June 1-14, 2008 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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June 1 -  For the last two days we've been sharing our days with routine and some fun. One of the things we have enjoyed finding out about is the transit systems in each town. When we were in Ft. Myers Beach, we found out about the trolley there which was 25 cents a ride. Here in Clearwater, they have two different buses. The one you see to the right stops at a couple of places on the beach but it also connects throughout the region.

We rode it back from a trip we made to Walgreens to pick up our medicines we needed. It was a great bus because it was air conditioned.


 In addition, they also have the Jolly Trolley. This costs you $1.25 per person per ride. It stops at lots of places along the beach and it also takes you to the grocery store.

We took the bus over yesterday for the grocery store and picked up enough groceries to last us until we arrive in Panama City later this week. It is quite a bit easier to take the bus than to walk the mile and a half in the humidity and heat.

Yesterday we saw the space shuttle take off. It was cool because I watched it from the dock and saw the vapor trail as it successfully went up into space with the big section for the space station. I understand they also stuck a new pump for the head aboard too since the space station's pump failed. This has been a good week for NASA.

To the right you can see Freedom at anchor. We are the only ones anchored out here in Clearwater! The people at the municipal marina are very nice and they allow people who anchor out to tie up their dinghy's at no charge. Since we are the only ones out here, there isn't too much of a fight for a dinghy dock space.

We headed off to happy hour after the space shuttle launch and then at six, we went down to Pier 60. This is the main pier at Clearwater Beach. They have vendors trying to sell jewelry, sketch your face, and sell you things I'm sure everyone really needs.

In addition, there was a volleyball tournament of some sort going on too. They must have 30 volleyball courts set up. I guess this is a big place for volleyball.

There were also plenty of people left on the beach.

One of the things that I've noticed about Clearwater Beach is it appears to be much more family friendly than Key West. I'm still at a loss as to why anyone would take children to Key West. At Pier 60 they have a sunset watch and they also have live entertainment.

You can see below the water slide for the kids and to the right you can see the reggie band for the rest of us. These guys were pretty good too and did quite a bit of Bob Marley music.

One of the things I always think is fun is the street performers. These guys are in great shape. I don't think I could do this at any point in my life and I will guarantee you, there is no way I could even think about it now!

We watched for awhile and left them a tip so they could pick up another mat to slide around on.

Today we are sticking around Clearwater again. Monday it looks like we will be heading up to Tarpon Springs and find an anchorage there so we can dinghy in and explore the sponge docks. Tuesday we will probably clean the hull of the boat, put up the dinghy and position the boat to take off early on Wednesday morning. Unless something changes with the weather, we are planning on going direct from Tarpon Springs to Panama City. That trip is 200 nautical miles and that will be our longest offshore trip to date. We should arrive around 6 pm on Thursday which will give us a couple hours to spare of daylight. Then I'm betting we will be tired! 36 hours offshore.

The good news is that we will be meeting up with Larry and Susan who are also Gemini owners along with Mike and Cheryl who live in Panama City. We should have a great time for a couple of days and then it will be off towards Pensacola to spend a week or so with my father. Of course, all of this could change at a moments notice depending on weather and if anything breaks.

 June 3 - We left Clearwater at low tide and with a show of pink flamingos. They were just walking down the bank rooting through the seagrass. Deb says they are pink because they eat shrimp. I guess they were trying to root out some shrimp.

We had a short trip up to Tarpon Springs and anchored in an inlet for a power plant off of a boat ramp. When you are near a boat ramp, you have instant entertainment. We watched people wade in the water to get their boats on the trailer, put out 40 feet of line and crank them up (I guess they forgot they had an engine), and of course the funniest was when someone didn't connect his boat to the trailer and as he was pulling it out, the boat fell off the trailer and back in the water. I guess he was lucky it didn't fall on the ramp. You can't make this stuff up, it's really true!


