February 2012 - Cruising - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Feb. 9 - Wow, so much has happened since I updated. I need to first finish up our outdrive rebuild and then catch you up on our new business.

If you followed our site for the duration, you might remember we replaced our hydraulic cable back up the east coast in Yorktown. It had rusted out. When we were lifting the drive to remove it, the sucker broke again. Even though I had epoxied it and painted the fittings they still rusted out. New cable was in our future. The good news was that the new cable is they changed cable fittings about 10 years ago - my replacement was from our boats spares. That means I received a new one with stainless steel fittings. Should be good for a long time.

We painted the drive and I have to admit - I chose to "pimp my ride." I chose metallic paint because I thought it looked pretty good. Added just a little bit of something special to a hunk of aluminum. Took lots of care to prep it right then primed and painted the drive. I finished it off with a clear coat or should I say, several coats of clear coat. It looked great as you will in the pictures below. Much better than my old drive and much much better than the drive I picked up. It looks better than new. The question was would it perform that way?

Yep, it will and has. Setting that gear lash was very important and it is great, smooth, and overall did I say smooth! This is with the prop I used for the 5,000 hours so I know we are comparing like to like.


Looks cute doesn't it?

After it was installed, I had a very small leak from the top. It wasn't until I drained 2 quarts of oil out to reseat the boot that I found the problem wasn't my work at all. By the way, the oil looked great and no metal filings in there.

The problem was the new oil fill cap I installed. I tightened it about as much as I always do but I figured out the problem was the nylon on the cap wasn't cut exactly to the threads. Tightened it up some more and leak fixed. Cool.

Time to get this baby out on the water and get it tested before we head to the Bahamas in May. When you think about it, we have a new outdrive, engine with 200 hours on it and a fairly new transmission. We should be in great shape from here on out.

We had some great friends join us from St Louis - Mike and Gina came down to stay with us and then fly home. We had way too much fun. Played music, went on boat rides, ate too much and overall - again - too much fun. Back to our trip..

We left yesterday from our house and made it down to Fort Myers Beach. We hadn't been on the ball 5 seconds when up came Annie. You might remember Arnie and Bev from Scandia. Bev was sick but Annie said hi and remembered me as the guitar player in the Exumas. The cruising world is small as I've told you before. Within 2 hours we had checked in and headed over to say hi to Dick and Jan on their boat - more cruisers we've seen both at Ft Myers and Newport. Then we headed to Bonita Bills to meet some more cruisers - Gale and Mareen. It really felt like we were back out again - wait - we are.

This morning I dropped the mooring while Deb stayed to sleep in. She loves to sleep in.

Went a bit above idle out to the Gulf and turned the boat into the wind, set the autohelm, then headed up to set the main sail. Headed back to the helm turned off the wind and we were gone. Pulled up the outdrive - won't be needing it for this trip and set the jib. Life was getting really good. We were sailing between 6.5 and 8.5 knots with a high of 8.9 knots that I saw. Like I said - life was pretty darn good on a beam reach heading for Naples.

You can see below that we weren't gone very long before we were at 7 knots and passing the Fort Myers Pier with the bridge in the background.

The Key West Express came out after us and you can see it to the left with the Sanabel bridge in the background. Below you can see a fisherman with the birds looking for a handout and the Key West Express passing the Sanabel point.

They didn't take too long to get past us and head for Key West - I'll bet you figured out their destination before I told you......

Before I left this morning I saw this Victory Cat leaving. I hadn't even been up long enough for my hot chocolate. I got underway about 30 min after they left and you have to idle up the No Wake area, under the bridge, then around the corner. The Victory had a good head start if they were heading south. We caught them and then over took them. To be honest, when the winds were down and we were only doing 6 knots they did pretty good staying with us. However, when the winds kicked back up and we were doing 7 - 7.5 we left them "in our wake." I have to admit it was fun.

With that said, I don't know if we would have done that when we were cruising. We took a bunch of weight off the boat and we are now floating 1 inch higher and the boat speed really shows it even though I haven't cleaned the hull. That is something I have to do before we head to the Bahamas.

By the way, if you are interested in taking your boat to the Bahamas in May/June you might want to check us out again in a week. I'll have our schedule posted along with the Customs information you will need. It will be great fun!!!

The Movie - If you click on this, it is a video I took this morning. Audio isn't great in the beginning because the wind was so high. When we entered the pass for Naples we had left the Victory about 3 miles behind. Made up 30 min on them then passed them by 30 min in 4 hours - not bad for a 17 year old boat with original sails.

