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

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  Happy New Year from S/V Freedom! - I thought about writing a serious reflection and look to the future but decided against it. Instead, I'll simply put the Trilogy of Last Flight Out here for you to enjoy. This is from our friend Clay down in Key West. He has a new book coming out in the next few days.

"First, you must DARE to dream about who you want to be, where you'd like to go, and what you'd like to do.

Then you must think positive, get that STATE OF MIND to help you through your journey.

Lastly, you must have the COURAGE to pursue your goals... and never stop reaching for your dreams."

Deb and I wish everyone a year where you dream, make the choices to pursue your dream and have the courage to make the decisions necessary to make your dreams reality.

Jan 2 - I think this is one of the big updates, no I know it. I've known about the big cold front coming for a few days and just waited until it arrived so I could do our bodacious update while watching the wind blow and the temperature drop like a rock to the outrageously cold temp of about 55 outside. Now to all you northerner people reading this, I know you think we are living the spoiled life of some gypsies while you are hanging out in 10 and 20 degree weather. You may be right!

On New Years Eve, we just couldn't let the beautiful weather and lack of winds keep us on our boats or shopping for provisions. So, we once again enlisted the Island of Makeitso and off we went on a snorkel trip. This time we went to Sombrero Key which is about 3-4 miles south of Marathon. We brought all our junk for snorkeling plus a fish bag in case we actually caught some of the fish that were reported to be jumping into boats. We also brought our lunches because we knew we would get a little hungry after a big swim.

As soon as we picked up the mooring ball, we were all getting ready. I'm putting weights into my weight belt while the others are already starting to put on their equipment and getting wet.

Christy is above and off with Debbie (not mine, Tom's.) I was soon suited up in my skins, which are to protect you from Jelly Fish if we happen to see some and also they block the sun too.

Bill, below, was right in the middle of the action and I think he was trying to get Molly to stay on the boat, she loves the water. Deb was taking the pictures and got a good picture of the number of fish that had gathered around the boat. I think they were throwing them scraps. What I didn't know while I was out playing Lloyd Bridges swimming and diving around all the reefs, the rest of them bailed because they saw the Jelly Fish coming before I did.

Like I said, I was out playing Lloyd Bridges because I had picked up a new underwater camera. These things have gotten cheap and they actually take good pictures too. I had my weight belt on so I was just slightly positively buoyant. This made it easier to dive down at times 15 feet to get the pictures you will see.

First dive I was concentrating so much on a picture I wondered, why are my ears hurting so much. Oops, I forgot to equalize. A quick hold on the nose and blow and everything was fine again. Pretty soon It was just like riding a bike and I was trying to find all the great pictures. Unfortunately, the water wasn't REAL clear but it sure beats Kentucky Lake!

All of a sudden, I was looking back to the ocean and saw this nice big jelly fish. Now one doesn't bother me too much since you just swim around it, however, it was the invasion of the jelly fish. Everywhere I looked there were jelly fish. I wasn't' too worried because I had on my skins. The only thing not protected was my face and my hands. I could see one attaching itself to my mask and giving me a great kiss of its stinging fluid. Just as I was working through the gaggle (what it should be a school?) of jelly fish, I looked to my right and the mother of all mothers of jelly fish was right there. Yep, the one to the lower left. This thing was huge and it looked like it was a mass of 500 of them.

I think Rick gave up since he is surrendering, hands up. To one side was the huge jelly fish and to the other literally were all the fish being attracted by the ladies and their crackers going in the water. I was thinking, where are the sharks now?

We had a great time underwater and it as a good practice for my new underwater camera. By the way, it was only 30 bucks for the camera and shell at divers direct. What is cool is that you can reload the film, change the batteries on the flash and for only $5.50 at CVS they will process the film and hand you a CD. What a great country we live in.

I picked up four rolls of film for the camera so I can take lots of pictures underwater in the Bahamas, if we ever get there, and then I'll probably have to wait until we get back to get them processed.

Once back on the boat, Deb met me with a glass of wine and she was in the process of making up our wraps. Before we left, I had taken a can of chicken and mixed it with Curry, garlic, salt and pepper along with a can of black beans. All of this went into a wrap and I have to admit, for a new recipe which I was trying to remember from Shirlene, it was pretty good!

We enjoyed lunch, a little wine and just hung out on the front of the island of Makeitso. Of course we weren't the only boats out there doing a bit of snorkeling on New Years Eve. As a matter of fact, all the mooring balls were taken up and at one point there were three other boats tied to the stern of a boat on a mooring ball. It was a great day and of course it wasn't over. After all, it is New Years Eve and we have to go and have another good time.

Now to get back to the anchorage. To the left is the light that marks Sombrero Key. You can see snorkelers in the water and in the far background our destination which is Boot Key Harbor.

Again, it was a beautiful day as most days are just before a big front comes through to awaken you.

What happens when there are four captains of different ships on a boat. They are always trying to help out the actual captain of the ship. Today, fun was still in the offing. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture because I was in the middle of it. Rick, captain of Makeitso, had purchased an asymmetrical spinnaker and had only flown it once which was the only time he had flown a spinnaker and that was with someone who knew what they were doing. Ended up, Tom also had a spinnaker and he knew what he was doing too. Since the winds were down to 6-8 knots in the afternoon so of course boys will be boys and out came Rick's. Here's hoping we don't rip it!!!!

