June 15 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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June 17 - We had several good days and then a storm moved in on Wednesday. We had pretty good waves at the mooring field and it began to remind us of our anchorage in Key West. We could have moved to a mooring ball west of the bridge but decided since it was only to last for a day, we would stay here.

In addition, on Wednesday's they have sailboat races and the finish line is just across from our boat. We heard stories of how last week there was a collision with $30,000 worth of damage so we expected to see some tight racing. Well, I don't know if it was the weather or the collision but there were only four boats and they didn't finish too tightly. You can see a couple of them coming in below.


On Thursday morning a 152 foot long tall ship was arriving at 9 am. I took the dinghy out and wanted to get a few pictures of the arrival. The fire fighting ship was putting on a show for the arrival although, the sailboat you see in the background isn't the ship that was arriving. There were quite a few of us getting a look although I was in the smallest boat/dinghy.

You can see the Canadian ship below left and you can also see to the right, as it was coming in, there were people dressed in "period costume" to greet the crew when it arrived.

Overall, it was a pretty good show and I respect the crew sailing these vessels. It takes a bit more skill than the one we are sailing.

Thursday, the maritime museum sponsored a concert by a local music group. They had to play on a boat because there was a law passed several hundred years ago that there would be no "hooting and hollering" on the city docks.

We enjoyed the music and it appeared many others did too over their lunch hour.

We then took off up the hill to catch the bus and go back out to the mall. It wasn't that we wanted to go shopping, rather they had a cinema and we were hoping they would have the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, We lucked out and it was starting in 40 minutes. So, we purchased the tickets and walked the mall. It is interesting that we really don't need anything in a mall these days. However, we loved the movie and we stayed through all the credits for the special ending.

The picture on the lower right is a picture from the top of the hill looking back over the harbor and out into the Chesapeake.

Visit to Performance Cruising - Home of the Gemini 105 and Telstar - I have been interacting with Will at Performance Cruising while we have been cruising and found him to be very helpful. So, I decided that I would give him a call and see if I could drop by the factory to say hi and see the Gemini's being assembled. He agreed and we set up a time for Friday.

As I dinghy 'd up Back Creek in Annapolis, it was hard to miss the Performance Cruising docks. After all, you see several Telstar trimaran's and of course the Gemini 105's. I had already looked at the area with Goggle Earth so I had a good idea of what to expect but it is still fun coming up on so many boats like ours and seeing more outside getting their mast and rigging installed. Overall, my first impression was they run a tight, efficient operation. Coming from a job where I was responsible to improve efficiencies to increase the usage of the space, I could tell they had the same mind set. The factory has enough space to build and assemble their boats and that is about it. This is one of the reasons the boats are affordable. Well, enough about my initial thoughts, Will took the time to show me the assembly line and introduce me to several of the workers as a current Gemini owner. I was impressed with each of the workers I met. After building my own airplane, I understood something about what they were doing and I was impressed with their attitude and their workmanship. It was obvious they were proud of the boats they were building. This impression went from the workers who were spraying the fiberglass to those installing the trim. I also got to see the new Telstar being manufactured. It seems the Telstar is doing well and they have sold about 60 of them in the last two years. Next I got a surprise. Will took me upstairs and said he would see if Tony Smith, the owner/designer, was available. I expected him to stop, say hi and then I would be on my way which would be an appropriate courtesy greeting. However, I was wrong.

