November 1-14 Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

November 1st - We left this morning from our anchorage to move to south eastern Mobile Bay. The weather forecast was for 15-20 knot winds on Thursday and in Mobile Bay, that means close rough water. So off we went in a calm bay.

As you can see to the right, we aren't in Kansas anymore. Or if you were to put it into perspective, we aren't in Kentucky Lake. We had 3 different ocean vessels go past us as we went south to the cutoff from the shipping channel. These are very large vessels and here we are in the middle of it all.


After we made the left at the 50 marker, we were by ourselves. Well almost. These birds were enjoying the calm water too. It is actually interesting to watch them circling the area and then dive into the water to pick up a little breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are competing with other birds but the splash is always impressive. I guess they were designed for the job.

DOLPHINS!!! Since it was so calm and we had about an hour and a half to join the intercoastal waterway we were sitting on the front deck letting the autohelm do all the work. While enjoying the sun (4 days now) sitting in shorts with a high of 80 degrees, I saw a splash that I knew was a dolphin. I ran for the camera and Deb was looking for the next sighting. As I walked back up front, I saw the "pod" cross the starboard (right) bow and they seemed to be enjoying the company. Next we saw them starting to surface. I was lucky to get the picture to the right as they were surfacing. Since I took this at a wide angle, I modified the picture to blow it up. However, it would be great as a 5x7 and I have that full resolution if you want it. Yes, email me and next time I have a good connection, I will email you the actual file.

We think this is what we came for. Great weather, great seas, great views, and a great life.

Some have wondered what we do when underway. Well, there is actually quite a bit to do. From navigation, planning, and enjoying life there is also time for Deb to learn some knots. Here she is celebrating because she has mastered the finder knot. Not to think she is a one knot person, she has also mastered the cleat knot and the figure eight stopper knot. What will she learn next?

Tomorrow we are probably going into a marina because it will be cold on Thursday night and we need to pick up some food and do laundry.

November 2nd - We left this morning from our anchorage with the plan to go into a marina. We were underway in what was registering on our wind indicator as 20 knot winds. Since we were in the channel of the intercoastal we weren't sailing and that was too bad because this was our best wind opportunity to date. More will come. As we reached some of the bays, the water turned to rough. In the bays the waves can't stretch out the way the do in the ocean. As a matter of fact, I would rather be in 6 foot seas than 3 foot. The reason is the 6 footers are further apart and the boat just rides them up and down rather that trying to go through them. 

We were pulling our dingy and it was almost noon so instead of trying to go into the marina we were thinking of, we went over and anchored in Pirates Cove. Then we went in for lunch on our dingy. After lunch we took the dingy apart and tried to call the marina. At first they didn't answer our call and then a person who was staying their came back and went to get someone. The employee or ??? gave us a number to call which we called 3 times and no answer. I guess they don't want us. So off we went for another possibility. As we got closer, we stopped for fuel at what turned out to be a Great fuel dock and little restaurant. We weren't hungry but we had to wait for someone to come to pump the fuel. This dock was temporarily closed and someone came from another dock which I couldn't get too. The guy in the restaurant gave, yes, gave us a glass of wine for the wait and we promised to come back tomorrow for lunch.  We ultimately decided that although we would have liked to stay in tonight at a marina we would instead say out on the hook (anchor) for another two nights. We stayed off of Big Lagoon Park which we will dingy into tomorrow. Then we will go back and go to lunch as promised.

November 3rd - It isn't often that I give or will give an unqualified recommendation to visit a restaurant. This is one of those moments and it is really a grill. I said we were going back to the restaurant that gave us a glass of wine. Little did I know that the people that own this place really do love taking care of people the way they would like to be treated. The food was excellent because they go every day and pick up freshly caught local fish and use this within their menu. The menu itself is limited but that is because of their philosophy of only preparing the best and it has to be fresh. I have to say it was some of the best fish we've had in recent years. Also, the wine was very good even though they didn't charge us an arm and leg for it. By the way, that is Ray waving at you in the picture. Ray was nice as John the day before. When Deb asked what Mullet tasted like, he said "just a minute" and went back and cooked up a sample. I call that service. Ok, enough of the commercial. If you are ever in the area, go by JW's Intracostal Grill, 14050 Canal A Way, Perdido Key, FL 32507 They are located on the site of Holiday Marina. (Just don't expect the free wine.)


We decided to take advantage of the week rate in Pensacola's Palafox Harbor. Since we were planning on staying two nights anyway (plus the night we didn't stay previously), for a little more than the price of 4 nights we can stay the week. This will give us time to get the bikes out, see lots of old Pensacola and get some needed exercise. After all, that is what cruising is all about, making and breaking plans just because you want to experience something.


