Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

15 July 2017 | Waukegan Harbor
09 July 2017 | The Shanty in Wadsworth Illinois
09 July 2017 | Waukegan Harbor
06 July 2017 | Larsen Marine
03 July 2017 | Somewhere off Milwaukee
27 June 2017 | Mackinac Island
23 June 2017
23 June 2017 | DuSable Harbor in Chicago.
16 June 2017 | Port Washington, WI
14 June 2017 | Winthrop Harbor, IL
06 June 2017 | Waukegan Harbor
22 October 0179 | Cape Hatteras near the Gulf Stream

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.

Road trip.

08 January 2018 | Lakeland, FL
Cloudy and 70.
My alarm this morning was the sound of lines being tossed on my deck. The boat rafted to me was leaving. Boats here are looking to make the jump to the Bahamas at the first available weather window.

Keith picked me up in the dinghy and after transferring four months of dog food to his boat, we went ashore. They had Roger and Tari’s car, which we drove to Lakeland, FL to Roger’s parents. So we are all here now, waiting for Roger to arrive at Clearwater. Tomorrow we go there to help Ashley move. Tonight, Lyn and Tari worked on their provision list - what to get for the next few months. I worked on printing the Bahama entrance forms and getting Quicken to work again for Roger’s Dad.

After a great dinner was the college game or a trip to Walmart. I chose the game.

Bump in the road and other fun.

07 January 2018 | Vero Beach City Marina
Cloudy and 60 with a strong north wind.
The overnight wind dug the anchor in - buried it, based on the mud line at the top of the anchor. It was still windy this morning and my anchor pulling muscles are weak due to a lack of recent use. After 15 minutes of pulling on the chain, my hands hurt even though I had gloves on. Near the end of the chain I used the winch. Each step was an ordeal and at the end I needed both hands to pull the 45 pound anchor over the roller, instead of just one. The anchor was swinging wildly in the wind and kissed the boat before I could corral it. I’m not sure what damage that did. I was no longer cold after that strenuous half hour.

I sailed most of the way to Vero Beach. Many times small islands blanketed me, but it was working. Half way down, I rolled up some genoa, and often times was still going 6.5-6.7. The last hour was a slalom with land on both sides killing the wind. I had to motor.

The channel is often only 50’ wide, with lots of shallow water on both sides. I am paranoid about grounding and follow the channel carefully and stay out of the blue shaded water on both sides of the channel. I have occasionally strayed into the blue, but there was still 8’ or so and I got back into the channel. Today I was still being super careful. As I neared Vero Beach, less than 5 minutes away, I played with the VHF radio to program in channel 66A because the marina was switching everyone to that channel and I wanted to hear what was going on. Just before I got back to navigating, the boat banged hard twice and stopped! I was barely in the blue water on the chart. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? I couldn’t turn the rudder, and backing out didn’t work. Gunning it forward worked. But I still couldn’t steer. I opened the back hatch and didn’t see anything wrong. Then I noticed the alarm on the auto pilot. Duh ... the auto pilot had the wheel locked hard over.

We won’t even mention the time I came up from below while trying to make my lunch and found the boat headed right for a telephone pole marking the edge of the channel. Another thing I always try to make sure can never happen ...

Vero Beach was busy when I came. Keith, as he did in Baltimore, came over in his dinghy and came on board. After milling around, I was finally cleared to come into the fuel dock. After that, I rafted up to another boat on a mooring ball. Keith is full time crew now. However, the boat we rafted to said they were leaving Wednesday morning, and no one would be on my boat when they left, so that wasn’t going to work. Called the marina, asking for a second choice. There was a Canadian boat nearby, I could raft up with them. Keith is also Canadian. When the Canadian couple came back from their walk, Keith and I took my boat over there. They are leaving first thing tomorrow, so we transferred the main mooring ball line to my boat so they could cast off. Tomorrow I leave with Keith and Lyn and their three dogs (by car) to help Roger and Tari move their daughter to Clearwater. Who knows what I’ll find tied up to my boat when I get back Wednesday. I need a vacation ... oh, wait ...
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
49 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