Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #39 Moving On—To Where?

Election Day is over, and there is no joy in Mudville. The Republicans once more waged a campaign of fear, and it was wildly successful. For today we are sufficiently fearful of what the next four years will bring. We find it incomprehensible that the two candidates that we heard and saw on the campaign trail and in the debates were apparently not the candidates heard and seen by 51% of the American public. The sleight of hand was awesome.

Today I had a fascinating conversation with a teen-ager on the bus. She asked me if I was excited about the election results, and I said no, in fact I was very disappointed in the how it turned out. She indicated that she was a Bush supporter, so I asked her what she found appealing about him. Remarkably, she repeated the Republican mantra about how Kerry kept changing his mind about the war in Iraq; she even threw in the “flip-flop” nugget. I took the opportunity to share with her that I never heard Kerry change his mind—only that he saw a change in how President Bush pursued the war, and he reacted to that. Sadly, this young girl seemed to believe that we are better off being at war with Iraq, because Saddam Hussein may have developed weapons of mass destruction at some future time.

So we can’t help wondering what George has up his sleeve in the coming months and years. Is there any way to repair the fractured relationships with our European allies? Will we be able to extract ourselves from the boiling pot in Iraq before it scalds us further? Will we find ourselves fighting another war in some faraway place that may develop WMD in the future? And where will the troops come from to wage those wars and protect us at home simultaneously?

We also harbor bitter fears for the environment, deficit reduction, affordable health care, job security for our kids, a thriving economy, women’s and gays’ rights, stem-cell research, and all the other issues of hope that have been back-burnered and “Bush-whacked” over the past four years. In another four years they may all be a distant memory.

We know, we know. Friends shouldn’t discuss religion or politics. But we can’t remain silent in these arenas any longer. Conservative religion is attempting to strangle our society with its taboos, exclusions, and hypocrisy. Those who participate in such practices may call themselves “Christians”, but they can hardly be considered “Christ-followers”. The Jesus we follow was the one who reached out to those who suffered, to those who were different, and to those who disagreed with him. The Jesus we know even went so far as to tell his followers to put aside the sword when they were threatened. We see nothing “Christ-like” in the direction 51% of the American population has chosen for our country this week, and we will continue to prophesy, witness, and point to the path where Jesus, the risen Christ, leads us. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

A couple of weeks before the election Jim read a 2-page spread in the St. Pete Times by George Soros. According to Jim, Soros’s book, The Bubble of American Supremacy—Correcting the Misuse of American Power, is a must-read. Unfortunately, he didn’t read it until a few days before the election—too late to alert other friends. From the book he learned that in 1998 an open letter was sent to President Clinton arguing for the invasion of Iraq. Many of the signatories were members of the Project for the New American Century, which had written its Statement of Principles in June 1997. The Clinton administration turned a deaf ear, but the Bush administration was fertile ground for the growth of a policy of American supremacy. After 9/11/01 the justification for attacking Iraq was made by many of the same people who signed the 1998 letter—people currently employed in or influencing the Bush Administration.

We believe that we have embarked on a Christian Crusade that would please Charlemagne, and will probably claim more victims in more countries than the first Crusade! Unfortunately, this Crusade is more transparent to the rest of the world than to our own citizens.

The wind generator is finally working! Yay!! In the last few days we finished the last of the installation that Hurricane Charley interrupted two months ago. And with a cold front on the way, we’ll have plenty of wind to run it over the next few days. Between the solar panels, wind generator, and high-output alternator we should now have electric power out the wazoo. Maybe we should consider opening our own power company and selling electricity to other cruisers. Battery charging, anyone?

Nothing to report on the last five days, except shopping, laundry, and movie-watching. The cold fronts have arrived, and that means chilly winds out of the north. Fall has fallen in Florida. But the good news is that we have wind for sailing. So today we went out for a sail on Sarasota Bay with Mike and our friend Fran. With 15+ knots of wind and only our headsail we made two round-trips up the bay and back at 4-7 knots. It was an exhilarating day, made even more memorable by the company. Fran doesn’t do much sailing these days, and Mike hadn’t been sailing for a few years. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to take them both out on the water to salute old times.

