May 15-31, 2008 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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May 15 - We are getting ready to start moving! I was ready to leave Key West and ready to get back on the water again. We have gotten into this cruising thing and the reality is we really like seeing new places. Of course we also love seeing friends we have met along the way which we are hoping to do on the way back up the west coast of Florida. However, to make the trip you must prepare and prepare is what we have been doing the last couple of days.

Yesterday, I carried water to start filling the tanks and then we met up with Gina to head down to Big Pine Key and spend the afternoon. Mike was off fishing so we had a good time together at their house.

Today, Deb went with Gina back down to Big Pine and I worked all day to get ready to our trip to the north. Such mundane things like changing the oil on the outdrive, transmission, engine along with the filter, replaced a broken bracket, lubricated the outdrive, cleaned the bottom of the boat, cleaned the dinghy bottom, finished filling the water tanks, and traced down a radio problem and then replaced a bad antenna. Like I said, mundane stuff and now we are ready to go. 

Now the reason that Deb was meeting up with Gina was that Mike had gone fishing. He didn't just go fishing, he left Monday morning and came back this afternoon (Thursday.) However, after he got back and cleaned about 100 fish, they were ready to drive back to St. Louis. The only thing they needed to do was to drop Deb off at the marina so she didn't have to walk.

Well, Deb didn't just spend the day hanging out. Instead, Gina took her shopping for food so we wouldn't starve on the way up north. On top of that, Deb also helped Gina prepare to leave. Now I wouldn't do it, but they drive straight through from St. Louis with two dogs and a bunch of stuff. This is a 24 hour trip and that makes me tired thinking about it.

We unloaded Deb's stuff and said our goodbyes and they were off driving.

What a night they are going to have! Mike just fished for 4 days and he is tired. I'm thinking that Gina is going to be taking the first shift and Mike had better be getting some power sleep!

We are looking forward to seeing them again in July for Band Camp on the weekends plus the 2008 reunion tour.

I finished up putting things away on the boat and we are ready to leave tomorrow. Winds are supposed to be right and we should be able to make about 5 knots sailing up to the Little Shark River. Saturday will be a motor sailing day and probably Sunday will be totally motoring but we are hoping we will get some money saving wind instead.

We will update again on Sunday I'm guessing and I will also be updating my Where is Freedom link because I've been negligent on that one. Since we will be visiting places we haven't been, I'm wanting to keep that up.

See you all in a few days with some new pictures. Lets all hope Mike and Gina make it back safe and sound.

 May 16 - We left Marathon today. First thing we did was pick up 20 gallons of diesel and that only cost 103.x bucks. Ok, I'm really happy I went to that sailing seminar in Georgetown! We motor sailed to the 7 mile bridge and started through. You might notice that there are two bridges. As a matter of fact, you might also notice the one in the back may look familiar. Did you ever see True Lies with Arnold Schwarenzager? I believe there was a cool part with a Harrier filmed on this bridge.

After we cleared the bridge we cut the engine and headed up to the Little Shark River. The winds were supposed to be 12-15 knots but they were wrong. Now if you've been out here long enough you know, that isn't surprising. They were less. We sailed anyway and most of the day ranged from 2.5 to 4 knots. We had a GREAT day!

The wind was directly behind us and we sailed wing on wing most of the day. I had to change the side the main was on but still it was wing on wing for about 7 hours.

On top of that, I had to yell at a turtle to get out of the way. I really did yell and he moved a bit and I took him down the starboard side. You can see him between the lifelines and the preventer.


 We then took on a great game of cards while getting up every 10 or so minutes to see nothing in Florida Bay running over about 10 foot of water. We are actually having a blast out here traveling at about 3.5 miles an hour in very calm seas.

In the middle of the card game, Deb said "Dolphins." I had the camera ready and was up in a hurry to catch a few pictures. there must have been 10-15 of them. It was really cool for about 10 minutes and then we had "zoomed" past them at a whooping 3.5 miles an hour.

Back to that card game.


 We made it to the area of the Little Shark River and decided that because of the heat, the low winds, and the tips about no-see-um's that we would anchor about a mile off of the land in Florida Bay. It is absolutely great out here with no bugs, a wonderful salad, and on top of that - Deb gets to watch an X-File tonight.

