Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #28 On Matters Of Inconsequence

It’s taken me the better part of a week to get back to writing this log. What can you say about one day after another filled with beach-walking, West Marine browsing, grocery shopping, and huddling in front of the heater? Yes, another cold front has passed through, so we’ve had dreary and cold days again. The up-side is that usually the dreary days are warm, and the cold days are sunny. But enough about the weather. Today I saw redbuds in bloom. I’m sure northern weather isn’t conducive to such signs of Spring yet. By the way, we’re still in Ft. Myers Beach.

Jim has always enjoyed grilling and for many years we had a round gas grill on the stern rail of our Catalina 25 on Lake Monroe. While Caloosa Spirit was in charter service he had to use a round charcoal grill—messy and unreliable. So last year, when we were finally out of the charter business and were outfitting Caloosa Spirit for our own cruising, one of our many purchases was a gas grill. I never quite trusted the round grill with its single attachment mount. In fact, once when we were in the islands, at the worst possible moment the mount loosened, the charcoal grill tipped outboard, and we watched our dinner become fish food. Also, even though the grill cover was attached with a stainless tether, I never liked the banging noise the cover made when it would happen to fall off the grill. So, even though Jim is the primary griller in the family, I convinced him that a rectangular shaped grill made by a different company would be a better choice. When we received the gas grill in one of our shipments—at considerably greater expense than a round one could be had for—it was in a box with no padding, and had suffered some dents and misalignment in transit. Jim dutifully straightened it out and put it together as best he could, and he has used it—dutifully—ever since.

Jim’s association with the grill could best be described as a love-hate relationship. He’s often commented that it’s not as easy to regulate as the round one, and that the attachment bracket on the stern rail isn’t as convenient to dismount. Once when the grill was mounted on the port side of the stern rail and we were entering a narrow marina slip, we bumped the grill on a piling and bent the mounting bracket. After it kissed another piling or two we started dismounting it upon approaching a dock—when we took the time—and it was always a two-person job. When we tired of that hassle and worry we moved the grill to a portion of the stern rail above the transom (back of the boat, for landlubbers). Jim continued to complain about the grill, and with each moan and groan—not to mention the bangs, bumps, and dismounts—came another turn of the screw into my guilt for insisting on that particular grill.

Sometime last Fall Jim was preparing the grill for cooking dinner and was again grumbling about the mount. He expressed concern that the mount had weakened from the contact with pilings and docks, and that it should be replaced—another expense and hassle. No sooner had I cursorily examined the mount and dismissed his concern as needless (I didn’t like feeling guilty!), but the mount broke and the grill toppled over the side. Minus our dinner, thankfully. Our astonishment at the sudden bang and clunk was quickly followed by curiosity when we didn’t hear a subsequent splash. We peered over the stern rail to see the grill lying upside down but otherwise intact on our 2-ft. square swim platform. Surely, the best-laid plans of mice and men could never replicate this event—not in a million years. I wasn’t sure if Jim’s mumbled curses sprang from frustration that the grill broke, or from outright anger that it didn’t land in the water and out of his life! Dutifully, he retrieved the grill rather than giving it an extra shove overboard.

For a couple of months afterward Caloosa Spirit was tied up in a marina where outside grilling is generally frowned upon. But eventually Jim got the mount re-welded and dutifully returned the grill to the stern rail. He stopped worrying about the mounting bracket, but he still complained that the flame was difficult to regulate. Also, we decided that an optional mount that would move the grill closer inboard would be desirable, since we tended to bump our shoulder on the grill when stepping past the ladder/gate onto the swim platform. We ordered the shorter mount from West Marine, but after a series of mis-placed orders it never arrived, and we gave up on the idea. Then in West Marine one day I spied a new rectangular grill made by the manufacturer of the round one that Jim had enjoyed using. It had a more secure mounting arrangement, and generally appeared sturdier and more user-friendly. Without much thought I decided that this grill would be Jim’s next birthday gift. But, I mused, his birthday is 8 months away. Did I really want to listen to Jim’s grilling gripes, each one piling on more guilt, for that much longer?

Today we made an excursion to another West Marine to get a needed part for the solar panel project. There on display was the same new grill at a discounted sale price. Jim wasn’t especially taken with the idea of replacing our present still-functional (if not enjoyable) grill, especially at the expense of increasing our budget deficit. But I managed to convince him that not getting the other mount we had tried to order must have been a sign. (Of course, I conveniently overlooked the possible “sign” of not losing the grill overboard several months ago.) To make this long story slightly shorter, duty be damned, we bought the grill, lugged it home on the bus, mounted it, and used it for dinner. Jim declared that he likes it much better than the other one, and he thinks we’ll keep it. It helps that the new grill fits better than the old one on its section of stern rail. Whew! Maybe now I won’t have to feel any more guilt every time I ask him to grill for dinner.

