May 2016- Cruising - Captain - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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May 12 - Today we are back at Marsh Harbour but as usual, I am ahead of the story.

In the islands, you don't have bridges nor buses as we know them. Instead, the Albury brothers provide a ferry service. Everyone from the students at school along with people working on different islands ride the ferry. Who knows, Bills friend Bob may be riding one of these when he arrives on the 18th.

Below you can see there are actually two of them in the harbour at the same time coming from different islands.

People get off and people get back on.

One of the things you see in a harbour such as this are problems that others have had with their sails. In this case, the screecher (forward most light sail for light winds but you can roll it up) has ripped. Oops.

Next I was off for my quick tour of the Lighthouse again.

For the new readers this isn't the first time I have toured this lighthouse and at the end of this segment, I will provide you a link to a video I created in 2012 when we were there for the lighting of the lighthouse.

I arrived at about 9:30 and headed up. On the way into the lighthouse I met a lady and she said to stop by the Gift Shop on the way out. As it turns out, this is now the LAST remaining kerosene powered lighthouse in the world. It has also become quite the landmark and tourist attraction. So they have created a not-for-profit and are starting to attract volunteers to help with the maintenance.

There is no way in the world the United States would let people near some of this. Such a shame since people are no longer responsible for their own actions and decisions. Here, if you choose to go in then keep your fingers out of the moving parts and don't jump off! If you don't follow those rules then you get what you deserve!

To the left are the pressure vessels that hold the kerosene and these have to be pumped up by hand with a lever which is kept just to the right of the picture.

As you go on up you ultimately reach the fresnel lens which is designed to turn the light into beams and amplify it. The round circles are the segments. In this case, there are 5 of them which gives the lighthouse it's characteristic of 5 flashes.

This entire structure sits on a bed of mercury which means that with 1 finger you can start it turning.

You can just make out the mantle which is how the pressurized kerosene is burned. You will see it in the video.

There is a weight which is cranked up to the top of the lighthouse and once it is released, gravity provides the power to attract the weight. The downward motion pulls on a cable which then transfers to gears (you can see them) which in turn rotates the fresnel lens and thus you have the movement and people can see the lighthouse.

At the very top of the lighthouse is this 32 point compass card .I am not exactly sure why it is there but this was the first time I saw it.

Below is a set of pictures which make up the western view from the lighthouse. I didn't have stitching software with me to "stitch" it all together so just blur your eyes a little and you have it.

This is the harbour at Hope Town and all of the boats in the harbour are on moorings. They charge to use the moorings but it becomes very difficult to figure out who to pay. Ours didn't have a name on it and nobody came to the boat to collect.

The three pictures below are the western view. In the middle in the distance is Marsh Harbour and to the upper right is Man-Of-War.

The Chance Brothers and Co are the ones who designed and built the lighthouse as you can see from the bronze plaque to the right.

Since this is the highest structure on the island, having lighting protection is probably a pretty good idea. You can see the strap in the picture below and to the lower right which goes all the way to the top of the lighthouse.

If you are interested in the video I created and placed on You Tube, the direct link is below:

Lighting the Hope Town Lighthouse - 2012

While up top, I did capture a few pictures of our boats in the harbour. To the right is Mile Marker, then lower left is Pisces, and to the lower right is Freedom.

It has been a fun 5weeks so far and we still have more islands to go. However, I am starting to track the weather in the Gulf Stream and looking at the patterns for our trip back across and to the United States. Probably we will be heading across the northern Abacos in about 2 weeks for West End to cross to the St. Lucie Inlet which takes us to Stuart. So right now, my wild guess is we will probably be back to our home in Fort Myers in about 3 weeks. Of course that is a guideline since I simply will not cross with a bad forecast.

I also caught a picture of this Gemini 3400 anchored out. Unfortunately I didn't get out on the dinghy to meet them. This brings back very fond memories since we charted a boat just like this by the name of Fat Cat. It was owned by Lee Reeves and was kept in Pensacola, FL and operated under Lee's Company's name of Vacation Yachts. That relationship was so good that I ended up going to Lee to put in a contract on the house we purchased when I found it. I trusted him and we only had experience with one other agent in Fort Myers at the time and to say she was less than interested in helping us would be an understatement. Today I know 5different realtors, which includes Lee, whom I trust and would provide the service you would expect. If you think you might be interested in the Fort Myers area, let me know and I can connect you.

After my tour, we were off to Marsh Harbour. We have quite a bit of work to do to get ready to leave again. We need propane, food, water, play time, and just to stop for a bit.

It was a long and arduous trip - 6 miles and a no-brainer.

We decided to go to Mango's Marina for 2 days to do all that stuff plus get rid of several bags of trash.

Then it was time to plan another cruiser gathering as you will see below.

To me, one of the most fun times is meeting new people and exchanging stories, tips, and sometimes even providing a bit of information to new people.

This gathering was built around food, drink, and some more entertainment. (Nothing like Captain Ron - again.)

Bill and Scott (I understand it was Scott who found the limit of conch) provided conch for the appetizer. We sliced it in half, beat it with a meat tenderizer (big mallet with barbs on it) and the cut it into strips. Kim made up the combo of corn meal and panko bread crumbs combined with "Spicy Mike's" Key West Seafood Seasoning. They took the conch and dipped it into beaten eggs, then into the mixture and finally Jean from White Swan placed it into a pan of Canola Oil at 300 degrees. Fry it up and Bam - excellent Cracked Conch!


The rest of the pictures are of the people who were there and all of them had a great time. Many just wondered up from the dock and for some reason we had plenty of food.

Tonight was the last night that Jessie, Scott, and the heart stealer Archer would be in town. We think they had a great vacation and time at the impromptu party too.

The Conch was being eaten as fast as it came out and people could have probably eaten much more than was provided.

