December 1-14, 2008 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Dec 2 - Deb and I have been spending a couple of days on the boat. Sunday, we really wanted to get off and see Joe and Lynn again but with 25 knot winds, I put out another anchor and we just hung out and had a movie day. We hadn't done this in years and it was fun. No real work, just having a good time on the boat. For dinner we cooked our Cornish Game Hens, made dressing along with potatoes and of course some sauce too. It was delicious.

Monday we hauled out all of the anchors and fueled up and made our way to another anchorage just before you turn the corner to head up to St. Petersburg. As you know, we are heading to the boat show and need to be there on Wednesday. We anchored in a wide canal and had a fairly calm night even though the winds picked back up to 20 knots. I know you are tired of it but we love that Rocna.

Today we are off to an anchorage about five miles from the marina we will be at for the boat show. This ensures we will get there early and more importantly, it is time we had some new pictures of places we haven't been So get ready St. Petersburg for some tourists that happen to be cruisers.


 Dec 3 - We left our anchorage at St. Petersburg Beach for about a 14 mile trip to an anchorage just south of the marina that is our destination. As we turned the corner towards Tampa, we were reminded that everytime we are in a major ship channel, there are MAJOR SHIPS. Imagine that!

We, of course, motored into the wind to get to our anchorage and I studied and studied the charts. On paper, it actually looked like there were times the red was supposed to be on the right going into the bayou and then it was supposed to be on the left. What's up with that?


 Well, the answer was there is LOTS of shallow water going into this anchorage. You will go from 4 feet of water to 9 back up to 4.5 feet and down to 13 feet. Bottom line was remember what the person who managed the Key's Sealife Center said - "Don't drive your boat where the birds are walking."

The Gemini is a shallow draft vessel but not that shallow!

We made it back to the anchorage and believe it or not the red right returning rule applied all the way in. The next morning we made our way out by tracking on our GPS track coming in and headed for St. Petersburg. You can see the town's buildings below left and to the right is the aquarium.


 We got the boat secured in the slip with lines around the poles at the aft end of the boat and then multiple lines in front of the boat for the bow. We were told that these were floating slips but the reality is "NOT." We got everything secured and headed up to the office to fill out the paper work that says we are responsible for everything and they are responsible for nothing. In addition, they can kick us out anytime they want. So goes the typical marina contract.

After we were settled in we walked into town and went to lunch at the oldest restaurant in St. Petersburg. What was really great about this is that we split a sandwich and the price was $6.95. Of course there is that thing about drinks however the total bill was still about 20 bucks with tax and tip and what a deal for lunch.

Next we walked further into town and found this wonderful artwork on the side of a parking garage. Yes, a parking garage. Below you can see the plaque that was mounted below it. It is pretty cool when a town tries to maintain it's heritage.

Next we walked another block and walked into the Wednesday noon park celebration. Live music and a number of vendors. Guess who went to the vendors and who went to listen to the band? Yes, I was critiquing the band. My friend in St. Louis, Mike, and I could have made money here. They were good but we were better..... Ok, that was then and now I'm just a guy running around living in the past. I guess I'll have to get that guitar back out and see if I can get some practice in before I hit Key West.


 Two slips down from us is another Gemini. I'm sure they were in Sarasota when we came through in June but the home port on the back says Big Pine Springs. Hopefully we will meet them in the next few days as we hang out here. The reason I took this picture is that I've never seen more stuff on the back of a Gemini. Of course the fact that they have a Jet Ski as a dinghy tells me that they really LOVE to have fun on this boat. I'm sure they do and will continue to!

The fact that there is a shade cover for their seat on the back says they really just love using every space they can on this boat. I'm sure it is the perfect boat for the west coast of Florida and their adventures.

Tomorrow morning, Garry and Shirline will arrive and we are headed off to a discount marine place to do some serious shopping. I don't have much I need to buy but Garry is rebuilding a Shucker and he has been spending money all the way from South Carolina to here. We are going to have a great time so get prepared for more pictures over the next few days with our reunion along with the boat show which we will start attacking on Friday and Saturday.

 Dec 7 - Lots of things have been going on for the last few days so this is a big update. On Thursday, Garry and Shirline came over to our boat and after catching up, we took off for Don's Marine Salvage. Garry and Shirline have been picking up parts for their complete boat project here. Of course you have to know what you want and you also have to figure out that everything won't be labeled and placed in nice bins. You might get the idea of what some of it is like from the pictures below. The wood is randomly stacked and you almost can't get into the trailer it is stored within. Some of the buildings are a bit more organized such as where the props are stored. And of course there is the other extreme of the electrical panels. I just don't have words to describe that trailer.


