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

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Oct 15 - We didn't have a cell signal for the last few days. It didn't matter because there wasn't much to update anyway. We left Elizabeth City and headed for what we hoped would be a good experience in Bellhaven, NC. We had never stopped there and guess what? It was a complete disappointment. The homes were beautiful and the people were nice but this town was 100 percent lacking in leadership - in my opinion. You have to understand, we just left a town that was trying to serve and make money off of cruisers. Good plan in my opinion. It should go both ways. We arrive in Bellhaven and they pretty much haven't done anything to take advantage of those thousands of people wondering up and down the waterway. They are in a perfect spot too. Half way from Oriental to Elizabeth City. The only thing we saw of interest was a wonderful laundry facility. But we didn't know that when we went in so we didn't do laundry there. Again, a little leadership and this would be a cool town.  

Ok, this picture is to show how the houses have been built up. Evidently they got a grant a number of years back and most of the houses have been raised higher so they won't be subject to flooding in a hurricane. Good idea.

The next morning we were fogged in and couldn't leave until almost an hour after I wanted to leave. You will see this made a pretty big difference as we got close to Oriental.

The picture to the right shows you some of the boats heading south with us. We had these 5 boats in front of us along with another 2 behind us at the time we were leaving. We were all heading into the slight fog and listening to the weather. There was supposed to be a front move through in the afternoon and we would get to experience it full force.

This isn't going to be pretty! We pulled in the head sail when we saw this coming at us and were totally motoring when the front hit. What was it like? Good question. We went from 10 to 20 to 35 knots then it went 43 knots for about 3 or 4 minutes before it fell all the way down to 35 knots again. So this is what it is like to feel alive.

The waves built very quickly and I turned into the wind and headed for the windward shore. This made the waves less. Then we continued in the torrential rain for Oriental City but slowed down from the head wind along with the fact that I simply slowed down. I know that if you are floating around in the middle of a big river you probably are going to be fine. However, if you get inside a tight space with this high of winds when something goes wrong you will be in BIG trouble. So, we just hung out for about a half hour then headed on into Oriental. We needed a few things plus we are now on our lazy trip south. We got in to Oriental yesterday and will leave in the morning. Next stop - someplace further south about 3 or 4 days from now.

 Oct 19 - We left Oriental and headed down the waterway. You've seen it all before so all I've been trying to do is take some pictures of something you may not have seen. Well that is except for the picture to the right. Another Gemini nestled up to a dock on our starboard side as we are heading south. Gemini's everywhere!  

We anchored in Mile Hammock Bay which is owned by our US Government along with 11 other boats. People are heading south and depending on who you talk to , this may be a bigger season than last year.

We approached the Sunset Pontoon Bridge and saw some examples of Lawn Art. I guess here you have to keep up with the Jones's. Everyone needs some good lawn art.

Oops. I guess they forgot that the tide shifts. You can see the anchor line out and tide is going out. They will need a higher than high tide to get out of here or a big tow boat.

I threw the pictures in below because I just wanted Gemini owners to know it still works to pick up about .3 knots when you are going 30 degrees to the wind if you use a snatch block off of the base of the mast. Who cares that the sail shape isn't perfect because it is a roller furling system. You still get the increase in speed. Horsepower is still horsepower.

We came down Cape Fear after anchoring in Wrightsville Beach for the evening the night before. This time we left early and the wind wasn't perfect but it cooperated enough that it was a fairly comfortable ride. We arrived at Southport at 11 a.m. and as it turned out the dock at the Provision Company was open. So what did we do? We pulled in so we could have lunch. Deb got ready to head up the dock and I took a quick walk to get the pictures below. The food is good for lunch and we didn't have to cook it which is always better. What is really nice here is that if you buy lunch or dinner you can stay overnight. We didn't but someone else might be interested in sticking around.

Doesn't Freedom look nice. She's so pretty....

Then we took off heading for the Sunset Pontoon Bridge. As luck turned out we arrived 5 minutes too late so we threw out the anchor and hung out for the next 55 minutes. Then it opened for us. Why so many pictures? The new bridge in the background will open middle of November. That means this is the last time we will go through a pontoon bridge. I don't know if this is the last pontoon bridge in the U.S. but it is the last one we will go through. I felt like I was passing a piece of history.

