Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

20 October 2017 | Hampton, VA
19 October 2017 | Rones Bay off the Chesapeake in Virginia
18 October 2017 | Point Lookout Marina
17 October 2017 | Port Tobacco River
16 October 2017 | Washington Channel
15 October 2017 | Air and Space Museum and Georgetown
14 October 2017 | Washington D.C.
13 October 2017 | Arlington National Cemetary
12 October 2017 | The Wharf in D.C.
11 October 2017 | Washington D.C.
10 October 2017 | Port Tobacco River off the Potomac
09 October 2017 | Jutland Creek near Ridge, MD
08 October 2017 | Jutland Creek off the Potomac River
07 October 2017 | Slaughter Creek off Chesapeake Bay
06 October 2017 | U.S. Sailboat Show
05 October 2017 | United States (Annapolis) Boat Show
04 October 2017 | Annapolis Boat Show
03 October 2017 | Annapolis Boat Show
02 October 2017 | Annapolis

Dodging a helicopter, ships and dolphins.

20 October 2017 | Hampton, VA
Sunny and pleasant with light north wind
This swell issue happened once before. Last night the wind and water were calm. Then suddenly in the middle of the night, swells showed up, annoyingly bouncing the boat around. For maybe an hour or so. I went outside and looked. The water was glassy and there was not much wind to speak of, but the swells kept coming. Wake from a boat has a quicker frequency and wouldn’t leave the water glassy. Or last for a hour.

I learned my lesson from the other day, so this morning, while pulling up anchor, I squirted the mud off the chain before it reached the anchor locker so I wasn’t rinsing a lot of mud down the anchor locker drain. But again, the deck wash quit early. A quick trip down below fixed it. You aren’t supposed to use wire nuts on a boat because the vibration can work them loose. I have been replacing them as I go, even though none had failed ... until now. I will replace those wire nuts next.

We met Bob and Phyllis and their cat Lucy (okay, I’ve never actually met the cat) on the sailboat Gabriel at the end of the Erie Canal. Today I caught up with them as we both headed south (I could see them on AIS). Unfortunately, the best I could do was to get in touch over the radio, not in person. To get to Hampton today meant I had to push the speed and could not steer over to join them.

When my brother taught me to do 360 degree sweeps of the water for boats, he never mentioned airborne craft. I was sitting in the bow of the boat talking to my other brother on the phone, when I had to end the conversation with, “I have to go back to the cockpit now to avoid this helicopter.” Really - I had to go around him. And he kept his helicopter facing me the whole time to make sure I did.

Near Hampton, I had to watch out for several military ships and one overtaking container ship. I also suddenly came upon 6-7 dolphins. They were on both sides of me almost touching the boat and I felt like I ran right over some of them. I got out my camera hoping for pictures - you can’t get any closer to dolphins than running them over. But apparently they didn’t take too kindly to that, because they disappeared. Completely vanished. I tried to apologize, but to no avail. Let me point out, however, that they were the ones who ran in front of me. They need to look both ways.

Today was another motor. The wind was from behind, but I did get the genoa out for a few hours to help me against the current. Then the wind died, but the current had let up by then.

Tomorrow I plan to make a 40 hour trip down the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

On my own again ...

19 October 2017 | Rones Bay off the Chesapeake in Virginia
Sunny and cool. Light southerly winds.
This morning we said our goodbyes. There were lots of hugs and a few tears as we prepared to go our separate ways. Keith and Lyn stayed behind, Roger and Tari went north up the Chesapeake to Annapolis, while I headed south. With the current and wind behind them, Paradise Hunter made it in one day instead of two.

Once out on the Potomac, I quickly hoisted sails and got to sail on a reach the first three hours before turning more southerly in the Chesapeake - into a light wind on the nose. So the motor came back on. But at least I still remembered how to sail. It has been awhile.

The water is getting closer in color to the Lake Michigan blue. Up until now it has been more brownish, as are many rivers.

Tomorrow I should reach the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. That is a big milestone.

Farewell Paradise Hunter ... til we meet again ....

18 October 2017 | Point Lookout Marina
Cold morning. Sunny and calm later.
Weighing anchor was more fun than usual this morning. Roger and Tari struggled to break theirs free from the mud. Mine came up okay, but with mud. I used the deck wash to spray the mud off, but then the deck wash pump quit again. So I started using a bucket. Trying to fill a bucket from the river while you charge through the water at 7 knots can be challenging. And then the anchor locker drain clogged with mud. It took awhile to get that cleaned out. I used the deck wash and a wire to clear the drain, and this time the deck wash kept working.

