November 15-30, 2009 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Nov 15 - What do you do when you arrive someplace and your friends have rented a car? Of course the only thing to do is to GO REPROVISION!

Yes, we all headed for a sub-compact car - 5 of us - and once we herded all the cats we were off with laundry and a plan. Of course the plan immediately went south. The laundry was closed because they must not have paid their bills. So that meant we went to the marine store first and on to Wal Mart. Of course we really were planning on dropping off the laundry and going back to Wal Mart because of the space in the trunk but who cares. Frank can always be loaded up with our smelly laundry so we have more room for food.


 Wal Mart is the mecca for cruisers. After you've been on the waterway for almost 3 weeks you do need some food and other things. In our case our vacuum broke so we had to find one to replace it plus all the food the three of us have been eating.

Everyone else needed something too as you can see below. Frank and Cindy, then John and of course our cart for the mother ship. I couldn't get a picture of myself with the food so I figured the food would be good enough.

Then below that is the great laundry pictures. Don't you feel you are just right here with us?


After such a stimulating, but really fun, day we put everything away and were off to invade Frank and Cindy's Endeavor. They have a wonderful power cat and were hosting us for dinner tonight. It was a great way to finish off the visit. Thanks for everything.



Nov 16 - Yesterday morning we said our goodbye's and got away from the dock at about 9:30 heading for Pirate's Cove. They have a Songwriters Festival down here and wouldn't you know it, we are just going to have to stop for some good music. What better thing can you do when you need to spend a couple of days waiting?

Since my father works nights on the weekends, we really can't see him until Tuesday afternoon. So we traveled a whopping 10 miles so we can anchor out and enjoy the cruising life.

To the right is a picture of the Diesel Duck, which was constructed by Harry and Vicki whom we met at Green Turtle Bay. Cool boat and very nice people.

Below you can see as we are leaving and getting ready to pass Lau Lau's. A sight you've seen before in past logs. Then you can see as we are arriving at Pirates Cove. Yes, the channel is that narrow space to the right.


 We had lunch on the boat in typical cruiser fashion since we were paying 15 bucks each to get into the afternoon performance. We made it in time for the 1 pm start and listened to music for 4 hours before heading back to the boat. Deb decided to stay on the boat for the afternoon so John and I went in for the music extravaganza.

All I can say is they were all good. Everyone we heard has C. D.'s for sale and more importantly they continuously try to sell their writings to the professional entertainers. I do know there is a difference between the writers and the entertainers and who is to say which is better. I do know who is richer.


  I would be remiss if I didn't bring up a couple of stars of Pirates Cove. They are dog friendly and even have a sign that says if you don't like dogs, go someplace else. The dogs will do their wonderful job of begging and even will paw at your let to let you know they are available to eat. We didn't have any food so we were ignored. I took the following pictures of these two dogs just because the one on the left loved that golf ball and the one on the right just made me want to adopt an injured dog. He was so happy and I'm sure he didn't have a clue that he was missing a leg.

Later today we are off for another anchorage and a visit to the beach.


 Nov 17 - We left Pirates Cove and headed for an anchorage I love at the sea shore which is a park near Pensacola. No construction, only beautiful white sand, the ocean, sea oats, and of course a beautiful day.

Once anchored, we headed for the beach and a little sea shell hunting.

The picture to the left is one of the protected sea oats - don't pick it! The others are John and Deb hunting for that special treasure.


We found some shells and sand dollars.

The lower left picture shows some of the damage which occurred when Ida hit. You can see the sand is washed away and sea oats are laying on their side from the beating that was a small hurricane. Listening to the news, I hear that if sand isn't replenished on some of these shores then homes will be in the water in a few years.


We had a great walk and the sea gulls didn't like our arrival on their little spot of sand in the ocean. They would fly and come right back to this little shoal that was just offshore.

We were ridding in John's dinghy and his antique 7.5 H.P. Mercury was doing a pretty good job but it was missing and there wasn't enough water coming out of the weep hole. Looks like a project is coming up when we get back.

We made our way back to our anchorage and our boats were right where we left them - always a good thing in case you are wondering.

Me - I decided that it was a unique change for John to be working on his boat instead of me working on mine. So, I decided the best thing to do was to kick back and be the heckler. Jimmy Buffett decided he wanted in on the act so he kicked back too.

John pulled the cover from the engine and went to work. He got the water flowing again after cleaning out the tube that has some junk built up in it. Then it was on to making it run better. After a few adjustments, the engine was purring like a Mercury should and it was declared fixed. Darn, I was just getting into that heckling part too.

