Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

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
12 November 2017 | St Augustine
11 November 2017 | St. Augustine
10 November 2017 | St Augustine
09 November 2017 | St Augustine
08 November 2017 | St Augustine, FL
05 November 2017 | Fort George Island Marina
04 November 2017 | Fort George Island Marina
03 November 2017 | Jacksonville, FL
03 November 2017 | Atlantic Ocean
02 November 2017 | Fort George Island Marina
01 November 2017 | Fort George Island Marina, FL
31 October 2017 | Atlantic Ocean off Georgia

We moved ... just around the bend.

19 January 2018 | Virginia Key, Florida
Cloudy, cool.
We were anchored where they stage the Miami Boat Show, which will be next month. But that anchorage was supposed to be closed now. We also needed fuel and were to meet up with Roger and Tari who were coming back from visiting their friends. Due to the shallow water, we had to take the long way around to the marina. Also, the Waterway Guide said the marina was too shallow for us, but it turned out to have plenty of depth. I guess the lesson is to call and find out. We are now anchored on the other side off the bridge. It should be a bit warmer tonight. Forties with no heat is chilly. I didn’t bring a sleeping bag. Being this cold wasn’t part of the plan.

Roger ran his water maker today and filled his tank. The water maker is huge, and the output is impressive. Keith and I filled our tanks the old fashioned way - with a hose.

The wind is not cooperating. The worst wind direction for our two plans is from the east, so that is the wind direction. We could go south to the keys, but our first anchorage on the way is no good with an east wind. So we are staying put for now. Paul is coming tomorrow to see us and visit the boats.

Windy night

18 January 2018 | Miami. Marine Stadium anchorage
Sunny and 60. 42 overnight
The wind is picking up again as I write this, after a blustery night last night. I was on deck three times last night. The forecast was for 30-40 knot gusts. Sound travels all too well through solids, like my deck, so I kept hearing this slapping noise right above my head. Then I would go out on deck in 45 degrees with the wind attacking me to see what was loose. I decided it must be the cover over the dinghy, but while I was out there, nothing was flapping around and I didn't hear anything over the wind. There is a taut wire at the mast for the spinnaker pole track that goes nuts when the wind gets that high. That one can be heard over the wind. I found a piece of foam to shove under it to keep it quiet. Not a restful night.

Roger and Tari went to Boca Chita Key to visit their friends who are island caretakers. Keith and Lyn visited a vet to get papers to bring their dogs to the Bahamas. I stayed behind and got caught up with my newspapers, did some maintenance and worked on some stuff for the concert band I belong to. I also started looking for a weather window to go to the Bahamas. Right now it is all north winds, which folks do not want. Crossing with north winds is not recommended. So when folks like the conditions, we will cross to the Bahamas. Until then we will cruise southern Florida. I know - I have such a tough life and you all are feeling so sorry for me.

Cutting in line ... making fresh water

17 January 2018 | Miami
Cloudy and 70.
Today was another morning spent racing from bridge to bridge. One we missed, so that resulted in milling around for 25 minutes. Of course, that was our last bridge before going out into the Atlantic. While racing to an earlier bridge, one of those huge power boats at a slip just before the bridge decided he also wanted to make the bridge and couldn't wait for us to pass before he pulled out. Why he had to cut in line instead of going after the last boat, I don't know, but he just kept backing up as I came charging toward the bridge. The power boat just in front of me veered around him, but that was not an option for me, so I came to a screeching halt (so to speak) as a woman in the back of the boat directed traffic - meaning she was motioning me to stop. I could only hope she was trying to make the same bridge. She was.

The wind in the Atlantic was lighter than predicted, or maybe it got lighter as predicted, but ahead of schedule. It started out behind us and there were two jibes. So we ended up mostly motor sailing. Kristtaney hoisted main and genoa and looked like a real sailboat. There was a fourth boat out with us and the rest of us just hoisted the genoa based on predicted wind strength and direction - both of which were wrong. We went three miles out so we could empty the holding tank and I wanted to test my water maker. The water was a clear, deep blue. I've waited a long time to test it; almost 10 months. It worked. I made fresh water! The only problem with going three miles out is that the Gulf Stream is so close to shore here. So we were just clipping the edge of it and being slowed down about 0.8 knots.

The Miami Harbor is a busy place. A container ship came out as Paradise Hunter and I were coming in the channel. There was not a lot of wiggle room to give way and the ship gave it the gas just before he went by us. Boy did that churn the water ... washing machine time. There were also several emergency calls, so we got to watch the Coast Guard and sheriff's high speed boats go whizzing by. First one way, then later going by us the other way.