Gotta love alarms - and they are piercing. First the NOAA Weather Radio alarm goes off - it is their Wednesday test. Right after I clear that, the shallow water alarm goes off - it says I am in 9 feet of water. How can that be? Not according to the chart. After I clear it, the depth sounder goes back to reading 25 feet, leaving me to wonder what that was all about.

My first Baltimore post told about this very helpful chap in a dinghy who even climbed aboard my boat to help me anchor. Well, he was here to greet us when we came into the gas dock. The Canadian couple is Keith and Lyn (and three small dogs) from Kristtaney. They normally anchor out and are never at a dock, but they are laid up here waiting for a new rudder. The shell, or skin, of their rudder pealed away, leaving just the rudder post and frame (their rudder is hollow, some rudders have a hard foam core). So there was nothing left to steer with. How or why it happened is unknown, but the bottom line is they have no more rudder. So here they are, and Tari and Roger had them over for pre-dinner snacks, where stories and contact information were exchanged.

Tonight was my last dinner on Paradise Hunter. Today was our last day traveling together. Tomorrow they go north to Annapolis and I head south to Hampton, Virginia. We have been traveling together for three months, so it will be hard to split up for us both. They helped get me this far on my journey and I hope I did the same for them. I will miss Roger and Tari, but I expect that someday I will see them again. If not by happenstance, then by plan. We will meet again.

Down the river and through the bends, to ...

17 October 2017 | Port Tobacco River
Cold morning. Sunny and cool with light wind
We completed the winding part of the Potomac River today. It is dead calm right now, as the cold descends on us - 40's tonight - with no heater. No worries tonight about the anchor holding or being in a rough anchorage.

The planes were coming right over the Potomac, and right over me, as they landed at Reagan Airport. They were less than a minute from landing, so they were fairly low.

Before dinner, Tari gave me a haircut. Never let an Ohio State fan give a Michigan fan a haircut. I suppose the OSU on the back of my head will fill in eventually. 😉 At least that is what she threatened.

Tomorrow we will pull up anchor at 7:30 and reach the mouth of the river. We like to leave shortly after the sun rises when we have a long day. Another long underwear day to start out with.

Fuelish day. Ashley says goodby.

16 October 2017 | Washington Channel
Windy and cool. Some sun late.
This morning I wanted to get fuel, which was at a different marina around the bend, in a different river. There are three fingers here: Potomac River, Washington Channel and Anacostia River. The wind kicked up, so I had Roger come with me. I didn’t jump off the boat fast enough the first time I tried to dock, so then we got blown off the dock, with my brand new boat hook hanging by half a loop on a dock cleat, with the pole in the water. At that point I called the harbor master for some help. It was still a struggle to pull the boat to the dock with the wind blowing it off. When we left, the dock hand just cast off the bow before I even had the engine started. That cost them, because my stern swung over the dock and knocked their clipboard, pen and paper receipt into the river. They were not happy. Returning to the mooring ball with Roger’s dinghy tied to it with lots of rope led out was also fun, so to speak. Tried twice and thankfully didn’t get the dinghy line fouled on my boat. He uses a floating line, for just this type of scenario. The wind is blowing harder than the forecast says, but the forecast does include some strong gusts. Apparently the wind is ‘gusting’ most of the time.

Another helicopter just flew overhead. They regularly fly low over the water just overhead. They seem more military grade than anything else. Today they were especially active. Three just while I write this.

We did some more provisioning as I get ready to stick my nose out into the Atlantic Ocean some four days from now. Tomorrow is day 1 as we head back down the Potomac after Ashley went home this evening. For Roger and Tari is was a bit of a melancholy departure, since even though they know they will see her again, when that next will be is unknown

Air and Space Museum. After 33 years ...

15 October 2017 | Air and Space Museum and Georgetown
Cloudy, then sunny and warm finally
Today we went to our last museum - the National Air and Space Museum. Another amazing museum.

Tonight we met a friend of Tari’s from college. She hasn’t seen this couple in 33 years. We had dinner in a tavern in Georgetown, in the tavern where JFK proposed to Jackie.

Tonight the weather changes as a cold front comes through. Tomorrow we hope to get ready for the next stage of our journey, which starts with our trip back down the Potomac to the Chesapeake.
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Main
Traveling down the Chesapeake and the East Coast
29 Photos
Created 11 September 2017
Erie Canal and Hudson River
33 Photos
Created 18 August 2017
Great Lakes part of the journey.
45 Photos
Created 15 July 2017
Boat prep and races prior to departure
12 Photos
Created 14 June 2017