Prepare to Come About
Schooner Freedom Charters 72’
We were given permission to come aboard the 72 foot Schooner Freedom (after paying our fare at the entry to the harbor). This is a replicated 19th century blockade-runner sailing ship built in 1981. It is a true Tall Ship as it has two masts and seven sails. (From front to back they are: flying jib, jib, fore-stay sail, fore-top sail, fore-sail, main sail and the mail top sail. ) We were lucky to be able to sneak through the rain clouds and enjoy a spectacular 2 hour sail. It is advertised as a “working” trip which means volunteers are welcome to assist on duties such as raising the sails after we motored from the slip at the main harbor in Old St. Augustine. The ship is comfortable, well maintained and has all the proper lifesaving equipment. Not that I do not trust the operators, it is just something I always check out before leaving a dock.
Captain John, and mates Jimmy and Andrew were great hosts. Besides doing their sailing duties expertly, Jimmy and Andrew were our servers of complimentary water, pop, beer and wine. I personally kept Captain John busy with 648 questions about the ship, the sails, the masts, the telltales, the draw, the engine…You can see he had his hands full with me. We tacked and jibed back and forth in the harbor and I even had an opportunity to take the helm (on a straight away.) Needless to say it was a surprise to everyone when they heard my voice instead of Capt. John’s shout “PREPARE TO COME ABOUT.” I had all eyes on me and I could see a few fillings of the other passengers before their mouths closed.
We traveled under the newly renovated Bridge of Lions which opens every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour. Since it was already scheduled to open and we were not the cause of the long line of vehicles waiting we enjoyed the view.
Upon returning to the dock, Capt. John proved to us his expertise in handling this beautiful 72’ schooner. With the wind and current conditions as they were, we ended up coming into the dock precariously close to the windows of the Santa Maria Restaurant. Capt. John maneuvered the schooner to turn on a dime and placed the craft in the exact spot it should be. I think he will remember that far longer than we will.
For more information: http://www.schoonerfreedom.com/