Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #42 Everything Must Change

The sun has yet to show its face in 2005 in cold, rainy Indianapolis. Here in Ft. Myers Beach the sunshine has been a daily event with temperatures in the low 80’s, low humidity, and gentle breezes. Yes, Florida in January sure beats Indy. But with all its charm and attraction there’s something that south Florida is missing—our family and many of our friends. So it was with mixed feelings that we returned to Caloosa Spirit in Cape Coral on 1/6 after spending Christmas in Indianapolis with our loved ones. While we were more than ready to leave behind the dreary days of an Indianapolis winter, we also dreaded the separation for the coming several months from those we care most about. Living two lives in two different places comes at a significant cost.

Our mood wasn’t helped when we discovered a repair job requiring attention before we could even unpack. When we switched on the pump for our fresh water system, the tell-tale sound of running water somewhere in the stern told us something was amiss. Jim quickly identified the source as a minute hole in the accumulator tank—a superfluous piece of equipment once installed by the charter company. The repair/replace choices came down to what would most efficiently get our water system functional. Since the accumulator tank was unnecessary to the function of the system (so unnecessary that I won’t even bother to describe what it did), it was an easy choice (and task) to simply remove it. What wasn’t simple, however, was capping off the plastic pipe that had been attached to it. This insignificant plumbing fixture wasn’t in our inventory. Fortunately, the marina has a bicycle that Jim was able to borrow to ride the two miles to the West Marine store. And since he had to make two trips because the size of the first one he bought was mis-marked, the bicycle availability was especially fortunate. Another day in the life. At the time we were just too tired and depressed to be amused.

After spending another day and a half cleaning inside and out, we left Cape Coral to come down to the “anchorage” at Ft. Myers Beach, where we have stayed several times over the last 18 months. We were greeted by the sight of mooring balls stretching as far as the eye could see. We knew that the moorings were planned, but we hadn’t seen or heard any confirmation of their existence as yet. It seems that we should have done more research. Upon cruising all the way to the back of the anchorage, it soon became apparent that room to put down an anchor in any sufficient depth had been effectively all but eliminated. When we called the harbormaster on the VHF as the signs indicated, we got no answer. Some kind listener suggested that we call the name of the nearby marina, Salty Sam’s, instead, and, sure enough, we then got a response. After several minutes of waiting, the guy tending the radio—surely not the harbormaster!—informed us that, despite the numerous empty moorings, there was none available for our size boat. What?! Jim asked, “How many moorings do you have that would accommodate a 42’ cruising sailboat?” (Not an unusual size, by any stretch of the imagination!) The response came back, “Two, and they’re both in use.” To Jim’s incredulous outburst of “That’s ridiculous!” the response was “I’m going back to channel 16 now.” The situation was incomprehensible and maddening, and with no other anchorage reachable before dusk, our options were limited. With the encouragement of a live-aboard in the anchorage with whom we’ve talked before, we picked up a mooring that seemed to have sufficient space in its immediate vicinity. By the time we got the dinghy down and motored to the marina to register, the marina had closed early, sparing us a frustrating argument. The next day when we went back and got to talk with a live person, her response to our location was, “Perfect!” I wanted to suggest that the moron we had talked with the day before should be barred from the radio, but thought it best to let sleeping dogs lie. As it turned out, the weekly rate is quite reasonable, and it includes a free pump-out boat. The mooring field is relatively quiet, the derelict boats (and boaters) are gone, and we don’t have to worry about being hassled for using only one anchor. The down-side is the noise of the mooring ball bumping the hull in the wind/current tug-of-war. We expect to be here for a week or two while we provision and order some supplies by mail. Lying on the beach this afternoon reminded us of why we’re here.

Matanzas Harbor mooring field

A trip to Wal-Mart to order contact lenses was an all-day affair by bus. And we get to do it all over again after the contacts come in.

All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. Today we said good-bye to the spectacular weather. A cold front arrived last night, so today was rainy and dreary. But not as dreary as northern weather, as we’ve seen on TV. At least we don’t have snow to contend with.

We renewed our mooring for another week, but not because of the warm hospitality of Salty Sam’s Marina, since that doesn’t exist. When Jim went over to pay for another week, he was told that we should have already paid a $50 deposit. But when Jim asked what the deposit was for, the attendant didn’t know. Perhaps because he knew his response sounded stupid, or perhaps from the expression on Jim’s face, the attendant thought it best to let it slide. Jim also learned that, while the pump-out boat is a free service, water for our tanks comes at a price—$.25 per gallon!! We have never paid for water anywhere in Florida, and the most we ever paid for it in the islands (where water must be manufactured) was $.15 per gallon. It will be cheaper to use the filters in our watermaker. Salty Sam, whoever he is, should be renamed to Screw-ya Sam.

Three days of staying on board due to crappy weather was enough. This afternoon the clouds finally went away and the sun shone in all its glory. We had a pleasant visit from a neighboring live-aboard—the third person we’ve met who has nothing good to say about Salty Sam’s. We went for a pleasant walk on the beach and watched the sunset there. (Sorry—I didn’t take my camera to shoot yet another stunning sunset. But maybe this one from some previous time will do.)

Ft.Myers Beach sunset

The weather is expected to be appreciably cooler this coming week—70’s during the day, rather than 80’s. But as we watch the TV reports of the northern weather, I promise not to complain too loudly.

Incidentally, Jim finally got closure on his social security. While we were in Indy last month, he got to talk with someone at a social security office up there who was actually caring and helpful. When Jim went in to meet with her, she said she had researched the issue in preparation for the appointment! What a concept! She had a checklist for using our tax returns which included his Self Employment forms for documenting his payments of SS tax for the years 1989&90 out of his withholding. Everyone else said he had to have cancelled checks of having paid it through estimated tax, in spite of his trying to walk them through our tax returns. It only took 9 months, so if your earnings statement is not correct, start now. She was great! So we now have some additional monthly income. Of course, it’s already committed to paying off some debts accrued over the past year. Low interest debt is better than touching investments. At least the social security struggle isn’t keeping Jim awake at night anymore.

We were approached yet again by another disgruntled harbor resident. It seems that this new mooring field and its management (or rather mis-management) is an on-going concern for most of the boaters here. There is a town meeting scheduled in a couple of days when concerns and complaints will be aired. Today’s visitor was the third person to invite us to come and participate. Given the inhospitable welcome we’ve received—and our congregational training—we plan to go to the meeting. We hope not to be too conspicuous, however. If I say we probably won’t say anything, will anyone out there believe me?

NOTE: Let me draw your attention to the “Articles” tab at the top of this page. If you haven’t yet clicked on that, you may want to take a look there. I’ve written several magazine articles, some of which have been published, but many that haven’t, and most of them are now here on our website under “Articles”. They all have something to do with cruising, and the content is different from what has been in our logs. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

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

Posted Monday January 17, 2005

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