Wish I'd seen this sooner. Can I just say "I hate Spotlight with a passion" here?
Here's what I do on all my Mac stuff:
(line should now say "SPOTLIGHT=-NO-")
mv /System/Library/CoreServices/Search.bundle ~/.disabled
mdutil -i off /
mdutil -E /
Now Spotlight will not start, there will be no Spotlight icon in the menu bar, and you'll have cleaned up any space used for indexes. Life is better, disk operations are faster and removable media doesn't stall the system.
When I need a full text search archive, I'll assign a box just for that. I certainly don't want it on my live systems.
Oh, and another tip for success - get TextMate. Then you can invoke it from the command line instead of vi.