January 15-31, 2010 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Jan 17 - I know you've been reading about how unseasonably cold it was down here in Key West not so unlike the rest of the country. The issue for people is that many of the houses were built without heaters. They run on electric heaters has come and gone with many people getting them and even more who didn't. We even had deaths of people who tried to use a BBQ grill in their house to heat with. Of course the carbon monoxide was the culprit in that death.

The other thing dying is fish. Evidently, some of the fish in the keys depend on a chemical process to process the oxygen and when the water temperature gets below a certain level, the process shuts off. As a result fish were dying right and left. You can see some of them dead in the picture to the right. On that bike ride, I saw almost a thousand dead in Garrison Bight.

The other thing I got a picture of is one of the houseboats that sank which was anchored out.

And of course there is the boat that appears to be overloaded with birds. I actually met the guy who owns this boat and he pumped it out. I only saw him at the dinghy dock so don't know where he is located. The engine on the back is a Seagull and he took it off and is using it on a Walker Bay dinghy. That is how I met him striking up a conversation about the engine. Evidently the oil is mixed 10 parts gas to 1 part oil. I'll bet that produces a smoke screen.


 Yesterday, Deb got out of bed early. The only thing Deb gets up early for is crossings and garage sales. She hates crossings so when she gets off her 12-3 am watch, then usually she doesn't get up again until 8-9 so I get a double shift. With garage sales, there is a different story. She loves them so we get away at about 8 from the boat and are riding the streets of Key West following the map from the Key West Citizen tracking down the sales. The sales on Saturday were pretty good but she only found one pair of pants so I guess she has to figure out what to throw away. I didn't find anything so I lucked out.

The other good part of garage sales is that we get to see things we haven't seen in Key West. I think we actually rode down 2 or 3 streets that we hadn't been down before yesterday.

I also just had to get a picture of Mile 0 which is the end of Highway 1 going up the Keys.

 One of the thing we rode by was "The Sandbox." Last winter, there was supposed to be a building project going on this corner. I guess the economy stopped that project and someone created this "Sandbox" instead. Evidently, they teach people how to make sand sculptures here. Pretty good work don't you think?

We then headed off to where the sailboats coming in for the race are putting up their masts and launching the boats.

Some of these folks are really serious and have covers for the entire boat just so highway grime doesn't get on the bottom. I'll bet this makes a difference because the oily mess from the highways could really slow a boat down just a tad and that could be the difference between winning and also ran.

The real reason we came was the Wounded Warrior Project. We had heard on the radio that they would be arriving at the end of their ride down from Miami. I knew this would be one of the most touching moments we would probably have while we are in Key West. We rode our bikes down to the entrance of Ft Zachary Taylor and arrived at about 11:10 which was about 30 minutes before the wounded veterans were to arrive. We had heard that some would be missing limbs and this was part of the therapy to just try, and I mean try, to get them back into life after making one of the most difficult sacrifices there has to make for our country. Like I said, it probably will be the most touching moment here in Key West.

With sirens leading the way by the motorcycle police and other police cars, they arrived on their bikes. You can see the guys leading the way on special bikes made so they can pedal them with their arms. If that doesn't get you, I don't know what will.

Every one of the participants were overcoming some obstacle in their lives and it was great that so many people had gathered to welcome them home. It also made me think back to the time when the veterans were returning from Vietnam. I'm happy that our country has learned the way they are supposed to welcome home veterans verses the way they did it back when I was still in school. Hopefully we have learned that there is a difference between the policy and the people. All I could do is think what obstacles these guys have and will have to overcome. I really wish I had a business that I could give preference to hiring people like this who have shown more guts and courage than I ever had.

The color guard marched in representing all the divisions of the services when all the riders arrived and people gathered around. What evidently had happened as well was that these guys had already ridden down Duval to a rousing welcome home.

 As a special honor, the speaker was a Rear Admiral. He talked about the sacrifice these vet's have made and how much our country appreciates their service and sacrifice.  

 It was clear to me that his words were appreciated.

We stuck around until the talks were finished and then the ceremony broke up and some of the past vets had prepared lunch for them. I'm sure there were some great conversations and hopefully, these guys felt like they were welcomed home.

 Then we were off for our next adventure. The seafood festival started and the main event was the seafood. You can see the people who were both lined up to get a seafood lunch/dinner and those also eating. In addition to the food, there were other vendors and music on stage.

Deb and I went through the event and signed a petition which was going to stop fishing from the depth of 250 feet out to sea. I'm not sure who would put such a proposed law together but it makes no sense to me. Afterall, in all the years I've had a fishing license I've never been asked for it. Can you imagine the enforcement that would be required not to mention the people who would loose their way of life if you cut off fishing from the 250 foot line out. There has to be logic someplace but from what I know, I would like to keep fishing when I'm offshore so - sorry.


