December 1-14, 2009 - Cruising Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 Dec 3 - We came around the corner in Tampa Bay and were looking right at St. Petersburg. Since we were a day and a half ahead of the storm we had nice water and it was only 10 knots with about 1 foot seas. Ray was driving just fine and taking us in for a week in St. Petersburg. Once again, we took the deal that you could pay for a week in the marina and actually pay less than 4 single days. It is time for us to reprovision and also to catch up with our friends Garry and Shirlene.

You might have remembered from about a year ago that Garry and Shirlene sold their Morgan and purchased a Schucker that needed a ton of work. After stripping the entire boat of everything, they installed the new engine, transmission, shaft, dripless, watermaker, electronics, wiring, cleaned fuel and water tanks, painted it inside and out, new upholstery.... you get the idea. And here they are a little over a year later and they are out cruising during the winter again. Wow, this guy can work. The boat looks good too with the neat paint job.

We've been enjoying catching up with them and also headed off on the bus system for a trip to Wal Mart to start our reprovisioning.


We actually came to the marina for 3 reasons. First was the storm that you see came in last night. With winds on the screen at up to 64.9 mph then it was clear that we had made the conservative decision to just hang out here at the dock. We had cable T.V. and as I slept on the couch, Deb watched the wind and rain come and go. At 11 p.m. she woke me up and said, "I can't believe I was so worried about that front. It just came and then went. It wasn't worth worrying about afterall." Well, I just thought to myself, That girl does have salt in her blood now. This trip into the marina will repay itself many times because unless it is a hurricane, I don't think she will be worried near as much in the future. Now to ride out a hurricane at anchor. Hummm, now that is a thought but I think I will wait.

The second reason for tying up was to see Garry and Shirlene but we really could have done that at anchor since we both have good dinghy's. Regardless, it is fun walking the streets with them and besides buying things to eat to also stop by West Marine which we have to do at every port. You will see more about Garry and Shirline in the next few days.

The final reason was the St. Petersburg boat show. We were planning on attending the show on Friday and Saturday but the front that just passed last night is now supposed to back up and rain all day Friday. Therefore, we've decided to go to the boat show from 12-6 today, Thursday, and return on Saturday for the day along with the Latitudes and Attitudes Party. The rain is supposed to stop around noon which means that we should have a great party on Saturday night with the Eric Stone Band playing. So that leaves Friday open and the decision of what to do. Garry has arranged for a party on his boat with some fellow Schucker owners and we will be there enjoying the evening too. It will be a boaters party and I'll bet you can already guess what boaters will be talking about - boats.

It is nice to be out of the boat moving stage of this trip and into cruising again.

If you've followed our site for the last 2 months, you have to remember John on the Hunter 25.5. His boat is currently in Clearwater while he catches up with his wife and celebrates his birthday before returning to his boat for the final trip to Ft. Myers. Here is a note I received about his first crossing.

Crossing Over

At 5:30 A.M. I cast off from Jim as we were rafted up together at Carrabelle Beach
I set my main while Jim pulled anchor, then we were off, we were headed toward Steinhatchee, Florida, a trip that would take us 56 Nautical Miles in distance and at one point for a short time 22.5 nautical miles offshore.

We had checked, rechecked and then checked again all the weather reports and information we could get our hands on to make sure this trip was going to be a good one and one to be remembered. As it was my first trip, Jim worked especially hard to make sure it was fun and exciting. Armed with all of the information we decided all was well and it was a go…

With our mainsails set and motors on, we were underway well before the dawn had even set in on us we were well ahead of the day.

Jim called me as the day light was breaking on the horizon and said hey John congratulations we just crossed the COLREG, for those that don’t know this is the imaginary line that lets you know you are officially offshore now, it was cool to hear and added to the excitement it was so new so fresh and I was really in the ocean and offshore.

The forecast for the wind was good for us but nature being nature and man being man.
Nature did exactly what she does when man thinks they have tamed or predicted her for a day the wind was forecast at 10-15 knots and then dying in the afternoon, this is not how it happened, the wind died down for a while and then blew up on us peaking at 22 knots to be precise for those that don’t know this is about 26.3 miles and hour and while this doesn’t sound like a lot when you have hundreds of miles of the Gulf of Mexico behind you and the wind picks up the waves will soon follow.. and follow they did...

