Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

15 December 2017 | Melbourne, Australia. I mean Florida
14 December 2017 | Cocoa Village and other nearby villages
12 December 2017 | Cocoa, FL
11 December 2017 | Cocoa
09 December 2017 | Historic downtown Titusville
07 December 2017 | Titusville
06 December 2017 | Clearwater Beach
05 December 2017 | Dunedin
04 December 2017 | Titusville Marina
03 December 2017 | Titusville mooring
02 December 2017 | Titusville mooring field
01 December 2017 | Titusville, FL
30 November 2017 | Sea Love Boat Works
29 November 2017 | Inlet Harbor Marina
28 November 2017 | Inlet Harbor Marina
22 November 2017 | Hanover Park, IL
20 November 2017 | Ponce Inlet, FL Inlet Harbor Marina
19 November 2017 | Daytona Beach
18 November 2017 | Daytona Beach

In search of bread, and other stories ...

23 March 2018 | Big Majors Spot
Sunny, north wind, cool - low 70’s
Roger and I went to town looking for some paint and hot dog buns. We walked that part of the island and checked several stores, but bread of any kind was scarce. Nothing will be available until the supply boat comes.

Roger has been trying to restore the cooling water flow in his dinghy motor for several weeks now. We tried again at the yacht club, using their fresh water hose. The water was turbulent and the dock is high above your head when you are in the dinghy. Roger had to climb the ladder to get up on the dock. The working conditions on the dinghy were difficult. The guy at the dock suggested poking the water exhaust hole to clear it. That seemed to work. A sailboat at that dock was filling up with water (which one must pay for), and I recognized the captain from our Monday morning laundromat time. Many boats here we have seen before, many from George Town.

There was a gathering late this afternoon on Paradise Hunter for sundowners. Bruce and Chris were there with her brother Gordy. Also there were Tom and Paula from C Ghost, the Island Packet near us at our first anchorage here a few days ago. They sold their house and moved onto their boat. Their dinghy motor is electric, which is very unique in the Bahamas. It is not meant for rough water and long distances, which are both common here. We saw another young couple anchor yesterday, and they appeared to have two kayaks and no other dinghy. I have a 2.5 hp propane engine. Several of us have soft bottom dinghies, which allow us to roll them up and store them somewhat out of the way. But if you want to be able to explore using your dinghy, and be able to travel when the water is somewhat choppy, you need a hard bottom dinghy and probably at least a 9.9 hp engine. Bigger is better, but your boat size often dictates the size of your dinghy and engine. As with everything in cruising, one has to pick which compromises one wants to make.

The conversation this afternoon was entertaining, helped along by Tari's famous Pina Coladas. Not all details can be repeated here, but three of us have daughters named Sarah. There were the usual, and some unusual, fish tales (spearing the underwater gasoline line to the marina is apparently bad), and even more interesting courtship stories and a story about a lost sibling found. The courtship stories involved an engagement before the mother-in-law maybe even knew the suitor's name, and another was about how not to make a first impression with your date's mother. Still other, equally entertaining first date stories, went untold.

Our next travel window is Sunday, we hope.

Take the long way around ...

22 March 2018 | Big Majors Spot
Sunny, breezy, 75. Cool tonight - down to 70.
We moved again. The anchorage outside Thunderball Grotto is often turbulent. It was this time, and it was last time. Maybe I should read my own blog so I would know these things. There are three small islands on the eastern side, and the current coming between them from the tide seems to stir the water up a bit. Tari got tired of it (so am I), so after our walk and lunch at the bar, she and Roger took a dinghy ride to explore all the other anchorages. We moved to the north end of Big Majors Spot. Bruce and Chris were there. The Island Packet near us two days ago in our small little anchorage was also there, along with many other boats from the other anchorages. So this was the place to be.

I was worried that with the wind being so strong, I would have great difficulty pulling up my anchor. I got lucky. There was a current pushing against the wind, so the pull on the line wasn’t too strong. I also put the boat in gear, so with the engine and current helping me, I could pull the rope and chain up straight away. There was no one to steer the boat, but it worked anyway.

My first attempt to anchor today wasn’t successful in that I ended up right in front of another boat - way too close. I knew it and the other boat owner wasn’t happy. So I pulled up anchor and tried again. Canadian hospitality, after all, only goes so far. When you anchor, nearby boats all stop and watch, to make sure you don’t end up too close to them. And glare at you if you do. The problem is this: you can drop the anchor 100 feet from a boat, but after you let out 85 feet of rode and drift that far back, you end up pretty close. The boats swing a bit in the wind and current, so being close can lead to problems. Plus anchored boats like their space - and some privacy.

We are waiting out the north winds for the next few days. And the next blog should not be about moving again. Over the last two days we have spent over two hours moving and anchoring. And after all that, we have ended up less than a mile from where we started. There is a narrow channel between where we are and where we started two days ago, but only dinghies can go through it. The rest have to take the long way around ... and it might take us a couple of days to do it.

Here comes the (north) wind again ...

21 March 2018 | Staniel Cay near Thunderball Grotto
Sunny, breezy, 77
We met up with Bruce and Chris. Her brother arrives today by plane, so their plan was to move their boat from the protected anchorage to the exposed anchorage, which was much closer to where things are on shore. But after rolling around, they changed their mind and after dinner went back to where they were.