Garry, I took this picture for you. This was supposed to be a hit or miss engine that is running an ice cream maker. It looked really cool but the problem with it was they cheated and had an electric motor below it running the unit. It was only for show.

Now the rest of the story, Garry used to have a real engine that he used back when he grilled corn at the fairs. His worked and it also turned the rack that he grilled the corn.

Then we were off for a break after riding all over Key West and actually twice. We met some great people - Frank and Julie - who you see to the right with Deb and me. Frank and Julie are from the Clearwater area and were down for I think the 10th or 12th year taking some time off just to enjoy life again. Unfortunately, they are heading back Sunday afternoon otherwise we would have taken them sailing on Monday when the front passes. Perhaps next time.

We had a great day on Saturday with the warming up of the weather, the events we went to and of course meeting new people.

It looks like the weather for the next week is going to be pretty good so we are already planning a sail for Tuesday to go watch the sailboat races and probably again later in the week.

Jimmy Buffett. Darn that bird. This guy became an escape artist after 15 years of hanging out with us. I'm telling you he can now take clips off the doors to his cage and then lift the door, catch it with his head, lift up the door and then get out on his mission. And just what is his mission? To chew up stuff of course! Yes, he wants out just so he can go out and chew up some stuff. Fortunately, we caught him getting out twice and the third time he was heading for some good stuff when I caught him. So what do you do?

You go to the store and buy brass locks. Yes, we are locking that little sucker into his cage with four brass locks. Fortunately, I was able to pick up keyed alike locks so that we don't have to have ton's of keys around. The other good news is that Jimmy Buffett hasn't learned how to pick locks as of this moment. Check back in another 15 years.

 Jan 20 - Yesterday we went sailing. I wish I would have been on one of the huge boats below but as I sat in our boat, offshore of Key West, I found it fascinating that these boats can point and sail as fast as they do with winds in the 10 knot range. To me it is amazing and on these big race boats there are 10 or so people who are on the crew to make things happen. I just love sitting out and watching them round the mark.

Of course I enjoyed being out on our boat too. We flew our spinnaker, rather poorly if I do admit it. It seems that we haven't flown it except once since summer and I really needed today to get our skills back up. By the end of the day we could jib it out in front of the boat to change tacks and run wing-on-wing with the main. Overall a great sailing day and a fun watching day too.


 Now that is what I call a spinnaker!. These things are huge and I'm sure as light or lighter weight as ours is since the winds were down so low.

I had my radio set to scan so I could hear the race talk on 72 but also hear 16 in case something came up. Something came up. I heard the call from a boat saying there was a boat on fire 10 miles south of Key West. We immediately looked around and saw the smoke and I told Deb, we have to go. We set sail and started the motor to make the fastest speed towards the burning boat. I thought about it and figured we could be there in an hour and a half. Probably too long but that was where I was headed. The coast guard was talking to a boat who then said that they were heading for the burning boat and then we heard that the two people aboard were taken off the boat and other boats were on scene. I stood down and all this occurred in 5 minutes. Ends up the boat was a commercial fishing boat with a couple of 20 pound propane tanks aboard, 5 one pound propane tanks, box of shotgun shells, fuel, oil, you get the idea. This was one boat that could blow because of the propane. It reminded me why I spend so much time maintaining our boat. Thank goodness the two crew were ok and offloaded to another boat.


 The shot you see to the right I love because they have rounded the windward mark, heading for the secondary buoy that they must pass. Since they have tacked the boat around the mark they are getting ready for the spinnaker set. You can see several things in this picture. The slot created between the main and the jib and you can also see the twist in the sails. In addition, the guys have gotten their "cheeks off the teak," in other words quit sitting on the windward rail and are getting the spinnaker out of the lower storage and getting it ready to hoist. The spinnakers are typically held in the closed position by rubber bands and they pop off as soon as the sail has been hoisted and they pull out the clew (the end the lines tie to.) Then the spinnaker sets and they pull down the jib so it doesn't block any wind.

In the race we watched, they ended up rounding the course twice and finished to the windward. That means they had to set and douse the spinnaker twice. Coordination is in order and practice. I think this kind of sailing is a great example of teamwork. Overall, pretty cool day on the water.


We may be going out again today with some friends from town but I'm waiting on a phone call to see what's up. I guess we will find out when we find out.

