April, May, June 2013 - Cruising - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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April 22, 2013 - Life is good. We are on the way back after teaching a number of new Captains, Certifications, and Masters. It was a great class! At the same time, we are ready to get ready to head to the Bahamas. It will be a very full week to get prepared to leave. Currently, we have 4 boats leaving from our house. We are meeting up to 3 other boats VERY COOL!!! Weather is starting to settle down and I'm all over the Grib files watching the trends.

We have two options which will be called in a week and a half. First - stick with the original plan and leave from West Palm on the 4th or close to it. Second option is to head on south to Ft. Lauderdale and leave from there. The decision will be made underway and will depend upon the winds. This is sounding very fun from a weather stand point - I can't talk about the adventure because it is going to be VERY much fun.

Deb and I will be packing over the next week, finalizing the boat prep and of course putting some music on the boat too for some shore side sing-a-longs. Guitar should be fun on this trip.

The armada will be ready with what looks like 6 Gemini's and possibly 2 other boats following along. Life is very good to us.

Yes, we will have tons of pictures - how do I know? - I just ordered a new camera and will be back in picture taking mode very, very soon...... very cool.

  April 25 - Just a quick update. Our boat is running great and I spent the day sewing a new shade cover for the rear of our boat. It will provide some nice "sun block" while over in the Islands. Deb has been putting stuff back on the boat from spices to dive gear and other items for the galley. We are really pumped up for this trip. As far as weather is concerned, it sure looks like a pattern is in place for the winds to blow out of the east for the next week. If this continues, it is looking better and better that we will head down to Ft. Lauderdale to leave. That way we will be able to take advantage of any slight change in winds for the trip over. The difference is - leave from West Palm and we will need to steer a course of about 112 degrees. If we leave from Ft Lauderdale, we would steer a course of about 90 degrees. That is actually a pretty big difference if the wind can go SE to S then we could have a nice motor sail across. The fun thing is that the time to cross would be the same even though it will be about 15 miles further.

Enough about details. Tomorrow I have to go by West Marine and see what their solution is for selling me a GPS that won't work as advertised. I will get an answer tomorrow or they will be taking back the one I have already installed. The story is best on a beach with a glass of Happy Hour wine.

Don't forget to take cash for the check in fee. At this point we have different reports as to what is being charged. Again, plan for $300 and hope for $150. Second, take enough food for at least 2 weeks. You will be able to get resupplied at Green Turtle, Great Guana, and Marsh Harbor not to mention Hope Town. However, we just don't know when we will get there. As far as extra fuel, I will be taking about 10 gallons of gas to run the dinghy and generator. I'll probably take 5 gal of diesel just because I have a can. I will probably fill up again at West End for the diesel and then hopefully we will sail more than we motor after we get across the bank. But then again, last year seemed to be a motoring year. So be prepared for $6 or so diesel fuel.

I hope everyone is looking to enjoy the best thing the Bahamas has to offer - the water. We have a great diver/snorkel person going with us, Bill. He loves the water, so pick up a pole spear and be ready to pick up conch so you can learn to clean them for conch salad. We will have to leave the Lobsters alone since they are out of season. However, you can get fish either catching or spearing them.

For those of you that want to do more of town and touring, you really have to feel free to take off and do it.

Plan on a "Captain's Meeting" before we leave and plan on NO FORMATION boating. I'm more into fun and not intense concentration on whether or not somebody will be running me over. About a 1/4 to 1/2 mile spacing works great when crossing the stream. Finally, on this trip we all stay together otherwise why go with a group. All for one and one for all across the Gulf Stream. Expect to monitor 16 and 17 so we can use 17 for our "talking and check-in" channel.

Did I say we are excited about this trip!!!!!!

April 28 - The trip is taking shape but at this point we have had 2 boats drop out. One of them is a Gemini 3000 and he is having engine problems. The Honda 15 is vibrating and overheating so he has taken it off and to a Honda dealer to be worked on. Very doubtful for going. The second is a monohull and they were able to leave earlier and cross. They are already in Marsh Harbor after taking a route to Bimini then the Berry's and on to the Abacos. That currently leaves us with 5 but I haven't heard from another boat so who knows. Regardless, we are getting ready ourselves.

