February 15-28, 2009 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Feb 15 - On Wednesday it was bread day. Yes, it is my Cuban bread recipe. I just had to show you this picture because I twisted the bread and gave it some character. The bread along with a great salad Deb prepared along with a grilled Pork Loin was delicious. I just had to grill the pork in a pan with water along with Barbeque sauce on top. It was tender and finger lickin good.

However, that isn't why you came by today. The answer is yes we did go sailing and yes the Asymmetrical Spinnaker Fly's.


Now I just think this is a colorful sail. All of the colors of a rainbow. What was really neat was I just got the sail up and a Captain I know, Patrick, yelled at me from his charter boat and said "Hi Jim." He then called me on the radio and told me the sail was very colorful. I told him this was the first time we had ever flown an asymmetrical and we were taking pictures for everyone who reads our website.

I really do like all the people in Key West because it is really such a small town and as you get to know people, you really enjoy seeing them on the water or in town.

So here are the pictures and the results. We took these pictures in about 4 knots of wind and the boat was moving right at 2 knots. That was our first time up. Then the wind dropped and we motored for awhile up Key West and turned around. On the way back down I went forward and moved the lines around so we would be on a starboard tack. Then we saw some wind. It was BIG wind. 8 whopping knots. We set the asymmetrical and were making about 4 knots for a short period of time and the wind went back to 4 knots. Wow, this is going to be fun. I can't wait to fly it in 10-12 knots of wind and it is blowing steady!

We took the pictures below so you can get an idea of size. That of course is me to the lower left and I am actually wearing a rainbow colored Key West shirt. Appropriate don't you think? Then the picture below was to show you how much visibility you have going forward. It is great because we can actually see boats or obstacles in front of us. This is better than our jib, too cool.

Don't worry, asymmetrical theory is coming next. You know I just can't help myself.

There are three different types of asymmetrical sails. The picture to the right is of symmetrical sails but the theory is the same. The sails can be constructed as cross cut, radial head, and the Tri-radial. We have the radial head and as I understand it, that is a compromise sail that is best between 140 degrees and about 70-80 degrees to the wind. Although we did fly it straight downwind and it flew pretty good. By the way, we did not have the main sail up because the wind was so light.

The real question for me was, how do you size an asymmetrical? If you read the Gemini list, you would simply go out and buy a Melges 24 asymmetrical. I couldn't find one so instead, I did some research and found when shopping for a sail you really need to measure the I and J measurements (see far right picture) and then start calling used sail companies or do your searching on-line. The I measurement (from the top of the spinnaker halyard to the base of the mast) on my Gemini hull number 536 is 36.5 feet and the J measurement (from the base of the jib roller to the base of the mast) was 11 feet. Typically you want the luff to be right at or shorter than the I measurement. So I was looking for a sail with a luff of 36.5 feet down to 34 feet. This contrasts to a Melges 24 of a luff of 32 feet. The foot on an asymmetrical can but up to 200 percent of the J measurement. The sail I purchased is .75 ounce rip stock nylon with a luff of 36.5 feet which includes the sock hardware. The foot of the sail is 18 feet contrasting to 22 feet for a Melges (if the info I have is correct on the Melges) which ended up being 164 percent.  The sail area is 328 square feet while the Melges would be 352 square feet. I could have looked further but the sail I found was in very good condition and priced at 450 bucks including an early model chute scoop. I got this sail from Bacon Sails in Annapolis. The closest other bid I had was 750 bucks which would have included a new model chute scoop. Since I had never flown an asymmetrical before and I was just hoping the results would be worth it. So I chose the least expensive option.

I am very happy with my choice. You never know what a used sail dealer has in stock so you have to call all of the dealers and get the best deal. My sail has a few small holes which were easily patched with "sticky tape." By the way, all of this was revealed before I bought the sail and they even sent me pictures of the sail along with the small holes for complete disclosure. Small issues with a sail are common and I now have all the sticky tape I need for maintenance. Since we typically do not go out in high winds, I believe this will be a very colorful and useful addition to our boat.

