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

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March 18 - We thought we would be leaving for Marathon on Friday morning since the winds were forecast to move to the west then northwest. We made arrangements to borrow our friend Paul's truck so we could provision the boat without making 3 trips to the store on our bikes. We loaded up the boat with food on Tuesday. Wednesday we did laundry and planned our "last" happy hour at Dante's which was Monte's previously. We walked in and guess who was playing, yes, my friend and favorite guitarist, George Victory. I wasn't looking too forward to seeing him because we hadn't been able to get all of the information to set up his website. I was planning on calling him and letting him know there were other options but now I would get to tell him at the break. Tom and Susan came in and Tom told me the weather had changed and the winds weren't going to change now until Saturday. Well, that opened up a bunch of options for us. Now I could take the pictures of George and at least get his domain name purchased. After all, we had the boat ready and I really like to complete what I say I will do. At the break we planned on taking pictures the next morning and also Tom volunteered to have George out to his boat for pictures along with the long awaited session when George and I would actually play together. I just hadn't planned on it being for a party.

George picked me up Thursday and we immediately headed for the beach for some pictures. I'll let you know about his website as I get it built over the next month but I have to tell you we did get a few great pictures and I just have to show you two here. The one on the left was taken as the ocean was crushing into the pier raining water all over. The one on the right we took on the docks and it is one of my favorites.

After taking the photographs we also sat down for a quick lesson on the guitar where he quickly left me in the dust using everything on the neck. I still have allot to learn but it was fun. We then made arrangements to get together that evening when I would pick George and his wife up at the dock and then we would go out to Tom's boat. I didn't know it at the time but George's wife hadn't been out on the water for 8 years. I was happy that I took them on a ride to see Mallory Square from the water.

George played a few songs and then we took some more pictures at Tom's boat. I then played a few songs and George then sat in with me while I played another series of songs. I have to tell you that I had a blast singing and playing while George was backing me up with some great lead guitar work. It is amazing what a professional musician can do with songs he has never played before!

You can see from the pictures to the right and below that we both had a good time and so did the group of cruisers who joined us.

Friday morning I got together with George again and we were able to get his website domain purchased along with a hosting service. I now have some work to do as does George. I get to set up his initial site and he has to get together all of his information so I can get it onto the site. After we completed our business, Deb and I spent the next rest of the day getting water for the boat and finalizing our preparations to leave Key West. Since it was Friday we just had to go in for one last set. We arrived for Georges first song and he played Masquerade. What was unbelievable was I told him that morning at 9:30 it was a song that fit his voice and style perfectly. We were out in the parking lot singing and trying to remember words when he said he thought he agreed. He went home after that and worked out the song and memorized the words just because I was coming to the first set that night. It was great.

After we sad our good byes, we went back and said bye to Tom and Susan and then on to our boat and to finish getting ready to leave. Saturday morning we left at 6:45 am before the sun was up.

We rounded the point at Key West and entered Hawk Channel at about 7:15 with our sails up, engine off and wind blowing at 18 knots. This is going to be a great trip, however, we are going to miss all of our new cruising friends.

Key West has been great for us. We used the time to transition from a land based life to a water one. It was also great that we have had so many people visit us on our boat and it has been wonderful that we have been able to meet so many people in town along with the anchorage around us. We have found there are people of similar interests who are simply a boat away and are also "living the dream." We will miss everyone in Key West although it does appear that George and I will be continuing to do some work together over the next few months so there may be another guitar lesson in my future.

Do you remember the Russian ship I wrote about back in January? He left and went to Cuba to see his brother and guess who I saw coming back into the pass at Key West. Yes, my friend Mike Pobor from Russia. He didn't turn into Key West so I'm not sure where he was going but you can just make him out sitting on the rear of the ship with his long rudder handle in his hand. I think this was another signal to me that we have entered a small community of sailors which is similar to a small town. It just happens this community moves around the country and the world on water rather than driving a few streets on land. I expect we will be seeing quite a few people that we have met and will meet many more over the next few years.