Welcome to cruising - have fun and fix something. Of course the fixing part goes much smoother when someone is heckling you.

We were in the perfect place for our first Florida, ocean sunset.

I get emails from my friend Gary all the time saying, "Jim, quit putting so many sunset pictures on your site. It just isn't the same as if you are there." I tell him that it may not be the same but I love them and there are many people that have never seen a sunset from the stern of a sailboat. He laughs and we always move onto something else until the next sunset picture. I still love sunsets and sunset pictures.

When the sun finally set in it splendid glory it was time to prepare the turkey balls and spaghetti. Yum Yum. It was a great meal with a wonderful salad too. What a great day back into Florida for me and the first time John was on his boat in Florida.

This morning we are departing for Pensacola and should be at the marina by noon and my father should arrive around 2 p.m. I'm sure we will have a good visit.

 Nov 17 - 2nd update for today. - You remember Frank? You have to, I just talked about him 2 days ago. I just left something out. You see prior to this morning I felt it wasn't my place to talk about the fact that Frank had bladder cancer and was having regular treatments. You hate that for anyone and we all know that we will get something as we age but still. Well, they left on Sunday morning driving up to the hospital that was going to give him a checkup on Monday morning and this morning they were going in (surgery) to check him out again and probably remove more tumors. They typically have to remove some tumors and then he has to recover for at least 3 days before he is back at life. However, having this hang over your head is very draining especially when you have to do it every 3-6 months. Guess what????? I called him this morning and after the procedure they have pronounced him cancer free!!!! Way to go Frank!!! The salt water is in your blood.

We are just very happy for Frank and I know everyone of you are too.

We will see you on the water and look forward to an even brighter smile.


 Nov 18 - We have just finished two days visiting my father. We had seen Pensacola many times before so this time we just hung out on the boat, went to dinner yesterday at Pensacola Beach, today lunch at a new place here in town and tonight we were off to a Mexican Restaurant. We were planning on staying for tomorrow but weather is going to shorten our visit. If we don't leave here tomorrow we might as well wait until Monday and to be completely honest, I sick of paying for marinas. That isn't to take away from this one, if anything, this is one of if not the best marina we stay at. Ron and Drew run this the way every marina should be run. Checking lines every day, washing docks where needed every day, cleaning and doing everything right. Go to Palifox and you won't regret it. However, I'm ready to be out on the hook or just hanging at friends verses paying for a marina. There is a difference and we enjoy the independence.

So, we are off tomorrow for Ft. Walton Beach and then on Friday we should be at the start of the ditch heading for Panama City. We may actually arrive in Panama City on Saturday afternoon assuming the winds allow us to cross into the bay in the afternoon. Otherwise it will be Sunday morning sometime. We will get to see Mike and Larry and right now it is looking pretty good for Thursday to cross the gulf from Carrabelle to Steinhatchee. You will have to stay tuned to see what happens.

 Nov 20 - We left Pensacola and both Deb and I weren't feeling too well. You see the dinner last night wasn't the best Mexican we've ever tasted. As a matter of fact, it was the worst. Deb ended up being sick all day - what a drag for her!

I on the other hand left her in bed, threw out the trash, dropped the lines and got underway with John following along behind. We were ready to get going again and we are working at beating a front across the bay.

When we were almost to Navare, I looked in front and saw another Gemini Cat coming right at us. The boat to the right is named Sea Life and they hailed us. They knew the name of our boat and had been following our logs. We didn't catch their name on the radio but they had just visited the same people in Panama City we are heading for on Saturday. He had injured his foot/ankle so they were cruising back home to see his doctor. The boat looks great doesn't it. The only real difference between this one and ours besides Sea Life being newer is the dinghy davits on the back. If you can't tell, we love our boat/home.

Below you can see some military stuff running around in the waters down here.


One place we always plan on stopping is Ft. Walton Beach's city dock. they allow you to stay one night for free and they also have a free pump-out. We always stop here and we always spend money here on food and other provisions. If a town gives you something, you had better give them something back in my opinion. The people on the phone are great, the city park is great, the food store is very close, and I know you've read in the past that we typically take in a movie and do some other shopping too. This time it was just food and things from the pet store because Deb was still feeling sick.

John and I walked to the store and brought back our provisions then I went to work cooking a great chicken with cheese entree with rice and broccoli on the side. For those who don't know, John doesn't typically eat veggies but he enjoyed the broccoli tonight.

