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

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 May 1 - Yesterday we saw a Sundog. Ok, that isn't what we thought it was because it didn't look like a dog to either one of us. Actually I kept looking up to see if it was getting bigger - you know, like a nuclear explosion of the sun and the end of the world kind of thing. I'm thinking, its getting ready to get REAL COLD. Should we think about that free sex thing like they had in the 60's? Oh yeah, I didn't do that in the 60's so we better forget that and just love the one we are with especially since she is my wife!

We then call Aunt Sandy and found out that this happens on RARE occasions. Then we looked it up on the internet and found out it occurs on RARE occasions. Now I'm thinking my Aunt Sandy is the internet. We learned that "A sun dog or sundog (scientific name parhelion, plural parhelia, for "beside the sun") is a common bright circular spot on a solar halo. It is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Often, two sun dogs can be seen (one on each side of the sun) simultaneously." You can find out more at


 I was actually thinking at the end of all of this that the ORB that we have had delivered was an alien thing from the sundog. However, what it really was is a washing machine. Now you are thinking, how many people who own a Gemini Cat have a washing machine on board? I only know one plus us. That is how I discovered this. We decided that we really hated taking in laundry, hauling it to the laundry mat, waiting for the wash and dry cycle, and finally hauling it all back. That equaled about 4 hours on a good day.

So we spent our 42 or so bucks plus shipping so we can do Tee shirts, boat towels, and underwear on the boat. We figure we can then go in every three weeks for laundry instead of every week. (Deb hates to see laundry build up.)

Below you can see that we have put the laundry into the Orb, sealed it and then Deb is rotating the wash. You have to do this for about 2 minutes and then you drain out the soap stuff and add fresh water to rinse.


 We decided that we HATE to waste water. No we aren't that much of an environmentalist yet, but I do hate to haul more and more water to the boat. So, we decided that since I had changed oil on the Honda generator and put on new feet on this morning, it was time to wash the back deck. What would be better than using the wash water from the Orb to scrub the deck and then the rinse water to rinse it off with. In the end, we used 2 1/2 gallons of water to wash 5 Tee shirts, underwear, and 1 pair of shorts. In addition, I was able to clean the back deck and it looks great again. Maybe we are becoming environmentalists!

We hung out the stuff to dry, got pumped out, I practiced my guitar, and then we headed into town for some errands we both needed to accomplish. Another day in absolute paradise.

As I look at the pictures of Deb draining the water, I just have to look at the beautiful water in the background. Doing laundry on the boat is nothing like doing it in the basement of a townhouse in any sense of the imagination. Sometimes we actually forget that fact. Shame on us!

"People who plan for and are lucky enough to go cruising should see themselves as among the luckiest people in the world." - Jim Faughn


 May 3 - Yesterday we were working on the boat before we were going out to dinner with Jack and Chris. I'll explain the project in a bit but in the middle, I looked out and this little sailboat was heading by. This boat was just out for a day sail and measured a mere 110 feet long. I guess it is nice to be able to push the buttons, raise and trim the sails and sit on the poop deck while the crew takes you out. Actually, I like doing everything manually so I don't think it would be as much fun but Deb sure thought it was cool.

Last night we headed out to Santiago's for dinner. Santiago's is a toppa place so that really means that you order a bunch of dishes which are tastes of everything you can imagine. When a dish is ready, it comes out and everyone gets their taste. Things can add up pretty quick except that we were there with Chris who is an employee and that meant a pretty good discount. On top of that, at the end of the night Jack wouldn't take any money from us. Something about us taking them sailing a couple of times. I sometimes can't believe the generosity of people.

By the way, the guy to the far left also works with Jack. He is Hawk and originally from Turkey but was raised in New York. Next is Jack, Chris, Deb and of course me.


What is this woman staining? I was looking around in the forward stateroom and found a box that appeared to be hollow. It was located between the drawers and the bulkhead. Now why would it be hollow and if it is hollow, that means there is storage available! I drilled out the filler plugs and unscrewed the top and found out there was quite a bit of storage available. So, I decided to cut off a section of the back teak piece, add a hinge, install new filler plugs, and glue a block to the hull so I could hinge the top off of the hull. Of course, Deb then got to stain it. In the end, I think the project came out pretty well.

In addition, we ended up with quite a bit of storage that we can put into this location and since Deb is acquiring more jewelry making stuff - shells and more - then this became the perfect place to stash it and keep it out of site.


 May 6 - We have been feeding the fish with leftovers and are starting to come up with a little bit of a swarm around the boat at meal time. Nothing big but enough to enjoy the after dinner feeding too.