We had a great day of sailing. You can see below we are actually doing very well with the winds. These speeds are really great, in my opinion, when you consider we are a fully loaded cruising boat and we are towing our dinghy. Of course the sustained speed when at 15 knots apparent was more like 6.4 knots but with the wind varying so much the knot meter was all over the place. During the day the wind built to 24 knots and we rolled in part of the jib. We saw speeds as high as 8.8 knots with the northwest wind. Most of the time the wind varied between 65 and 90 degrees apparent and around noon the wind died back down to 15 knots.

This is the entrance to the channel to Boot Key Harbor. We arrived just outside this entrance and took down our sails after starting up the motor again. We motored past the docks after the best sailing day we have had on the water when trying to get somewhere. We used the motor for less than two hours and we went from Key West to Marathon - 46 miles anchor to anchor site in 7 hours and 15 minutes. I thought an average speed of almost 7 knots which includes time to put up and take down sails along with anchor was pretty good.


This is the picture showing the bridge you must go through to get to the anchorage. Boot Key harbor is a very well protected area and last night with the 20 knot north winds we were in calm water.

We met up with our friends Rick and Pat as soon as we dropped our anchor. It is great seeing them again. We had a great afternoon and then planned on going to dinner together in the evening at Burdines.

When we went to the dinghy dock, we also ran into Tom and Deb from Hearts Desire. Tom and Deb are also from Kentucky Lake and it is always fun to meet up with old friends.

As we were coming into the harbor, we called Burdines to find out if Eric Stone was playing. He was, so of course being music lovers, we just had to go hear Eric and his great lead guitar player. We arrived in time for their first set and got a few pictures as well.

For those who don't know, Eric Stone and the Eric Stone band are the official band of Latitudes and Attitudes. They fly all over the states and the Caribbean for Latitudes and Attitudes and play at all of their parties. I'm sure he would play at one of your parties too. His website is

We had a great time listening to them but it was soon back to the boat so we could get ready for another great day.


 March 21 - We left Marathon on Tuesday morning hauling the anchor at 7:15 am and then pulling into Poncho's fuel dock for a fill-up of diesel before heading for Miami. The day before we had listened to the weather forecast and it was north east winds turning east. The intensity was to be 15-20 knots and a number of people thought we should stay put. We chose the inside route because we should be behind islands 5 or so hours after starting and that would mean we don't have high seas, simply high winds.

As we left Marathon we first had to go back towards Key West and then clear under the 65 foot bridge before turning back east again on our route.


As we were making way the first thing we had to get used to was the depth. We were now making 5.5 knots (about 6 mph for the land lovers) in 6-8 feet of water. I'm not used to running in these shallow depths so it definitely made me stay focused on staying in the channel. This is a great time to mention that I was able to interface my Garmin 492 GPS to the autohelm. Now the GPS sends signals to the autohelm and keeps us on course typically within 30 feet or less. This is much better than I will do. It is really pretty cool!

Deb decided that after the dinghy was in the water for 3 months in Key West that she would help out by cleaning it up. I was cleaning the bottom of the boat and the dinghy every two weeks but on the dinghy with no bottom paint, the roots stuck and just re-grew. By the end of the day, the dinghy was no longer a green growth and was ready for showing in Miami. Well, to tell you the truth, we have a pretty small boat for Miami so I think it was just really ready not to embarrass us.

I mentioned that we were faced with some shallow water. This is one of the passes we negotiated that was well marked. Overall it seems that it is pretty easy to do but you do have to pay attention.

By the way, if you are interested in seeing where we have been anchoring you can go to our locations page.

Some people didn't pay attention as you can see from the tracks under the birds. These tracks are a problem because they have killed the sea grass in the area. Sea grass is critical to the environment so they are VERY picky about what happens if you go aground. First, you get a fine which is supposed to help replant the grass. Second, you get to try to get off. The bottom line is don't go aground which means use polarized sunglasses and get a good GPS.

