June 2, 2012 - Cruising - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

Previous Log - The most recent past log

All Logs - This takes you to the list of all of our logs

 If you came here looking for the pictures from Mile Marker or Pisces or just happened to want to see the tour of Johnston's Foundry - click here  There we so many pictures, I started up a new log page for upcoming June.

 May 31 - Here is the current scoop. We are going to start making our way up the Cays as planned BUT the weather is a changing. We are shooting for a crossing on the 4th. At this point I think we have a 50 percent chance of doing that crossing. So it may be as late as the 10th or beyond based on the current weather files I've seen. Bottom line - don't worry. We'll be posting again as soon as we get a wi-fi connection or get back to the states. We may actually stop at West End to update our data which will mean we can give you an update too.

We will be traveling with Mile Marker and haven't talked to Pisces yet but will today. Pisces has a "Spot" so they can send their position information out and you can see it on their facebook page. 


 June 3 - We came to West End to get the window to cross tomorrow. Great weather two days then pounded for a day and today not bad going into the wind. Good news is we should have a very good crossing tomorrow. Let me catch you up. Last time I posted my pictures we were at Marsh Harbour.

Left and below you can see the view out of a cool restaurant we visited on the second floor. Cool because we could get some good pictures plus they had a reasonable happy hour, at least for the Bahamas.


 Next stop, Man of War. Here the Alburys are everywhere. The lady to the right is the owner of this sewing shop and they make bags. Stop, they make a lot of bags. You can see that in the pictures that follow.

These are made with cotton, yes cotton thread. The reason that is important is the thread manufacturer makes the cotton thread just for her.

This is the same process her mother created and is still followed today. Pretty cool.

 Down the road is the Aubury model shop. These are some pictures of some models behind a glass. The shop was closed today.
 I always like the framing models.  

 But the sail models are pretty darn nice too.

Next we walked into the Aubury boat shop. I say walked in because all the doors were open and there was nobody around. I must digress just a bit. This is a VERY religious island. They don't sell alcohol or tobacco on the island. It also appears they practice what they preach because we could walk just about anywhere and things were wide open, tools lying out, epoxy, fiberglass, etc, etc. and again, nobody was around.

Back to the story.

They make very nice boats here. They have their molds stored up on the hill or inside. They are very good molds too. Beautiful lay-up work. They vary using wood on the inside to foam to keep things light. Again, very nice work.

 We ended our tour of the fiberglass shop and enjoyed our time thinking our way through the process. Like every other boat builder, all they really do is create their own molds, then create the boat, and finally install a bunch of off the shelf products in the end creating a boat.

 Down the road a bit further we found the sign letting us know which direction each thing was.

Below is the Post Office which was next to the school. They have it all. Domestic, Local, and Foreign pick-ups.

 This is mural painted outside the school. I always liked this mural. Education, like life, is a continual discovery.

 We then came across a Lignumvitae tree. It is the national tree for the Bahamas.

Next in our discovery walk, we came across this towed "vessel" which appears to have been used with people who had scuba tanks on.

 On our way out we met Tim and Gina. They own a Gemini 3000. Both of them are missionary's and Gina now has a job next year teaching in a private high school on Man of War.

 This is the view as we dinghy 'd back to our boats. The harbor here is fairly narrow.

Below you can see Mike and Kim following along behind us.

Finally, there was Freedom just where I left it. Anchored off a nice sand beach which we found out was a public beach. Good thing because we used it.


Next stop, a nice calm anchorage which was at Treasure Cay again. Beautiful beach.

We had fun but were off the next morning since we are heading back to the USA. The passage we took this time was through Don't Rock Passage. To the lower left is the don't rock rock. You can see Mile Marker behind us right in the channel. We when through at mid tide so we knew we had enough water to make it without issues.

Here are a couple of pictures of the beach at Treasure Cay. To the right and lower left.

We made arrangements to meet back up with Pisces at Green Turtle for just 5 minutes. This stop was specifically to pick up the pictures so I could post them on our website for their friends. You've already seen the pictures so I won't do that again.

They headed down to Guana and we headed to the Bluff House.

It was fun seeing everyone.

Next we tied up at the Bluff House but were forewarned that there might be an issue or two. Something Pisces was going to tell us about later. We headed in anyway.