We planned to move to where Bruce and Chris were moving to (but then they didn’t stay and left us anyway). I suggested we wait for high tide and move then, but we left an hour early. There was a medical issue with parents and Roger wanted to be closer to the cell tower. Trying to call from the first anchorage often did not work. But switching anchorages brings up an interesting question. If the wind is forecast to shift, when do you leave the protected anchorage for the next protected anchorage? Especially if the next protected anchorage is empty right now because it is the currently exposed anchorage. When we arrived, there were only three boats there, and two of them were large catamarans, which are better able to handle rough anchorages. Psychologically, I found the best way to deal with the three foot waves was to pretend I was actually sailing - except the scenery was never changing. Without the outside influences, we would have done things differently. Schedules and constraints are the bane of cruisers.

I didn’t bother to back down on my anchor this time. I could barely hold the anchor line in the first place it was pulling so hard, and often needed to hold it around a cleat. The anchor, I felt, was dug in. The afternoon was spent “sailing” along (stationary style) while waiting for the wind to shift out of the north, which is good for this anchorage and looked bad for the other one.

The blog photo shows the clouds rolling in with the promised north wind.

Conch horn fail

20 March 2018 | Near Staniel Cay
Sunny, windy, 77
Defrosted the fridge this morning.

Roger told me the other day how terribly disappointed he was that I had not made a conch horn yet. Well, maybe he just said disappointed. Every day, as the sun begins to set, several sailboats will sound a conch horn. It is a cool and somewhat haunting sound. If you play the trumpet, you can sound the horn, or is it the other way around? I went on YouTube and watched some videos on how to make the horn, but they were not very clear on chipping out the inside of the mouthpiece. So my first cut with the hacksaw was in the correct spot, but when it appeared there would be no opening in the shell there, I stopped and made the cut at the next larger ring. That was bad and my “mouthpiece” was now too large. I may try again with another shell. One thing I do know - the shells are tough. I replaced the blade on my hacksaw to cut through mine. The old, used blade was simply not cutting it.

Staniel Cay redux

19 March 2018 | North Gaulin Cay, Exumas
Sunny, 75, light wind
This morning we took our school supplies over to the school. They have 42 students. They are also raising money for a trip to Orlando, FL.

After a busy morning at the laundromat, we left for Staniel Cay to meet back up with Bruce and Chris. They were tucked away in a remote anchorage which required navigating some shallow water. At the end, I had to eyeball my way in because the chart did not show the path in with the water depth. At low tide, I have 6 inches to a foot under my keel. We are surrounded by a bunch of islands, so there are narrow openings all around.

Coming in, there was one part of the channel filled in with rocks which you had to go around. In the Bahamas, a navigation marker looks like a 4" PVC pipe stuck in the ground. I went around to the left, which was very disconcerting, because on the chart, it showed me going right over the rock pile.

I tried to pump out my holding tank on the way here. Nothing doing. The switch kept clicking off and the pump would grind to a halt, sometimes with a terrible noise. After I anchored, I worked on that (after a beer). Replacing the pump would be unbelievably messy - the boat would smell like crap. Nothing was getting past the shut off valve, and I wasn't going to replace the pump only to find out that wasn't the issue. So I took apart the shut off valve and ran the pump for a second. Success up to the shut off valve! Then I verified the valve was opening and closing. Success again! So I put it back together and everything worked perfectly. I don't know what was wrong, I only care that now it works - and the boat doesn't stink.

After this, we all went to the beach for some cooling off time in the water. Another day in the Bahamas.

Our favorite laundromat and other shark tales

18 March 2018 | Black Point, Exuma, Bahamas
Sunny, little wind, 74
Not much wind today and tomorrow. We motored to Black Point today, the big draw there being the laundromat (no, really). Today is Sunday, so they are closed, but Roger and I walked around and checked out a few restaurants to see if we could get dinner this evening. Sometimes you need to make reservations for dinner - food on demand is not always available and sometimes supplies run out until the next supply boat comes. If there is a bar, you can sometimes get an appetizer there.

The air temperature is only 74, but with no wind and a very intense sun, it feels quite hot. Which is good, because today my paddle wheel stopped working again, so I needed to go in the water anyway. I love it when you go in the water and the first thing there to greet you is a large fish - in this case three of them. One of the fish would occasionally lie on the bottom like it was dead. As I write this, I realize I went in the water even though I had just seen sharks at the dinghy dock, which is not that far away from my boat. Ignorance is bliss. This time I remembered to rinse with fresh water the screw driver I used in salt water. Then dry it and spray it with WD40. If you don't do that, rusty brown had better be your favorite color, or else you will be sad. I am sad and need to replace two of my screwdrivers.

Roger and I checked our anchors using his viewing bucket. They were both well dug in. Since there was no wind when I anchored, my anchor started on its side and facing the wrong way. But in the end, after backing down on it, it was well dug in. Knowing you can trust your anchor is very comforting. Cruisers will understand what I'm saying.

At dinner (we were the only ones in this restaurant), we watched a large group of children hanging out and playing. They were of all ages. No adults. No organized sports. Just small groups of kids entertaining themselves as part of the larger group of kids. The school here only goes through ninth grade. If you want to finish high school, you must go to either Nassau or George Town and live with a relative. Different world.

The blog photo shows my boat shadow and the interesting light patterns on the bottom. The water is around 13-19 feet deep.
Vessel Name: Last Chance
Vessel Make/Model: Islander 36 (1979)
Hailing Port: Waukegan, Illinois
Last Chance's Photos - Main
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