We got everything out, rigged it and then - IT FLEW!. OOps, someone hooked the clew and tack wrong and we had to dose it, reattach and flying again. We all got to try ideas and in the end, some proved right and most proved wrong. However, we were moving at 3.5 knots in what was now a 6 knot wind running at 90 degrees to the wind. Pretty cool for another fun thing to do at the end of 2007. Spinnaker down and in we went so we could get to dinner and a band. After all, it's New Years Eve.

We arrived at Docksides and were able to get a big table. Dinners and a few drinks all around. Of course we tried to clean up a bit before heading in and we were having a great time with everyone once again.

Deb and I (Jim), hope you all had as great of a New Year's Eve as we did. It was truly a wonderful end to 2007. Hopefully, we will have just as wonderful of a 2008 and with that wish we started dancing the night away.

Well, Rick wasn't driving anymore so he just had to have a drink or 20. Maybe he was simply the collection point for all the empties but he was bringing about a few looks from around the tables.

One of the things I learned quite a while ago was that you have to have the right shoes for every occasion. In fact, back when we took dance classes, we did have dance shoes. They turned so good! Now the right shoes for the occasion are the only shoes I own. Sandals. I can see it now, dancing on the beach in my best, and only, shoes.

Deb loves to dance and as it ended up, she drug Rick out and they were off doing a bit of the light foot.

Yesterday we got everything we thought we needed onboard because the front was to move through and everyone was talking about how bad it was going to be. I've been in storms, as a matter of fact I remember one at 70 mph we were in. However, this was to be about 30 knots and it had everyone worried on the radio. I kept thinking to myself, we are on a mooring in a protected harbor, how bad can it be?

Ends up, as you can see to the lower left, not bad. Yes, the wind is blowing - hard - 30 knots with gusts but the picture to the right is what it was like last year in Key West in the same conditions. Boats jumping up and down, 3 foot seas, boats breaking loose and floating by and of course in our boat the waves pounding on the bottom in minor explosions. This is nothing like Key West! Of course I did put out a couple of extra lines on the mooring and tied the sails down. Overall, it isn't near a bad as people are still taking about.

We should have these winds for another couple of days and then things should be calming down. Bahamas? Well, of course that depends on Jimmy Buffett. Speaking of him, guess what we received?

This is a CITES Pet Passport. Yes, THIS IS IT! Ho Rah. After I had called, I had it next day shipped. Of course there was this little thing called a weekend and of course New Years Day. On top of that, the marina was closing at 12 on New Years Eve and we were going out on a boat at 11 am. So, I checked that morning, had Bill check when he walked his dogs and at the last minute, asked Rick to check when he took his dog in. Rick brought it back and we opened it on Rick's boat. Of course that can't be the end of the story! If it was, everyone would be taking birds to the Bahamas.

When you leave this country, all you do is get on an airplane, boat or rowboat and leave. When you get to the next country, you check in and they stamp your passport. NOT FOR A BIRD! If you are taking a bird to another country, you have to first leave from a designated port. Of course for us there are only two. Miami and New Orleans. Well, I'm not stupid, I picked Miami. Now the phone call to the next agency. Does Jimmy Buffett have to go to Miami and on top of that do we have to be there on our boat???? Yes, Jimmy has to go to Miami. After the appropriate amount of pleading, begging, and groveling, I was able to get permission to rent a car, drive up, present our bird - I'm sure Jimmy's going to say "Jimmy Buffett here reporting for export, Sir"  and get his passport stamped for leaving the country. Great, a road trip and more pictures for the website. Now if you think about it, all of us humans could have all the worst diseases known to man but it's ok for us to leave this country and just show up at the next unsuspecting land. I guess really they just trust our pictures on the passport. I could and have taken a picture of Jimmy but you know what they say, all birds look alike. I've heard that about a few races before!

Of course there are still more wrinkles. We have to have the Bahamas government stamp him in. Now we already have an import and export permit so why would they stamp it? They've already given us permission to be there and take him back...... I remember once I was told "Logic, use it daily and be frustrated." I guess, this is just an effort by our wonderful government to give me material to write about on our website. Let me be very truthful with you, I can think of at least a dozen things my tax dollars could do that would beat checking Jimmy Buffett in and out of the country. I mean really, I could. This bird lives on our boat and never leaves it. In all truth, he never left US soil. Our flagged vessel is US soil so I'm not sure why we have to go through this. However, I can't thank Michael enough for his help.

Now for that weather thing.

 Jan 4 - With the cold front that has been passing we have been trying to stay WARM. However, we have really been getting cold. The last two nights we've been refueling the generator at about 10 pm and running it with the heater on low all night long. It was actually necessary on Wednesday night because it got down in the 40's and you could hear Jimmy Buffett's beak chatter!

Now on to the good news. You remember me ranting about not being able to fix the Jimmy Buffett thing? Well that has changed. We just reserved a car we can pick up on Monday at 4 pm. We will use it on Monday night to buy all of the meats for our freezer and reprovision the stuff we've been eating from our provisioning. Then we will leave EARLY on Tuesday so we can go to Miami and check Jimmy Buffett out of the country. Right now we are potentially leaving on Wednesday to head up to Rodriguez Key and then across the Gulf Stream on Thursday. So, We have to get the bird stuff done on Tuesday. Of course things can always change and probably will but we have to go on the information we have especially since they want us to check out a day in advance of leaving and we have to rent a car. It is always interesting trying to predict the weather about a week ahead of time since the weather forecasters can't seem to do it! Who knows when we will leave but we are actually trying to meet the spirit and letter of the law.

