August 1-31, 2011 - Cruising - Life Log for S/V Freedom - a Gemini 105 - Jim and Deb Faughn

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 August 9 - Life over the last month has been busy. I want to start with a wonderful meeting we had with TrueCourse. At this meeting we were all able to share ways to improve an already wonderful program. All I can say is it only gets better and better for us teaching the Captain's courses.

I know you don't want to hear about all the business stuff and instead you want to hear about catching fish! Yes, one of our events was to go out and try and actually catch fish verses just fishing.

To the right you can see our ship. Unfortunately it wasn't the USS Minnow. I was actually getting very hopeful about being a castaway on an undiscovered island. Is that even possible anymore?

We were out to catch a few fish although the real fun was being with the other instructors and one of the owners. Deb was appointed official photographer and did a great job. First fish worth taking a picture of was caught by Capt. Ron - yes that is his name - and he was one of the owners. Good thing he caught the first one....


And he's happy about it too although the shark isn't.

Oh and guess who also caught a fish he could talk about. Yes, it is me. I now wear a Tully hat since I am an official Floridian and I'm working pretty hard at keeping out of the sun. But back to the real story, catching fish. I also caught a shark.

More fish were caught by everyone ranging from some sea bass to sharks but I didn't want to totally bore you with all the pictures - just the bigger one I caught and then the biggest that Geoff caught.


A keeper Grouper that ended up feeding us all when we added some of those Sea Bass to the mix. Yep, I cooked all the fish the next night.

A few more fish were caught but we saw a hammer head shark following in some of our smaller fish. He had caught the scent and then he decided to take one of those fish for his own dinner. I'll bet he had a sore jaw after this!

Geoff doesn't normally go out and catch a bunch of fish and this one exhausted him. It would have me too.

This was the last fight of the day and took at least 20 minutes and I actually think it was more. Great fish as you can see to the lower right. Congratulations Geoff.

Just in case you are wondering, Deb didn't climb the tower. She decided that since I wasn't doing anything that that was my responsibility.

I've written about the weather down here and the rain that occurs almost every day during these summer months. It is great. The rain is trying to fill up our water supplies for the winter when we don't get much if any rain. When the clouds come in, typically during the afternoon, it cools down. And finally, it is just fun to watch. It's like having a different movie out your back door everyday. This particular day it was just beautiful. Don't tell anyone but it is much better down here than it is in St Louis during the summer. The humidity is about the same but the temperature is less. All you have to do is stay inside in the afternoon until a storm moves through and then you are good to go. Problem is you have to mow about every 5-6 days because of the rain. No problem mon.
Do you remember Garry and Shirline? They came back from Charlotte and we had a party for them. They actually legally tied the knot that morning even though they tied it with each other years ago. Too many reasons to go into on this website so just go with the flow and be happy for them like the rest of us were. Fun, Fun, Fun. Next day they took off on their boat for Key West. Another story.

  Now we are ready for the "how to" article. I kind of specialize in this so if you aren't interested, just look at the pictures. Otherwise, this is a story about:

How to sew (build) your own hurricane shutters

The story starts like this. Once upon a time my friend Bill Gary III showed me his house up in Punta Gorda and the material he found which was the most cost effective means for having hurricane shutters. I knew that I would want to install some hurricane shutters just because I didn't do al this work just to have my house blown away from a window or sliding glass door being blown out. Let me stop and explain something for our northern friends. If you loose a window or a sliding glass door then the wind can pressurize the inside of your house while the outside is low pressure and it blows the roof off. That would be a bad day now wouldn't it!

The answer is to put something up that even though it may not stop a 2x4 traveling at 35 or 40 miles per hour it would still be mostly in place when the 2x4 goes through it. Glass shatters and hurricane shutters aren't supposed to. Smaller holes are inconvenient but will stop the main problem. I priced hurricane shutters for our house and they ran 6-15 bucks a square foot. Our cheapest price was 8,000 bucks since we had to cover some big ares at the rear of our house. On to plan B - make my own. But wait - Jim, what about that big discount you can get on your insurance? Won't that pay for it if you get real ones and then simply consider the discount as payment over the next 3-5 years? Good questions and I knew you would ask them. Since our house meets the current building codes and based on it's location then our discount would be 100 bucks a year. Yes, the math says that would be an 80 year payback. Well, I still want them so I came up with an on-line video that I paid 5 bucks for that showed me how to sew my own. Sewing my own is superior to plywood because of storage and I believe they are stronger.

You now get to see how to sew your own hurricane shutters without paying the 5 bucks and on top of that, I believe I have improved them and I could now save much more money. I wish someone else would have figured this out but I think that's one of my missions in life. Bottom line is I have spent 1,400 bucks to buy and install all the shutters. These are made of a very strong 1000 X 1300 yarn material I get from Rochford supply and it is called RSI material. Very heavy weight and strong especially when you think I have two layers sewn together. Let's get to the pictures.