Mike enjoying a sail on Sarasota Bay

Another bracing sail has brought us back to Longboat Key. With the winds predicted to blow 15-20 from the northeast in a few days, this will be a much more comfortable place to sit. With such winds why sit instead of sail, you ask? Because we’re still undecided about whether to head north or south. We’d still like to get the additional refrigeration system installed, but the refrigeration guy hasn’t yet gotten back to us, so we’re losing faith that it’s going to happen any time soon. Also, now that Jim is eligible for social security, he’d like to apply for it and start getting the extra income. However, his earnings reports for a couple of years about 15 or so years ago were woefully inaccurate. He’s reluctant to apply for social security until the records are corrected, so that he can draw what he has rightfully earned. Of course, we’re talking government bureaucracy here, so a multiplicity of phone calls, interviews, and letters over the last 8 months have yielded no results so far. We really can’t head too far south—at least, not to the Bahamas—until this income problem is straightened out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a decision about our destination within a week.

There once was a time when cruising on a sailboat meant no discussion about hoisting the main and jib whenever the boat moved (“What do you think this is, a power boat?”). And there once was a time when a few dark clouds never stood in the way of a lengthy slog to windward (“Don’t worry, we’ll outrun the weather!”). But the only certainties in life being death, taxes, and change, some things are different these days. We admit that live-aboard cruising has made us lazy. We only raise the main on special occasions—12+ knots of wind for a day-long passage, or to please our friends on a day-sail—and dark clouds regularly keep us safely tucked into a protected anchorage.

So it was with amusement and interest that we watched what appeared to be a brand-new 35-ft. Tartan prepare to leave the anchorage this morning. The empty-nester-aged occupants arrived late yesterday afternoon, spent 20-30 minutes putting their mainsail cover in place, and inflated a stowed dinghy and mounted an outboard on it. This being a popular weekend anchorage, it looked like they planned to relax here with the rest of us for a day or two. Not so much. This morning I found it curious that the skipper removed the dinghy outboard and put it back on the sternrail. Then he proceeded to deflate and roll up the dinghy, encase it in a large bag, and carry it below! All this for an overnight, I wondered? Maybe these people are new to cruising, and they’re practicing some drills. But wait—there’s more. When the skipper began to undo and remove the mainsail cover, I knew these folks definitely had to be neophytes. We’ve had glorious weather for the last week or so, but today the clouds are gathering as a cold front approaches. These people are going out sailing? What are they thinking? Our amusement quickly turned to apprehension as we remembered our earlier, more courageous (read “dumber”) days of sailing.

Yep, up came the anchor. Without a windlass. All 35 lbs. of it. Then the skipper proceeded to feed the anchor rode down through the deck. After he got it all stuffed in where it was going, he raised the lid to the anchor locker! While the skipper was spending an inordinate amount of time tending to the foredeck, the first mate was at the helm, eventually heading the boat out of the anchorage—straight toward the shoal area. Sure enough, the boat stopped dead in the water. When they arrived yesterday, they appeared to skate over the shallows rather than use the deeper channel into the anchorage. But today they seemed oblivious to the existence of the channel, as they hunted around for deeper water. Let me guess—no charts, or not attentive to them. Jim managed to yell to them and point out the right direction, after they didn’t respond to his call on the VHF radio. They eventually made it out of the anchorage and out Longboat Pass to the Gulf. In one way we were glad to hear them call the Longboat bridge-tender, because it meant they at least had a VHF. But when we heard them ask if the shoal area near the bridge that was reported to them yesterday was still there, we looked at each other and winced.

As I write this the showers have started and the visibility is deteriorating. The winds probably won’t pick up until later this afternoon or evening. Hopefully, by then the Tartan will be safely tucked away with the mainsail once more covered, and the dinghy perhaps again ready for use. As for us, we’ll spend the day reading, watching the manatees, dolphins, and ospreys, and working on the watermaker. Yes, we’ve definitely gotten lazy.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

P. S. Don’t forget to look up Reaching a Far Horizon at www.lulu.com!

Posted Saturday November 13, 2004

* * *

name Remember
  Textile Help