After our tour of the salvage operation and not being able to find the small part I needed, we took off for lunch. We drove over to a really cool place by one of the entrances and they were all set up for taking the tourist dollars. Fortunately, the food was good and the prices were reasonable. We had a great afternoon and headed back to the boat for some more great conversation and enjoying the water.

Friday, was our first day of the Boat Show. We were one of the first people admitted and headed through the vendor's booths out to the boats. Our logic was to see the boats on Friday and attack the vendor's on Saturday. The crowds on Friday should be less which will allow us time to see the boats without pressure and lines. As it ended up, we had no lines and saw every boat we wanted to board.

Of course, there are a few boats here that sell for a pretty penny. In the case below, a couple of very pretty penny's.

After we had seen a number of monohull's who are increasing their outside light down below and really improving the caves, we were able to see the 2009 Gemini 105. I had a great conversation with Tony Smith (designer, founder, owner, etc) that included something else to check on engine alignment. After I check my engine alignment again and try out his ideas, I will post the results. The new boat has a very good fit and finish compared to our 96 model. However, we still like the minor differences of our model. Perhaps it is because we are accustomed to it and perhaps it is because we own the boat. We just like the additional teak on our boat and the larger settee area verses the new boat. At the same time, I really like the new boat's head better and the increased storage/access under the aft berths.

I was able to talk to Sue for a short time and also met several other people who are on the Gemini list. They actually recognized my name when I introduced myself to Tony and thanked me for keeping up the website.

Overall, I had a great time at the Gemini.

Of course, there were more boats to see and we set our sights on the BIG boats. I love those island beds on the big boats and the way they finish the interiors. In the master staterooms however, I'm amazed at how dark they make them. The one to the left was on a 1.5 million dollar yacht. The stateroom to the lower left was on a 1.667 million yacht. Of course Garry and Shirline just had to check out the bed before they wrote the check. Something about the spring in the mattress just wasn't right so they didn't purchase this one.

We were all surprised to see the Cirrus display at the boat show. As it ends up, they had done their market research and many of their customers own boats as well as their airplanes. This plane was a display model and it was a turbo charged mockup that would cruise at about 250 mph. The price was in the 600,000 range. I'm sure you could make some changes that would up the price a bit. At their peak, they were turning out 16 airplanes a week although right now they are down to 10 and actually have their entire factory on furlough for the month of December. For all of us, I hope we work through this economy thing quickly.

Garry and Shirline are rebuilding a Schucker. There were about 100 of these boats manufactured and it just happens there are several of them here in the St. Petersburg area. On Friday afternoon, we were off to see one on the water. This boat was in hurricane Katrina and is a survivor. When Gary, no not my friends another Gary, purchased it off of E-bay, he had quite a bit of external work to accomplish fixing quite a bit of rash caused from getting beaten up where it was kept. He will ned all new stanchions and rails but right now, he has the outside rebuilt and did a very nice job on the exterior.

Below left you can see Michelle, Gary, Garry, and Shirline as we are making our way aboard the vessel. The Shucker is about 43 feet long (I think) and it is a motor sailor. Gary, owner of this boat, had recently moved the boat out of the yard to this dock behind their townhouse so he could start the interior renovations. The boat has lots of space inside and decisions are being made continuously about what is the next project.

Garry and Shirline, along with me, really appreciated the tour and ideas.

When we arrived back to the marina, Deb had a bit of an appetizer ready for us. Isn't she great! Here the three of us spent the day at the boat show while she was back on the boat slaving away getting ready for us to return. Well, maybe not all day.

In addition to Garry and Shirline coming aboard for appetizers and a meal, Gary also come aboard to see our boat. Once again, we had great conversation and settled into the typical cruiser evening which really equates to enjoying life as it is presented to you and solving every problem needed to be solved about boats. After Gary left, I finished up the meal I made and we had our shrimp and scallop dish again. Yum, Yum.

Saturday, Deb went with us to the boat show and at lunch we left to have lunch outside of the show. Better food! After lunch, we went through the farmers market and picked up all of our fresh vegetables we need for the next week. The rest of the shopping will be done Sunday. Then it was back to the boat show because there are more vendors to attack. Of course, purchases happened too. I ended up purchasing some more Polyglow, Prism Cleaner, sunglasses and got a line on a great AIS which I will purchase before we leave Key West for the Bahamas.