 You might remember me talking about Mike and Gina or if you read our logs last year, you might remember we stayed at their house too long on the "2007 Reunion Tour." Well, they made it to Key West at the same time we were here so we got to see them on Sunday afternoon. You can see Mike, Deb, me, Gina and their friend Chris. We were able to catch up on life and after a drink at the Raw Bar, we headed down to Caroline's for an early dinner. Caroline's is on Duval and is always good for people watching along with the fact that they have good food and they know us so that means we are treated like locals.
 As we were walking back, I just had to take this picture of a fortune teller sitting and waiting because nobody was there at his booth. I have to relate a question that my friend Gary has. Why is is that if these guys can actually tell your fortune, do they have to wait for people to show up? Wouldn't they simply know when to come to their booth? Ok, maybe arrive five minutes early each time but wouldn't they know their own future well enough so that they would quit wasting their own time? Perhaps, that is the future of a fortune teller - to waste time.

Yesterday we had two commitments. First, Mike picked us up and drove us up to Big Pine Key. While there, I was going to help him paint part of his house and Deb was going to get some "girl time." Not that she doesn't like being with me but, well, you know. In addition, Mike and I were going to practice because on Thursday night, we are playing part of the time at Dante's. This is going to be fun for both of us because we will be able to say we played in Key West. The practice was needed but once again, after an hour we were back in sync. Deb and the girls were having too much fun so we missed our bus back and Mike drove us back down to Key West again for our next commitment.

You remember Chris and Jack below. Well Jack was in the Bartender competition at Hog's Breath Saloon. We just had to be there to support him.


This is what everyone is competing for and only 12 bartenders get to compete.

Ok, perhaps it was also the $1,500 first prize too.

This is the first year for Jack to enter and the first time he had ever seen the competition. The "theme ingredient" was tequila and I'm pretty sure it is every year since they are sponsored by some big name tequila company along with the fact that it is held on Cinco de Mayo.

Jack's drink mellowed out the taste of the tequila and one of his ingredients was pear. So, he came up with the idea of using a pear as part of his drink presentation. You can see him mixing below and get see his pear in action delivering the shots to the mandatory 5 glasses.

He had waited until the last minute to pull out the pear. When pulled it out and poured the drink the crowd went wild. It was really cool and a great night for him. In addition to friends and lots of co-workers who took off work to support him, one of the owners of Dante's was there too. We found out the owner had helped that afternoon making the hat to hold the pear. Don't you just love a job where bosses actually support their people instead of criticize!

 Jack provided the drinks to the "esteemed" judges who rated each of the participants. Without question, Jack's creativity with the pear put him into the top.

One thing that happens when you are doing something for the first time is you really don't know all the "rules." For example, they said you had five minutes to make and serve the drink. That seemed to mean get on the stage, make the drink, and serve it. But you know we are in the islands so I'm now thinking the 5 minutes was more of a guideline.

Some of the other contestants exceeded the time by a factor of 3 with lots of flash. You can see some of that below. Being the biased observer, Jack's pear was one of the coolest things there.

 As it ended up, Jack walked away with third place and $500. Pretty darn cool since he stood totally on his drink rather that the flash. However, I'm betting next year there will be as much drink creativity and more flash. It should be another payday for him and who knows, he may end up with his name on that trophy too.

 May 7 - Ok, we had a good day yesterday but no pictures. Yes we did work, such as a load of laundry in our new machine which took 15 minutes AND I went to the UPS store to pick up our new water heater. Story later but ours has lots of corrosion on it so I needed to replace it. Again, I'll get into that later this week. On top of that, I also picked up new videos from the library and a few things from Boaters World because I was out there. In other words, routine day. However, I forgot a few things from last night. We swapped pictures with Jack and Chris and I forgot a few stories.

The first is the one where after the 2nd bartender started his drink the sound system went kaputs. Kaputs is a very technical term which means everything went bad real quick. In other words, no sound was understandable from the sound system.

The guy with the curly hair and the almost ponytail you see to the right is ME.


 Yes, I decided I would go from the parking lot up and tell them that I was a sound guy and I MIGHT be able to help. They immediately let me in to the inner sanctum and I had control. I asked lots of questions but also told them they had either blown their amp for the 12 inch speakers or blew the amp in the speaker (I had just figured out that they had amplified enclosures). Of course they said we have a guy named Jeff that does our sound work. We will try to call him. In the mean time, I eliminated the preamp section and worked my way to the outputs and discovered that YES, they blew the amplified speakers. They weren't too happy with the analysis and Jeff and I talked on some lady's cell phone. He thought someone pushed a button they shouldn't have. I explained it all to him and said, they had a blown speaker. He didn't totally believe me and then I learn someone had also unplugged a second speaker because it was buzzing. Jeff hung up and was on his way too. I got the second speaker send plugged back in and yes it was buzzing but I eliminated that with the equalizer so they were up and talking again. Then five minutes later Jeff showed up. I gave him a quick brief and he started swapping plugs and pushing buttons but with no result. He then said, we have a blown speaker. Wow, I wish I was that smart.

