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

Actually, this is a log for Garry and Shirline's trip to Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. Great Friends and Adventurers.

Thanks, Garry and Shirlene for everything you've done for us. Not everyone can have as much fun as you do. - Jim and Deb Faughn

The Log of Zipadedoda - November 11, 2007 to December 2008

For more details about Zipadedoda, click here.

Nov 11, 2007 - We left Key West Thursday morning at 7:00 am. We waited a week for the wind to calm down, which it never did so we went anyway. Wind north 25 mph the whole trip. Kind of like riding a canoe down a fast river. We averaged 8 mph with 9 mph seen allot. (that is fast for a sailboat). If the wind doesn't change by February, don't know how we will get home. Worry about that in February. We went straight across the gulf stream to 5 miles off of Cuba. There we hit a current going the same way we were so we stayed 5 miles off Cuba and followed the coast to Mexico.

We won't land in Cuba. President Bush will not let us, but we were close enough to check it out real good. Havana seen from 5 miles offshore seems to be a big city. Once you go past Havana you don't see any lights on the beach. (we went by this section at night). The most amazing thing about Cuba that we did not realize was the mountains. It looks like somebody took the NC Mountains and put them on an island. It is beautiful. We are use to flat beach areas. And to see big mountains next to the beach is cool.

We have run our engine and also had the sails up the whole trip. (called motorsailing). On our first 24 hours we went 185 miles. That is real good for a sailboat. This trip will be nonstop going 24 hours a day. At night we stand watches. Our watch schedule is 6 hours for Garry and 20 minutes for Shirlene. The good news is her snoring helps keep me awake. We catnap all day long, but at night we have to pay more attention. We don't have to steer the boat, out autopilot does that for us. We just have to watch for big ships.

Last night we saw 12 freighters and 4 cruise ships. I don't think any of them saw us. Twice we had to call them on our radio to make sure they saw us. The conversation was something like this: (on channel 16 VHF radio). "Hey big freighter off Cuba heading west, this is the little sailboat 2 miles in front of you, do you see me?" (no answer but you know everyone is looking). Then I say "I will shine my spotlight on you so you can see me." (still no answer). so I shine my hand held spotlight on them. Several seconds later someone says "Little sailboat we see you now." then I say "don't run over me", then they say "They will alter course." That is how it always goes. They are much faster than me and I have no way of getting out of their way. Kind of like an old half blind, drunk, with a broke leg crossing the road in front of a tractor trailer. You hope the tractor trailer moves. (I am the drunk).

Lots of fish around. But we don't fish when we are all set and moving fast. Being hurricane season we are in a hurry to get across this to safer Mexico.

We saw Isla Mujeres, Mexico our destination from 15 miles out at sea. It was about 11:00 in the morning on Saturday when we pulled into the harbor. There are several marinas so we chose one and tied up at the marina. $10 US a day. We checked with customs which was very easy. They (immigration-customs-health and marine person) all 4 came to the marina and we all sat at a picnic table and did paperwork. We already had a crew list made up and all information and numbers on it, passport, boat registration number, age, birthdates, address, etc. We have a printer onboard so we printed out copies for everyone. 6 copies total. They then gave us a bill which we have to take to the bank on Monday and pay the bank. Total $35 US dollars. No more paying the official which keeps them honest. Once all that was done we took a shower and walked downtown.

They have a plaza with lots of shops and restaurants, very relaxed, easy-going area. We had supper and too many beers and had to ride a cab back to the marina. We then slept for 16 hours and now are writing this on Sunday morning. Sorry about the length of this. I will have pictures next email. Write more soon.

Garry and Shirlene

Nov 18, 2007 - We are in Belize. Spent the last several days sailing by Mexico. The shore of Mexico looks similar to Myrtle Beach. long sandy beaches, but no place to anchor. We had a good time at Isla Mujures. We then went to Cozumel. We could not get to the marina so we anchored off the beach. it was very windy and rolly, so we left the next day early. We are now in Belize and this is beautiful. They have an offshore barrier reef, and we are anchored behind it in front of a cool little town called San Pedro. They speak English here. We went snorkeling today and the water was bath warm. The temp here is around 95 degrees. Low 82 degrees. Feels like August in SC. All the trees are coconut and the water is crystal clear. We plan on going slow from here to see all the reef and islands. We will have pictures in a few days.


