Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A mid morning start for a short 30 mile run to Key Largo.  The inside route was as smooth as glass and the wind light.  We motored the entire way and made good time.  We managed to miss all the crab pots along the way, saw a pod of dolphins and enjoyed the day on the water.  The channel is narrow at some points and while Florida has a lot of water, I think they spread it out way too thin.

Catie on deck keeping watch through the narrow channel

We stopped at Gilberts resort to fill up the fuel tanks then went across the channel to Anchorage Resort and Marina.  We arrived around 3pm so spent the afternoon doing continuing maintenance on the boat.  Beth made (Mexico) Chicken Cordon Bleu with ( real American ) shells and cheese for dinner.  We relaxed the remainder of the evening while I looked where we are aiming to get to tomorrow. I guess it will all depend on what time we get started.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday - Heading East

We got off to a late start because the winds in the morning were higher than forecast and out of the north.  A north wind when traveling east is generally good but staying inside the islands tends to blow the water into the Atlantic making already shallow water shallower.  I did a couple of chores in the morning while Beth slept in.  Things calmed down by 11 so I got Beth up and we headed out.  It turned into a very nice day with 15 knots out of the north, a slight chop on the water but overall very smooth sailing.  Yes, we actually sailed today !  Since we got the late start, we knew we wouldn't make Key Largo by dark and it is nearly impossible to navigate at night so Beth picked another marina along the route.  I programmed it into the Raymarine C70 chartplotter and we were on the way.  Unfortunately, the Raymarine location of the marina and the actual location of the marina differed by about 9 miles, and a totally different island.  We wasted about an hour looking for the marina on the wrong island before realizing our error, or Raymarine's error.  This meant we wouldn't be making the marina before dark.  The sunset was gorgeous but was ominous as we were continuing in the dark. 

The decision was made to anchor out for the night and make for Key Largo first thing in the morning.  We started trying to anchor right at dark.  The danforth wouldn't set and when I retrieved it, I realized why.  When Ruben in Puerto Aventuras Mexico fixed the anchor, he didn't do such a good job.  The anchor was bent and a bent danfoth will not hold.  I tried using both anchors but in the soft muddy bottom, neither was holding the boat.  We pulled up the anchors and motored, in the dark, closer to where there were several other boats anchored.  We again attempted to set both anchors but neither would catch.  It was full dark and we couldn't anchor.  We couldn't continue and attempting to locate and get into a marina would be difficult.  Executive decision made, we headed for an unknown marina, squeezed between a large boat and some mangroves down a narrow channel.  The channel opened up into a very nice marina which was quite full and lucked into finding one slip open.  The slip was 14'6" and I expertly guided Second Chance, which has a beam of 14' between the pylons and we were docked at the Lorelei Marina in Islamorada Florida.  We were greeted by Tara and Bobby, a couple staying at the marina and were made to feel quite welcome.  I told Bobby about the anchor issues and he happened to have one available which he sold to me at a very reasonable price.   The new anchor is almost identical to the one I had, it just isn't bent.  I will work on changing them over in the morning as well as untangling the rope from the windlass.  Given the route, we will be heading for Key Largo in the morning and spending the night there. 

Once we settled in, Beth made burritos for dinner which were fantastic as when we went shopping we bought real cheese, actual sour cream and iceberg lettuce.
We heard from our former traveling partners, J and Jerr.  Apparently they had quite an adventure of their own on their trip down to Rio Dulce.  They also relayed that they had found a new boat.  I will let you know their plans when they let us know.
After dinner, we watched a little tv and hit the sack.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday ~ 11/28

Monday was a good day.  Sunshine, a light breeze and comfortable temperatures.  I managed to get some routine chores done on the boat. Changed the oil in the Honda, resealed the shroud plates and tightened the front windshield.  Beth cleaned up the interior of the boat and got us ready to go tomorrow.  We are planning on heading East/North up the Florida Keys and with some luck will be in Ft. Lauderdale by Friday.

Happy Birthday Evon, See you for Christmas !

Wednesday ~ Sunday - Thanksgiving

Wednesday we secured the boat and then headed to the Marathon airport to pick up a rental car.  They didn't have the one I reserved but gave us a 7 passenger mini van at the same rate.  This van is loaded with everything including satellite radio so Beth and I were entertained for the drive.

Gail lives in New Port Richey which is about 410 miles from Marathon.  We left about 1pm and with various stops, made it there just after 8pm.  Beth had never been to their New Port Richey house and Gail has some things from Mom and Dad around so she enjoyed seeing things and getting the stories behind them.  We all sat around recanting stories and catching up.  It had been a long drive so we all turned in pretty early.

Thursday -  Happy Thanksgiving to All

The house of all the critters wakes up early.  To recant, They have 3 cats, a huge newfoundland dog, 2 prairie dogs, a rabbit, a snake and a skunk.  All the critters are adorable and adding our two babies into the mix made things interesting.  It was quite amusing watching them interact.  David, my nephew, headed out early for football practice as they have a division playoff tomorrow night which we will all be attending.  Gail and Richard were cooking with Christine helping for a 4ish Thanksgiving dinner.