Friday morning we headed into the Big Lagoon Park and took a good long walk then we used the dingy and went out to the beach. This was fun because this is the same beach that we went to with John, Julie and another friend from Oklahoma named Marti. You saw Marti in the first group of pictures at our going away party. We did this trip a number of years back and got some great pictures and experiences. In addition, we also had to run away from hurricane George that year and cut our cruise short. (Julie has a video if you are really interested in St Louis) It was great sailing for the first half of the trip we were able to use. Hopefully this year, the hurricanes will stay away.

Below you can see some close-up pictures I took as we were on our dingy going to a fish shop to pick up fresh fish. I put these two of the jellyfish up showing both the profile and the shot from above. These are pretty cool animals right up to the point they sting you.

As you know, we decided to spend a week in Pensacola. What happened? Well when we came in we found out the town had showed up and had an art fair because we were there. Yes it is true, there were thousands of people at the fair. You will see in a minute that they really did it for us. This was a juried fair so out of 600 or so entries, there were about 200 booths. In addition, they also had live music and food. We listened to the music on Saturday and went back again on Sunday. 

When we arrived on Sunday, there was a sign up front announcing the Pensacola Orchestra who was playing that day. As you can see from the sign, just before the Symphony part and in small print, they had the thing just for us!

Yes in small print, you can see For Jim & Deb. Is that too much or what? (Don't you love Photo shop.) The symphony was great and we enjoyed the entire performance. As you can see below, they were intense. Isn't it great when you love what you do so much that it shows in what you do!

Monday and Tuesday, we were riding all over town on our bikes. Now we are getting out and seeing the town. (I think we've ridden about 20 miles so far.) There are many interesting houses from the 1800's which are preserved. In addition, there is a very good new development of homes in old Pensacola which are being built respecting the historical architecture of the area. This is really cool because they have had to renovate and rebuild much of the downtown area after hurricane Ivan in 2004. The other thing we noted was there is something going on almost every weekend. This is a great town and one to consider in a retirement. By the way, President Bush came to town too to say Hi but we were off on our bikes so he went to the convention center instead and talked to about 10,000 people. More to come about the Blue Angles and their upcoming performance since we came to town.

 I Learned From That -  This is a new insertion that I think I will put in from time to time when I'm taught a lesson.

As you know from our log, we were at anchor last Friday night and on Saturday morning we were to travel the 8 miles into Palafox Pier. As always seems to be the case, when you want to be someplace, the wind is on your nose. In this case the wind was forecast to be out of the east all day long and was actually supposed to build. Of course in reality, it actually slowed down. I got underway after weighing the anchor and then motored into the wind past places we have sailed 10 years previously and looked in amazement at all of the changes along the waterway. We were motoring into 15-20 knot winds and the bay was forecast to be rough. It was rough but not too bad for our catamaran. We had some minor pounding but nothing significant. The seas were about 2 foot. After we went past Pensacola Pass, we had the Naval Air Station on our port side. I could see that after the point of the Air Station the waves looked to be building. As we came around the point to head to Pensacola, the seas went to about 3 feet however they were close together. Winds were now 20 knots steady and they had the entire length of Pensacola Bay to try and build up. This made our boat ride like a seesaw. The waves weren't far enough apart that the boat would ride up and down, it seemed like it was bow to the bottom or to the crest. Then is when I started noticing that every now and then the wave would be about a foot higher. The first one came up and our bow went under the crest of the wave and water came over the boat from the front, over the front window then over the large main window and over the rest of the boat and off the back. Well, I have to tell you I was impressed that my windows didn't leak and the boat did just fine. However, I figured that this wasn't the best thing so I slowed the boat down to 2 1/2 knots so we wouldn't do that again.

Now I did learn something here but what I really learned was something else. The night before was cold. We typically take a shower on the back of the boat with a solar shower. This is actually kind of fun. Well Friday was cool and Friday night was cold. So instead, we used the head (bathroom for you landlubbers) and heated up water with our propane heater. Well to get the propane heater to work you have to open a vent to the outside. I heated the water and Deb and I both had a shower and pumped the water out of the head the way the boat was designed to work. Deb was happy because she wasn't cold taking her shower and I was happy because Deb was happy. Now you may have already figured out what I learned. I didn't close the vent for the heater all the way. Well remember that water coming over the top of the boat? That water also went down the vent and into the head. Deb calls it a waterfall and said it took 4 hours to clean up. Since the remainder of the trip only took about 45 minutes I don't know it took her 4 hours but I will say it created a mess that she took care of while we were still underway. I guess we are both getting our sea legs. Next time, I'll remember to close that vent. I'm sure Deb will also remind me.

