December 2011 - Cruising - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Dec 2 - The nomadic travelers are still alive and well even though the posts dried up to a desert and winds were no longer blowing their dust through the bits of the internet. I'll get Deb to drive this morning and have a finish for our delivery along with an update as to why we've been visiting with friends at Green Turtle Bay (Kentucky), St. Louis, Biloxi, Orlando, then back home this coming Sunday.

It's ok, it will be fine. There is even a camel involved.

 Dec 2 - 2nd edition - We finished the delivery wonderfully. Here we were on the Calosahatche River heading for the final locks and what did we see on the right side? Now wait, I'm supposed to be a pretty good navigator and what is that I see in the distance under the tree. Get out your magnifying glass!  

It is a Camel. Yes, a real humpback camel. Either I made a wrong turn, which is hard to do on a river with no turns, or someone has a camel in Florida. The camel in Florida is what we decided was the correct answer. We've seen this guy before from the road just north of this property but didn't ever see it again on our scooter rides. This time we caught the picture from the water and it meant we weren't far from home.

All we had left to do was one more fix then we could finish up the trip. The fix we accomplished was to calibrate the compass for the autohelm. It was off by a bunch of degrees and I didn't want to calibrate it up and down the coast. So I just waited until we reached the river and did the calibration in Bob's home waters. Now we have a short list of items that need to be accomplished before the next trip.

We arrived at Bob's dock, picked up our van then began the process of unloading the junk we took with us on the trip. Bigger dinghy engine, navigation stuff, along with a bunch of other stuff which made the trip safe and good. Overall we did pretty good having very little food left over.

Looking back, I thought it was a pretty good trip given the adversities we had faced. The opportunity to create and use an emergency steering system is pretty cool when you forget about the potential hazards involved. Again, a good trip and we will be taking Bob up to Tarpon Springs, up the west coast of Florida, late December and early January. This will probably be the final "captained" trip since his knee should be getting much better and we will have done bunches of close quarter work with the boat. He'll be ready for volunteer crew and parts unknown. It will be fun with more Gemini's traveling around.

We spent a week unpacking, taking down hurricane "draperies," well that's what a friend named them, redoing all the insurance, getting the van ready for a road trip, then packing for a two week trip. Yes, we are off to impose on lots of friends and relatives. We hadn't see my cousin Julie and a bunch of other people in St. Louis for quite a while so this was the trip to do so. First however, I called my friend Bill at Green Turtle Bay hoping to have lunch on the way up. He insisted that we stay with him a night and it was great catching up. It's always fun to be back at the resort and both Deb and I have so many fond memories of Green Turtle Bay. We are also looking forward to the class I'll be teaching up there April of 2012.

We left Monday morning and headed for St. Louis. Truthfully, we were a bit surprised that the van was still working fine, well at least almost fine. We had a problem with the van starting and I traced it down to a loose ground wire. I fixed that with the tools I brought with me and the good news was we didn't need to utilize the van's title for the junk yard or for trade. On to St. Louis. We arrived and were planning on a nice visit with Julie along with catching up with some more friends. Of course there was the visit to the Dentist office where we got teeth cleaned and told we shouldn't wait so long for the next cleaning - 1 1/2 years is a bit long! We got together with Mike and Gina Tuesday night and created a plan for reunion "concert" for Colorado Bob at his bar. Plan's were made and the time was set. Wednesday we got together for practice and had a ton of fun playing for 2-2 1/2 hours. The magic was back. We were ready.

Thanksgiving we had a wonderful meal. I had brined a turkey for 8 hours on Wednesday then mixed butter and some fresh herbs we brought from our house to place under the skin of the turkey. Everything went into the oven Thursday morning with Deb and Julie taking care of dressing, potato's, and the green bean casserole. Talk about a moist and delicious turkey. We could hear my Aunt Sandy wondering why she always had to cook. After the lunch we received some very bad news. Mike's son died. Wow, talk about a call a parent never wants to receive. We wondered what to do and finally it was suggested by Julie that we just show up. They weren't answering their calls so we left not knowing if they would be home or what. We knocked, then walked in and we all shed some tears. It was the right thing to do. They weren't taking calls and sitting with their other son reliving some good times and wondering what really happened. It is always right to be a good friend and just be there for someone. We did see a couple of other people during the week but for the most part, we thought about and visited with Mike and Gina. Sunday morning Mike, Jimmy, and I headed off to Mike's property in the country to select a spot then dig a hole for a tree where some or all of his son's ashes will be placed. Though not a pleasant task, it was an important one. We almost left without the task being accomplished when the "perfect" spot appeared. The three of us dug, did a bit of clearing, and participated in planning what will become a very nice living memorial to his son. One which will be visited each time they go to the property. Once we finished we headed back to St. Louis and arrived in time to join the ladies for lunch.