Once we were there, we did laundry and then ran into the owner.

Meet Mike. He doesn't look too happy does he! Well, he's one of the owners but the story we heard had us almost reaching for our wallets. He told us that the people aboard Pisces had come in and the guys really must have had too much to drink. There was a toilet seat broken and evidently one of the guys was wearing it around his head. Ok, this didn't sound like the guys but we've been here before and he wanted $500 bucks because he's already filed a police report and there is a warrant out to arrest the boat. Honestly, that's what he said.

Next one of the other owners came up and he was really upset too. He went on about some more damage done at the bar and how the girls were pretty embarrassed and left but the guys then threw up and they had to escort them out of there.

What to do what to do???

Next the owners were all laughing and saying I hope you get them back.

We will!

Why am I showing you this couple's knees? You will see why if you watch this video. I have named it the Bluff House Flop.

Their knees aren't even damaged.

We encountered some more squalls. Pisces was out on the ocean fishing and heading north while we were on the inside heading up to Alans Pensacola.

Ultimately we met up with Pisces in the anchorage and we had already told them that I gave the guys at the Bluff House $200 and Mike gave them $300. They would only take cash. Well let the games begin, again. Mike can pretty much tell you anything with a straight face. So he went into all the detail again and how we really did have to pay out the money. Bill and Bob started getting upset and said they were heading back down to get our money back because they didn't do anything like that. Mike kept the straight face and kept it up. Finally Bill went in and brought out a shotgun and said we are going back first thing in the morning. So Mike ensured they knew how to use the weapon and also told them again how much money was at stake. Me on the other hand, I'm busting up and the only way I can keep a straight face is with a glass of wine to my face. It is hard laughing into a glass of wine but I did that for about 5 minutes more. Finally, Mike told them it was a joke. I guess we kind of got them back. Boys will be Boys.

Here is the rest of the crew. Bob was down cutting up VERY fresh tuna so we could eat it raw with wasabi and soy sauce. Excellent.

Here the boys have made up with Freedom in the background.

The next morning we took a couple of dinghy's around to the Atlantic side and it was beautiful. This will be a stop for us next year. I could have easily spent 3 days here.

We then headed out and trolled heading for Great Sale. Our intentions were to anchor on the east side of the island. As you can see we all caught some fish but none eatable. Fortunately Bill and Bob found a couple of Conch before we left Alans Pensacola.

Ultimately, we all anchored up on the other side in the notch at Great Sale. All meaning "In His Time" has now joined our group. 4 Gemini's all heading for a crossing.

Anchoring was a problem so the Bill and Bob team used a large cylindrical object to hammer anchors into the sea bed. Fortunately mine set fine and ultimately everyone else was ready for the forecast 25 knot winds with gusts much higher.

We had a great dinner over on Pisces then left the next morning. Unfortunately, we were pounding into seas. All for the possible crossing. We arrived at Mangrove Cay and found it was a great anchorage. We anchored on the east side of the island and ultimately there were about 8 boats anchored up.

Today we motored, again, into the wind but it was better than before. We arrived at West End - Old Bahama Bay, at about 1:15 pm. Picked up a slip and paid the money so we could get fuel, wash off all this salt, and run the battery charger to keep my batteries up. I'm looking forward to getting down to Ft. Lauderdale and the West Marine so I can pick up a couple of good AGM batteries and end this electrical problem.

Otherwise, all looks good for our crossing tomorrow. We really won't know which way we are heading until we look later tonight. I think it will probably be for Stuart direct. However, the forecast still has some minor changes so we will make the decision at about 7 pm and verify it tonight. Good news is all four boats will go together. I'm doing the planning and everyone will be ready for what comes our way.

More when we get to the States.

 June 5 - We'll go back to Great Sale and provide some more pictures.

Before we left, the squalls were around us and we waited for them to pass and got the "all clear" from Mike who has a Garmin HD radar on his boat.


Here is a picture of Mile Marker and Pisces before we left for Mangrove.


Pisces had decided to go down and explore a Blue Hole that was listed on the chart. They found it and evidently as soon as Bob was in the water he saw the fish with the big white teeth - shark. Evidently a pretty big one because these guys are somewhat used to being around sharks. Regardless, it was pretty cool.