As it turns out at the end of the day the seas were only 3 feet but when you tell the story later like I am telling this one now you want so badly to say the waves were 6 feet in all honesty they were for me only 3. Three foot seas look and feel from the open cockpit like a freight train coming at you they sneak up and give you a little nudge (tough little nudge sometimes) to push over the crest and into the next waiting trough..

I took the waves on the stern and though the sea was actually going easy on me for my first crossing, and my first time in real salt water, it seemed like the fight of my life, she (the sea) was faster and stronger and actually at the time seemed more articulate and better thought out than I.

There are a lot of similarities between salt water and fresh water sailing, though they all end when you get offshore there is no rhyme or reason to the wave action and it all kinda feels like a washing machine effect as I have heard some people call it, well on a boat the size of mine a Hunter 25.5 you have to pay particularly close attention to the wave action as the sea can and will toss you about like you don’t even exist and let you know how really insignificant you are you her.

When the wind swung around behind us I got kind of a sinking feeling as there were a couple of small gusts on the back of my neck, I thought oops well that wasn’t supposed to happen, I made sure my jackline was secured to my harness (if you don’t understand the harness you have never been there) and that my life jacket was secure. Things were still very gentle at this point the waves hadn’t quite picked up yet but they were on there way.

I made sure the sheets for the genoa were clear and loosened the jib halyard went up on deck and forward to the bow, I as quickly as possible stuffed the genoa into the v berth and went back to the cockpit. Okay I felt better to have less sail in the air.

Well the 3 foot seas I described early finally made there way to us and coupled with the wind were propelling us at times by my GPS speed over ground at about 7.92 knots which is incredible as I was only running 10% throttle and only had the mainsail up,
Jim was cheering me on the whole time he said it was really cool to see how when I got up on the waves the bow of my boat would sink into the trough as she was shoved from behind like the victim of a brutal unwarranted attack, then she would lift her head and sails high above the crest and bring me comfortable sliding back down the face only to slow back down and do it all over again, it was at best an orchestra of chaos I was the stringed instrument upon which the sea played her song, try as I might I could not break free from the tune upon me which she played , in her gentle yet forceful way she plucked the strings like a violinist playing a concerto and I, as an instrument of her will, worked like an apprentice to learn her crafty ways as quickly as I could

After many hours of fighting, the sea and I came to an accord I would pull into the next port and stay there till she said it was okay to leave…this was Steinhatchee, FL

So as first crossings go this one was good, a tiring but good and beautiful crossing would I do it again yes but on a bigger boat, and after some time passes

I am currently in Ft Myers writing about this on the 20th floor of a condo building Julie and I will be living here for a time while we look for our new bigger boat and immersing our selves in the local culture starting with a bluegrass festival close by on my Birthday

And finally

Thanks to Jim and Deb Faughn for making the trip as wonderful as a single handed sailor could ask for while missing his wife , and to Julie you are wonderful I missed you terribly and you will always be my rock, my cape horn so to speak..

 Dec 4 - Once into the boat show, we passed the booths and headed over to the Gemini which was displayed at the show. We met several Gemini owners and one of them came over to our boat after the show. The 2010 Gemini is looking good and I think the main thing they continue to work on is the fit and finish. Everyone knows we love our Gemini and they are up to 1076 I think Tommy Smith told me. That means that our boat is at the half way mark of the hull numbers and still looking good!

I enjoyed talking to Tommy, no relation to the Smiths who own the company, about Performance Cruising and the boat. It is always fun talking Gemini's and what a value they present to the owners.

We then went off through a bunch of other boats looking at things we might do to our own boat along with touring the vendors for the first time. Our main emphasis today was on the boats however just because on the first day of a show the attendance is down and we could spend some time slowly looking at the boats.


St. Petersburg isn't the biggest show when it comes to boats but it is a nice show and for what we were trying to do, it gave us everything we were really interested in.

What can a cruiser do for a vacation? Go to a boat show.

One of the things I really enjoy is going into the really big boats and looking at the engine room. I really appreciate quality work and it really shows up when you get into wiring and plumbing along with the other systems on a boat. When a manufacturer gives those areas attention, you know they will have a boat that is easier to maintain and fix when the time comes and we all know that every boat will need fixed. I personally choose to do it in cool locations.

Then Garry just had to get Shirlene to see about the fit in the Hunter 50's hot tub/bath. They are seriously thinking of putting a tub like this on their boat. Now I want to visit them next year and my back will really appreciate the soaking.