You might wonder what all the birds are doing. They are doing their Job. Well, what I really mean is that the environmentalist have put the stakes in so the birds will sit on them and then poop in the water. They need to fertilize the newly planted sea grass and the birds, I think, have a feeling of helping the environment when they can accomplish their "job."

We picked up a free mooring ball not far from here at Shell Key. Afterwards I cooked up a great meal that I will document later under our recipes including portabello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, shrimp plus a number of other great things.

We took off the next morning and continued motoring into the wind. We also found this was a great experience. Not the motoring into the wind, it was the paths through the mangrove areas and the great wildlife.

We then encountered our first bridge (below) since leaving the west coast of Florida. I still think it is pretty cool that they open when I call. Of course I'm about to enter the land of bridges - Miami. I think there are 14 or so bridges in 20 miles up there and I'm sure I will be sick of them. Unfortunately, it looks like big winds this weekend so we won't be going offshore to start with. I've been told we should experience the bridges the first time anyway. Hopefully, we will only experience them between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and then we can go offshore.

We anchored off of Key Largo and I pulled the TV antenna up to see if we could receive a TV station. This was the first time we watched TV since December. Guess what? All new news? Anna Nicole Smith, Iraq, Economy and of course what I wanted was the Weather. Well, at least the weather was different.

At this rate we should be in Miami Thursday night and may stay at a marina either then or Friday night depending on a phone call in the morning. We need to do some really fun things like wash clothes, throw out trash and wash the boat. Of course I just heard that there is a water shortage in southern Florida and I'm not sure if I should choose washing clothes or the boat...... just kidding the bo.... clothes.

 March 24 - We only went 11 miles on the 21st because the rain came. I was hoping it would be a short squall but quickly figured out it was going to last all day. I simply didn't want to go into Miami with 200 yards of visibility. Call me chicken but I call me cautious. Besides, if I would have continued I wouldn't have seen the dolphins jumping the next morning. We decided to anchor off of Elliot Key and simply sit out the rain. We actually had a great time playing cards and cleaning out some junk. When you live on a boat, one of the great things you can do during a rain is to create trash - clean out junk.

On the 22nd I got up and started the engine and off to the starboard - right - were some dolphins. Next, I couldn't believe it, they started jumping. I ran below and grabbed the camera and captured this blurry picture. Who cares, at least I captured a dolphin in mid-air. Too Cool!!! Below you can see the pod of dolphins that Deb was also able to see as I was jumping up and down on deck with all the fun. She woke up but didn't see them jump. Sorry Deb, probably because I was jumping up and down. The only thing was I didn't see one of them with a camera.


 As we approached Miami, we saw the houses built on stilts you can see above. Then on the left you can see Miami as it appeared on our port side (left). What a great city but I'm not sure it is too cruiser friendly so we didn't stop. Perhaps we will stop next time and stay a while. Since we have been there before I'm not sure we missed anything.

We decided we would blow through and go on to Ft. Lauderdale. Of course as we moved through Miami, we encountered Government Cut which is the home of the cruise ships. As a private vessel, we can't go up that Cut anymore. All the rules changed on 9-11 and I guess it is a good thing however it amazing to me that Ft. Lauderdale has no restrictions. I'm sure that will change as everything will change in time.

 Here we are running up the inter coastal water way and knowing that you really have to pay attention. They keep the channel fairly well dredged but if you wonder outside of it, you can go aground. For the non-boaters following us, the water way is marked with signs. Depending on which way you are going depends on whether you should have the green on the left or the right. Since we are going north, we need the green sign on the right (starboard) and the red one on the left (port.) I'll bet you can look at the picture above and figure out that this captain went into brain fade and forgot what he was doing. Yep, he went aground right in front of us and went on hard. You can see the black exhaust coming out of the back as he is gunning the engines trying to back off. Ultimately he was able to back off and caught back up with us as we entered the Ft. Lauderdale shipping area.  

