Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

29 April 2019 | Waukegan, IL
14 February 2019 | George Town, Exumas
12 February 2019 | Great Galliot Cay
11 February 2019 | Sampson Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
09 February 2019 | Big Majors Spot
08 February 2019 | Near Midway Airport, Chicago
01 January 2019 | Larsen Marine
19 November 2018 | Hanover Park, IL
21 October 2018 | Larsen Marine
16 September 2018 | Northwestern Memorial Hospital
24 August 2018 | Waukegan Harbor
20 August 2018 | Racine to Port Sheldon and back
16 August 2018 | Racine Yacht Club
28 July 2018 | Waukegan
24 July 2018 | Racine, WI
22 July 2018 | Racine, then back to Waukegan
19 July 2018 | Reefpoint Marina in Racine, WI
16 July 2018 | Waukegan
02 July 2018 | Waukegan

Snow day. If I knew then what I know now …

29 April 2019 | Waukegan, IL
John Mahowald | Cold, windy, snow.
It has been tough to find a weekend I could spend on the boat - always some event getting in the way. So this past weekend was my time - weather be damned. And damned it was - I was swapping out my anchor and chain on the dock in a snow storm, wearing my foul weather jacket for a different kind of rain - the snowy kind. Now that my Bahama trip is over, I am updating my anchor setup: 75' feet of G4 chain instead of 60 feet of BBB; 33 pound Rocna anchor instead of a 44 pound Delta. The Rocna is the latest generation anchor (like a Mantus) and sets more quickly and holds better. The manual says to be careful drifting backward too fast when you drop the anchor, lest you damage some equipment on your boat when the anchor quickly sets and stops you abruptly. My brother found that out when he bent a heavy duty aluminum flange on his catamaran. I pull up the anchor and chain manually, so having a lighter chain and anchor matters. The 44 pound anchor was on the edge of what I can manhandle. Losing 11 pounds makes a big difference. I still intend to cruise and anchor in the Great Lakes. Rocna claims that size anchor will hold my boat in a 50 knot gale with accompanying surge in an anchorage with poor holding. We shall see.

My other update on the boat was to replace my middle solar panel with a shorter one that fits much better in that space. So now the boom is no longer in danger of hitting the solar panels, and I only gave away 45 watts of solar power, which I can afford to do - I think. Another improvement - after the fact.

Plus my new MPPT Victron solar controller is way better than what I had in the Bahamas. It comes with an app, so I can see all the data about the state of the panels and what is being delivered to the batteries. The data history is awesome. I can see how much solar was delivered every day and how much has been delivered over the life of the controller. I can also see the high and low battery voltage for each day, so I know how down the batteries got in the morning before the solar kicked in.

Assuming the weather ever breaks, I'm looking forward to the season. There will be two long solo races (Chicago-Mac and Hook Race), and one shorter solo race. Plus a few weeks cruising.

Last day in George Town

14 February 2019 | George Town, Exumas
Partly cloudy, 70’s. Rainy at night.
We had a great motor down to Georgetown yesterday - into the wind and waves, of course. But don't worry, the soap dispenser didn't fall off. We dropped anchor shortly before 2pm right next to Great Catsby, another catamaran. During the summer, they were dry docked next to Paradigm Shift in St Augustine. They were hitting bottom, so they pulled up anchor and moved right after we got there ... nothing personal, they assured us.

Pat and I went for a walk and climbed the path to the top of Monument Hill. We needed bug spray to keep the mosquitos at bay - again, mosquitos are something I didn't experience my last trip. At one point the steps were very steep, so a rope was installed for you to pull yourself up. It seemed even more critical when going down backward and hanging on to the rope.

This morning we listened to the cruisers net where they tell you what is going on and other things. This is done over VHF radio, with most of the boats here (over 200) listening/joining in. With that, we made a connection for sharing a cab to the airport. One thing off our ToDo list. To get closer to the dinghy dock, we moved from the anchorage at Monument Beach to the anchorage off the entrance to Victoria Lake, where town and the dinghy dock are located. This is where I first anchored when I came here last year. The weather is calm now and will be for several days. I don't remember it being this placid last year. It is great. And if it gets too sticky, Mark just turns on the internal 9KW generator and runs the air conditioning. This isn't the kind of cruising I do!

Every night we play Hearts. The woman have been mistreating the men badly. The men finally came back and Mark and I won - in a tie. I am getting better - but first - more 🍷.

We fly home tomorrow.