 November 8 - Today was a day to get a few things done. We started the day with Deb cleaning up the inside of the boat and creating a list of items we need to re-provision. I was outside changing the oil in the engine and transmission and tightened the alternator belt. We finished both projects up by 10:30 in time for the arrival of my father for a day of errands and catching up. We started out with lunch and then we were off to get our Florida Drivers License. We have been residents of Florida since July but you have to apply for your license in person. This was our first opportunity to do so. I have to tell you, they have it figured out in Florida for service. You walk in and take a number then sit in a comfortable chair to wait your turn. That took about 3 minutes. Then you have your number called and you walk over to a counter and Sit Down, yes they actually have a nice chair for you to sit in and look across the counter at a friendly person helping you out. Deb and I presented our ID's and Social Security Cards, answered questions, had our pictures taken and were out of there with our new drivers licenses very quickly. Great service Florida! We then went to Wal-Mart which is the provisioning store for us. Deb shopped for food and I was off to shop for fishing tackle and a couple of spinning rods for reels I already owned. We then came back to the boat with all of our provisions although I still needed a few more lures. After putting things away on the boat we went out past Gulf Shores and then on to Pensacola Beach to watch the sunset and have dinner. We stopped on the way to pick up a few more lures at a tackle shop. This is the end of what I will buy because I don't have anymore room in my tackle box. I told Deb that at $9 to $10 per pound for fresh caught local fish that all I need to catch is about 5 fish and we will come out even. Pictures and the log will tell if I earn my money back with fish. Ended up there was a great happy hour at the restaurant so we never ordered dinner just oysters, chicken wings and a few drinks. What a mix, I'm starting to feel like a cruiser. Overall it was a very productive day.  

 November 9 - Today I rode my bike out to Joe Patti's seafood and picked up a couple of pounds of crab claws (Deb loves them and I make them about as good as the restaurant for quite a bit less money), grouper and amberjack. No we aren't counting on Jim to catch fresh fish on Saturday. When I got back we put together the dingy so I could change the oil in the outdrive and then I changed the fuel filters for preventative purposes. Overall, we are now in good shape again for our maintenance.

As you can see to the right, Joe Patti's is fish, fish, fish.

 You can see with the pictures to the right, I hope, that there are some great airplanes writing messages in the air. These guys are flying 5 abreast and must have a computer/s controlling their smoke systems. Regardless, it has been fun watching the practices this week. As you know, the Blue Angles decided to perform for us. We are looking forward to being in the confusion on the water on Saturday when the perform at 2 pm. Hopefully we will get some good pictures.  
Ok, I enjoy good food and I also like to cook good food. Grilling on the propane grill out back is just fine, however, it sometimes lacks something. That something is the smoky flavor of real wood. So, I just had to figure something out. There isn't much room between the grill and the burner plates so I went to a cooking store and found two spoons which are made of stainless steel. The one on the left is one size bigger than the one on the right. I've removed the handles and now have an enclosure to put in wood chips. We will see within a week if the system works or not. You will hear about if it does. Total cost of the system - $4.00 - I was able to get some used spoons.

We had thanksgiving with Sandy, Julie and Tom before we left and it was a feast. So, we needed to have Thanksgiving dinner with Jack too before we departed Pensacola. I won't say it was a good as Sandy's because she is an expert at Thanksgiving. However, we enjoyed it. I smoked a couple of turkey breasts and Deb made up the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.

We had a good evening with a few glasses of wine and were happy we could all get together.

I am constantly amazed how many people are interested in and want to be part of our trip. I receive emails from people all over the country and we also have many people stopping and talking to us. In addition, there are many people who are very generous. You already heard about the people at the restaurant and now I've had people offering me their cars, trucks and finally a gentleman was talking to us and handed me three hats. The quality of people we are meeting is amazing and we find that many of them share the same dream and are very happy we are able to achieve it now. I wish all of you the best and can only give you one word of advice, go as soon as you can. We had a gentleman stop and talk to us yesterday who just lost his wife three weeks ago and they had just moved within the year to Pensacola. He said they had talked about getting a catamaran - they just ran out of time. He was 62. I wished him well and can't even understand the feelings of his loss.

Save your money and seize the opportunity to achieve your dreams what ever they are. You won't regret the opportunity to live life to the fullest.

 Friday, November 10th, we watched off and on the airshow during the day and rode our bikes to pick up some wine for the next few weeks and also did laundry. Doing laundry is now an adventure because you must find a laundry mat and then wait. Some things are easier at a home but then again, there is always the adventure.