We just got back from having a wonderful time at the Boathouse in Naples. It beats the Dock hands down. We've even made reservations to join Larry and Joyce there tomorrow (Friday) night for dinner - window seat since we are heading in at 5 pm. We will have a great time.

The moorings at the Naples City Dock are a real find and deal. Don't tell anyone! Oops, I guess I just did

Tomorrow we are going to hang out on the boat, do some work, and go to dinner with a great friend.

It looks like I have a Captain's class in Nashville in March then another class at Green Turtle Bay in Kentucky in April, followed by another class this summer in Florence, Alabama. If you ever wanted to get your Captain's license, you should come to one of my classes. I've spent a ton of hours this winter working on the "killer" Power Point presentation. I have videos and tons of pictures that makes my class the best class going. Ok, I'm pretty proud of my work but my class was really good before I put in the 200 hours so far and more hours to come for the best class ever.

One last thing - I now have set up my company - Freedom Cruising Services LLC. We specialize in boating instruction including deliveries. We can deliver boating instruction on your vessel, deliver your boat, help you pick out a boat, even fix your boat. My slogan is why not hire the Captain that teaches the Captains. You'll see more in the next week or so on the website about our company. I would love to cut your learning curve way down and ensure you can achieve your dreams the way we achieved ours.

 Feb 13 - I went for a walk the morning before we left for Goodland. This is a view down 5th Avenue and some o the shops on each side which are pretty high end shops. It was too early to stop in but it didn't matter since our taste is just a bit below these shops.

Had a great walk and below you can see the view of the Naples City Docks along with their mooring area. There are 6 mooring balls available and we had picked up one. It was a bit of a pain because the loops are close to the water and this is the only mooring field I've ever seen like this. Good news is when we arrived back today they had installed longer pendants. Now they have a nice setup. There were six of us taking them up for two days.


 The picture to the left gives you an idea of our mooring setup. I always tie the ball in pretty tight so it won't rub on the hulls when the wind shifts and wake me up.

I've almost got her cleaned back up but the next project will be to strip the boat of Polyglow and reapply it. It's been 3 years and its time. Regardless, it is a project I don't mind and produces a result much better than standard wax - at least for me.

 While I was out on the walk, I picked Deb up a Valentines Day present. Stone Crabs - Delicious. She had a great lunch and I have to admit, so did I.

That afternoon, sea fog came in. This occurs when cool air comes over the warmer water which then decreases the dew point down to a point where there is fog. It didn't stop us from making our dinner appointment with Larry and Joyce.

We had a wonderful visit and I can't wait to see them again only next time Larry, dinner is on us! Thanks again for dinner but more importantly the friendship and conversation.


We left on Saturday morning and weren't this far away and in the channel when I pulled out the jib and stopped the motor. We had another great day of sailing ahead of us. It was blowing pretty good and we were making between 4 and 6 knots almost straight downwind. We sailed down to Marco Island on the inside and enjoyed the wildlife. We left at about half tide and rising since this route is a bit shallow. We saw as little as 4 foot of actual water depth but most of the time it was 6 or more.

Naples has a few bigger homes as you can see to the lower left.

We reached the channel that leads out to Gordans Pass or down to Marco - we chose the inside route down to Marco.

The channel from Naples down to Marco was well marked although from Marco to Goodland it wasn't near as well marked. You have to use your GPS to ensure you stay in the deeper water plus a bit of common sense. For example, you really don't want to go past the signs warning you of a sea grass area.

We made it down to Goodland but the place I wanted to anchor had two problems. First, it wasn't as protected as I thought it would be and we had a front coming. Second, the anchor didn't set on first try all-be-it a pretty poor attempt on my part with very little rode out. So, I called Stan's just to check dockage rates before going down the way a bit further. I received the news that dockage was free if you ate there and he didn't mind if we stayed two nights. Well, that was a no-brainer. Time to pay for some food and drink.

The pictures below are on Saturday when we arrived - band playing and everything. People really do know how to welcome us.

Then they threw this big party for us on Sunday. Isn't it great to be wanted! As it turns out, this party at Stan's is legendary. As his song goes - go to church on Sunday morning and Stan's in the afternoon.

They have a band up on the "big" stage and after the first set Stan comes up to tell some jokes and sing a few of his original songs. The jokes are along the line of - I had a great day today. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

The songs - well one of them is the Buzzards Lope.

People are everywhere and food and drink is abundant. Every break they warn everyone about the 3 police officers that are just down the road and ask that they think about if they want a $10,000 D.U.I. Evidently that's what it costs you down here.

You can see there were a bunch of people and you can even see out mast in the background.

I have the space here so I might as well tell you why not many stay overnight on their boats. Not much water in the slips. We ended up being grounded at low tide for our front half of the boat.

