Dec 1-31, 2010 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Dec 3 - Isn't it pretty? New engine parts! Here is the deal - you have to remove the rocker arms and then you have to torque the head after 50 hours. I did it at 38 hours because we could. You can actually see the heads of the bolts with the paint picked off. I'll have to repaint them!!! But not after I do it again at 100 hours. It isn't required but I'm going to do it again anyway.

Once you torque the head, you put the rocker arms back on and then set the valves. I only found one bolt that needed a little extra and one valve that needed an extra thousandth. All was and is good. Everything went back together and we were running again.

The real reason I took this picture was so my friend Steve up in Omaha could see that it looks just like the valves on the VW engines he converts for airplanes. I used to set my valves on my airplane very regularly and I thought he would get a kick out of this picture. It is all the same just different.

We've now run for 2 full days and everything is normal. I told you that I declared the engine fixed and it must have listened.


So let's go back to St. Augustine. Deb walks into the laundry facility and a lady walks up and asks - "Are you Deb, of Jim and Deb who have the website?" Deb says, "yes." She said, "I read your site for years before we left to go cruising." About that time I walked in and we met Debbie and Kevin. They are wonderful people and are now cruising on a Morgan sailboat. We are so happy we could contribute to their dream. So what do you do? You get them together with some more friends for Happy Hour at our favorite Pizza place in St. Augustine. As it turned out, Liz and Mike were heading down and got there just in time to join us all. You might remember Mike and Liz from the Bahamas or from Key West. It was a great evening talking over old and new times.

Left to right is Liz, Joe, Deb, Mike Me, Debbie, and Kevin.

Picture to lower left is Debbie and Kevin's boat as they were leaving St Augustine and to the lower right is the new Bridge of Lions.

We made time yesterday and stopped at Daytona Beach for fuel then continued on. Yesterday was a 71 mile day and we traveled from the time the bridge opened at 7:30 until 5:15 which was just before the sunset. Then today we left before the sun officially came up. We were making really good time with the wind at our back and motor sailing along. I had to slow down when I saw a bunch of dolphins feeding. This is a picture of a few of them.

I must missed a picture of some of them completely out of the air. It is just too much fun seeing all the dolphins as we are further south.

We were doing pretty good and were passed by the sport fisher you see to the left earlier in the morning. You might just happen to notice that he is off to the right. Look closer. See the red marker in the back on the far left and the green marker? Those indicate the channel and he isn't in it. As a matter of fact, he has taken this million dollar boat and run it aground. I mean hard aground. We met the Tow Boat US boat heading to pull him out.

As it turned out, the guy passed us about 5 hours later so he did get off.

We made 73 miles today which is a record for us I think on the intercoastal waterway. Two days and about 145 miles. Pretty good time but it was because of all the north winds and the ability to use our sails along with the engine. If we weren't wanting to get south so bad we would have cut the engine and just sailed today. We didn't and were making tracks.

Can you tell we are excited?

So here is the scoop. We both feel like Christmas day is upon us at least from the gift standpoint. We have one big present to unwrap and that happens to be a house we bought sight unseen. Yes, we have seen some pictures but believe me we still don't have a clue about the real layout. The scope of the project is huge but that doesn't worry me. I'm ready for the project and just hoping that what we see when we walk in is what we would have bought had we have seen it before we "wrote the check."

Oh yea, there is another box to open. We just bought a van today. Well, we didn't do it exactly - our friend Paul went over and looked at the van I found and gave it his thumbs up. So other than a little parking lot rash, it looked pretty good for a 2001 van. The owner will deliver it to us when we arrive which is really great and I have already gotten my insurance person to get it insured for Wednesday of next week.

I'm feeling more and more land locked and I haven't even seen the land I'm locked to.

