January 15-31 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

January 16 - We saw Carol off on Sunday evening although during the day we were able to do quite a bit of walking around Key West. We just happened on this banana tree which I had never seen. These are the small bananas and they weren't ripe yet so I didn't pick one. I'll try to find the tree again in a few weeks.

Below you can see some pictures of my Russian friend. Michael and Irene whom we mentioned before that we saw in Panama City, they crossed with us at Apalachicola, and we met them in Key West. I was able to introduce them to Tom and Susan who in turn hosted a talk by Mike about their adventures. Carol was able to attend with us and it was a highlight of both of our trips. Mike built his own boat and you can see his site at www.pobor.com

Bottom left you can see Irene, Mike, and one of the hosts - Susan. We were also able to meet a number of other cruisers as you can see to the right. Everyone has their own story and they are all interesting. What brings everyone together is the love of the ocean and an adventurous spirit. Tom has a big boat and is very generous with using it along with offering his hospitality.

I took this picture of Mike after he related his story of the tiller breaking in an offshore storm The one you see to the right of him is the one he carved out of a 12 foot section of tree cut for him just so he could carve this tiller. The story was long but the essence was the tiller broke in a big storm and they drifted at the will of the storm for 2 days. After the storm subsided, he took the part that broke and drove it back into the rudder section so he could steer. He arrived before a Tall Ship display just 30 minutes before they were to begin. If he would have been late, he wouldn't have received the appearance fee. They made the appearance and then he found the person to help him out with the timber so he could make the new tiller. Mike and Irene have been through a great deal in their adventure including 5 hurricanes.

During one of the refits of their boat, Irene drew many figures which Mike cut out which now decorate the exterior of the boat. Overall, this boat is unlike anyone which we have seen to date. It is a replica of a ship Russians discovered in Alaska in 1741. It has no keel and it takes 450 feet just to turn the boat around.

Below left you can see the cross on the front of the boat and if you look closely under the left side of the cross, you can see our boat.

To the right is a plaque Mike received after talking to a Rotary Club in Texas. The boat has many carvings and other memories from their adventures.

To the right you can see Mike on the front of his boat, and to the right of that, you can see Mike leaving for Cuba passing one of the cruise ships coming into Key West.

If you happen to know a Russian to English translator, Mike could use your help. He has another book he has written but he writes best in Russian so he would like help with the translation. You can find Mike at his website.

Today we went out to Sand Key and went snorkeling. We saw 10-15 different kinds of fish which included a Barracuda about 5 feet long. Also, we saw a number of lobster hiding under the rocks. This is a Marine Sanctuary so you can't go pick these lobster up and have them for dinner although they were nice large ones.

After snorkeling, we went to the 100 foot line and did some trolling but no fish. Darn. We turned into the main ships entry and sailed past the sailboat races which are occurring this week in Key West. It actually looked to us like pandemonium and wrecks should happen at any minute. What is interesting is I haven't seen scratches on the boats yet. Maybe by the end of the week.

I'm sure they are all having a good time but so far, I haven't found sailboat racing to be a spectator sport.

Tomorrow we are back to doing boat maintenance and routine tasks such as laundry and shopping. So goes the life of cruisers.

When Race Week happens at Key West, many manufacturers show up to help out. I'm sure it is because everyone who is anyone in racing is here from all over the world. The boat owners have money and they will spend it. The crew on the other hand may have nothing or, as one person we met, they may also run their own business and simply use their ability to get away to satisfy their adventurous spirit. But that isn't what I'm writing about. I have found that when a dealer provides unexpected customer service exceeding your expectations, that act brings with it brand loyalty. Such service happened to me on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Sunday afternoon I went into West Marine to pick up some oil and happened to see a Garmin Rep. I went over to tell him how happy I was with my Garmin 492 when he asked me if I had the latest software update. I told him that the software in my unit was the same it was shipped with and he went on to explain that he could update it to the latest software revision for, get this, free. Now that was unexpected. So the next morning I took the connections off of my GPS and took the unit into West Marine where Eugene Quindlen the Regional Product Trainer for Garmin did just as he promised. He updated my GPS to the latest software revision.

