Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #67 Sarasota Dreamin’

Time has been drifting by and the lazy days of a Florida summer have arrived. We’re enjoying being in Sarasota visiting our son Mike and having no schedule to get someplace.

For over a week we’ve been able to spend each evening with Mike. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of his company in talking, dining, movie-going, and other activities that haven’t been daily affairs since he was still in our nest many years ago. A special treat was watching him participate in his capoeira class. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art which appears to also be related to dancing. Music of drums and other Brazilian folk instruments is a constant accompaniment to the activity. We’re pleased that Mike has such strenuous, disciplined, and graceful exercise in his weekly regimen.

We capped off this week with a cruise to Longboat Key, one of our favorite anchorages about ten miles up Sarasota Bay. Mike accompanied us for the overnight sojourn, and his comment that such a “mini-vacation” was a welcome respite made the trip more than worthwhile. We were even able to sail both up and back on just the genoa. We were surprised to find that the resident peacocks in the Village of Longbeach appear to have diminished in number since our first visit there a couple of years ago. Even so we saw several males with mating plumage trailing regally behind them. Not one saw fit to fan his tail for us, however.

Peacock on Lonboat
Peacock on Longboat Key

The beach at Longboat was refreshing and relaxing. Mike especially enjoyed floating and lolling, something he’s done little of since his move to southwest Florida almost two years ago. We won’t see Mike for the next week because he’s going out of town (to Indiana, of all places) for a drum festival. We’ll stay here at the Bayfront anchorage at least until after he returns.

Mike on a mini-vacation
Mike on a “mini-vacation”

What a treat we got today! Carl and Cathy on Persuasion came into the anchorage on their way south. They called last night to let us know they were leaving home from St. Petersburg this morning. Cocktails and dinner on board Caloosa Spirit allowed us to catch up on the last six months of each others’ lives. They’re planning on leaving tomorrow morning, however, as they make their way south to Marathon for a rendezvous with Cathy’s brother over the holiday weekend. We’re thrilled that we had the visit with Cathy and Carl, even for a short time.

We’ve spent a couple of days on projects. Our major goal for this summer—other than staying out of hurricane paths—is to get an additional refrigeration system installed. Every time we turn on the engine to run our engine-drive refrigeration system (it’s running as I write), we long for a battery-driven system that will run (partially, at least) off our solar panels and wind generator. The specialist that we want to schedule for the installation is in the Clearwater area, so we plan to head up there whenever he can work us in. In the meantime, we’ve done some research and measuring so that we know where all the various pieces and parts will go. We know this will be a major undertaking, but we’re more than ready for it.

We’re cat-sitting while Mike is away. While we’re at his house for an hour or two each to day to feed his cat Kiya, we can use his high-speed internet connection. We’ve also had the use of his car to run some errands. Both luxuries are lovely treats.

Fran, our friend and sailing mentor who lives here in Sarasota, came out to the boat today. We had planned to take Fran out for a sail on the bay, but the wind gods apparently thought that the anchor would be better left undisturbed. While the teasing zephyrs would have made for frustrating sailing/drifting, they provided a comfortable ambience for an on-board lunch, graciously catered by Fran. It was a delightful afternoon of catching up.

Did I mention that we’re cat-sitting? I love cats. Their characteristic aloofness and independence appeal to my loner tendencies. For me, a purring cat in my lap is one of life’s most restful pleasures. When we moved aboard I was sure that we would soon have a cat as additional crew, my allergies notwithstanding. But, despite seeing other cruisers who enjoy having cats on board, I’ve decided (Jim has had a lot of practical reservations [travel, immigration], anyway) that I would just worry too much about losing a precious kitty overboard. I hear it doesn’t happen much, but once would be too much for me. So I enjoy getting a kitty fix from other people’s cats. I was only too happy to volunteer our services to Mike.