Mike has become our Grill Master and is easily the go to guy when it comes to splitting up duties. Besides, he has a great time in life too.

Everyone stayed for the show and the amazing part was that one of the people at the marina had a projector and a screen. So this time the show was on the "big screen" with audio through a Bose Speaker.

Life is great and everyone got fed nicely. More important the fellowship was wonderful.

In the next update I will provide pictures of the Jessie, Scott, Sissy, and Archer departure in another day or so.


May 10 - Quite a bit happens in 2 days! Mike and Kim decided that the winnings from the Kentucky Derby should be shared so a lunch was planned over at Cracker P's. Some of us went in by dinghy while Pisces went over and anchored off the beach. We picked up the guys on our two dinghy's (Freedom and Mile Marker) and the ladies were left to their own with Admiral Sissy in command.

As you can see everyone made it into the dinghy and Archer still hasn't taken an unplanned swim. Life jacket and hat in place mom and grandma bring in the special package!

They all arrived in great form and papa Scott was happy to see Archer again. Of course Sissy can't ever let go of his hand.

I decided to tow the dinghy up to Man of War (we skipped Hope Town for now) just to see how it actually works from the front. When I designed the dinghy one of hardest things to build was the strakes. This is because the angles and fills are constantly changing for the length of the boat and they all had to be custom formed and then filled.

You can see below left the hull is coming up at an angle and then it turns to be horizontal. This does two things. First it creates lift taking the energy of the water flowing upwards and tuning it outwards. This helps get the boat further out of the water and it also keeps us dryer because the spray is deflected outwards. You can see in the picture below exactly what I am trying to describe.

I'm happy! It works just as planned.

Mile Marker and Freedom arrived at the designated anchorage at Man of War and took off for a dinghy tour of the island along with a short walk.

The protected harbor is filled with mooring balls. This is actually more efficient and secure to the boats. Of course you have to pay for them but if you are staying a long time, that is actually best to get a good mooring.

You can see below the town is on the right side. It is loaded with boat building places along with other required services and fun things too.

Below right you can see a cannon that was recovered when the Adirondack sank on the Man of War reef. The story we heard was there were still cannons and cannon balls on that reef. Now the question became - where on the reef? Don't worry Bob, I actually found out from an Albury so I think the location is pretty good. You will have a chance to dive it when you arrive - I think.

I don't know if the island was named after this vessel or not but I found out how the Island was named from an older lady shopping at the grocery store. She told Deb and I that back in the 1800's a war vessel sank and the men from that vessel came aboard the island and they settled there. Since they knew about boats and boat building it helped shape the future of the island.

Today, one of the key names here in the Abacos is Albury. On Man of War, Alburys own the two marine repair locations along with the facility to build Albury center cockpit boats. More about that later.

Continuing on our dinghy tour we found the boat listed below which could have been the name of our vessel....

The picture to the lower left is the view from the back of our boat at our anchorage off of Man of War.

The next morning, yesterday, we went back in for a better tour. I find the craftsmanship on this island is wonderful. This is just an example of some of it. One of the Albury's makes these half hull models.

Beautiful work and all done by hand.

We continued our walk and found these lovely flowers along with the cemetery.

I was able to get a picture of the history of the Cemetery which showed great forethought to what an island needs to become a self-sufficient island.

I also saw this tombstone which I thought was appropriate for this tour. As in all of the islands, great care and respect is given to those who passed before. This is one of the most religious islands and similar to Spanish Wells, nothing is really locked up since crime is nonexistent on this island.

This view is of the Atlantic Ocean and offshore is the Man of War reef. I guess they figured that out when they hit it back in the 1800's.

Continuing on we find the Post Office and the School.

Then we find the Grocery where we found, once again, wonderful people.

I am not sure this vessel below left is actually being worked on and may just be on display as a past sailing vessel. It would be a big restoration process if they were going to do it, they should probably start soon.

To the bottom I wanted to show you the entire process of hauling a boat out on a rail. I just happened to arrive just in time.

As the boat begins to be taken out of the water, it has to be kept exactly in the center of the rail. Next, the supports are slid in and the boat continues to come out of the water with the boss (guy controlling the pulling line) checks over and over again to ensure all is going right.

This is the turning block for the cable which goes over to a motor controlling a geared drive. When they are pulling the boat up you see it is actually supported by the keel of the vessel on the rail.

Off to the Albury Sail Shop to look at many of the hand made bags which are for sale now that sails are actually not made here at the Sail Shop.

Below you can see I found everyone having lunch at one of the nice restaurants.

I will add that Deb and I shared a Pizza and it was very good. It was a Conch Pizza - great topping!

Below you will see I have pictures of first a mold at the Albury boat works. The picture to the lower right is of a hull that has been pulled from that same mold.

You can see above along with the picture to the left the strake they have built into the mold. This strake is specifically for lift. The rounded portion at the transom provides for a more gentle ride.

I just had to take a picture of the transom to show how strong they make it. This is about 3/8" of solid fiberglass at the stern, plywood for strength, fiberglass, plywood, and more fiberglass. Very strong.

Then in the 2 pictures below the transom, you will see I caught them at the end of spraying the gel coat onto the mold which they had just waxed previously. No rest for this mold.

On with the tour and I wanted to get a picture of this Lignum Vitae tree. The reason is we had taken a tour of the Lignum Vitae island over in the Keys. It was there I learned that in WW II, they used the Lignum Vitae wood as a bearing in submarines. This was because it was so strong (due to the very slow growth rate) and it contains natural oil for lubrication. It was also quite since it did not have a metal bearing surface which would have to be lubricated.

There are newer materials used today for that purpose but it is always interesting learning some of our history.

When we arrived back to the boat, it looked like we had another Gemini come out of the sea and join us. This wasn't an actual surprise since I had been keeping contact with Garry and Jean on White Swan. We had a wonderful visit before we headed off to Hope Town and will see them again in Marsh Harbour on Tuesday (today.)

