Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

18 January 2018 | Miami. Marine Stadium anchorage
17 January 2018 | Miami
16 January 2018 | Lake Santa Barbara near Sea Ranch Lakes, FL
15 January 2018 | Munyon Island near North Palm Beach
13 January 2018 | Vero Beach
11 January 2018 | Vero Beach
09 January 2018 | Clearwater, FL
08 January 2018 | Lakeland, FL
07 January 2018 | Vero Beach City Marina
06 January 2018 | Indialantic, FL. Across from Melbourne
05 January 2018 | Titusville
04 January 2018 | Titusville - Cocoa - West Marine
03 January 2018 | Titusville Marina
02 January 2018 | Titusville
01 January 2018 | Titusville Marina
31 December 2017 | Titusville Marina
29 December 2017 | Flying back to Titusville
22 December 2017 | Hanover Park, IL
21 December 2017 | Titusville Municipal Marina
20 December 2017 | West of Cape Canaveral

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.

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.
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Great Lakes
Photos 1 to 45 of 45 | Main
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Fishing boat attracting lots of Sea Gulls: Not sure what was going on here.
Presque Isle
Presque Isle in Presque Isle Bay
And now for something completely different.: Looked very cool when all the sails were up.
Coming through!: The bridge going from Lake Huron to the river. On the other side of the bridge was unbelievable turbulence and steep waves.
Freighters seen on the two rivers.
Freighters seen on the two rivers.
Freighters seen on the two rivers.
Look out behind you.: Managed to get out of the narrow channel just before he passed me.
Freighters seen on the two rivers.
Freighters seen on the two rivers.
Abandoned cave on an abandoned island: Horseshoe Island. Made out of stone and concrete.
Dropping anchor
Anchored out: Strider and Last Chance
Funny tree carving: Horseshoe Island
Suspended trees: Trees growing on rocks and air
Seagulls pretending to be white caps
Coast Guard inspection: Notice the two slightly lowered lifeboats.  The captain had a heavy accent - maybe French.
Pat on a walk: Horseshoe Island
Inside the cave
The Captain and First Mate: Thank you for the shirts, Joyce
Tired of this: Pounding into wind and waves
Kathy and Cathy: As we motored up to Horseshoe Island, there they were on their way back to Nicolet Bay
Egg Harbor
Typical small house on the St Clair River
Behind you. : Lake St Clair
Brother, sister, cousin: Standing in front of my brother
Where bad autopilots go to die: But it got a last minute reprieve and is being sent back for inspection.
At anchor: Anchored at Horseshoe Island
Mississagi vs Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw: Who will win? They conferred on the radio and worked it out.
Sunset at Egg Harbor
Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw
Port Austin: Lake Huron ports are all very Canadian friendly. They all fly the flag and one sees many boats flying Canadian flags.
Harrisville
Rain out in the lake
Not a Lake Michigan insect: I don
Going under the bridge
Horseshoe Island anchorage: Hiding from strong north wind and waves
Sturgeon Bay Canal: Going from Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay
Sturgeon Bay Canal entrance: Approaching from Lake Michigan
Too many fishing boats: We spent most of the trip dodging fishing boats which seemed to drift randomly - just to aggravate you.
At the house of Tim and Margaret.: Beautiful house on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. Fantastic dinner, checked out the neighbors tree house (actually a deck suspended in the trees), and we were even given the use of a car for the day.
Cetacea and crew: The intrepid crew of the good ship Cetacea. On their way back from the Hook Race. They encountered the same storm that knocked so many Mac boats out of the race. I leave Waukegan and who do I run into? My dock mate from Waukegan!
Looking for wind: Near McKinley Marina, Milwaukee
McKinley Marina: Milwaukee in the background
 
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