One of the reasons boat shows are fun down here is the Latitudes and Attitudes cruising party that is held on Saturday evening. They bring in the Eric Stone Band which is made up of four performers. The primary ones are Kyle and Eric.

Kyle, on the left, is a wonderful lead guitar player and has gotten much better than when I saw him last year. Eric, on the right also plays guitar well but the reality is he is a great songwriter. Honestly, I was not super impressed with Eric when we saw him in Marathon. It just seemed he wasn't into it. However, this show was completely different. He was a much better entertainer.

I talked to them before the show and Kyle was missing a cable. I brought one back from the boat with me but it ended up they didn't need it because they were able to get one from the third guitar/keyboard player before I arrived. The reason I bring this up is it kind of got me behind the scenes with them. As you know, I think it is a ponytail thing but in this case none of them had a ponytail.

I had some great conversations with Kyle and Eric individually and they are really great guys.

Above is a bit of a photo thing about Kyle. He was playing Jimmy Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner. He plays this great and it is always a hit when they open the show with this song. Everyone comes to their feet and pictures are taken.

Above middle you can see a picture of Bob Bitchin (Yes, that is his name) who is the owner of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine taking a picture of Kyle as he plays his guitar with his teeth just as Jimmy did at Woodstock.

This really was the best I've heard the band play and perhaps it is because Eric is now in St. Thomas playing six days a week and will be there for the next six months. Hard life isn't it!

Why are those people below standing in line? Free Pizza! However, the pizza was between deliveries so they waited patiently and cried out PIZZA when I asked them to for the picture below.

Everyone has a great time at these parties and it just might have something to do with the fact that there is free pizza and beer. All you have to do is go to the show and stick around for the party.

To the right is a surprise. You just might remember Captain Roger and Judy from Panama City. We had no idea they would be here but here they are. If you are going to run into a cruiser, you will probably do it at a Lat's and Att's party.

More good music along with some give away's and the party expanded with beach balls being tossed around in typical island party fashion.

The picture to the right is one of Bob Bitchin and yours truly. I'm not sure what happened to the flash but the picture came out fine anyway as did the evening.

On Sunday, Deb and I will clean up the boat, shop and get ready to leave tomorrow. We will spend our last night in a marina for the next 6-8 months so it's a good thing it will be 38 degrees tonight and we get to heat the boat on their nickel. A big front is coming so we don't know exactly when we will be in Ft. Myers Beach. It will depend on what happens when the wind turns back to the south on our nose and how long that lasts.

 Dec 12 - We left St. Petersburg on Monday morning and after leaving the harbor, we set the sails to what we hoped would be a great day of sailing. Like most days we hope for a good day of sailing, it didn't last. After about 3 hours of sailing at 3.5-4 knots, the wind died some more and I started the engine to make our way towards the sunshine bridge. As you can see to the right, the sunshine bridge is tall. You have a clearance of 99 feet so the big ships can get under the bridge.

As we got closer to the bridge, as a matter of fact it was less than a mile away when I heard the call. Pon Pon Pon Pon - This is the United States Coast Guard St. Petersburg. We have a report of a person in the water at the Sunshine Bridge. Any vessels in the vicinity should keep an eye out and assist if possible.

I called the Coast Guard and told them I was about 5 minutes from the bridge and asked if they had more information about where the person was spotted. They didn't. I already thought this wasn't just a person in the water, I was figuring someone jumped.


I called Deb to come up and take over the steering duties and I grabbed the binoculars and went forward and braced myself against the mast so I could scan the water without worry about any waves. I spent the next five minutes conducting a very methodical scan pattern. I noticed a Sheriff's boat searching also but I kept up my scanning. On the last scan I noticed something red that looked like a shirt in the water then I saw the Sheriff's boat backing up to the red item. I called the sheriff on the radio to ask if he needed assistance and he said no. The next radio call I heard was the Sheriff calling the Coast Guard to say he had recovered 01 bodies. Then all the Coast Guard inflatable's that were on the way converged at one time on the Sheriff's boat. It was about 10 minutes later that the Coast Guard canceled the alert.

How bad does it have to be to jump off of the Skyline Bridge? I'm just happy that we aren't in the position of whatever this person was. It caused Deb and I to talk about what would have happened if the Sheriff wasn't there and if I would have been the one to pull the body from the water. Not a very good thought but something you have to be prepared for if you are out here on the water. Suffice it to say, we decided that we are fortunate to have each other and the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest.