The tale of the soap dispenser

12 February 2019 | Great Galliot Cay
Cloudy, warm, breezy
We left our anchorage this morning - bound for Big Galliot Cut. This is where I anchored with Paradise Hunter when we were on our way to/from Georgetown last year. My brother has also anchored here in the past. It was calmer last year when we anchored here. But now it is a bit choppy, and so small waves are on our beam. One boat anchored nearby, but it wasn't long before they pulled up anchor and joined the boats anchored in the lee of the island further south. Several other boats came through and joined the southern group. So we are were alone with our nearby beach for Thor. When I anchored here with Roger and Tari, we were out more in the channel and there was a catamaran anchored closer to shore and the beach. I always looked at them with envy. Now that catamaran is me, or my brother's cat, to be more precise.

At the other anchorage, there are over ten boats. Many boats were on the move today with the slight break in the strong winds. Tomorrow and Thursday seem to be the days to go outside (open Atlantic Ocean) and make the run to Georgetown, so boats are staging themselves for that run. It was brisk today, with 15-18 knot winds just off the nose. We sheeted in with a full Genoa and no main and went in that mode for a few hours until we had to motor to head in the right direction to our destination. There were three foot waves and we banged into some, but a cat rides differently than a monohull. The bottle of soap pictured on the bathroom shelf didn't move. Don't try this on a monohull!

We did a little snorkeling yesterday, and Cheryl snorkeled off the big boat today (as opposed to going off the dinghy). Pat read, prayed and drank wine.

Almost Quiet Anchorage

11 February 2019 | Sampson Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Partly cloudy, windy, warm
Yesterday we had lunch at the Staniel Cay (Cay is always pronounced 🔑) Yacht Club. I’ve eaten there several times, but this was the first time in the dining room, as opposed to the bar area. From there it was off to provision at one of the two local stores. The local 7-Eleven is a Walmart compared to a store in the Exumas. Our four bags of groceries, which included many canned goods and some vegetables, was $300.

After stowing some things away - on a catamaran you leave things out that you would never leave unstowed on a monohull - we left Pig Bay (home of the world renown swimming pigs) in 25 knots of wind for a more private spot 2 miles north. Unlike my trip last winter when it never rained, there has been some rain everyday and night. Last night was rather squally, and even though we are close to shore behind hills, the boat was noticeably bouncy. But never any rolling. Most times, the rain is brief - like this morning, when it only rained while Mark was on the beach with the dog.

Last night we played cards - Hearts. I haven’t played in decades. After the rules were explained, and a practice game, we started. Halfway through, I was comfortably in the lead. But then the cards and luck changed. Now skill and strategy were required. The descent from first to last to losing was steep and swift.

A woman and her lemon water

09 February 2019 | Big Majors Spot
Sunny, warm, windy
I wouldn’t have thought this was possible, but Pat managed to carry her lemon water all the way from Chicago to the Bahamas ... through security.

We got up at 3am to start our journey here to Staniel Cay, but we made it. We started the day in 8 degree weather. We landed in near 80 degrees. Sure brings back the memories as we sit here anchored at Big Major Spot. The flight to the Bahamas was in a 10 seater Cessna. There were 7 passengers on the plane. The hard part was finding the hanger with the plane.

It turns out that Pig Beach is a little more exciting when you bring a dog with you. Words were had between animals. My brother Mark and his wife Cheryl are here with their large dog, Thor. As a result, they are not a fan of Pig Beach and are glad to be leaving tomorrow.

Back to The Bahamas

08 February 2019 | Near Midway Airport, Chicago
Sunny and cold - 14
Pat and I are on our way to the Bahamas. This time by plane, not by boat. Because the flight to Florida is at 5:45am, we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport the night before. The hotel is in a big hotel complex near the airport, and there are several Marriott hotels here. We stopped at the first one we saw, but it was the wrong Marriott. So we drove around the various hotels until we found our Marriott with our prepaid reservation. But they had no power. So we went back to our first stop and checked in there.

There were several items from the boat I needed for this trip. But I forgot to grab the straps for my glasses. Now there is story about my glasses strap. You see, when I came back from my trip last year, my strap was not in the drawer where it is supposed to be. How could I lose it on a 36’ boat? Where could I have put it? I never found it. But coming back to now, I had no strap for this trip. On the way to the airport, I reached into my coat pocket, not a coat I usually wear, and pulled out the missing glasses strap. So apparently, I started packing for this trip many months ago!
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Main
14 Photos
Created 1 February 2019
3 Photos
Created 22 July 2018
18 Photos
Created 8 April 2018
31 Photos
Created 22 January 2018
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