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

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 Nov 1 - Wow, I almost forgot how many experiences you can have in just 5 days. I need to go out on a boat more often! So let me catch you up because we've already passed a state or two. Then again, we are delivering a boat verses cruising. Regardless, we are seeing lots of sites that are bringing back lots of memories.

To the right, you can see the Charleston, SC bridge. We just passed up Charleston but not before we saw the cruise ship below along with checking out the ship being off-loaded or being refueled or both. Who knows.


Of course, we do have some better pictures of the refueling.

Then we caught the picture to the lower left which is some kind of newer design boat that probably has the side open up so you can off-load or who knows.

Then there are those wonderful dolphins that have been blessing us the entire trip once we reached clean water. They are everywhere and I see dozens and dozens every day. Did I tell you I love dolphins more than sunsets? I just can't get their pictures as easily. Then again, sunsets are special too.

We were making tracks for Hilton Head. You remember Hilton Head - the place where we replaced our engine last year and met Bill. Bill is the guy to the right that has his arm around my lovely wife. Bill has always been great and really took care of us again this year. He arranged for a dock for us and then ran us around to pick up supplies. Thanks Bill!

Bob was also appreciative and asked that we take him out for lunch or dinner and that we did, thanks Bob. Bill enjoyed it.

We had great memories and hopefully Bill will be able to come down and join us this winter.

Of course there are always those "how many miles" signs. This just brought home the fact that we were still in South Carolina and we had Georgia to go along with the long state of Florida. At this point we are about half way and now that things are starting to work, we should be making some time.

As we approached the Savannah River, we did meet a boat - let me say ship - heading in to be unloaded. What amazed me wasn't the size, it was the fact this vessel didn't put out much more wake than a john boat. I'm sure it's the length but can't they do this for sport fishing boats?

Then there is that occasional log that you really need to avoid. I guess that is why you keep a watch along with the fact that there are other boats out there. I hate hitting those things, kind of makes a mark on the boat and sometimes the ego - don't you think?

As we were passing Thunderbolt the marine police were stopping boats. I guess they thought this shrimping boat needed an inspection. We were ready to get boarded but they didn't approach us. It was pretty cool - I already had inspected and fixed the issues on this boat that I know of which would get us a ticket so it would simply be a conversation and some pictures. Regardless, we made it through. Then we saw it. I'm saying we saw "it." The "it" is the mega yacht sailboat that had a mast almost to heaven. I'll bet they don't use the intercoastal waterway!!!

Just check out the other pictures and you can get an idea of how high this mast actually is - huge. I'm thinking that the winches are not manual - how about you? Hydraulic or major electric. They can call anytime for a delivery and I'm sure I can work it into my schedule.

Georgia is Georgia. It is marshes and winds and winds and winds around. This picture to the left is one of the most wonderful sights in Georgia. You might recognize the Bald Eagle that is just hanging out or perhaps posing for our picture.

We then headed out through another sound and out towards the ocean. Once again, the wind is not in the same way as the sea waves and of course the current. In other words, confused as are all the inlets in Georgia. Confused and bigger and bigger as we experienced.

Before we settled into our anchorage last night, we took a diversion. Not much of one but down a river that runs almost parallel to the ICW. The river brought us out of the middle of the marshes and over towards the "land" which actually has trees. Now I remember, there are trees instead of marsh grass down here. This was beautiful because the spanish moss that hangs from the trees and creates that perfect halloween feeling of darkness and moss.

We anchored and this morning pulled anchor then headed into the first of two sounds. The first wasn't bad but when I saw the breakers 3 miles before we arrived, I knew the second would be "fun."

So let me just jump to the real story. We are trying to get to St. Augustine on Wednesday to fix a few more things, make some adjustments and then on Thursday - Bob will join us for the final week trip back to his dock. It should be fun and we plan on slowing down a bit for that part of the trip. As I approached St Andrew Sound, I saw the breakers 3 miles before I got there. Deb was still in bed and I immediately started getting the boat ready for a bit of "fun." Ok, I've been there before so this isn't a big deal to me and if it was going to be, I could and would have just said - DONE. Yep, I have no problem saying I'm done and I can wait - not just for us but for the boat. Why beat anything up? This one was just a regular motoring into 4-6 footers with breakers in the shallow water on the right and left. It was pretty impressive and we were taking water over the front of the boat a number of times. However, nothing over the top so it wasn't that bad. All you have to do is slow a bit then modify your steering a bit - with that said, you better have a plan if something goes to crap such as the engine quits. SInce we were motoring into the wind and I just changed the steering cables - all I had to do was to turn around and set sail back in case there was a problem. We wouldn't end up on a lee shore. So on we went and then we picked the lower set of waves to turn 90 degrees and head with the wind and current up the river. Life was good again! We put out a hankie of a sail and we were immediately up to 9+ mph average. Yes, we were moving and happily along.

