Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #58 Florida Bound

Several friends had urged us not to miss the charm and appeal of Savannah on this northerly cruise. The cement truck that rammed into and incapacitated a nearby bridge made a visit in the spring impossible—an affordable visit, anyway. But the bridge got repaired over the summer, and we were able to fit a day into our schedule for a tour of the city. One day wasn’t nearly long enough, but we saw enough to affirm our friends’ recommendations. Savannah is a lovely city with some features unlike any other cities we’ve seen, notably the city squares and the city’s 40-ft. height above the Savannah River. When James Oglethorpe settled Savannah in 1733, he decided that the city would be made up of squares—tracts of open land around which residences, businesses, and churches would be built. The squares (which eventually numbered 24) were initially used for grazing livestock, cooking, militia drills, and other functions necessary for the welfare of the community. Today the 22 remaining squares are lovely, restful parks surrounded by restored and well-kept historic homes, churches, and businesses. River Street, which (surprisingly) runs along the Savannah River, is accessed from Bay Street 40 feet above by cobblestone ramps. Once the center of the cotton, rice, and indigo trades, River Street is now lined with shops and restaurants, but still sports the original cobblestones and warehouse facades. One of the best things we found in Savannah was the Pirate’s House Restaurant. The lunch buffet was to-die-for! (See the “S.o.S.?” page.) This quick tour satisfied our desire for a peek at this southern colonial city, but it also whetted our appetites for more time there. Someday we’ll be back.

Reynolds Square
Reynolds Square

River St
River Street

We got a free afternoon today—something we’ve not had since Mile Hammock. We’re anchored in Walburg Creek, ready for an outside run tomorrow. Our 1:00 PM arrival time gave us several hours to read and relax.

The 5-10 knots of wind gave us virtually no assistance as we motorsailed over 50 miles on the outside to St. Simon’s Sound and Jekyll Island, but at least we didn’t have to keep our eyes glued to channel markers and the depth sounder. As it was, we crept down Jekyll Creek at low tide with only a few inches of water beneath our keel.

We’re finally back in Florida! We celebrated the moment by shedding our sweatshirts and jackets. Maybe in the next few days we can also trade in our jeans for shorts. Ft. George River provides a secure and comfortable anchorage—as long as one avoids the ever-present shoals. Apparently, just before we arrived, a nasty sandbar reached out and grabbed another boat as it sought an appropriate spot to drop the hook. For the next couple of hours we watched this boat settle further onto its side, as the owners waited for the tide to rise once again sometime after dark. This is Jim’s worst nightmare, and the reason we’re extremely cautious around skinny water.

Jim's nightmare
Jim’s worst nightmare

We consider ourselves a crew of two, but in truth there are others who assist with the daily management of Caloosa Spirit. We often speak fondly of “Otto Helm”, our silent but steady (German?) helm tender, and no cruise is ever as pleasant without “Ray Marine” doing the navigating. (Although at the moment Ray is high on our @#$% list. More about that later.) However, “Yanni”, the ever-faithful but often unsung crew member, is by far the most important of the lot. Unlike his namesake, Yanni doesn’t serenade us with melodious music to soothe our souls. In fact, we often feel Yanni’s cacophonous sounds grating on our last nerve when he’s charging our refrigeration. At times, though, the sound of Yanni’s raucous rumble is music to our ears when there’s no wind or a large ship is approaching. On a daily basis Yanni Yanmar sits just above our bilge dependably responding to our calls for power, with nary a complaint.

We try to be equally faithful with oil changes and clean fuel filters, and Jim has learned the art and intricacies of tending to Yanni’s needs. This morning, however, Yanni seemed to have become sufficiently ill as to make further progress hazardous. At a push of the start button, black smoke billowed from his bowels and he coughed and sputtered enough to let us know something was seriously amiss. He had apparently been trying to give us some warning over the last couple of days, but we had imprudently ignored his pleas for attention. This morning, however, after some research, study, and an examination of the air filter, we realized that poor Yanni has been choking and gasping for air for some time. A thorough cleaning seemed to do the trick, and Yanni was once again purring—well, rumbling—contentedly. Seeing the error of our ways in covering over 700 miles with little engine maintenance, we decided to spend the rest of the day doting on Yanni with an oil change, a water impeller inspection, and an alternator belt replacement.

As for Ray, we’re now experiencing a similar problem to the one we had when we had to replace the navigation software to coordinate with some new electronic charts. Now we’re wondering if the new software won’t work with our old charts! As I said recently, computers—bah humbug! We may just have to travel the next 200 miles the old-fashioned way with just our paper charts and stand-alone GPS. We hope the channel markers are accurate.

St. Augustine was another of our favorite stopovers on our way north, and we had hoped to spend more time there on our return south. Today, however, we cruised on by, wanting to gain a little more distance before anchoring for the night. So far we’re still on schedule to make it to Melbourne for the SSCA rendezvous this coming weekend. We’re anchored just off historic Ft. Matanzas—a location frowned upon in the cruising guides due to the undependable shifting and shoaling in the adjoining inlet. But we got a tip on using the anchorage from Robby, the dockmaster of Oyster Creek Marina in St. Augustine, when we came through in the spring, and it’s one of the best anchorages on the ICW. Since its such a well-kept secret, there’s only one other boat with us tonight. And the bird-watching is excellent. I haven’t seen so many wood storks nesting in one place. Okay, okay, I’m munching my words “no wildlife on the ICW” as I write. And for those of us who just can’t see too many stunning sunsets, here’s one more.

Ft. Matanzas sunset
Sunset at Ft. Matanzas

Ray managed to somewhat redeem himself today when he finally got back on track with the electronic charts. He seemed to think it might be fun to play 52-Pickup with the charts, but it was nothing but consternation for us to watch our little green boat crawl across chart notes and land. Somehow the problem worked itself out and the little green boat is now where it’s supposed to be. For a time during Ray’s little vacation Otto got into a fit of pique and threatened to mutiny. With a little cajoling and a short rest, however, Otto came back on line also. Maybe the other crew members are getting as tired and testy from this interminable motoring as we are. But with our arrival at New Smyrna Beach late this afternoon we’re only a couple of days from Melbourne. Let’s hope our timing holds.

We made it!! We’re anchored off the Eau Gallie bridge in Melbourne, ready to attend the SSCA Gam at the Eau Gallie Civic Center tomorrow morning. What an exciting feeling to pull in amidst a fleet of other cruising boats, knowing we’ll all be heading for the same gathering tomorrow. We look forward to seeing cruising friends Cathy and Carl from Persuasion and Paul and Gail from Puffin, who are all arriving by land, and getting to know new cruising friends over the weekend. Cruisers are truly a special group of people.

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 Thursday November 10, 2005

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  1. We continue to enjoy the commentary and wonderful pictures. We, too, have enjoyed Savannah and St. Augustine. Have you seen/read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil?” Interesting since it is based on a true story and set/filmed in Savannah.
    — L & J Markley    11/11/2005 06:57 AM    #
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