We are anchored at another boat show - the upcoming Miami Boat Show. They are building the slips right now.

Playing bridge ... where’s Trump

16 January 2018 | Lake Santa Barbara near Sea Ranch Lakes, FL
Sunny and 70
Today was bridge day - lots of them. Yesterday we did well with the timing and milling around and waiting was kept to a minimum. Today was pretty good, but there was still a lot of waiting. One bridge we missed by five minutes, so we had to wait for 25 minutes. That was painful. Sometimes there would be a current running, so you couldn’t just sit in one place. Never a dull moment. We spent the day traveling with the three of us and one other boat - four total. Half were Canadian. At one bridge, there were two additional boats waiting - six total. Again, half were Canadian.

Two of the bridges were around Trump’s Florida property, Mar-a-Lago. When he is there, the bridges open less frequently. Luckily, that was not an issue today.

The powerboats and homes here are getting more and more impressive. Clearly, there is a lot of money in this area. This area is also much like Venice with all the canals. Nearly all the homes have access to water. There is always an inlet with houses on both sides. If the ICW is the main drag, the inlets are all the side streets.

The day was capped off with dinner with my brother Paul and his wife, Lori. The restaurant was at the last bridge we came under. We took the dinghy back there and had to tie up to a ladder. Luckily, when we left after dinner, it was high tide, so going down the steep ladder to get into the dinghy was easy ... maybe two steps. Much better than when we climbed out of the dinghy before dinner. Tomorrow we will motor right by their house, which is nearly on the ICW.

Don’t stop ‘til you get far enough ...

15 January 2018 | Munyon Island near North Palm Beach
Rainy, 60’s Strong north wind
Gypsy and Tom came to pick up the car yesterday. They brought more stuff for Roger and Tari to load on the boat. Somehow they found a place for everything. Roger's parents are doing well. Gypsy is still vibrant and going strong. Ageless certainly applies to her.

We left this morning after Keith dove on his prop to clean it. The boat felt sluggish going to the gas dock yesterday, so he wanted to get that fixed before we were on the move again. There was a strong north wind, gusting to 25 knots at times. The north wind meant it was dead downwind, which made the sail tricky. But we did get in several hours of sailing with the genoa. I had to gybe three times. Keith let his autopilot steer once, for our amusement. First the boat veered way off downwind, then rounded up sharply so he was going 90 degrees off course. I thought maybe he lost his rudder again.

Near the end of the trip, we had to put the sail away - we were landlocked and the ICW was winding back and forth. But before that with the wind and current we saw 8 knots once. I had fun rolling up the genoa at the end. The wind took the sail too far forward while I was trying to roll it up. There are two lines I had to handle, plus constantly adjusting the autopilot so I didn't run aground. When I couldn't roll it up with the winch, I realized what had gone wrong and let the entire sail out again so I could try again. It was an intense few minutes and I was no longer cold after that.

I didn't think we could make it to Ft Lauderdale in two days, but Keith pushed on for a long day and so tomorrow we will be there. Well, at least be to where my brother Paul lives. So we should see him then. Active Captain is an amazing resource. We are docked as this very nice empty marina - all new floating docks. $2 per boat. It is just slips. The chart says the depth off the channel is 3', but here we are in 8-10' of water - on a slip. It seems like a bunch of slips in the middle of nowhere, but it is associated with a park.

I didn't get any pictures due to the rain. I even put my boots on - a first for this trip. In 2017 I travelled 3630NM and ran the engine for 584 hours.

Fickle weather

13 January 2018 | Vero Beach
Cloudy and 60
Roger and Tari are still provisioning. Folks are trying to stock up for 2-3 months. But where do you put all that stuff? I’m taking what I can fit, but provisioning and cooking are my weak areas. I can only see out about two weeks. I do have things like paper towels, filters, etc.

The weather forecast keeps changing. Now the winds are up at 25 knots Monday. We are not a salty group, so we will start down the ICW Monday morning and look for a chance to do an ocean day sail on one of the days we travel down. Tonight was a good weather window, but we are not ready. Roger’s parents come tomorrow to get the car. This was a good lesson about waiting for weather windows. Friday was no good, but Monday looked good. Then it turned out Saturday was good and not Monday. So be ready to go in case the next window comes earlier than expected. Once we get rid of the car, deep provisioning will be done and we will be in full cruising mode.
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
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