Nov 24, 2007 -  Time for another update. We spent the last week or so crusing
the coast of Belize. We are inside a barrier reef. The water is 85 degrees and
Its about 90 during the day and 80 at night. Doing lots of snorkeling. The shoreline
and most of the islands are covered in coconuts. Very pretty. A couple of days ago
we were stopped on the mainland getting coconuts and bananas and we were walking on
the beach and Garry turned around and a crocodile was swimming about 20 feet out in the
ocean and following us. We have read in our cruising guide book that this area
is one of the few places that has crocodiles. They look a lot different than
an alligator. they have pointy snout with a bump on their nose. This one was 8 foot
long. Needless to say we did not stick around. We have been to several nice islands
that have small towns on them. The people have been very friendly. We are starting
to get pretty good at Spanish. The prices are not as good as we had hoped. Some things
are on even with the USA. We set sail tomorrow for Guatemala. Will write more when
we get there. Finally was able to send some pictures. Email access is hard to come by
Garry and Shirlene
 We were offshore snorkeling and missed Thanksgiving. Actually we did not even know what day it was. You really need to get here. This place is beautiful. It cannot compare to the Bahamas. And the people are so friendly. Lots of cruisers here. Also lots of backpackers. The islands that have towns are right out of a jimmy buffet song. This is a very safe place. We have not had any problems at all. Going from Isla Murjures Mexico to Belize was a bitch. Do not go to Cozumel. It is not boater friendly. The water here in Belize never gets over 12 foot deep inside the reef. Checking in to Mexico was a little aggravating. We had to go by ferry to Cancun to pay at a certain bank. Which really was not a problem, but it could have been easier. Cancun also has a Walmart, Sams Club and Home Depot. Also Office Max and Office Depot. But no English laptops at all. The ferry was $3 one way and took about 30 minutes. Kind of fun. We spent 2 days getting to Belize from Isla Murjures. You have to check out of one country before checking in to another. When we arrived in Belize after checking out of Mexico they were having a holiday so we were told it would be 4 or 5 days before we could check in. So you know me, I said hell with that and we did not check in at all. Nobody seems to care. Tomorrow we check in to Guatemala. We have to check in there as you go up a river that has a guard watching the boats coming and going. The story about the crocodile is very true. It scared the shit out of me. And Shirlene ran for the boat. I do not blame the crocodile. Before we saw the crocodile we were walking on the beach and there was a little fresh water lake on the right and as we walked by I said look something has been dragging across the beach to the lake. I thought maybe some of these indians had been dragging their canoes across. Wrong. We now know what was dragging. CROCADILE. They do not go out to the outer islands along the reef so we felt safe snorkeling there. It is still hot here. Never gets below 80 at night. We still run fans. Boat is working great. Filled up in Key West and will not need to fill up again until we get to Guatemala. Of course we had six 5 gallon jerry jugs also. That is about all for now. Will write more later. hope everybody is ok.

Garry and Shirlene


 Hey from Guatemala. This place is beautiful. We checked in at Livingston which is a town
at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, which is a big river that runs up through Guatemala.
They take their checking in serious. They have a guard at this river and he sees
you pulling in and dropping anchor. Then he tells the officials and they come out to
the boat. We had a health inspector, a port captain, customs, doctor, and an agent
on board at one time. They all filled paperwork out and we signed it. Nobody
went below and inspected the boat. It cost $5 U.S. per person if we go into town and
check in. And $20 if they come out to the boat. I think they get to keep the extra
$15. So they were quick to come out. It was very easy though. Once we checked in we
walked around town. The whole area is very mountainous. Big mountains. Then we went
up the river. The river starts as a narrow gorge probably 200 foot wide. The sides
are straight up probably 1000 foot Covered in rainforest and vines. Lots of monkeys,
parrots, iguanas, and other pretty birds. Going through this gorge was breath taking.
WE had to anchor that night in 30 foot of water 10 feet from the bank. The rear of the
boat bumped the trees. i just knew a monkey was going to jump on the boat. See enclosed
Garry and Shirlene

 Nov 25, 2007 - We don't mean to confuse people but we have been writing emails for a week now and we had no way to send them out. Now that we finally have an email connection we are going to send all of our emails we have been writing and we will break them up into stories. So this is number one story.