We gathered on the Pisces to hear about their story's while they pounded over to Mangrove.

I caught this picture of Bill and Deb with the sunset in the background.

This evening was very special since everyone was together again and everyone was safe.

You can see some pictures below of the sunset at Mangrove.

I also caught this shot of my anchor light on. Then mother nature decided to trump it with her own light. This was a wonderful sign because it meant we were going to have a full moon to get started in two more days.

We arrived at West End, paid our fees, picked up fuel, and everyone began the process of pulling up dinghy's and stowing items so they could be ready to be underway at 4:30 am the next morning.

And underway we were. Everyone was off the dock at 4:25 and we were moving right on time. Unfortunately, I had calculated our course to steer at what we thought would be our speed and the speed was slower because of the tides coming on the bank. That put the course off a bit but we corrected on the other side. Regardless, it was probably our 3rd best crossing.

You can see in the picture below the moon showing us which way to go to the US and below left in the same picture some lights which turned out to be a Carnival Cruse ship. You can see the cruise ship better in the picture to the lower right.

I did catch a picture of Mile Marker and In His Time trailing close behind. Missed the same picture of Pisces.

Then right on cue the sun popped up. Really, it just pops up and very quickly. Probably about as fast as it sets.

I really liked the colors of the picture to the right. It was just beautiful on the open ocean.

We saw some more ships and the one below we saw coming over the horizon and Mile Marker thought it was a ship with big tuning forks on it. I guess they were planning on tuning a really big piano.

Turned out to simply be a cargo ship with their cranes installed.

The crossing was ok but we did again have to go into the waves for a while. Winds were higher than predicted for about 3 hours but that was the worst part. They always seem to be different than the prediction.

Below right you can see Mile Marker as we were coming in to St Lucie Inlet.

In His Name was close behind. Once again, I didn't get a picture of Pisces because Bill had dropped his hat overboard and decided to swim for it in the Gulf Stream. Of course it was refreshing so Bob had to go for a swim too. They were still in sight but a couple of miles back.

Here is the St. Lucie inlet. We had heard from several people not to use it. Others said it was fine. I asked a charter boat captain who used it often while in the Bahamas and he said it was fine so that was what we planned to do and obviously did. The inlet was marked well, had good depth and it was just fine.

In his time headed straight for Sunset Bay but we decided we were done after 72 nautical miles and went to anchor in Manatee Pocket. Mile Marker and Pisces joined us.

Deb and I had gotten the Local Boater option with Homeland Security/Customs so we just had to call in. It wasn't quite that simple because I didn't know I was supposed to file a float plan first. In the end, the guy told me to file the float plan next time - and I will, I apologized since this was my first time to use this option. After that, he gave us our clearance number and I entered it in our log and took down the Quarantine flag.

We grilled diner and I went to sleep. No wait, I woke up and it stunk. Deb thought it was the head but after we were almost asleep again I figured it out. I went and checked and sure enough the third battery had gone bad. I rewired the battery system so it only has the one battery I picked up at Green Turtle Cay then went back and went to sleep. All is well again on Freedom and we are back in the US of A.

This morning we will move about 8 miles so we can pick up Jimmy Buffett. Then we head south to visit some special places we've been before. One place on our list is the biggest West Marine in the US. Our Port-a-Boat has seen it's last trip to the Bahamas. It's leaking, probably from my over use and abuse. We are probably going to a RIB and davits. More later.

  June 8 - We've had a very busy time since we've been back in the States. Sorry but no pictures until I get some time away from working on the boat. We picked up Jimmy Buffett in Stuart then moved off to an anchorage just south of Lake Worth. Next day, we headed down through 18 bridges to Ft. Lauderdale. We would have gone outside but the wind would have been right on our nose. So off we were on the trail through the bridges. We arrived at about 3:00 after leaving early and I was headed then for West Marine and Sailorman. I had a bad battery bank which sorely needed two more batteries. The VHF radio failed that was connected to our mast antenna, and I just needed some more "stuff" to make this boat right. Such is the story after a big trip. I made my arrangements then this morning I was off to close the deal. I ended up doing everything through West Marine because I talked them into delivering the two batteries and picking up the two I had. Big Deal, trust me! After spending 500 bucks, I spent the rest of today waiting for the batteries to be delivered - right on time I'll add - then installing the batteries, new radio, new cam shells for cosmetic purposes, the new speaker for the cockpit, plus some more stuff too. We are currently charging the batteries to get them up to charge and watching TV after a great dinner of fish and salad.