To our surprise, Eric was playing at the refreshment tent and of course selling his C. D.'s. We said hi and he actually remembered us. He is doing well and living in the islands now but returns to the U.S. for summer tours when he is finished with the 7 day a week performances down in the islands in peak season.

We are skipping the boat show today, Friday, because it is supposed to rain all day and instead finishing up our provisioning for our trip south. We will be at the show again on Saturday once again to see all the vendors and attend the Lat's and Att's party Saturday night. Afterall, we are cruising and it is a cruising party.

I don't know at this time if we are leaving on Monday or Tuesday and it will depend on the winds. Hopefully we will be able to get a medium to light north wind and sail across Tampa bay with our asymmetrical flying then under the skyline bridge heading to visit our friends south of here. If you are looking to order a new Gemini, order it with the screecher sail and if you have an older Gemini, get an asymmetrical. We love ours and it just makes the experience all the more rewarding.


 Dec 6 - Yesterday, Saturday, we went back to the boat show and Deb went along too. She was in the spending mood and picked up some new things for the boat. I also showed her a window shade design and we will be ordering a couple of them for the front window of our boat. I'll show you what they look like when we get them. After heading back to the boat to warm up, Deb decided to stay warm instead of heading back to the Lat's and Att's party. I on the other hand went back to talk to the shade guy and then attend the party in hopes of winning the cruise donated by Sunsail.

Eric was there playing and so were a several hundred of his friends. Along with the music, the other thing people come for is food and beer. I'm allergic to beer but not food. People wait in lines for the pizza and it is good pizza but it amazes me that they try to get picky about the FREE pizza. I'm not kidding. One of the sponsors told me it was because that was the year they allowed power boaters into the party. I can't attest to that since I wasn't there but I know us sailboaters are too picky about the free food and beverages and all my power boater friends aren't either which I'm sure is why they are my friends. It's all about attitude and I can't think of a single friend I have that doesn't enjoy life.


 Speaking of enjoying life, the entire Lat's at Att's thing is about attitude. There is a saying that Bob dreamed up which is "Attitude - the difference between an ordeal and an adventure." Personally, I'm all about the adventure. So back to the party!

You can see the people line up for those pizza's and for this party the pizza's arrived in waves. I think they were 50 at a time and to each person that came up, they got a half of pizza. When the first wave ran out, then everyone patiently waited for the second wave and as you can see above left they gave me a wave too just to be on this website.

I often talk about how you live in a very small town when you are cruising and I'm not talking about Green Cove Springs, FL. I'm talking about the number of people who actually go someplace on their boats. You get to know them and they turn up in many of the same places.

You might remember Tom and Deb from Heart's Desire below left. They are out of Kentucky. We've seen them on off and on during this trip and currently they are anchored up in Clearwater. They said Hi, to everyone back at Green Turtle Bay.

Below right is Garry and Michelle from here in St. Petersburg and they own a Schucker.


To the left is Fred and Cheryl who are also Schucker owners

Below left of course you know me and by now you should know Garry from Zipadedoda.

Below right Garry, Shirlene, Garry, and Michelle.

And to the right is another story. Here I am walking back from talking to Eric Stone and the gentleman to the right said, "Jim, is that you." Ok, I'm thinking this has to be another Gemini person who's followed our website. Then he said, I'm from Serendipity. Ok, I got it, he was in Demopolis while we were picking up fuel and we also told him that it was ok to come in and anchor at mile 12 of the Tenn-Tom. Since he drew 6 feet on his boat then some of those anchorages aren't too wonderful. Mile 12 was and in he came. As a matter of fact, you've already seen the picture of his boat and he was the monohull in the fog at that anchorage. He knew my name because they actually had been reading some of our website. So meet Jay and Nancy from Oak Ridge, TN. Great people and back cruising again.

And to finish off a great party, to the left is a picture of Bob Bitchin who is the owner of Latitudes and Attitudes. Bob has a great attitude and you've already seen some of his philosophy. Another saying he's come up with is "Dream your life, live your dream." I think I'm going to get a T-shirt made for the next party that says "Living our dream" and put a picture on it of Deb and I on our boat in any town and any anchorage. Afterall, each one of them is wonderful.

If you can't tell by now, I'm back in full cruising attitude and the boat show was perfect for a break after the Tenn-Tom waterway.