I can say that we were very happy that we were in St. Louis for the week. What happened was not happy but to be able to provide support for a friend was something friends do without question. We are still thinking of you Mike and Gina and will continue to.

Monday we were off for the next part of our road trip. We had plans to visit with my father starting on Tuesday. Sunday the van wasn't starting again and I ended up tracking it down to a corroded positive battery cable. The joke was it had about 6 more starts in it and once we loaded the junk we kept at Julies house - 2 guitars, bunches of heavy photo albums, purses (for Deb), and other stuff the van was full and probably would collapse with just one Chex Mix.

We ended up staying in Jackson, MS for the night at a do-drop-in and got back underway on Tuesday. Our destination was a bird sitter we found on-line before we headed to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport to see my father. We got a great tour of the facility along with the clothing store that Jack is managing at the home. He has a built in clientele and the clothes are free. Jack's job has been to get it organized from a bunch of piles to something that looks like a great little store. He's gotten bunches of donations of both clothes along with racks arranged by the seabees which are assigned occasionally to work at the home and provide assistance.

After the tour, we were off to our next imposed upon home. The Beau Rivage in Biloxi. You see, Jack gambles a bit and he has "comps." That means two nights free at the Beau Rivage along with some free meals. We did have a good visit, had some fun and eating good food. What did amaze us is the progress and lack of progress from Hurricane Katrina. Lot's of work still needs to be done.

The left headlight on the van burned out while we were there so one morning I pulled that apart and found a new bulb for the third fix of the trip. So far, so good and no need for that title. We left Thursday morning and had to make a slight change in plans. We were going to see Mike and Cheryl in Panama City but Cheryl got called away for work to Orlando. Mike called and suggested we see them there. So we stayed overnight in Tallahassee last night and are currently on the road to Orlando. We are looking forward to a good visit with them and will be leaving tomorrow mid morning to head to our friends Tim and Miriam's house in Florida. This will be a two in one visit. Steve and Linda will also be joining us so it should be a great end to the road trip.

We have just made the turn on 75 and heading south. The van has racked up 2300 miles and so far only used about a half quart of oil, needed three minor repairs, hasn't squawked too loud about the heavy load in the back, and finally is leaking a bit of air out of the rear tires. The air we've been filling up but we'll have to keep an eye on to see if we need some new tires before the next road trip. Honestly, that's a pretty easy question because we can't even envision another road trip in the van but who knows.

Otherwise, I've been doing a bunch of planning about reworking our website to start promoting my Captain's services and figuring out some better ways to keep it interesting. This last month's desert winds haven't been too stimulating in the internet world of constant information. I guess we'll just have to see what happens. I have appointments on Monday with a Small Business Development Center to discuss an LLC and we have a doctors appointment mid week just so our new Doc knows we are ok. Thursday we have a meeting with one of the TrueCourse discussing expanding classes along with a new instructor I introduced them to. Saturday, we will probably be leaving for a week and a half trip on our boat. Not much moss is growing under us but we now have to stop in occasionally to mow the yard.

Enjoy the holiday season.

 Dec 21 - Merry Christmas to all. Let me do a quick catch-up before getting to taking a mast down. We finished up a great trip seeing more friends and eating way too much food everywhere. I think we both gained more weight than we expected. Had to go on diets just to get close to even again. When we got back it was our intention to do some catch-up then take off for a week on our boat. Plans changed. TrueCourse, the company I teach Captain's classes for asked if Deb and I would help with some email marketing. I jumped into the software and Deb did the writing. It took us the week that we intended on going on our trip to get our hands around the project and get two pieces out. Database work, learn the software, and understand their approach. My part of the project is almost finished and all I need to do in the future is support Deb with technical assistance. It will be a good part-time job for her.