Of course you know Deb and now you get to meet Marilyn She was out on the boat with us when we were testing the asymmetrical. She liked the boat and actually said that she could probably live on a Gemini a number of months each year. Sailing today was a good thing for Everett.

Deb couldn't pass up the opportunity to show her a "few" pieces of her jewelry. I only think what she showed her was half of what is on the boat.

All of the "girl" fun happened after we had already picked back up our mooring ball and ate a great lunch that included some shrimp Marilyn and Everett brought to the boat.

Meet Everett. He has been following our website for about a year and a half and also had a good time in the low winds while we flew the asymmetrical for the first time. Everett got a chance to look over all of the parts of our boat including the storage. He was pretty impressed with the amount of storage on the boat and he was talking purchase as he was leaving. All he needs to do is sell a piece of property or two and I think he would be on a Gemini. Economy, quit being stuck in the mud.

When you read this on Friday we should be finishing up with lunch at Caroline's and on our way to the Eco Discovery Center. You should be happy about this because this will be totally new material and I'm hoping a great experience. Besides that, the Eco Discovery Center is free admission! That posting will probably be on Saturday.

Of course on Sunday we have some more friends going sailing with us. Don't you just want to head down to Key West?

 Feb 16 - Big update and guess what? It isn't a bunch of theory. Just fun in Key West.

Well, maybe a little theory. We have been having sea fog and radiation fog for he last 4 days. This is really weird in Key West. We talked to people who have lived here for 15 years and this is only the third time they remember having fog. This event has really been quite a long tome too. The boat you can just see in the picture to the right is about 150 yards away from us. Deb got this picture while I was on-shore running errands. We thought it would last a day however, it has come and gone quite a while. As a matter of fact, we are on the boat as I write this and you can only see for 300 yards and it is 11 am. The forecast was for the fog to burn off at 11 and then clear up. We were supposed to go sailing again today and we have people waiting. The call off or call on happens in about another 30 minutes.

Yesterday, Saturday, we had a BIG day. It was Valentines Day and my answer to that is to take Deb to some places in Key West we haven't been. After lunch we were off to the Eco-Discovery Center. Our friend Jen works there as a full-time employee and she also works at Caroline's on her days off. You can see Jen in the picture to the far right. To her left is another lady working there who's name is Mac. Of course I don't mention children's names on my site.


 They had out all of the pictures of reef fish and were learning them. As I noticed, Jen knew them all and was the resident expert.

The purpose of this visit is to educate visitors about the sea life in the Florida Keys. Sea life begins with sea grass and then it moves all the way to the sharks. The displays were very well done and there were quite a few interactive displays too. This would be a fun place to bring you kids and spend an hour before you go in and watch the really great movie showing tremendous underwater shots.

The pictures below are actually of other pictures of reefs off-shore which are easily reached for a snorkel trip or a dive trip.


The picture to the right is actually one of their living coral exhibit. Coral takes a tremendous time to grow with some of it only growing 1/2 inch per year. The people who are trying to preserve the coral in the Keys have tremendous drive and patience. Just think, they may not even see the results of their efforts before they retire.

There are a number of spots now out by the Dry Tortugas where they are starting new reef's. As it turns out, they are learning how to set up places for coral to begin growing in a protected environment and later (many years) they can transfer these starters to the coral reefs that are having problems.

Of course they stress the fact you shouldn't anchor on coral and also you should know the water you are in so that you don't run aground destroying sea grass. Each year we are here I am amazed at the number of people that run aground. For too little money you can get a good GPS and paying attention to the GPS along with the tide levels pretty much keeps you from going aground. 


 After the Eco-Discovery Center, Deb and I headed back to the boat to drop things off and get ready to go back to town again. This time it was at night! I know you can't believe that we actually got off the boat at night this time and it wasn't to see George playing. What could drive us to do that????

Two years ago, Deb wanted to go on the Ghost Tour. I was a stick-in-the-mud and didn't want to go. This time, we did it for her Valentines Day present. Pretty romantic don't you think? Don't answer that!

We all met at the house you see to the left at the appropriate time of 7 p.m. Perhaps that is the bewitching or should I say Ghosting hour.