Bottom line the boat did what Gemini's always do which is pitch up and down and of course side to side 20-30 degrees and most importantly, everything was just fine. Gemini's are light boats and they do twitch around in rough water but they always come out of it.

Tonight, we are anchored after another 70 mile day and have 45 miles or so to go to St. Augustine. We should arrive by mid afternoon and I'll be taking Deb out to dinner after I do some work to the boat.

Bob should arrive Thursday early afternoon. We, and the boat, will be happy to see him and hopefully he will be happy with the condition of the boat.

Nov 6 - As we rounded one of the turns towards St. Augustine, the picture on the right was what we saw. I immediately thought that they were either catching a drug runner or they had a big stakeout search going on. Lights were flashing, guns drawn, fast boats everywhere, you get the picture. We passed and weren't boarded so I kept watching them. The yellow cigarette boat took off in our direction and the Homeland Security guys were then after them. Up on the sides they went and in a flash they were in the guys boat. It then became perfectly obvious that they weren't catching a repeat offender - they were conducting boarding drills. They were good with their boat driving and also good at getting on the yellow striped boat. I guess the drills were paying off. We left them in our wake - so to speak- as they continued improving or keeping their skills up.  

 We picked up some more fuel in St. Augustine and while we were out on the mooring ball, I saw this dive boat checking the moorings. This is the first time I've seen both the Alpha Flag which is the one in the back on top, in actual use. In international waters this is the dive flag. However, they also had the red with white stripe state dive flag everyone is familiar with. Just had to have a picture.

We picked up Bob on Thursday as planned and were off at O dark thirty heading south again. While we were passing through the millionth marsh we saw this bald eagle on the ground hanging out with a duck. Identify crisis I guess. This is the third bald eagle we've seen on the trip and it is pretty cool since they were almost extinct at one time.


 Then as we headed around another bend the next day we encountered this lovely piece of a boat. Sorry about the focus. What you have to check out is the seat on the back. He took a plastic bass seat and made a platform for it. Then a sun cover and of course a cooler hanging off the very rear. A true redneck's sailboat if you ask me. Nothing wrong with rednecks but it seems you can spot them every now and then.

The other thing that happened at this spot was we heard another boat call the bridge tender as we were waiting for the bridge. It seems his wife had an accident and had cut part of a finger off. The bridge tender called a hotel that was next to the bridge and they came out and helped the guy with his boat since his wife was a bit incapacitated. When we came through the bridge, I could see the wife with three of her fingers bandaged up. They were going to take her to a doctor or ???? but did say they didn't need an ambulance. This is one of my biggest concerns on a boat - injury. We didn't bring our really good first aid kit with us and that won't happen again on a delivery.


 Bob has been getting into driving again and that big smile is because nothing of importance is breaking. For Bob this has been way too long and he is very happy to be aboard the boat and he is very happy with the progress we were able to make.

We did have one problem. The head has been acting up so I became the "Head Mechanic." It sounds impressive right up to the point where you snap on the latex gloves. Luckily replacing the joker valve fixed the problem and I didn't have to take the entire head apart. I did buy a rebuilt kit just in case before we left but it's always a job where I say a few things I shouldn't. This time it was a quick job and the head is now back to great operational shape.

We've had some wind as you can see which has been great for making some time. Yesterday we had a 66 mile day and were still anchored by 4:15. Then during anchor watch we had to pull it out and do it again. Even the Rocna wouldn't set in this mush. So we moved about a 1/4 mile and reset the anchor in a less crowded place. Good set and we were there for the night. Wind finally died and it was a good nights sleep.

There is always a group of the "migration" who leave at daybreak and of course I'm one of those. The picture below shows some of the people we left with. Since the wind was blowing so hard all the powerboats didn't run off and leave us this time.

Deb has been great, as always, making up some good lunches. Yesterday it was tuna fish sandwiches. Then last night she made a great mash potato casserole and I broiled some steaks.we got on sale. Bob is getting some good meals with us on board. Today we are having some left over's for lunch and then will be cooking a port loin. We should be picking up a mooring ball in Vero Beach for an early day and give Bob some real cruiser experience. Tomorrow it will be Stuart then if the winds hold to the forecast we will cross Okeechobee on Tuesday and be back in Ft Myers on Wednesday. It's been a great delivery of over 1,100 miles.

  Nov 7 - We arrived in Vero Beach yesterday in time to put the engine on the dinghy and head in for showers. It's always nice to take a shower on shore with the unlimited water supply. That said, we don't use near as much water as we did before cruising. It has us trained to conserve which is probably a good thing living in Florida as we do. We hopped back in the dinghy and were back to the boat for a good baked pork loin and greens. It was again delicious. This morning we left and are currently on the way to Stuart. We saw the greatest rainbow that lasted for about 20 minutes as the sun was coming up and the rain had just quit. Very intense colors that were even prettier with my polarized glasses. Then I saw the absolutely coolest thing. A larger boat was coming up on our stern throwing a big wake. There were dolphins playing in his stern wake. They would come up out of the water and roll 180 degrees and re-enter the water upside down. I saw this about 6 times very quickly before the guy slowed to pass us. Now that was cool and of course I wasn't able to get a picture. I did get a picture of the rainbow and it will be up either later today or tomorrow. In the mean time, we are just motoring along and will fill up with fuel and water in Stuart. Still looking at getting home late on Wednesday.