I love when I am surprised by good customer service and I appreciate the fact that Eugene took the extra time to help me out. I am simply a guy out cruising the world but the bottom line is, the next GPS I will buy will be a Garmin.

January 21 - Not much new to report. We have been enjoying our lives, doing boat maintenance such as aligning the engine (pictures will follow) along with painting the lockers with some very good exterior paint so it will clean up easily and it looks very good. We will see if we have done a good job as we progress in the future. We have also been getting ready for our next company which will be Julie and Anna who are coming down on Thursday. I'm sure this will be a very exciting weekend. Julie flys back on Sunday and Anna stays with us, so we will be leaving for the Dry Tortugas probably Monday returning on Friday or Saturday. More later but we are still in Key West and simply don't have much to report that you really might be interested in. I could go through our days but I've been told that is getting a bit old when we bike to the store, buy groceries along with a pan and the bike back. By the way, that takes over half a day since it is a 10 minute dinghy ride to the dock then a 4 1/2 mile bike ride to the store then shopping and a 4 1/2 mile ride back and then the good old dinghy ride back to the boat. On a good day, that is a bit over a half a day just to get groceries. Such is the life of cruising. You either love it for the great benefits such as sunsets, ocean, snorkeling along with the interesting people you meet - or -you think you must have more and you get bored. We aren't bored, we love it.

Trust me, you will love the pictures over the next few weeks, especially as we move to the Dry Tortugas.

Also, sorry about the snow and cold up north. We are still riding around in shorts and tee shirts. We actually thought we were getting cold last night when it got down to 65. It is an unusually warm winter and we are trying to tough it out.........

January 23 - Go Prepared! If you are off on an extended trip such as we are, cruising, you must go prepared for anything.

Our day started with the typical routine and I was then preparing to pull both of the anchors which had been in the water for the last month. I knew the lines and chain would have growth on them so I was preparing a blow-up swimming pool to put the rope and chain in so I could scrub them. (I keep it on board for my largest bucket to clean with. I found it comes in handy as mentioned above or to clean canvas in.) I even went so far to take the picture to the right which was going to be all in good fun for the website. It was to be labeled - how to take a bath on a cruising catamaran.

When I took the blow up pool out of our front storage I noticed it had some mold on it and all I thought was - something else to clean up. Well, that morning I my eyes had been itching too. I must have itched my eyes while taking out the little "clean up" pool because it was just after that they began to swell. I'm finding I am pretty allergic to mold especially if I ingest it or rub quite a bit on me.


 The picture to the left is the early stages of the swelling. You can see both eyes are beginning to shut and the skin around the right one (on the picture) is starting to fill in with fluids on the left side. This was in the early stages. At this point I was able to go to our medicine stash and get a 20 mg Prednizone along with Benadryl. An hour later when it hadn't subsided but still getting a bit worse, I took another 20 mg Prednizone. An hour after after that, the swelling subsided and started moving from around the eyes to below my eyes. I also used an ice pack during the time when the medicine was working to help keep the swelling down. Bottom line was that we essentially took the day off and went through this latest allergic episode. For those that don't know me, I have quite a few allergies and this didn't scare me because I have had worse reactions although not with my eyes. Fortunately, I have a Doctor in St. Louis who has taught me how to treat the reactions and I carry a number of medicines on board for such an occasion. If you choose to go cruising, ensure you are prepared so it won't matter if you are near a doctor or not to treat what may happen. In other words, find a doctor who understands what you are going to do and he or she will then prescribe the appropriate drugs for you to take with you. (I also know that the reactions I have can kill me if left untreated so it is something to take seriously although it doesn't have to scare you.)

Less serious stuff is coming - We haul and clean those anchors today and finish our preparations for our company arriving on Thursday. We are really looking forward to seeing Julie and Anna. We will be touring Key West from Thursday afternoon through Saturday and then probably leave for the Dry Tortugas on Sunday when Julie catches her flight or Monday depending on the weather. We are really looking forward to posting those pictures.

