January 1-14, 2010 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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Jan 1 - I didn't get this picture on in the last month so I just had to start out this decade with the picture Garry took of that 48 inch King Mackerel. We ate it once and then on Wednesday we took another huge bag in and ate it again. This time Garry and Shirline joined us at the end to try and finish it off. Unfortunately, we couldn't so others ate well then too. You can see below they prepared it very nicely and we had way too much food. I also have to add that King Mackerel is best if eaten the day it is caught. It wasn't bad the third day but it just wasn't as good even though we kept it just at freezing.

The picture to the lower right is just to show you how they fill these Coast Guard ships. You can see 3 different tankers filling and waiting to fill this one with fuel. I'm not sure if that is the entire load or if more tankers were on their way.

The other thing we've been doing the last couple of days is projects on the boat not to mention riding out to the grocery store for our first food shopping trip at Key West. The project I just finished is to put a long wire antenna on my topping lift for the main sail. I won't go into all of the details but it is something I dreamed up and have never seen on another sailboat. With the small antenna tuner I have, the project worked almost flawlessly. All I need it a bit more ground wire to hang in the ocean and it will be perfect. I can set my radio up in less than 5 minutes and have it transmitting or listening. I was even able to check into the maritime net on 20 meters yesterday so I know it is working well. I talked to the net controller in Wisconsin on 5 watts. Too cool. Now I have to set up a schedule to start talking to my brother via the ham radio.


The early birds - us - Jim and Deb - headed into Key West for an evening. We started out at Dante's saying hi to people there and then went down to Caroline's where we had dinner. You might remember Lisa to the left who works at Caroline's. We are very easy to please and typically split a meal. We thought Garry and Shirline were going to join us but never saw them. After dinner we gave them a couple of calls but I thought they must have left their phone on the boat.

So off we went up Duval and Deb just had to get some shopping in. At Fast Buck Freddy's they had already started the celebration early as you can see to the lower left.

Then Deb had to price some gold at Mel Fisher's and then look for some shoes. In the end all she bought was a T-shirt and she got a "deal" for the second shirt for only 5 bucks more. In the end it was still too much for two T-shirts but it's New Years.

We came upon the CNN truck who was preparing to give live video for the ball drop or should I say the slipper drop. Where else but Key West would they drop a "drag queen" in a red slipper for the New Year?


Of course Deb saw this guy outside and just had to have her picture made with him. He obliged and it was obvious that he spent a bit more time working out than I do!

By this time, about 8, the streets were being closed and everyone was getting prepared for the party. It is amazing how quickly the streets fill. By the time we left Duval, about 9 p.m. the streets were pretty full and more and more people were showing up in their New Year apparel.

We actually stayed in town until about 10 pm and then started back to the boat. A late night for us! On the way back to the boat we figured out where Garry and Shirlene were. They had left on their boat heading north. They had planned on leaving on Friday morning but I guess the 15-20 knot wind forecast out of the north on Friday afternoon made them reconsider about slamming into that overnight on Friday night since they were headed back up to Ft. Myers. That explains what happened to our plans to meet up. There will always be next time.

We now are getting ready to accomplish all of the projects that are on our list. Since I didn't get much time this summer to work on my boat (I was working on everyone else's boats) then I have about 25 things on my list. It seems Key West is a great place for us to catch up on boat projects and also have a great time too. I'll keep you informed on both and especially our projects as we finish them. One cool project is that I'm installing a modulating valve in the head to regulate the temperature of the hot water. I'll explain it all later but this should be a "warm" project and will fix the issue of changing water temperature when we take a shower.

That's it for now and I hope you all have a wonderful new decade. I hope this decade will be the best you've ever experienced

  Jan 2 - We stayed on the boat all day yesterday to do a couple of projects and just to hang out. Afterall, we always start the month in the hole with our communication costs (Cell phone, broadband card, website, and mailing service), plus we also have the good old dinghy dock fee. So staying on the boat yesterday was a good thing plus we cleaned out the "garage" and sized up a new area for the microwave which fits perfectly. Now all I need to do is go get electrical supplies and I'll have it made. On top of all of that, a front was moving through and it started BLOWING. It is supposed to turn COLD which down here means a high in the 60's and low's in the 50's. Like I said, COLD!