Tony sat down with me in a conference room and we had a great discussion about the boat. After living on the boat and traveling for the last two thirds of a year, he was interested in what I had to say and I was very interested in some of his rationales for the design. We started out talking about the engine and outdrive. He was interested in what RPM I ran my engine and I told him 2650 rpm's now that we are cruising. I had looked that rpm up in the Westerbeke manual and it was about 17 horsepower which I thought was appropriate. I also let him know that I haven't had problems with my outdrive and I thought it was a result of the power settings we use. He told me that I was running the engine at the lower end of the operational range and he usually recommends around 2800 rpm. He agreed that the lower settings, his or mine, probably would be better on the outdrive. Neither one of us could understand why others may have problems with their systems. He went on to talk about his Atlantic crossing and during that crossing they, Neil and Tony, would run the engine at 1500 rpm for hours and hours on end when there was no wind in the Atlantic. With the fuel they carried, full tanks plus 4 gerry cans of diesel, they could have crossed 1/3 of the Atlantic. However, they had a problem with the engine and initially thought it was because of water. After they tracked down the problem, it ended up being the injectors. The injectors need more fuel running through them for lubrication than you get at 1500 rpm's. I found that fact interesting and I let him know we use about 4 ounces of Marvel Mystery oil in our fuel (each tank) just to provide more lubrication for the injectors and injector pump.

Next we moved on to the boat itself. I happen to love the interior design and particularly like the extra storage on the new boats under the aft berths. They have now provided enough room for you to install a water maker under one of the berths if that is on your desired features. In addition, you still have room for snorkeling equipment and a few other items shrink wrapped for spares. The other advantages of the newer Gemini is that the interior is now a one piece mold. This advantage creates a stiffer boat and a better finish. I know, because I recently spent some time caulking some of the seams between the different interior pieces of our boat to make it appear more seamless. It was then we got into some of his design philosophies. It has been well documented that Tony has a desire to appeal to a certain market niche which is on the lower price of the Cat market. What I hadn't realized is the rest of his philosophy. To sum it up, I believe it involves two specific areas. First, keep the weight low on the water which means the righting moment is lower to the water. He told me a story about a newly designed 45 foot Cat which recently went "turtle" or should I say upside down. This cat had a cockpit on top of the boat and we all know that means quite a bit of weight up high. Therefore, the moment wasn't down low, it was much higher than a Gemini. Once a cat like this starts to go over, there aren't too many ways of stopping it. The second philosophy has to do with inertia. You have to keep the overall weight low on a cat because once you are going down a wave you ultimately have to slow down so that your bow doesn't keep on going into the next wave. He told me a story about when he was crossing the Atlantic in a Gemini and they had 40 foot waves. He called these "life threatening conditions." He would sit at the helm surfing down the wave at 18 or so knots and wondered if the autohelm would correct itself in time for the next wave. In all cases the autohelm would correct the steering. Of course he could have hand steered and made the ride a bit more comfortable but how many hours/days can you actually do that. At one point he began to think to himself - would I rather be in a monohull or a bigger cat? The answer was no. (You have to remember, I already own a Gemini so he wasn't selling me a boat and I believe what he was telling me.) He went on to say that if you choose to cross oceans, you must be "ruthless" about keeping your weight low. Not because of speed, because of the inertia going into the next wave. I guess I have to get rid of some more junk on our boat! Thanks Tony for the 20 minute conversation, I learned quite a bit.

Overall, I am sold on the Gemini, as if you didn't already know that, and even though there are about 15 or 20 days a year that I would like a boat with a bit more under hull clearance and a bit wider, this wouldn't be within the design philosophies of the Gemini. All I can say is thanks Tony for designing a great boat that we could go cruising in today rather than working for 5 more years to afford the "other" boats that are on the market.

I also got to talk to Will about the upcoming Gemini Rendezvous. In the past it has been held on Labor Day weekend but they are considering holding it prior to the Annapolis Boat show. They are hoping for a great celebration for the 1,000th Gemini coming off of the line. We will be there regardless of the date and you should keep a watch on their website, and of course ours, to see the date for the rendezvous.

Below left, you can see the Performance Cruising Docks and to the lower right you can see a picture of the Gemini line along with Jason and Will.

Thanks for the great conversations, welcome, and everyone's workmanship on our boat.