Tomorrow we will go up to Marco Island and anchor. I see it as our little Marco Island protest. For those who aren't cruisers, Marco Island had a law that prohibited anchorage in the area for a period of time and there is a big lawsuit about it that is still going on. So tomorrow, we will go anchor and see if we get run off. My bet is no since there is a pending case.

More pictures as we move up and hopefully more fun. We are really having a great time taking our days as they are delivered. This is what cruising really is rather than chasing around to make a schedule.


 Mar 17 - We left the Little Shark River this morning at 6:35 a.m. and had apparent winds 45-30 degrees off of our nose. So we motor sailed for 10 hours and 57 nautical miles to Marco Island. We were planning on our own little protest but we didn't find a great place inside that met our specifications. Instead, we went back out on the gulf sid and anchored behind the island that isn't there anymore because of a past hurricane. Yes, it is still gone but fairly protected.

The picture to the left is of the mountains of Marco Island that we saw as we moved up north. Of course the mountains were actually high rises but after being in the islands, we saw them as mountains.

We anchored and had a great pasta dinner that Deb prepared in an almost protected area that was good enough for us.

Tomorrow we are off for Ft. Myers Beach and we should be there in mid afternoon. We will be staying for about 4 days meeting up with our friend Carol and just kicking back for awhile. More tomorrow.....

 May 18 - We took off from Ft. Myers Beach this morning at 6:40 am and motored about 15 minutes while we got out of the pass and I got the main sail up. After that, the engine went off and we were sailing the rest of the day.

We made an average of 4.8 knots in 11 knot winds for the next 36 nautical miles and then I had to turn the engine back on again to go through the pass to Ft. Myers Beach and pick up a mooring ball. To the right you can see Ft. Myers Beach and you can also see that we have our snatch block attached to the middle stanchion base. I can't tell you how much this helps our sailing speed. We have sailed more in the last 3 days and will continue to take what the days give us. At this time, we figure we've saved about 35 bucks as compared to our previous method of motor sailing. By the way, that more than paid for our trip ashore tonight.

We are planning on spending 4 days here in Ft. Myers which includes seeing a friend on Tuesday and then moving on north. We aren't in a hurry although the forecast for later this week seems to be low winds and higher temperatures so we will be hoping for wind after this week comes to an end.

We are really looking forward to our trip back up the west coast of Florida. The last time we were in Ft. Myers Beach, we had been cruising for 55 days. Today, we have been cruising 550 days. Lets not be too detailed here and just say it is 500 days later. Things have changed and I would have to say the main thing is we are much more in tune with ourselves. This is exactly why we went cruising and it will impact the rest of our lives! I can only say that I would approach a job much differently now than I did before. I would also say that I would be much more effective. At the same time, I'm not looking to go to work even though I just had a job offer a couple of days ago from someone I know who really needs someone who can motivate people. It is nice to be wanted and it is also nice to know that you don't have to go back to work if you don't want too.

The message from this rambling is - Take the time to understand what you really believe in and then live your life that way. It really doesn't matter what other people want you to do, it matters what your values are and how your actions based on those values impact your actions. Then, go and have fun doing what you believe in. You will be successful.


 May 20 - Yesterday Carol and Don picked us up for an afternoon of conversation, fun and dinner. You might remember Carol from last years logs. She came down to Key West and spent a few days with us and then took the Key West Express back to Ft. Myers. Carol and Don have been doing quite a bit of traveling together and from the sounds of it, quite a bit more to come. Don was a contractor before retirement so he and I had quite a bit in common not to mention he was also a pilot.

After a great afternoon sitting around and in her pool, we had a wonderful dinner. Then we headed back to the boat and as we passed over the bridge, I saw that Larry on Skipper had picked up the ball next to us in the mooring field. We said our good byes to Carol and Don and dinghy 'd out to say hi to Larry and Joyce. We had a great visit. This morning, I went back over to see if I could figure out what was wrong with his autohelm. We narrowed it down but didn't get it fixed. At least Larry knows what he needs to do for the next steps. Since Larry and Joyce live in Naples, we talked about getting together next year on our way back down.

What a day! It is always fun to meet up with friends. I think relationships are one of the most important things in our lives. Thanks to all the people we have relationships with! We appreciate you.