Today, we headed in after lunch which by the way was my version of a Pressed Cuban Sandwich. Deb even said it tasted just like the restaurants. We took the dinghy in to town and headed first to West Marine to see if they had openings for temp help during race week. I'll apply on-line tomorrow and see what happens. I even have to take a boating test which I hope I pass. Then it was off to the library which was closed so we headed to the Honda store for a new air filter for the generator which they had in stock and then off to Ace Hardware. That is where I picked up my electrical supplies and also some filler material that I will mix with some teak dust for a special project which is to get rid of the shades on the boat. They have already been taken to the dumpster but I need to remove the screws and fill them along with staining. A full day project if we got the right stuff to do the project with . In addition, I picked up the boxes, switches, outlets, etc to run the electric over to the miniature microwave. Then we were off to Dante's to say hi to the people there. And that is where this story really begins!

We met Tom and Cyndi who just happened to sit down next to us. Tom previously dug tunnels but now they were having a wonderful driving trip from California to who knows where. What an adventure! They've been a bunch of places and it seems they are leaving the Key's tomorrow and heading back north. We told them to come back down in the next few weeks because we would love to take them sailing. As it turned out, Tom is working on his "bucket list" that he just wants to complete. They are having a great time enjoying this part of life and looking forward to the next adventure. Tom and Cyndi, it was wonderful meeting you and I hope you get absolutely the most that life has to offer in the next few months!

 Jan 6 - I'm sure all of you up north are able to spell Cold and Burr very well. I also am sure that I shouldn't have said how great we had it down here because IT HAS BEEN COLD! Cold for us means low 60's in the days and low 50's at night. That is just cold on a boat and it is a great thing that we have the Honda along with our little electric heater. Those keep us at about 71 during the evening before we hit the bed while we watch a movie. There isn't TV that is being broadcast down here until a new station opens up in about a month.

We've spent 3 of the last 5 days on the boat which explains the lack of good updates. We are doing some boat project and we still had a couple of good sunsets. Yesterday I had to go pick up Deb's winnings from the UPS Store. Picture tomorrow. She won a prize at the St. Petersburg Boat Show and we received it yesterday. We will show it all tomorrow.

I also ran by the grocery store to pick up some stuff to eat and then took the pictures below on the way back. I don't know if you have ever come to Key West but years ago they had a place on the water just as you came on the island called houseboat row. The electric company even set poles and provided them electric service. Somehow about 10 years ago the image of houseboats and the question of their sanitation practices got them removed. The garrison bight marina has a certain number of slips dedicated to houseboats now as the compromise. I don't think I have provided pictures of them on the website so this is another way to have a waterfront home in Key West. Don't you just want one? I wonder if they have any hurricane insurance.

We are getting ready to head in to the library to renew my card and have lunch. I think I'll get a picture of a drug running boat for you for tomorrow's post. This one is at the Coast Guard Station and is of the "new design." See you tomorrow.

 Jan 7 - The small bait fish must be everywhere around us. Even the Pelicans were fishing yesterday. I did the camera thing and set my camera to take 5 pictures once I pressed the shutter. This, by the way, is a 5 year old camera and is still working well. Anyway, you have to look fairly close at the picture to the right and you will see the pelican diving with the mangroves in the background. I had to enlarge this digitally so that picture is as good as it gets. Below, you can see the same bird as it approaches the water and the final three pictures are the result of his dive. A big splash. What you didn't get was the grin on his beak when he swallowed the fish whole. You also didn't get me freezing out there waiting for this shot.  

Now, as billed yesterday, this is a shot of the confiscated drug boat that is at the Coast Guard Station here at Key West. I'm sure you've read about the fact that drug transporters have had to change their method of transport. They have moved to essentially a monohull sailboat hull with no top. This makes it almost if not impossible for radar to detect it. When loaded, the boat is essentially at the bottom of the gray line which means about 6-12 inches of it is out of the water. You can see in the picture to the right the U shaped tubes that allow for air intake for the engines and crew. The other tube going aft is for the engine exhaust. I think it is so long so that the heat is dissipated and it doesn't show up well on thermal imaging. They thought of just about everything and the pilot sits looking out of the window that looks allot like one of our cockpits of the radar evading fighter planes.