The winds are still blowing a stink and holding everyone's flags out. Boats are wondering around at the mooring ball and we are heading out to lunch each day and watching a movie in the afternoon at the "cheap" bar where we get lunch. However, I'm ready to leave Marathon. Not a bad town for provisioning but I'm not sure how you can actually spend your entire winter here. Sometimes I think I'm back in that small town I grew up in where everyone knew everything about everybody. Gossip, people complaining about how people drive their dinghy's, people keying their mic when others are on the radio..... isn't it amazing, just like any place you work in the US. I guess I just get sick of power struggles regardless who and where you are. Enough ranting, we have a road trip to plan with lots of pictures. I know you just can't wait to find out what building in Miami you take birds to so they can get their passports stamped.

 Jan 9 - I sit tonight on our boat with both excitement towards tomorrow and somewhat depressed because we no longer have our bird Jimmy Buffett, on the boat. The story is long and I hope you don't turn off from detail boredom. However, if anyone else is trying to cruise with a bird, I don't think this information is available in one place anywhere. Let's start from the beginning.

You might remember we have been on the quest to "legally" take our bird with us as we travel. He seems to love the adventures as much as we do. Well, after much research and getting our CITES bird passport, along with our import permit to the Bahamas (read here persistence and money) then we found the only thing else we needed was a vet visit to declare him good and of course a trip to Miami to check the bird out of the country.

We stopped by the Marathon Vet Hospital on Monday and met the most wonderful people. The Doctor, is the one on the lower right, knew all about birds and Jimmy took to her right away. Of course after they were holding him down, clipping his nails, listening to his heart, checking out his wings and all of his other parts including putting a tongue depressor into his beak so she could look at his tongue, Jimmy was ready to run back to me. They sat him down from the towel and back he ran as fast as his little legs would allow.

Jimmy was proclaimed in good shape as long as the stool sample checked out. And the good news was, it did. We have a healthy and "well cared for" bird.


So the next step was to drive to Miami because we have to check Jimmy out of that port. After calling and talking to an agent we found that we didn't have to bring the boat to Miami, just the bird. (Oops, that wasn't quite right.) So, we rented an economy car and when I went to pick it up, they were out and we got a van. Not bad since we were going that far with the bird and we could also use it to provision. We provisioned first and picked up all of the meat we wanted in the freezer and then the next morning we arose at 5:15 so we could get to Miami by 9 a.m. You can see to the left that we are all in pretty good spirits because we are at the end of a quest and everything is going right other than the fact we have to do the "simple" check out of the country. I figured, oh well, it's only 50 bucks for a car with insurance and this is another adventure for the website. Should be a good time!

We left Marathon at 6:40 after dinghying in with Jimmy and getting everything ready. We drove up the Keys and picked up a quick breakfast in Homestead. Then, using our Microsoft Streets and Trips with GPS program, we began navigating into Miami and heading to the US Fish and Wildlife services.

We arrived at Fish and Wildlife and introduced them to Jimmy Buffett. Well, guess what? We were supposed to have our boat leaving from Miami and we didn't have to bring the bird. Oh well, details. Oops, they are just now beginning to mount up. After filling out the export form for Jimmy and showing a couple of agents Jimmy's ear, something they have never seen before, plus talking to a supervisor because we weren't leaving from Miami, then we got our CITES permit stamped for Jimmy Buffett. I guess we were trying to do the right thing and they said good enough. They reminded us we did have to re-enter in Miami and we said, no problem.

Then before leaving, I said, "is there anything else I'm supposed to do?" I expected him to say, no and thank you for stopping in. Of course, there was something. He said, of course you've talked to the US Department of Agriculture to get their stamps. I said, No. He said, you have to check with them too and normally we have a person here but they are off today. He got me the number of a Doctor there and I sat down and called. Of course the number got me a Doctor that was off for the day with a name different than the one he gave me. I'm starting to feel like life may not be as simple as we had hoped. After letting him know this, he said he was sorry and he gave me another extension. Hopes lifted again. I called and this time, I got a doctor. After explaining what we were doing he said, do you have a health certificate? Of course, I'm real proud of the fact we do and I even have pictures! He didn't really care about the pictures but he did say we had to have it cleared by the USDA. I'm seeing red tape here! I told him we were leaving on our boat and we had rented a car to get to Miami. He told me normally they needed to have an appointment but they would squeeze us in. Things are looking up again. So, we were all happy and the very nice officer from Fish and Wildlife gave us directions over to USDA. 

We arrived at USDA and Deb sat outside with the bird because I could just see us walking into this place and guns coming out because we were bringing in a bird that had been checked out of the country. In BIG letters it said as I entered, NO PETS INSIDE. Ok, I guess I get the idea and good thing I left Deb and Jimmy outside. Ok, stop it. I'm talking about Jimmy being the pet not Deb!