Today we are off to see the movie 2012. I haven't seen a first run movie in a year or more so this should be fun. Garry tells me it is a great movie and he wants to know if I believe some of the things can actually happen in the boats and airplanes. The movie already has my interest since it involves two of my favorite things.

Dec 8 - We left St. Pete yesterday and went just south of Sarasota. Instead of stopping and heading in, we decided to simply hang out on the boat. We got anchored just before the fog had us trapped and being anchored behind something was "a good thing." This morning I didn't do much of anything because the fog was hanging out on top of us. Then at 8:30 it lifted and we were off. We were on the inside so today was 7 bridges and shallow water. The wind was on our nose so it was much more prudent to be inside rather than outside. Tomorrow, we will motor for an hour or two and then we should be in a place where we can cut the engine and raise the sail to head up Charlotte Harbor to see our friends the Bill and Bette in Punta Gorda. Pictures in a couple of days

Now for the serious stuff. I've been thinking about my canvas of life and very happy with the brush strokes we are applying today along with the colors. The question is, What should be the colors and strokes that should be applied over the next year or two? That my friends is what we are working on and it should be interesting as they develop the next part of our painting.

 Dec 10 - Today is Thursday and we have just had several wonderful days cruising. To the right is why they have the saying that if the birds are walking that you really don't want to sail through the area. I'm still guessing that this is something that Einstein would have figured out in his youth but there are many sailors and other boaters that just can't figure out that if there isn't enough water you simply won't float and if you are lucky, you can wait for high tide to float you off. Trust me, they aren't healing because they are sailing. They are aground and my bet was they would be there for 12 more hours.


Remember the boat show? I'm sure you do. I'll also bet that you remember that we took some pictures on top of a boat that showed the area. It happened to be that we took the pictures on top of a house boat and guess what? The house boat came past us on the way south. I think the only thing you can get from this picture is that if you buy a boat for more than 20,000 bucks you had better get a survey and a sea trial. The boat you see to the left is the boat we were standing on taking pictures. The steam you see is probably a bad impeller but who knows, it could also be a bad head gasket. Are you willing to take that risk on a 200,000 buck boat?

Next comes the fog. Last year we saw fog a couple of times on the Tenn-Tom but this year we have seen it several times on the ocean. We had to wait until 10 am on Wednesday to leave our anchorage for Punta Gorda because the fog was so bad that we couldn't find the channel.

However, once the fog lifted, we did find the dolphins.

 When we got to Charlotte Harbor we turned east and the wind was right behind us. We went wing on wing and it was pretty cool. Sailing directly downwind. The problem was we just weren't going fast enough. So, I just had to try something new for me.

  It was time to go wing on wing with our 150 percent genoa along with our asymmetrical. This was the real trick. With 5 - 5.5 knots of apparent wind, we were doing 4.4 - 4.6. knots.

We had a wonderful time sailing on the harbor. We arrived in Punta Gorda at about 4 pm and we had enough time for showers before Bill and Bette came by to pick us up to show us there new home they are building and then a wonderful dinner. We had drinks on top of a 5 story building overlooking the harbor and then on to the Crab Shack for dinner. Everything was wonderful and most of all the conversation with our friends was great. It was truly worth the diversion and it would have been nice spending more time with them. We will see them next in late January or early February in Key West.

 We left this morning and it was totally clear. About 8:30 the fog started coming in and the picture you see is the one I took at that time. Now here is the problem. It continued to close in. At one point I estimated that the visibility was only 25 to 50 yards at the outside. This lasted about 30 minutes before it started lifting and I was at attention looking in every direction with the engine pulled back to a much slower advance. You see you just don't want to hit someone or have someone hit your home just because you can't see as much. This was clearly the worst fog we have been in and we are looking forward to the front passing to clear out the moisture in the air.

Of course the fog lifted and just as we got closer to Cabbage Key, the fog came back. Since this was a narrow channel, we dropped the anchor and then we waited for about 30 minutes before heading to Cabbage Key for lunch. You can see Cabbage Key's restaurant below right.

 Here we are tied up to the end of the dock at Cabbage Key. Looks like a tropical paradise doesn't it?

Money on the walls and pretty good food too. We love stopping here but bring your wallet. It isn't cheap but then again, if you have to provide housing for the staff and bring everything sold at the place over on boats then it is totally understanding why things aren't cheap. Still it is an experience.

 Look at the picture at the right and you will see the fog is back. Where is that clear day????  

 And this afternoon the front moved through. Classic cold front.