 Dec 7 - I know you aren't going to believe this but I didn't take any pictures when we saw the house today. Once again, I'm ahead of myself. We arrived yesterday at 3:50 pm at our friends dock where we will be staying for this week before moving off to a marina. Thirty minutes after we arrived, we were at the new house and after about 10 minutes met our realtor who opened things up. The yard is small (WONDERFUL - less to mow), and other than the neighbors dog pooping in the yard along with a trailer they have partially parked on our property, it is perfect. Nothing a fence won't take care of. The inside of the house not only met but exceeded our expectations. That wasn't too hard because we've been trying to limit our expectations. This will be the nicest house we will have lived in and we will have the boat out back too. Deb let a few tears flow when she saw everything and can't believe we are only a closing away from the house being ours.

I'll fill you in on some of the details later and I will take some inside pictures that will do the house better justice. You do have to know that we've always had a house/townhouse that we enjoyed and really liked but we have never had a 3 bedroom home or a home with a 2 car garage. Afterall, we did want to go cruising. So for us, this is a big house whereas for others it may be small. Come to think of it, any house is big after living on a boat for 4 and a half years.

Let's get down to the real issue. Chinese Drywall..... My biggest fear even though I logically could not see it happening, was that some of the metal connections to the roof or trusses would show signs of corrosion. NONE. I was all over the attic that I could get to. We really have a simple, all be it very involved and laborious, project ahead of us. It is simply work. The work is where we achieve value so we can buy a house we otherwise could not have afforded. All we need to do is get the title company to finish up their work and we can get started on permits.

More later.

 Dec 11 - As we crossed the Okeechobee, we encountered a number of locks. We've been through locks before and taken as a whole, we've been through a whole lot of locks. Most of the locks are operated with a set of valves such that the water from the highest point is drained into the lower point. For example if you are going up in a lock then the water from the place you are going to is run through pipes and valves such that it then fills the lock chamber and it enters the bottom of the chamber. This is always true of the higher lift locks. HOWEVER, that isn't the only way locks can operate. If the lift isn't that high then why not just open the door a little and let the water enter. First time you see this, you think - I think something broke.

The other thing that is different is these locks have ropes that hang down that you just grab instead of tying off to a bollard.


 I sure hope those doors have good breaks on them while they let the water in!

There are always two ways to skin a cat as they say. If your mast is too tall to go under a bridge then you can take your mast down, go a different way, or even tilt your boat over. In this case the bridge that controls what traffic goes down the waterway is the one you see below. It is 49 feet high at a water level of 14.5 feet. On the day we went through the water level was a little over 13 feet so the bridge height was a bit over 50.5 feet. If you have a mast that is 51 feet or higher you need a plan. One of the ways to get through is to hire the guy that brings out barrels and a water pump. He lines the rail of your boat with barrels and fills them up with water. That tilts your boat over so you can get through the bridge. Works well on monohull's but wouldn't work on a Cat.

It was fun watching this happen.

As we crossed the big lake the birds would follow us looking for small fish that were kicked up by our prop. That must be the way they have learned to get an easy meal. These guys flew with us almost the entire trip across the lake.

When we got to the other side, the water got a bit deeper and wider. We had stayed over night at Clewiston and got underway the next morning just before daylight. I was like a mule heading for the barn for feeding. We had 3 more locks along with 3 bridges to make the trip complete. You can see below Glades boat storage along with some of the trees covered with spanish moss.

We arrived at our friends dock at 3:50 and saw their house then went over to see our house at 4:30. Next the question was when would we close? This got delayed and it really looked like it was going to get delayed again because they had said we were required to have the final payment in a day before closing. Days passed and we still didn't have closing documents. Yesterday, friday, I received a call at 11 am that said we would have to sign a contract extension because they were just finishing up the lien search. Ok, one minute of disappointment and then off to meet our second bidder on reinstalling the drywall when I finish all my work. At 1:45 I received a call from my third bidder for drywall and was on the way to the house when I received the call that we could close today. This one will be close! My first task was to cancel my appointment. Then start the phone calls.