In the middle of that process, Garry called and asked if I would bring my boat over so we could take down his mast. You can see one of his knots tying two lines together going through a snatch block from my main halyard. As you can see in the pictures that follow, the mast came down without a problem. Going up.... that's another story.


Garry then slid the boat back so he could work on the antenna mount - replacing the antenna at the top of the mast. It probably slid back 50 or so feet. We secured the boat and I left while he worked on the antenna and I returned to the house to work on some other stuff leaving the boat there. He called about 5 and said it was ready to go up. Instead of moving the boat forward he suggested we just leave it where it was back. Neither of us thought anything would be wrong with that. As we were trying to get the mast back up, my main halyard snapped at the splice that holds the shackle which attaches to the main sail. Ok, I was happy about three things. 1- nobody got hurt, 2 - the boat didn't get hurt, and 3 - I found out my halyard needed to be replaced from U.V. damage. I know, probably a weird number 3 but I'm trying to get our boat ready to head to the Bahamas in the late spring and at some point sail it up the Caribbean. So, while we are at the house I'm doing lots of "deep maintenance."

Again, good thing nobody got hurt.

Deb and I continued our working - boring for you - but got a call from my friend Fred on Northstar. Their group of boats was getting ready to head across the Okeechobee. We talked about anchorages so they could stop and then I had a thought. With a couple of calls to neighbors, I arranged to slide my boat down a bit so we could raft Fred up to me, put Bill's boat on my dock then Mark on another neighbors dock.

They arrived at about noon and we had a nice snack style light lunch along with about 2 1/2 hours of good conversation. We broke up for a while the way you always do with the plan for dinner at 6. I kind of went overboard with a delicious filet that weighed in at about 5 pounds which we grilled. Of course we just had to have some good side dishes along with fresh strawberry's with fresh whipped cream to top it off. It was a cholesterol event that was delicious. Of course there was lots more conversation along the lines of do you know this boat and that person. We ended up knowing a number of cruising friends in common and it was really fun to be back in the cruising game if only for one afternoon and evening.

I caught the picture you see below right as they left on Saturday morning.

Bill's boat, left is a 41 footer.

Mark below left is a 36 foot Monk.

Fred, below, is a 32 foot Nordic Tug.

Great friends, great food, great conversation = great fun.

Deb and I left on Freedom (our boat) about 5 hours later heading to Fort Myers City. This was the last Saturday for Music Walk. Next year they will be on Friday nights. No big change for us but we were finally available and I was overdue to hear some good music. We did the unthinkable and rented a slip at the City Yacht Basin just to have an easy home base get the "lay of the land" for next time.

There was all kinds of stuff going on downtown. People were everywhere as you will see. This group on the left was the over 45 dancers. I guess it gives the snowbirds something to do in the winter???


The group to the left was really good and was just one of about 30 playing in the bars and on the streets downtown. We were really WAY overdue for getting out like this in our new home town.

Events bring out the unique people - such as Deb and I. It also brought out this car which was built in 2001. The sign says it is his "daily driver." I'll bet he gets more stares than my scooter.

Then we hit the main stage and found the Beetles tribute band. This is one of the best Beetle tribute bands in the country. The Nowhere Band. Deb and I have heard them before and they are very good. We enjoyed their first set then went wondering and I came back for most of the second set. As you can see from the pictures, we had a few people with us.

Costume changes and everything. Once the Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club portion was over they went into the White Album with white suits and all. "Imagine" was done extremely well.

Everyone in the crowd was having fun, singing along, and it was a great time.

I loved the vintage guitars with the VOX amps. There is a real investment in those guitars not to mention all the costumes.

We headed back to the boat about the time the Nowhere band was finishing up. It was well past my bedtime even though the party was just getting really started for the newer music. Next time.

We learned where the great dinghy spot was, all the tricks getting around, and next time we will anchor out and eat on the boat. We need to pick up a couple of collapsible chairs so we can really stay the entire night and enjoy everything. I think we will be back 3rd Friday in January.

Today, I'm heading out to help Gale on Blue Heron take his outdrive off his Gemini. Tomorrow, we will take mine off and start tearing both of them down. See what if anything needs to be replaced, order it, and rebuild them when I return from my trip with Bob on his boat up to Tarpon Springs. I'm sure I have small issues in my drive like a worn prop shaft after 5,000 hours. Again, this is deep maintenance so we are really ready to put some more miles on the boat.

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