Of course we were fishing at the time because we decided to just hang out for the afternoon and wait for the front to move through. You see, I'm really a sailor at heart although not a heavy weather sailor. Tomorrow we are supposed to have 10-15 knot winds out of the northeast so that means we should have several hours of sailing before we turn on the motor to go straight east and then more sailing to Ft. Myers Beach.

Yes, that is Deb catching a pretty good size Lady Fish. Overall we caught about 15 fish in about an hour and a half.

Did I tell you that we are having fun cruising again? I'm sure I did but the bottom line is we are having a wonderful time.


 Dec 13 - We had another beautiful sailing day on Friday. We started the motor, pulled the anchor, immediately raised the main with 1 reef, set course, shut off the engine, set the reefed genoa, and off we went. It was a great sailing day on the bay between Sanibel and Cabbage Key. You can see to the right that we have a picture of us making 7.5 knots but there were many times we exceeded 8 knots. The boat with reefs in sails fairly flat and well under control. Of course it helped that the apparent wind was right on our beam. Seas were rough but since we were in the bay they didn't have a chance to build up very high. Like I said, a Very Good day sailing.

As it turned out we made faster time than expected and had the Sanibel bridge in sight well before noon. Of course that meant that we had to take down sails because we made the turn and were going right into the wind. When we turned for the bridge we pulled the jib out again and it helped us along until we were under the Ft. Myers Beach bridge where we started looking for a mooring ball to pick up.

You can see below right the dinghy dock for the moorings.


Our boat is in the lower right for the picture to the left. Once we were settled, we put the engine on the dinghy for the first time since we left Kentucky Lake. It started right up and all is good in the waters surrounding "Freedom."

I went ashore to pay for our mooring and also to ensure we could have mail shipped here. You see we got word from our mail service that we had a perishable package and I needed to get it shipped again to us. When I called with the address, they said we also had another package and every one there wanted one. I immediately knew it was our microwave. I found the worlds smallest microwave and we should have it on Tuesday. You can bet that we will have reports. In addition, if it works as well as I think, we've also been talking to the owner of the company about advertising it on our website. Of course it will have to work great for us to do that but I have high hopes.

We also received a phone call and Larry and Joyce let us know they were back in town so we arranged to go to their house on Saturday. That gave us Friday night to go up to happy hour at Matanzas Inn which is the home of our mooring balls, and then over to Bonita Bill's.

Both were ok but no music while we were there so it was an early night.

Saturday, Larry and Joyce picked us up and took us to their house for lunch. It was very nice because they also invited over their friends of which several had sailed with Larry and also knew about St. Louis. We ended up fitting in just fine and had great conversation and a wonderful meal. We truly appreciated the afternoon especially seeing Larry and Joyce again.

You might remember that Larry sold his Gemini. Well it ended up that he had some "stuff," read that boat items, which he wanted to get rid of and he gave them to me. Some of which he knew we could use and some of which he wanted me to pass on or get rid of in anyway I was able.

We are going through the items but I can already see a full day of sorting between what we have and what they gave us to see what we keep and what we get rid of. The boat is getting smaller with all the "stuff" we now have on board.

The other thing they gave us was their Christmas Card/Message. As three time Gemini owners and having bought their first Gemini in 1982, they have seen many boat names. I thought their message was really cool because they worked in a number of boat names into their message. I liked it so much and thought it was so creative that I thought I would share it with you and I'm sure they won't mind.


This year our greeting is coming to you using the "names" of a few of the boats we encountered over many years of sailing.

It is our first Christmas without our boat "Skipper" as we have swallowed our anchor and come ashore.

We hope this year will be a "Knot Bad" year and you will be "Happy Calmz."

Over the years we had many "Happy Ours" with friends and family and were so happy to "Slip Aweigh" on our "Fantusea," so we could "go For It."

We tried to be a "Class Act," as it was fun to have "No Agenda," be able to "Dream On," and enjoy our "Hydrotherapy."

Our "Aqua Daze" were filled with many beautiful "Seascapes" as we pursued our "Odysea."

"Whata Ride" it has been! We had a "Good Deal" going for all those years and our "Epiphany" for all of you is a great Christmas season. "Don't Look Back," just keep pursuing that great "Freedom" of our Country in the year ahead.

Written by Admiral Joyce and Captain Larry

I thought the message was great and as I said very creative. I hope you enjoy it too.

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