Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

21 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
20 February 2018 | Big Majors Spot
19 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
18 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
17 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
16 February 2018 | Normans Cay
15 February 2018 | Highborne Cay
14 February 2018 | Rose Island
13 February 2018 | Rose Island
11 February 2018 | Rose Island
10 February 2018 | Rose Island
09 February 2018 | Nassau, Bahamas
08 February 2018 | Nassau Harbor Club Marina
07 February 2018 | Chub Cay
06 February 2018 | Chub Cay
05 February 2018 | Chub Cay
04 February 2018 | Mackie Shoal
04 February 2018 | Mackie Shoal
03 February 2018 | Bimini Big Game Resort and Marina

Much ado about nothing, then it rained.

21 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
Partly sunny, windy, 75. Evening rain.
Not much doings today - I am still resting my back. I would work a bit, then lay on my back to rest it, which it wanted. Most of what I did involved being bent over and/or carrying something, both of which I could only tolerate for so long before I had to rest.

The wind and waves were abundant again today. The waves kicked up depending on the tide. Wind versus tide equals mess - math equation for sailors. The anchor continues to be rock solid through it all. Yet I still worry a little and check at night when it sounds really bad outside. That is the problem with reading too many anchor dragging horror stories. Another math equation for sailors: big, heavy anchor plus plenty of chain plus proper scope equals no worries. My current scope is 5 to 1. I would go higher to 6 if there were no current. But notice that 5 to 1 is working great - 60 feet of chain and ten feet of rope. In most cases, you don’t need more than 5 to 1 if you have a lot of chain. Some folks might say as low as 4 to 1. When measuring water depth, you must measure from your bow roller to the bottom seabed. Depth + bow roller height above water = anchor depth when calculating scope.

This evening it did something extremely unusual, something it hasn’t done for the past few months - it rained; even a little stormy downpour with extra wind on the side.

The blog photo is from last night. Tonight looked completely different with the storm clouds.

A tale of two anchorages ... this little piggy ...

20 February 2018 | Big Majors Spot
Partly cloudy. 77 both day and night.
This morning Roger came over in his dinghy and we went depth sounding around the anchorage. It was high tide, but it appeared that the low tide depths on his chart were correct and at low tide we could not go straight out the anchorage. But at high tide it would be fine. I think the exercise convinced him we could go through the shallow water shown on his chart if we left at nine and not seven.

The wind and waves were up this morning, but Roger wanted to go over to the other anchorage around the bend, known as Big Majors Spot. It was like a different world there. It is really protected, so less wind and no chop. It was very crowded, but everyone was anchored quietly - not bouncing. Our anchorage has a good deal of chop off and on, and the wind is howling and the anchor is working hard. Our anchorage cleared out the day before the winds came. Today we found out where they all went. This spot is also where the swimming pigs are, but the down side is it is a long dinghy trip to the shore where goods and services are, and now it is packed in. On the plus side for us, we are anchored off that shore and have a more reasonable distance to travel.

Well, it was time to go back to the boats. A wet ride it was, just as I feared. This afternoon the wind quieted a bit. It was strange. The noise from the wind and waves have been continuous. Then suddenly, all would be quiet for a minute, before the wind would come back. You would just sit there listening to the silence. Tonight and tomorrow the wind is back on, 25-30 knots. Happy, happy - joy, joy!

Yesterday, Roger cleaned out his engine strainer. So today, trying to keep up with the Jones’, I did the same. It had a bunch of seaweed in it. I don’t expect to have to do that again while in the Bahamas. The water here is crystal clear and rarely does one see stuff floating in it. Maybe sargasso sometimes.

It used to be you could throw your garbage, other than plastic, into the ocean if you were far enough off shore. Not anymore. The only thing allowed now is food. Not even paper or cardboard.

The daytime highs and lows are often nearly the same right now - maybe just a few degrees different some days. No, it’s not boring.

Phony threads and other stresses

19 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
Cloudy, sprinkles, 77. Windy from the east.
The wind she is a blowing - 20-30 knots is the forecast. It is noisy and the anchorage has one foot wavelets. Dinghy rides to shore can be wet if one is not careful. At least the wind is so strong that the boat always points into the wind, regardless of the current.

I went ashore to buy a phone to replace the iPhone I so cleverly drowned. Sorry, I'm told - phones must be purchased with cash only. We used credit cards to purchase data plans, so that was a surprise. Back to the dinghy to get it off the beach, 10-15 minute bouncy ride back to the boat, bouncy, wet ride into the waves back to the beach, beach the boat again, walk back to the BTC office ... It is easy to find the BTC office - they are always right at the base of the only cell tower on the island. I am an Apple fanboy. The replacement phone is an Android phone. Noooooo! Oh well. I know enough to get it to do what I want.

I went back to my chart program, and switched charts from Navionics to the known bible of Bahamas charts - Explorer. If I had been using the Explorer charts the past few days, all my angst and stress would have been nonexistent. So using the wrong charts in the anchorage areas badly frayed my nerves, and there was no reason for that. Roger has a cool hand held depth sounder, so we plan to take the dinghy out in the surrounding area and verify which chart is correct. One chart says you can leave the anchorage straight forwardly. The other chart says you must take a round about path - taking the direct way out would be bad. The sailboats I saw leave took the round about path. What makes this so confusing is that a famous cruiser just went through the Bahamas and said it was not necessary to use Explorer charts; that Navionics was fine. My brother feels Explorer is more reliable. Oh well. I guess it depends on where you go.