First I had to ensure we could wire money this late in the day. Answer - Yes BUT it will cost you extra. Ok, I'll pay the extra. We had to have everything signed and complete by 4 p.m. It was now 2:25 and I didn't have final numbers or wiring instructions. My realtor, Lee, got busy and I received both pieces of information. Off Deb and I went at 3:10 to the fax office. We arrived at 3:18 and faxed the wiring instructions to where our money was. These things take more time that I could understand then at 3:45 p.m. we received back the form we both had to sign authorizing the wire transfer. That went back by 3:47 p.m. At 3:58 p.m. the wire went manually from the home office. We just made it so far. Next we need a reference number or they won't close. We took off driving to Lee's office so we could start looking over the paperwork. The office where we wired from closes at 5 p.m. our time and as it turned out we got the call about the reference number at 4:58 p.m. Again, just in time.

All of this brings us to the picture to the left. We are now back to being land based. All of this finished up at about 6 p.m.

We haven't broken out the demo equipment yet. We have to wait for the final review at the Ft Lauderdale office and wouldn't you know that it is the weekend. That final review and paper we will receive won't get to us until Monday or Tuesday. At that point we will try to get a permit even though it won't be officially recorded yet. There is always more to the story.

Dec 12 - So here we are the day after we closed and driving in our van to meet friends about 90 miles away. We have a spare but it is rusted in so it is useless. On top of that, the serpentine belt is about to break but off we go - these are good friends. (I fixed the serpentine belt last night.) We had a great lunch and caught up just a bit. Thanks for driving down to meet us half way. At lunch we got a bit of a beating because we haven't posted pictures of the house. Well, I did post a picture of the outside but I took it off because I just didn't want to publish where I lived when we leave for months at a time. So we consented to put some pictures on of the inside.

These are great but they are what they are, houses look so much better in person. I stitched together the picture below and the colors are right but the picture to the right shows more. Just think, we have to tear out all the drywall all the way to the ceiling. Are you sure you don't want to help?


I was labeling all the parts and where they needed to go back in when I figured out that the space we have right here is about half of all we had at the townhouse in St. Louis. We are going to be so happy with the storage in this kitchen!

We also were requested to show the view out the back. If you ignore the PIT BULL which is owned by our neighbors, and actually is a loving dog right up to the point when he might want to take your leg off, we have a great view out the back. Again, pictures don't do it justice because you just might be able to see some of the dog stuff laying on the lawn. It is everywhere! Can you spell
F E N C E??? At least a partial fence to keep people from looking in the windows since the windows are across from each other.

Regardless of the issues of the house next door, they are moving. Afterall they are getting evicted because that house also has Chinese drywall and it has been foreclosed too. They are just waiting for the Sheriff to show up and tell them to move. The PIT BULL is moving too!

To the right is a picture of the ceiling in the master bedroom and you can see it is a raised or should I say a "tray ceiling." Then below is our bathroom which had a humongous shower.

Below right is the 3rd bedroom which will become our "office" as if we really need an office but really we do need a place to put a cheap computer.

As far as beds and stuff, we haven't figured out when or where we will get such stuff. Let me just fill you in - we headed off to Goodwill yesterday and picked up our clothes for the remodel. Here is the really funny part. They had some stuff that was better than the clothes we had on-board and I'm in the process of determining which clothes I will be tearing up in the remodel. If you aren't laughing by now, you should be. By the way, it was a half price sale at Goodwill. Now you have to be laughing and on the floor.

If you see a bump in the stock market tomorrow it is because we just spent a ton of money on stuff we need to remodel this house. Got a great deal on that big ladder I need and extension cords plus a bunch of other stuff. I can't wait to get started tearing out trim and other things.

Tomorrow we get the water turned on, electric, post office delivering, and hopefully a document that says we own the house so I can start the permit process.

  Dec 17 - We are still here! We had to jump through a bunch of hoops and we had already started tearing things out. As it ends up, they send your closing papers to the county in bunches then it takes up to 3-4 weeks for your title to be recorded. If that would have happened, I wouldn't have been able to get a permit until possibly mid-January. I called the closing company and found out they could E-record the title. I said, can you do that so I can get my permits. She said, "sure." I thought, why didn't they do this to begin with? Then I figured out that it would take the title company more time so they wanted to pass off the work to the county. As it ended up, they were able to E-record the title on Wednesday and even though the computers didn't have my name on the title, I had a piece of paper I printed from the title company that said it had been E-recorded. So yesterday, Thursday, I spent the morning in the permit office going through all those hoops to get my permits. I now have my drywall, electric, plumbing and my fence permit. This is supposed to be everything because they said I had to apply for the electric outlet for the dock with the dock permit. Ton's of work ahead and it is somewhat painful to be tearing everything out of a very nice house but that is exactly what we are doing.