The lady at the counter, behind bullet proof glass (that should have been a hint,) knew we were coming and took our paperwork along with $24 and within 20 minutes, Jimmy was cleared by the USDA to leave the country. I'm getting really excited now. Then I asked that simple question again. Is there anything I need to know about bringing him back into the country that we haven't talked about? After all, I have his passport, he's not leaving the boat and we've researched this endlessly. She said, we don't take care of that, you have to call this number, they take care of QUARINTENE!!!!! Ok, I'm now thinking, what happened? We've been at this for almost a year, jumping through hoops, spending money, getting recommendations from others to just take him and now we are calling the Centers for Disease Control to talk about Quarantine for bringing Jimmy Buffett back into the country when legally, he really never left the country because he will never get off of our boat. I called the CDC and they said, "we don't take care of birds. Call this number." I called the number and guess who answered? Yep, the lady in the picture to the left. She forgot, they take care of birds. Are you starting to get the idea that taking a bird out of the country is one of the most difficult things you have to do? I'm not done!

After pleading and several calls by her to the people in the "back" who take care of QUARINTINE of birds and horses, along with her passing me a number because sometimes they have to leave to meet a plane, I finally met up with the very nice man to the right. Now, I want to say here that everyone has been very nice and helpful. They didn't make the rules and just because they are in different agencies, doesn't mean they are supposed to know what the other agencies want you to do. (Of course I'm thinking, how am I supposed to know what to do?". After much explanation, the USDA agent said he would get me the procedures for quarantine for our bird when we return. Twenty minutes passes and he returned. In the meantime, I've called the vet in Marathon and received numbers for two places that board birds. We aren't going to keep Jimmy in a concrete structure with no light for six weeks in Miami because we decided to go to the Bahamas. However, there is another option, "home quarantine." Now for that paperwork. The agent returned and provided me with the paperwork for home quarantine. It is possible to do home quarantine even on a boat. Sprits are looking up again. Of course, you have to stay in one place for 30 days. Ok, let see, I have to stay in Miami for 30 days after returning which means I won't get down and back up the western side of Florida in time to miss hurricane season and we will nullify our boat insurance. The agent said they MIGHT be able to work it out where the first fecal sample could be taken in Miami and then we could move to Key West but it can't be guaranteed. Of course, neither can home quarantine. By the way, if you are getting home quarantine then you have to receive you permit 15 days before you return and you have to call 72 hours before coming into the port at Miami. Now lets see, I remember, I'm on a small sailboat with no phone, no fax and by the way I also have to get an export permit from the Bahamas not to mention find an avian vet to examine Jimmy again before we leave and then get their version of the USDA to certify his exam. Are you starting to get the idea that things are looking bleak. Of course then there is that other detail, to do this will only cost us $500 not counting the phone calls, faxes, and vet bills in the Bahamas. Looks like we are talking $800-1,000 bucks and we still can't guarantee we can avoid the six week quarantine in Miami. Now what would you do??????

By this time, the USDA had closed for lunch and I was directed to leave from the employee exit by the armed guard. You know, I was thinking to myself, with the bullet proof glass and the armed guards, what do they think we are going to do? Jump through shooting people to gain the access to the quarantine areas so we can get our birds back? Well, I guess that was a feinting thought. I saw the lunch room along with the Doctor who certified Jimmy's exam. I just walked in, sat down and talked to the Doctor. I asked, what do I have to do to "undo" the things they did at USDA? The first thing that had to happen was someone had to translate "undo" for the doctor who didn't understand. It seems she was a very competent doctor but spanish was more her language. Of course, another person in the room translated and also said, "we can't give you back your money." No kidding, they thought I was worried about $24 bucks when I've already spent over $500 not counting the time involved and I'm starting to consider not taking the bird. Amazing! As a matter of fact, the whole thing is amazing to me. I'm starting to think about all of the phone calls, the research and the fact that there is not one place that tells you what you have to do! Well, we are now at decision time. We have a bird checked out of the country and we may not take him! Deb and I talked and in too short of time made the decision that with all of the unknowns the best thing for the bird was to have a pet shop, which we used in Key West to trim Jimmy's wings and nails, to baby sit the bird which will "only cost us" about $500. However, money is only a small part in this decision. The bottom line is this is what is best for the bird. I wonder if the policy makers realize that they are forcing a worse than "best for the bird" decision upon us? I wonder if they even care.

So back we go to Fish and Wildlife to check Jimmy back into the country. Of course, that isn't standard so the agent has to first check with his supervisor. Afterwards, I write a statement saying that we will no longer take the bird out of the country, give our rationale and sign the statement. Then we get his passport cancelled and he is checked back into the country. I truly believe the agent felt sorry for Jimmy Buffett and us too. Jimmy Buffett isn't going to the Bahamas and fortunately the USDA didn't make us quarantine him for six weeks!@#!

Now your are probably figuring out that we've driven from Marathon to Miami and next we need to go to Key West to get our bird to the place that will board him for the next 3 1/2 months. Another road trip. So off we head south. There are more details as if I haven't bored you into oblivion.