We are still cold in Key West by the way and I just heard that tonight we will tie a record of the time with temperatures under 60 degrees. Deb and I are taking it almost in stride and tomorrow at about noon are going sailing. We will probably spend about 2 hours sailing around just having a good time and then head in for a pump out, water and fill up with gas. Afterall, another cold front is headed our way on Friday night and then on Sunday morning we will have the coldest night for this season. Good thing we have that Honda and a heater!

Remember, give your best a hug and stay warm!

 Jan 8 - We are cold! Ok, maybe not as cold as the rest of you but then again we are living on a boat with no insulation. This morning we awoke to 60 degrees in the boat and I started the generator. In about an hour it was up to 70. On Monday morning we are all set up to break the ALL TIME low record for Key West and probably hit 46 degrees.

Today the pelicans were fishing again. I know that I've put pictures on before but these are just really good. It may be that I'm just playing with the camera but still it is cool. How would you like to hit the water with your mouth open aiming at some small fish? I think it would hurt!

So you have two sequences and I cut out the two extra pictures of the splash.


My friend Garry hates sunset pictures because he isn't here. Sorry Garry.

The colors were beautiful tonight.

This really isn't some kind of special stash I have on the boat. Really it isn't although you might think that when you read all of my writings.

About 5 years ago I told Deb we should get rid of the blinds. She said no and in the 9 years we've owned the boat we have never closed the blinds. The only purpose they have is to grow mold and collect dust and bugs. Finally, she decided that they can go south or I should say to the dumpster. We removed the snaps that held them up and we had a choice of what to do with the holes. I could put bungs in them but that would be a bunch of work and it would still show. I decided that I would try filler. I bought some filler from Ace, as a matter of fact I bought two different colors thinking I could blend them. It didn't work. So I then had to dream up something else.

My solution was to use the filler to mostly fill the holes and then sand off the existing stain down to the teak. This created dust that was then available for filler which I made it using Cetol and the dust. Magic dust.

I made it so that it was very thick and then applied it today. In the test we did a couple of days ago, the result was wonderful. This application will dry for the next two days and then I will sand the filled spaces and finally put on two coats of Cetol to stain the wood.

I'm already sure it is going to look better than the bungs. It was a bunch of work however catching all of the dust and then cleaning up the dust we didn't catch. The boat looks bigger without the blinds. Now for the new blinds we have coming for the forward window. They are Peek-a-boo blinds and you will see them when the arrive. They have already received our templates so we are excited to get the new blinds and show them to you.

I've been whining or should I say wine'ing about the weather. Our friends Steve and Linda up in Omaha just sent us these pictures to let us know what COLD really is. My thinking is that I'm very happy I'm here and not in Omaha!!!!

By the way, we didn't go sailing today - too cold - ha ha.

 Jan 9 - Just to bring you up to date, Steve wanted me to let you know the snow in the picture on the upper right is piled up 2 feet over a walk-out door coming out of the basement. Now that is snow. I think the next picture he sends will be a 10 foot pile in the front of the house. Can you spell FLOODING this spring? Don't you think people are starting to worry about a fast thaw or maybe they are beginning to wonder if it will ever thaw.

Deb entered a drawing at the St. Petersburg Boat Show and we received it the other day. You can see it to the right. Pretty cool isn't it!

This came from the supplier named Kushease and you can see their products by following the link. All of the material is Sunbrella and Deb really loves the bag. She's already thrown away the other bag she uses for showers and carrying larger loads on the boat. The pillow has already found a perfect home in the cockpit and besides being very comfortable, it also adds great color with a Guy Harvey Design too. Of course the insulated cups are great too. Pretty good deal for looking at all of the products at the boat show.