This first home was originally owned by Joseph Yates and he happened to be a doctor. He had his office on the lower floor. There are commercial offices on the lower floor and upstairs, you can rent a few apartments. Jo Ann, below, told us the stories about what some of the residents hear and see. Everything from tapping's to things being moved, hidden and then returned a few days later.

You have to understand, I'm a bit dubious about this whole thing but being the romantic that I am, I am listening and trying to do the right thing. Jo Ann told us that when you take pictures, you have to take multiple pictures so you can see if something moves or is in one picture but not the next one. Ok, I have a digital camera and it will give me something to do over the next hour and a half.

So pictures I took. Actually about 90 of them although you won't see them all here. I took some with flash and others with available light. I will tell you right now that I didn't see anything while taking the pictures.

The photo to the right is one where Deb is trying to get a "feeling" off of the door leading to the good Doctors old office. No feelings.

The picture to the left is the one where you are supposed to get a reflection of something that might not be there. Right.

Then I came outside the house with Deb going in front of me. I took two pictures and didn't see anything..... until I looked at the pictures this morning. I'm not saying it is true or not, these are just pictures and what showed up, showed up.

Look in the upper left had corner of each picture. Do you see the difference. According to Jo Ann, using other pictures when she was showing us what to look for, these are Orbs. Ok, they look more like me water spots except it wasn't raining and it didn't show up at any other time that evening.

I have no real idea except that perhaps they are Orbs. I'm going to print the two pictures and take them buy their stand to see what they say. Perhaps I will get the ghost reward.

Again, I didn't see the Orb's until this morning. So, given my infinite wisdom about getting pictures of ghosts, I took the picture to the right. I saw these guys. However, they were stenciled on the door and the wall.

Deb of course is still trying to get that feeling. We went to a graveyard outside a church and we didn't get anything there. Then we went to another site and people were supposed to feel things on the glass. Deb tried and felt some vibrations. I tried and it seemed to happen at the same time cars were going by so I thought it must be a sewer problem or something else.

All the while, Jo Ann is continuing to tell stories about how workers just won't come back to some of these places again so construction projects are ended. And this happens time after time. I'm thinking the economy has more to do with it rather than ghosts but then again, I hadn't seen those Orb's.

As you can tell, everyone gave the feeling part a try.

Below we are getting another story about a guy who lived in the house to the lower right. However, he carried a doll around with him all through high school whom he had named Ronnie. Whenever something went wrong, Ronnie did it. The story continues that when the guy finished college and married he came back to this house. Ultimately, the guy found Ronnie stored away and Ronnie took over the room at the top of the house. Kids would report seeing him move while nobody was home. Hmm.

The picture below was taken with available light. Where did the lights come from? Well, that was a trick I was doing just to play with Deb. I caught the picture when a car was passing and those are the headlights. But where is that car?

While the story was going on, I was looking around for all of the evidence of ghosts. Then I found this poster on the building looking at that house. Just think, you can see ghosts and feed your demons too.

As we walked down a one-way street heading for the only haunted Hard Rock Cafe in the country, I just couldn't help but get this picture of this great door.

As it turns out, we stopped out back of the Hard Rock and the room where the Hard Rock has placed the Rolling Stones room is haunted. You can even get a pin of the Hard Rock with ghosts on it.

After all of these ghost stories where was the last place we went? To Captain Tony's Saloon where we got our last story. Of all the haunted places it just turns out Captain Tony's is also haunted.

We had fun but Deb was pretty excited this morning with the pictures. The evening went from being ok to one where we just might have encountered the Orb's of Key West.

Pretty romantic.

 Feb 17 - Yesterday I left Deb alone on the boat. This is a big deal because that really means she is comfortable enough with all of our systems to stay on the boat by herself and not be worried.

I wasn't just ignoring her, instead I was going fishing with our friend Lobster Lee. Lee is a commercial fisherman and he makes his living in the ocean. I say in the ocean because he is a diver and he spends quite a bit of time underwater spearing fish. We had talked about his trips and I finally talked him into letting me drive for him so he wouldn't have to anchor which meant he could put more fishing into a shorter amount of time.