We awoke this morning and got underway after pumping out and there was even a city employee who stopped by to make sure everything was working properly. Like I said, great town and great attitude!

We got under the bridge with a couple of feet to spare then it was off to the bay.

You can see John is still in trail and behind him on the pictures right is Ft. Walton Beach and to the left is Destin. If you ever want to get away you can't really go astray heading down here for a long weekend or better yet a full week of fun in the sun with those beautiful white beaches.

Tonight we will anchor just before the ditch going to Panama City's harbor and now it looks like we will head to Mike and Larry's dock for Saturday night. We are looking forward to seeing our friends there and will probably be waiting out the next two fronts to get a good crossing.

 Nov 22 - First things first. My phone told me yesterday I had some messages. Why yesterday and not 5 days ago, I don't know. But one of them from Bill in Clearwater asked I call him back but my phone didn't record the number. So Bill, please give me a call back.

We took off from Ft Walton Beach with the intention of stopping before the "ditch" going over to Panama City. However, we got to the entrance at 1 and with the forecast for the next day we decided to continue on.

 In a way, this ditch looks much like the Tenn-Tom. I keep saying I'm sick of ditches and I am. I'm looking forward to our outside passage to Steinhatchee.

 Deb drove for about an hour while I took on this next project. I don't like having to carry my forward nav light so I decided I could mount an LED nav light on the forward section of my port-a-bote cap with a battery and switch mounted in a plastic box below. I picked up an 8 AA battery holder along with a switch from Radio Shack and then mounted those in the plastic box. I then mounted the LED light on top with the bolts going into the plastic box. I added a third bolt at the rear and then supported the battery holder with velcro straps so I could change the batteries without taking everything apart.

By the time we are finished in Key West, I'll know the limitations and what I need to do for the 2nd generation system. Overall, it was a pretty cool installation and it works well.


 When we awoke on Saturday morning, there were dolphins everywhere at our anchorage. Probably 15-20 of them feeding.

We arrived at Mike and Larry's dock to a Gemini gathering. Ok, a small one. Bill has his boat to the far left, Larry's Gemini is right of middle, and of course our boat is at the far right.

We had a great time yesterday afternoon washing our boat and then getting together with everyone over at Larry's boat. It was like coming back for old home week in Panama City.

Tonight, Sunday, they are having a dock party so we will get some pictures of all the people and all the fun. John and I will be playing guitars at the party.

You've met Mike before but I just had to put this picture along with the one below in my site. Mike has worked very hard to create a bluegrass festival for the purpose of raising money for the Shiners. Mike does a tremendous amount of work and provides all of the sound equipment too. You can see in the plaque below that he was acknowledged for those efforts on this brass plaque as the festival director.


As a quick update on our plans, it looks like the weather will work for us to cross on Wednesday. We are hoping to be able to continue on Thursday and Friday but we will just have to see what the weather brings. As it looks, we may be in Clearwater as early as next weekend.

 Nov 25 - Happy Thanksgiving! Ok, we are a day early but tomorrow we will be at sea so we declared today our Thanksgiving Day and the homemade bread is currently rising. Let me catch you up with where we are and where we've been along with the weather.

We all gathered on Sunday evening for a dock party. People came from various docks and they came for both the conversation and of course the music. John did most of the playing because I pulled a tendon in my right thumb anchoring on the Tenn-Tom and I've been trying to let it heal. But in the spirit of the evening along with a couple of glasses of wine, I played a number of the songs people always enjoy if they are cruising or want to cruise.

Everyone had a good time and we had already made the decision to take off the next morning on the inside route.


We tied up to a free dock at White City and talked to some of the locals before settling in for the evening. Our problem for that day was the tide was against us and we fought the current all day. In the end it took us an extra hour plus to make it to White City. The next morning we were off for Apalachicola for fuel. We picked up the fuel and walked a bit at the dock then we were off again for the afternoon for our anchorage off of Carrabelle. We had picked a place that was protected from the forecast of 20+ knot north winds which were to occur on Tuesday evening. As we made our way upwind, we saw these guys raking for oysters which of course is a specialty here.

We went into the wind motoring for this day and did get to our anchorage. Deb took the opportunity to feed Jimmy Buffett cottage cheese that he really loves. Then later in the day he took a nap. He really loves the boating life and I think it is both the views along with the attention he gets.