 The weather took a break yesterday so I took off on my bike to pick up some groceries for the upcoming record breaking cold front. I also picked up my new keyed alike locks that I ordered which are all brass which means they will not corrode. When you use locks every day of the year, you find the steel ones corrode even with brass bodies. So, I ordered eight of them which I used five and will keep three for spares or in case we need to lock something else up. When I got back to the boat, Deb was hanging out on the back just watching the pelicans fishing and looking at the clear water. I ended up going forward to take a picture of our mooring ball. You can see how I've spliced in eyes to get shackled to the large swivel connected to the chain which goes down the the ring where the three anchor lines are tied. You can just make out the anchor lines in seven feet of water and they are at 120 degree angles (if they were actually straight.)

I inspected the anchors with my look bucket and they were buried very nicely for the storm that is on the way.

Below, you can see the point we are anchored behind. Since we are on a Gemini, we can anchor where others fear to go. Two of our anchors are in 3 feet of water. We aren't going anywhere! There is shallow water in front of us and this point goes east to west which protects us from the north winds.


 We then headed in for our last meal out for at least two days. We had been given some grouper and we had it fried (bad for us I know) because we just don't fry on the boat. It just makes too much of a mess.

We finished up just before dark, headed back and watched a movie that I checked out of the library.

This morning, the front started hitting us at about 4 am. I checked the wind and it was blowing at a bit over 25 knots and it is supposed to blow like this and up to 30 knots for the next two days. The temperature is to drop all day and tonight might break the record for Key West which is 48 degrees for an all time low. Tomorrow it will break the record and is supposed to be 45-46 degrees. I'll bet that even makes the weather channel news.

Currently it is raining and blowing. We will run the generator off and on through the next couple of days and hopefully have plenty of gas. At least it isn't snowing!

 Jan 11 - Yesterday I turned on the instruments for about 5 min just to catch a wind reading. You can see to the right that we caught some of the higher wind at 29.3 knots which of course is more like 33.5 mph. That wasn't the highest of the day and I think they were reporting gusts of over 40 knots which would have been about 46 mph. I remember a person once who said, by email, that I would never see anything over 30 mph and shouldn't worry so much about my anchors. I don't think he was a cruiser because I can't even count the number of times I've seen over 40 mph and up to 70 mph while anchored.

Records have fallen in Key West! This morning the official temperature was 42 degrees and as I write this, it is 44 outside according to the radio. We ran the generator all day yesterday until 10 pm then I filled it and when I got up at 1:30 I started it up again and it ran all night keeping the boat at about 62. This morning, I filled the generator back up and between the heater and the burners on the stove, I have the boat up to about 68 right now. Pretty good for us.

It's been since Friday since we've been off of the boat and I will have to go in this afternoon just to pick up some gas for the generator. It is going to be cold tonight. Of course it isn't as cold as Omaha and I picked out two of the pictures Steve and Linda sent me just to remind me that we have it made here. Linda is standing next to the pile of snow from their driveway and to the right you can see they now have a one lane road to drive through. And here I am looking at the ocean - Sorry Steve and Linda.


 Jan 12 - Contrast. Yes, that is the word, contrast. All you need to think about is the contrast from the pictures above and the one we took at sunset last night and cruising is a pretty good deal.

Let me back up just a little. We awoke yesterday morning to the generator running which was powering the heater with 64 degrees in the boat. I started the generator at 1:30 am. Pretty good but as soon as I lit the burners on the stove for 15 minutes it was up to 69. Then the most amazing thing happened. The sun came out and there were no clouds. Even though it was only a high of 59 or 60 degrees the enclosure in the back became our solar heater and the inside of the boat warmed up to 76 degrees. It was an absolutely great afternoon on the boat. We broke that 48 degree temperature record with a 42 degree low at the airport. Whoopee, we broke a record. On the other hand, we are out of gas and today I ran in with the dinghy to pick up 7 more gallons so we have gas for tonight with the low predicted at 48 degrees. Then it warms up to a high of 63 tomorrow so things are really looking up!

Deb had a wonderful dinner for us and sunset was the perfect time for us to show off our comfortable Kushease pillow. Pretty kushy if you ask me. Today we have to go in and get off the boat plus pick up some locks for Jimmy Buffett's cage. He has become an escape artist and we are going to lock that little sucker in so he doesn't chew up anything else.

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