 I put the dinghy engine on after calling the City Marina because they said it was no problem for us to tie up to their docks. Great, another adventure.

We had about a mile and a half dinghy ride and most of it was at idle speed and against the current.

In the picture to the left you can see the sponge docks which now are about 50% "working boats" and the other 50% tourist type of boats. Below I got a couple of pictures of sponges being dried on the decks of two boats.


 We arrived at the City Marina and met Roy who is the dockmaster. He was real nice and even waved the $5 fee to tie up. I guess it was the smile of the fact that we talked to him awhile about our port-a-boat and the town.

We then took off for a walk down the street to see some of the places in town. However, it seems we just aren't in the shopping mood anymore. I'm serious, Deb is passing up shopping! I think the reason is we don't have anyplace to put anything and it is our rule that if you buy something you have to throw something away.

Well, you know what that means, time for some new tastes. Since we are in a Greek village, we must eat Greek food!

So, we ordered an appetizer that we had never eaten before loaded with things we had never tasted. It was great! You can see the name of it to the lower right. I'll try to remember what they were made with since I'm guessing we don't have too many Greeks following the website and most of us can't interpret Greek.

On the plate to the lower left starting at the 12 o'clock position is Salmon Row then moving clockwise is a potato something, next at 6 o'clock is the cucumber dip and finally at 9 is the eggplant dip. They were served with pita bread and we ordered some extra.


The different dips were absolutely delicious and the waitress was great too. Deb and Bonnie are pictured to the left. I asked Bonnie about making humus and she checked again with the kitchen and I figured out what I've been leaving out. Now I need to make it and if it works perfectly, I'll put it on my recipe page. By the way, I've had two recipe's sent to me that I have to try and then I'll put them on that page too.

As we were leaving in the dinghy, we got this picture of Santorini's from the water. (That is where we just ate.) They have a good view and as you already know, we thought the food was excellent. There are a bunch of restaurants up and down the waterfront but not that many that are on the water. That is the reason we picked Santorini's to start with but I have to say, we will go back for the food.

I'm surprised that we are able to pick up a wi-fi signal where we are anchored but we are. So, I put together this update before we head out to position behind and island for an easy exit in the morning. The wind forecast looks great although we will be motoring most of the time. The next update will probably be Friday afternoon at the earliest because I am absolutely positive we won't have a signal when we are 50 miles offshore.

 June 6 - The alarm clock went off Wednesday morning at 4:40 am. I rolled out of bed and finished the preparations to leave. When I started the engine, the signal for my best first mate to arise, Deb also rolled out of bed. Heading forward to pull the anchor, I am happy there are very few clouds in the sky. You can see the island in front of us and you can see all of the lights from Tarpon Springs. However, once again, we are crossing when the moon is just creeping out from behind the shadow of the earth. Well, the good news is that the winds appear to be as forecast and that means we should have a good crossing.

After pulling the anchor I was underway at 4:50 am. No sun in sight although we had enough visibility to see what was necessary. I had two turns before we were on course for the main crossing. As I approached the first light, I could make out the flashing red denoting the red marker about a half mile before I was there. The GPS is a wonderful device and any boater simply shouldn't leave home without it. They point out the lights and markers well before you can see them and I've found they are typically within 50 feet or less of where the markers and contour lines are in the water. We had a 3 mile run to the next marker made the second turn and then we were on course for a point off of St. Joseph Peninsula. The GPS read 156 miles to go before our next turn. It was still dark and I already knew that I shouldn't have to touch a thing for at least 24 hours. With the GPS talking to the autohelm, we didn't get off course more than 15 feet the entire 156 nautical miles.

It was around 6 am when I saw the light beginning to come from behind me, which just happened to be the east. Amazing, the sun still knows where to awaken. What was also amazing was the lack of wind. It was as calm as predicted and we already knew it would be a motor/motor sail across the Gulf of Mexico. We won't see land again until tomorrow morning so we might as well settle into a relaxing trip.