Yes, there is a story here. First, the picture above is Stan. He's got quite a following and the people know the words to his songs. One of them talked about loving the Yankee Dollar - something about snowbirds. Then there is the Buzzard's Lope. To get this song, you first have to meet "Queen Mary." Yep, that's what she's called and she walks around so you can give her a tip and get your picture taken with her "assets." People put 5's, 10's, and even 20's in just to get their picture.

Then she comes up on stage and invites the other women up to do the Buzzards Lope. The ladies below already know the dance - I don't think this was their first time here. Towards the end of the song all the ladies lay on the ground and raise their legs up and spread them. I know a video would have been better here. It is a show.

You can see that they were willing participants.

This is Mike and Liz. We met them cruising and they rode their Harley - not a Hardley like mine but a Harley - to join us on Sunday. Well it turned out they came down a day early so they joined us on Saturday and Sunday on the boat. We had a great time. Then we hatched up the idea that they could join us up in Naples too on Monday since we were going to pick a ball up again waiting for the wind to shift so we could sail back to Ft. Myers Beach.

You can see below more of the people and the sign proclaiming this was the Home of the Buzzard Lope.

Here is our boat. We backed it about 10 feet out of the slip for the night so we would not have any problem getting out on Monday morning. All was good.

It was a great party and we really do appreciate Stan going to all that trouble just for us. It's nice to be special........

We took off on Monday morning early to catch the falling tide at 1/2 way down. We needed the water to get out of the harbor. All went well and we motored back up to Naples where we've picked up another mooring ball. This time nobody is here but we picked up the back ball again since it's the most protected.

The trip was COLD and I had the generator running to run the heater for Deb who was still in bed. 48 in the boat when we all got up. That impacted Mike and Liz's decision to go ahead and go back this afternoon instead of staying overnight. They need to be back early tomorrow so a early cold ride wasn't in their future.

So tomorrow it looks like the wind will shift to the south and we will have light winds going with us north. Probably going to be a motor sail or a spinnaker day. If we get 9-10 knots as forecast, then we will be flying the spinnaker!!! Fun, fun, fun.

Well, I've got to get this uploaded and back in to the docks where Deb is doing a load of laundry. More in a couple of days.

 Feb 14 - I was finally able to get the picture of the metal flake in the paint. This was how I "pimped my ride." Well at least that is what they say. I just had to share this with you.

We left Naples this morning earlier than planned but I was up so it was time to go. Wind was as predicted and pretty low overall. When you are going with the wind, your forward boat speed reduces the apparent wind and all you can sail on is the apparent wind. It dropped in speed all morning and we ended up motoring on up to Ft Myers Beach. But I'm once again ahead of myself.

To start with I set the main and the jib but more importantly, I used a snatch block on the stanchion to get a better jib sail set. You can check out a movie right here. It's a long movie as far as my movies go but pretty informative if you are a sailor.

Then later I just couldn't get Deb up on Valentines Day so I figured out a way to put up and set the asymmetrical spinnaker by myself. You can check out that video right here.


 This is the way I set up the block discussed in the first video. You can see the sheet goes outside the lifelines down to the block then up to the winch. I tie the snatch block onto the bottom of the stanchion so it is easy to move. I was told by Will who previously was with Performance Cruising that I could do this in up to 15 knot winds.

You can also see the small block that is permanently mounted at the bottom of the stanchion for the asymmetrical spinnaker. Of course there is another one on the other side too.

 The sail simply gathers more wind and it has a much better sail shape at 90 degrees or more of wind. So, do you have to buy a new snatch block? No, mine is one that a friend gave me. I would recommend that you look for one on e-bay, craig's list, or a marine surplus sale. This way you can get something with value because you just won't use it that much but when you do the price will be "priceless."

I didn't take more pictures of Ft. Myers Beach because you've just seen them. On top of that, I won't be taking pictures of our trip back because again, you've seen them. We'll be back home tomorrow and I should have a couple of packages there by the end of the day.

I already have a new Polyglow package to rework the finish on our boat and I'm expecting a package of a couple of scooter tires. I'll be heading over to Okeechobee to get my tires changed. No wait. I'll be dropping my bike off and picking up Paul's new bike that is 400cc. We'll swap while he gets his guy to replace my tires for a pretty good deal and I'll get to see Pat and Paul. Then a few days later Paul will ride my bike over and we'll meet half way to swap. I'm not too sure I'll want to swap but I'm very sure he will since he just upgraded.

I promise to give you a few updates about that trip along with some more about what we are doing to get ready for the Nashville class. It looks like it is going to be a wonderful experience at a Yacht Club up at Nashville.

More later!

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