During the evening we went out to watch the night airshow but were unable to get some good pictures. Perhaps it is because we are five miles away. Regardless, I decided to take a night picture of our boat at Palafox Harbor and you see that picture along with some of downtown Pensacola. For the camera buffs, this was a 10 second exposure on a tripod which I held on a fence. I thought came out pretty cool.

Tomorrow morning we are off to anchor for the airshow. Our mail didn't show up today so we will be hanging out until Monday, fishing and enjoying life, hoping the mail shows up. We will make a trip back in to fill up with fuel, pump out and get our mail.

November 11 - Today we left Palafox Pier for the airshow. The weather was great as we were leaving and we anchored where we should be able to see the Blue Angles and other planes in the airshow. We weren't disappointed. Below you will see a number of pictures we took from s/v Freedom. Of course, since we are now out of the marina, we had a cold front move through. During the Blue Angles show the temperature dropped 15 degrees. We are now anchored on a north shore off of Pensacola Beach so we are protected somewhat from the 20+ knot winds. It is cold in the winds but the generator is keeping us nice and warm in the boat which is rocking from the wind. It is interesting because the howling from the wind in the stays and mast are very interesting. Hopefully, we will sleep well regardless. I hope you enjoy the pictures. These guys make me want to go flying again.

November 12-14 - Over the last three days we have seen the Blue Angles, above, experienced strong winds with more waves which were close and found a great anchorage. We have found that we are finding more information on our Microsoft Trips and Streets about possible places to dingy into than we are in the cruising guides. Specifically, we are looking for parks which are on the water. We found one close to Pensacola Beach which was in the town of Gulf Shores. This allowed us to take our bikes into and ride into the town of Gulf Shores and pick up some more fishing tackle. I have to tell you we wouldn't have needed anymore tackle however, we lost our tackle box. This made me sick. I mean it really made me sick. We think it happened when a large boat didn't slow down and put out a BIG wake which knocked everything loose that wasn't secure in the boat. We think the box went over the back. Well, we had everything we needed and now we are restocking. I'm talking sick here. We also used our dingy to go into Pensacola Beach and do quite a bit of walking and gazing at the Gulf. We wished we would have been able to make our way to Destin in this water but we are stuck waiting on our mail. Veterans Day has things slowed down so the time we should have received our mail has taken longer. I'm not complaining because I appreciate everything every Veteran has done to protect our Freedom. Thank you all!

We anchored back across from the park again and then back to Pensacola beach. Well then, on Tuesday morning, we came back to get our mail and while underway I listened to the weather. The forecast was for a storm to come in on Wednesday with winds up to 30 knots and gale force winds at times. We decided after talking it over for a few minutes that we would stay at Palafox Pier again for two nights. The storm is supposed to get here Wednesday morning and now they are forecasting 35 knot winds. This means 40 mph winds with gusts higher. Today after getting secured, I tied down the main sail with a line and also added a number of extra lines to the boat to keep it secure. We should be fine. I also took the opportunity to ride a bike back to West Marine and pick up a Jackline and tethers that we will need on our night crossings. We have a very protected cockpit, however, we will use the jackline to run from the port bow of the boat, around the mast and then back to the starboard stern of the boat. We also have several places in the cockpit we can connect the tether on so we will be connected to the boat. The reason we are doing this is that we have a number of night crossings which we will be doing and we have made a deal with each other that during night crossings, we will be connected to the boat. This will allow us to sleep when the other one is outside by themselves. Remember that we also have inflatable life jackets and these have rings on them to attach the tethers on. (Deb likes her sleep and at times I have to sleep so we plan on hooking on as soon as we reach the door to the cockpit.)

Other than spending money (keeping the economy alive), we are ready to get out of Pensacola and make our way south. We now plan on skipping Ft. Walton Beach and Destin, since we have been there so many times, to make our way to Panama City. We will leave on Thursday morning after the storm. We should get to Panama City on Saturday fairly easily. Hopefully we will be able to sail some along the way. We have also had a WONDERFUL offer from some people we have only met on the Internet via our website to use their dock. We plan on taking them up on this and having a great dinner talking about cruising Pictures will come.

By the way, we have had a great time receiving emails from people we know and those we have never met. I hope everyone is enjoying our website. I've worked out my email problems which now allow me to check email everyday on our Verizon phone and off-line create the reply.(It was a "stupid Jim" thing of putting in an @ instead of a . where it was supposed to be.) This is saving us cell time but still allowing us to stay connected. Our web updates still require either a free wi-fi site or I have to do it after 9 local time. My cantenna is working some for wi-fi but I'm still looking for a better high gain, high power wi-fi antenna that will allow us to receive better signals from all of the free wi-fi sites out there. I know that we will need them also for weather too.

Web Page by Jim Faughn