I discovered a leak - what became a bad one under the sink in our boat when I began to dump our water tanks to clean them up and refill them. So I had to cut out the drains and I'm in the process of replacing the sink baskets and drain stuff. I'm short one piece so I'm hoping we get that sorted out quickly but I'm sure we will. We will be packing the boat over the next two days and getting things ready.

On the good news front, it actually looks like we will have a good weather window on Saturday which is our earliest day we can cross the Gulf Stream. It may be a bit drizzly but the winds look like they are going to be laying down for several days prior so the seas should be wonderful for us. To the Right is a screen shot of the GRIB file for Saturday at 10 am. I know, it's a long ways off but something to look at and keep and eye on. Right now the 15 and 20 knot winds on the west side of Florida aren't supposed to be a factor even into Sunday. This looks like a typical wind shift of a cold front approaching.


 April 29 - We are trying to get ready to leave. I've finished the plumbing project this morning and everything is in and does not leak. It is a better solution than was installed when we received the boat. We have another day of packing and then we will be back on the water again. Deb and I are really looking forward to it along with meeting the people we don't know who will be going with us. Now for the weather.

Yesterday, it was looking good for leaving Saturday as you saw above. However, it was interesting because Windfinder had a completely different forecast than NOAA. Windfinder this morning was starting to call for 15-20 kts of wind out of the east and 8 foot seas. NOAA was still calling for 7 knots and 2 foot seas. I knew it wouldn't last or at least someone one had to be wrong. As of a few minutes ago, the GRIB files are showing 15 knots out of the east shifting to the south on Sunday then on to the south southwest on Monday then during the day going west. This could be a great crossing situation We will just have to see as we get closer. Regardless, we will continue to update here on the website.

As of now, we will still plan on meeting in the West Palm area. This will probably change as we get closer to the weekend. Either we will hang out at Lake Worth for a couple of days should the forecast hold, or we will move down to Ft. Lauderdale to go from there. It will all depend on the wind and we should be able to make that call later this week. I'll call everyone starting Wednesday to see where they are and let them know what I'm seeing in case you don't have access to the internet and my website. Other than that, I haven't heard back from Old Bahama Bay. Hopefully they will provide us with a discount since we meet their criteria of 5 or more boats. I may have to Skype them later in the week if they don't respond. Our plan still holds to leave around 4-5 am then arriving in West Palm about 11 hours later. We will meet up and discuss the group consensus and see where it all goes.

 This is the Monday GRIB file for 7 am. We will just have to wait and see. Welcome to boating.


  April 30 - DELAYED DEPARTURE. Now the weather is calling for up to 19 knots of wind from the east on Saturday with seas growing from 8 feet to 9 feet. We definitely will not be crossing on Saturday. So, we will be delaying our departure from Ft. Myers until Thursday to arrive in the West Palm area on Saturday. Why? Well it has to do with a sink problem I had which took two days our of our departure prep. We could leave tomorrow but instead of the big rush, we are sticking here for another day. High Cotton, Pieces, and Freedom will leave here on Thursday morning early. I'll still give the rest a call tomorrow just to ensure they get this message. Now, back to preparations.....

 May 1 - The winds are starting to set up for a wonderful crossing on Tuesday. If this forecast holds, the winds will be shifting around to the South on Monday allowing the seas to fall from about 6 feet down to a bit over 3 feet. Best news however is it looks like we will have west winds on Tuesday at about 10 knots. That will make for a wonderful crossing. The better news is the winds should stay out of the west for a few more days. This would be wonderful because we could be sailing across the bank heading for an anchorage on Wednesday.

Deb and I, on Freedom #536 will be leaving at 7:30 in the morning (Thursday) joined by Pisces #577 and High Cotton #940. At this point we have joining us probably at Lake Worth, White Swan #881, Shearwater #379, Quiet Place #766, and La Dolce Vita a Mainship.

We are really looking forward to meeting what are to become our new boating friends. As in all the past years, I will start kicking in with pictures beginning tomorrow as we get going. We should have a very enjoyable cruise.

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