One of the ways we are able to communicate is through Wi-Fi. We have a EnGenius external 200 mw Wi-Fi adapter along with a higher power antenna. However, we haven't always had wi-fi connections when others have. I love the free wi-fi idea because it is faster than our Verizon National Access connection and it doesn't cost us minutes on our cell plan. Since we were traveling with Bill and Christy aboard s/v Veranda, who had better wi-fi coverage than we did, we took the opportunity in Annapolis to take our equipment to their boat and do a performance test. What we found out is that I needed his antenna although, since I already had a higher power external wi-fi unit, I didn't need his amplifier. So, I ordered a new antenna from www.getmarinewifi.com. They shipped it express so I would receive it the next day and I am more than pleased with the performance. Even though I had a 7dbi antenna, I still couldn't get wi-fi at our anchorage. Once I installed the new antenna from Get Marine Wifi, I now have a wonderful signal. To the right you can see the antenna installed on our starboard side rail on the bimini and to the lower left you can see the antenna folded down, protected when we are sailing. Overall, this was a great purchase and I wish I would have know about this when we left.

Lower right you can see the ducks that decided to hang out on our aft steps before I ran them off. I don't like cleaning up any more bird XXXXXX other than what our bird Jimmy Buffett puts out.

 Anyone who has followed our website knows that we love to find the greatest value on happy hours and to go out to lunch. We found such a place in Annapolis. Armadillo's had great happy hour prices with $2.00 wines, $3.00 chicken wings and $2.00 for two taco's. You can't get much better than that. Well we decided to go in for lunch and they had a special of a Grilled Chicken Pita but when it came I thought it needed something else. I ordered a side of bleu cheese and that made it a wonderful sandwich. I then met the manager who happened to be the owner, and told him what I had changed. He liked the idea and said you could also add bleu cheese crumbles too. With an exchange of our card came the Friday special of Jim's s/v Freedom Grilled Bleu Chicken Pita. Evidently they sold quite a few that day. Of course we had to come back and bring some more cruisers, who ordered them too.

The picture on the lower right is one of the front of the restaurant, a couple of customers along with Brendan, the owner, and Megan. Thanks for the great time and if you ever go to Annapolis, you can't beat the value you will find at Armadillo's!


 We mentioned that we took some other cruisers to Armadillo's and they are to the right. Meet Rick and Linda aboard their Manta 40. We got together that night to look at their boat and, of course, to talk about where we were all going next. It ends up we will probably see them in Florida or the Bahamas' this next winter.

Tomorrow we leave for St. Michael's across the bay and then to Cambridge where we are meeting some other Gemini owners. Who know's where we will be after that but you can always find out right here.


June 19 - s/v Freedom is BOARDED! Yes, The Coast Guard is in town and now they are on my boat. Meet Captain Lott. He came aboard my vessel to do a Safety Check. Of course the real fact is I had arranged it two days earlier since I've never had a check and wanted to ensure I was up to "snuff."

Captain Lott was a great guy and gave us some valuable insight regarding flares. Of course we have flares and of course they are in the right date range. However, when we talked about our cruising plans, he suggested we upgrade to Solas flares even if they are almost out of date. Keep the less expensive ones which are in date and get some of the better flares for when we are off shore. Now all we need to do is to find a place with some flares that are about to expire so we can get a great deal on them.

They have a form to complete which checks everything from required placards, documentation numbers, life jackets, flares, documentation certificate, holding tank, fire extinguishers, insurance, bilge pumps, electrical, and many more things you can see on the federal list.

In the end, I received my sticker and who knows if it will mean we won't get boarded at some time "for real.' However, I know I am fine with everything on board.

Thanks Captain Lott for your time and commitment to our safety.

We took off from Annapolis heading for St Michael's and what came out of the fog, another tall ship. This would have been real cool if they would have had their sails up but like us, they were motoring into the wind and very little wind at that.

Below left you can see a picture of the vessel when it passed us to the starboard. I think it was doing about 9 knots compared to our 6.

