Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

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
30 September 2017 | Annapolis
28 September 2017 | Annapolis
26 September 2017 | Annapolis
25 September 2017 | Waukegan Harbor
23 September 2017 | Elgin, IL
22 September 2017 | Annapolis, MD home of the naval academy
21 September 2017 | Captain James Landing Crab House
20 September 2017 | Baltimore Northwest Harbor
19 September 2017 | Baltimore, MD
18 September 2017 | Last day anchored in Swan Creek
17 September 2017 | Swan Creek and Rock Hall

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.

Provisioning - when is it enough?

11 January 2018 | Vero Beach
Sunny and 80.
We left Lakeside and headed back to Vero Beach yesterday. After dropping off dogs and our bags on the boat, it was lunchtime - at an Irish Pub, of course. Then it was time to provision. At the Dollar Tree store, they sell non refrigerated cartons of milk that are good for several months - for a buck. Everything is $1, so shopping we went. I picked up a squeegee to clean the solar panels. Most mornings they are covered with water. I was using a rag to clean them. This suggestion was a great improvement.

Then it was off to Staples to check on boat cards. After seeing my boat card, Keith and Lyn were motivated to finally get their own. I mean, if even John has cards ... When we got to Staples, we had to laugh because there was a Dollar Tree store right next to it. And Tari and I went in and bought a few more items. “Don’t stop ‘till you get enough ...”

Today we needed to get those items we were still missing, so Staples and Aldi were on our agenda. The boat cards had been designed overnight by their daughter in South Korea, so now Staples could make the cards. We also made all our document copies. The east coast storm delayed the priority mail Pat had sent with my Coast Guard documentation which happens to renew now (of course), so those copies will be made later. Then off to Aldi to buy more stuff. They don’t sell Pepsi, so I’m still not done. Neither is Tari. Tomorrow is Walmart. Someday we’ll leave so we can stop going shopping.

This morning at the marina, someone stopped me as I was getting into the car. I was wearing an LMSS (Lake Michigan Singlehanded Society) tee shirt and a past president and wife recognized the shirt. They were from the Michigan side. When I race the double handed race, it is up the Illinois/Wisconsin side.

A younger fellow came over in his dinghy today. He is from Racine, WI and talked about his (not good) experiences with Larsen Marine, my boatyard. He and his wife and three year old daughter are living on their boat. They brought the boat down in 2016. During this summer they dry docked it in Jacksonville, FL (hurricane season). This is their second winter down here. I noticed his dinghy had the registration numbers stenciled on, so I commented about that. He has the stencils and will bring them over tomorrow. That would be great to get that todo item off my list. This has been a big headache for me.

Our current weather window to leave for Fort Lauderdale is Monday afternoon. Right now the wind is from the south and we need a north wind - without the cold front and gusty wind part.

Helping hands

09 January 2018 | Clearwater, FL
Cloudy, 70s, some morning rain.
After a hearty breakfast at Roger’s parents (Tom and Gypsy), we were off to Clearwater to unload the packed U-Haul. Two hired movers also came to unload the heaviest stuff, and show us how to move four boxes at a time using a dolly, up the two flights of stairs. I don’t know how many trips I made up the stairs, but for sure at the end was looking for all the lightest stuff to carry. With all the amazing help, when we left, the furniture was settled, TV installed, stuff hung on the wall, most boxes emptied, contents put away, and all emptied boxes taken to the dumpster.

My sister, Mary, lives very close by, so she came over to meet everyone when we took a lunch break. Mary and Ashley share a common interest in the local hospitals. Ashley as an employee - Mary as a patient. Ashley is a nurse and her next challenge is to get employment.

We are back at the home of Tom and Gypsy for our last night on land. They have a beautiful home with four bedrooms to swallow up all these visitors. They have enjoyed our company, and we have enjoyed being their guests. What a wonderful and gracious couple.

Tonight we are all tired and well aware that we’re not as young as we used to be. We are considering going outside (ocean) Friday afternoon and making a 17 hour trip to Ft. Lauderdale to see my brother Paul. This would be the first extended voyage for Kristtaney. Stay tuned.
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