I want to reiterate why we didn't invite more people to "tag along" on this trip with us. Again, I had so many projects to complete that we simply could not predict exactly when we would leave. Who knows about next time but it is always fun seeing our boat friends especially in the islands!

While we were on White Swan, we saw a picture that Gary and Jean had taken of their own boat. Mile Marker called me on the way and suggested we replicate that picture with our boats. Here is one I got of Mile Marker that was at the very end of taking pictures. I like it very much. Kim seems to be holding up the entire Hope Town Lighthouse. Strong woman!

More in a couple of days. This afternoon, it is off to Marsh Harbour. Long trip - about 4-5 miles. I hope I can navigate that far! Also, winds are with us so that means we should be sailing over.


May 8 - Good morning all! And what a beautiful morning it is our at anchor on Tahiti Beach with Tilloo Cut on the other side out to the Atlantic Ocean. I would like to go back and show a few pictures from Mike. We still have a picture sharing project to work on but until then, these will have to do.

These were back early in our trip in the Berry's and they were taken from Mike's Drone.

Back to the present and we were at the time anchored down at the southern end of the Abacos in Little Harbour which is home to Pete's Pub and Gallery.

These are a few pictures of the anchorage.


One of the things people do here to "personalize it" is to hang up T-shirts. I know I have shown you some in previous pictures but here is on Kim made on one of the Kiki's Sandbar shirts. All of our boat names and even our names are on the shirt. We tried to pick a spot where it would still be there in a few years. I guess we will just have to come back and see won't we!

Once again, I want to give a "plug" for Pete's Gallery and the Foundry. If you haven't read the write up on the tour, I have updated it and moved it to a featured spot on my first page of the website. To make it easy, simply go to the link below. This combines the tour of 2012 and our tour of 2016 to provide a better factual and pictorial of the process.

A Virtual Tour of the Johnston Foundry

More boat projects and finally the arrival of the Bill and Sissy's daughter, son in law, and of course BABY ARCHER. Yes, there is a baby on their boat now and he will be getting just a bit of attention over then next few days as I am sure you will see in these and some future pictures.

Archer is with Deb to the right and immediately he was found out to be a very social guy. He will go to about anyone and has a great personality. I think he liked Deb because she is more his size.

Then below, meet Jessie who is with Bill and to the right is Scott with Sissy. After saying Hi, we left back to our boat and let GaMaw (grandma) Sissy take care of Archer while Scott, Jessie, and Bill headed in for a bit of the evening excitement.

I have been working on a picture of some of the sea turtles who call this harbour their home and just happened to get a picture that was actually in focus and could be blown up enough for you to see. Hopefully this will give you an even better idea of why we come this way!

The pictures below show the cave that the original Johnston family lived in while they built up the area and started their business. You will have to go back to my original postings to get the whole story.

It is always a place to take new people so off Bill went with Jessie and Scott along with Scott's new Go Pro camera. I'll bet he gets some good material with it too.

While Pisces stayed for another half day to show them the sites, we were off for another big trip. 11 miles or so.

We said good by to Little Harbour and hello to more beautiful water of the Bahamas.

Our destination is Elbow Cay and Tilloo Cut while more specifically we will be anchoring off of Tahiti Beach.

As we arrived, it was an interesting site to see a boat on its side at the beach. The water was going out so they were just going to stay there for a while. The question was - was this an accident or on purpose? As it turned out, they beached it on purpose and it could have been for any reason - to change a prop, fix a thru hull, clean up a bottom, or any number of other reasons. When you have a 3 1/2 foot tidal range, you can do a bunch of things without hauling our your boat.

Mile Marker and Freedom got our boats anchored in some good sand and we headed off to buy lunch at Cracker P's.

We both came by dinghy's and landed them on their beach. We have visited this place before and enjoyed the lunch and conversation.

In the background you can see Tahiti Beach and while we were waiting for Pisces to show, I took off on the dinghy to pick up some water and 5 gallons of gas. Water in the Bahamas has been a consistent 40 cents a gallon. That isn't a typo for all of our Florida friends who think water is expensive there. Learning to minimize water usage is something you do on a boat.

When I got back, there was Pisces anchored next to us and they were off on their Kayak while The rest of the crew got a nap from their trip. Bill and Sissy stopped by on their way back from the beach and then Scott, Jessie, and Archer were off to walk the beach. Well, at least one of them got carried but I understand Archer got his first "swim" in Bahamian waters.

Scott and Jessie followed Mike and Kim in for the walk.

Since the tide was coming up now, the beach was getting smaller and smaller. Later it completely disappeared.

Everyone arrived back safely and then it was on to preparations for the community dinner.

Everyone invaded the Pisces with food and of course clean hands to baby the baby.Ahh, to be a Rock Star.

Bill and Mike were out on deck discussing very important Captain stuff. Probably stuff like how to pick the right horse in the Kentucky Derby. Wait, Mike did pick the right horse out of a hat and happened to win $100. I guess we will have so wait on our departure this morning to see when Cracker P's opens and Mike can collect his winnings. That's ok, we only have about 5 miles to go and we are in Hope Town where another adventure will take place.

The night was quickly coming and that boat that was on the beach was floating again. Ultimately, he moved over near us to anchor for the evening.

Our small flotilla on the other hand had eating on our minds. I ate way too much fish dip that I had made from the rest of Mike and Kim's Mahi Mahi they caught on the trip over from Eleutheria to the Abacos. Bill and Sissy made up a feast and I am certain it was delicious. I was simply stuffed. Sorry!

GaMaw was having way too much fun with Archer trying to get him to go to sleep. I actually think she was trying to keep him awake. In the end, the night won and he was out. We were then gone and off to our own boats to get some sleep too. After all, we do have that huge trip of the 5 miles to our next adventure.