Above left you can see one of the mega yachts we are now boating with. This one happened to hear another Gemini call us and found out we left Kentucky Lake in October. The captain of Octane called us and took his portable radio down to the back deck so the owners could hear us talking. It seems they are going to Kentucky this summer and on to Nashville to hang out. I put in a good word for Green Turtle Bay so some of our old boating friends may see this yacht up there this summer.

We also passed several other boats. The one above is the biggest Tow Boat US I have ever seen. And the the left you can see a BIG ship which we are just boating by. It is amazing to me that we didn't see any security here and there was so much in Miami. Like I said before, I think things will get tighter over time because we have so much exposure to attacks from the sea. It would be a horrible thing to happen to the people, property and environment.

 We were able to pick up a mooring ball at Ft. Lauderdale. You can see a mooring ball on the lower right side of the picture. Across the way are a few more "small" boats. I don't know how many millions of dollars are represented in this one string of yachts. I also can't believe how many of these are everywhere around here. Somebody either has allot of guts to sign the loans or they have a bunch more money than anyone I have ever known.

I also want to say that Ft. Lauderdale has been a great town. It is friendly and we pulled our bikes out and rode all over the place. I'm really happy we were riding bikes rather than driving because the traffic is terrible. I have no clue where all of the people who are down here for spring break park let alone the residents.


 I sometimes think we take more pictures of our boat than we do of each other. Regardless, this is where we are right now - on our mooring in Ft. Lauderdale. These are owned by the city and managed by the Los Olas Municipal Marina. The only thing is they have gone up in price and now they go for $30 per night. That is pretty high for a mooring ball but is allot better than staying at a marina. Also, the facilities here are Wonderful! Great showers, laundry, free wi-fi and a nice TV room to hang out in and watch the news and weather. We have also met a number of other cruisers. Below left you can see a couple of other boats with us. The one to the far left is a guy from the Czech Republic who just crossed the Atlantic leaving from Holland. The guy to the right of him also left from Holland a number of years ago and sailed across the Atlantic as well. We simply left from Key West and sailed up the channel.

As we dinghy 'd over to a restaurant we could tie the dinghy up to for Deb's birthday lunch we passed a number of nice homes. The one below is under construction and looks like a couple could live there once it is finished.

As we continued our dinghy trip we passed some more yachts. I think there is allot of money down here.

We finished lunch and then walked over to the Winn Dixie (grocery store) and picked up some supplies for our trip up to Stuart where we plan on staying for about a week. The mooring balls are only $10 a night and they are also supposed to have great facilities.

Thanks for all the emails, we enjoy them. When you send us one, it may take a few days before we can respond depending on access to wi-fi and our cell time. We are primarily on a slow speed connection so please let us know in advance if you need to send us something with an attachment. I'll try to get to a wi-fi site so we can download it. We also make an effort to get back to anyone who sends us a message so if you don't hear from us in a couple of days, we probably didn't receive it for some reason.

More when we get to Stuart in a few days.

 March 29 - Today we went through 14 bridges. We are in a section of the intercostal waterway that should be renamed the washing machine. The walls are concrete which are straight up and down and cause any waves to bounce off. When you have quite a bit of traffic, you end up with very confused water. Guess what? We had some traffic and it was a Monday. The big boats were all coming from a boat show in Palm Beach and heading back down to Ft Lauderdale. There were so many of them that at one bridge we counted over 30 boats that had to pass before we could actually start moving towards the bridge. You can see part of the parade to the right.

In the picture the boats are in a no wake zone. You can just imagine when they decided to put the power to it and the wakes will then begin. Some of the big boats have stabilizers on them so for them it doesn't matter. As a cat, it wasn't as bad for us as it was for the small monohull that was following us.



Of course, not all of the boats were at the boat show. There were many, many, many more that were at their docks. You have to believe that electronic funds transfer has saved quite a bit of work in this area. You also have to know that wheel barrow sales have decreased because the residents don't have to take their money to the banks in wheel barrows anymore.

