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 passion had always been to share their love of sailing with other families and loved ones.

Sydney Zaruba
Sydney has been sailing her entire life. Born and raised on her parents boat, the Athena, 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.

Captain Jon Cook
Captain Jon has come up through the hawse pipe, from novice crew to captain of the Freedom. Jon was raised fishing the waters of Fort Pierce. He is a graduate of Flagler College with a degree in Business. After crewing on board for three years, he obtained his Coast Guard 100 ton Master’s License and began running the Freedom. After a brief sojourn as a captain for the Liberty Clipper Fleet of schooners from Boston, MA to the Exhumas, Captain Jon has returned to St. Augustine. When not sailing the Freedom, Captain Jon and his wife Katherine along with their golden retriever Archie he can be found fishing or surfing the coastal waters.

Jimmy Fox
Jimmy joined the crew of the Freedom in January of 2012 and quickly became one of our most dependable deckhands. Although born in Staten Island, he was raised an hour north of the city in New York. He is working to gather sea time in order to pursue his master’s license and is a very enthusiastic mariner. A Flagler College graduate with a degree in Business and Advertising, Jimmy is a full time deckhand who is quite adept with his marlinspike skills. He is also our resident conch signaler and sports guru. He can always be found with a smile on his face, chatting enthusiastically with passengers about his love for sailing and life.

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.

Ryan Cullum
Born and raised in St. Augustine, Ryan grew up on a horse farm and learned the ways of sailing on his Hobie Cat. A student of the world, Ryan attended high school in Sao Paulo, Brasil, he attended the University of South Florida, and is a graduate from the Chapman School of Seamanship in Stuart. He’s also found time to visit 20 countries and counting, as well as learn to speak Portuguese, Spanish, and French. Ryan spends his days off working on and sailing his sailboat, the Felicia. His goal is to eventually sail around the world.

Braya Silkey
Braya is another full time student at Flagler College, joining us at the beginning of the 2016 Spring season. Previously she worked on El Galeon, a visiting ship from Spain that travels throughout the Atlantic. She worked as an interpreter on their deck tours and then sailed on a leg of their journey from St. Augustine north up the eastern seaboard – no small feat! Born and raised in Georgia, in her spare time Braya can be found studying and enjoying all that St. Augustine has to offer with friends.

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 Army National Guard. In her time off, Avery enjoys reading, as well as many physical pursuits, including biking and disc golf.