So right now it looks like a stop in Hope Town, then on to Man-of-War and most likely on Tuesday Freedom will be heading over to Marsh Harbour for a few days. Everyone else will join us by Wednesday since Scott, Jessie, Archer and Sissy will be flying out on Thursday. Who knows, plans change but Bill is stuck with us for a few days until Bob fly's in on the 18th.

More later.

For me, we are over half way through this trip. Who knows what will come next?

May 4 - Part of the reason I do this website is you can do a search on Google for the correct phrases, as everyone knows, and come up with many things that are important to Gemini Owners on my website. I have fixed just about everything on this boat at least once. So, let me first start with the fix for Mile Markers forestay. The key words are: Gemini 105M forestay bolts broken possible mast collapse. There, that should do it.

These are the 4 bolts removed from the bracket that holds the forestay to the deck. You may remember that Mike found one of the heads popped loose after we had identified rust below them while looking at something else. The head he found was the one on the far right. To say it was lucky is true, as you can see, very true. Had he not been thinking about the rust, he wouldn't have noticed the head sitting there not attached to the bolt.

Since nobody in Spanish Wells had 8 inch 3/8 inch stainless bolts, Mike checked everywhere, then he had to settle for steel all thread rod which was cut to length and then painted with anti-seeze which was suggested as much better to prevent rust than paint.

We took apart the roller furling line retainer so we could get access to the bolts. We replaced the first bolt which was the one to the lower left and thought, those other 3 look pretty good but lets replace at least one more. We loosened the one to the top right and the entire front bracket lifted. Yes, that was the only good bolt. When we loosened the bolt the head on the opposite side came off. Well, I guess that means we replace them all!!! So that is just what we did. Now is is good to go until he returns and replaces them again with the proper stainless bolts.

That led me to posting on the Gemini Facebook page about my recommendation. It is my sincere belief that every Gemini that is in the 12-15 year range needs to replace these bolts too. I will when I return to the States. On top of that, as the older readers of this site will know, I had a centerboard head pop off of our boat when I was 50 miles offshore in some rough water with my port centerboard down. That lead to us taking on water and I won't go into the fix. You can see it here

When it broke

Bottom line is if you have rust showing on the centerboard bolt - replace both of them! This happened to us in 2009 and the boat is a 1996 - that is 13 years in case you don't want to do the math.

How I fixed it (don't worry about the other stuff in the post)

So I also recommend the centerboard bolts be replaced at the 12-15 year time frame to during a haul out.

Now, on with the fun parts of the story.

 After we did the repair, Mike and Kim took us to the Sandbar restaurant. You have to remember they own Kiki's Sandbar in Little Torch and I will give another "unbiased" recommendation to visit there if you are in the Keys.

The food was good, the free wi-fi was good, the view was good, and the company was awesome. Now we were on to talking about much more fun things like the weather and should we cross on Tuesday or Wednesday?

 Isn't she cute! Deb was holding on most of the trip hoping not to fall off. Oh, I kept my arm around her just to make sure too. We saw the sites and the entire island where Spanish Wells made its home.

Goats get raised and all the sites.

By the time we had returned and looked again at the weather, I had decided to make a strong recommendation that we cross on Tuesday. This was because there is a front coming through on Wednesday night. So on Tuesday the wind was going to be decreasing while Wednesday it is forecast to increase during the day. To me, I will take the lower winds when heading into a pass to a harbor verses the other way around. Now - what actually happened?

We arranged to pull the anchors on the two boats at 6 am and meet Mile Marker at turn in the harbor of Spanish Wells at 6:15. We all pulled it off like pros. We were off.

 You might wonder, where were Bill and Sissy the day before. They had rented a car and driven to a christian camp to check it out and see if that is a place they want to volunteer. They liked the camp but it was a long drive. Bill was in for leaving on Tuesday too.

As we motored out of Spanish Wells, we saw Done Reach which was a boat we met previously. The wonderful owners had also met us numerous times and took Mike and Kim looking for those bolts on Saturday when we arrived then a tour of town. Sunday they took Bill and Sissy for a tour of the town. Very nice people and what a wonderful resource for us while in Spanish Wells.

We made the turns at the appropriate time and looked for the marker that was on a point to mark shoal water (shallow) near the land. Oh, there it is - broken off at the waterline if it would have been high water. Well, I guess they need to fix that don't they.

 We said our good byes to Spanish Wells and were off for a 50 mile crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. You remember my post about swells. The swells were forecast to be 3 feet from the North East while the wind forecast was forecast to be about 15 or so miles per hour out of the south. So that meant it would be just a bit lumpy with the wind waves different than the swells. It shouldn't be bad and it didn't start out bad. Then about 5 miles off shore we found the swells were actually 4-6 feet but the wind was about as predicted. Ok, not a bad day but not a perfect one either. Then again, if you wait for perfect you really would be a "wimp."

As the day went on the winds did die down as predicted but the swells just kept coming in. Bottom line is swells aren't the real problem. They were going under us about every 6-7 seconds so the boat just goes up and then back down. Overall it wasn't bad and I didn't scare anyone too bad on this trip. Good thing because I'm one of the biggest wimps out there.

You can see below we aren't in Kansas anymore. I was tracking the ship on my AIS receiver and it showed that I would miss it by about a mile and a half.

 But then again, what about Pisces and Presence-ing? Yes, we picked up another Gemini during the crossing.

I'm sure it isn't as close as it looks but it sure looks pretty close to me. But they made it through - Yeah!

Then we arrive at Little Harbor which is home to Pete's Pub and Gallery.

 This pass can have what is known as a Rage. That's bad in case you want to know. A rage is caused here when the tides are going out and there is a strong wind blowing in. WIth opposing forces the waves stack up high and are close together. The tide was going in and the winds were only about 10 mph so no rage today. It was an easy in but it was kind of fun going 9-10 mph through the pass on a 6 1/2 mph boat.