Deb had gone back to bed and arose again at about 8:30 am. She took over the watch so I was able to get about an hour and a half nap. So far, neither one of us have seen another boat since we left this morning.

We settled into a routine where we set the egg timer for 10 minutes and when the beep, beep, beep would sound, the person on watch would get off of the couch, head outside and check 360 degrees for other boats, obstacles, and the engine instruments to ensure everything was ok before coming back in and resting the timer. Then we were back to a wicked card game, watching a movie, or reading a book. So far we have motored and motor sailed which always helps our speed some and conserves on the fuel. We have elected to run the engine slightly slower than normal specifically for fuel savings. The higher fuel prices have impacted everyone even wimpy ponytail sailors.

When we were 80 miles across, with 80 miles to go to land, we were met by a dolphin. He just happened to be paying attention to our watch schedule and came by to visit when I was making the routine checks. I called out DOLPHIN and Deb came a running. I went in to pick up the camera and went back to try and get a picture. Fortunately, the water was about a clear as gin so the pictures did come out. This guy just came by to say Hi and then he was gone.

We had been noticing for the last number of miles that jelly fish were everywhere. I would look and at times I would see four or five and other times I would see one or two. These weren't the monster jelly fish we've seen before, rather most of them were the size of dollar pancakes and I was wondering how many of them must be out here. There must be billions of them because for hours we continued to pass them.

In addition, the poor picture to the right is one of some vegetation the was floating around. It was very interesting because every time you would see a clump, you would also see some small fish under it. If it was a small clump, they were small fish. If it was a big clump, then you would have bigger fish. I guess that is just the way it works, the little tiny crustaceans and baby fish get eaten by small fish and then they get eaten by bigger fish and the cycle continues until the biggest fish in the pond gets to choose what he wants for dinner. All I keep wondering is, am I far enough offshore so that the big fish on the land doesn't eat me?

The sun set in the west, just where it was supposed to, as we were nicely making way. The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful offshore. I particularly enjoyed looking at the tops of the clouds which were outlined by the suns rays producing a very erie effect outlying those tops as the sun set another 30 mile further around the globe showing us the tops of the clouds over there.

It took awhile for the light to go away completely but as predictable as where the sun rises and sets, ultimately, the light does go away and all you have left is the light from the stars and the moon. Since there was only a sliver of a moon, the main light this night was the light from the stars. Speaking of stars, they were everywhere. Stars are another reason to go offshore. The two stars on the lower right of the big dipper still pointed to the north star and the billions of stars that make up the milky way created a white sash across the star covered sky.

We settled into our watch for the evening and night. I was on from  seven pm until ten pm and then Deb was taking the ten pm to one thirty am watch when I was to get some sleep. Fortunately, I did go to sleep and probably got two and a half hours worth. She woke me at  one thirty and I said "can't I sleep for another hour or two?" She said "really?" I said, "just kidding." You have to know how much Deb hates overnighters to understand how funny this was. Lets just say, Deb loves her sleep.

Deb told me as she was heading to bed that she had seen 5 other boats going the opposite direction on her watch. I thought, "cool" something to do. She was thinking, "darn, something to avoid." She was asleep in minutes and I was settling into my routine of beep, beep, beep, get up look, back to the couch and finish that book. During the night the wind fell even more so I harnessed in and went on top of the boat with the strap from my inflatable life jacket connected to a strap which connects to a longer strap, called a jack line, that runs from the forward port (left) side of the boat, around the mast and back to the the aft starboard (right) side of our boat. I got the main sail down and pulled in the jib so they would quit flapping and we picked up a couple of tenths of a knot without the resistance.

About four in the morning, I began seeing bright white lights. Ultimately, I was tracking eight different shrimp boats. They are pretty easy to spot since they have huge white lights shining down off the back of their boats. In addition, they don't go to fast so they fit right in with my schedule of beep, beep, beep, get up and check. They must have been very cooperative because I didn't have to change course at all. Either that or the GPS is quite a bit smarter than I give it credit for. I'm betting on luck however.