It all starts with good and I mean real good GPS spots. This comes from YEARS of diving and finding coral heads, drops in the water, shelves and caves. Then you mark them on the GPS so the next time you can go right to them. Once at a spot, the marker goes out which has a big ring on the end which acts like a stringer. Lee goes into the water, dives and then starts shooting fish. You can see him below as he is heading down. Today, the water clarity where we were was about 25-30 feet which is great in this particular spot.


 As you can see to the left, the first dive was productive. As it ended up, all the dives were productive. The black grouper was about 27 inches along with some snapper and a hog fish. Then it was off to the next spot. As Lee was cleaning things up, I drove to the next spot, in went the marker and next went Lee.

You can tell that we weren't far from Key West. The large shape in the picture to the lower left is a cruise ship. Actually, we were in the Northwest Channel. The big decision was, where to go. Since the clarity was so good here, there was no reason to go out to the reef or to Boca Grande.

Lee came up the first time with a grouper and said he saw a Cobia and after changing his tank, he was back in the water again looking for that Cobia. Of course, he came up with it about 15 minutes later. It was about a 20 pound fish so that fish paid the fuel costs on it's own. The rest were profit.


 The water today was cold and only in the mid to upper 60 degree range. Lee has on a tight thin half suit, a full wet suit, the camo top along with two head suits.

He always wears some form of camo to help him get closer to the fish.

We went to 6 different spots and dove multiple times on several of them. Then I was following him, or should I say the float, when he came up and said "Mark this spot." That meant to press the right key on the GPS and get the exact position. Then he said, write down anchor. He left his float in that position and came back aboard the boat so we could put together some lines and another float. It was time to put a line around this 85 pound shrimp boat anchor and drag it back. Since we couldn't winch it aboard, it was either come back later or take the anchor back now. Also, it was already 4 p.m. so we were close to time for quitting. If not for the anchor, I'm sure we would have fished until 5-5:30 and then headed back to our mooring.

He got a line around the anchor and off we went dragging it up to shallower water where we retied the line on the boat and then drug it on to the mooring spot. On the way I had told Lee that he should probably drop it just about where my boat is. That way when I leave at the end of the third week of March he will have the spot for his or another boat. We then had a plan and that is what we did.


Deb was surprised to see us back so early, about 5, because she expected us back at 6:30 or so. Once we dropped the anchor Lee dropped into the water and check out that it wasn't interfering with my anchors. We went back to his mooring, which you can see to the left is only about 50 yards from mine. Next the boat got cleaned up and Lee gave me a surprise. I hadn't expected anything for the day because I was having fun and learning. Regardless, I ended up with a couple of filets, two lobster, and about a pound and a half of stone crab claws that came from a trap under his boat.

I cooked the stone crab claws which we devoured for dinner while the lobster is destined for lunch on Tuesday.

I think Lee was happy with me because I didn't run him down and chop him up with his own prop. On top of that, part of my job was to protect him from other boats that were moving through the channel. At the end of the day, I was invited back on the boat for another trip. This will probably be a weekly event until Deb and I depart for the north.

Feb 18 - One of the things we show people when they come aboard our boat is our shopping list. I just kept forgetting to put it on our website until this morning when I didn't have anything else to add.

I created this as an Excel spreadsheet and it really makes things easier given all of the different kinds of grocery store we experience shopping. I included it here because you might find it useful. Of course you have to have Excel to download the spreadsheet. All you have to do is click here and it will take you to the projects page for the Freedom Shopping List.

I explain the usage on the page so I won't go into it again here. I'm giving it to you as the file so you can modify the list rather than just use it as it is displayed to the right.


 Feb 21 - We met the nicest people at Caroline's. We had a great conversation which of course turned to our being out cruising on a boat. They were down in Key West for a week and were having a great time on Duval. We told them about a bunch of other places and hopefully they had a great time at the sunset celebration on Mallory Square along with a few other places we recommended. One of the things we love about Key West is meeting all of the people who are both locals and visitors. Everyone has a story and 99% of the people are positive.