Below right you can see us anchored in the anchorage at St. Michael's. This is the first time we have put up the awning I sewed first of October in 2006 just for this occasion. And what occasion is that? 90 plus degree temperatures. We found out we can put it up in about 20 minutes and it does help keep the boat cooler. I think is makes about a 5 degree difference.

That evening we went to shore and had a great dinner at one of the waterfront restaurant's. We typically don't go in for dinner but this night was special. We are only one week away from our 25th anniversary. Afterwards we were walking up the street and I couldn't help notice the gutter's were laid in brick. I thought if you were ever going to be found in a gutter, this would be the right one.

We then went on to the grocery store and picked up a few items that will get us up to Cambridge on Wednesday.

The next morning, we got up and were getting ready to head to town again when I found out I didn't have my wallet. Ok, don't give me a bad time about being in the gutter! We backtracked to the restaurant and then to the grocery store. When we arrived at Acme Markets, they checked their safe but then suggested they watch their surveillance video's. Dee was the person who suggested that we see the videos and I am sure glad she did. We ultimately figured out the timeframe we were in the store and sure enough, I left my wallet on the counter at the checkout. That was the good news, once we figured that out, they found it in a drawer. Great news for me. I don't have to spend days getting all of those replacement papers.

To the left you can see we went then for lunch to celebrate and Deb had a soft shell crab sandwich. We then went back to the store to do a little more shopping and get the pictures below.

Thanks to Dee, Brian, Zachary, and the checkout lady from the night before for helping us out. We truly appreciate your efforts. If you ever get to St. Michael's, please reprovision at Acme Markets.

After we took the groceries back to the boat, we headed off to the Maritime Museum. It was larger than we expected and was a pretty good museum. You can see the view below from the top of the light house they moved to their site. These pictures give yo a view of the area of St. Michael's.

The picture to the left is an indoor exhibit of an oyster boat. They have a film playing with different sound tracks so the speakers in each of the "men" provide them a voice. It was interesting to see the various methods of harvesting oysters.

In addition, we saw various boat building areas and many different boats that were developed and sailed in the Chesapeake.

Below left and right is an exhibit of the steamship era. Of course the thing I noticed about the steam engine was the lack of safety shields on it. I'm sure the engine tenders of that day would loose an appendage or two in their careers.

Overall, it wasn't a bad way to spend a hot afternoon.

Deb has taken on some more planning responsibilities and has essentially planned an east shore Chesapeake tour for our way back down to Norfolk. We will divert back to the Solomon's Island area for our anniversary but then back to the east side of the bay. Right now it looks like we will be visiting, St. Michael's, Cambridge, Solomon Island, Smith Island, Chrisfield, Pocomoke River and a town 20 miles up the river, Cape Charles and then Norfolk for our boat haulout and trip back to the midwest to see family, friends, and of course our annual check-up's.  

 June 24 - We left St. Michael's and came back down the Miles River, out into the Chesapeake and then through the Knapp's Narrows. Of course, if you go through a narrows you are probably going to experience a bridge. This guy was good and we called at a good time and he timed it perfectly. We then went up the Choptank River to Cambridge. As you already know, this is our eastern shore tour with one diversion. In addition, we are going to see some more Gemini owners in Cambridge.

As I went along, I was reminded of a quote I used often in my talks. George Bernard Shaw said "The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them." I always loved that quote because it caused you to pause, think about why you were doing what you were doing, and think about the fact that you really are in control of your decisions and destiny. If you don't like your current circumstances, change them or get on with it. We have really enjoyed living this life because we are finding out more about ourselves and each other than we had ever thought we could know. Our lives are richer because of our experience cruising and we are enjoying each other more than ever before. Our views of the world and people are different today than they were when we left. That is something, in my opinion, as we approach our 25th anniversary. I'm not saying this life is easy, far from it. However, I am saying that if you are willing to create the circumstances you want, you can enjoy what life has to offer either where you are or cruising in an experience like nowhere else. Well, enough philosophy according to Jim.