Land Ho! Well, yes this is land but we actually saw land about 35 miles ago. We made out 156 nm run across the Gulf and made our turn for another 36 nm run up the coast towards Panama City. As the morning progressed, the sea breezes picked up and we were motor sailing wing on wing with the engine running at about 2200 rpm's and we were still making almost six knots.

We made it through the deep channel and continued in past Shell Island, Davis Point, and then made a turn at Redfish Point towards our anchorage off of Smack Bayou. We set the anchor, figured out that we were now on central standard time, made a few phone calls to let people know we had arrived and I went to sleep for about two hours. When I awoke, I called Larry and Susan, who are on vacation this week and aboard their Gemini which is based in Panama City. They would see us in about an hour.

Overall, we made a 201 nm crossing, anchor up to anchor down in 34.9 hours and used about 26 gallons of fuel. We were just starting to get acclimated to the idea of sleeping for a couple of hours every time we were off watch so I can see why it takes a few days to get into the watch routine. Overall, it was a good trip.


 About an hour later, Larry and Susan on Okie Dokie, came by and tied up to our boat for a nice visit. Ultimately they pulled away and went off to anchor near a beach they could use for their dog and we watched a movie and were asleep before the sun set.

We are heading into Larry and Susan's dock today and expect to go to lunch with our other friends Mike and Cheryl. It should be a good reunion and we are looking forward to walking around a bit and avoiding the "big fish" who live on the land.

 June 9 - On Friday, we arrived at the dock and got the boat secure so we could go to lunch with our friends. To the right you can meet Mike and Cheryl and below is Larry and Susan. We went to Bayou Joe's and had a good lunch and visit with everyone. We also made plans to get together that night at the first Friday street party. As it turned out, Mike's band was playing on the street that night and we were able to catch a number of songs before they finished up.

During the afternoon, we ran some errands and also checked out a guitar amplifier. I've been having fun playing on the boat so ultimately, I ended up buying a small amp that will work for both my guitar and microphone. After checking out the prices on the internet, I went back and purchased the amp from the shop Mike recommended.BNH Music and I found Tony, the owner, to be an honest, no pressure person who really knew his stuff. He owns the building so his prices are just as good as what you would pay if you order the equipment on-line. I used the amp on Saturday night to play at the dock and had fun testing it out while everyone cooked and talked. It was a great purchase. Now to find something that big to throw away on the boat. I think I have just the thing!

We had a great, albeit too short, of time in Panama City and we've already started making plans for coming back by again on our way back south. We will have to stay longer this next time however.


We left on Sunday morning and headed west towards our next destination. Since there was little wind and in the afternoon it was going to be right on our nose, we stayed inside and headed for the "Grand Canyon." It was really a trench dug for barge traffic but I guess someone got creative with the name.

As we were passing through some of the areas, there were times the marsh grasses reminded me of South Carolina. The grasses aren't quite as tall but they do look fairly similar. Of course with marshes come bugs and some of the fly's here seem big enough to carry you away. One thing is absolutely true - when these fly's bite, they draw blood! You can see the evidence of some biting fly's below. That happens to be a picture of my foot and I didn't take a picture of the fly because I had already sent him to fly heaven from the results of my fly swatter.

We anchored a little after 4 pm about 10 miles from Destin. Since we have reservations at the free dock in Ft. Walton Beach on Monday night, we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere. I picked out a place that had a few houses just in case I could pick up a free wi-fi signal and guess what? Yes, we are posting on someone's wi-fi. Thanks by the way.

I also looked at the weather and saw we had thunderstorms coming. We got lucky because it appeared the storms were going to go just north of us. In about 15 minutes, the rains started and the thunderstorms were to the north of the bay. That was nice because there were 40 knot winds associated with these storms and I really didn't want to hang out in them if you know what I mean.

