September 2009 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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Nov 1 - Yes, I did put this picture in last months log but I wanted you to see a happy sailor with the "world famous" cinnamon roll.

On Friday night we were slammed with rain just before we anchored. It wasn't too pretty but it wasn't bad either. We were going to anchor separately but the front passed and no big wind so we rafted up again. Tonight the dinner, once we dried out, was to be pressure cooker pot roast with some potatoes and a few veggies.

Looks good doesn't it? You should cruise with us, I've learned how to make that pressure cooker steam! Of course that doesn't take much, just a burner and water but it still is wonderful food when you add all the great seasonings.


 No good dead goes unpunished so that meant that John and Deb had to do the dishes. A little exercise after a big meal.

Ok Julie, John is missing you and even though he looks like he's having a good time, it would be better if you were along by a long shot.

Some of you that have followed our website for several years know one of the things I've predicted is the house to the lake falling into the river. Well, I was wrong. As it ends up, it didn't fall in. From everything I can determine, they picked it up and moved it back about 100 feet. I guess that will take about 50 years before it tries to fall in again.

Just to update you, the picture to the left is from 3 years ago. The picture bottom left is from this spring and the picture below is from yesterday. House gone but I did see it when we passed in the background I just didn't get the picture. Sorry about that.

 Next is the obligatory Deb tending the line and pole in the first lock picture. Actually we will have a bunch of pictures of Deb working in the lock. The real story of the next pictures is one of John entering the lock single handed for the first time. However, I must digress and tell you that we fought the worst current I've seen on this section of the waterway. At one point we were going 2.2 knots over ground while I was showing 6 knots boat speed. For those who are math challenged, that means a 3.8 knot current on the bow. Made me want to die. It took us almost 2 1/2 hours to make 6 miles. Talk about seeing the world in slow motion.

So we got in the lock first and gave John the most forward pin just so he would have the easier ride up the lock. He did a great job and we shouldn't have more than 5-10 hours of gel coat work to fix the boat. Just kidding.

 I always have to yell at John to smile for the picture but at least he does smile and the reality is he is smiling because we no longer will have that huge current and the worst part of the trip is finished.

John got in close, lassoed the pin with his loop provided by another friend at Green Turtle Bay - John say's thanks Jim P.

FYI - for all the new people reading my site, I never use last names and I never mention children's names.

 Everyone got set and then the lock started up. They had a bad valve in the lock and we had a pretty turbulent ride. Deb couldn't pole off the front of the boat so I got to do it. Once the lock was half full then things settled down and she actually got a picture of me in the front of the boat. I know, you like the pictures of her better!

The doors opened and the horn sounded and we were both off for Pickwick Lake.

Wow, only a half knot of current against us for the next 7 miles. We thought we were on the starship Freedom we were going so fast. But wait, after we pass Bay Springs the turbo boosters kick in and we are going downhill.


 John took some pictures of our boat and us. Looks good doesn't it? I mean the boat.

By the way, did you notice that Deb grew about 8 inches?

 And off we went. Aqua Harbor is in our future because I still was having problems with the engine. I went for a few parts.

After we docked and paid for the slip, John and I went off looking for a fuel transfer pump. Not finding one, we went back to the chandlery and picked up some fuel hose. I took a squeeze ball I use as a fuel primer out of the engine compartment and made a fuel transfer system that was manual. I filtered all of the fuel with a water fuel separator. I'm not sure we really had any water in the system but the filter left some fuel in the bottom of it that we poured into a baggie. At least I know the fuel looks good coming off the bottom of both tanks. Next I replaced a couple of fuel lines and found one that was a bit suspect at a connection. Was that the problem or problems? Who knows until either late Sunday or even Monday when we get to low fuel on a tank. If that fails, I'm replacing some more of the fuel hose delivery system. Ultimately I will change enough cheap stuff that I should find the problem otherwise it will be a bit more thinking before I start doing much more. It is somewhat hard finding an intermittent problem and that is just what I have . We will see if it is gone tomorrow as we pass through the Continental Divide once again appreciating that our tax dollars have done their work for us so we can have the time of our lives out here cruising and enjoying each other again.


 Nov 2 - I think I'm in an update mania mode. Don't get too used to it, I'll probably fall off to every couple of days soon.