 Jan 22 - I'm really into watching the sailboat races this year. We went out again on Wednesday and it was just Deb and I again. This time we got into all kinds of trouble - almost. As you can see in the picture in this very frame, we were in the action. Tuesday we were at the turn and Wednesday we, let me rephrase that - I, decided that we should go up to the start of the race. Afterall, there were other boats up there. Little did I know that it would be a ZOO of boats and the one below wasn't the closest to us. We were hovering and they were maneuvering!


 What a bunch of fun but it was a bit nerve racking. I was walking around the back of the cockpit just to make sure we weren't drifting into or someone was going to run into us. How much fun.

The picture above and the picture to the left are of a couple of the starts. Then we took off and ran along the side of the course until we were out of the way and ran down to the upwind mark and caught the pictures below of some of the boats making the turn.


 Once the gaggle of boats make the turn then they set the spinnakers. In this case, there were a bunch of them setting at almost the same time.

Then came the big boats again as you can see to the lower right. I then digress with the pictures because in the picture to the lower right you can see one of the two rudders on this boat almost out of the water. I took a picture of the other rudder to the lower left just so you can see the offset on the rudders. This is so they maintain great steerage when they are healed over. The picture on the lower right is of the deck of this same ship.

 I then struck up a conversation with the guy that was setting up this spinnaker. as it ends up, they aren't using rubber bands anymore to tie the spinnakers. Instead they are using a light weight yarn that they tie the spinnaker until it is up and the wind catches it and breaks them all off. I asked him about the weight of the material and he said here, and I touched it. He said it was about an ounce with doubling in certain areas. I actually think it is lighter weight than my asymmetrical.  
For the sailors out there that may be reading this, these are some shots of the decks that I took on Thursday. To say they are high tech is almost an understatement. Carbon fibre is used everywhere. You can see grinder stations on several of the boats but I did get a close-up of one setup on the lower lower left.

I even got this picture of where they are fixing a stanchion that evidently broke or was worked loose. See, you even have to maintain these EXPENSIVE yachts too.

Today, I think I'm going snorkeling to check my anchors out, clean the bottom of the dinghy, and then just see what's out around our anchorage. Hopefully, everyone is using their holding tanks!

 Jan 24 - I took a ride in on Friday to pick up my replacement sunglasses. Ended up the ones I bought a year ago at the St. Petersburg boat show had a problem with them and the lady who sold them to me said just send them back and the supplier will replace them. They did! So I can't say enough about Sun Glass Haven, Inc and also the support from their importer Ono's Trading Company. You see, I use the 80 buck polarized sunglasses that have readers in the bottom. These are the best I've found and I wear them every day since I live on the boat. It is nice that they are supported by their supplier. Thanks.

On the way in, I saw this RIB, (ridged inflatable boat) coming out of the Garrison Bight area and immediately recognized they guys in black wetsuits as Seal Trainee's. Nothing like a boat of Navy Seal's. I stopped the dinghy and got the picture to the right just as they were going by. They must have had an exercise and in the water they were going to go.


 When I returned, I put on my wetsuit, no I wasn't trying to be a seal, because I needed to clean the bottom of the dinghy. After it sits in the water down here for a month, green slime - soon to be seaweed junk, starts growing on the bottom. It is like having a piece of growing carpet on the bottom of the boat and believe me, the boat takes longer and longer to plane out when the carpet effect starts working. It took about 15 minutes and the dinghy was clean and ready to plane out again. After that, I checked all my anchors and found none of them had drug in the high winds of a couple of weeks ago. I found a boat wreck that had some snappers on it and we will plan on fishing that on Saturday after garage sales.

Deb woke at 7 am on Saturday and said, "Let's just go back to bed." I told here that I was going with our without her and I guess shamed her into going on the bike ride. Actually, I was going to pick up some alternator belts but she thought I was going to head off to the garage sales by myself. She got back up and we had fun going to 14 different sales. It was a good morning and you've seen her riding her bike around so I didn't take pictures of that. Instead, I found this old scale that they must have weighed trucks or wagon's with.


  We found DVD's for a buck and picked up 10 new ones and Deb found some more stuff. And you are already thinking, what is she going to throw away? The good news is that as soon as she got back to the boat she was filtering out old junk for new junk. We also went to lunch before heading back to the boat. Then on Saturday afternoon we tried our hand at fishing from the dinghy. We caught 3 different small fish for bait and then moved to another wreck I knew about in deeper water to use our cut bait for bigger fish. We ended up with a Mangrove Snapper that was destined for dinner. We probably could have used a second one but this was just big enough to make us both happy. We had blackened snapper with black beans and rice seasoned to perfection. Yum Yum.