Later, another catamaran came in and I wasn't paying much attention to him until I saw him run aground. I really was wondering why he was over in the really shallow water but figured he must have had "local knowledge." It ended up he didn't but I guess he believes the charts now. By the way, I've said it before but our Garmin GPS is one of the best investments we made before leaving. I'm not sure why anyone today would go out in a boat without a chart plotter. You don't even have to have an expensive one to ensure you don't get to show off your bottom paint.

When we got up this morning, he was still aground and I guess he is waiting on high tide. He's really up in the shallows so who knows how he will get off without calling a tow company.

We don't have far to go today and we will be in Ft. Walton Beach where where plan on getting provisions for the next week and seeing the town again. Then we will be off for Pensacola.

  June 10 - BEEEEEEEEEEEP - I get ahead of myself. We left this morning from the anchorage and once away from the four foot water, I set sails hoping the wind would hold up. After thirty minutes, the wind was down to about 3 knots and we were doing about a knot or should I say nothing. I dropped the outdrive, started the engine and off we were supposed to go. About 3 minutes later, BEEEEEEEEEP.  I shut down the engine because the temperature was WAY TOO HIGH. I had been watching the sea grass become less however it was also smaller. I pulled the Engle out of the "garage" and cleaned the sea strainer and then checked my impeller which turned out to be fine. Started the engine again and the temperature was building again. Next, I filled the antifreeze jug and after about 5 minutes, started it again. Up went the temperature. GREAT, I thought about that moon trip and said "we have a problem." I ended up letting the engine cool for about 30 minutes while we sailed at a whopping point eight knots and then took off the cooling cap to fill the antifreeze for the engine. I guess it must have boiled off. That is the only answer I could come up with unless the thermostat was bad. After filling the engine with antifreeze, I started the engine again and all was well. What a way to start the day! We motored for about two more hours with no problems and pulled into the free dock at Ft. Walton Beach with no further problems.

This afternoon we took a walk and found the cinema was still open and to our surprise, Monday's you can get in for a buck a piece. Of course we spent more than that because we bought a pizza and a couple of glasses of wine too. It was a pretty good movie but the best part was it was air conditioned! We are back on the boat right now and it has cooled off which is wonderful. Tomorrow, I will walk up to the grocery store and pick up some stuff for the next week and we use the free pumpout, pick up some fuel at the dock across the way and then we are off for an anchorage tomorrow night. It looks like things will be on schedule for arriving at Pensacola on Wednesday.

June 12 - We left Ft. Walton Beach on Tuesday morning after I walked to the store and picked up some supplies. We motor sailed almost all day except for the time we were sailing. I was trying out my snatch block going to the wind in a small channel so I had to stay in the channel. We started off with the wind at 8 knots and making 3.5 knots going 40-45 degrees to the wind. However, within 20 minutes the wind was 25-30 degrees so we were back to motor sailing. Oh well, next time I won't be in a constrained channel and should get better information. We anchored at Pensacola Beach and had a great salad for dinner and watched a movie.

I was able to get my new inverter hardwired into the boat so I don't have to set one up each time I want to use it. I bought a bigger inverter of 700 watts along with the associated 8 gauge wire and 40 amp fuse plus some connectors. Now that I have it installed, every time we motor we change the refrigerator from propane to electric and also charge everything that can use 110 volts. It is working great and not at all at it's rated capacity. I figure we will save quite a bit of propane on the way back up the Tenn-Tom when we will have to motor for the entire trip.

We pulled anchor on Wednesday about mid-morning and headed into Palafox Pier Marina. They are always nice here and this is the first time we've paid for a marina since Beaufort, South Carolina. That, by the way, was about eight months ago. It is nice to be hooked up to electric and running the air conditioning. Not to mention there is this black cable you hook up to a box on the dock, hook it to your TV and guess what? You get cable. What is the world coming too...... Ok, we haven't been gone that long but it is nice getting the weather and watching the food channel. We hear the news all the time on XM radio so we are up to date there but some of the other things I still like to see. We will be at the marina for two more days and then out to anchor for four days to play and fish. Then we will go to a different marina for two more days to see my father again and we will be traveling again starting next Friday.