It amazes me what people will travel in. This guy left Michigan or Canada and is doing the loop. That means he is planning on going around the entire eastern half of the US by way of the Mississippi river and of course the ocean and bunches more. And I thought I was on a small boat!

Why is he rowing? I'm not sure but we did see him put down the motor and off he went for the same place we were heading for - the cut through the continental divide.

You can see we have reacted the cut below left and are heading through.


One of the things you want to miss are the tows with the barges that are heading up the waterway. We missed 3 yesterday while in the cut. What we didn't miss were some inconsiderate power boaters who just threw big wakes. It is so simple to not have a problem. They come up about 150 feet from us, slow down, we slow to an idle, they go by, we then cut behind them and off they go. Very east but I guess some of these people were newbe's. They will get told or a ticket later on.

I just enjoyed the day yesterday with all of the color in the trees. It is truly the best trip for color we have taken on the waterway.

And then we came upon this guy. Another small boat only this one is a twin engine model. I think they were either twin 2 hp's or maybe 3.3's. Regardless, this guy was making about 5 knots on one engine.

This is the infamous lunch handoff. We can't spoil John too much but today it was a hot roast beef and cheese sandwich. I just stay in gear and he makes his slow speed pass.

Then of course he EATS the best hot sandwich he will eat at lunch today!

Into Bay Springs and heading for the lock. This one will drop us 84 feet. Finally we are going to be on our way down river.

As we started down, Deb found a leak in the lock and tried to plug it with her finger. I guess the leak was too big but it didn't fail. Ha ha.

Impressive isn't it! It isn't the mother of all locks but it is a very close cousin.

And out we came 2 down and 11 to go.

We headed for Montgomery lock next and went through it like old hands. Of course for Deb and I this is the fifth time we've seen these locks. For John on the other hand it is his second but his first time was on some big power boat and somehow that just doesn't really count. I see that trip was more like a preview than the trip he's having now. Just think, on that boat they could go faster than 2.2 knots when they had a current against them. Does that sound like fun? Well, I guess it just might come to think of it. Regardless, we are now making a whopping 6 knots and heading south.

 We anchored off the waterway at mile 403 and were able to watch the sun set and the moon rise in a very beautiful peaceful anchorage. During the night we had one tow pass us and shine his light in our window. Since we were behind a 100 foot power tower then I kind of figured that they wouldn't run over us.

We had some spaghetti last night that is destined for lunch underway for left over's. Perhaps the handoff of food from the "mother ship" to the single hander will go well again. So far there haven't been any boat scratches.

It was down in the 30's last night and we would have been cold except for the wonderful Honda Generator that I carry. I fueled it up and we both plugged in our electric heaters on low. It ran about half the night and I got up, refueled it, and it ran until morning. What a luxury but we wouldn't leave home without it. So we are spoiled, we still have to clean up the condensate every morning from breathing at night.

More tomorrow and we are shooting for 4 locks. That will mean we have one lock on Tuesday morning and then we should arrive at Columbus by about noon to 1 pm for re-provisioning and it looks like John and I will be playing for a happy hour if it isn't too cold.


 Nov 3 - We've been locking through and we actually did 4 locks a couple of days ago. You can see that we are now kind of traveling with some power boats. Actually we seem to either catch them at a lock if it is delayed or at times, since I call 30 minutes before we arrive, they will hold a lock for us.

You can see below left we had another wonderful anchorage with a beautiful moon rise.

Below right the guy in the front is aground hard. Ended up the guy in the back pulled him off. I guess that is what happens when you don't read the guide book or you don't follow the information. In our case, we had trails on our computer where we entered this anchorage before so in a way it was cheating.

More traffic on the waterway and here we are passing a tow. The really cool thing is we are starting to pick up a tail current. On this day we were picking up about a half knot speed.

We arrived in Columbus, MS and tied up. It is great because I know T. and Jimmy so we were able to borrow a private car to get to town. Everyone else was waiting on the one loaner car but sometimes it helps to know people. Then we set up our equipment and started playing at about 4:15 for happy hour. This turned into about an hour and a half and I think everyone who had to wait for us at a couple of locks got their payback.