You can see the swells breaking on the rocks below. That was a fun site to see!

 To the right is home of Pete's Pub which is the only "watering hole" down in this area. This is also where you pay for your mooring. One of the few moorings we actually pay for. Most of the time we anchor out.

 And this is a picture of the Gallery.

What does Pete have that needs a Gallery? I won't go into the story again but Pete is a world renowned lost wax sculptor. We took a tour a number of years ago along with pictures and Mike on Mile Marker wrote up the process. If you are interested, and if you haven't read it then you should go read it, go to the link below skip down through the pictures and you will see the description of the Lost Wax Process.

I have very fond memories of this place. First thing I did was put my dinghy in and when Mike and Kim arrived went over to see if I could buy some ice for them to put on the Mahi Mahi (Dolphin - not the flipper kind) fish they caught. Mike said sure but I have lots bigger problems than keeping that fish cold. I have water in my hulls.

I got the ice, dropped it off, went to my boat to pick up some tools, then over to tell Bill who would head over as soon as he could. So back to work we went.


 Mike said the water was in both hulls and I won't make a long story out of it. We first started by cleaning out the port hull of water and trying to dry it out as much as possible. Bill arrived and Mike told him that this had happened before and it was the sea water pump which failed. Off came the panels and Bill quickly figured out it wasn't the sea water pump but instead it was a hose that had chaffed through. I also found the foot water pump was leaking when under water pressure. So Bill went to work on the hose while I headed back to my boat to pick up a coupler and simply take that foot pump out of the system. Bill had the far bigger job.

Bottom line - problems fixed and all that needs to happen when we go to Marsh Harbor is to rinse the salt off the engine and clean things up a bit more. So, without an immediate problem (other than cleaning up where everything had to be moved) it was off to Pete's Pub!

We saw Pete and made arrangements to talk to him tomorrow. In the mean time, dinner plans were cancelled and we just crashed there. After all, we had all been up since 5 am and ended our crossing with some excitement.

 Bill arrived back after telling our new friends on Presence-ing dinner would be moved to tomorrow and we all simply talked and enjoyed doing nothing.

Deb and I had talked about this first drink at Pete's and we agreed that we wanted to toast a friend who had come to visit us on our boat in 2012. Larry. If you have read our website before you will find many references to Larry and Joyce on Skipper. Skipper was a Gemini 105 Mc and there was nothing Larry enjoyed more than going to the Bahamas on his boat. He had owned 3 or 4 Gemini's over the years.

So Larry, this one is for you!

The pictures are from our 2012 trip and I wanted Larry behind the wheel as much as possible. I know he enjoyed it and we have to come down to Naples again to take you and Joyce out! See you when we get home.

Every day ends and Bill and Sissy headed back to there boat. We took a few more pictures, finished up a glass of wine and found a perfect Pendant.
 This simply explains a cruisers life at the time. While Deb and I check back in from time to time, it is mostly to share with other boaters skills to become Captains. So I still think I'm simply Checked-Out and enjoying life to the fullest!

May 2 - We are still in Eleutheria waiting for a proper weather window to cross the 60 miles up to the lower Abacos. As I was thinking about all of these names which are so familiar to me, I thought why would they be familiar to many of the people who are reading my website now who may not be cruisers? I have many people reading this who are friends from Facebook and even friends of friends of Sissy who I am now tagging in my post so her friends can see the information. On top of that, I have family of Mike and Kim who have found out about the site and are reading it. So I decided to use an app with my pad and at least show you the route we are taking.

To the right you can see a chart (map) of the entire area along with a sketched black line showing the round trip for Freedom. Pisces is actually located above Tampa and came down and will return back up the west coast of Florida. Mile Marker is located in the Keys so they will go back there. It was just easier for my first attempt at this to sketch my route and for the most part they are along for almost the entire trip.

You can see Nassau to the lower right and the line that goes down and back up to the right of Nassau is the Northern Exumas. Eleutheria is to the furthest right and you can actually see a red arrow showing where we are right now. Then above us across the Atlantic Ocean you see the Abacos. Now you understand why we are waiting for a good weather window. Most all of us HATE big seas because we are just "wimps" and like nice crossings. The only other big challenge is crossing back to the states and crossing the Gulf Stream again. That is a weather thing we will start studying in about 3 weeks to see when a good opportunity might arise. I hope this helps!

Getting boats out of the water to work on the bottom or to fix something that is typically underwater requires different concepts other than lifts for larger boats. This example is a Rail which esentially is railroad tracks that go into the water. You then winch the boat up on the railroad tracks until it is out of the water. However, you have to get all the way to the water. In this case, you have a road going over it so the winch on the left and lower right shows how they remove the bridge to roll a boat up to work on it.

One thing I haven't done on this trip is to report about the towns we have visited. I remember taking pictures of the Staniel Cay dump last time just to give everyone an idea of what things were like. However, I've already done that before so not this time. That is until I reached Spanish Wells. This is a new town to Deb and I. Yesterday morning I took off for a walk around the area just to see what kind of town this was. What I found was a VERY nicely kept town and property. I haven't found a poorly maintained home which may be because I didn't walk far enough but I kind of think it is because that is simply everyone's expectation of each other. There is no crime, everything is very clean (for an island town), and as I have said the properties are all nice.

Here are a few pictures of some of the homes in the area. You might notice that most of the roofs are coated in a white coating. I'm sure that helps keep them cool but it probably also helps maintain the roofs because of the intense UV rays in the islands.

Bright colors and nice lawns. One thing I don't totally understand is the glass flower gardens. That's ok, it doesn't matter if I get it what maters is it is something people want to do and the keep them nice. One big advantage is you don't have to water them in the winter season when there is very little rain here.