We are starting to think about that trip up the Tenn-Tom and were getting a bit worried about the floods that are occurring in the mid west and how they will effect us going up stream. After looking at a website showing predicted water levels for five days on the Tenn-Tom however, I'm not as worried. I had forgotten something very important called the continental divide. By the way, that is what they had to cut through to make the Tenn-Tom waterway. It seems most of the rain is north of Mississippi so that means all the water will go down the Tennessee to the Ohio and on to the Mississippi. It shouldn't have much if any effect on our trip north until we drop out of Pickwick Lake going down to the north. We are still looking at arriving back in Kentucky around July 11th or so but we really don't know yet. (Oh yeah, we don't have to know but we have several people already wanting to know when we will be back. Thanks for thinking of us!)

 June 13 - Yesterday, I took off for a walk through Pensacola's Seville Quarters. The town is celebrating it's 450th anniversary for the next year. I decided to walk around to see what has changed since we were here a year and a half ago. Overall, not much. The town has always been clean and there are nice shops and bars downtown but the kitchen store I bought some things in last time had closed along with a number of other stores. Even though they say they aren't as hurt by the economy here, gas prices are hurting them and about every fifth store was empty until you got down to where the government buildings were. It was a great walk and I walked past the shipping pier to take a look at the big wind generator blades that were being shipped to somewhere. I think there were about 60 blades so that would mean about 20 wind generators going either to overseas or somewhere where the wind blows constantly. Hopefully, they will help reduce energy consumption and prices will stabilize or even go down sometime.

I took the picture of the crab swimming in the marina and then we heard some music so, off we went to listen to this two man band playing on the end of the point. It was hot so we didn't stick around long and I'm not sure why the guy on the right just had to wear a coat. I guess it is part of his "look."


Why in the world would I be taking a picture of my feet? Well, this is the first time I've had long pants and socks on since December of 2006. I actually had to look long and hard to find both the long pants and socks. They felt weird! Since I've only worn shorts and sandals for next to forever, the feeling of something on my legs felt foreign. Even the hairs on my legs and feet were saying "what are you doing to me? Don't tell me you are going back to work!"

You just can't talk to your feet where they understand. No, Jack, my father, had invited us to go out to dinner that night at a very nice restaurant and that meant something other than shorts and sandals.

We parked the car and when we were seated we found out we had just happened to pick the right time to be seated and for dinner because there was going to be a parade coming right down Palafox (the main street) and we would see it from our window seats. How cool.

When the parade started, I went out and snapped a few pictures. I always enjoy getting a picture of police officers who understand that yes they have to catch bad guys but they don't have to be uptight about it.

Since this is a big navy town with the Blue Angles based here, having a Grand Marshal from the Navy makes quite a bit of sense.

And on came the guys wearing skirts. I never got that but then again, I'm the guy wondering about wearing socks and pants so maybe they have the right idea afterall. Especially if they loose the socks.

It ends up this is essentially Pensacola's Marti Gras celebration so beads were being thrown by all of the floats. It looked like everyone was having a great time so I just had to get back in for dinner.

To the lower right is my father, Jack, Deb and of course me (Jim) in my best sailing shirt. You have to imagine those long pants and you will see that this is that once a year thing. We were having dinner at Jackson's which is rated as one of the top 25 restaurants in Florida. The food was delicious and we truly appreciated the opportunity to enjoy the evening in a great atmosphere especially with such wonderful culinary delights.

After dinner, we went back to the boat for a glass of wine and then made plans for Friday. There is a Super Walmart run in the offing. The things that make us happy are pretty simple these days.

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