We all had fun and it was good getting the music playing again. We just missed the other J who is still back up at Green Turtle Bay. We do miss you John.

At moon rise we were treated to a wonderful moon coming up over the bay. Wow, what a night - Music, Moon, and New Friends.

Yesterday we got even more current and at times we had a 2 knot tail current or if you want to use more nautical language, a 2 knot push. What a great difference from the 2.8 knot opposing current we had on the Tennessee. We've kept up with the lunch hand offs and the great dinners aboard the mothership Freedom. Yes, John is getting spoiled. I keep waiting for him to put his order in for a specific time. Just kidding!

We are currently making way to Demopolis and will hopefully arrive before 2 pm. I called ahead and they will let us tie up for about 45 minutes so we can get lunch at their restaurant and then fuel up and head to Foscue creek to anchor for the night. We are trying to save a couple of bucks and besides that anchorage is wonderful.

My engine problem is better but still a bit annoying. I have something else to do for the next step and I keep wanting to only do one thing at a time to see what actually fixes the problem. Regardless, we are having a great trip south but are truly looking forward to the warmer weather that is just down the river.

 Nov 6 - We went through the lock and they were spilling water. We were saying wonderful because that is how we were are going so fast. A 2 knot push at times.

We not only are anticipating more current but we are also traveling with a couple of other boats that just happen to be waiting on us because that is what the lock masters want. I think they are tracking us with an attached device disguised as a hydrilla plant which is trying to attach itself to our boat or even perhaps get into our water strainer. (As a side note, I cleaned the water strainer today trying to get rid of that tracking device because we are slowing down the power boats. Darn us sailboats. I guess I should say, to quote my last boss, the cheap sailboaters.)



We got out of the lock and the current worked in our advantage. For the last 2 days we have made a 65 mile day and and a 55 mile day. On the second day we picked up fuel and then were anchored before 2:30.

I just get ahead of myself. You can see below the next house that will be falling into the river. If you look close, there isn't any ground below those 12x12's that aren't supporting the porch. Don't you just want to be there when the river is rushing and the house just decides that it can't take it anymore. I can hear it now, "I can't take it anymore and I'm going swimming. Why should all the people have all the fun?"

Then we got to more serious concerns such as the most beautiful bluffs on the Tenn-Tom.

With the uniquely white bluff's along with the color in the tree's, the beauty just makes the trip worthwhile.

Ok, now I have to confess. After 5 trips on the Tenn-Tom, I'm not too sure that the trip is worth much unless someone want's to pay me to take their boat down or up.

This bend is really great and offers some of the best scenery of the trip. Especially when you have a friend following you which you can see below right. Yes, John is still making good time.

So here is the big deal. We arrived in Demopolis and only found out that there was a tropical storm which was heading to Mobile when we were supposed to arrive. Does that sound like fun? Well, when you live on your home that floats, I think you would do what we did and take a day off to see if they are right or wrong. After all, it is just like John said - "when there were tornado's coming at us and we took a slip, then there wasn't a problem. If we head on down the hurricane will hit Mobile Bay but if we stay it won't." Now I have to tell you that we are just the people that are changing weather and the future as we cruise along. Don't you want to join us? Change history?

Well this morning you will see that we woke up in fog. Then it was to work. I worked on a more projects and then of all things took a nap. It lasted about 45 minutes but it was actually a nap. We also checked the weather again and guess what? The forecast has changed and it now is heading for the west coast of Florida based on the forecast. Of course the real answer only will submit itself when the storm comes off of the surface of land way down south. Do the computer programs actually know where it will go? I doubt it but they provide some sense of security to those of us who are wanting security in our travels. So the track is different than the one I show to the right and tomorrow morning, Saturday, we will check it once again before hauling the anchor and heading south. Watch the weather for us and hopefully things will all work out.

 Nov 7 - I got up this morning and John said, "Jim, it has changed again." Darn, we wanted to go! Well it was foggy and I put in my broadband card unit to check after fixing the good ol hot chocolate. When I looked at the first map of 5 days, it looked like it was coming straight at us. Then below left you can see the 7 day track that puts it holding off-shore. Finally, looking at the different models, you can see that they really think it won't come ashore but who knows. Right now they are forecasting lower winds at day 5 so again, it shouldn't be a problem. By the way, all of this had changed since John looked at it an hour earlier. So what do you do?