So we arrived at the undesignated anchorage yesterday at about 4 p.m. and are ready to hang here until about 2 today when we will move up to our leaving position. We only have a 15 mile run but it will make all the difference tomorrow on the trip. Right now we have a forecast of 13-15 knots of wind from the northwest and we are going to the southeast. That should mean that the wind and waves are perfect for us to have a sailing trip across to Steinhatchie. I can't wait to turn off that diesel!!!

I have to update and get to that bread, turkey, yams, broccoli, mashed potato's, gravy - Yum Yum - Get your dinghy and join us.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving tomorrow and think about us offshore. We will continue to monitor the weather trying to get John a nice first crossing on his boat.

  2 pm update - Thanksgiving dinner was great. We had some really good homemade Cuban Bread and of course all the stuff I listed above. It was great to take the morning off from the grind of moving the boat and feel like we are getting back to the cruising pace and lifestyle. Tomorrow the weather still looks good and is getting better. It should be clear and in the 60's with winds now 12-14 knots and on our stern but will probably move to a beam reach when we are sailing because of our boat speed. Apparent winds should be about 8 knots and 1-2 foot seas. The only thing better would be no wind but that would only be better if you wanted to motor and I really don't so this should be the best for a great sailing crossing. We gave thanks for many things but the most important were for each other, family and friends. Thanks for being our friends and I will update if we get a broadband connection tomorrow night so everyone knows we are fine.

 Nov 27 - We left the anchorage at Alligator Point at 5:30 a.m. right on time. It was dark and I mean dark because the moon's switch had already been turned off. We both put up our main's and got underway motor sailing awaiting the first sign of daylight. Winds started out as projected at about 12-13 knots. We motorsailed for the first couple of hours and then I pulled out my jib and put up the motor as you can see below to continue on. For us it was a good day of sailing. When you turn the motor off and the wind becomes your engine, you then smile and can laugh at the fact that Deb woke up and said "What's wrong?" Of course everything was right for us. The winds dropped to about 10 knots during the morning so I pulled in the jib and put up the asymmetrical and our speed picked back up. Of course most of you who read our website know I get seasick and today was no different except I didn't get rid of my breakfast. Deb gave me an antacid and I had my band on but my stomach was rolling. This is just my dues for enjoying this part of my life. I always get used to it over time and then we anchor and I have to do it all over again.

Using the asymmetrical fine until about 12:30 when the wind started building again. It was supposed to get back up to 14 but it quickly passed that mark. Wind was right on our stern and as it continued to build I pulled down the asymmetrical and put the jib back out. At about 1 p.m. I got a call from John because the wind was still building and you have to remember he's in a 25 foot light weight Hunter. If there was ever a contrast in size and weight of boats, today was it.


1 p.m. - waves hit 3 feet and winds peaked at 21.2 knots right on our stern. The fun was over and John was ready for this trip to be complete because his bow would go down, a wave would approach his stern then he would begin surfing and he would turn to port to surf the wave and then straighten out and do it all over again. Of course he is doing this while single handing with no autohelm. It wears on you to say the least. The pictures below don't do it justice but they are all I have. To make best time, we dropped the jib and went to motor sailing making best time to the turn for Steinhatchee. Ultimately we made it to the channel and went on deck in very rolling seas to take down the main. I was lucky because I had Deb to hold the boat into the seas while John had to take his main down with nobody at the helm except his bungee cords. We made it safely into Steinhatchee and since the wind forecast changed Friday, we decided to hang out for the day and we will leave on Saturday morning for Cedar Key and should be in Tarpon Springs by Sunday afternoon late. It should be a nice ride and bring back the fun of sailing for John.

We had leftovers for dinner so we got to be thankful once again on Thanksgiving Day.


 Nov 28 - Quick update. We left this morning at about 7:50 and motor sailed to Cedar Key which was about 46 nautical miles. Once again, the formula for the conversion is 1.15 X the nautical mile to get to your typical statute miles. So that means we went about 53 miles today. The seas were light so everyone had a great day and tomorrow we have about 63 nautical miles which equates to about 72 statute miles which means about 11+ hours motor sailing. It will be a long day but then the grind will be over. We will be back to cruising at that point and enjoying the water once again. We've made the trip back and unless you've done it, you just don't know what a grind it becomes. Our Gemini is great because we have the driver "Ray" (Raymarine) who is becoming a much better driver since his algorithms are learning our boat. On top of that, I have Deb who has become a 1st Class first mate. So we get breaks and enjoyment although the long days still drag on us. We are ready for the shorter days, fun times and stops along the way.