This morning there is no wind. It is the first time since we have been in Key West there isn't a wind. There is some fog outside and a beautiful sunrise but no wind. I just had to take the picture on the right at our anchorage.


 January 27 - The weather had been beautiful for the last week and then a northerner was coming on the same day Julie and Anna were to arrive. Rain, winds at 25 knots and of course low clouds. Sounds like a great day to fly doesn't it? Also, a great day to take a dinghy in to pick people up. It was good that we had arranged with the dockmaster to use the Catamaran to come and go if we needed to. It looked like today and at least tomorrow we would need to use it.

Anna and Julie were on a larger plane from St Louis to Miami and then switched to a "puddle jumper" for the flight down to Key West. I heard a plane overhead as it was blowing, raining and the clouds were pretty low. It just happened that on their final approach they had to go around and do it again. Just the thing you love to do when flying in bad weather. I think it was at the point of the go-around that Julies said someone threw-up just behind her to give you an idea of the ride they had.


 They called when they arrived and it was right in the middle of a rain storm and gusts. The original plan was for Deb and I to come in and meet them followed by me returning to get the Cat and come back to pick them all up with their luggage. Time for plan number two. Instead we told them where we would pick them up and we went in to pick them up on the Cat.

The picture to the left is me picking up the line for the mooring ball when we returned with our great cargo. The second one shows the sun setting along with some of the waves which were about 2 foot high. After this picture they began whitecapping more and of course they were hitting the underneath of the Cat with an explosion along with a good boat shaking each time a big one came through. They didn't know the difference so it really didn't matter.

 I prepared dinner while Julie, Anna and Deb were outside watching the waves, wind and catching up. By the way, we had a pot roast, made in my pressure cooker, which I found out was one of Julies favorite meals. As they say, it is better to be lucky than good.

Also, we were so busy catching up on news about family, friends, and the local going-on's around St Louis that we forgot to take anymore pictures.


 The next morning I took Anna to town to pick up a paper. The trip in was fine but on the way back we went pretty slow because we were coming into the wind and the spray was getting all over both of us.

Regardless, the trip to town is now part of her story.

They have now had some of the poorest weather to sleep in with banging all night and a rough dinghy ride to town. Fortunately, they both went to sleep and slept through the entire night which to me was amazing. (I used ear plugs.)

 As you can see in the picture to the right, the white caps were all over as we took the Cat into the dock to let off the girls.

As we came into the dock we also noticed the Yankee Freedom did not go to the Dry Tortugas today. We found out it was because of the waves and the cooler weather. The high on Friday turned out to be 70 so at the time we were going in, it was about 65. That is cold in Key West however, it is winter so we have to tough it up a bit. Shorts and long sleeve shirts and we will tough it out.

We docked on the right side of the dock you see to the right behind the pontoon boat. Since the wind was blowing us away from the dock, Deb was able to get a line secured to a post and I backed us into the dock to let everyone off.


 The advantage to our plan was that when they were off, all Deb had to do was release the forward line and throw it on the deck. The boat would then drift away from the dock and I could maneuver out of the area among the other "small boats" you see in the picture.

Yes, there are some VERY big boats which dock in Key West. The one you see at the rear of this picture isn't the largest we've seen but it is close. There are actually two ships of this size docked at the marina at this time.

 We all met for lunch at Caroline's where we enjoy the food and people. Of course we then had to do Duvall Street. Everything from the birds and snakes to the art gallery's.

By the way, all of pictures were taken by Julie and I was able to download them this morning. Another reason for letting you know Julie took them is that I probably wouldn't have been able to get away taking the pictures of the paintings. Those that know Julie will know she can do that with no problem.