 As you can see, you have to start with a BIG roll of material. This roll was 67 yards of material and weighed 134 pounds. Shipping was just under the UPS limit of weight. Let me just say right now that this is not a hard project but it does take quite a bit of time and is work. All the seams are straight but after a few days of sewing you do get a bit bored. The driving force in our case was this tropical storm that was forming in the Atlantic. That one missed us but later as I was installing the hardware there were times when the spaghetti plots showed a few of the plots hitting us. I didn't believe it but what do I know? I'm just a simple kind of guy and it was time to get the job done.

Once you measure every window you need to add 3-4 inches to each side, top and bottom. That is what you cut the material to and you have to cut two for each window. Then sew them together.

You can see my sewing station that ultimately moved when I got to bigger parts. Nothing like tearing the house apart again for another project. To the lower right you can see that I didn't spare the seams.


 Let me explain what's going on. The material on the left side is two layers of the RSI material. Sewn to that is a dacron piece of material with a rope sewn into it. This could have been made by yours truly but I didn't know that when I ordered the bolt rope. The bolt rope ended up costing me about 250 bucks so that would easily have been a place where I could have cut costs. If I were doing it again, I would definitely do it myself.

When attaching the bolt rope to the sewn together 2 sections of material, the easiest way to do it is to put down some basting tape. Essentially that is double sided tape and it holds the bolt rope in place as you sew it to the material. I made the decision to sew it 3 different times rather than the 2 times recommended on the video. I kept seeing in my mind a video of a hurricane with a strength of 4 or 5 slinging 2/4's and other items from around the neighborhood at my shutters. That mental picture just had me making one more seam.

Bottom left you can see the end view of the bolt rope.

Bottom right you can see the drywall square I used to ensure things stayed square. Some of these baby's are going to get big!


 We are talking days here of sewing. Finally we are reaching the end of the material. YEAH!!!!!

You can see bottom left the size of the material that has to cover the openings on our back patio which will protect the two sliding glass doors. These openings are 106 X 106. That is really big, just in case you didn't figure it out on your own. You can't do it by just sewing two layers. You have to first splice two pieces together to get the right height then sew those spliced pieces together with another set of spliced pieces.


 You can see that this is taking up the entire area where our kitchen table and chairs sat before I made this into my sewing palace.

The stapler was my friend because I was able to staple the pieces together before sewing so they would stay together and not slide around. I also used some basting tape on these big pieces to help out. In the center, I sewed everything 4 different times. I figured it would act as a beam and it has an overlap of about 18 inches so in that area there are 4 layers of material. You will see some of that later.

Below you can also see that Jimmy Buffett just wanted to help out. He decided to fly off his cage and help me push the button for the sewing machine. Isn't he cute!

 After being almost sick of sewing I needed to put them all up. This introduced me to Tapcon anchors, a hammer drill (Northern Tool - 20 bucks), lead anchors, and sidewalk bolts. I had a ton of holes to drill and I better do it right because I didn't want to patch them and paint.

Here is the plan. The bolt rope slips into an aluminum channel that provides the holding force which is transferred to the tap con anchors. Code says you have to have a Tapcon anchor at least every 12 inches. I used one every 10 inches on the windows and every 8 inches on the big openings for the sliding glass doors/patio. Code does not require fasteners top and bottom. I didn't like that and found that putting one every 15 inches really helped tighten up the material. I figured it was simply cheap insurance since I had gone this far, why not go all the way.

To the right you can see I've marked the center of the opening.

Next I marked the center of the aluminum.

Get the centers lined up and put in one Tapcon anchor.


 Next use the level and get it straight. Then put in the rest of the Tapcon's.

Slip your hurricane shutter into the left side and pull the right side, while in the aluminum over so it is pretty tight. Line up the center to the center mark and put in one Tapcon in the center. Then stretch the top over and put in a Tapcon. Next pull the bottom over and in goes another Tapcon. The next step is to put in the rest of the Tapcons.

Pull the top up so it is where you want it and mark the top grommet holes on the concrete. Drill the right depth hole and install a lead anchor then the sidewalk bolts.

Finally, pull the bottom tight and mark the holes. Install the anchors and sidewalk bolts.

One shutter up a bunch to go.

By the way, did I tell you heat is up to 94 this week and a ton of humidity? This project is happening between 7 am and about 12:30 then time to go in.


 You can see the shutters are going up and they don't look too bad. Simple, clean design and easy to store.

Below right you can see that I will need to paint parts of the aluminum so it isn't so obvious without the shutters up. I think I'll wait until it cools down!


