June 15-31, 2009 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 June 17 - Wow, what a 10 day period.

Before I get into the Captain's class by True Course, I just had to show you this nest outside our office of the birds that will be ready to fly soon. Kind of cute don't you think?


For the last 10 days I have been consumed with the Captain's class. Consumed is perhaps an understatement here! I am the kind of person that must accomplish my objective so when I start a project, I get consumed by it until I can see the end. I don't know if a person is what you were raised to do, or, you are what you were genetically created for, or you become the person you want to be, or, or, or, or....... For me it is very simple. When I accept a challenge, I typically figure out a way to accomplish it. Perhaps we are all a combination of all of the choices above and as we get older we either adapt to new challenges or we get stuck in doing what we've always done. It may also be true that we learn what we can do so we only accept the challenges that we really know we can accomplish. I don't know the answers to these type of questions but I do know that I enjoy challenges and learning. I am happy that I took this course because it stretched me and helped me achieve a goal that I didn't know I could accomplish.   

Captain's class is really a name that us civilians call the class which has been approved by the Coast Guard to prepare people for a certain license. Everyone who runs a boat, licensed or not, is actually Captain of that vessel. However, to charge for passengers you must be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and that means passing a test or tests from the Coast Guard to demonstrate your knowledge in certain areas. The first series of tests people take is for the Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel - OUPV. For this licence you must take the tests for Rules of the Road, Deck General and Safety, Navigation General, and Chart Navigation. These break down as follows. Rules of the Road - These include the rules that most of you know such as crossing and overtaking rules. However, it also includes every light color and shape which you will see, the day shapes for vessels, horn signals, and restricted visibility signals for both international and inland waters. This is a memory test and you must pass with at least a 90%. The next test is Deck General and Safety which includes everything from knots to names and uses of equipment on the vessel along with fire fighting techniques. The third test is Navigation General and you need to know the meanings of all of the different buoys you might see out there such as a safe water mark, a preferred channel marker or why in the intercoastal waterway they put those yellow triangles or squares on a marker plus more. Finally you get to Chart Navigation and that test is plotting and interpreting the plots for vessel location, speed, current speed and direction so you are able to choose a course while compensating for the set and drift of current.

The tests are created from a test database from the Coast Guard of 14,000 questions. Since there is so much to learn, the reality is that you typically aren't successful if you try to learn all of the information on your own and go to the Coast Guard and take the tests. Instead, you want to find an approved Coast Guard program and they will teach you the items that you must know to have the best chance at passing the test. Since people must have a minimum of 360 days on the water to qualify for the OUPV or as most call it, the "6 pack license," there is already a self screening process before people start the class. The people who were in my class all had the "sea time" required and in most of our cases, much more. However, that is just the beginning. The memorization required is more than I ever took on while in College so if you decide to take the class, you better be ready to put in the hours of study. You might pass by putting in only part of the time but when you look at the big picture, why would you just want to pass when you have other people's lives at stake. The reality is, even though everyone in the class really did want the license and almost everyone put in the required time, we did have one person who didn't pass. They have to re-test after studying for the next week. I hope he passes because I know he will be a good captain!

Doesn't everyone look like they are taking this seriously? Trust me, they are. They have come from many different paths of life and they simply want to do their best to run a boat and do it to their best of their ability.

Geoff is to the right and he did a very good job as our instructor of the class. We had a very good pass ratio and I'm pleased to be among the people that have the credentials to apply to the Coast Guard and ultimately be called, Captain. Once the testing was over, we got sworn in and that ceremony was notarized. Next we took our drug tests, a doctor administered a physical, then we attended American Red Cross CPR and First Aid Classes and finally I got to breathe and head back to the boat. Time for celebration.

Of course I have told Deb that from now on when I enter the boat that she must address me, in the Dead Poet's Society tradition, by "Oh Captain, my Captain." So far, she has done this a total of 0 times.... I wonder what that means? Perhaps it is because I haven't been addressing her as "Admiral my admiral."

I still have to document my sea time for the Coast Guard, get my TWIC card which is required now because of 9-11 and I'm continuing on with the Towing Class and the Master's Class before applying for the actual license. The towing class allows me to charge for towing someone and the reality is I would have to be working for someone to actually do the towing. The Master's class allows me to take more than six passengers but it must be on a Coast Guard inspected vessel rather than an uninspected one. Those classes begin in another week and a half.