We anchored for the night when we got to a good place and I got the picture you see below left. This is the clearest picture I could get on time exposure from a boat that moves a bit. It is of the two planets that have been playing each night and providing us a wonderful sight. With the almost full moon, the planets made quite a view for the last few nights.

We left the next morning and continued our way south. I caught the picture to the lower right as we crossed a bay going into Punta Gorda of a gaggle of fishermen. Who knows what they were catching but it did get me thinking about throwing out a lure when we got to our anchorage. I don't know what happened to the picture but I did catch a grouper and a couple of lady fish that were about 18 inches long. Nothing I could keep because the two fish I broke off on never came up so I could get them.

This is a picture of Cabbage Key with the sun behind it. We didn't go in for lunch of dinner this year. There are dollars taped everywhere and it is a really great experience to have lunch on a private island. However, this year we just stayed at anchor and had a great dinner on the boat.

We left Wednesday morning early and were off for Ft. Myers Beach. Arriving at about 1 pm we were just under the bridge when a dinghy pulled up beside us and said, "Hi Jim." Ok, I know I write this website stuff but this is a first. Yes, a person who has read almost the entire site is here on his Gemini and you will get to meet Bill and his wife of Friday when we get together again.

We picked up our mooring ball, had lunch and then headed in to register and walk around the town. After visiting some places in town, we headed back to Bill's boat to say hi and were invited aboard to meet some other cruisers who were there for happy hour. We arranged a gathering on another boat for Friday afternoon and you can look forward to those stories on Saturday.

Thursday we are being picked up by another Gemini owner, Larry on Skipper, and going over to his house for the afternoon. Stories are in the works so stay tuned.

 Dec 12 - Yesterday began with RAIN and even more rain. A front moved through and overall we had about 3 inches of rain drop on the boat. As it turned out, we put on our full rainsuit's and headed into the dock during a bit of a lull. Of course that doesn't mean it quit, just lulled. Larry and Joyce were waiting for us at the dinghy dock but Deb and I walked over to the cruiser's lounge to strip off the rainsuit's before we got into their car. Wet suits can always go in the trunk!

Larry and Joyce gave us a wonderful tour of the area south of Ft. Myers Beach and Naples. Following lunch, thank you again Larry and Joyce, Larry showed me a number of anchorages that we could use and we even went to the new mooring field in Naples that is scheduled to open in about a month. That will be nice because the city dock is located right at the downtown area and if we come this way again, we will definitely head up and utilize the services so we can spend some time touring the area. Larry and Joyce have owned three different Gemini's. First a Gemini 3000, followed by a 3400, and now a 105MC. Sailing goes all the way back to Larry's childhood when he learned to sail with his father.

After arriving at their home, Larry and I spent an hour reviewing anchorages on the way to Key West and also out at the Marquesas. Following some wonderful conversation, we then had a great dinner Joyce prepared before heading back to the boat. Thanks Larry and Joyce for a wonderful afternoon and we will look forward to seeing you in the Keys in January.


 Dec 13 - Yesterday was filled with cruiser activities. Yes, we had a typical cruiser day. First we headed off to the Farmers Market, which you can see is on Friday mornings. It is located about 75 yards from where we park the dinghy so it was an easy walk. We picked up some fresh veggies and when Deb went off for a shower, I also went back and picked up some stone crabs so we could have them for lunch. Stone crabs happen to be one of Deb's if not her favorite food. I also picked up water in our jugs so I could refill the boat tanks. We headed back to the boat and had lunch. Needless to say, Deb was happy, happy, happy.

Following lunch, we took off to pick up the wine we ordered at the wine store that was about two blocks away. Like I said, a typical cruiser's day.

Then at 4 in the afternoon we were off to Cambia, a Dean 40 catamaran for happy hour and appetizers. You just can't have too much fun when you are cruising so you have to put in every part of the day!


The fun part of going into different anchorages is meeting new people. I'm sure you recognize us in the picture to the left but I will introduce you to the other couples below. Bill and Margie own Tortuga which is a Gemini 105MC and they are currently staying right here in Ft. Myers Beach on a mooring ball. You might remember it was Bill who was saying hi as we pulled under the bridge. Below is Dick and Jan. They own the Dean 40. They have been cruising for 11 years and have seen all of the islands including Venezuela. We just had too much fun talking last night so I didn't get to hear the story from, as my old friend John used to say, once upon a time. Hopefully that will be today. There is always more to the story. They also have the gift of music. To me that means they are a complete notch as a matter of fact, a big notch above me. They were professionals at music. Horns on the left and violin on the right. Yes playing at Carnegie Hall before she was 18. Of course there is even more to that story and we hope to hear it over the next two days.