On Thursday, I went fishing again with Lobster Lee and we didn't get away until about 11 am. However, Lee shot a bunch of fish and we ended up taking them to the Waterfront Market to be processed before heading back to the anchorage after dark. Of course the great news was Deb and I ended up with four lobster which we ate for dinner and lunch the next day.

Friday was a nothing day. Other than the lobster lunch of course. We did laundry and a few errands. Like I said, a nothing day although we had a beautiful sunset.

Today I went in for some grocery shopping and then came back to fish off of the back of the boat. You can see below that Deb even caught a fish and I caught several undersized snapper along with a 25 or so inch sand shark you can see in the pictures below. And yes, it is foul hooked in the fin. I should have kept it but next time I will stun it with some cheap vodka or rum and then filet some good steaks out of the shark meat which is reported as being good eating.

 Feb 22 - We had invited several people to go sailing with us on Sunday. The wind was supposed to be 8-12 knots and that meant great asymmetrical weather. I will tell you right now, I love this sail and wish I would have bought it before we left to go cruising. However, as a guy in the Bahamas once said, I can't tell you what I don't know Mon. So, I now know this $450 investment is well worth it. Below you can see we were making 4.5 knots in a 9 knot apparent wind and at about 75 degrees to the wind. We would have been going much faster if we were more downwind. This was a great three hours where I snuffed the sail, gybed the boat, retied the lines up front and then set the sail again. It took a total of 5 minutes and it was only Deb and I on the boat. Too Cool!

Just so you could get the "big picture" look, I took a couple of hours to learn how to combine pictures in Photoshop. You can see on the boom where I had to combine the pictures but it was a fun project none the less. It was the only way I could get the entire picture. There is  quite a bit of trial and error while adjusting color levels and resizing images to get the closest fit.


So here we are sailing today and guess what else is going on? The Wreckers Race. Alright, I'm pretty sure you don't know what that is so I will give you a long quote from the paper. That way all I have to do is type instead of trying to rephrase the info. Thank you L'Attitudes.

"Key Westers studied the horizon constantly, pacing the rooftop decks of their houses, waiting for signs of a ship aground. And when someone spotted a wreck, bedlam ensued as wrecking crews raced to arrive at the site first and so control the cargo." from Key West: History of an Island of Dreams.

"Key West is justifiably proud of its wrecker heritage. After all, you had to be fast-footed to join the hoard in its run to the boats to get out to the latest ship to wreck in the Florida Straits. And you had to be daring, willing to dive down to the bowels of the sinking ship - without air, of course - to pull out the treasure. All in the pouring rain and high winds, the same conditions that wrecked the ship." - L'Attitudes Saturday, Feb 21, 2009

 Can you just imagine the wind blowing at 25-30 knots and the sky is not just overcast, there is thunder and lightning with rain coming down. It is dark and things are just starting to "heat up." You have people in the water and if wasn't for that quick last look over your shoulder on top of your house, you would have been second or even last to this wreck. Your son is already in the water trying to get the gold from Spain while you help the crew onto your boat. Who know's what will await the crew when they return to Spain since they just lost the cargo of gold. That isn't your problem, you just want to bounty which is yours since you are first to the wreck.

Welcome to the age old laws of salvage. You should just hope it isn't your boat on a reef and in your dismay, you offer someone your line hoping they will be a good samaritan and pull you off. More than likely they will clam SALVAGE and will own a part of your vessel.


Remember the boat to the right? He's the guy I got pictures of a month ago with the fake cannons coming out the side of his boat. Let's just say he isn't in first place.


 If we are still in Key West next month for the next Wreckers Race, Deb and I plus a few selected crew will be planning on entering the race. Now that we have the asymmetrical, we can at least finish in the flock of boats and not last. However, there may actually be a prize for last so that may be something to aspire to.

Today was to be a zero dollar day but we got pumped out when we went in to pick up the nonexistent people. That cost five bucks so it was close to a zero dollar day. We had a great time sailing and Deb said it was her first Ralph Loren moment on the boat. You know, sails set in 9-10 knots of wind making 4.5 - 5 knots and at times 6 plus while sitting on the back deck enjoying the sun with the engine STOPPED. Don't you just love those moments! When we returned to our mooring, I threw together a sausage marinara pasta for dinner. Recipe will be coming soon.