Today, I'm going to do some boat projects. I picked up the perfect size Napa Gold Alternator belt - 7365 - so I don't have to order Westerbeke belts. I need to replace the belt on the engine and I actually picked up 2 spares too. In addition, I picked up a Racor Filter base with a fuel/water separator to make my own fuel polisher. I have to pick up a couple of fittings but when I'm finished I'll run the filter for about an hour on each tank. I may have to run it longer this first time since I have to have some water in the base of the tanks after 14 years. I'll let you know in a couple of days. In addition, today is the day to change oils and also to set the valves on the engine. It will primarily be a boat day and all of this is in preparation for heading to the Bahamas. We are starting to get our lists ready and ensure all the maintenance is complete. I figure we have about 3 and a half weeks before we pull the anchors here and start up the Keys.

 Jan 25 - Today we were planning an anchor watch day because of the front that was to move through. I had downloaded the GRIB files last night and it was supposed to move through between 10:30 and noon. At 10:45 we looked out the window and we could see it coming. The wind at the time was blowing from the south and the big black line of clouds were formed from the southwest to the northeast and they looked to be about 5 miles to our northwest. I turned on the computer and opened up one of the weather sites to get the radar image animation just to see what I thought was going to happen. I sure looked like we were going to miss the worst of it by a mile or so based on the radar track. I then went out and put down our enclosure to keep the aft cockpit dry and right in the middle of doing that - 10:50 the winds shifted 120 degrees and were then blowing from the northwest and at the same time the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. Can you say "Cold Front."

I got everything secure within 5 minutes and then the winds picked up to about 20 knots and we were pulling on the Rocna anchor. Always a good feeling. The heavy rains came 5 minutes later and washed off the boat some. Now we get to wait out the rest of the rain and the winds should finishing clocking more to the north in the next few hours.

More fun in the cruising life.

By the way, I got the oils and filters changed yesterday along with the new alternator belt which fit perfectly. On top of that, I picked up the fittings and have the fuel polisher almost finished. All I have left is to make up the electrical part which I forgot to pick up. I'll finish that tomorrow and then polish some fuel and see what I get out of the bottom of that tank.

For now I think I'll finish a book I picked up at the library about sailing to Hemingway's Cuba. This was written in 2000 and is well written but I was a bit surprised about how expensive it was for the tourist. Seems there are two economies - one for locals and a second for tourists meaning non-Cuban's. I would really like to cruise the area on the way south next year but I guess we will just have to see. I'm sure that with all of the other issues we are facing, Obama will hop right on the chore of normalizing relations with Cuba just for me and solve all the problems of seized property and little things like that.

 Jan 28 - We were out at our anchorage and I was finishing up my fuel polisher when here came the seals. I don't know if they were in the chopper or not but the chopper was definitely in the area where the seals play. Perhaps that is one of the things that keeps us coming back to Key West - the variety of happenings in the area.  

 We got a call from our friends Tim and Miriam on Tuesday that said they were planning on coming down to Key West on the Key West Shuttle from Fort Myers. They were riding it down with friends on Wednesday and returning on Thursday. They wanted to meet up and also see sunset on a beach. I told them that if you are going to see sunset in Key West, the best place is Mallory Square where you get an entire performance in addition to sunset.

We hadn't really been to Mallory for the sunset celebration this year so why not on Wednesday? Afterall, you have to visit Mallory Square on every trip to Key West.

One of the things happening on the pier is the construction of a new cruise ship dock. I'm not sure what precipitated the construction but it will add a much better space for people to disembark in old town Key West.

We were to meet up with our friends at the pier and after a few phone calls, we figured out where they were. Below left you can see Miriam and Tim. They were having fun watching performers.

There truly are a large variety of performers, artists, and how do I put this gracefully - wannabe artists. Everyone is out there trying to do something of value that you will want to pay some money for. Wait, I just described a business.

There is some order to the performers. The magic guys and acrobats seem to do their show in a somewhat orderly fashion before sunset and the fire jugglers always do their act just after sunset. The real trick is for each performer to get the crowd to stick around and see them. For many, this means that you need to get audience interaction. Everything from singing with the people to wrapping the chain around the guy that the escape artist will get out of, to holding the ultra high unicycle where the guy will juggle flame while keeping his balance.

Everyone has a trick or a method of keeping his audience and then at the end is the sales pitch where they ask for donations because this is how they make their living.

Of course the biggest draw is sunset and I just had to get a couple of sunset pictures.

Tim, Miriam and their friends had a great time watching the festivities and we only got to half of it. That means that Deb and I will just have to go back one more time to get the rest of the show and pictures.