We decided that since it was going to be raining anyway on Monday and Tuesday, lets just go. We've already changed history by staying a day so lets grind out some miles for the next two days and hopefully we will have a good cell signal near Jackson, AL to ensure we make a new decision then. Besides, with the rain we probably will be wanting a couple of shorter days so it will take at least 4 days to get to the north part of Mobile. Given that logic and the long term wind forecast showing great winds to cross Mobile Bay on day 5 and 6 we were off.

Now all we need is some cooperation from the storm and we will be at Lu Lu's by Thursday to visit with Frank and Cindy on Peacekeeper.


 But then again, not so fast. We called the lock and although it was clear above the lock, below the lock everything was still fogged in. So we just hung out at the anchorage until the lock master gave a call saying it was clear and get headed their way. We pulled anchor and were off.

You can see the pictures of the spillway to the left and below showing there is quite a bit of water flowing in the river right now. We are getting back those miles we gave up in the Tennessee and currently have a 1.4 knot push aiding us on our trip south. Because of the fog this morning, I don't know if we will get to Bashi Creek but it really doesn't matter because we can pull over and throw out the hook and still be safe if we pick the right place. Today may be another time when I call John and say, "John, you know how I know we are to our anchorage?" Then he says, "How?" And I tell him, "the sun is almost set so this has to be it." You see, we had just enough daylight to make the anchorage so when the sun starts setting we have to be there. You have to be a Captain Ron movie fan to understand that logic!


 Nov 8 - We anchored last night at mile 153 along the side of the river and had a wonderful meal of pot roast, potatoes and veggies. Life is just too good sometimes. We also found the Hurricane is still coming north. What is interesting in the two models below left and right is that they are only 6 hours apart. When you look at them you can see that they still haven't too much of a clue where it will go. They do believe that by Tuesday the winds will drop from hurricane strength back to tropical storm strength.

So what are we doing? Well going on of course. Today we should get to Bobby's fish camp to pick up fuel and then on to mile 100 where Old Lock #1 is located. Hopefully we will pick up another broadband signal around noon to determine if we want to stay for a day or if we are going to continue south. There is a great anchorage south too but if it is going to be worse rain, we might as well hang for a day. We will decide tonight. In the mean time, the fog should lift in the next 30 minutes and we will be off. More later.


 Nov 9 - Good morning. The short story is we've decided to hold up at Bobby's Fish Camp. The longer story is I almost had a mutiny yesterday. We pulled in for fuel and I showed John the weather maps, Deb listened and the Commodore - Deb, decided we were staying put, period. I was still in favor of anchoring out at Old Lock number 1 which is about 20 miles further down but here we are tied up to a dock. I actually think we would be fine there but since the winds are only going to get up to 35 mph here, we will be fine either place. You know the story, if the Commodore is happy, the Captain is happy.

It all started yesterday when we saw the latest update pulling into Bobby's for fuel. That update is to the right. It shows almost a direct hit on Mobile Bay as a category 1 hurricane. So the debate started. As you already know, the decision was to stay overnight and see what was going to happen the next morning since we have excellent broadband here so we can keep an eye on things. As a side note, the broadband is really cool and I'm now happy I have it. I figure a couple of the boats I sold this summer paid for it for the next year and a half. so enjoy it while I have it.

 Again, the model to the left really shows things happening and then possibly turning back into the gulf. That turn is why my friend turned his boat around from Miami and headed back to Marathon to get on a mooring ball. He has ridden our hurricanes in Marathon before and looks like he will be there for another week before he figures out what it will do for him.

 This morning when I got up, things were confirmed that Mobile was taking the hit. According to my friend down there, they should have a 6 foot surge. He is riding out the storm at Lu Lu's which is protected so he marked the concrete posts so he could see how much the surge actually is. So, here we sit. To give you an idea where we are, I tried my hand at Photo Shop and put in Bobby's Fish Camp. It is where the red dot is. Looks like the eye of the storm will be coming by us but we will be on the good side. By tomorrow noon the winds are supposed to be at 35 mph down here which really isn't much to worry about. We've weathered more at the dock at Green Turtle Bay during some thunderstorms.