As a postscript, let me just add that Jim might have been a tad-bit happier with the first grill if he had been using it right! As he was dismounting it for the last time he realized that he had overlooked some hidden instructions on the regulator regarding flame adjustment. Upon seeing the error of his ways his own guilt about breaking the budget almost led him to return the new grill. I quickly put an end to such madness by pointing out that, had the new grill been available prior to buying the first one, there would have been no contest. I’m gratified to know I still have some influence over my husband of some 34 years.

Not much to report except sitting in the sun doing nothing—for a while, anyway. How heavenly. Then I polished some stainless, and Jim worked on getting the solar panels wired. He made a cutout in which he mounted an electronic controller and then had to make a new cutout for the watermaker’s 30 amp breaker.

Today, Jim wired the controller to the batteries, and then ran wiring from the top of the arch inside the tube and through the deck to the controller. A little bit each day will get the job done eventually.

The solar panels are working! Jim finished the wiring and connected all the little connections in the boxes on each of the 4 panels, which were at arm’s length while standing on the stern pulpit (railing). It was an all-day job, and that was after we went ashore and raided a dumpster for some large pieces of cardboard to cover the panels. Working on their wiring while they were putting out 20 volts from the sun didn’t seem like a good idea. But now, in addition to the engine’s alternator, the sun is helping to keep our batteries topped up with power for all our electric goodies. Now that that project is done we’re thinking of leaving this anchorage.

A Sabbath day. We didn’t go to church, because we weren’t up to the long dinghy ride to (possibly) find the UCC church on Sanibel. But we’d still like to visit there at some time. We did take the day off, however. We sat in the sun and read for the better part of the afternoon.

Today we did the laundry and grocery shopping in one day. We’re planning to leave Ft. Myers Beach tomorrow to go to an anchorage off Cape Coral—about 2 hours away. The weather is due to sour again in a couple of days, and we’d like to be somewhere else when it does. So now we’re ready to travel, even though we’re not going very far.

After sitting in one anchorage for over a month—the longest we’ve ever been on the hook in one spot—the anchor came out with not too much difficulty. We motored up the Caloosahatchee (river) to Glover Bight inside Cattle Dock Point. Cattle Dock Point got its name in the late 1800’s when locals found that they could make money by rounding up the wild cattle left from the Civil War all over Florida and driving them to this location to sell them to Spaniards looking for beef for Cuba. These drovers used long rawhide whips which made a loud “crack” sound to keep the cattle in line. They came to be known as “Florida Crackers”, which seems to be the derivation of the term for poor southerners. That’s probably more than you wanted to know about Cattle Dock Point, but there you have it, anyway.

This anchorage is mostly surrounded by mangroves, with a marina nearby. This afternoon we were visited by boat by the daughter and son-in-law of a friend of my mom’s in Indy. We had never met them before, but Mom and her friend Mildred visit by phone several times a week, and, of course, they’ve told each other all about us and Mildred’s family. Carol and Bill now live here in Cape Coral, so it seemed appropriate for us to get together. We had a very enjoyable visit here, and then we went to a restaurant for dinner together in their 25-ft. power boat. Traveling at 35mph in a boat was a very different experience for us!

Glover Bight

Yesterday we had rain all day, so we stayed on board puttering. Today the weather cleared off for the morning at least, so we took the dinghy into the nearby marina to check out the lay of the land. A major development is in the works here at Tarpon Point—condos, garden homes, penthouses, hotel, shops, restaurants—everything the average upscale retiree wants or needs. And, of course, these “digs” start at just under $400,000 and go up to about $4 million. No riff-raff need apply. And that includes us! Wow! I can’t imagine why any retiree needs a 4000- or 5000-sq. ft. home, but then I couldn’t imagine needing that much room when we had two kids at home. The business that really seems to be a gold mine here, though, is the “Elite Concierge Services.” Yessirree, they will do just about anything and everything for you, from the obvious services like cleaning and maintenance to things like watering your plants and taking your dog to the local doggie park for play time. In fact, their brochure covers just about everything you might be doing with your life, so I don’t know what you’d be doing while they’re living your life for you?! Playing golf, checking your stock portfolio, or sitting in a day-spa, I suppose. But then Elite Concierge Services could probably work those things in, too. I guess I’m just not imaginative enough to be that rich. Okay, I’ll stop rambling now.

We’ve enjoyed this lovely anchorage, but will probably move over to Sanibel tomorrow. Or not. It’s nice to have the freedom to be indecisive. As the temperatures start to warm up more here, we hope the cold winter is starting to wind down up north, as well.

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

Posted Thursday February 26, 2004

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