Last Chance ... A Two Year Journey

Leaving the Great Lakes for a Caribbean/Pacific adventure

30 September 2017 | Annapolis
28 September 2017 | Annapolis
26 September 2017 | Annapolis
25 September 2017 | Waukegan Harbor
23 September 2017 | Elgin, IL
22 September 2017 | Annapolis, MD home of the naval academy
21 September 2017 | Captain James Landing Crab House
20 September 2017 | Baltimore Northwest Harbor
19 September 2017 | Baltimore, MD
18 September 2017 | Last day anchored in Swan Creek
17 September 2017 | Swan Creek and Rock Hall
16 September 2017 | Swan Creek at Rock Hall, MD
15 September 2017 | Rock Hall Landing Marina, Chesapeake Bay
14 September 2017 | Bohemia River in Maryland
13 September 2017 | Schaefer's Canal House. Chesapeake City, MD
12 September 2017 | Delaware River
11 September 2017 | North Atlantic

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.

Spinnaker. Great sailing day.

17 March 2018 | Great Galliot Cay
Mostly sunny, mid 70’s, 10 knot NE wind.
Happy birthday, Pat!

We left George Town this morning, pulling up anchor just before 8. The anchorage was tight, so I paused to let Roger get his anchor going so he was out of my way. He was close to the trawler ahead of him, so they had to work around that. Roger and Tari were there first, for the record. Roger had a fair amount of trouble getting his anchor free. No wonder after he sailed back and forth, digging it in deeper and deeper. Apparently, tacking back and forth with your genoa is more effective than just backing down on your anchored, but I think they are going back to simply backing down.

Today was a great sail with the wind on the beam in 8-11 knots of wind. Boats left ahead of us and behind us. We wonder if we saw the 70' Swan with the solo sailor that Mark saw in the Virgin Islands. There was a good deal of boat traffic going both ways.

I had enough wind to sail without the motor. I even had the spinnaker up until the wind got to 11 knots. The wind was slightly forward of the beam, and when it picked up, I worried about too much wind and trying to take it down. I needed to head more downwind so I could collapse it behind the main, but that meant aiming for land that was only .3 miles away. So after I got past some land that jutted out so I had more room, I tried to take it down. Sure enough, even though everything had gone perfectly so far, the last step screwed up and I couldn't get the halyard and sock down - the halyard knot was jammed in the block at the top of the mast. I thought I hoisted it so that wouldn't happen, but I guess not. You can't just pull down on the sock, that will never work and you can tear it. So today I finally realized why my sock was partially torn at the top. When this happened a few years ago, I bet I pulled like nuts on the sock trying to get it down. I always wondered how it got torn ... today, the light bulb finally went on.

Anyway, back up the sock went to try to get the chute to fill and pull the knot out. I put some slack in the halyard and waited. Finally, the small bang I was waiting for happened and I was back in business. Off course, but not yet ashore.

Roger and I played with his VHF radio tonight. It must be his hand held that makes a unique sound when he releases the talk button. It didn't appear to be his main radio. While we were messing around, I decided to look into the DSC calling feature. You can turn your VHF radio into a phone if both radios support DSC and have the MMSI number programmed in. So I "called" Roger on my VHF and his VHF radio rang just like a phone. He answered, and just like that we were talking on channel 10, but it was private and we didn't have to try to hail each other, etc. There are a number of channels available to pick from. Another feature I always wanted to play with, but never did. If you are with another boat, this is the way to go to connect on your VHF radio.

44, 45, 46

16 March 2018 | Last day in George Town
Sunny, low 70’s. Cloudy afternoon.
Not much doing these days. Tomorrow we leave George Town and start north, traveling up the east, unprotected side of the Exumas.

We did the long dinghy ride to town this morning. There we met the young gal from Another Adventure. She is active here, so we hear her frequently on the cruisers net. She left the states awhile back and has decided to keep going, never to return. She is heading south from here.

Leaving town and going through the tunnel/under the bridge, was more adventuresome than usual. The tide was coming in, creating standing waves under the bridge and on the other side. Rough and wet in a dinghy. Hold on we did - with both hands

We have started thinking about our schedule to return back to Florida. It is coming soon. I have started making my arrangements to get my boat back to Waukegan. It will be late May or early June. More on that later.

The blog photo shows a Leopard 44 and a Leopard 45. Missing is my brother's Leopard 46.

A ray of a trail.

14 March 2018 | George Town
Two cool, cloudy days in a row. Low 70’s. Same at night.
We walked the town yesterday. At least the part that went around the dinghy dock lake. Today we went for ice and fuel. The Shell station had been out of diesel the past few days, so it was busy. You have cars lining up for gas or diesel, and boaters lining up with their jerry jugs. There is one gasoline pump and one diesel pump. The credit card network was down and we didn’t bring enough cash ($100), so Roger had to dinghy 1.7 miles back to the boat. There is a bank here with ATM machines, but I wasn’t prepared to use them. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

This afternoon we walked the island trails, still looking for that trail that cuts across the island at the Chat ‘n Chill. No luck, but getting closer. It was a nice walk, and folks have marked the trail at this end with various pieces of plastic garbage. The trail to the ocean is very obvious, so it seems really to just be a creative way to repurpose garbage. Most of our walk was along the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.

At the Chat ‘n Chill, we had a drink and watched the volleyball game. Then we went to the beach where the rays were gathered, swimming from person to person. At one point I saw four of them. The rays feel very silky/slimy on their undersides. One ray chased Tari out of the water. She got braver after that. For an animal with no fins, they can move through the water pretty well.

We ended the evening with a call to Keith and Lyn, checking up on them and seeing how Lyn was doing. She has started physical therapy - no surgery at this time. They are in good spirits and plans for next fall were discussed. I, however, am not ready to skip the summer of 2018.
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