We only have the car for one day and that started yesterday at 4 pm. After all, it was a quick simple trip up to Miami and back. Now, we are going to run over the time. I call Enterprise and let the manager know that we need to keep the car. I also let him know that if he can rent the van at the higher price let me know and we will swap in Marathon before we go to Key West. He said he wouldn't need it. Right. One hour later, he called and now we are swapping cars in Marathon. We are moving from a Van to a Maxama Again, not an economy car but who cares, we are paying insurance and they make more money on the insurance than the car anyway. We swap cars, and then stop at the marina so I can dinghy out and pick up his bird food along with his box of toys. I dinghyed back and we were off to Key West.

We arrived in Key West and checked Jimmy into house arrest at Pampered Pets in Key West. Ok, I have to think that if he was in quarantine he would be in the penitentiary so he can be like Martha Stuart and Paris Hilton and get a little ankle bracelet and go under house arrest. Of course the other possibility is that he avoided Hell and is now in Purgatory. At the same time, I'll bet both Martha Stuart and Paris Hilton would have preferred staying in Key West for their "time."

You never know how attached you are to a pet until you unexpectedly have to abandon them in a prison for 3 or so months. If you had the time to prepare, it really isn't as bad. We did this with a wonderful person in Norfolk but that took time. On this day all we had were the ups and downs of emotions and decisions with very little time to make them. I'm used to making quick decisions but when they involve emotions too, they seem to be a bit more painful. The bottom line is that this was actually harder than both Deb and I had thought it would be.

We had visited the Pampered Pet shop a number of times while in Key West and they always appeared to care for their birds. As it ends up, So, you can see Jimmy Buffett in his own cage to the right just below the N of the Open sign. We filled out the paperwork and then left. It was time to go get a glass of wine. We were both depressed.

We stopped by Dante's and had a glass of wine, talked to some friends we knew and then drove back to Marathon. Just think, we've essentially driven from Key West to Miami and back in a day not to mention those details that I've previously mentioned.


I'm sure most policy makers are trying to do what they see as the right thing. However, I'm not sure they have taken into account the "Law Abiding Citizens" and what is right for them. Different agencies, who don't know the others rules, who can't advise you, and you just have to stumble through it and if you do something wrong, it could be terrible for your pet. Does this make sense? I for one think NO. It isn't the agents part, instead it is the fault of the policy makers who are after the bad guys resulting in the policies that make this a big PAIN for the good guys. I just hope that someone will figure out how stupid this all is. After all, we are on a US flagged vessel with a bird that never leaves US soil. I guess when we get back I will have to investigate the legal manner of just keeping the bird on the boat with a little quarantine flag flying above his cage.

We arrived back in Marathon and went back to the boat without our normal reception of a happy bird with us returning. Something we will have to get used to. On the positive side, we called the pet shop and Jimmy is playing in the window. He hasn't talked to them yet but he is playing so I guess he is having a good time while under house arrest.

A couple of days ago, I talked to Roy and Beverly at the Overseas and let them know I could play at a lunch for them. They were very receptive and in about 2 minutes I was booked. It ended up that I played today and after yesterday's driving and depressing day, this was just what we needed.

I took the picture to the left from the stage and what was interesting is that this wasn't a normal lunch at the Overseas. I think there were more people there and from what I've seen, they stayed longer too. Given their clapping and thumbs up, I think they enjoyed my music.

I had a good time and it added another place to the places I've played on our trip. I missed my friend Mike singing but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

The place seemed pretty full at the end and some people were disappointed that I ended when I did. Oh well, as they say, leave them wanting more.

After I finished, we received a complementary lunch and drinks. Thanks Roy and Beverly.

Next we took the car, shipped off the bikes to our friends Steve and Linda so we would have more room on the boat and then went shopping for just a bit more food before we were to leave. After unloading the food and guitar back at the boat, it was one more trip to West Marine, K-Mart, fill up propane bottles and then return the car. Enterprise brought me back to the dock and we are ready to leave.

I picked up some more water and now we are ready to leave in the morning. I think we are taking off at 10 am to pick up diesel, gas and a bit more water. After all, it is all much more expensive in the Bahamas. (water is at least 50 cents a gallon)

We are going up about 25 miles to Channel 5 tomorrow, barring a change in weather, and then on Friday we are crossing the Gulf Stream to south riding rock and onto the Bahamas bank throughout the night. We should arrive at the Northwest Channel at daybreak on Saturday and then on to Morgan's Bluff at Andros Saturday about noon so we can check in. After that, we will be going to Nassau on Sunday and await the weather system that should pass us on Monday for a few days. From there we will be going down the Exumas Island chain which will take several weeks at the pace we hope to go. Perhaps it will even take 3 weeks. I think I'm getting that island spirit back and telling you, I can't tell you what I don't know Mon with regards to our schedule. We should be in Georgetown, Exumas in about a month.

Jan 12 - WE MADE IT! Actually, it shouldn't be a surprise but the weather was different than forecast. Again, I get ahead of myself.

The pictures to the right and below are of the anchorage where we have been for the last 5 weeks. Too long but you've already read about Jimmy Buffett and about provisioning so the only other reason was weather. At this point, we all agreed that the weather was right and we were past ready to leave.

To the right is a picture of Bill waving goodbye and below is a picture of the twin 4200 Lagoons which are our friends on Makeitso and the Anything's Possible's.