We are headed to Miami tomorrow very early so we can hopefully beat some of the traffic. Honestly, I love the traffic on the waterway. Seeing all the boats is pretty cool but I prefer to do it very early when everyone else is sober. We should be there by 2 or earlier I hope. Looks like we have about 9-10 bridges but it will be fun. I'll give you pictures in a day or two.

Currently, we have all our work done and we are ready to "ride." We'll anchor in Miami and Bayside will be visited along with Lincoln Mall. It should be a fun time.

 June 10 - We headed out of Stuart as you know and were south of Lake Worth when we anchored after picking up fuel. As we left the next morning, as in the past, we were (of course) impressed with the houses along the waterway. These homes probably have a crew taking care of them. Bottom line is the I couldn't take care of one nor could Deb even thought she's the queen of cleanliness. I'm pretty sure that there are other forces at work in these homes..... $$$$$$ or something like that.  
We headed for Ft. Lauderdale going through a ton of bridges but one of them was missing. Really, it was missing. They were tearing it down. I have no clue as to if they are rebuilding it or if they are taking it out. I guess we will see in the long run.
It seemed pretty obvious that they were not utilizing some of the parts again. Perhaps they would only salvage the gears and motors for other bridges. That said, they weren't too worried about the cut on the bridge itself.

Then we came upon a house that was being torn down so another house could be built. I'm totally amazed at the construction that is going on along this waterway. Is it because the economy is improving or is it for the same reasons we did our house? You aren't making any money in the market so spend it on something that you can use or will ultimately make some money on.

The waterway got more and more crowded with homes and buildings along the waterway.Then another house under construction.


We had a good work time in Ft Lauderdale and spent about 500 bucks on stuff for the boat. Since "Stuff Happens Out There" it seems you have to fix it. Realistically, maintenance has to be done and everything that has failed on my boat is routine stuff. Of course at this point I think I've replaced or rebuilt everything on our boat so it's all in a day of sailing for us.

The boats are getting bigger here as you will see.

We headed under the bridge that you saw before and passed even bigger boats. This happens to be the port called Port Everglades and the ships just keep getting bigger and bigger.

As a side note, this is where we hope to bring our boat in about 5 years to have it picked up and head for the Caribbean. We hope to take it to Martinique then sail it back over the next 1-2 years. It should be a wonderful experience we just have to save the money to make the trip. We do have a special fund going right now just for that trip but that is another story.

As I've said before, what is amazing to me is the lack of security at this port compared to Miami. I guess the "wow" factor of an attack here just isn't the same as in Miami. People smarter than me are in charge of security!

We left Ft. Lauderdale early on Saturday morning heading for Miami. Almost all of the guides say - don't travel this waterway on the weekend. Last I checked, Saturday is on a weekend so I should be worried. Well, there is also experience. What they are talking about is the late mornings and afternoons. That's when people wake up and head out to go boating. We left at 6:30 and should have been there by noon.

We passed through the bridges that you see on the left - I know where my tax dollars go. Opening bridges, operating locks, providing Coast Guard help, and much more not to mention paying for a couple of friends retirement along with my brothers from the military. Well, I'm behind in taxes but I really don't want to pay more - sorry. Speaking of sorry, I digressed.

We were heading for the bridge pictured lower right and found out the 79th street bridge was broken. We arrived and she tried to open it 4 times before she declared it broken. We turned back and went around on the east side which was an hour diversion. In the end, it was a good decision.


 We passed the party central island and headed for our anchorage.

Saturday afternoon late we headed into lock our dinghy to the rail of the bridge and walked to Lincoln Mall. There we walked around and looked at the new fashions, the people spending more money on those fashions in a day than we spend in a week. Unique hair, tattoos, fun loving people, and simply good food. Bottom line - we enjoyed our evening in the shops - especially the cooking stores and all the new gadgets we found. Looking forward to some of those coming out at one of the other "knock-off stores" where the prices will be a bit more reasonable.