I labeled every piece of trim in the house with a system I set up. I'm essentially creating trim packages for each room. When the drywall has been reinstalled, I will be able to go back to each room and put it all up quickly. Much faster than taking it down.

Not much to take pictures of but I'll get some at the first of next week. Hopefully we will get a dumpster for Christmas.

  Dec 19 - Life is so interesting. We have been totally amazed at this land life. I'll go back to Friday. I'm so used to putting my garbage in the dinghy and then going ashore to throw it in a dumpster that I kept looking out the front door when I heard a truck. Finally, after the dumpster or in this case trash can divers made their trips, a truck showed up and they put my trash in the back of a truck and went on. Then after a long day of work, my first real full day, I went into the monster shower and turned this thing called a valve and after about 15 seconds hot water came out of this thing on the wall and it seemed endless. What an amazing modern world we live in!!!!! You can tell, I'm getting readjusted to the land life which is something all of you take for granted.

 Saturday, my friend Garry took me in his truck for our first Lowe's run. The purpose was to build a fence between us and the very close neighbors. the problem is the neighbors are very close and windows essentially line up. On top of that they have 3 dogs and the dogs have been pooping in our yard for the last year. They think they own our yard. Well, the neighbors kind of think that too since they had a monster trailer parked half on our property along with a truck and car. So it was time to define our space. We got a permit for a 6 foot high wooden fence and on Saturday we built 55 of the 70 feet. Lots of work that kicked my tail. There were 3 trips to Lowe's that day and we will finish the fence tomorrow morning.

What else have I been doing? Look at the picture to the right and you can see. Imagine, if you can, tearing out every single piece of trim from a house that is only 3 1/2 years old. Along with that you have to remove the shelving and clothes hanging systems. So far, that we have done. Next will be to take out all the cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchen. Oh yeah, the countertops are granite so we will be moving the cabinets all together and rolling them on top of plastic pipe so that we won't have to remove the marble. Lots of fun!!

Not too many doors because they stole most of the doors. Isn't buying a foreclosed house fun!


 December 25 - Merry Christmas!!! We had a great holiday just goofing off all day. Let me go back before we talk about today.

As you can see, I have a barge in my backyard. This guy is going to put the poles in for out dock on Monday. We are moving quickly. He is getting the permits for the dock and the electric even though I am doing the electric and everything on the dock except putting in the poles. That is all of the good news. This all means we will be able to place our boat here in about a week. What good news.

We are having a great time at Garry and Shirlene's but it will be nice to have our boat in our own back yard.


Last time you saw this area, it was all together. I had talked about unwrapping our gift to ourselves of a house but realistically, isn't this taking it a bit far????

We have totally lucked out. The bottom line is we only had about 30 percent of the house in chinese drywall. The even better news is that I have identified all of the drywall that was chinese and am finishing up removing it all along with most of the US drywall too. I am not going to remove a number of sheets in the kitchen of US drywall because of the nice stone that is mounted to it. However, I have found every piece of chinese in the kitchen and it has been removed except for the stuff behind the sink. That is a job for tomorrow. Bad news is there is some in each of the showers. So that means I get to grind out grout and take that drywall out too. Now the good news - I get to learn how to put in tile and grout tile. Such good news.

We rented a U-haul and hauled 2 and 1/2 TONS of drywall to the dump on Wednesday. A ton was taken on Monday in the back of Garry's pickup. We will probably take another ton or so on Monday. The good news is that I'm getting in very good shape. The other good news is I think I will be 99 percent done with removal on Monday by quitting time. Then it is clean-up time and on to electric and plumbing. Fun, fun, fun.