Do you remember the picture of Shirlene with all the beads around her neck from
Key West? Let me tell you what we did with those. As we are riding down this riverkids would run out to the end of their dock and wave. So when we anchored we could see a thatched roof hut and several kids sitting on the dock waving. We grabbed a bunch of beads and camera and hopped in the dinghy and went over to the dock.
When we pulled along side the kids jumped in the dinghy. Shirlene gave them each a bunch of beads. By that time their parents had walked down on the dock. We made a picture of everybody, went back to the boat and printed it up for them.
Probably the only picture they had as a family. We rode back over and gave it to them.They were all smiles. Later that night after dark actually pitch black we heard a knock on the side of the boat. We looked outside and the 2 little girls had brought back their older sister. We gave her some beads too. Now remember pitch black dark, middle of the river, 3 young kids in a dug out canoe. If this would have been in the U.S.they would have got a ticket for no life jackets and no flashlight and no whistle.They smiled and laughed and paddled off into the dark. See pictures.
Garry and Shirlene

Nov 25, 2007 - It was 2 oclock in the morning and we are anchored in the middle of the Rio Dulce.
It is pitch black dark and hugh cliffs loom over the top of you. We are asleep when
all of a sudden Garry wakes straight up and said someone is near the boat. Garry
goes into rambo mode. and sneeks up on the top deck thinking someone is robbing
us. He looks out and makes out a dug out canoe with 2 men in the canoe. Then he
notices another canoe and then he looks around and notices 8 or 10 more canoes.
Surrounded! Of course it was no big deal. All these people fish at night. The
river is full of dug out canoes and they fish until the sun comes up. Lots of fish
that look like a big fat bream. The river is full of them. We have now learned
that these people are maya indians. Some of the nicest people you would want to meet.

Garry and Shirlene

 Nov 25, 2007 - Went shopping in town today. This town is located at a big bridge around 16 miles
up the river. The river has now widened and has become shallower. Lots of marinas
here. Lots of other sail boats and lots of tiki bars-restaurants. Everything is cheap
here. Good prices. Cokes are 50 cents. Lunch $4. Dinner $5. And today was market
day. So all the farmers brought their produce to be sold. They sell it on the
street. Lots of stuff we have never seem. See pictures
Garry and Shirlene
 Nov 25, 2007 - Here is the last tale for a while. We are pulling up anchor tomorrow and will be on the  move. We dont let seaweed grow on our hull. Hope you enjoyed these.

Two more interesting things. As we are going up the river our guidebook says
that there was a hot sulfur spring on the side of the mountain. It flows down
into the river. So we anchored and dinghyed over and sat in the sulfur spring for
several hours. Of course some tourists always came along as you can see in the
photo, otherwise I was going to wash my hair!!

Also note the other photo is where you wash your clothes. There is a spring that
brings the water to a concrete area where you beat your clothes clean. This is
the community laundry mat. Right out of national geographic!!
See photos
Garry and Shirlene

Nov 30, 07 -  We are heading home. It is going to be a long slow trip though. Like paddling a canoe up river. The wind always blows from the north and that is the way we are heading. So we will be pounding into the wind. Not fun. We had a good time, did everything down here that we wanted to do. Haven't really had a good meal since we left key west. They don't have salads here. When we get home don't invite us out for mexican food. Not for a long time. Even McDonalds!! sounds good. Lots of mystery meat here. That is when you eat a hamburger and it does not really taste like a hamburger. It bothers us that there are no dogs walking around either!!! After Garry eats a hamburger he has a desire to pee on a tree!!! We have a few more pictures.
Garry and Shirlene

 On one of them note how small the boat looks compared to the mountain we are sailing beside. The other picture is us hiking through the rainforest. It really rains here everyday. Hard hard summer downpour. People completely ignore it and keep on fishing or doing whatever they are doing like it not even raining. Got to go.

Garry and Shirlene

For more details about Zipadedoda, click here.

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Jim and Deb's Adventures