Last night, I took a few pictures from our anchorage. Miami is beautiful at night. What I really like is the energy of a large city. At the same time, Miami has not cleaned up their city the way New York has. Perhaps, I have a 6 month city visit in my future. Right now, the two days here is just about enough and we will be heading south in the morning.


 Today we headed over to Bayside. You might remember the dock to the left in our previous pictures. The sign says you can dock for up to 3 hours. So we headed over this time and tied our dinghy up. Nobody was around so we thought "cool." Up the gang plank and into the shops. Honestly, this is the only place we ever go to eat at Hooters. The view is good and once every year or two Hooters chicken wings and a salad aren't too bad for you. We had a great time and headed back to the dinghy. There was a guy there writing out stuff on a pad. I ignored him because I thought he was writing down when people arrived and since he wasn't here when we got here then so be it. That's when he said something like "nect tim yo pay." I said - "I'm sorry, I didn't understand you." He said "nect tim yo pay." I figured out that we were supposed to pay something but I never once saw a sign saying that. I figured what the heck but did ask, next time, how much is it to dock for lunch? He said "sixteen dollars." Well, he got the sixteen dollars out just fine. Good news was that we didn't pay this time and the other good news is next time we won't be going there by dinghy!

It was a good time even if it was a 4 mile dinghy ride each way on a Sunday through tons of traffic. We were very dry in the Port-a-Boat - too bad it is it's last tour. This is the second Port-a-Boat I've had and each one has ultimately failed after about 5 years. That just doesn't happen with RIB's so a RIB is in our future along with a new davit system I'm almost finished designing.

Pictures below show you the area filling up and the wonderful boats in the area.


Tomorrow we are off for the Keys. Leaving about 7 am for a trip of about 40 miles and a great anchorage we have in mind. We are looking for a place with just a bit less traffic and intensity. Time to get back on island time.

The other good news is the wind is shifting to the east tomorrow so we should be able to at least motor sail if not sail most of the way. I can't wait.

More updates to follow.

 June 12 - So we left. Well, it seems we always leave our anchorages at one time or another.

We pulled our anchor and headed west down the canal for the intracoastal waterway to head south then west. New Carnival Cruise ships were in to change out passengers and take on tons of supplies. Just think, we are only 3 1/2 months away from taking our cruise for our 30th anniversary. Of course we just took a cruise but that was my 30th anniversary cruise.


We passed Government Cut and there were 4 cruise ships here and another on the other side. In addition, there was one boat floating around in the center to run people off if they entered this channel. If there is more than one cruise ship docked, you can't use this cut anymore. Just remember Ft. Lauderdale and explain that to me - please....


As soon as we had enough water, I set the main sail and we now had some free energy helping out the engine. Next we saw the houses built on stilts and I still wonder who paid off whom to get these approved. On top of that, who has the money to maintain these homes. I guess it's one of those questions - if you have to ask then you really don't have the money to enjoy the experience.

Let's get back to sailing. We left Miami behind and the engine was off. Sails were set and we enjoyed one of the best sails we've had in at least a year. Our speed was varying between 4 knots and 7.5 knots as we moved south.

Overall we had an eight or so hour day and we only used the motor about 2 hours. It was a good day. Deb was helming us through narrow cuts and bridges while I was trimming sails. It was pretty darn fun. We thought about setting the spinnaker as the wind was dying but didn't because we were having fun with just the two sails.

Finally, we went through a pass and the wind was just wrong. We bared off and tacked to the port so we would have enough wind such that we could head back on course and go wing-on-wing. Although this wasn't the most efficient point of sail, it is always fun. I set the autohelm to track the wind and we had a great 45 minute sail just wondering around with the wind as it varied.

We anchored at the north end of Key Largo and explored a couple of areas we hadn't been before. Fun at Gilbert's and Steamers.

Today we left early so we could anchor before lunch and go to lunch at Island Grill where they have some of the best seared tuna I've tasted. Some kind of secret they haven't given us yet. I'm pretty persistent so perhaps when we come back through in September then we'll catch it. I do know they make their own teriyaki sauce and reduce it plus their own wasabi mayo. Good, good, good.