 Nov 9 - Good morning on our last day of the delivery. Let me catch you up then show you that cool rainbow. As we were approaching Vero Beach I just couldn't neglect the humor someone had when they put out a Stop sign. Ok, what does that mean on the water? Stop what? Stop making wakes, stop entering our harbor, stop the music ??????? You get the idea, really it is a hazard to navigation but I could see the humor in it.

The picture below is of the mooring area at Vero. We picked up a mooring ball after we took on a bit of fuel and pumped out. Their fuel pump wasn't working right so we just got enough for insurance to get to Stuart. What was kind of neat is the big cat to the right side of the picture is "Zing." We met them when we met "Slap Dash." Then we saw both of them later in the Bahamas. Nobody was aboard so we didn't get re-introduced. It is fun seeing the many boats that we've seen before in our travels.

To the lower right is the first rainbow picture but the better one is next.


 This was a wide rainbow and the colors looked pretty close to this. They were as intense with the camera as they were with the polorized sunglasses on. It had just rained after we took off from Vero as the sun was starting to come up. The moisture was in the air to the west and as the sun came up in the east (pretty much as it does everyday,) then effect was pretty cool.

We picked up full tanks of fuel and water in Stuart then headed over to a mooring ball. I went over the engine again touching up a few things and tightening the alternator belt just a bit. We then headed in for me to shower and meet Bob and Deb over at a restaurant for dinner. Our last dinner off the boat before we return to Ft. Myers.

We left yesterday at 6:10 am just as you can start to see. We are headed for the Okeechobee Waterway and Stuart is at mile 7. Our destination is about mile 125 so we have a 2 day trip as long as the winds hold out as forecast.

You can see the canal looks just about like every canal in anywhere USA where there are canals. It's pretty hard to get lost.

We weren't by ourselves. The birds were fishing and enjoying their home as we intruded with little wake but a bit of a diesel sound. They pretty much ignore us since they've seen bigger and better. Don't you wonder what they do when a mega-yacht goes through. I get this feeling they talk to each other and then dive bomb them with some small droppings of ..... small bombs. I guess that's why the mega-yacht people wash their boats every single day.


 More wildlife on the water and after we had passed the first lock, then one of the largest haulout facilities for storing boats over the summers, we approached the railroad bridge that may make you weak in the knees. Well, it does some. This is the limiting bridge on the waterway. It has 49 feet clearance when the water is at 14 feet. Since the water is just under that, the clearance is a bit more. On top of that, we only have a 46' height above water or so it says in the book. My guess is they are right because it looked like we cleared by 3 feet. Still, you slow down.

I've been clicking on a wind forecast for the middle of Okeechobee. To the lower right you can see the weather station that transmits the actual data from the middle (approximately) of the lake. This actually sits on a rock reef you must transit but it's close enough and does it's job.


 Once we were completely across Okeechobee we approach the town of Clewiston. We all voted that we would continue on up to Moore Haven for the night. That would give us a shorter day today. So we turned right and headed north.

It seems there were more than humans out fishing today as you can see to the lower left.

Then I thought I saw a gator and caught this picture. It didn't make sense that it was a gator because the reeds didn't part when it swam into them. When I blew it up a bit, it appears to be a muscratt or beaver.

We were able to lock through our third lock before we tied off between two dolphins. No, not the swimming kind. Dolphins are the poles that are sunk for boats to tie to while they await their time to go through the lock. Instead of getting our anchor muddy, we tied one line from the bow and one from the stern to achieve the result we needed. We actually made 72 miles and passed through 3 locks.

The picture to the right may be one of the ateroid passing buy the moon. I honestly don't know but at least it missed us and the moon.

We then settled down for a nice baked chicken dinner then Bob and I were off to bed early. We were in for another early day tomorrow.

This morning we were up and leaving the dolphins at 6:05 am. I think I call it O dark 30. It was just getting light enough to see fairly well and a gator popped his head up. I caught the picture to the left just before he went back down as we approached.

We just passed through another lock which was an 8 foot drop. This one took awhile to get ready to open up for us then it took time to go down. Overall, it took about 45 minutes to get past it. Regardless, we have 2 bridges and one lock to go. We are thinking we will be back mid-afternoon which will be great for getting things unloaded from the boat.

There are a few things that are nice about this day - First it is beautiful outside and second we are in shorts. Now we have to start thinking about mowing the yard and see if the herbs survived. More later and of course, another adventure awaits.

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