 May 21 - Yesterday we played tourist. Ok, we've been to Ft. Myers Beach before but we never rode the trolley from one end of the island to the other. Yesterday we picked up the trolley and paid our whopping 25 cents each to ride the trolley 40 minutes down to K-mart. We really didn't need much so we had lunch and the picked up a few items and then rode it back to our stop for the boat.

Today, I took the trolley down to the grocery store and picked up the things we needed for the next weeks travels. I walked back which only took about 25 minutes and then took Deb in to do laundry. By the way this is the first time we did laundry on shore in over a month and a half. The new little orb we bought has kept us up to date wonderfully. After hanging out on the boat and planning our next couple of weeks of travel, we went in to Burrito Las Vegas for happy hour and some of the best nachos we've had. They chop all of their tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and peppers for some of the best salsa we've had. Next we went to hear some live music and are back on the boat. When the sun goes down some more I will pull the engine off of the dinghy and put away the solar panels. We will then be ready to go to the dock for fuel tomorrow and then we are off for Cabbage Key. If you ever come to this area you must go to Cabbage Key for lunch. Once again, we are ready to travel. We have a friend at Anna Marie Island we are going to see and then in about two weeks we have more friends in Panama City we are hoping to see. It is truly good to be cruising and seeing friends.

We really don't know about wi-fi access from here north because we didn't have our current antenna and wi-fi adapter when we came south. So, if you don't have a posting in the next 2-3 days - we haven't sunk and it isn't that I'm getting lazy. Of course I do enjoy the emails saying why haven't you posted but is a reason. Instead, I have an assignment for you!

What are the best one or perhaps two pot meals or appetizers that you would prepare on a boat when it is hot? Grilling is good too. Send me the recipes and I will post them with your name on our feedback section. Please send some dishes because we want to do something new on our way up the Tenn Tom when we will be cooking for ourselves most of the way. Thanks in advance for the tips.


May 24 - No recipes? Come on, we are tired of what we are eating. We have too many cans of chicken and are looking for new cuisine....

 We left Ft Myers Beach and headed to the new bridge that crosses to Sanabel Island. Two years ago when we headed south, we had to wait for a lift bridge so we could pass through. I'm absolutely, 100 percent sure, they didn't build this bridge so we didn't have to wait. Instead, I'm sure they built it so the millionaires wouldn't have to wait to get to their houses on Sanabel Island. Still, I appreciate it!


 We went a whopping 2X miles today and anchored at about 1:3O p.m. I cooked some great turkey meat balls and we then had some wonderful spaghetti. Ok, if you don't send me recipes, I'll post this one.... On Thursday morning we hung out until about 10:45 and then pulled the anchor and went into Cabbage Key. It is great because they have a free dock if you have lunch. Of course the dockmaster should and did get a tip because he gave Deb quite a bit of help up front.

Deb had a wonderful piece of Salmon and I had a Cheeseburger in Paradise. If you don't remember the pictures from when we came down, there are about 70,000 dollars hanging by tape in the building. Each year, approximately, 10,000 bucks falls down on the floor and they give that to a selected charity for the year. Pretty cool don't you think?

The trees are in bloom and they were absolutely beautiful as we are headed north.


To the right is the dockmaster's office, showers, and of course the boat used for guided fishing. They have nice showers if you stay overnight and they also have electric. However, they don't have water for your use since they are on an island that gets their water from a well and from rainfall.

We ended up at the dock in exactly the same slip that we stayed at in December of 2006. I guess our 14 foot width has something to do with it but it was real easy.

We left about an hour and a half later and headed north for a new anchorage.

As we crossed into Charlotte Harbor, we saw something weird. No, not weird, rays. I flashed back to June of 2007 in the Chesapeake Bay when I saw hundreds of thousands of rays migrating into the Bay past our boat. In Charlotte Harbor, we didn't see hundreds of thousands of rays, it was only thousands of rays.

I have to tell you again, this is really, really cool cruising and seeing things like this. We would have never seen turtles propagate and rays head into propagate had we not gone cruising.

Life is good!

As we headed up the inside, because there wasn't any wind, we ran past the two barges that do their thing substituting as a bridge. Of course they could care less about us so when they backed out in front of us, I had to put it into reverse to let them pass. I really didn't want to get into a shoving match with a boat that could carry 9-19 cars.

We anchored in a remote spot and headed to bed for an 8 am start this morning. There was absolutely no wind as you can see in the picture to the lower left. In addition, you can also see why you want to miss the markers by a bit of a distance. Where the old posts have rusted away and were broken off by some wayward boat, they leave a hull buster. I really don't want one of those hitting my hull!!!!