The reason I'm taking all of the classes first is to ensure that I apply one time to the Coast Guard. It costs $145 to have them evaluate your information so you might as well get all the testing done the first time. I'm probably going to try and self study for the sail endorsement too and take that at the Coast Guard office. All of the certificates of passing the classes and tests, sea time documentation, TWIC card, physical, drug test results, First Aid Cards, Social Security Card, Passport and probably some more stuff has to be sent to the Coast Guard for the evaluation. Sounds like quite a bit of paperwork and you can bet I will keep a copy of all of it when I mail off the application.

I'll get back to my writings of what I'm learning as a sailboat salesman later this week.

 June 18 - Tuesday we had a storm move through at noon. I think you can get the idea from the pictures to the right and below. I had gone back to the boat for lunch just in time for the show. Truthfully, I was thinking that one of these bimini's was going to be destroyed or blown into someone else's boat. In the end, it didn't happen. According to the TV station in Paducah, there were winds in our area at 50+ mph.

Deb and I are very fortunate with our boat location. We are protected from the north by the Yacht Club and the embankment which is only 30 yards away. It definitely gave us a good view of the harbor until the whiteout occurred with all of the rain. At one point there were whitecaps in the harbor which is actually difficult to accomplish given the wind direction.


Just because I do like the phrase O Captain! My Captain! doesn't mean I really want to end up like the poem, well at least not yet.

I place the entire poem to the right as a result of an e-mail I received this morning from Bill H. Thanks Bill. Truthfully, it had been quite awhile since I had heard the entire poem.

Bill is right in that I really don't want my journey to end at this time "fallen cold and dead" after my boat and crew (both Deb and all of you) have brought me so far. We have so many more places to visit and opportunities in life to experience. However, should I actually fall cold and dead tomorrow, I must say I do not regret the decisions we have made to grab life and suck the marrow right out of it. We are trying not to miss the opportunities to experience and enjoy what life has to offer.


By the way, since I'm sticking with the poetry angle I guess I should put the excerpts of another poem I've referenced here too.

Henry Thoreau

"I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life...to put rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived..."

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

O Captain! My Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 June 24 - Saturday morning began with a trip to the Sunfish Fleet. This is a new program and normally I am at work at 9 am every morning including the weekends. However, on this day, I went in at 7 and then headed over to the sunfish fleet to sail with my 9 year old buddy. You see, a few weeks ago he was out sailing alone and almost tipped over. That was a real problem because it scared him. This morning the only way he would go out again was if I would take him. So, another good reason to go sailing in my opinion. I was at the beach at 9:30 and no buddy. I had to hunt him down and get him back to the boat. Bottom line was that we went out but that fear just didn't go away. I think it will be awhile and time before I can help him get over that fear and turn the fear into a strength.  

I was also able to get his sister to go out and she had a very good time. Actually, I think she did well and I left her in the hands of one of the instructors who told me later she did great. Hopefully we helped turn that lack of desire into some desire to learn a new skill.

Sunday, Deb and I took the boat over to the pump-out dock to get rid of some XI>XN$@ or should I say waste product and I found to my pleasant surprise that the wind was blowing at about 3-5 knots right out of the harbor. The only thing I could think of to do was to set the spinnaker while still in the dock, untie the lines and sail right out of the dock and through the harbor to the lake. Winds were very light and it took almost 45 minutes to make it past the mooring cell you see in the picture to the left behind the sunfish. However, we kept going and after about an hour and a half we were at a great cove where we dropped an anchor and went swimming for an hour. Then we motored out a bit, set the asymmetrical spinnaker again and sailed back. What a great day. I think we were the first boat to ever leave the pumpout dock under a rainbow colored spinnaker. My bet is others will follow. It was a great time.

 Monday brought more work but the fun part was playing guitar on Monday night at the Yacht Club. My idea was to ultimately get more guitar players to play and sing. Afterall, how many times do people want to hear me? Monday was the first of those nights. It was great, unplanned, magical, and simply great.

