Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #30 Simple Pleasures

We hadn’t been to church for several weeks, because we’ve been in places where no church was easily accessible. But today we decided to get up early enough to walk 2 miles to the 9:00 service at First Congregational UCC here in Sarasota. We had visited there at the 11:00 service when we were here in November, and liked the service but the congregation was most unwelcoming. We wanted to see if a different group at the early service—possibly a contemporary service—would be any different. It wasn’t. The service wasn’t contemporary, and the people weren’t friendly. We’ll have to decide if we want to go back just to hear the pastor, who is quite interesting. Too bad the buses don’t run on Sundays; we wouldn’t have such a commitment to make!

The stuffing box (don’t ask!) got fixed today, so now we’re no longer taking on water. It was just a little leak, but it made the bilge pump run 3 or 4 times each day. When the engine mounts arrive, Willy will be back to install them and align the engine. Even though only one mount was broken, it was decided to replace them all to avoid having another service call any time soon.

Another rainy day, so we just did some cleaning and other necessaries inside.

Willy returned and spent all day getting all the engine mounts in, and the engine is now perfectly aligned. Unfortunately, now our refrigeration compressor is imperfectly aligned. With the engine in exactly the right spot the compressor hits the side wall of the engine compartment. It’s usable, but Jim has to do some modification to the wall and/or the compressor’s mounting bracket. At least, the engine is completely healthy—another one and a half boat units later. What’s a boat unit, you ask? Well, here’s a clue. The word “boat” is actually an acronym for “Break Out Another Thousand.” Get it?

Alice: Sometimes doing laundry is a blessing, just because it gets me off the boat. I hadn’t touched land since Sunday, so I was ready. Generally speaking, I find the boat quite comfortable, and I really don’t tire of the view. But I do enjoy a change of scene and getting some exercise, even if it’s just to do the laundry or grocery shopping. Jim worked on making more space for the refrigeration compressor, and he was fairly successful—despite his frustration with one more fix. He thinks that a more extensive modification may be in order some day, however. In the meantime, it’s time to have some more fun.

Church family members Stan and Carol arrived today with their trailer. They’re touring Florida and worked a visit with us into their schedule. They came out to the boat for dinner and to see our floating home. We anticipate a fun weekend together. Last week we had a fun visit from Bill, another church member, when he delivered our inflatable kayak that we had left in storage in Indy. Thanks, Bill!

We got to ride in a car today! Hoo-hoo! Who out there thinks that’s a big deal? The seats were much more comfortable than the bus seats, and it didn’t stop nearly as often. Carol and Stan graciously chauffeured us around to do some errands and to visit a boatyard which we may use this summer. We are extremely grateful for this assistance, and for the fun company that provided it.

Another land treat was a visit to the antebellum Gamble Mansion outside of Bradenton. With my fascination with the mid-19th century this place was on my want-to-see list, but I wasn’t sure we could get there by water. So Stan and Carol’s willingness to drive us there was highly appreciated. After walking around the 16 acres on which the mansion presently sits, it was difficult to envision the 3500 acres of the original plantation, Florida’s largest. Interestingly, the mansion was only occupied for a fraction of its life span. It had fallen into ruin in the early 20th century, but, fortunately, was rescued by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and preserved as part of the state’s heritage. The mansion’s primary claim to fame is that Judah Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary of State, hid out there right after the Civil War, while surreptitious arrangements were made for him to be spirited away to England. So with that bit of trivia you could answer a Jeopardy question!

Gamble Plantation

Carol and Stan joined us on the boat for an overnight to Longboat Key anchorage. Unfortunately, the wind yesterday was a little too brisk (15-25 knots) and right on our nose northwest to the anchorage. Then today the same 15-25 turned to the east and was again close to our southeasterly direction. But the company was great and it was refreshing to go out for a sail. We think we’re doing too much sitting still. We bid good-bye to Stan and Carol and wished them well as they continue their RV tour of Florida.