We got a powered monitor speaker and Jeff said plug it into the Aux Send. Ok, I know I'm getting technical but this is what happened. I did that and it sounded terrible. The problem was it had all the effects coming through it (which is what an aux send is for) and I was trying to tell him that he had to kill the effects. Next a guy comes up and says, if you will get out of the way, we can fix this thing. I get out of the way and tell Jeff again, you have to get rid of the effects and it will work. Jeff turns off the effects and it works perfectly. Jeff then says, he fixed it. Wow, I wonder what I did to help! Oh well, the life of a sound guy who used to be an engineer at a radio station. I guess now I'm simply a guy with a wannabe pony tail....

 Somewhere in the middle of the competition, a couple of roosters decided that it was time to roost. So one of them hops on a cars hood then up on the roof. We were all snapping pictures and then the rooster decides it is time to hop up into the tree.

Well in the middle of the commotion, the owner of the car also decided that it would be a good idea to come out and close the vent in the sunroof. Afterall, who really wants rooster stuff coming through the vent after they crawl up in the tree.


 We didn't see the "stuff" coming down to bomb the car but the roosters were pretty happy once they got up in the tree. I'm not exactly sure why they would choose a tree next to a bar with a LOUD sound system to roost. I guess they are just from Key West and this is home to them.

By the way, when I went in to swap pictures with Jack and Chris tonight, Jack gave me 4 free drink tickets from Hogs Breath because I helped out last night. All I told the people was that I was with the Dante's group. The manager figured out that I wasn't just a guy with a wannabe pony tail. So, I guess we had better use them up before the week is out because we are planning on leaving on Tuesday of next week and starting our traveling adventures again.

May 8 - Yesterday we picked Mike, Gina, and Chris up at the dock and went out to the reef. The winds were down so we motored out and trolled on the way although we didn't catch any fish. Mike was in the water pretty quickly. The snorkeling is wonderful out here because the winds had been down for a couple of days and the reef has so many cuts in it for fish to hide.

Mike had a great time above and below the water.

Gina was content to hang on the back steps and feed the fish crackers.

Chris went snorkeling for a short time but really ended up ont the other back steps feeding fish too.

All these crackers made a great fish school for Mike to look at.

We dropped the mooring and immediately set the sails. We had a great sail back to the harbor. The tarpon are so thick and there is some kind of a food event for them. It is amazing to see the tarpon rolling and see people catching them. It looks like we are going to go out again this afternoon for a short time and see if we can catch one of them.

We stopped by our anchorage and picked up the anchor lines and had a late lunch. Mike and I practiced our music for a bit and then we headed in to the Dock to end a great day.

Deb and Chris had been drinking a bit of wine during the day so Chris needed a bit of help getting back to the car.

As you can see, Mike was creative enough to find a dock cart so in all good fun, Chris was off to the car. We nicknamed her Jello.

We are probably going to give it a couple hours trying to catch a tarpon today and then we will head in to play at Dante's this evening. Once again, it should be a fun day on and off the water.

 May 11 - On Thursday, Mike and Gina along with Mick, Peg and Chris came back down to Key West. I let Deb off at the dock to join the girls while Mike and Mick went with me out on the boat. We were going to try to catch a tarpon. We got out to the channel and it was rough. However, tarpon were rolling everywhere feeding on what Mike told me was the worm spawn. Evidently, there is a worm that lives in the ocean that is spawning and the tarpon are getting a real easy meal. I just had to much fun looking and forgot to take a picture. At one point I think you could see 50 tarpon up rolling and chasing worms. Unfortunately, this was Mick's first time out and he wasn't feeling well.

We headed back to our anchorage so things would calm down. While there, we did see this dolphin swimming around the anchorage. Mick tried to get better and Mike and I practiced for a while for the "big gig" tonight. Ultimately, I took the guys back to shore in the dinghy so we could meet up with the ladies.


We ended up at Dante's. The only thing was, everyone was there at about 5 and we didn't play until 7. As it ended up, Mike, Mick, Gina and Peg went on back to Big Pine Key because of the long wait for the opportunity to play.

When we arrived at Dante's we also saw Frank and Veni whom we had met a few weeks ago. Frank, Veni and a couple of their friends had gone fishing that day on a charter boat. I was pumping them for how they caught the fish and learned quite a bit. You can see the wahoo to the left that they caught. They ended up having to go out to 700 foot water to catch most of the fish.

It finally turned 7 but the guy who was supposed to run the open mic night wasn't there. He finally showed up at 7:20 and got ready to play. This was a cool night because I added another place I've played. I was supposed to only play 5 songs but after he heard me play a couple of songs, he said I could play as long as I wanted. I think that was really because nobody else was there to play. Regardless, I had a great time and played songs I hadn't even practiced since I didn't expect to play solo.