Today looks like a nothing day for us while the rain builds and then tomorrow the wind and Wednesday we are out of here. We should be south of Mobile Bay on Friday afternoon or on Saturday. We have friends to catch up with there.



 Mid morning - t's been a couple of hours since my update and the weather has changed. The hurricane has dropped to a tropical storm which may change our plans and it is possible we can get out of here tomorrow afternoon early. We will wait and see. I always believe a good captain will always reassess their circumstances to see if the decisions are still correct.

Let me take you back a day. On the waterway, you never know what you might see. As this approached, I thought it might be some kind of engines but as it got closer, I could see that they were high pressure vessels. This sure beats looking at barges of coal or rock.

Below left you can probably figure out that John is picking up his bowl of soup wrapped in aluminum foil. Turned out to be a great lunch - Deb did good.

Then the next morning we took off as soon as the fog lifted. Normally the tows push in if fog comes up heavy but after it starts lifting they will be back to work. We on the other hand have no radar so we typically wait until we can see before getting underway. I also hate sounding the fog horn that much.

You already know we are hanging out at Bobby's Fish Camp. The picture to the right and lower left are of some friends who are delivering the boat you see south. Both are Captains but that just goes to show that even so, you can't avoid what you can't see. Ends up that up around mile 370 there is a new shoal that extends into the channel. They actually hit it going 32 miles per hour and came to an abrupt stop. Hard aground in the channel. Well, there goes a prop or two. They ended up getting towed off by a professional who had pulled off 22 other boats from the same spot. Seems like that would be a good place for a couple of markers doesn't it? Who knows if a tow has taken them out or if they aren't in yet but I do know that there should be some kind of advisory for that area.

We had some fun talking and catching up. In addition, it was nice looking at a big boat. They ended up making the decision to take off today and head on south to about mile 40 where they will wait out the now Tropical Storm. Delivery captains have to move when cruisers would rather stay put. Such is the job. I'm sure they will be fine after the latest weather update. It was great seeing them.

Bottom right is just a picture of some spanish moss that is now prolific.

 Nov 10 - I've updated the Freedom locations information and now that Bing has been updated, they are working pretty well. Check it out on the lower part of the first page.

The winds blew all night and right now the storm is just south of us and looks like wind will be up all day. Right now our plan is back to leaving tomorrow morning and making time south. It looks like we will have winds but no rain by tomorrow. Our biggest concern at this point is the rising water and possible logs floating along with us. That isn't a big concern because we've been avoiding trash for days now.

 Captain's Services - Now I have a question for Gemini people. Since I now have my Captain's License, I can move forward with a plan I have been developing for years to offer services to Gemini owners that include moving boats and also teaching them about their newly purchased boats and systems. I would love to hear from people as to interest in this. I have maintained 3400,105 M's, and 105 Mc's so I have a very good knowledge of the Gemini. In addition, given my experience this summer valuing and selling boats, I have a very good amount of experience on other sailboats as well. My intention is to create a 3-5 day course which would be done underway with both boat handling and boat maintenance, not to mention simply moving the boat from one place to another.

 Nov 11 - We are underway! The rains quit last night and we checked the lock at Coffeeville for water level below the dam. They forecast that it would rise up to 24 feet before morning. Now the question is are they wrong?

Below you can see the chart I downloaded at 6 am this morning. As it turns out, they were very close. So given the information I used from our books and explained on the Tenn-Tom project page, I figured the first bridge should give us a clearance of 5 feet. When we locked through I read the gauge on the outlet side and found their graphs weren't exactly on. Instead, we had another two feet of water so that meant we should clear by 3 feet. No problem.


Out we went and found the current. Wonderful, we are going to make time today!

We were doing about 9 knots when we got to the bridge and found that we had even more clearance than the calculation. They must have used the height to low steel verses the max clearance. That is always good news when you need 47 feet to clear and the clearance was supposed to be 50.

We ripped by that bridge and as I write this, we have made about 35 miles in 3.5 hours passing the other 52 foot bridges with clearance to spare. The only bridges left are at 125 feet and another one is a swing bridge. We are home free. So far we haven't had the debris in the water so the ride is good and Deb is taking a turn at the helm.

This is normally a 33 foot drop. You can see that is is far short of that!

