Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

21 April 2018 | Titusville Municipal Marina slip C100
20 April 2018 | Titusville, FL mooring field
19 April 2018 | Cocoa, FL
17 April 2018 | Cocoa, FL
16 April 2018 | Melbourne, FL
15 April 2018 | Vero Beach - last night
13 April 2018 | Sea Ranch Lakes, FL
08 April 2018 | Lakeland, FL
05 April 2018 | Vero Beach, FL
04 April 2018 | Heading to Fort Pierce
03 April 2018 | Leaving Chub Cay
02 April 2018 | Chub Cay in the Berry Islands, Bahamas
01 April 2018 | West Bay near Nassau
31 March 2018 | West Bay, New Providence Island
29 March 2018 | Highbourne Cay
27 March 2018 | Warderick Cay
26 March 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay
25 March 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay
24 March 2018 | Big Majors Spot
23 March 2018 | Big Majors Spot

Giving the can the slip

21 April 2018 | Titusville Municipal Marina slip C100
Cloudy, windy, low 70’s
It was windy and boisterous on the mooring ball, or can, today. At one time, I saw a touch of spray come over the bow, while on a mooring ball! It was getting to be too much, and I had no way to dinghy in. Looking at the weather, the wind forecast said it would be more of the same the next few days with one model suggesting gusts up to 31 knots. This wasn't working for me, so I called the marina late this afternoon and got the last slip. They said seven boats came in today.

This morning I tried to use my Lehr propane motor with a camp canister. Even though it plugs in with a different hose in a different spot, it also leaked, from the same earlier spot. So that meant no dinghy, which pretty much forced me to take a slip anyway. Now the thing is, I tied to the ball the way St Augustine recommends. But in this windy situation, that was a big problem, because I couldn't get my lines off the can. With so much wind and waves, I couldn't hold the line with my hands, and struggled to pull the boat even a little bit closer to the can. Sailing gloves were necessary just to avoid rope burn. Using the engine and laying on my stomach on the bow hanging out over the water as much as I dared, after some bit of effort, I got the lines off, without using my knife.

At the slip, the boats on both sides of me were interested in my comings and goings. The boat to port came from Maine and is still trying to get south. The ICW is a brown color from all the vegetation, and not very clear, so they were hoping to see some clear blue water soon. They will find it as soon as they leave the ICW.

My sister ship is here in a slip slightly diagonal to me, on the same pier, but opposite side. He had a few anchor dragging horror stories, including a 3am snorkel in the ICW to deal with prop/shaft issues. I don't think the ICW is polluted since there are plenty of birds and dolphins here eating fish, but it doesn't look very inviting. In fact, I recently googled if it was even okay to go in the water. Next to that Islander 36 was another Islander 36. It was not in good shape, with its destroyed bow pulpit missing and laying on the dock, and I didn't even recognize that it was my model boat. The boats have some changes over the years as they were made, so I have an above deck anchor locker that they do not have, but still, even with all the cruising hardware, I should have recognized it.

So now I am sitting here in the calm of my slip, listening to the wind, and the slapping of other boat halyards, refreshed from a hot shower with running water. After so many months of being anchored, I felt a strong urge to turn on my anchor light as the sun set. And tomorrow morning, the first thing I will think about when I get up is turning it off.

Weather or not - here it comes.

20 April 2018 | Titusville, FL mooring field
Sunny and calm, then came the north winds
Last night I got to witness a 10 minute power outage onshore. Much more fun to see from my perspective on the boat than to be in it. Entire buildings and the park suddenly went dark. Then later lights came back on again.

It was calm this morning when I pulled up the chain and anchor ... full of mud and mussels. At least the deck wash was working so I could rinse it off. On my way out, I motored by my sister ship, the blue Islander 36, but no one was out in the cockpit. Vince has been following my blog from the beginning, and is actually friends with the couple on this boat. Small world.

At Titusville, I motored into the marina to pump out, get water and register for a mooring ball for the next several days. Pete and Sue from Sasha are in Sanford, and their boat is in this marina, so I am hoping to get to see them. However, Pete just had ankle surgery, so we may not connect. The weather is making up for lost time - no, it is not snowing. It is windy from the worse direction, so it choppy and the boat is bouncing, and the chance of rain the next few days is 60-100%. Basically, I am getting exactly what I dreaded. One weather app says Sunday might be okay to go ashore. A different app says that would be the worst day. We shall see. At some point, the forecasts should converge.