We went to lunch at Caroline's on Friday just to say goodbye to some of the people we know there. Afterall, we are winding things down getting ready to go north.

When we crossed the Gulf Stream, I had forgotten to close the vent for the water heater. To be honest, I've forgotten to close it before and the effects of the saltwater on the heater finally did their thing and it wasn't reliable anymore. To be honest, I liked having the propane heater but I never liked this exact unit. Paloma had made a smaller unit that was perfect but this one never really controlled the heating well. If you mixed hot and cold water together for a shower, it would always go from real hot to real cold so I always had to put it in a shower bag and use it from the shower bag. Better than nothing but not perfect. You can see some of the corrosion in the pictures to the right and lower left. I tracked down a new Excel unit and bid on it at Ebay. I got a deal and they shipped me the unit that has an oxygen sensor along with an automatic lighter without a pilot. This unit is WONDERFUL.  It is also smaller than the Paloma unit. I removed the old unit and then made a trip to Home Depot for parts to install the new one. In the end, everything was installed and it worked great. It controls the temperature perfectly and now all we have to do is turn the gas valve on and turn the hot water valve on the faucet. This is just as easy as having a house and it is hot water on demand. On top of that great feature, you no longer need that vent. I have a new one coming because it had also corroded but when I install it, I will close it and never open it again. You can see the new unit installed t the lower right.

By the way, Deb is REALLY happy about the new hot water heater because she is now independent and doesn't need me to fill a shower bag. Me, well as I think I've said before - If Deb is happy, I'm happy.

 May 14 - Sunday we were busy preparing to leave. One of the BIG messy jobs was to pull all of our anchors (one at a time) and clean the rode, chain, and anchors. After almost two months, they were messy and I had to scrub every inch of the 90 feet on each anchor line. We did it an anchor at a time and in the end, we put one away and were riding on two anchors for the next two days. Later, I put away the solar panels and got ready to head into town for my meeting with George Victory.

It ended up that George was playing on a private charter and the captain came in too hot and hit the dock which threw George forward landing between a speaker cabinet and his guitar. This messed up his right shoulder, again. George isn't able to play for the rest of the week because of the injury. He brought his wife and grandkids down so I could interview him for the website. We took pictures of some of his awards and then spent 45 minutes in the interview. Next he surprised us by taking Deb and I to dinner at Prime 951. This is one of the nicer places in Key West to have dinner and what we had was delicious. Now I have to get to work processing all that information and finish up his website.


 Monday we took out some of our friends we've met while in Key West. We motor sailed out to Sand Key where we did some snorkeling and had lunch. Then we were able to turn back and had a perfect sail back to Key West. This was the first time one of the people had been on a boat in Key West and for two of them, this was the first time they had ever sailed.

People always love laying on the front deck when the seas are only 2 foot and today was no exception. Up front was Jason, Lisa, Anthony and Chris. While in the back you will remember Jack and of course there was Deb, Snickers, and Jo. It was a fun time to end up our stay in Key West. We headed back to the anchorage and had a great time then took everyone back to the dock where we let them off with good wishes. We are all looking forward to seeing each other in December.


 On Tuesday morning, we pulled both anchors, stowed them and then got underway with the sun coming up over the Coast Guard station. On the way out, I happened to meet the Carnival Cruise ship Fascination coming in. I didn't know which dock they would be using so I gave them a call on the radio. Sometimes it is fun just talking to a cruise ship but this time I really wanted to know if he wanted me on his port or starboard side because I don't move too fast. He told me he would be turning to tie up on his port side. That meant he would be turning to the starboard and turning the ship around in the harbor. So, I needed to give him some room and pass port to port. No big deal but mission accomplished.

Further up the keys, we were entertained by a naval refueling plane doing touch and go's at the naval air station.

Unfortunately, the best day to have sailed to Marathon was yesterday but today wasn't too bad, we just had to motorsail..


 We arrived in Marathon and it looked like a ghost town compared to a couple of months ago. Moorings are available everywhere so we were able to get in close which makes for a short dinghy ride.

We are waiting on packages that should arrive by late this afternoon or tomorrow so I can get some projects completed before we leave for the Little Shark River on Friday. Hopefully everything will arrive on time because we are expecting a weather change and winds from the north on Saturday which is why we want to move north on Friday.

Also, the official start of hurricane season starts in two weeks. I'm sure happy that we have the new insurance because it allows us to be in the hurricane "box" until July 1. After that, we have to be north of the 31st latitude which means I have to be about 30 miles above Mobile Alabama for my insurance to be in effect in case of a named storm. Time for us to be moving and in retrospect, we probably should have left two weeks ago because it is getting hot.

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