02 July, 2015

Gone Sailin'! Schooner Freedom Sunset Cruise

Schooner Freedom, St. Augustine, Florida
It was really by chance that I found the Schooner Freedom in St. Augustine. I wanted to take a boat cruise this year, while on vacation, and thanks to Google found the schooner. Their website showcased the sailing boat in all its glory right on the home page so yes, I wanted to be on it. We decided that the sunset cruise would be best – have a nice dinner in Old Town, cruise for two hours with drinks, enjoy fabulous sea breezes, go to bed happy. They have a moonlight cruise as well, right after the sunset one, maybe next year. Although I have no idea how they navigate in the dark... But you get live music serenading you while you sail under moonlight, so it's definitely on the list.

Schooner Freedom is family owned for over 15 years. It is a Class B tall ship (a large traditionally-rigged sailing vessel). She is a double masted, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner, an authentic replica of a nineteenth century blockade-runner. She was built in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia, out of steel. She is 76 feet in length, and an extremely well balanced and sturdy vessel. She is manned by a three member crew, plus a captain. And yes, there are life jackets and a raft on-board (Coast Guard response time is about 15 minutes). The crew asks for volunteers to raise the sails, highly recommend. Both my husband and my son did it, the kids get to help with the smaller lighter sails. It is quite the experience. They have drinks onboard, and you can bring a little picnic, but I recommend just having dinner in town before and just enjoying the sail with a cold beverage in your hand.
Schooner Freedom, St. Augustine, Florida. Raising sail.
Raising the main sail.
When they're not tending to beverages or sails, the crew comes around to talk to the guests. All are passionate about sailing and the ocean, and are extremely knowledgeable, intelligent, and well traveled. We found that you can talk to them about anything, and they are genuinely interested to discover their guests.

We were blessed with 20 knots winds, which gave us a cruising speed of 8. The schooner is equipped with an engine but they only use it for docking purposes. In the old days, before the engines, sailing ships had to wait for favorable tides and the right wind in order to dock, very carefully, and sometimes that could take weeks. As much as I loved sailing, I'm very happy for a little diesel help to bring us in. Freedom's engine is very quiet and they use very little fuel, which means that it does not smell. The only smell you get it the beautiful fresh salty air. Unless you pass a shrimping boat... 

If you find your sea legs you can get up and move about, but I found it best to just sit back, relax, and take a deep breath of fresh ocean air. At the end you discover that you just spent two hours smiling of sheer bliss. What a great way to spend the evening!
Shrimping boat. St. Augustine, Florida.
Shrimping boat. Smelly, rusty, definitely not pretty, but the bounty they haul in is precious.
Schooner Freedom. St. Augustine, Florida
Crew member on the widow-maker tending to sails. Titanic moment is for authorized personnel only.







Schooner Freedom. St. Augustine, Florida
I found the rigging quite interesting. 

Schooner Freedom. St. Augustine, Florida

Schooner Freedom. St. Augustine, Florida
Open waters.

St. Augustine Lighthouse. St. Augustine, Florida
The St. Augustine Lighthouse, from a different perspective. 
The Giant Cross. Sunset. Atlantic Ocean. St. Augustine. Florida
The sunset on the way back. (The Giant Cross is a landmark)


The Schooner Freedom Charters
(904) 810.1010
Reservations highly recommended
Sailing from St. Augustine Municipal Marina

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