To the right meat John. We actually call him "Little John" or "John Junior" or just John. The first two names come because "Little John" is working with John Penny who is showing him a bunch of things about fixing boats. "Little John" is already a good boat guy but the cool thing is he is an excellent guitar player. I had lead off with a number of songs and then John plugged in his guitar and the party was on. He has a different style than I do and a good voice too.


 When "Little John" was finished with about 5 songs, then the other John and I dare not say "Old John" but lets just say the John the teacher, took over at the guitar. He played about 5 songs then I was back up then they came back up together and then, well you get the idea. We swapped off playing, singing, bringing in more people to play meaning Jerry who played with me and then Tom who sang a few too. In the end we became J-4. This was simple - Jerry, John, John, and Jim - the 4 J's but named kind of after a J boat so it became J-4. Ok, you have to be a sailor to really get it but if not just figure for now there are 4 guys with names that start with a J playing music on Monday's. The reality is that it won't always be 4. Sometimes it will be 3 and hopefully we can find a few more people so it could sometimes be 5 or 6 people. Now we are talking fun.

If you are going to be around on a Monday, get someone who is a member of the Yacht Club to invite you and come up to join the fun. You do have to bring your singing voice with you and a desire to have a good time.

Tuesday was another day of working and planning on working in a boat on Wednesday. Here is the problem. A boat that I've sold has a problem that I just found out about. The problem is it always starts when cold but when hot the switch outside doesn't always work. Since I have a pretty good electronics/electrical background I volunteered to figure out what was wrong. To do this, I had to first figure out a way to put the circuit under load without starting the engine. I pulled off the wire to the starter solenoid and inserted an anchor light to ground so I could pull an amp through the circuit. My theory was that there was a voltage drop across some connection that became worse when he expanded devices. I had to take apart the control panel, the engine compartment and then using my voltmeter with an 15 foot ground cable, I could measure voltages before and after each connection to ground. The way you do this is to insert a pin in the wire and then you have voltage access. What I found was the connector at the engine had a 1/2 volt drop across one of the pins. It was on the feed side so my next step was to take apart the connector and you can see the corrosion in the larger holes. The one on the left was the one with the half volt drop across it.  

To the left you can see the Q tips that I used along with dielectric compound to clean up the connector. When I finished, I put dielectric compound in the connector to ensure the corrosion would stop and aid electrical conductivity. To test it, the owner took the boat out for a 45 minute ride then brought the boat back and was able to start it multiple times. Before, it probably wouldn't have started. So, it is our belief the problem is solved. On top of that, I no longer measured the voltage drop anymore. They will use the boat some more over the next few weeks before it gets surveyed and then gets turned over to the new owners. I think we've found the problem however, if it every shows up again it will be easy to simply bypass the connector and run new wiring for the start circuit which will eliminate multiple connections.

Tonight, Thursday, I go back to school again. Tow class starts at 6 pm and we should be finished and have taken the test before finishing at 10 pm. Then tomorrow is the start of the Master's Class. That class will take 3 days and the test is on Sunday afternoon.

I have some more good news too. Deb helped me track down the owner of the place I previously rented a Gemini from and where I have about 4 months of sea time with. That time is critical because everytime we rented a boat, we would spend time out in the Gulf. That time in the Gulf is very important to me because it counts towards my time for my near coastal endorsement for my license. Now the problem. The owner lost the documentation records in a hurricane. Now the solution. I was able to talk to the  Coast Guard and they provided me with the phone number of who to call about finding the documentation number of the boat we chartered. This was great because with that number and with the owner of the company being a Captain, I now have a way of having the time certified. Thus my time for my near coastal endorsement will be complete and I am simply paperwork away from being able to apply.

More good news! My friend Tom had the book Get Your Captain's License and in that book is a prep program for the sail endorsement. I've been studying it this week too and I will be ready to take that test at the Coast Guard office when my paperwork is complete. All I have to do is pass that test and then turn in all of my documentation after I pass the test and modify my application to also include a sail endorsement. Why not turn in the information and modify the license later? There are 145 reasons not to do it that way. 145 is the cost of reapplying to the Coast Guard for anything. So I think I will get everything ready and do it all at once. Hopefully I can have everything ready in the next 2-3 weeks.

That's it for now. I'm off to work soon.

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