 Then there are the little openings. You can see in the pictures where the 4 layers of material are. They really help cut the stretch factor.

I dug away some dirt at the base and was able to get a good distance from the surface of our concrete pad so the anchors should hold just fine. Having them attached top/bottom and left/right really did make a difference.

Perhaps I need to get some permanent markers and do an art project back here.

That video is still going in my head about the junk flying at these huge shutters. So I decided to go over the top and add two grommets just at the top of the 4 layer overlap and the bottom. I installed extra anchors here and some more sidewalk bolts. If this doesn't hold then we were probably hit by a horse or a wall of a house. At least I tried.


 Then we got to the front of the house and it was a big issue because there were the three windows in the one room. Because of articulations in the stucco, I wasn't able to bring the aluminum channel all the way down. I fixed that with some more grommets, anchors, and sidewalk bolts.

Time for another cost saving pause. The aluminum was pretty expensive too. If you wanted to really save some money, I think you would do good just using the grommets and sidewalk bolts everywhere. If you do, I would use them every 6 inches on the side just to make sure and I would add at least another layer and maybe two along the side edges so the grommets wouldn't tear out.



You can see some better shots of how the front windows are detailed.

Now, I have figured out another project. These shutters really are great at blocking the sun and that front room instantly cooled off 5 degrees. So one of my future projects - who knows when - is to sew some shade covers for these three windows. I plan on using a 70 percent block material that allows us to see out but then we won't have to keep the window blinds closed in that room completely. On top of that, the air space will provide some more insulation. You know I'll be sewing my own bolt rope.

So that is our hurricane shutter project. It took a bunch of time and wasn't easy but it wasn't extraordinary difficult - just long. I will feel much better leaving the house enclosed when we make a boat delivery, teach a class, or take off cruising this winter.

Believe it or not, we are almost done with the house projects.

You are now pretty much caught up on our lives. I'm working every day right now writing a Marine Radio Operators Permit manual. I will finish it by the end of August and it will become something TrueCourse is able to offer to our students.

We have plans of heading to Key West in early September with some of our friends from St. Louis for a few days. They are currently looking at houses down here so hopefully they will find one and ultimately be neighbors. Finally, Bob's boat is getting the new engine and we will be leaving towards the end of September to bring the boat from Norfolk back to Ft Myers at that time.We are all looking forward to that trip. Then there are also courses that I'll be teaching after intermixed with some trips to the Keys and up the West Coast this winter on our boat - not to mention heading to the Bahamas in May. Good thing the house is done, we need some good website material!

  August 15 - Nothing big to write since I've been writing, writing, writing. I'm getting very excited about the MROP manual I'm writing and I think it will be one of the best "out there." I'm focusing on the questions of the test but more importantly, I'm focusing on understanding what they mean. This month long project should be a very worthwhile effort.

Other stuff that is up is that I've screwed in some "Trailer" anchors into our shoreline and I'm in the process of making some turning blocks that will return to cleats in our seawall. One of the cleats I have to install but this way the cleat only takes about 50 percent of the pull which should help preserve the seawall. I'll try to take some pictures over the next few days when I pick up the rest of the materials.

The other news is I am doing a pre-offer inspection on a 39 foot trawler for a friend and expect to spend 2-3 hours going over the boat identifying everything that may be a problem in the future. The Mainship that we will be going over has low hours and twin Yanmar's. This should be a very interesting Wednesday and I will do everything possible to identify every fault I can for my friend to make an appropriate offer on the Yacht.

Otherwise, I've very simply been writing every day and getting the job done. I hope to fix Freedom tomorrow and get a cable installed which releases and more importantly constrains our outdrive. Mine has corrosion and I've acquired a new improved cable that shouldn't corrode in the future thanks to Telefex's design. Now to see if it fits and works "just fine."

I hope everything is going well for all of you.

Aug 21 - Irene - Target - Ft. Myers, FL - Yep, this little storm is heading our way and the best news is that it will hopefully fill up Okeechobee! I'm really hoping for quite a bit of rain in the center of the state.

Otherwise, we are treating this as a practice run for a "real" hurricane. I'll get into a little bit of theory. As long as it is in the center of the state we are only going to see about 45 mph winds with gusts if it stays the way they are saying. The issue will be if it takes the gulf path and turns into a Cat 2. Then we will be in the bad quadrant and that will be something to prepare for. I would then put up the hurricane shutters. However, if it stays in the center then it really is a non-issue. I guess we will just have to see what happens.

I'll post several times this week and update everyone and also show you the system I have prepared for our boat. Unless it takes the Cat 2 side, I won't put out the anchors but I'm pouring 50 pound concrete Kellet anchors tomorrow just to keep the pull low on our anchors should I have to set them on the opposite side of the canal.