After I picked up my mooring ball (first try and this time from the cockpit, not the bow), my sister ship motored by and headed into the marina. I wonder if they stayed there and picked up a slip, maybe the same slip I stayed in last fall? The one I now wish I was staying in? Oh well.

Leaks and twins

19 April 2018 | Cocoa, FL
Sunny, 80’s
Yesterday morning I got a treat - I got to pump up and launch the dinghy in no wind and flat water. That is especially nice when I transfer the 35 pound motor from the boat, down the swim ladder and mount it in the dinghy. This evening the dinghy was bouncing as I moved it back to the boat. That is more typical. After launching the dinghy, I worked on my anchor line, all 200 feet of it. I decided to stop using the chafe protector that wraps around the line and must be taped each time. I switched to a protector that is slid over the line and tied off. So I slid it up the 200 feet of line, getting stuck every ten feet on a black cable tie marking the line so I know how much I have let out. At 50 feet is a white cable tie. At 100 is a double white so I don’t get lost. Then I start over. The last 100 feet is permanently coiled and tied, since I never use that. We’ll see how this chafe protector works, however I am almost done anchoring here in Florida.

After those two tasks, I went ashore to eat lunch at the same Irish Pub I ate at last time I was here. Just like me to try something new. The new dinghy hose didn’t seem to leak and all was well when I tied up ... once I found a place to tie up. There is a nice long wall, but with only a fence to tie up to, with sign after sign saying don’t tie up to the fence. No cleats, but there were two pipes sticking out of the ground at one corner of the wall. Not really a proper dinghy dock. After walking around after lunch, I went back to the boat. I turned off the motor, and now could clearly hear propane leaking - not from the hose, but from the motor fitting itself. What now?! I could not find any way to stop this sudden new leak. My first thought was I would have to row from now on, which would not work at Titusville. I completely forgot that before I used the tank, I was using the 16 ounce camp propane canisters to run the engine. So I am back to that, assuming that doesn’t also leak.

I am using the Waterway Guide overlays on my charts. They had several navigation aid alerts that were no longer valid, so I went online and posted updates. Within the hour they responded and said they agreed and would remove the alert about the marker being damaged or destroyed. I wish I had been updating this all along as I traveled up and down the ICW. Many damaged markets have been fixed.

This afternoon, the couple from the blue hulled boat anchored kinda far out went by and called out about Islander boats. They have a 1972 Islander 36, so there are two blue hulled Islander 36 boats here. They studied my hull as they went by - the starboard side, which has a severely scratched up patch from the post at the gas dock at Nassau. That motivated me to clean my blue hull. At least it can be clean and look nice, outside of the scratches.

Tomorrow is a travel day. While anchored, there has not been a north wind. Tomorrow I am going north ... so the wind will be from the ...

Another tough motoring day

17 April 2018 | Cocoa, FL
Sunny, low 70’s. North wind has died down.
After a quiet night, this morning was a just a little wavy in the anchorage. Anchoring on the east side worked out well, especially this morning. Being in the lee of a 65’ bridge and it’s runway was perfect. The raised land blocked some of the wind and waves. When I crossed under the bridge to the other side, it was like crossing into another world - an angry place with wind and waves and whitecaps. The ICW is part of the Indian River for this stretch. The river runs north and south and is 1.5 miles wide, so with 18-23 knot winds from the north, it had some kick - and a bit of spray. Instead of 6, the boat struggled to reach 5 knots. That and the temperature made it feel more like a summer day on the Great Lakes during a northerly.

The wind was predicted to abate later this morning, but of course, it hadn’t read the forecast and just kept coming. It died slightly the last hour. I am using new Navionics+ Charts, which include a sonar version with crowd sourced soundings. For normal travel, the sonar maps are too “busy” - too detailed. But when I am anchoring, they are great. After I was anchored and settled, I noticed that everything was suddenly quiet. The wind and waves were gone. It was calm and sunny and suddenly warm (queue the post storm music). I had again seemingly crossed into another world. Off came the light jacket, long sleeve shirt and long pants, to be replaced with more Florida appropriate outerwear.