Now that we have a tour of the mooring field, it is time to go put on more fuel and water than we should have on the boat so we can try and sink it. No wait, let's not do that!!!! But that may be what happens. Remember those covers I sewed for the gas cans? There is a reason, I'm putting diesel and gas in them and I want them to stay somewhat cool but first, I have to put the gas in them so I'm really trying to sink the boat along with the other junk we bought to eat for the next 3-5 months.


If course before we left, we were trying to forget the fact that we didn't have Jimmy Buffett with us. Deb is leaning on the place where we kept his cage and has that depressed kind of look on her.

Really, we do miss that little two winged and feathered friend.

We pulled up to the fuel dock and guess who showed up. Linda, Rick and Kirby (the wonder dog.) Thanks, we appreciated the fact that you came up and sorry we missed you as we dropped the mooring ball.

Next we filled up with fuel. This means to not only fill the standard tanks, but also fill the two 6 gallon diesel containers Garry gave me. In addition, we put on 12 gallons of gas in containers for our generator so we can keep up with the freezer. (Can you see the boat sinking yet?) Also, there is that thing known in most worlds as WATER. Ok, we hold 60 gallons and we put on an extra 20 gallons in containers. OK, enough is enough! Stop already, the boat is about to sink.  By the way, I would never take that extra water again! In the end water is cheap and don't take the weight. Besides, next year we will have a water maker and that will lighten up the boat but that is next year's story.

We left the fuel dock and I had to motor with the wind at about 25 degrees off our starboard. I kept thinking that why can the monohull's sail and I can't. It just got my mind working and then I thought. It isn't because of the keel, it has to be because of the angle of the sheet (non-sailors read - rope) that sheets in (read - pulls) the jib (read sail up front.)

So, after 4 hours of being a bit jealous of the other boats and thinking about the problem, I rigged my snatch block to the base of the mast and then rerouted the jib line so I could get the jib sheeted in to the center of the boat. How would I know if I was doing right or wrong. I've never read anything about this. (Someone on the Gemini List should tell the List people about this!) IT WORKED. I immediately picked up a half of a knot and instead of the monohull's leaving me behind, I was keeping up. Again, we are talking 25 degrees to the wind motor sailing.

Now that wouldn't be that important unless after we left the next morning I did the same thing and picked up an extra half knot for about 26 hours. Read this 13 extra miles!!!

I'm going to do some more testing but I will say I have never seen anyone do this and it really works so far. (I'm sure someone has done it because rarely are things like this new, however, I've never heard of it.) I also use the same snatch block on the aft cleat and rearrange the sheets to open up the sail on downwind sails as well.

Oh don't forget, you can also see the jackline we run from the front port cleat, around the mast and to the rear starboard cleat. This is just in case we want to go foward when the seas are up (and they were) or during the night and we have to go forward (and we didn't.)

The weather on Friday was supposed to be (for the non-sailors, read - weather people are still working weather as if it was supposed to behave in a way but doesn't) the winds will shift to the SE to SSE. Since we are going east, this will be good. In the night, they are supposed to be south, this will be real good.

They were wrong! Good thing I found about that sheet thing the day before!!!!!

We left on Friday morning and we were with a gaggle of boats. Now I have to say, this was an adventure because the person who was helping everyone out was with a boat he cruised with and after we arrived at the anchorage at Channel 5, the second boat (B) was taking on water. BAD PROBLEM!!! He got on the radio and had an idea what he was doing but it didn't help. Ultimately, people volunteered pumps, generators, and everything else. Bottom line is that I volunteered Bill (he had a dinghy in the water and was probably on the way anyway) to try and help out. Bill found out that the guy had a different problem and got the leak stopped. This by the way was a bad leak and had the pump turning on 7 times a minute. That means if the pump failed, the boat goes down. Oops. When Bill left, the pump didn't have to run. Three boats turned back to Marathon and the rest of us (I think 7) went on the next morning. Now there were two different philosophies about crossing the Gulf Stream. One is to steer straight to the point you wish to go and correct for the gulf stream current as you go. Mine (also Bill's) was to correct for the current as soon as you leave. (It's a math thing and I use vectors which is what I learned before my navigation certification.) Bottom line was, the only people that could make South Riding Rock were Bill and me who corrected early. The rest had to go up and around Bimini and then on from there.

The crossing was not a piece of cake. The weather was running behind the forecast and we went from a forecast of 2-3 the day before to 3-5 on the morning of the crossing. By the way, there were some 7's in there because they get averaged out and remember we are on a 25 degree angle to the wind. OOP's. We were taking water over the bow about every 3rd wave. The water on the windshield isn't from rain, it is from the water coming over the front of the boat and the spray. Anyone that says a Gemini can't hold up to the weather is crazy. Now the real question is can we?

The picture to the right is the sunset out on the Stream as it was calming down.

The picture to the bottom left is my new device. Anyone who has read this website knows I get seasick. You also know that on this crossing, I should have been giving my dinner and breakfast back to the fishes if past performance is a predictor of future performance.

I thought I had tried every seasick prevention remedy known to man. Bands, pills, ginger, more pills acquired from the heath food store, and finally I found out about this electrocution band. I thought, what's another 100 bucks plus, after all, we've already busted the budget beyond belief.

The theory is that the electrical impulse interrupts the brains signal to the stomach to feed the fish. Being and electrical type of guy, I figure what the heck. I'll give it a try. I must add here, I've never been out for more that 3 hours without feeling some kind of seasickness. Sometimes I feed the fish and others I don't but I still get sick.