We anchored off of Lantana on Monday night and got together with some other cruisers for happy hour on our boat. They were also on their way north. We enjoyed the visit and talking about the things cruisers talk about - where we've been, where we are going, dreams, and of course boat maintenance.

 It is amazing to me how many Gemini's we see. It is also great that they are being used. We met this one going south while we were going north. They had just come back from the Bahamas and had a great trip. Like us, they love their boat. It was interesting because their hull number was 526 and ours is 536 so they were both essentially the same boats.

It is also very nice owning a Gemini because as we see a Gemini at anchor, I will always go to their boat and of course a conversation ensues about the boat and what we have done with it and visa versa. There is a definite camaraderie to owning a Gemini and after 165 days of cruising, we are still very happy with ours.


Of course there are also the "small homes" on the waterway. This one I thought was a beautiful modern home. It was well done but not overdone. We are seeing many new homes that have been built by tearing down a smaller house. However, they all seem to be of the same style. I don't know if that is because they are building them with concrete and blocks so the material is dictating a certain style (which I doubt) or if they are simply trying to look like the other homes in the area so they fit in. Regardless, it seems the creativity on the outside isn't what it probably is on the inside. If you were to have a cookie cutter home for rich people then the ones we have been seeing is probably the one. It was nice to see someone who didn't like a cookie cutter.

We anchored on Tuesday night at Peck Lake just south of Stuart and then on Wednesday we made it into Stuart (locations we anchored) and picked up a mooring ball. This town came highly recommended by another cruiser and we do like the mooring field along with the facilities. The facilities are new, clean, and priced right! Ten dollars a night and you can also pull your boat in and wash it when you pump it out. We are ahead of schedule to meet our friends in Titisville so we will probably be here for the next week or so. We are going to split the time between boat maintenance and seeing the area.

 March 31 - We have been in Stuart for several days and very much enjoy the town. As a matter of fact, this town goes on our list of places we could come back to when we stop cruising. I could bore you with some of the items we have been doing however I will only relate one story. The 28 mile bicycle ride for a $9.47 crock pot.

When we were at the anchorage at Lantana we had happy hour with the monohull and learned when they were motoring they would hook up their inverter and then run their crock pot all day so they would have a hot meal at night with very little effort. We thought that would be a cool idea so we decided since there was a WalMart "close" in Stuart then we would ride down and along with the other items we needed, we would pick up a 2 quart crock pot. We found one and since it was only $9.47 we bought it. The ride down ended up being a bit further than we thought. We learned later it was 4.5 miles down to the WalMart and that was because we asked after the ride. So, the first ride with Deb along was 9 miles. When we got back to the boat we found out that the crock pot was broken. Oh well, I will simply ride back the next morning and exchange it for another one. The next morning I did just that and found the people at WalMart very helpful and they apologized then I picked up a new one. Another 9 miles. When I got back to the boat, Deb noticed that the one we unpacked wasn't the one that was on the picture and it didn't have a Hi and Lo setting. Ok, somebody exchanged the units and now we have to exchange it again. Deb decided that she would ride to the other WalMart that was north but was supposed to be closer. It was supposed to be 3 miles but we found out that it was 5 miles away. We made the ride, 10 miles total, and on the way home it started to rain and I mean a real rain. Of course we left our hatches open because it hadn't rained in 6 weeks so we decided to ride on in the rain just to get our hatches closed and clean up the boat. When we got back to the marina, I left Deb and rode the dinghy out in the rain and did a quick cleanup after closing the hatches. Next I went back in to get Deb with some dry clothes for her and a rainsuit. Of course she appreciated getting warm again but the real thing is we actually have a crock pot that we hope works when we plug it in. After 28 miles I will say that if it doesn't work I will donate it to the fish. By the way, I am getting in much better shape with all of the bike riding.

Overall, we have been very successful with some projects and will put up a few pictures in a couple of days. If you ever are cruising the east coast, you will want to stop in Stuart at the Southpoint Anchorage. Great people, great facilities, and the town is pretty cool with it's own boardwalk and a great section in old town Stuart.

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