around in the fog? I don’t know if Punxatawney Phil really has the final say about spring or not, but if he’d been here this morning he surely would have been out for a stroll. The fog didn’t clear until noon. After that it was a gorgeous, warm day.

This afternoon old friends Mike and Marty came into the anchorage on m/v Sandpiper. They were our next-door boating neighbors at Four Winds Marina in Bloomington about 20 years ago. They started cruising 3 or 4 years ago, and we managed to finally meet up on the water again. Good times. We spent the afternoon and evening catching up on our respective travels.

Sssshhh! Don’t say a word. The dinghy hasn’t leaked for the last two days. But if we say it out loud, we may break the spell!

Dinner tonight consisted of fresh grouper, fresh shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and corn-on-the-cob. What a treat! Across the anchorage is the local shrimp fleet with the attendant fresh fish market. On the beach is a fresh fruit and veggie stand. We’ll have fresh-squeezed orange juice again tomorrow, along with fresh strawberries. And the tomatoes are to-die-for. Sorry, Northerners. I know that with all that snow you’re having trouble just getting to the supermarket. But you want to hear about the joys of cruising, don’t you?

Okay, so who can’t keep a secret? Somebody blabbed and broke the spell. The dinghy took on water again today, but not as much as before. And not enough to keep us from taking a dinghy excursion. We went south down Estero Bay about 4 miles, then another 2 miles up into the bay to Mound Key. Mound Key was actually built from shells by the Caloosa indigenous people somewhere around 5000 to 7000 years ago. They lived there until European contact killed them off in the 17th or 18th century. Mound Key is now a state park with trails, so we walked around the island for a while trying to imagine what it must have been like to live there. The quiet was ethereal. And contemplating how a long-lasting civilization could be so totally wiped out gave us pause. What, I wondered, could one day become of the civilization that we know? Will anyone in the next millennium really know and understand who we were? And whatever made us think that the indigenous “heathens” were less fortunate than us “civilized” folk? From all appearances, they had all that they needed and felt blessed by their Creator for what they had. Such a travesty that they and their way of life had to die because Europeans found “the new world.”

Mound Key in Estero Bay

After our Mound Key hike we dinghied up the Estero River about 5 or 6 miles in search of the Koreshan State Historic Site. The Koreshans were a religious sect of the late 1800’s that settled on the site. They held the belief that the universe was a giant sphere with the sun at its center. The members of the sect gave all their possessions to the community, and they were celibate. Their leader had declared himself immortal, but then he suddenly died in 1908. After that, with no children to continue the community, it eventually faded away. The last surviving four members deeded the land to the state in 1961. The river excursion was lovely but long, and we gave up on seeing much of the state park. Traveling up the undeveloped, mangrove-lined sections of the river, though, it was easy to imagine paddling a dug-out canoe in that very place several thousand years ago. The step back in time along with the glorious weather made for a delightful day.

We got to go sailing today—but not in our boat. A long-ago supervisor of Jim’s, Ken Reed, owns a lovely condo in Ft. Myers Beach and is presently in town. He owns a Lippincott 30, and he invited us to go out on the Gulf for a sail this afternoon. It was perfect sailing weather, and we enjoyed the opportunity to be once again “out there.”

Finally the time, place, and weather all came together for us to spend the afternoon at the beach. We didn’t go into the water because of the red tide (algae), not to mention the water temperature. But the sun was warm, and the sand here is like sugar. It was an exhausting afternoon lying there on the beach, but, as the saying goes, somebody had to do it. After all, a large part of the economy here depends on the beach tourists, so we wanted to do our share. Another day in the cruising life.

Ft. Myers Beach

I know, I know, I promised not to complain any more about the weather. So when I mention the rain and cold wind over the weekend, think of it as “just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” We stayed inside the boat for three days to stay warm. Well, that’s not completely true. On Saturday evening we were invited to visit another boat in the anchorage for a Farkle party. What’s Farkle, you ask? We didn’t know either, but we went anyway. We learned that Farkle is a dice game somewhat similar to Yahtzee, but with a very different scoring system. We had a fun time with other cruisers.

Today, after another cold night, we got back to shorts weather. Going to the laundromat today was less painful than last time, because Maury wasn’t on the TV. This evening we took the dinghy to the point of the island to watch the sunset. We even managed to take our sun-downers with us. We think we’re getting the hang of this cruising life!

Sherry and Clyde of s/v Te’jas finally made it down by car from Ft. Myers to spend the day with us and Marty and Connie of s/v Bullship. (That’s where we played Farkle the other night.) And what a day it was! We had a great time just getting to know each other better. Because they’ve been in a marina and working for several months, and will be for several more months, Sherry and Clyde enjoyed just sitting on our boats in the anchorage catching up, sharing stories, and finding out how much we have in common. The highlight of the day was Marty’s idea to shoot off a small cannon at sunset on the bow of Bullship, a Cheoy Lee 41. He gave us all goofy hats to wear for the occasion. Marty made a speech from the bow loud enough for surrounding boats to hear (something about being the greatest sailors in the world; we didn’t know who he was talking about!), and then he fired the small salute cannon (“Buster”). After the small cannon made a BIG bang we heard, “Oh, s—-!!” “Buster’s” 10-gauge blank shell had blown a hole right through the teak toerail that Marty and Connie had just had replaced! Connie got very quiet (she cried later), and Marty was just aghast at what had happened. We all had a good laugh (incredulous and nervous), and tried to console them both. “Think of what a great story this will make!” we cheerfully cajoled. By the time the evening was over Marty was getting directions to the nearest jewelry store, especially since their anniversary is tomorrow. That’s right, cruising is one adventure after another!

We went sailing again today, this time on Caloosa Spirit. We took Ken Reed and his visitors out for a pleasant, although somewhat slow sail. Before leaving we tied the dinghy off to the anchor chain, then dumped all of the rope and chain into the dinghy. Then when we returned we had to put it all back on the boat. The process was somewhat time-consuming, but it ensured that we would have our same spot in the anchorage when we returned. The anchorage has filled up more since we arrived, and we didn’t want to have to hunt for room. We’ll be staying here for a while longer to complete the wiring of the solar panels. They’ve been on the arch since it was built last fall, but have yet to be connected. It’s time they started contributing to our battery power, and it’s a shame to let all the sunlight we get go to waste!

Fair winds and smooth sailing until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Thursday February 12, 2004

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