We then pulled anchor and headed to another anchorage off of the next key down so we could go for a walk and hit happy hour.

Tomorrow we will continue down on the inside then cross through Channel 5 for Hawks Channel to enter Boot Key Harbor via Sisters Creek. We'll stay a day and a half to do laundry (sheets are starting to stink) and see if there is any good music still playing in the area.

 June 17 - We arrived in Marathon after crossing over at Channel 5 according to plan. On the way to Sisters Creek we passed this house, which in the picture below, you can see is located on it's own island.  

 You have to love solitude and having every boater in the world staring at you to live here. You can see they are really "off the grid" because they have solar, wind generator, and I'm sure their own generator plant for A/C. You don't want to live too far off of the grid if you can afford your own island!


We arrived in Boot Key Harbor and as you can see there is plenty of room on the mooring balls. If we didn't have a bunch of stuff to do, we would have just anchored out. Since we needed to do laundry and other things then we picked up the ball and paid the 15 or so bucks a day.



 After we finished laundry we headed over to Docksides for dinner. There was a pretty good guitar player playing away so it was a good evening. I also caught the picture to the right of a lady who had, perhaps, gotten just a bit too much sun.

In my walk to West Marine, I found a dinghy consignment store. I also found a dinghy that just might work for us so a plan was hatched to try it out the next day. They showed up with it in the back of a pick-up truck and "threw it" in the water. I put my engine on and took Deb to sea. We couldn't get it up on plane so that one was too short. Realistically we probably could have made some modifications to my engine's prop but we are going to hold out for a 10 footer lightweight dinghy instead. Afterall, I already have a dinghy even though it leaks. I may have a plan to fix the leaks hatching in my head. (You have to be concerned from time to time about what is hatching up there.)

We took off early the next morning for Little Torch Key. We passed the Bahia Honda bridge. The one in the foreground is one of the original bridges. On the bottom was the train track and the cars ran up top. Today, people go through that opening and anchor off of Bahia Honda.


 Before you turn into Newfound Harbor you pass Little Palm Island. This is a pretty nice resort. All of the sunning lounges have fresh towels rolled up on them and everything is kept just right.

This time there weren't any large yachts at their docks but one or two could arrive any day.


 We had already made radio contact with Mike and Kim and right on cue, they were there trying to overtake Freedom in true pirate style, on jet skis. They came out to show us the way to their canal and dock. It was great to see them and we knew we would have a great time.



We passed this guy who's made up his own home out here on the water.

We made it into their location and have been having a great time. We've been out on the jet ski's running smugglers cut then off to happy hour. We've inspected their rigging and mast taking lots of pictures with his iPhone. I'll get some and post them from the top of the mast. Bottom line was his rigging looks very good so one concern is removed. Then we replaced his outdrive release cable. He had already picked up the right cable and now it was just the work.

We completed that project and then added some release latches on my port side for the lifelines which make it very easy to get on and off of the boat.

We also went off to No-Name Pub (below) for a great lunch and met some of their friends down here. Then last night we took off for the Square Grouper for a delicious dinner.

This morning I will be cleaning the bottom of my boat then we will be off on the jet skis for a round robin tapas style lunch around the southern keys. If the wind would be lower, we would have run down to Key West via jet ski. Since it is supposed to be up some today we'll stay in a 10 mile or so area, so I'm told.

 June 18 - I promised some pictures of me on the mast.

I climb a rope with jumars which are the yellow things you see in the picture to the right. They grip the rope with downward pressure and they release easily to slide them up. This way you go up a step, slide the bosins chair up, sit down, then slide up the ladder. Then do it all over again while inspecting and going up the mast.

Below you can see Mike on the deck of Mile Marker. Bottom right is a picture of Freedom right behind Mile Marker.


 Here is a better picture of the two boats together.

Below left is Mile Marker and then below right is a "self portrait." That is my shadow climbing the mast. Trust me, I wouldn't do it, it's scary up there.


 The view at the top is always pretty darn good. This view is looking back towards the Atlantic Ocean.

We did somewhat as planned yesterday and had fun on the jet skis plus had a great dinner at Mike and Kim's with Reggie and Anita. Good food and more importantly, good people.

We are off in about an hour for Key West. It should be a good sail. More in a couple of days.

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