Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

12 December 2017 | Cocoa, FL
11 December 2017 | Cocoa
09 December 2017 | Historic downtown Titusville
07 December 2017 | Titusville
06 December 2017 | Clearwater Beach
05 December 2017 | Dunedin
04 December 2017 | Titusville Marina
03 December 2017 | Titusville mooring
02 December 2017 | Titusville mooring field
01 December 2017 | Titusville, FL
30 November 2017 | Sea Love Boat Works
29 November 2017 | Inlet Harbor Marina
28 November 2017 | Inlet Harbor Marina
22 November 2017 | Hanover Park, IL
20 November 2017 | Ponce Inlet, FL Inlet Harbor Marina
19 November 2017 | Daytona Beach
18 November 2017 | Daytona Beach
15 November 2017 | St Augustine Boatyard
14 November 2017 | St Augustine boatyard
13 November 2017 | St Augustine Boatyard

Down to the wire

12 December 2017 | Cocoa, FL
Sunny, almost warm, windy
Well, I didn’t freeze last night, but I also didn’t go ashore today. The wind was gusting in the mid to upper 20s, so I was afraid to leave the boat in case it started dragging. The anchor held, I just have to get comfortable with that. I only saw one person here leave their boat. So far the dinghy motors I have seen here are like mine, or worse. One guy is rowing. One motor looks like it is electric. I saw someone from across the way going my speed. So my small motor is not unique.

I went back to my deck wash issue. The switch itself is very different from all the other switches and hard to get to because it does not stick out as far as every other switch. There also does not seem to be any voltage to it. As usual, the wiring is a mess. The left side of the column of switches has red wires running down the negative side. For a boat of this vintage, the negative wires should be black and the positive should be red. This column uses red for both positive and negative. Except for the deck wash switch, which uses speaker wire for the positive. The last time I ran the deck wash, I ran it for a few minutes. Now the speaker wire looks a little burned. This project just got a lot bigger.

It warmed up today, but tomorrow will be chilly again before the warmth returns (it will return, right?). Only two more nights in the low forties. What part of Florida - Bahamas - Caribbean was supposed to tell me to expect nights this cold? Pat gave me a very nice, warm blanket last Christmas to go with the comforter on the boat. I cleverly took the blanket off the boat as unnecessary. Then in St Augustine I realized that might be a mistake, so I bought another blanket at West Marine - on sale. Not the best way to show my appreciation for her gift.

Back on the horse ...

11 December 2017 | Cocoa
Sunny and cold, calm
Today I left the comfort (and cost) of a slip with its heater and motored south on the ICW for a few hours to a nice anchorage by the town of Cocoa. This is my first time anchoring since I got caught in the current at Ponce Inlet. Worrying is still what I do best, so the nearby overhead power lines are what kept me awake nights after reading an ominous story about a boat that anchored too close to them. Thoughts like going a half mile down the way, went through my head. But the reality is it is not hard to anchor away from the power lines. You would have to have no common sense to anchor so close that it would be an issue.

Finding a spot to anchor among the boats already anchored is tricky for me. Dropping the hook off another boats aft quarter works well. I know that trick. But I also want to be able to anchor in an existing row. I tried that today. What usually happens is that you don’t end up where you wanted to be. So I ended up a little closer to the next boat than I wanted to be. But it seems okay - we have swung 180 degrees with no issues. Right now there is no wind or current - it is dead calm and the line hangs limp at the bow. The 60’ of chain lying on the bottom is enough to keep the boat in place.

I enjoyed grilled chicken tonight. There is a grill off the back of the boat.

Yesterday I walked to church - 2.9 miles one way. A good scout hike. But I haven’t done that in a while, so on the way back, my right leg complained a bit about the 6 miles. It wanted some rest stops and a slower pace on the way back - it’s not a race (that’s what one of our scout leaders used to tell the boys). The Church was on Ojibway, which I found interesting. The walk reminded me of a scout hike and our scout summer camp campsite was Ojibwa.

Tomorrow comes the big question: Will John actually pump up the dinghy and motor to shore? And the even bigger question - will he freeze overnight? Stay tuned.

48 hours ...

09 December 2017 | Historic downtown Titusville
Cloudy and cold.
Yesterday I spent some time in the nearby park enjoying the sun and warmth. I was sitting at the harbor entrance, and a couple of manatees swam out of the harbor.

Last evening I enjoyed the tree lighting and downtown stroll. The historic downtown is maybe .5 miles away. There were many small groups of performers scattered throughout the downtown, with many other folks strolling about taking advantage of the last warm weather for a bit. This afternoon was cloudy and cool - it didn't even make it to 60! The next two nights will be in the upper 30s. I chose to stay in my slip this weekend so I could run my heater.