Over our boating years we have acquired several stove-top (read, primitive) toasters. We started out with a simple camp toaster. On our regular visits to Caloosa Spirit when she was in charter service we would pack one in our luggage so that we could enjoy toast from the galley. On a few occasions we tried leaving the camp toaster on board for our next visit, but invariably house-cleaning had removed it, necessitating the acquisition of a new one. On a scale of 1-10 those toasters worked at about a 6, and at $2.75 the price was right. But you had to ignore the rust—which got difficult after a while. Once at a boat show we fell for the sales pitch on a stainless steel stove-top toaster of a design radically different from the camp toaster. It worked at about a 5, but it would only toast one slice adequately. Try two slices and you had to ignore the blackened surfaces. The price-tag of $12.00 made it hard to give up on. In our quest for real toast we eventually bought a stainless steel toaster shaped more like the camp toaster—for the boat-store price of $22.00. This time, however, the satisfaction level was about a 3. True, it didn’t blacken the bread, but it didn’t really toast it, either. Dried it out was more like it. Quick studies that we are, and not wanting to throw any more good money after bad, we gave up on finding a stove-top toaster that would really toast. We grimly decided that real toast, like a flush-toilet and standing under a running shower, were luxuries that we could do without in our simplified cruising life.

Wal-Mart can be a spell-binding place. As we were ready to leave with our necessities I noticed the toaster display. For the piddling price of $6.54 we could have a luxurious, modern, electric pop-up toaster! Just by using a few amps from our inverter we could have two slices of nicely browned toast, and it would shut off automatically. What a concept! We were hooked. Our solar panels will easily compensate for the momentary draw on the batteries, and we even have a spot in the galley where the toaster fits perfectly. Life is good—and so is the toast!


Ringling Museum entrance

Today we visited one of the places we most wanted to see in Sarasota—the John and Mable Ringling Museum and Mansion. John Ringling was the last of the Ringling Brothers of circus fame. He was, in fact, known as “the circus king.” Through his circus success and his visionary real-estate investments in southwest Florida, he amassed an enormous fortune during the early 20th century. In the 1920s and ‘30s he and his wife built a world-class art museum and a mansion which gives new meaning to the word “opulence.” With no children they willed it all to the city of Sarasota. The art museum includes some 18 galleries of Renaissance to Rococo masterpieces, Cypriot pottery purchased from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as wall panels from the Astor home in New York City. The Venetian-style mansion—Ca d’Zan (House of John)—includes 32 rooms furnished with original pieces, many of which were purchased at auction in Europe. The sheer volume of the place defies description. I can’t even imagine what it was like to live amid such opulent grandeur. From all reports Mable Ringling was a hostess extraordinaire, and an invitation to tea at Ca d’Zan was tantamount to an audience with the queen. In many ways the Ringlings put Sarasota on the map.

Ringling Museum interior

Also on the Ringling grounds is the Circus Museum, another fascinating attraction. After John Ringling discovered Sarasota in the early 1900s, he made it the winter quarters of his big-top circus. What with our concern for animal rights and humane treatment, we’ve never been big circus fans. However, we learned that during John Ringling’s tenure the circus was far more reminiscent of the ancient Roman and Greek circuses than the latter-day freak shows that we remember attending as children. The “Greatest Show on Earth” has not been unresponsive to animal-rights concerns, as we learned from watching a video about Gunther Goebel-Williams. Children today can still enjoy a day at the circus, but it seems that such simple delights may see their demise in our increasingly electronic society.

Ringling Museum courtyard

We had another delightful visit with Fran, our Sarasota friend from back in our Four Winds Marina days (on Lake Monroe). This time we took Fran out for a sail on Sarasota Bay. The winds were lighter than predicted but, not being in any hurry, we had a very pleasant sail with very enjoyable company.

After meeting up tomorrow with another Indy family who are on Spring Break, we plan to leave Sarasota the next day to return to St. Petersburg. Our St. Pete friends (angels?) Cathy and Carl of s/v Persuasion have offered to let us use one of their slips behind their house to leave Caloosa Spirit for a couple of weeks while we visit Indianapolis. Mum has been ill with bronchitis for several weeks, and she needs some TLC. So next Tuesday, 4/6, we’ll fly up and stay until 4/20. Even though this trip was unplanned, we eagerly anticipate connecting up with Indy friends, church, and family. We hope to see many of you soon!

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

Posted Thursday April 1, 2004

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