What a great day in Key West and the sunset, once again, was absolutely beautiful.

Feb 23 - Life isn't just good, it is very good! However, even though we are enjoying it so much, we are now getting ready to move. We've figure that around March 18th we will start looking for wind to blow us on our slow trip north. The sailing and moving part of our cruising adventures start again soon, real soon!

We are off to lunch, update the website, workout and then back to the boat for another great evening. The wind is blowing at about 15 knots and will grow to 20 knots tonight. Tomorrow I will be buying a new sander so we can refinish the floors while we are here in Key West. Hopefully, I'm careful enough not to ruin the veneer and then find myself having to replace the wood floors. More later.

 Feb 25 - We were heading back from town on Monday and I look off to the side at a new boat that had anchored. I looked, looked again and said "That's Fred."

So who is Fred? Last year in the Bahamas we met a number of other cruisers and as I've said many times, we really live in a small town called Cruiser City. There are just so many people who actually move on their boats. There are millions of people who own boats and most of those boats really never leave the area where they are kept and a bunch of those rarely leave the dock. Cruiser City is made up of those people who are out and about living life the way they always dreamed.

So here we were in the dinghy and I looked over and saw a Nordic Tug painted in dark blue with red trim and looking into the boat I could see a figure that looked just like Fred. Of course as we approached, I saw his boat name North Star and that cinched the deal. Fred on the other hand was looking out and he saw our dinghy. You have to remember we are one of the very few that have a Port-a-boat and that is how everyone knows us where ever we go. Fred was saying to himself, that looks like Jim and Deb. It was a great meeting and I invited Fred over to dinner. We already had the meat thawed and all I had to do is throw in a few more potatoes and cabbage into our pressure cooked meal. Mum, mum good.

We had a great evening catching up and even called another boater, Mark, who we haven't seen in quite awhile but normally travels with Fred in his own boat.

Like I said, it was a great evening. Today, Wednesday, we are heading in to lunch with Fred and also meeting up with Bill and Margie who have their own Gemini and just arrived yesterday evening from Ft. Myers Beach. Then later we will be fishing on off the back of our boat with a friend who runs a charter fishing boat. I expect to get even more education on fishing, catch some fish and have a great time.


 Feb 26 - Yesterday we met Bill and Margie in town and had a great lunch. As it ends up, they were involved in some 25-30 knot winds on their crossing and Bill wants to go out with us to learn more about reefing sails. That should take place on Saturday after we visit the nautical flea market which is being held in Key West.

I mentioned that we were going to be fishing off of our boat. I ran into town to pick up Captain Patrick. He is a Captain and runs a commercial charter boat that takes people out past the reef on fishing trips. As it ends up, he never gets to fish because he is always driving the boat. I think he had as much fun as any of us.

We put in the chum bag right after Fred arrived and that was about 4:30. By 5 we were catching fish. We probably caught 20-25 fish but only 3 were keepers. It was fun anyway.


 All of the fish we kept were Lane Snapper and they tasted great when I cooked them. However, not knowing how many fish we would actually be able to catch, I had already prepared crab cakes which we also fried up in some butter and olive oil. The crab cakes, fish along with the black beans and rice made up a great dinner.

Catching fish, great conversation, great food, beautiful sunset. What more could you ask for? Really!

This is what cruising is all about.

 This morning, Jimmy Buffett decided he wanted to have a bit of Deb's cottage cheese for his own breakfast. He just loves it and when he is in the mode of eating, you really don't want to get into his way.

I headed in to order a new light for the boat, we had a fluorescent unit fail so it is time for an exact replacement. Then a little work out, fill the propane, ride back just in time to take Deb some lunch.

I hope everyone's weather is getting better. We are still chilly in our shorts and t-shirts down here but if it gets too bad I just wear a thin jacket and all is good. I think winter is almost finished and the winds have started to settle down. The highest winds in over a week are only in the 20 knot range. There is supposed to be a front through here on Sunday but I'm not sure how cold or windy it will be yet. Hopefully, that will be the last major front and the rest will just be fronts with the typical wind shift.

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