Kiya is a sweet gray tabby who has finally accepted us as more than temporary trespassers in her domain. To be sure, the fact that we’re the only humans who have filled her food bowl for the last few days has put us over the top in her social standing. She now greets us at the door with her delicate meow, purrs contentedly around our legs, and lets us pet her back and rub her tummy. This afternoon, though, she let us know that she’s not yet ready to take us completely into her confidence. As we were preparing to leave Mike’s house and head back to the boat (a 15-minute bike ride), Kiya disappeared from view. When the sound of filling her bowl, repeated calls (I know, I know, she’s a cat!), and a thorough search of her usual haunts throughout the house yielded no response, I became convinced that she had somehow escaped to the outside world. Jim was sure that she had not slipped by unnoticed as he got the bikes out of the garage, but I was equally sure that she was nowhere in the house. Panicking at the thought of telling Mike that we had lost his beloved kitty the very first time he entrusted her to our care, Jim and I undertook a search of the yard, repeatedly calling Kiya’s name. (I know, I know, she’s a cat, but I was desperate!) As lush as the yard is, a thorough search would take hours. Before we got that far Jim went inside one more time. And there in the living room she sat, delicate meow and all. Now, while at a glance it might have appeared that she was oblivious to our distress and only expected us to once again feed and pamper her, I was sure I saw a glint in her eye that bespoke her feline ingenuity. As I rode home still wondering about her undiscovered hidey-hole, I envisioned her daintily licking her paws and purring, “Mmmmm, that was fun.”

Mike & Kiya

We’ve generally been enjoying our stay in Sarasota; it’s a very appealing city. Bayfront Park and the downtown area both provide lovely biking opportunities. Sarasota has a well-deserved reputation for a wide variety of cultural activities and displays, as evidenced by the fascinating sculpture exhibit just outside Bayfront Park. Prior to its dismantling (presumably to be reassembled in some other location) we passed by the collection of three-dimensional artwork numerous times, enjoying the presentation each time.

One thing we aren’t enjoying, however, is the lovebugs. For anyone unfamiliar with this usually insignificant member of the food chain, let me explain the moniker. These small black flies apparently have a need to procreate on the wing. In pairs they buzz and hover joined at…well, some part of their anatomy, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Over the last couple of days the swarms have become almost intolerable. Today we went ashore just to escape the entomological display. The bugs were evident in town, but not nearly as prevalent as over the water. We’re told that the lovebug season lasts only a couple of weeks. Right now that sounds like a very long time. The one good thing about these miniscule critters is that they don’t bite or sting. Thank you, God, for small blessings.

Today is a very significant day for all of us who live in Florida, and especially for those of us who live on the water. Yep, today is the official start of hurricane season. (Sigh!) Despite the dire predictions, we’re hopeful that this year’s foul weather will be kind to us. But who knows? All we can do is pay attention, keep the boat prepared, and pray. At least today’s rain was unaccompanied by much wind. From the reports we heard, however, other areas got some significant storms. So far so good. We still plan to spend a couple of months during the worst of the season in Indianapolis after we find a secure marina for Caloosa Spirit.

The lovebugs seem to have taken their bacchanalian orgy elsewhere. And good riddance. Maybe yesterday’s rain put a damper on their romantic tendencies—or whatever passes for same in the insect world.

We biked to church this morning, but missed the worship service. We had remembered from a previous visit that First Congregational in Sarasota has two services—one at 9:00AM and one at 11:00AM. “God Is Still Speaking,” but apparently not at 11:00AM. What we forgot to take into consideration is the seasonal phenomenon here in south Florida. Apparently two services are no longer needed during the summer when the snow-birds have flown north, so the only service was at 10:00AM. We were right on time for the 11:00 service, but we would have been worshiping alone. So we headed on to the grocery store instead. Mike came out to the boat for a grilled grouper dinner this evening. We always enjoy his company.

Finally we have a plan for the summer. We learned that the refrigeration tech can’t do our 12-volt system installation until August, but we don’t really want to be in Florida then. So we’ve requested to be on his schedule for mid-September. We’ve secured a slip in Clearwater that we may start occupying yet this month, and Caloosa Spirit will remain there while we spend about seven weeks in Indianapolis later in the summer visiting family and friends and getting our annual health care check-ups.

So while we have a plan for the summer we don’t really have a schedule—yet. We still have projects that need doing, but where and when we do them are things we’ll have to decide. Or not. After all, we’re still cruising.

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

Posted Tuesday June 6, 2006

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