I called my friend in Key West today and he has a mooring for me ready to go so it looks like we will be staying there for several months again this year and then decide what is next. It will be nice to make the slow trip down and then hang out with our friends.

 Nov 30 - Everyone needs a shower and I guess I really need to put a shower head into Jimmy Buffett's cage so he can have a proper shower. In the meantime he will continue to splash up the boat with water from his water dish on that day, it is random, when he decides this is cleaning day. Don't you just wonder what goes through his pea size brain? Is that me stinking or is is Jim? My dandruff is getting bad, I think I'll wash it off. Maybe it is something like, Deb, I think you need to wash the floors.

Who knows what that little critter is thinking.

We awoke to a red sky in the morning when leaving Cedar Key and that typically means Sailors take warning. We had a long day of motoring because the winds were essentially on our nose. Deb and I have Ray who can drive but John was back there using the tiller.

This will be the last picture of John's boat following us around because he is tired and ready for a break. You will learn more in a few pictures.

The night when we arrived in Tarpon Springs we had another Gemini owner, Bill, raft up to us right after we finished dinner. I've been communicating with him for a few weeks and it was great meeting him.

Since he arrived right after dark, he elected to raft up also to us as you can see in the pictures below that I took the next morning. Good thing I have a Rocna and it is also a good thing the winds weren't blowing too much.

We got up early this morning and had another great conversation with Bill before taking off for Clearwater. Bill has me convinced to pick up a 3 mil full wetsuit and go catch a bunch of lobster this year while in Key West. I guess I'll have to consider that and I need a full wetsuit anyway because the water is just too cold for my old body.

You can see a picture of Bill's boat to the right as he traveled with us for about 4 miles before turning down his channel to head for home.

Thanks for coming out to see us.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they just know it is time for a break. After single handing for 35 days, this was the time for John. Julie was available so she drove up to Clearwater and he got a slip for a week so they could head back down by car to Ft. Myers to rest up some and celebrate his birthday. The reunion went as most reunions go after being away from someone you love, hugs, kisses, and then smiles.

The umbilical cord has been cut and the fun part of the cruise is ahead of both John and Julie and he is ready for it on his own. All we have really done for the last 35 days is move the two boats. Truthfully, that isn't the fun part of cruising and the only way I think I will be seeing the Tenn-Tom again is if someone pays me to do that trip and most likely on someone else's boat. It is great seeing my father in Pensacola and our friends in Panama City but the grind is now over and we are ready to start having a grand o'l time. I'll bet most of you are ready for some more fun in the pictures too. We will see John and Julie in a couple of weeks in Ft. Myers or on the water as we leave St. Petersburg.

Fortunately, we lucked out after picking up fuel at Clearwater. The dockmaster remembered us and said we could tie up for an hour in an unused slip to go have lunch. It was great and as I've said before, the Clearwater Municipal Marina is one of the best emissaries for the city we find. They get it! Their job is to not only take care of the marina but to promote the city and get us to spend our money there. And we did! I've also said before that if you are ever in this area, give them your business and you won't regret it.

We headed down to our favorite place in Clearwater for a seafood lunch and it was absolutely delicious. Deb and I were both happy and after lunch got to see John and Julie one more time before heading down the waterway for our anchorage. We are only about 25 or so miles from St. Petersburg and will arrive tomorrow around 2.

As we were heading south we saw two more Gemini's. The one at the lower left was anchored and he has a cool modification of a long bow sprit which allows for a larger screecher. I'll bet the boat really can take advantage of light winds!

The boat to the lower right is a 3000 and I always liked them because they have a better underneath clearance than the rest of the Gemini's do.

We have a strong front coming this way and you can see on my grib files that we are expecting offshore 30-35 knot winds. That is going to cause a tidal surge of up to 4 feet and they now have warnings out that there may be flooding along the coast. That explains why we are heading to St. Petersburg for a dock along with the fact we are going to the boat show. Of course we were planning on going in for 2 nights but when we priced the marina, it was cheaper to pay for a week than it was to pay for 4 nights. We decided to pay for a week and stay for almost if not all of it. We get protection from the storm and we are on-shore for the boat show. The best of all worlds. Plus they have some great stores in walking distance so it is time to reprovision the boat. I see some real great veggies in my future.

We are meeting up with our friends Gary and Shirline on their completely refitted Schucker so I know you will enjoy those pictures too. More in the next few days.

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