Equipment thoughts: Things with threads. It is a great idea to keep screw threads greased in some way. For example, after several weeks of disuse, I couldn't turn the motor mount clamp screws on the dinghy motor to loosen them. One of our buddy boats had a better story. His son mounted the motor on the dinghy and tightened the clamps until they didn't turn anymore. But the clamps weren't tight on the dinghy. So when Dad started the motor, much to his surprise, the motor lifted off the back of the boat. Suddenly, he is holding a running engine up in the air with the propeller spinning. Example two: I wanted to flush my holding tank, but it had been several weeks since the last time I unscrewed the waste cap. It didn't want to unscrew. So greasing threads is a great idea. Some folks use lanolin. I am using a white Starbrite, PTEF lubricant.


18 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
Partly sunny and 75 with an east breeze
At each anchorage, we are off a new island, or Cay. Each one has an active airstrip. A plane lands or takes off every hour or so. The pilots are expert at cross wind conditions, since that is what they see most often.

So while I was out sailing yesterday, after several hours, my instrument display suddenly went dark. I dove down below to find out what happened. Did I lose power? It turned out to be something simple. I no longer store my jar of nuts on the shelf because the sun shines on that side of the hull and the shelf gets pretty warm. However, putting the nuts away is not part of my standard stowing the boat for passage habit. So the jar slid down the counter and expertly turned off the Instruments Switch, which toggles side to side. Geez!

Yesterday was not the restful day my back needed to recover. Bending over a bucket today doing laundry also make it complain, so I spent a few moments on my back to let it rest.

There is a current here, so the anchor rode sometimes disappears under the boat. It is not catching the keel and the boat always seems to pull on the anchor in the same direction, which is a good thing. The boat rotates 180 degrees, but it always pulls in the same direction.

The evening was spent at the yacht club bar with Roger, Tari, Bruce and Chris. Nice big boats to look at also. Our other buddy boat could not find a spot they liked here, so they moved 7 miles down the chain.

The long and winding road ...

17 February 2018 | Staniel Cay
Sunny and 75. Beating into 14 knots of wind.
We are now in Staniel Cay after a boisterous beat south into 14 knots of wind. We just did one long tack, then motored into the wind the last few hours. Paradise Hunter loves to drag me through shallow water, since it stresses me out so much, so we went through all the shallow water they could find before finally anchoring right where we started in the first place. I want to anchor in the first decent spot. They look for that perfect spot. Today the first decent spot was the right answer, as they grounded looking for that perfect spot. Again, we went over shallow water according to the chart. When I was looking for a spot to anchor near Paradise Hunter, I ran out of water, so I had to back off the bottom and search a little to starboard of them. Later, we watched the boat next to me, near where I had run aground. They pulled up anchor and the engine was running, but they weren’t moving. It was several minutes before they budged, even though a current was running.

Roger and Tari say I didn't paint a fair picture, which is true, but from someone who finds it stressful, that's what it seemed like. Maybe someday I'll be cured.

I still have no internet or phone. It figures that I barely used my satellite service when I was paying for unlimited data. Now I have basic and every upload costs money - and I am using it the most.

The weather turns heavy for the next week. After today€™s pounding, especially for the two smallest boats, for sure we are not leaving and beating into 20-30 knots of wind.

The blog photo is focused on the clock on the wall.

Flat on my back in the water

16 February 2018 | Normans Cay
Sunny and 77. Light east wind.
Today we sailed a bit further south down the Exuma chain of islands to Normans Cay. I towed the dinghy without the motor. The interesting part was getting to the anchorage area where it showed 7 and 8 feet of water. We crossed over blue shades of water on the chart marked with a depth of 4-5 feet, which would ground me. But going carefully and following depth contours via the depth sounder, and following Paradise Hunter, we made it in. I find doing that very stressful, but am getting better about it. Obviously, the chart soundings are no longer accurate.

Fishing days are over for now on Paradise Hunter. Yesterday they caught two barracudas. Today a power boat went behind them and took their line, so they are done until they can replace their gear. They might have to trail less line behind them when boats are around.

I went over to Paradise Hunter in the evening for a drink and dinner. When I got there, they said we were going out to eat. Tari made one of her delicious Pina Coladas, on the strong side. One drink is more than enough for me, and in the end, I had to finish it off so we could get my wallet from my boat and dinghy ashore to the beach. I didn’t prepare for a beach landing. When we got close, I got out of the dinghy and stepped in the water to pull it ashore, with a phone in both shorts pockets. But I wasn’t doing something right when I got out (I blame the drink) and didn’t empty my pockets before I got out. The next thing I knew, I was down in the water on my back, landing hard on a flat rock. So my restaurant experience was less than ideal. My right, lower back hurt and I was sopping wet. My phones were on the table - turned off. The iPhone I am using as my Bahamas phone is not water proof. I may have to send this sans picture using my satellite setup. The iPhone I am using to type this is water proof - I know because I have tested it.
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Main
8 Photos
Created 22 January 2018
Traveling down the Chesapeake and the East Coast
53 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