Freedom and Her Crew

Schooner Freedom under full sail.

Schooner Freedom under full sail.

The Freedom

Freedom is an authentic replica of a 19th century blockade-runner. She is a double masted, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner. Naval architect Merritt Walters and his marine construction company, Rover Marine, Inc., designed and built Freedom, the first of his many Rover schooners, in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia. The Schooner Freedom is built of steel with aluminum masts and spars. The Freedom’s sparred length is 76 feet while her length on deck is 64 feet. Freedom’s beam is a 15 feet 4 inches and her draft is 6 feet. Her main mast height is 62 feet and she carries a total sail area of 2400 feet. Freedom was built with stringent attention paid to water depth and bridge height along the Intracoastal Waterway, making her the perfect vessel for both inland and offshore sailing. The Freedom was the first sailing tour boat to be certified under the Coast Guard sub-chapter ‘T’ to carry passengers for hire since the great days of sail. Under this certificate she is licensed to carry forty-one passengers and required to have a master and two crew members.

The Captains & Crew

Captain John & Admiral Sarah Zaruba

John & Sarah have been sailing for most of their adult lives. Over the years, John and Sarah owned and sailed on a 32 foot West Sail sailboat they rebuilt and named the Athene. They logged hundreds of miles under the keel, sailing between Charleston, South Carolina and Key West, Florida. John and Sarah purchased the Schooner Freedom in 2000, completed a year-long refit, and launched her in 2001 as a charter boat in St. Augustine, FL.
John and Sarah’s love to share their passion and love of sailing with others.

Sydney Zaruba

Sydney has been sailing her entire life. Born and raised on her parents boat, the Athene, Sydney went sailing for the first time at the tender age of 6 days old and hasn’t stopped since. Since the Freedom’s launch in 2001, she has been either below decks, doing homework and minding her brother, above decks, working the sails, or behind the scenes, working the office and as our resident blogger and social media expert. An amazing performer, Sydney is always remembered for her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner on our annual 4th of July trip. She currently attends the University of Florida as a Broadcasting and Communications major and can be frequently seen and heard on the campus’ NPR station.

Jack Zaruba

Jack, the second child to John and Sarah, is 18 years old and will be attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado in the fall.  He has been on ships his entire life, and joined the ranks of the crew at a young age of 2, being the favorite of many a passenger aboard ship. He will be trading in his sea legs for mountain hiker legs.  Jack is a natural athlete and cannot wait to start up school and see what the future has in store for him.

Danielle Gellermann

Known as Dani to her fellow crew, she is a full time Flagler student, pursuing a degree in International Relations. Dani began crewing on board the Freedom in May of 2015. Recognized nationally for her participation in the Future Farmers of America organization, our crew is always impressed by her quick wit and intelligence. Dani is an animal lover who always has an eye out for wildlife while on board the Freedom. She cries during every wedding and her warm smile and friendly manner will make you immediately feel like family.

Avery Bintliff

Despite being born and raised in the coastal town of Brunswick, Maine, Avery came to us with no boating experience. You won’t know it though when you see her on board, as she is a natural at sailing! This is not surprising given the discipline and dedication she has as an active member of the Florida Army National Guard. In her time off, Avery enjoys reading, as well as many physical pursuits, including biking and disc golf.

BJ Wheeler

BJ is starting college this fall at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. He has grown up in Lake City and St. Augustine FL. He enjoys everything on the water. From learning to sail on the Freedom to fishing to surfing.