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

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September 17 - The decision is made. Wait, what was the question???? Do we stay or do we go? Do we stay or do we go now? Do we stay or do we go? So you know the question. Really, it wasn't do we stay or do we go, it was do we come back after this winter. That was the real question and to answer that, I had to have a few answers myself. Let me put it to you as simply as I put it to myself. Based on the fact that my genetics say I probably have about 25 years to live and the last 10 aren't the best although not the worst but definitely not cruising type years, then I have about 15 years left of my life to cruise or do anything else that I would really like to do. Now with that as a background, do I want to spend 1/15th of my life, meaning next year, selling sailboats. The answer was yes, IF. So my quest was to find out if the IF could happen. I didn't think it was an unreasonable if because it was really couched around expanding the business and doing more things for sailors which would place us in a position of being the sailboat center for Kentucky Lake. At the highest level there was agreement with the philosophy that we could and probably should do more to advance this cause. However, there is always middle management and when I got the unenthusiastic answer that it wasn't an iron he wanted to pick up, then it was perfectly clear in my mind that the next 1/15th of my life would be spent cruising and looking for another adventure.

You must understand that I am a person that loves challenges so the concept of building a cool center of sailing would have been fun to me even though the amount of money would have paled from what I previously earned. It was the adventure of being engaged in creating a new paradigm for this operation that was motivating me rather than the money. However, I was fully prepared to accept an answer either way it went. I would either dive in and take on changing to a new paradigm or Deb and I would depart for the deep blue once again making plans for the next 6 months which really still aren't clear. As you already know, we are making new plans.

So what are they you ask? Right now it looks like we will be leaving Kentucky Lake during the last week of October heading south for the now way too familiar Tenn-Tom Waterway on the way to Mobile. Then we will be visiting friends all the way south until we arrive in Key West as a base for a couple of months. Then we have a real choice. If it is approved, do we participate in the sailing race to Cuba or do we go to the Abacos for spring? Isn't that a cool choice since we haven't been to either of the places. I think overwhelmingly we have decided that if the government gives permission for the sailing race to Cuba we want to be in the fleet and our goal would be to finish last in the race. Everyone needs a goal don't you think? However, if it is just a race over and then turn around and come straight back, then we will probably spend about a month and a half to two months in Key West then head up the Keys possibly to the Miami Boat Show and then back down so we can head to the Abacos. Once finished with the Bahamas we would cross back over, pick up the bird, and then we would head up the east coast with the goal of sailing past the Statue of Liberty and on to Long Island, Cape Cod, and of course Boston. All of this has Deb excited so it is time to get the boat ready for the trip!

Over the next week you will learn what I learned when lending assistance to a boat that blew up in our harbor. What an experience but since I don't have the best record of posting recently, I better save that story for a couple of days. I almost have it composed in my mind. In addition, there are also those things I said I would write about previously but didn't. And on top of all of that, there are always the projects we have started to get the boat ready. Now just to get those fingers in shape for writing again!

 Sept 20 - Last Saturday I was talking to a person about sailboats while at the Boat Show. First, we just didn't have too many people stopping by for sailboats because there was a major, for here, sailboat race on the weekend someone decided to host the show. Well back to the the conversation. Just as we were getting something interesting, BOOM. I'm talking about the sound of an explosion with a sound pressure that rocked people. Well, that isn't the story. I turned around to see what happened and here is smoke, fire and people screaming. It took me somewhere between two and three seconds to figure out that I need to do something and I happen to have my dinghy next to where the boats for sale are. So I yelled at someone to untie my dinghy and then started looking for something to substitute as a kill switch since I didn't have mine with me. Bottom line is I didn't find anything to substitute at this moment. Instead, I held the kill switch out with my left hand, started the engine with the right and headed full speed towards the boat that blew up. I just wanted to get the person who was at the time in the water a life jacket. I was really afraid she would try to get into the dinghy and get tangled up in the prop. So after yelling at her twice to take the life jacket, she did and I backed off. There were a couple of swimmers in the water who to care of getting her to the dock. I headed for the dock to see if they would get the water pump but nobody knew where it was that I talked to. A person jumped into the dinghy with me and we went off to get the boat that was then drifting into the sailboats that I had for sale. We tried to get the line on the front and couldn't get close enough so I handed the guy with me the scrub brush in my boat and he was able to get the line such that we could tow the boat away some. (Yes, that is me in the dingy pulling the burning boat and you can see that I'm still holding out the kill switch with the fingers on my left hand.)


 As soon as the person, who was also a volunteer, in the Tow Boat US boat took the line I thought I would be out of there. Instead, I transferred the person in the boat with me over to the Tow Boat US boat. Unfortunately, the line we handed over got tangled up in the prop of the Tow Boat US boat and I tried with another dinghy to move the Tow Boat US boat away from the flaming boat. Fortunately, the person I put in the other boat went in and untangled the line from the prop. By then, the burning boat had drifted over on a concrete dock.

I'm going to stop with the story here because it really isn't important to what I want to tell you.

This message is critical to everyone on the water today. I just truly wished that I knew what I know today on the Saturday of the fire. Bottom line is when you have a boat that is somewhat secure and you have access to anchors with chain and rode, go STEAL the anchors, chain and rode and secure the burning boat! Yes, I recommend that you steal the anchors off of other boats as quickly as possible and throw the anchors into the burning boat then secure the end of the rode to anything you can to keep the burning boat away from property that is more expensive and can be destroyed. My guess is two anchors with chain would suffice but I recommend you steal two more anchors just in case the heat is such that the nylon rode melts from the chain and you must add more protection. If you use the two spare anchors, steal some more! After all, someone will pay for those anchors once the investigation finishes because you will have saved many dollars.

I say all of this with the goal of giving you the knowledge that I now know such that you will be able to make a better contribution when something like this happens to you. Trust me, at some point you will have to make a choice, do I help or do I sit and watch from the stands. Use your knowledge and help. After all, in my opinion, nobody in the stands ever saved anything.

 If I sound a bit upset in the previous description, then it is because I have heard so many stories by so many people with regards to this incident that it simply becomes unbelievable to me. People were yelling at the Tow Boat US Captain after the fire and he wasn't even in the boat. People were saying on Sunday that the lady who was in the water had died. Why, because they had heard it on Sunday. Well guess what, she didn't die. I could go on and on but I won't. If you aren't in the game you may or may not make the decisions of the people in the game. However, one thing is true - If you aren't in the game, you will never know the stress that is involved when your face is getting burned and your hair is being singed and you have to make a decision and then live with it.

My contribution is fairly minimal in this event. However, I will tell you that I witnessed a person, after swimming out to the boat, who is the Harbor Master here at Green Turtle Bay stand on the back of the boat screaming get out, get out while fire was flaming in is face and then jumped off. That is courage!

I can also tell you that everyone whom I talked to who was involved thought through what they were going to do and then acted in very little time. They are hero's. Finally I want it to be clear that the boat blew up was at least 20-30 feet from the dock and the engine had already started while at the dock. I have no clue what happened to that boat but one thing I feel fairly certain of is that there was nothing done at the Marina that caused the boat to explode. I feel truly sorry for both the person who died and the lady I helped save. Unfortunately, we will probably never know what happened.

All I can add is if you have a gas powered engine on a boat, please learn the right way to fuel and then run your blowers and of course invest in a fume detector so this will never happen to you. Time, money, and maintenance are probably the only way this will be avoided in the future. And of course remember those tips about stealing anchors if you must.

 Boats listed and sold, Lessons learned in yacht sales, we know we are leaving we just don't know where we are going but we do know where we've been.  
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