As I continued my walk, I ran across this new development. Very nice rooms that are for rent and a pool overlooking the new marina. The new restaurant is pictured below left. Prices are about 40 percent higher than Budda's however and Budda's has wonderful food so there wasn't a reason to sample the wares at this restaurant.

Lower right is another house with - wait for it - grass. You don't see much grass in the islands!

I then ran across a sign on main street directing me to "Papa's Scoops." Since everyone was off running their golf carts and cars up and down main street then I just went up the road a bit to check it our. Not a lot of seating but the Ice cream prices weren't too bad. Even open on Sunday.

These are just some pictures along my walk.

To the right I was able to get a macro shot of these beautiful flowers growing right along the road. I must digress. I have seen a number of Papaya trees right next to the road. Where I live you would want them in your back yard not your front yard. Otherwise someone would take fruit from you. Not here! Everyone leaves everyone else's items alone. I noticed this also at the shops along the waterfront. Tools, microwaves, coffee makers just left out in the open. This was Sunday and everything is closed. I'm sure that everyone finds their "stuff" still there when they come in on Monday.

Found a radio station which brought back memories of my pleasant time as Chef Engineer at KXEO-KWWR in Mexico Missouri. I found myself studying the antennas and weather stations that are outside.

Lower right shows the cemetery and like the rest of the town I found it was cared for and in very good condition. I am certain that here they respect the past residents who have gone before them.

I have no idea what this is. I didn't see a door so I could only guess what it was. I'll let you figure it out.

The waterfront is made up of many converted shrimp boats to lobster boats. These boats go out and set traps all the way down to South America. They then bring back the lobsters to sell and from what we were told, most of it goes to Red Lobster.

Below right you can see my dinghy tied to the wall. It also has an anchor off the stern to hold it off the wall. The reason it isn't working to well is someone moved it. I guess I was in someone's way. They did an nice job tying it back up however when the threw out the stern anchor they threw it into an old lobster trap and I couldn't pull it up. I ended up having to go back and pick up a boat pole along with diver Bill. Bill wanted to go so off we went to recover my little dinghy anchor. We couldn't get it with the boat pole so in goes Bill and up comes the anchor. Thanks Bill.

Tragedy averted, we met Mike and Kim at Budda's so I could upload my website and we had a nice lunch. I even wrote a review on Trip Advisor.

The owners wife talked to us a while and told us she really cares about the food and we told her it showed. It is all good and reasonably priced for being in the islands.

You can see the school bus to the left - this is Budda's kitchen. Yes the kitchen. I guess it was a lot cheaper than building a building too.

Deb and I came back to the boat for awhile then off we went to Mike and Kim's boat which had been moved into a marina for the evening. Something about showers, a pool, and just having some land time.

Kim presented us all with some great Kiki's Sandbar glasses. That is their restaurant down in Little Torch Key and if you get a chance to stop there, you won't be disappointed.

I had brought out the last bag of fish we acquired from some fisherman back at Allans Cay. There was plenty to go around along with Sissy's crab dish and Deb's angle hair pasta alfredo. It was all good!

A late night for this crew and by the time we had all eaten and talked about being half way through the trip, everyone was getting tired. So salute to all of you reading about our adventures. We will all catch up with everyone when we return to cell phones, internet, and schedules. Until then, just be patient because I'm not sure we will ever come back.

Really, we are already thinking about another trip. To go to Cuba or even possibly take the route we took going further down the Exumas then cross over to Cuba from the Ragged islands of the Bahamas working our way from east to west up the Cuba coast. I guess we will just dream and figure it out when we figure it out. For now, it was dinghy back to our boats and everyone head to bed.

We still aren't sure if we are crossing north tomorrow (Tuesday) or going Wednesday. Right now I'm thinking Tuesday is the best option and we will make up our minds this after noon with a more current weather forecast. We need to see how fast this front is going to hit our area which is supposed to arrive to us by Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

 May 1 - Actually this log is from April 27 to May 1 - It is hard to believe that we have made it to May 1st already and half of the trip is finished. So far we have traveled about 700 miles on the boat visiting a number of places we had not visited and re-visiting many, many more. Traveling with good friends is the icing on the trip. Let's go back to Staniel Cay where I left you as we were arriving. Yesterday we arrived in Eleutheria so let me catch you up.

 Morning of April 27 - We all had a great nights sleep and the plan was to go see the pigs - yes, pigs - that are wild on Big Majors. These pigs started out as a Captain of a vessel brought them to Big Majors in the mid 90's. Evidently, there is a fresh water pond on the island and now the pigs are legendary and probably a very, very big tourist attraction. They are known world wide and written about in the cruiser guides. The local restaurant feeds them scraps and delivers them everyday. However, the cruisers feed them too so they are pretty darn friendly and will come out to your dinghy to see if you have some foods. When we were here before I heard stories of the pigs trying to get into the dinghys looking for food.

Deb and I just floated around watching all the action and taking a few pictures. You can see MIke and Kim arriving and then landing their dinghy to get up and personal with the pigs. When we arrived, there were just a few on the beach. When the "food boat" showed up, they started coming out of the woods. The biggest pig got right in the middle and ran a number of the others away. ITS MY FOOD! Snort snort.


 Of course some of the food never makes it completely to the pigs. The rays are running around looking for something to eat too.

In came Bill and Sissy on their dinghy too bringing more rays with them.


 Meanwhile back at the slop station, Mike and Kim and studying the action and looking at the gourmet orange peels which were probably from the mornings orange juice at the restaurant. It didn't take long before Bill was in with them and I missed the picture of Bill petting the pig as it was sniffing around for more food. If you had some food they would try and get it away from you. If not, they left you alone.


 When most of the food was eaten then what was left was just sand covered stuff. However, some of the pigs had learned to take that down to the water and rinse it off then eat it. Nothing like a little salt with your orange peels.