Now to the more fun story. I received an email from a Linda whom I'm not sure I knew was following our site. Regardless, she wanted to know how Jimmy Buffett was doing.

Bottom line is that Jimmy is very happy to be back cruising again. He was very tired of me working. Right now he's sitting on my left hand while I type and enjoying every minute. Yesterday, I took him over to take a look at one of the Bobby's Fish Camp resident cat's. This one seemed to have taken residence on our boat in the rain. I really thing she was hungry and the fact that John gave her a can of tuna fish the other day probably kept her coming back. Funny thing though, I don't think Jimmy Buffett or she knew that it was a good thing the plexiglas window was separating them. I'm not sure she's had parrot for dinner and I know Jimmy didn't know the cat instinct.

So, Jimmy is doing fine and having a great time hanging out with us. He just can't wait to get down to the gulf so see some dolphins and we can't either.

 Nov 13 - We made great time after leaving Bobby's and anchored at mile 45 with a 75 mile day and then at mile 12 preparing to cross Mobile Bay. Right now we are half the way across the bay headed for Homeport Marina to visit with our friends Frank and Cindy on Peacekeeper. I'll provide more later. The bay would be considered smooth today and wind is only 4 knots so not enough to sail and make it in time. We feel like we are almost home! To us, home is where the salt water is and we are getting excited to be back in cruising form. 

 Nov 14 - We took off two days ago after making wonderful time with the current giving us back some of the miles it took away from us on other occasions. You can see Deb in her learning mode while I'm helming away. Deb has been working on learning spanish for about 10 years. The only issue was how to do that effectively when you are underway. While we were in Omaha, she picked up a new set of CD's for the computer that were supposed to be similar to Rosetta Stone but without the advertising budget. It ended up she loves them and she is progressing wonderfully.

Below left you can see we won't have a problem with the next bridge which is a twin version. The locals happen to call this one the "Dolly Parton" bridge and I'll leave it to your imagination as to why.

As you can see lower right, this time we caught the 14 mile railroad bridge just right and this is only the 2nd time out of 5 that I haven't had to wait for a train.


We said Hi to the bridge master and as you can see, he waived when we went through.

For those keeping up, yes, John is still with us. Today's lunch wasn't handed off. Instead, we arrived at the anchorage at 12:45 and were all set for the next morning when we would leave for a 45 nautical mile trip through Mobile and then across Mobile Bay where our friends Frank and Cindy are waiting to see us.

We awoke Friday morning to fog but it cleared quickly enough. In addition, there was debris in the water as we made our way to the channel since the water had come up overnight. All that current is now down here and there are flood warnings out over the county. We are ahead of it, Ya Hoo.

Going through Mobile is always interesting to me. This time we had light traffic and it was no big deal. Even so, you keep totally focused in this harbor where you can see anything from fishing boats to ocean going transports.

As quick as we enter Mobile, we leave it. Another thing I keep thinking about is the security since 9-11. Essentially there isn't much and I guess there really can't be unless you shut everything down. When you weigh the price of freedom, you sometimes have to accept certain uncertainties.

Then we were into Mobile Bay and the water was so smooth and wind so light that we were unable to sail. More of the motor running and the noise is still driving me crazy. With that said, I do need to say my engine is now running just fine. After changing fuel hoses, cleaning the fuel selector valve, changing filter gaskets, changing the fuel pump, and of course taking out the Alge-X just in case it still had a problem. Then it was gone. I checked and rechecked the vent lines but they weren't stopped up. It just went away. So that means I must have picked up some bad fuel and it has cleared itself form my system with all the additives I've added on the trip - or - there was an air bubble that was in the injector or ??? that came and went. I doubt the air bubble part because it has never happened before and the manual says all air will be self expelled. So we will just have to see what happens next.

The picture below right is of the development sailboat bay. I always liked this development and it ended up a person named Bob at Green Turtle Bay who owns a Gozzard has a place here. Hi Bob.

Once last note for this half months update. I FINALLY, completed my friend Paul's webpage showing his boat completely finished and floating. He sent me more pictures months ago and somehow this summer when I was doing that 4 letter word (work), I didn't update the page. Well you can see it finished and for those who haven't seen the entire project, you can see it at Paul's Redwing 23.
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