  Aug 22 - Irene is moving a bit east so in my opinion, it is a no issue for us. Hopefully it will try to fill up the lake but other than that, I'm thinking no problem. On our side of the storm and using current wind strengths, the maximum we would only have about 60 mph winds (75 from the storm less 15 from the storm track) but that would only be if it runs up the center of the state or closer to us. (Don't forget that around a low the wind goes counterclockwise which is how the math works for us. In the Bahamas, they may see as much as 90 mph. Of course if the storm intensifies then up go the winds too.) Based on the average of the tracks, I'm guessing that we will get pretty low winds - 20 or so mph and perhaps less.

It's been a good practice however. I'm going to hold off until tomorrow or Wednesday to decide if I'm putting all the extra lines on the boat. I'll still poor the concrete kellet anchors today so they have some time to cure. Otherwise, it was a good exercise to ensure we have everything ready.

On to some more fun stuff. I'm heading to a town hall meeting tonight put on by Congressman Mack. He's going to talk about his penny plan which is to remove one penny per year from the U.S. budget. There are so many questions about that. Is he saying a total of a 7 percent reduction and no cost of living increases for social security, to pick one program, or is he saying leave the cost of living increases in and once established a 1 percent decrease each year? Is he saying we should cut from the medical programs that are serving the solders coming home injured from Afghanistan? How about their own retirements? Hopefully he will talk about why he didn't vote for the wimpy compromise that at least was a temporary plan to keep us from passing the debt limit. Can you imagine what would have happened if we would have stopped sending out paychecks in this country while paying our interest on our loans. The past Congress and Senate have gotten us into a real mess - it reminds me of the people who took out tons of loans on their houses and then the market fell. All built on unrealistic estimates. In this case, the Congress and Senate have passed bills knowing they don't have the money. How will they work together? My vote is still to vote them all out so the message is sent that they must work together. Successful business doesn't work the way these folks are. My guess is they've been out of reality way too long and need to be back in.

Hour later update - I decided I should look for some answers before heading to the meeting. Ends up the plan is at least reasonable in that it gives the Congress and President the ability to work together to achieve the 1 percent cut per year before an automatic provision just whacks off 1 percent from everything. (Do you want to take a bet about that work together part?) So bottom line is, if they don't work together to find cuts then everyone gets cut and that includes cost of living increases because the budget is frozen at current levels. Looks like about an 18 percent decrease in everything if no programs are eliminated or other efficiencies are found and agreed upon.

  Aug 23 - Looks like we are totally out of the picture now. Unfortunately, it is aiming at a friend of ours. With that said, as much as it is moving east with each update, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't a glancing blow over at Kitty Hawk. Oops, I have another boating friend who lives there too.

Now for the real story. I really enjoyed the Town hall meeting last night. Overall, Congressman Mack has taken the position that we take our lumps now and we will not be happy but it sure beats taking them later when we won't have anything. To that, I agree with him. He failed to provide any specificity on the revenue side of the ledger however. He essentially gave the "party" line about lowering taxes which will actually produce more taxes. I was interested more in the total elimination of "loop holes" and I would have liked to know more about what he was proposing or supporting to increase jobs. He did talk about the 31 permits you need in our area to expand your business but didn't say what they are. I have a feeling that is one of those numbers which may be true for one type of company which generates quite a bit of waste or has EPA issues but he wasn't specific. To that end, I think he was a politician and I guess everyone has a flair for the dramatic - such as our President when he said we would default. Well, in the end, I actually thought Congressman Mack did a pretty good job and he did a very good job at separating the question/questioner's message from the person. He didn't take anything personally and that served him well. I guess I'll be paying much closer attention to him along with the Senator for our area.

Enough politics, I'm off on the scooter for some items we need for lunch. The Lenau's happen to be in Florida and are stopping by for lunch today. Charles and I worked together and they have followed our website since we took off cruising. It should be a nice visit and opportunity to catch up.


 Aug 23 - What's up with me. This is twice in a day????? My friend Paul sent me this and I thought this was so funny, given my recent rants about politics here and on Facebook, I thought I would share. I'm not a fan of forwarding emails around so I just had to put it here on my website.

Witnessing the Republicans and the Democrats bicker
over the U.S. debt is analogous to watching two
drunks argue over a bar bill on the Titanic.

 Aug 27 - My friend Fred on Northstar is currently anchored up in the Chesapeake. Right now he is in about 40 knots of wind and hanging in. He should be fine and in about 6 hours the wind should be dropping. I don't think I'll call him until late morning but keep thinking of him and wish him well. Of course we also have Bernie up there too along with Bill and Christy in Annapolis. On top of that, Bob's boat - the one we are going to be delivering, is at the Great Bridge and hopefully doing fine. When you go cruising you do make good friends. I truly hope everyone is safe. 
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