No pictures of what happened next because we snorkeled the Thunderball Grotto. We actually did it twice. Later in the afternoon too and then Mike and Kim took a camera in within a plastic bag so hopefully I can get some pictures for you later. The first snorkel was the best with the light shafts coming through the top. Too, very too cool. I had see it all before but it doesn't matter. It is just cool.

After cleaning up a little, we headed in to Staniel Cay Yacht Club - just a name not a membership - and had lunch. Then we walked through town visiting a couple of small grocery stores. Finally back to the Yacht Club and that was where I uploaded the last website update. We also checked weather to ensure we were positioned up in Eleutheria in time to make the crossing to the Abacos for Bill and Sissy's company arrival on the 6th.


 As you can see, we all had a great time but the paying for data was not as straight forward as you might think. They still have some things to work out because Mike and Kim paid I think three times to get on and then I paid got my stuff uploaded. Logged off, Sissy used the code and still data left and logged off but it wouldn't let me back in. Oh well, I had what I needed anyway so I'll get more info in Eleutheria.

On one hand it is nice not to be checking the phone or computer all the time for messages. On the other hand, it sure is nice having all that information so close at hand. Especially the weather information. I wonder if in the next 2 years - probably when we come back this way again - if they will have advanced the system enough that it will be really worthwhile and very useable. I guess I will have to come back and see!

We finished up there and out to the pier where the sharks were waiting - literally - for their next meal. This was the water just below the fish cleaning board. I think it also promotes a no swimming kind of feeling there at the marina. That said, this was only about a 1/2 mile from where people snorkel every day at the Grotto. I guess people get too worried about sharks - well at least these sharks.


 The next morning Mike and I both needed to top off a little fuel but someone was at the fuel dock. Evidently, they had allowed someone to dock there to go for breakfast. I was told 20 minutes and he would be gone. So, me being me and forgetting I was in the Bahamas and 20 minutes may just be a guideline, I dropped the anchor for 15 minutes then restarted the engine and pulled back up the anchor and got over close to the fuel dock. I called after 20 minutes and I was told it would be about 20 minutes. Ok, they didn't tell me when to start counting the 20 minutes so it had to be my mistake. No worries Mon. You are in the Bahamas - chill out!

Ultimately, I picked up 11 gallons of diesel just to have more than enough to get to Marsh Harbor.They were out of gas but that was fine because I still had about 7 gal left for the dinghy and the portable generator. We were good. I also took on 30 gal of water and paid for the fuel and water. Here water is 40 cents a gallon and they make it from sea water by a process known as reverse osmosis. This occurs with a high pressure pump by pumping water through a membrane. It removes the salt along with everything else and produces very good water. This is the same process they use in the Florida Keys too. You can get a system for your boat however when I analyze the costs, it would cost me about the same amount per gallon anyway so why have that system. I probably won't be going where they don't sell water anyway.

Now off to a very light air sailing day. I launched the spinnaker after shutting off the engine and drifting. With the very light air I was able to make about 2 - 2 1/2 knots so about 3 mph. This was for the first hour then the wind came up a bit more and I was able to get up to 4 - 5 knots with the spinnaker and the main partially up.

We passed another "large" yacht and as you can see they had their toy room open. You can see some of the jet ski's in their and no telling what you couldn't see.


 The crew was on deck and cleaning as always on a yacht. This vessel probably had a crew of about 5-6 to take care of it. I wouldn't be surprised if the number was bumped up to 8-9 when an owner brought guests on the boat when them. The amount of maintenance of a vessel is very high compared to a house and of course you need good food, a 24 hour per day watch, cleaning inside and out, and of course someone to take care of your every need.

On a vessel our size you need a crew of 2 - me (Captain - sometimes unless the admiral overrules me, outside cleaner, engineer, chef, and whatever else needs to be done.) Then we need Deb (Admiral - inside cleaner, sometimes cook, relief helms person, and keeps the Captain very happy.)

See it all works out the same - sort of......

 I caught Deb making up our lunch. These are Cheezy Weezies which were developed by Anna in St. Louis. We learned this back in 2006 when we stayed with her and ultimately helped her get over a broken hip for about a month before we left to go cruising. Most people would just call them an open faced sandwich with cheese and other stuff (whatever you want) but not Anna - Cheezy Weezies.

The wind did come up some so we were all sailing until about 2 pm when it just pooped out.

Below is Mile Marker and to the right is Pisces


 Me, I was sailing with my Spinnaker and the main. When I put the main all the way up on this "point of sail" then it will take all the wind out of the spinnaker and the spinnaker will collapse. So, I have been reefing (making the main shorter) which allows me to use both sails.

This is the spinnaker I bought used and it isn't the right size for the Gemini. It is a bit small. That said, it is much easier to handle and I do it by myself before Deb even gets out of bed. I am able to set it and to take it down and never bother her.

Below left I caught a great picture of Pisces and Mile Marker sailing together. Something about Bill needing some pancake surrup for the french toast made from coconut bread.

Below you can see Mile Marker in the beautiful water and a sandy bottom. The colors are just beautiful and you will see more below. I just wanted you to see why I think these are the most beautiful waters I have sailed in.


 As evening came closer, the diamonds on the water came out and the sun was sparkling off of the water. It is just another beautiful site to see.

We passed some more beautiful waters along with beautiful boats. And to think all of these boats need a Captain along with crew.

 We settled in at an anchorage for the evening to plan our next day. We had two choices. Head directly over to Eleutheria the next morning before the wind came up from the north or go up to Allans where Bill and Sissy could fish and Mike and I could catch up on some minor boat maintenance It was elected to to back to Allans. So the big decisions where finished and next came putting the sun to bed and eating a wonderful steak dinner.
 I think we were pretty successful in putting the sun to bed!  

 Mike then got the grill going and flame grilled the steaks they provided. Thank you Mike and Kim!!! Bill was there to cheer him on too. Not sure if that was a fire extinguisher in his hand or a fan for the flames.