I called the bridge tender when we passed and thanked him for the opening and also for the memories. As it turned out, he had run this bridge for the last 31 years. Now that was a cool conversation and he appreciated that I acknowledged his service. I hope he enjoys his retirement!

To the right you can see the bridge is starting to swing back into position.

We then anchored for the evening up Calabash Creek. Starting out at 9 am would get us to Barefoot Landing by 11:30 so that is just what I did.

You can see below left the casino boats that leave from Myrtle Beach. Do you want to give them your money?

After we cleared the bridge it was time for the infamous Rock Pile. It is written up in all the books and truly it is dangerous. You better stay in the middle. This is the first time we had someone come up and pass us. We moved over about 5 feet out of the middle and made them move over more. Sorry but I don't want a rock like the one you see below tearing a gash in my hull.


We stopped for the first time at Barefoot Landing. Prior to 2006, they had a free dock here. We had never stopped because you had to do that three letter word - Pay. Well this is the trip of doing things we haven't done just in case we don't make it back up this way. Stop, don't worry, we do plan on coming back up in 2-3 years once we are sick and tired of the heat in Florida during the summer. However, it will be awhile before we head back up the coast again.

So back to the story. Why stop at Barefoot Landing? The shopping. They have about 200 discount stores here and we saw a bunch of them. Only problem was that they didn't have a place for me to buy a new instant read thermometer. Mine broke. I spent 50 bucks for dockage to buy a 10 buck thermometer and didn't get to do it. However, we did get to eat out for lunch and had a great happy hour.

Did you ever have one of those DUH! moments? I was walking across one of the floating bridges connecting the sides of the discount shops and saw the sign you see to the lower right. My first thought was DUH. Do you really think that people need to be warned that alligators bite? What are we coming to? Maybe alligators have been going to rehab and are giving love nibbles now.

Tomorrow we are off pretty early and should be in Charleston in two and a half days. We love Charleston so we will probably update again there.


 October 25 - The picture to the right is back when we were at Barefoot Landing. I took it, obviously, in the evening but the cool part is this was at 1/8th of a second. We did enjoy stopping there but we are actually ready to get south.

So the next morning we were out of there and finished the "Rock Pile" and were into the river area which is absolutely beautiful. Many of the areas need some pretty good navigation so you can see to the lower right a range which you are supposed to make sure the lower white line and the upper white line actually line up. Since we have a shallow draft boat I don't get too concerned but still it is cool watching them.


Isn't this a cool picture? We anchored out in the marshes and the sun was setting before we got to Charleston. We are truly enjoying this trip down the east coast. However I need to take this time to explain something. Previously we would have inundated you with pictures. I'm having a hard time taking some you haven't seen before so I hope you understand that. On top of that, I'm writing scripts for myself for an on-line course that True Course will be getting approved so we can offer on-line Captain's classes. Cool don't you think!

Below you can see us coming into Charleston. We love Charleston but again, I carried my camera around but didn't come up with a picture that you haven't seen before.

Well, you haven't seen this one. The moon was coming up and you can see the mega dock of Charleston Marina in the foreground. Of course the main element in this picture is the moon.

We left Charleston and headed for an anchorage about 3/4 of the way to Beaufort South Carolina. When I got up this morning I saw the sun coming up and it was absolutely beautiful over the marshes. You can see that picture below. With the droplets of dew on our enclosure, the lifelines holding us in, the sun was coming up just to see us in to our next location. It was a beautiful day as we were guided through the shallow water in the channel in to Beaufort, SC.

We now need to do some major provisioning and fix a few things on the boat. Afterall, it is a boat so things need to be fixed. I'm working on an really interesting problem that I will explain later. That is once I figure it out.

We will probably be here about 3 days and are renting a car, of all things, tomorrow to do all of our provisioning, picking up propane, parts for the boat, and all the other stuff we need for the next month and a half as we move south. Life is still good on Freedom.