The art gallery's were actually wonderful. Anna saw a great coffee table she was interested in at the Wyland Gallery. She kind of had a price in mind and went ahead and inquired about the price of the table. The price was $24,000. I think she swallowed and said thank you. The price she had in mind was was missing a zero. Regardless, we had a great time and learned that Wyland will be painting his last mural in the United States between the 1st and 14th of February with the dedication on February 14th at noon. It will be at Key Largo and we are actually entertaining the idea of riding up there on a bus to see it.


 Julie uses the same person that Deb used to for her nails. By the way, they are still laughing at the nail shop about me learning how to do nails by watching once. (Story in the early logs.) She promised him that she would take a picture of the nails and show it to him. Therefore, the picture to the right with the nails as the main feature. Well, that was the intention.

At this point we were taking a break and hitting the other part of Duvall, the bars. This was taken in a garden seating area that also had sun to warm us up.

Next we were off to the Southernmost point.

 Ninety miles to Cuba. This monument built to look like an ocean buoy is probably one of the most photographed places in Key West. We had now walked all of Duvall although we didn't hit all of the shops and definitely not all of the bars. I think if someone had a drink in all of the bars in one day they would be dead. We were tough enough to have one so far. Pretty tough aren't we......

 On the way back we walked through the residential areas and past the Catholic Church which was closed but we will go back tomorrow. As we walked by the various houses, we also saw a couple for sale. The lowest price we found was $690,000 for a 1000 square foot fixer-upper and then one for $2.3 million that was 3 bedroom, 2 bath which had been fixed up. I think we all agreed we would stay on the boat while in Key West.

We also walked through the cemetery and found the stone I was looking for. You can see it to the right and is the stone of a locally know hypochondriac.


 Next we walked on to one of our favorite places for happy hour which is Monty's. At Monty's they have great music and a pool you can use if you are patronizing their establishment. Today, it was too cold for anyone to be using the pool but it was a nice environment. This is also the only place we've had the presence of mind to get a picture of all of us. We are having a great time too.


 Next we were off to Turtle Krawls and the TURTLE RACES. Tonight there were only four turtles racing. One of us had to win a chance for a key which then was the opportunity to win $225.

The turtles were away and the number four turtle was on a stop and go race to the victory.

 Sure enough, Anna was the winner for the opportunity. She picked out her key and we just thought she might have a chance to at least win some Turtle Bucks in exchange for her key. However, she had already said she wouldn't trade and was going for the BIG Bucks.

Well, we had to pay our own bar bill. Anna's key wasn't the right one.


 During the day the winds did shift to the East and the went down to 15 knots so we were able to make the dinghy trips and get everyone back to the boat for the evening. Pizza, more great conversation and of course Anna and Deb watched Captain Ron until midnight. Also, they will get to experience the better part of being anchored out. Sleeping without the waves crashing into the bottom of the deck. Much quieter.

As my Aunt says, Having a great time, Wish you were here.

More excitement today.

 January 28 - What are these people looking at or for?

Actually two things. We were on our way out to look at a ship that had been grounded in a hurricane last year and we also had a dolphin encounter. We were able to capture these pictures but as luck would have it, we didn't capture a picture with the single or the pair of dolphins jumping straight up out of the air just like they do at the dolphin shows. What a cool thing and everyone on board saw it. There was a pod of dolphins that probably amounted to 6-8 different dolphins.

This was one of the highlights of the trip so far and today.


We continued out the channel to the north and navigated the 20 foot water in the center rising up to 1 foot on each side. Not a good place to make a navigation mistake. At the same time it was pretty easy to do it correctly.

We were on our way to see the Legacy. Picture this, you have weathered a number of strong storms and even a hurricane or two. So the one you are about to experience in your 16 million dollar, 158 foot sailing ship with a 160 foot high mast shouldn't be too much worse than the rest. The predictions were for a hurricane but not the worst. Then as it progresses the winds exceed the forecast at over 120 mph and the seas in the anchorage get to 20-30 feet high. Although you can't hear anything inside you know this is a big one. They just met Wilma. It was about then that the anchor failed and the boat began to drift. They thought they could reset it but no, they found it had failed. Just a little while later the mast failed and the entire 160 feet comes crashing down which of course isn't a good thing. Now there are a few holes here and there so things inside are getting wet. The crew does it's best but when electrical things start smoking the captain turns everything off including the motors. They are adrift and starting to move pretty fast. Everyone went below and cell phone calls to tell family goodbye. This doesn't sound like your typical day at work does it. However the crew of three, the captain and the owner were now on an adventure of their lives whereby the outcome was not under their control.