Polite powerboats: today I was passed by numerous boats, both coming and going. All but one slowed down so as not to wake me. The one that didn’t was okay wake wise. Very considerate. When boats come up from behind, I throttle way down so that I am going slow and they can give me a “slow pass.”

The blog photo shows my pseudo buddy boat from yesterday. They anchored in an anchorage south of me yesterday. They showed up today after I anchored and are now anchored about where Paradise Hunter would be anchored.

Tomorrow morning I will get the dinghy going - no more going along for the ride with Roger and Tari (maybe I can ask my new pseudo buddy boat). A more ambitious soul would do it today. The last time I was here, the dinghy dock was inaccessible. It looks open from here now. I will report back on that tomorrow. I’m sure the suspense is killing you and you can hardly wait to find out.

Just when I thought it was safe to anchor ...

16 April 2018 | Melbourne, FL
Sunny, windy. 60’s
Roger hired a rigger to go up his mast this morning to try to install his new main halyard. He used the topping lift to go up, which can often times also be used as a backup main halyard. Several things were tried, but all to no avail. We simply could not get anything to drop from the top of the mast to the mast opening at the bottom. The rigger finally sewed the new halyard to the bottom of the topping lift and pulled it up to the top of the mast. Then he went up the mast and moved the halyard from the topping lift shiv to the halyard shiv. Very clever and a last ditch idea.

I took my leave this morning after some delay to help, but finally had to go before they tried the last ditch solution. It was windy (15-20 knots) and almost on the nose, or on the nose, depending on the bend of the ICW. When I left Vero Beach and headed out into the channel, another boat was just coming under the bridge. I let him pass and so followed another boat for most of the day.

At Melbourne there is a marked Waterways Guide anchorage on the east side of the channel. The wind was strong from the west and northwest, so I anchored on the west side. When I backed down on the anchor, it didn’t seem to grab at first, but after a bit, I didn’t appear to be going backwards. The anchor app showed I was holding. But just before I sat down to eat my dinner, I checked again and it showed I had dragged. Dinners are not the same anymore without Roger and Tari, so food was sparse and eating was quick. I tried again to anchor, but this time I understood what to look for when I backed down. The bow does not get pulled into the wind - it just drags sideways. So attempt #2 failed and I went across the channel to where I had twice previously anchored successfully. Success - and dessert was my reward. The bad part about the first two attempts, is that the anchor dragged just like I always used to worry about, and I had finally gotten over that fear. But this last time it set as before when I backed down, and everything says I am not moving. Time to trust again - and keep checking the anchor app.

The Last Supper

15 April 2018 | Vero Beach - last night
Cloudy, then frequent rain squalls.
The Paradise Hunter/Last Chance road show is finally coming to an end after nearly nine months of traveling together. It is fitting that the last full day ends with frequent rain squalls, signaling the end of good times with a touch of sadness. At least it is rain squalls, not a mid-April snow storm. That is not sadness - that is madness. I don’t remember any other day of rain like this on the trip. If there was one, it happened last year before we reached the Hudson River. Our trip has been mostly rain free.

Dolphins have been in the anchorage the last few days. Today they were joined by pelicans, looking for fish trying to escape the dolphins, I guess. A fitting tribute to the last days - sharing it with dolphins and pelicans. What else did we do on our last day? Well, the power was out yesterday at West Marine, so that meant a trip today to West Marine. Followed by provisioning at Walmart. Very apropos activities. I didn’t need anything at Walmart, so I escaped with only two bags of groceries. After shopping in the Bahamas, I didn’t understand how my bill could only come to $13.

Our last dinner together was one of our favorites: shrimp Alfredo, accompanied with garlic bread, string beans, and a salad. That was topped off, after doing the dishes, with hot blueberry pie covered with melted ice cream. Strong gusts of wind with frequent downpours provided our background ambience.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when it is your own. Yesterday I was looking for the apples I bought, even checking the car. They were already put away in the fridge. I don’t put things in the fridge unless there is a lot of sunlight left while the fridge runs to cool things off. Apparently I made an exception for the few apples and didn’t remember putting them in the fridge right away. And then the last few days, I have been reminding myself to get my Yeti ice pack back from Roger and Tari. If you followed my apple story, you know where the ice pack already was. [sigh]
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Main
1 Photo
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