Getting back to Christmas day. I slept in until 9 a.m. and I never sleep past sun up. Talk about being tired. Then phone calls and I was bad because I did not call everyone I should have. I could blame it on the cell phone service legitimately because there was about an hour when we couldn't get a line. Instead, I'll blame it on lazy Jim. Bottom line is that we truly appreciate everyone's friendship and I have been way to consumed with this project.

We left for a trip to Ft. Myers Beach but stopped at Manatee park on the way to look at the Manatee's along with some small tarpon hanging out at the park. Life is starting to get good again.

We got to the beach and saw people actually in the water swimming. Some people don't understand what must be normal when it is in the 60's. I guess they are from way up north and this is warm. I was actually looking for a coat and they were in swimming suits.

Off to a wonderful dinner and now back at the boat. It was great to have a day off and I'm ready for two hard days so we can start the clean-up. Life is good today.

I truly hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and are looking forward to the new year! We are looking forward to both the new year.

 December 30, 2010 - My last post for 2010 and I am totally amazed that people are still looking at what we are up to. Thanks by the way!!! We are very engaged with the project but I have to tell you that it is going to be in the upper 70's for the next week or two and we are thinking - What were we thinking about buying this place?????

I promised you some pictures so here they are. First thing you will notice is the very clean cut at the ceiling lines. I did that with a multipurpose tool and cut it cleanly since the ceiling can be reused.

The picture to the right is the 3rd bedroom but will be our office. This will be where I do ton's of preparation for the Captain's classes I am teaching. Too much fun too.

Then below you can see the 2nd bath and the tile cut out from the top. Darn that Chinese Drywall. They just happened to pick up a piece to use at the top of both of the bathroom areas. I had to cut it all out. Good news is they still make the tile and we will head out in a week or so to pick up a sample to see if it is close or not. I get to re-learn how to lay tile.


You can see we've been busy. Tomorrow I will be taking out all the drywall trim in the windows and some doors. That will allow us to be finished taking out drywall. Then We get to clean. I don't mean sweep, I mean wet clean everything. This will be the cleanest house before closing it up that every happened. I lucked out in that the drywall you see still up in the kitchen is AMERICAN drywall from National Gypsum. That means it doesn't have to come out and we can keep the neat back splash without me having to redo it which I promised Deb that I would. I just have to redo the work at the sink which you can see in the torn out space. Here is the cool part. I figured out how to take the Chinese drywall out of the area behind the sink without taking out the granite countertop and cabinets. Then I spent a half day cutting and backing out screws so I can slip in a new piece of drywall and fasten it from the back side. ( I did all this work because it saved us 500 bucks and no guarantee that they could remove the granite countertop and put it back in without breaking it. ) After the new drywall goes in, I get to rework the plumbing. Doesn't this all sound FUN??? Bottom line is we are saving money and that is good because I have to buy that tile I was hoping I wouldn't have to buy for the showers.

Below left you can see the master bedroom along with the walk-in closet.

Of course they also happened to pick up Chinese drywall for the master shower. In a house that only had maybe at the most 30 percent Chinese drywall, how did they pick those pieces out just above the showers????? Regardless, I got it out.

Let me tell you one more little factoid. They also did not use fire retardant drywall in the garage. So I tore it all out which just happened to be Chinese and now I will use the right drywall in the garage too. It's just what I do. I really enjoy living in a house that is right not because I have to, rather it is because I can. As an example, I also took out the fiberglass insulation because of the dust and threw it away. I have new insulation in the van to install after washing the studs.

To the right you can see the living room. We didn't tear the vapor shield except in a couple of places. I will get new vapor shield to fix those places once we have washed everything in the house from the ceiling down. So far, we've started the vacuuming process and should get everything taken out and vacuumed in about 3 days. Then comes the real cleaning with soap and scrubbers and anything else we can think of to get everything out.

Once we get everything clean, I get to start on the electric and reworking the plumbing. The project starts being fun now because I no longer have to tear out drywall - a project that I didn't just hate, I HATE demo. But that is how we add value.

By the way, we did get the poles installed for our dock and will be moving outside our house on Monday. We can't wait to get up and have O. J. on the deck then start getting back to work. As the song goes, Life is Good Today.

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