 What a great meal. Steak and sides from everyone. Good food, good drink, and good friends.  

 The next morning we were up and went on to Allans where I changed my oil in the engine, checked my fluids in the outdrive and transmission, then adjusted my outdrive release mechanism. Ends up it just needed a little lubrication and it now releases properly each time. I also cleaned up some more on the hull. Mike and Kim, cleaned their hull in the shallow water and I loaned them my stainless blade to scrape their hull. They had some growth and scraping it is easy and will help their fuel economy. Then I went over because Mike wanted me to look at some fiberglass spots to see if they were an issue. They were just Gelcoat items and easily repairable - time consuming but not a structural thing. We were looking around and I noticed the rust on the bolts under the boat at the base of the forward stay (thing thing that keeps the mast falling over backwards). It will be interesting to remember that. I told him that that was the only thing I would be concerned with and the bolts probably should be checked out at some point.

We also went up and adjusted his roller furling again this time bending out a piece that now we saw had clearly been bent in at some point and was probably why he was getting jams. That done along with another adjustment and we headed in to the beach to feed the iguanas again. Something Deb wanted to do before we left. I pulled her in on the dinghy and they ran up to us. I got this bright idea to feed them by hand. It worked great the first time. The second time one of those little sucker just ran up and bit my finger. Ouch. Mike says he got a picture. We will see.

We were finished and were going back to pull the anchors and head up to Sail Rocks where we wanted to find an anchorage for the night for the next mornings passage to Eleutheria. Mike went forward and called over to me. Jim, I just found this head of a bolt fell off one of the bolts for the forestay. Remember the forestay!! Ok, now we didn't have a problem yet but if one head fell off then just how good are the other heads? They could all be good or they could all be bad. Ideas where passed and it ended up Mike had a Spinnaker halyard (rope to pull up another sail) so he attached that forward and it runs to the top of the mast and he secured it with a winch. Now the mast won't fall down. Next problem is finding 4 bolts!

So we were all joined up and off we went north. Ultimately we had to pound for about 2 hours to get to our anchorage. Just one of the result of the decision to go this way. The good news was we were going to be about 70 degrees off the wind tomorrow so we shouldn't have it too bad then.

We passed this rock with a structure of an old house built on it. I keep wondering - WHY a house on a Rock?

We passed some more isolated rocks and coral finding an anchorage that was pretty protected considering we are in the middle of nowhere. Then I found my port (left) rudder was jammed up. Something I must have done that was stupid such as not locking it down to start with. We got anchored and I was able to finally get it free by getting in the water with a 3 pound hammer and a wrecking bar and pounding the rope that jammed between the rudder case and the upper portion of the rudder free. Then everything worked just fine again.

So enough with the issues on with the fun stuff.

What in the world is Pisces (Bill) doing over there with the Bahamians?

I called over on the radio and Mike said "Bill is trading gas for Conch" Ok, Bill had just found 4 conch but the problem isn't really the finding, it's the cleaning. These were going to be 10 cleaned conch for 6 gal of gas and some oil. That's what you see Bill doing to the right mixing the oil. The Bahamians where cleaning the Conch. Once his trade was done, Bill called me and asked if I wanted some. Sure - so I mixed up my gas. Seems they came out to do the fishing and didn't think they had enough fuel to get back to Nassau. No problem Mon, I'll trade some conch for gas. You have to love their attitude!

They provided Bill his conch and mine. Bill took his gas back up and they came over and picked up my gas.

Next stop, Mile Marker. I think they paid for their conch.

As the sun was setting - they were gone. About 30 miles to Nassau and a boat load of Conch. Now they had enough fuel to get back home.

Anchor lights on and a plan to get up to Eleutheria. The winds were such that if we left early and got to Current Island before noon it shouldn't be too bad. Once we got to Current Island we would turn up the north side and the island should eliminate the seas since the wind was at 70 degrees and the island ran about 45 degrees. I figured with had a 25 degree saving grace. Otherwise it was going to be another 3 hours of pounding after 4 1/2 hours of minor going into not so minor but not bad rolling side to side. Problem now was - Bills autohelm has quit. He thinks it is the motor (later confirmed it was. He figures when it is out and it smokes, that is a pretty good indication it was now bad.) So Bill was having to hand steer the entire way. Not fun in a rolling sea with no visual cue as to where you are going except the instruments. He had just had the fixed under warranty too. Darn. Hopefully they will help him out!

Ok, all of Bill and Sissy's friends. Don't worry! Bill is always on top of stuff and he already has a plan so he will work his plan and figure this out. We have one more passage to make probably Tuesday or Wednesday but knowing Bill, it will get fixed in Nassau somehow.

Below you can see that when we turned the corner of Current Island then it was flat. Nice break. It didn't stay that way completely but it was good enough. Now to get to Staniel and see if Mike can find those bolds or all thread to make 4 bolts that are long enough.

WIth what is happening you might be thinking why do they do it? Trust me, if you own a boat you have to fix it anyway. It doesn't matter what kind of boat you own, something will break. Why not take your tools and fix it in an exotic location? So that is the definition of cruising - seeing beautiful areas and fixing your boat in exotic locations. Works for me!!!

We passed Lobster Cay and then Staniel appeared just where it was supposed to be. Good thing nobody moved it! We even found another Gemini.

The other good new is Mike and Kim were driving around the island on a golf cart by Tom and Jean who own a boat that we met up at Chub and in Nassau. They live here and are helping out Mike to find bolts. It will be Monday before a fix can be accomplished but they also told him about where to go for dinner and a drink. Budda's Snack Shack and Bar. They even have free wi-fi!!! Yes, I'll update later today and get more pictures of the area for the next update. We will also get much better weather forecasts for our next crossing. Life is still very good on Freedom, Pisces and Mile Marker.

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Jim and Deb's Adventures