  Oct 31 - We were supposed to be in the marshes of Georgia catching redfish right now and just hanging out for a week. Things are never exactly what you plan when cruising. It can be a weather issue but it is beautiful. I can be a health issue but we are very healthy especially since we left and went cruising. Then it could be something with the boat and yes, it is. Nothing wrong with the electrical systems or the sails or the hull. No, just the engine. I now can say just the engine after 3 days that have included being towed for 16 miles, diagnosis, and part of a day getting the engine ready to pull from the boat. So you ask, what's wrong? It all started after we filled up with fuel in Beaufort and headed south. We were provisioned and doing great for the first 3 miles then all of a sudden there was a loud clank, clank, clank and I immediately pulled the engine to idle and killed it. Set a sail to get out of the channel then threw out the anchor to decide what to do. I checked everything I could check on the engine and decided to start it again to see if we could use it at all for maneuvering. It ran fine but you could hear that clanking from the engine although for some reason it was less. I made a bunch of calls and found a mechanic that would come to the marina that was only a mile back up the current from us. I motored up and they let me tie up to the fuel dock while he checked it out. Ultimately, he said it was either an exhaust leak, but we couldn't find one, or it was deeper in the engine and he wasn't equipped to take care of the engine. He recommended another company who was at Skull Creek Marina and were Westerbeke dealers. I called them and they could get to the engine. As a matter of fact they had worked on a Gemini's engine and I have even heard of the boat. So now to get the boat to the next marina. I called Tow Boat US because I've been a member and had unlimited towing for about 15 years. I had never used the insurance. So, I called them and asked if I would be covered. They said normally no because I was at a marina but since they can't fix the boat and I had never had a claim then I would be covered. Cool. It just happened the Tow Boat US boat was at the marina I was at so they were ready to go within a half hour and off we went for a 2 hour tow. The current was with us so we got to Skull Creek before 6. The mechanic was working on another boat so he came down to help us dock. I like Tow Boat US but this driver wasn't too good and that's all I going to say about that. I'm a much better tow driver than he is. Regardless, the mechanic listened to the engine and said we had a deeper problem and he would bring down his tools and stethoscope tomorrow and we would figure it out. Next day diagnosis time. Checked head torque and valve settings and they were all ok although not perfect - who's are unless you just did them. Then listened to the engine and figured it was something in the number one cylinder. Either a valve hitting or the piston hitting the top of the cylinder. Both you don't know exactly until you take off the head. The owner of marine tec's came down and he concurred so off with the head. Now I'm in it deep because we are committed. I had taken the previous night to ask around the marina about the reputation of this company and found everyone liked and trusted them. On top of that, Engines One also had recommended them and they are where I normally get my Westerbeke parts. So, rather than making up an engine mount and trying to get to Ft. Myers on an outboard engine, I decided to go ahead as long as I could help and keep the hours down on the repair. However, you are really at their mercy at this point and you only hope you've made a good decision. If we were in Florida, I have two friends that could have helped me do all the work if nothing else just providing advice.

So, off came the head and the valves looked just fine. Problem was the number one piston was hitting the head banging. Next I got an estimate for tearing down the engine and putting it back together for hours. I also got them to allow me to do all the prep work to pull the engine such as unhooking everything and removing bolts from the motor mounts and other items necessary to pull the engine. Since I had done it before, I also had a technique that would save time using the mainsheet and boom to pull the engine and put it on the dock. So, we came to an accord and they went home and I went to work. Now it is Sunday morning and I'm almost ready to pull the engine tomorrow morning. I'll finish up today and we will pull it out of the boat at 8 a.m. I'm thinking it will be on the dock heading to the shop by 8:30. Then it will be torn down by noon knowing exactly what's up. Parts ordered and overnighted so the engine may be back together on Tuesday if they have all the parts in stock. Maybe putting the engine back in on Wednesday and running it on Thursday morning. We will just have to see how quick everything can go.

Since the engine is coming out, I took the opportunity to have a new friend take me to Lowe's to pick up a hunk of carpet plus paint. Carpet to put in the cockpit to protect my non-skid from all the oil and dirt. The paint is so I can paint the engine compartment after I clean it up with degreaser's. It should look new when we are done.

That's were we are and it has taken me 3 days to let you know that it is "just the engine." You really didn't want me writing this a couple of days ago. I had another term for the engine.

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