Picture of Tim and Jill - Oops we were talking too much and didn't get a picture. I know, you can't believe it but it's true. Picture to arrive of them as soon as they get back from Kentucky.
We had the great experience to meet fellow Gemini Owners Tim and Jill at Cambridge. It ends up they have been following our website and essentially knew most of our stories. That didn't matter, we told them anyway with enthusiasm. They are looking to go cruising in about a year. They plan on going down the east coast for winter and then back to their home. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages along with clarifying the budget information most of the night. Unfortunately, they were leaving the next morning, or should I say that night, at 2 a.m. for Kentucky to see ailing parents. Every visit with a fellow Gemini owner is different and enjoyable. I hope they got as much out of it as they expected. I know we did because Tim brought a basket full of his home grown vegetables from his garden with him for the visit and we've been eating them since. We had a great time and look forward to seeing them again at the Gemini Rendezvous.

As you already know, we are planning our "vacation" back to the midwest to visit family, friends and of course the obligatory annual physically with our doctors. The problem is we don't have luggage on the boat. There just isn't any space to keep things like that. Deb and I have been having discussions about where to get the luggage and what to do with it when we are done. She was the Wal Mart proponent and I was the thrift shop proponent. We've been looking half heartedly and guess what we found in Cambridge. Yep, we found luggage. Not just any luggage, these are matching Samsonite pieces of luggage that will stand up to the "vacation" when we impose on friends and family for places to stay. Of course when you find the luggage, you have to get it home. Deb thought I looked like a homeless guy on the bike and we just had to share these pictures with you. We picked these two pieces up for a total of $10 and when we are done with them, they will go to another thrift shop to hopefully help out those less fortunate than us.

So here we are sitting on the back of the boat celebrating the fact that we now have luggage and I look over and see this guy flapping his arms in the air doing a test run down the pier. Yes, the picture to the lower left is him flapping his arms. I remembered that the camera had a setting to take 6 photos in a row so I got it set up just in time to catch this sequence. I think he got pretty good lift off of the fixed dock. By the way, someone was video taping the flapping and diving so who know's what this is really for. Just another thing you might see when you are out and about.

We were able to use a concrete wall to tie up to in Cambridge. This was a wonderful gesture on the part of the city because we probably spent $300 in the town re-provisioning and going out to lunch and dinner. I took the three pictures below and connected them together to allow you to see the view from our boat.

The other thing you see is the black splotches to the lower right of each picture. I have a problem with my camera and had been debating having it fixed verses just replacing it. I then remembered that I thought I actually bought a warranty for the camera. Normally, I don't buy warranties but on the camera, I knew I would use it quite a bit so I spent the $50 and bought a 3 year warranty. Guess what? I have one month to go on the warranty and have the receipt with me. I called and they will fix the camera so now it is just a matter of the details. In the mean time, I will probably buy a cheap digital camera so I can continue to take pictures and you won't get mad at me for not having pictures on the site.

This is a shot from a bridge of our boat tied up to the wall. At one point, there were 6 boats tied to the wall. What a great town to recognize that providing accessibility to cruisers means money being spent in their town.

On our trip out of St. Michael's, we set sails and in the process of reefing the mainsail, Deb told me she saw something white fly off of the boat from up high. Now that isn't something you really enjoy hearing in 25 knot winds but it immediately came to me it had to be a batten from our sail. For those non-sailors, a batten helps to keep the sail shape on the trailing edge of the sail and we have four of them on our mainsail.

I looked up and yes the second one from the top was missing. In addition, I could see where the thread had torn and the pocket where the batten is kept was open. That meant that I needed to sew the batten pocket and find a new batten. Guess what they had in Cambridge? Yes they had a sail maker. I stopped by and talked to the lady and she was very helpful. I set up an appointment for the next day and carried my sail the 3 blocks up the hill to be repaired. I lucked out even further because she did have a batten, albeit the wrong size but she had one. I'll get the right one somewhere along the way and replace it but the bottom line was the sail if fixed and back on the boat. Of course it came down to what the price was going to be. She wanted to charge me $5 but I insisted on giving her $10. I think I got a deal.