Once we saw the flame juggling then it was time to go eat. Deb on the other hand had struck up a conversation with a swami who was going to give her a "reading."

I let her know that we were heading down duval to find something to eat and she should call me when she was done. As it ended up, the traditional tourist places were too loud for us to talk so we ended up at Fogerty's which is a great outside eating area with great food. We got a table for six and ultimately Deb joined us for dinner.

We had a great dinner and conversation starting to catch up. Today, they are off on more Key West adventure and we will meet up with them for happy hour before they leave on the shuttle heading back to Ft. Myers.

We had a great afternoon and evening. I hope you enjoy the pictures and this is a "don't miss" event in Key West!


 Jan 31 - I know that everyone has to do laundry and that includes us. You can actually see Deb's bike at the very back of the laundry facility. That isn't why I have this picture on my website. I've covered laundry a number of times and probably will in the future when something interesting pops up. On this day the interesting thing was the note on the bulletin board wanting to rent a room to someone. The first part of it sounds like a decent place and in Key West 675 per month isn't too bad but then you get to the part about a "real job" but it goes further. The part I really liked was the added on part at the end - you might as well spell it all out!

Then there was that new salmon burger I've been working on. More about that later but it is real good and I'll be working that recipe up and putting it on the recipe page soon. I'll let you know when.

 I also got everything finished for my fuel polisher. You can see the pump I picked up at Auto Zone to the left and the filter assembly is to the right. The filter goes on the vacuum side of the pump and it serves two purposes. Since it is a fuel water separator, then one purpose is to remove any water in the fuel. The second purpose is to filter the fuel. In this case, I have a 2 micron filter installed which means the fuel should be pretty clean. On my first attempt, the end wouldn't stay on the bottom. I had to cut the line a number of times and put in a series of 3 brass couplers to create a weight for the end of the hose. Now I know exactly how far to insert the hose and have the coupler sitting on the bottom to suck out any water or debris that may have accumulated. I ran the filter for 3 hours on each tank and my surprise was that I didn't get much of anything out of the tank that wasn't fuel. I actually attribute this to the fact that we do use the boat quite a bit and use both Val-Tech fuel when possible and enzymes anytime we stop for any length of time. I was surprised I didn't get some water out but I guess the amount of fuel we actually use means the water that gets absorbed into diesel just burns it right on through. I'll keep on using the filter anytime we stop for more than a few weeks along with every other time we get fuel in the Bahamas or some other foreign country.

 To the right you can see the Mohawk. This ship was on duty in the Caribbean when the earthquake hit Haiti. As it happened, they were diverted to Haiti and were there a day and a half after the quake hit, the first ship on the scene. They arrived back in Key West during this last week and some of the crew were interviewed on the radio station. What was remarkable is the Captain did the right thing and told the crew to use any part of the ship that wasn't critical to their survival to aid the Haitians. That meant that they took out the ceiling tiles to make splints with, cut up nonessential portions of the ship for more splints and took everything from their medical supplies and any spare food and water in as aid. It was a start but a wonderful start this country made. Now it is back in Key West to get fixed back up and ready for its next tour.

You will hear more about the Coast Guard in a couple of days because yesterday I was able to tour the base. I didn't go aboard the Mohawk but I did go aboard a 120ish foot cutter and an 88 foot cutter too.


 We headed by the library and just had to get a picture of this bike all made up to be a chopper or ?????

I guess it is a Conch cruiser.

Now for the fun news. I've always wanted to enter a Wreckers Race here in Key West. You see, in the old days, people would watch the reef and when a boat ran aground then they would jump in their sailing ships and race to the reef because the first boat there was to save the people and they also had salvage rights. So last night I went to the Captain's meeting and paid my 30 bucks and entered the race. I guess you can call it a race but the rules aren't anything like the rules of the races two weeks ago. Instead they go like this. Don't hit anyone and there are no protests in the race. Rule two - refer to rule number one. Rule three, refer to rule one and two.

You can use your engine until you get to the start line and then you are supposed to cut it off unless you are in danger of an incident then you can use your engine without being disqualified to avoid any collision. The pictures to the right are of some of the captains who were signing up. The pictures below are of the registration table and of the rum punch bowl. Can you say - Arrrr like a pirate would?

Sound like fun? Well, I have crew for the race. If they show up, one is a member of the coast guard, a second is a firefighter who works on the coast guard base, the third is a waiter at Dante's, the forth and fifth may be people the first and second guy's bring. By the way, none of them know how to sail. Now it is sounding like fun. I'll fill you in tomorrow. Right now a front is passing through and I'm hoping for a reasonable day to go sailing. Hopefully, it won't be raining then.

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