For those that are wondering about the cruising life, you just had a day in the life of a cruiser when you aren't moving and instead, simply enjoying life and people. Don't you just wonder who is on the next boat down the harbor?

 Dec 14 - How would you like to wake up one morning and your house is tilted at an angle and the only thing you could do is call someone so that they could drag it somewhere where it will straighten up? That is just what happened yesterday morning to this Island Packet. Evidentially, they were heading for a mooring but they turned left instead of turning right. By the way, if you are in immediate peril which is determined by the gods of greed, they can charge you 10% of the value of your boat just to drag you to a place where you are level while scratching up your boat and putting tremendous strain on your cleats. Remember that price on the boat at the boat show that was 664 thousand bucks? Well that would mean you get to pay them 66 thousand just to be level again. I'll bet you could sleep a while tilted and try a few things yourself before calling couldn't you. Of course if you are the prudent cruiser, you have unlimited towing insurance that you hope you never use.

I'm just happy we have a cat!


 The plans were that we leave from the dinghy dock at 9 am and head to the "Flea Market." For those that know Deb, you will know that she is in for a bit of shopping from time to time. The real surprise was that she really did only buy things that she was replacing on the boat. I'm not exactly sure how I was able to do the brain washing but it has stuck. Perhaps it is two years of saying "If you buy something, you have to throw something away." Or perhaps it was the "ruthless boat diet" we conducted this summer when we got rid of a net of 230 pounds off of the boat." I'm not sure but I do know I still have to throw away a pair of shorts because I purchased a new pair.

While we were in the market, we saw tons of stuff but the bird's for sale are always the most fun for us. They were cute and just asking to be taken home with them. I held the Cockatoo to the lower left and he/she would have been happy to have me pet and hold it the rest of the day. The owner of the store told me it was easy to hold but hard to get rid of. He was right. The bird didn't want to go back to it's perch once it was on your finger.



By the way, we are running all over Ft. Myers Beach and beyond with Bill and Margie in their car and also hooking up with Dick and Jan who drove their own car as well. Not only did we meet up with some great cruisers, they have wheels!


 Next we headed off to a "discount wine store." Yes, all the wine really was at a discount. As you can see to the right and to the lower left.


For a moment I thought, "Did I just jump into the next century and not pass go?" In the end I did find the box wine section at the very back of the store in the aisle marked wine for the slow economy and we picked up a couple more boxes before we depart for Key West. Just for the record, we had a choice, either buy the bottle of wine to the left or buy 150 boxes of wine which would amount to 600 bottles of the same size. Guess what a frugal cruiser would do.

We have no schedule between now and lets see, I think about May so I'm about to make the decision that we will be making hops along the everglades and Keys totally under sail to get to Key West. The weather is looking wonderful although the winds are supposed to be fairly low on at least one of the days next week. This would normally mean we would motor sail on at least one day but without a schedule, why not do it the old fashion way? I guess we will just see. I'm still trying to determine if we leave in the morning or wait until Tuesday when the wind might be better. We are having so much fun here we just might stay another day.

 Dec 15 - On Sunday we met some friends for lunch. You might remember Carol, far right from her trip down to Key West back in early 2007. On the far left is Don. Each time we come through Ft. Myers we give Carol a call and have lunch or last time we even went to her house and had a great dinner. As always, boating people ask if you need to do any errands but right now we simply don't have anything we need so today was simply a great time to catch up.

We really had a wonderful afternoon and appreciated seeing both of you.


We arrived back at the dinghy dock area and just went in to the Matanzas Inn for a drink with them before we were heading back to the boat. I caught this picture of a bird with the weirdest beak. I'll bet if he really lived in the wild, he wouldn't have made it but he can survive on french fries.

Then we had Bill, Margie, Dick and Jan over to our boat for appetizers and had another great evening talking about all the places Dick and Jan have been on their boat. They have given Deb the confidence to want to take on the Caribbean so that is now further in our plans. Of course when women visit the boat and ask to see the jewelry Deb makes she pulls it all out. She now has quite a stash of jewelry so it is time to buy it all up.

We had a great evening and decided to stick around on Monday and leave on Tuesday. You probably won't be getting an update until we get to Key West on Friday. There just aren't any wi-fi sites out in the everglades where we will be anchoring. Here is to a good trip!

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