I never knew how much fun sailing can be if you aren't sick! I didn't get sick, and I should have, for the entire 28 or so hour's we were at sea and in BAD conditions for any boat. I think I told you 4 or 5 other boats couldn't make the waves and detoured north so it was bad enough.  Anyway, the thing worked for me. I electrocuted myself for 28 or so hours.

The flag you see to the bottom right is our quarantine flag. We had it flying as we arrived at Morgan's Bluff, Andros, Bahamas. WE ARE GETTING CLOSE!

We left Channel 5 at 6:30 in the morning on Friday, went out to the gulf stream in 2,500 feet of water. Next we approached South Riding Rock and went up to about 20 feet of water. That in itself is cool because you go from a point where you depth finder doesn't work to it does again. Next we can't see the South Riding Rock light. I guess, it's burned out. So, are our electronic charts good enough to avoid that steel pole sticking out of the water? Well, guess what? Bill had Radar and he had the pole where it showed on our electronic charts. WONDERFUL, we can count on the electronic charts. After all, we typically consider them as a guideline but it is 10 pm and no moon.

Next we went across the Bahamas Bank with depths varying from 12-14 feet. This took most of the night and we arrived at the Northwest Channel at 5:30 in the morning. Again, our electronic charts proved true and we went between the reefs out into the Tongue of the Ocean and again we were in DEEP water, about 3,300 feet where we were. Of course to the right of us (starboard to those sailing friends) was a reef that ran the coast so we decided we should probably avoid that. The picture to the left is Morgan's Bluff and was taken just about 30 minutes before we ran out of diesel. No problem Mon. Remember those jugs Garry gave us? We put 6 more gallons in and used about a quart to get there. I don't think it was too bad, I figure about 14.5 gallons usable on each side which may be generous and we motored 34 hours on the fuel in the tanks. That means 29 gallons for a heavily loaded boat. (Did I mention we are heavy?)

We anchored at Morgan's Bluff at 10:30 in the morning in the most wonderful clear water. The bottom, which you can almost see in the picture, is down about 12 feet in the picture on the bottom left. The next morning the wind quit and it was as if the water wasn't even there the bottom was SO clear.

As we arrived in Morgan's Bluff, we saw the Water ship in port. You can see from the picture above right and the one to the right that it is sinking. Or should I say, it is being loaded.

As it turns out, much of the water for Nassau is shipped from Morgan's Bluff. Evidently there are two of these ships and they trade places between Nassau being unloaded and Morgan's Bluff being loaded.

As we are coming in, Bill agreed to come by and pick me up rather that Deb and I assembling our dinghy. As many know, you have to check into a country and you just can't show up and have a great time. It as Bill and my responsibility to check in our boat and crew. He stopped by and we went to Customs which is pictured to the lower right.

Yep, Customs receiving area is in the open in a parking area.

We walked around asking about Customs and Immigration. Unfortunately, we arrived on the same day the shipping boat did and everyone wanted the "stuff" they ordered. This varied from plywood to mineral water.

After talking to several people, pointing, and walking, we found the customs office. He called immigration because we had to clear them first. Immigration is located at the airport so we were to wait until they arrived. We talked to the head of the dock and he told us that we should wait at the Bar because that is the best place to meet up and by the way, have a Klick. (local beer) Of course, I'm allergic to beer but I had a diet coke and Bill had a beer and we waited, and we waited, and we waited, and the immigration officer arrived!

This was the nicest guy and he had a job to do so he asked us all the right questions, made sure we filled out all of the right forms. After stamping our forms and passports, we then went to customs. You can see Bill opening the door to Customs below. This was a metal shipping container with some air conditioners cut into the back side. The people were great and were very nice to us. They let us know that we should have done it in triplicate (oops) and we had some more forms to fill out. If you arrive here by boat, you just have to get the mind set that you are in their country and even though the office is different, they will do their job, be helpful and in great spirit.

Overall, I found the experience pretty good even though I had to redo my form in ink because I did it in pencil (just in case I messed something up.) We were checked in and both received a six month cruising permit which we have to return when we leave.

 When I got back, the first thing I wanted to do is to take down the quarantine flag and put up my Bahamas courtesy flag. We are now in the Bahamas and more importantly to us, we have achieved another step in our dream. The water is beautiful and from our VERY limited sample, the people are wonderful. I'm sure we will find some that aren't but so far, wonderful.

To the lower right  you can see that Bill and Christy didn't waste too much time with their flag either.

Tomorrow we are off to Nassau, which is a 3/4 day sail and we will be spending some time there. How much? Who know's? Regardless, it will be enough to see this next weather front pass and to enjoy seeing what we want to see. Then on to the islands of the Exumas. By the way, yes we did put the other 6 gallons in to our tanks too just in case. Hopefully, we will be able to sail but if not, we will get there so we can enjoy the cold front.


 Jan 14 - This morning I awoke at anchor in Nassau, Bahamas. We are in the capitol of the country and are looking forward to going ashore today. Yesterday we left early from Morgan's Bluff so we would miss the water tanker coming back for more. This is a narrow channel and I was in the lead heading out after Bill stopped by to let me know we should leave 10 minutes earlier because he was coming in. In the channel, the water tanker called me and said that he was coming in and was restricted by draft. I was immediately back on the radio and let him know that we had no intention of taking him on in the channel. As a matter of fact we typically run from people that big and would be either out of the channel or on the far side. He thanked me and also complemented us because I was on the radio so quick. I guess there are some pretty stupid people out there. You can also note that he is sitting about 8 or so feet higher than yesterday when he left. That is a lot of water!