Once they went aground, of course it can't be simple, in a wildlife preserve they then figured out they were ok and began the process of trying to save the boat. Now if you are on a 158 foot boat and it is sitting upright, things can't be too bad and they weren't. Of course that only lasted a short while when the government got involved and made them move off of the boat. To the right you can see them in their new complex anchored just outside the preserve so they can keep an eye on the boat. Why? They have already had a number of attempts by "pirates" to put salvage claims on the boat. After all a 16 million dollar vessel probably has a few things on it that would be worth something. However, the owner is of the mind set that he is ready to defend his boat at gun point if necessary and has already done that. To make a long story much shorter, they are finally and hopefully on their last permit to have the boat moved through the trench it dug which will be deepened back to a floating condition.

So the real question is what does this boat really look like?

I'm not saying how we acquired these pictures because I don't want to be or have my "source" shot. However the picture below shows the boat up a bit closer.

Ok, it needs some work but it has to be cheaper to fix this one up than to build another boat.

I'm not sure I want to be on our boat when the next Wilma comes by so we are running away and up to the Chesapeake for the next hurricane season. I'm not going to bet that next year will be another no hurricane summer.

So we headed towards the dock where we would drop off the ladies.

On the way back, Anna was taking phone calls and having a great time. Overall, this was a great excursion.

Next came the docking back at Key West Bight where we took on Diesel, Water along with filling up our gas can with some gasoline for the generator. We have to get ready for our trip to the Tortugas. Also, we just had to put on quite a bit more water because, and I won't say who, the dishwasher was running the rinse water. We happened to go through 30 gallons in 2 days. We need better dishwasher training before we get to an island that has NO fresh water.

After we all got together, we went through Flagler Station Flagler is the guy who figured out they needed a railroad down here and made it happen. All was well until it got wiped out by a hurricane in about 1935 and they rebuilt it as a road in 1938.

We saw lots of pictures of how they made the bridges and spans along the way. We also saw that they had a boat that would take your car, which you brought down on the train, over to Havana, Cuba.

Key West celebrated the opening of the railroad.

This is the map showing the route from Key West to Cuba.

Anna had gone through the Hemingway house, petted the house and toured the place. They also stopped by the Truman "Little White House" but didn't tour it yet. I on the other hand had to turn around and go back to the boat to close all of the hatches and ensure what we thought was going to be a good rain storm wouldn't get the inside of the boat wet. (Nope, it didn't rain)

After I met back up with them, we had to liven up the afternoon and recuperate from all the walking so far.

There was also a craft and art show in town this weekend and the girls found it.

We went to church at the 6 pm mass and then Anna treated us to dinner at a great restaurant We walked back to the boat and then dinghy 'd everyone back in two loads. (Dinghy only holds 3 people.)

We also just didn't want to scare everyone but we did find a new boat driver as you can see below to the left.

In addition, more excitement was had on the boat.

Today, Sunday, we ended up staying on the boat all day. I took Julie to the dock and she caught a cab to the airport and then I returned. Winds came back up to 25 knots and we are pounding away out here. Watching our anchor location and looking forward to the wind shifting to the east tonight. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to be out of the northeast and we will leave for the Marquasas probably around noon. We have some errands to run first thing since we couldn't leave the boat today. Tuesday the winds are supposed to move east so we are off to the Tortugas. It should be a great trip. We are hoping to get back on Friday but if everything goes bad, Anna will come back on the Tortuga Express boat and fend for herself. However, it looks good for the complete trip. Don't expect another update until Saturday.


Web Page by Jim Faughn