Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #54 Creatures Great And Small

Oren & Olivia are recent acquaintances of whom we have quickly become quite fond. Of indeterminate age, they are a loving couple, obviously devoted to each other. Oren & Olivia aren’t boaters, although they are avid fishermen—well, fisher folk—and they enjoy nothing better than a fresh catch. They’ve recently been engaged in developing their small but delightful waterfront home. Oren built the basic structure from scratch, and Olivia has been adding her personal touch with the decorating. They constantly share their thoughts and ideas with each other, and together they are progressing toward a solidly-built but comfortable and inviting home.

This holiday weekend Oren & Olivia have taken some time off to enjoy some fishing and relaxation, but in a day or so they’ll be right back at their construction project. They’re on something of a tight schedule, because Olivia is expecting, and they simply must have their home completely ready when the happy day arrives. Somewhat traditional in their outlook, Olivia will be pretty much a stay-at-home mom, while Oren goes out each day to “bring home the bacon”—or fish. Such a lifestyle seems to work well for them. Oren certainly isn’t above a little “dad duty”, however, so that Olivia can get out of the house occasionally to “stretch her wings”. Literally. Oh—did I forget to mention that Oren & Olivia are a pair of adorable ospreys in Jackson Creek?

Here in Deltaville, VA, there is a substantial population of ospreys. I have come to love and admire these marvelous birds, and I’ve enjoyed watching their nests whenever possible since we’ve lived aboard. Having the time and opportunity to share life’s path—even briefly—with God’s other creatures is one of the greatest joys of cruising.

We’re still waiting for a spot on the work dock to get the engine vibration assessed prior to haul-out. Fortunately, Jackson Creek continues to be a pleasant anchorage. All does not seem to be well in the world of Oren & Olivia, however. They’ve halted work on their nest, and neither of them is spending much time there. In fact, Oren seems to be collecting sticks for a nest several pilings away. Is there trouble in Paradise? Could this be a soap opera in the osprey world? Or are Oren & Olivia just youngsters “playing house”? Hopefully, we won’t be here long enough to find out, although studying the daily life of ospreys is fascinating.

One other critter that haunts the Chesapeake is the ubiquitous jellyfish. They’re quite lovely to behold, but they keep us from getting into the water to cool off. The painful sting from one of their tentacles is something we’d rather not experience.

Chesapeake Jellyfish

Space finally opened up on the work dock, so we’re now in the marina. A mechanic wasn’t available this afternoon, so we’ll have to wait till tomorrow for the engine check. At least we’ve made some progress, and the air-conditioned TV room/lounge is a plus.

A sting-ray wandered by this afternoon. He/She seemed a long way off the beaten path of salt water.

Stingray in Jackson Creek

By 7:30 this morning Jon, the mechanic, was examining the engine and driveshaft. His discovery of a loose bolt in the engine bed (we seem to have some sort of magnet for loose bolts somewhere onboard) provided a plausible explanation for the vibration we’ve been concerned about. A sea trial indicated that the vibration was greatly reduced, although still slightly noticeable. Jon reassured us that the engine and driveshaft are in alignment and functioning with minimal vibration, so we decided to go ahead with the haul-out.

For the uninitiated let me describe the process. With two slings suspended from it, the haul-out crane straddles the haul-out “well”. The boat is positioned into the well, the slings rise to cradle the hull, and the boat is lifted free of the water. After a thorough spray-wash of the boat’s bottom, the crane driver then maneuvers the cradled boat into position in the boatyard, blocks the hull with jack stands, releases the slings, and drives the crane away. At that point, once we saw that Caloosa Spirit wasn’t going to topple over on land, we resumed breathing.

CS out of water
Caloosa Spirit being hauled

CS to yard
On the way to the boatyard

Only once before have we witnessed Caloosa Spirit being hauled and blocked. That was in Tortola when she was still in charter service, and the process was under the responsibility of the charter company base manager. This time it was all us, so we were somewhat anxious to say the least. Now that we’re here high and dry we’re reasonably comfortable, although the absence of motion and lapping water will take some getting used to.

CS on the hard
Caloosa Spirit on the hard

Let me just add that we were somewhat gratified to see that Caloosa Spirit’s bottom is in reasonably good shape. With well over two years since the bottom was painted, we harbored fears that we would find all manner of sea critters attached with a vengeance to the hull and/or propeller. We were due for some good news.

Well, so much for being comfortable. Wouldn’t you know it? On our first night ever of sleeping on the hard, we got heavy rain and a tornado watch. Wondering what would happen in high winds in the dark of night was rather frightening, so the vision of Caloosa Spirit landing on her side—with us inside—made sleep all but impossible. Feeling the rig shimmy in the wind did nothing to allay the anxiety.

Today was spent prepping the boat for storage (and possible storms), doing laundry, and packing. Tomorrow morning we’ll pick up a rental car, load up, and make a two-day trip to Indianapolis. We look forward to reconnecting with many of our friends and family members during our six-week stay. It will be a welcome hiatus.

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

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

Posted Friday July 8, 2005

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