We left Cambridge this morning and anchored off of Taylors Island on the east shore. The winds are out of the southwest and are very light with the forecast of 5-10 knots. Saturday evening, we enjoyed the sunset you see to the right which reminds of the sunsets of Key West. I think we will enjoy this east shore cruise.

Tomorrow, we go back to Solomon's Island for our 25th Anniversary Celebration and to take care of the exciting things such as laundry and grocery shopping.

As you consider it, life is very good aboard Sailing Vessel Freedom.


 June 30 - We arrived in Solomon's Island on time and enjoyed a great anniversary on Monday. For us, this meant going out for lunch and dinner. Overall, we did have a good day and remembered that we go here because we were trying to put each other first most of the time. Not much "life according to Jim" here but I have this thought that relationships aren't 50-50. Rather they are 90-10 and each person should think they are giving the 90 while taking 10. It is just a state of mind but it seems to work at those times of stress. 

We had planned on staying here for 3 days and then moving on. Well we have been having a problem with our A/C and it wasn't electrical. For the technical people who might read this, I cleaned the filters and checked the flow of cooling water then measured the current draw and only found the unit pulling 5-6 amps when running. This coupled with the fact that it is going out on high pressure overload meant to me that I needed the unit to be recharged. We have been looking for someone who could help us and were in the Ugly Gull and met a boater who called another person who said he might be able to get to it on Thursday afternoon or on Saturday. We decided to wait and see if he could help us out so we will be here until Sunday at this point. I'm writing this on Saturday morning so that means he didn't call on Thursday. Hopefully, he will today or we will still be hot on those 90+ degree days. Thank goodness for our shade cover.

Besides waiting and reading books, we have also been doing a number of boat projects, thus no real pictures. First, we had stains on the side of our boat from the trip up the waterway so I took 3 mornings to clean the hulls and then put on 3 more coats of Poly Glow. They look great again. In addition, I drilled two holes and installed the wire for the WiFi antenna that I put up in Annapolis and that came out nicely. Finally, we were told and always thought the red specks on the non-skid inside the boat were a defect and couldn't be fixed. I kept thinking about that problem, I guess for 5 years, and finally after scrubbing it 4 times decided that I thought they looked like they came from the mold of the boat rather than being in our floor. I happened to know that molds are made with a high strength red product like gel coat. So I took out my dental pick and sure enough I began cleaning up the floor. It worked and now it looks great so I put on 5 coats of Poly Glow on the floor under the salon table.

One of the afternoons, Jimmy Buffett decided he needed another shower. I tried to capture him taking his shower from his water dish and if you look close at the second and third picture you can see the water being flung around. You can see it best against the cover of the grill. He finally finished and looked like a punk rocker.

We saw some big busses up by the Holiday Inn where we park the dinghy and also heard some pretty good lead guitar music coming from across the creek where we are anchored. We learned that the marine museum in town holds concerts throughout the summer and the one for this week was the Doobie Brothers. We decided to dinghy over that night and listen. When we got there we saw a number of dinghy's tied up to the museum's dock and most had people sitting there listening. I decided that I would walk up and take a look to see if I could see anything. Well, they had a gate that was open so I just walked in and got the pictures you can see. Overall, these guys are still good and I'm sure having fun even though they aren't playing for the same crowds they played for years ago.

It started raining last night and we had the typical "fire drill" to close all of the hatches. Fortunately, it wasn't a big storm so there wasn't a large wind front coupled with the rain. We went back to sleep knowing the boat was getting a little wash on the outside. Hopefully the guy will call today about the A/C otherwise we are off tomorrow for our next stop regardless and quest for another person who has a license so he can charge our unit.

Hopefully, the next update will be a bit more exciting.


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