We arrived in Sarasota with hundreds of boats passing us at about 1:30 this afternoon. We saw several boats getting pulled over because they were exceeding the speed for the areas declared as Manatee zones. Too bad, so sad..... Really, when it is narrow and there is no place for the manatee to get out of the way, the boats really should slow down!

We will probably be here until Tuesday. It isn't that we aren't ready to continue to move but there are lots of people out in many boats including rental boats that don't know what they are doing. So, in my humble opinion, anchored is a wonderful thing. Plus, we get to wonder around Sarasota again.

 May 26 - Yesterday we spent the mid day walking around Sarasota in the downtown area. Next time we come by here, we will have to ensure we do it on a weekday or a Saturday. Almost everything is closed. I think it is like many large cities where the downtown shuts down on Sundays and Holidays. Regardless, the Whole Foods was open so we took our backpack cooler and picked up a few things so we could have a good dinner. Then we made our way back down different blocks and back to the marina.

We parked our boat at O'Leary's who has a beach used as a dinghy dock. It is 2 bucks a day to park your boat so that is a pretty good deal. Also, you can use the trash cans in the park to throw away your trash. Only problem is that there isn't a place to get water we found yet. Not a big problem, we will pick some up when we get fuel.

We listened to music for awhile and then headed back to the boat. I got the picture of the dinghy to the right just for the political season. I was laughing pretty hard at the name of this one.


This morning, I took off before Deb was awake to dump some trash and to take a walk around the many boats in the marina and in the park. I saw an elderly man shuffling along on his morning walk and as I went by him, I noticed he had on a blue shirt that was embroidered with "P-47 Thunderbolt Pilots Association." I turned back around and tried not to scare him but said, "Sir, Sir." He turned around and looked me over a bit, not noticing the wimpy pony tail, and I asked him, "Did you fly the P-47's?" He beamed, I mean he really looked happy that someone would actually notice and talk to him about it. You know we all wear those tee shirts or other shirts proclaiming a vacation or some hobby that we are proud of but I don't really remember the last time someone stopped me to ask them about what was on my shirt. Sorry, back to the story. Of course I was also beaming because I have just met a man who flew for 4 years in WW II in a P-47. We stood there on the sidewalk and talked for about 10 minutes about the friends he lost during the war, the friends he has lost since the war and that he is one of the last of the WW II P-47 pilots left. He told me he was going up to the Memorial Day Celebration later to see if he could find someone else who flew or served in WW II. Last year he found one other pilot at the celebration so this morning he put on his shirt and was ready to see if he could find another pilot his age. I shared with him that I was also a pilot but nothing like him and we talked about his flying after the War. I shook his hand three different times thanking him for his service to our country and told him I was sure many other countries were also appreciative of what he and his friends gave up to fight for their freedom.

I really enjoyed meeting Fred and wish I would have had the presence of mind to walk him down to the restaurant and buy him a cup of coffee or breakfast. I felt like I met a true piece of American history today and here he was just shuffling down the sidewalk and doing a good job of it at that. Fred was smiling as I left and I think he was smiling as much as I was. Hopefully we both brightened up each other's day.

Deb and I will be hanging out in Sarasota again today but I think we are moving later this afternoon to our next anchorage.

May 27 -  We left Sarasota yesterday afternoon and went a huge 10.8 miles to our next anchorage. Wow, what distances we are covering! I picked mid afternoon because of boat traffic which I predicted would be less and fewer drunks heading home. I think I was pretty close. We anchored off of Longboat Key and the anchorage was pretty full. Fortunately, we don't draw much water so we were still able to find a spot without being in the middle of everyone.

The rest of the afternoon we sat out back on the boat and Deb gave a narrative about the people anchoring, yelling at each other, pulling their dinghy's out or putting them in. It certainly appeared that some of these people hadn't done some of these things recently if at all. I was just happy we were off to the side and there wasn't enough water next to us for someone else to get in. Regardless, it made for pretty good entertainment.