Since I had access to shore power, I used my heat gun to heat shrink the butt connectors I had put on the other day when I removed the wire nuts. Next up was to defrost the fridge. I discovered I hadn't been doing a good job of this - I wasn't removing the ice that I couldn't see in the back of the freezer and now that had built up to the point where it was difficult to remove. More uses for the heat gun. Then I noticed one of the screws holding the freezer needed to be tightened. That required a short screw driver which was in the tool set under a seat. When I pulled up the seat cushion, I found a puddle of coke underneath it. Oh goody - another project!

This weather reminds me of being in Waukegan on a chilly weekend near the end of April. The difference is it is warmer during the day here, and when I look out my port, I see palm trees and the prominent bird I hear is an Osprey, not a sea gull. Still, I came all this way for this?

It turns out my shore power battery charger and solar panels do not play nice together. The batteries like to float at 13.2 volts, so that is what the charger is set to. However, the solar floats at 13.8 volts and cannot be changed. This makes the shore power charger mad and it turns red and quits. So I guess I'll just have to keep them separated.

Oh Christmas tree ... and other cruising tales

07 December 2017 | Titusville
Cloudy and a touch cool.
Tomorrow is the tree lighting ceremony at City Hall, followed by an old fashion downtown stroll. But when I looked for a tree, the blog photo shows what I found. I guess there aren’t any Colorado spruce trees in Florida.

I was talking to a woman in the laundry room. She said there is a sailboat with no mast anchored out near their Pearson 53. I didn’t know Pearson made such a boat. But back to the mastless boat. She said it had an electric motor and is covered with solar panels. Now who in their right mind would toss their diesel engine and replace it with ... oh wait ... well, I’m sure Pete and Sue aren’t reading this ... In Waukegan, a large power boat did the same thing. They became a solar powered boat, with a generator as a backup to charge the batteries that powered the engine. In all these cases the speed is limited to 5-6 knots. Not a big deal for a sailboat, but that is certainly slow for a large powerboat.

While walking the docks, I came across yet another abandoned looking boat, at least the bottom looked neglected. The name struck me - Paisley. I used to follow on Facebook ‘Paisley’s Pirates’. Sure enough, this was the boat. The last time I saw the boat was on Mackinac Island after the Mac race in 2014. They tied up next to me on the start of their grand adventure; this young couple with their young kids in tow. They sold their stuff and were going cruising, even though none of them had any sailing experience and the mom and some kids were prone to seasickness. Their path south was much like mine, but it was painful to follow. He complained that the halyards clanging against the mast kept him awake at night, but that has such an easy fix. They were going down the ICW, but he tried to go offshore once and do the Charleston to Jacksonville run that I did, but had to be rescued by a fishing boat. When his propeller fell off and he started looking for it, he had no idea what his propeller even looked like. They made it to the Bahamas, but the adventure fell apart soon after that. Then they tried to lease the boat in Florida, but nothing on the boat worked apparently (according to the owner of the boat right across from Paisley). So now the boat is supposedly going to be repossessed soon. Sad. It was a nice boat. Hmmm ... upgrading to a bigger Dufour ...

There were fireworks tonight. Not extensive, but a nice diversion.

A day at the beach, well, maybe just a few minutes.

06 December 2017 | Clearwater Beach
Sunny and warm
We briefly stopped at Clearwater Beach today. This whole area on the Gulf Coast is beautiful. The sand is not the type of sand we have around the Great Lakes. I’m not sure how to describe it. It is much smoother and less ‘pebbley’.

A cold front went through Chicago, changing the highs from 65 to 30s. So now I wait for it to make its way down here, but it will look much different by the time it gets here. Still, some days might only reach 60 with some nights in the 40s. Maybe one at 39. Ugh! If I’m anchored out, there is no heater. It should be interesting.

Road trip to the Gulf

05 December 2017 | Dunedin
Cloudy and warm. Calm
I spent the morning waiting for Enterprise to come get me. That wasn’t the plan, but cruising is about being flexible, so I rescheduled some of my chores. I took advantage of having a car and drove out to Walmart to provision and buy a 15’ cable so I could lock the dinghy. The downside to that is that you spend more money, since there is a bigger selection.

My sister Mary lives in Dunedin, which is on the Gulf side of Florida. My sister Kathy from Denver, flew in today to also visit her. So here we all are together. Mary has been struggling with serious medical issues ever since she moved from Illinois to Florida: stage 3C breast cancer, complications from that surgery, heart failure from the chemo, and the list goes on. Just walking is a chore for her. She is a mess and I have her permission to say so. It is great to see my sisters, but I just wish it were under better circumstances.
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
42 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