We cleared the entrance, and the tanker, then we were off for our motorsail to Nassau of about 35 miles. The winds should have been moving to the south so we hoped we would actually get to sail today. Wrong. It started out as a light wind about 15 degrees off of our nose. That meant we could put up the main and hope. As you can see to the lower right, it was pretty calm. However, still some rollers in there and of course with the wind on our nose, it was slower.


 You can see on the wind instrument that the wind started filling in at about 8 knots combined with our forward speed of the boat came out to about 15 knots apparent. In addition, it is about 5 degrees off of our nose. Great..... As the morning evolved, the wind did start shifting around and when it got to 25 degrees of the nose, we put the jib out with the snatch block again at the mast. In these light winds, and putting the port board down, that still gave us a .3-.4 knot increase in Speed over Ground. Really, Gemini sailors, it did. I will never leave home without that snatch block again! Really cool when going to weather. Again, I hope someone puts this on a post or directs the others here. Anyway, it did make a good picture with all the sails sheeted in tight. I'm still motor sailing but will try it sailing alone next time we are out.

Deb took her time at watch as I layed down for about an hour. I was still pooped from the crossing but just couldn't stay out of the cockpit very long. This is just too much fun! Sailing in the Bahamas has been a dream of ours for as long as I can remember and most of our friends got tired of us talking about it. Like so many other stories, I'm sure they never figured we would do it. Things happen in life where people just can't achieve their dreams but I have to say one more time, it was worth the dream and now the doing!!! Go and live your dreams!


Do you see those clouds in the distance? They are the only clouds down low on the horizon and if you look real close, above our front seat, on the horizon, you will see something sticking up. A building! Deb thought it might be a tanker but since it wasn't moving I knew it was a building. Of course there was also the binoculars to help out.

Below, you can get an idea of what Nassau looks like as you approach it from the west. At this point the seas were up to 1-2 feet and we were making 7.5 knots boat speed at 35 degrees to the wind motor sailing. However, we were only making 6.3 knots over ground because of the current. Regardless we are getting closer to Nassau. The pictures don't line up too good because we are pitching up and down some and that's just the way it happens. But it is pretty cool. Now all I have to do is avoid the container ship coming at about 20 knots on my port side trying to beat me to the entrance. Just because I'm a chicken and not too bad of a guy, I think I'll let him in first.

We called the Harbor Control and got permission to enter. Evidently they have gotten much more strict in the last year. Everyone has to call and they don't like it if you don't call. They want to know where you are going and we heard people being denied entrance until they had that figured out.


This is what the entrance to Nassau from the west looks like. The entrance is between the light house and you can just make out the white part of that container ship I was talking about.

As you come in, you have a lighthouse on the port side and then to the right, you can see the old town of Nassau. I'm sure there are lots of architectural influences here. I'm looking forward to walking around the town. (We've read to be careful especially after dark.)

As we were coming up the harbor heading to our anchorage, you could see the large buildings on the left, the bridges and of course the highlight of the Bahamas, the clear water. Here, the current coming through will reach up to 2.5 knots and we are expecting a blow on Monday night from the north. Therefore we picked a place that will be protected from the 20 knot or so winds that should be blowing all night.

After arriving at the anchorage, we picked a spot in sand, rather than grass, to drop the first anchor. We made sure it set and then we fell back and dropped a second anchor again, in a patch of sand. Now we are set up for the next 3,4,5 ??? days and shouldn't have to worry about the boat. Of course, no going ashore yet because we have to make sure the anchors are holding.

We put the dinghy toghether and then took our bucket with the clear glass in the bottom to search for the anchors. This was kind of fun and frustrating because Deb is driving the dink in a current and I'm telling her which way to go with my head in a bucket looking at the bottom. Sounds like fun doesn't it. The blind leading the uncoordinated. We found the anchors and they looked set properly. We also went over to check out Bill's anchors and they looked good too. However, just in front of their boat were two HUGE concrete blocks chained together. I read there were moorings without balls in the harbor and we just found one but didn't use it.

The picture to the left is of Atlantis. I think we will be paying the fee in a couple of days and going visit. They have a fee of $25 per person to enter the complex. I guess it is to keep out the riff raff such as us sailors but we just might go anyway. We have conflicting information about if we can use the 20 or so pools but we will be prepared.

By the way, if you want to stay here, you can. It ends up, we heard on the radio, that the skywalk room you can see in the photo rents for the low sum of only $25,000 per night. No, I didn't miss the decimal point. I left of the other two zero's so I didn't need to put it in. Now you might get the idea of why they might want to keep us riff raff out.

They are supposed to have an aquarium, pools, casino, and all the other things a high end resort would have. Who knows, perhaps we will get in?

We ended up going over to Veranda for drinks and some shared finger food and watched the boats turn with the tide shift. Everyone stayed in the same place so we can sleep in peace. Now we have today to explore and then get back on the boat before the winds come tonight.

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