Speaking of entertainment, there were two 50 or so footers moored together and decided to head back to Sarasota. One left and the second one pulled the anchor and failed to navigate the shoals that are outside the channel here at Longboat Key. Aground! A nice guy in a sport fisher pulled him off and then he went aground again. I'm serious! The sport fisher had left so this time the guy called Tow Boat U.S. You can see that picture lower left. They towed him off and I guess guided him through the channel, which we had just gone through earlier, and then he was off to Sarasota.

Of course it wasn't two hours later and another big boat went aground. I'm sure alcohol had some involvement here. Afterall, my two and a half year old, inexpensive GPS had accurate charts and I'm sure these guys weren't suffering from the lack of resources to purchase a GPS. Then again, maybe they had distractions on their boats when they were driving.

This morning we are off for a dinghy ride to the "hidden" dinghy dock. I'm looking forward to doing some more exploring.

 May 29 - We had fun in Longboat Key but now it isn't one of my favorite stops. The problem is, the day we arrived, the grocery store closed. This is the one you take the neat dinghy ride to and tie up to the concrete wall. I'm hoping the economy improves before we come back again so a new store will open. We then had a great happy hour with some people we met in the anchorage.

Yesterday, we left at 12:30 from the anchorage so we could arrive at Anna Marie Island at about 2:30. As it turned out, we hit the bridges right and arrived exactly at 2:30. To the right you can see Ed's house and boat - Road Not Taken. We stopped at Ed's on the way down a year and a half ago. Ed was a friend of a mutual friend. He also makes airplane props as his business so we had a number of things in common. We hit it off so I gave him a call a couple of weeks ago and he invited us to stop by again.


 This time we didn't have any errands we needed running and we got to meet Betsy too. They seem to be great with each other and both are giving and respectful people with many interests in common. We had some great conversations and a wonderful dinner at their house.

In addition, they both volunteer to help identify turtle nests and to help protect the eggs so they will not be disturbed while they hatch. They hadn't seen turtle propagate so we just had to share our pictures we took while we were in Key West. It ends up, a picture or two may end up in their turtle slide show.

Thanks again for the wonderful visit and we were both talking about us stopping by on the way back down this fall.

This morning, after I get this posted, we are off to Clearwater. There is little wind forecast but we will go outside anyway. You can set the autohelm and then kick back instead of driving intently all day. More about that later.

May 30 - We left Ed's dock at 8 am on Thursday morning and made our way out of the canals of Anna Marie Island for Tampa Bay. Ed was back from turtle patrol and told me as we left they found two new nests that morning.

You can see to the right the huge and beautiful Tampa Bay bridge. You might remember about 10 years ago that a freighter hit the bridge which changed the requirements of the harbor pilots being on the large ships from further out. As a matter of fact, as we were making our way out of the channel, a freighter was entering the channel. It looks like we are back to the land of big ships.


Just as we were making our way out, I saw this huge swarm of birds. I could see splashing on the water and ultimately figured out what was going on. It seems that the larger fish were feeding on schools of smaller fish and the birds were cleaning up the leftovers.

You can see some closer pictures below. The one to the lower left shows where birds are dive bombing the leftovers. Look at the splashes, some are from the birds and in the others, you will see no birds around. Those are from the fish feeding from below. There were times when I would start to see all of this splashing and then about 50 birds would head to the splashing for a tasty treat. I guess the early bird gets the food.

We were welcomed into Clearwater by a fire rescue boat. I was thinking that they must have a really big budget to welcome every sailboat to Clearwater. Well, maybe and maybe not. I think they were really out testing their equipment. We had para sailor, coast guard helicopters, and fire rescue welcoming us. It is nice to be wanted!

The picture on the left is Clearwater as we saw it from the gulf. We are getting back to those beautiful white sand beaches. In the picture, you can just make out the channel on the far left side. We headed in keeping the markers on the correct side and made our way to the anchorage. As it ended up, we are the only people anchored here right now.

We like this anchorage because it is fairly well protected, close to the municipal marina, and there is a grocery store that you can walk to and then catch a cab back. On top of that, they have some great happy hours on the beach.

We will dinghy over to the municipal marina today and check to make sure they will still let us tie up our dinghy. Then off to the store for provisions and we had our mail shipped to the UPS store and it should be here today.

Our plans, made of jello, are to hang out here until either Sunday or Monday and then go up to Tarpon Springs. If I can believe the wind forecast, it looks like we will be making our 24-30 hour crossing starting on Wednesday morning. Then again, we will have to see what the weather gives us.

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