We all sat down about 5 for a huge feast and there was HAM.  I love ham and whatever they call ham in Mexico just isn't right so I was so pleased that there was ham. It was a huge ham so sharing wouldn't be a problem.

It was a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and we all ate until we were stuffed.  Dessert would have to wait until later.  After dinner we all sat around chatting and watching TV.

Some pics of the critters.

The prairie dogs in their exercise ball, Catie and Cocoa loved it

Friday night David had a football game.  His team has gone undefeated all season and is in the playoffs.  This was the first playoff game and against an arch rival team.  We all went to cheer him on.

Davids team, the Berkeley Buccaneers played an excellent game holding the opposing team, Fort Meade, scoreless.  

In the last few minutes of the game, one of the Ft. Meade guys took David out of the game.

David was helped off the field with a sprained ankle.  The parents showed great restraint not jumping down onto the field.  David was Ok, but will be wearing a boot for several days.  It isn't known if he will be playing in the game next Friday in Del Ray Beach Florida.

Leftover ham for breakfast and an all around lazy day.  David's ankle doesn't seem too bad and if he is lucky, he may get to play the next game.  Christine went over to her friends house for a birthday/sleepover so we said our goodbyes.  We went to Target and PetSmart, taking the skunk along.  It was quite interesting seeing the reactions of people when Richard walked around with a skunk.  

Sunday:  Return to Marathon
We were all up early and went to IHOP for breakfast.  Afterwards, Beth and I packed up, loaded our critters making sure we didn't have any extras, and headed south to Marathon.  The drive was pretty boring but the scenery is nice.We arrived around 6pm then went to Publix and returned the rental car.  Since we are back in the states, the DirectTV DVR is working again so we watched an episode of Psyche and turned in.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On to Marathon

We were up early. Beth walked the dogs as I got the boat ready to go.  The weather was actually as predicted with 20 knots of wind out of the east and clear skies.  As usual, the direction we needed to go is exactly into the wind.  We departed Key West around 7:30am and headed into the Atlantic Ocean.

We said goodbye to our new friends at the Coast Guard and hoped we wouldn't be seeing them again on this trip.

The tourist ship was docked at Mallory Square.

The seas were a bit choppy but the forecast was for them to calm down by the afternoon.
We stayed in Hawks Channel and did our best to dodge the 987 crab pots along the way.  While I am sure that count isn't accurate, probably seriously underestimated, crab pots are everywhere.  We missed the majority of them but caught a line on one which Beth expertly and quickly removed, caught one with the rudder and brushed another one.  None of them caused any issues but I can not emphasize how many of these things are around. 
Finally, we were approaching the famous 7 mile bridge which we needed to pass under.
Back in the land of bridges
Considering the previous trip, this was calm.  The crew and boat did very well and we made pretty good time
Approaching Marathon Key

We arrived at Blackfin Marina at 5pm and Barry was at the slip waiting to help us tie up.  The dogs were the first off the boat to sniff around and check out the new surroundings.  I gave the boat a good rinse and cleaned all the windows as the salt spray had accumulated enough that it was getting hard to see through them.  We got everything connected and Beth started packing for our trip to Tampa while I took the dogs on an extended walk around the property, check in at the office and get a general lay of the land.  On my walk I met Victoria and chatted for abit.  She and her husband had cruised the Caribbean for 13 years.  Beth came out to find me and met Valerie. Her an her husband are staying on property vacationing.  Everyone we encountered was so nice and friendly.  I think we appreciated being able to hold a reasonable conversation in English.  We ate at the local restaurant, Hurricanes which was on property and very good although the tempting menu item of a Carolina BBQ was exactly what I wanted, it didn't live up to expectations.  Once we returned to the boat I was able to get our satellite dish working again so now we have good old USA TV.  As usual, with 250+ channels, there wasn't anything on so we went to bed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday - Key West Florida

Needless to say we all slept in pretty late, I think I was out until 9am.  Catie didn't get up until noon and Beth and Cocoa slept until 3pm.  I managed to get a few things tidied up around the boat but the main task was laundry.  Key West Bight has 4 washers and dryers but each cycle takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes and I wasn't able to use all the machines as there were others who decided Sunday was laundry day.  It took about 3 hours to get it done.  The rest of the day was spent writing the novel from the crossing, catching up with family and friends and watching Fast and Furious 5.  We ordered Pizza Hut delivered to the boat and overall relaxed.  We decided we will depart Key West on Tuesday morning headed to Marathon where we will stay docked for several days while we travel via rental car up to Tampa to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and family.  That visit could be interesting all by itself as we will be taking the dogs with us and they have a dog, 2 if not 3 cats, a skunk, a prairie dog, and there may be a snake or lizard there too.

Wednesday ~ Saturday Isla Mujeres Mexico to Key West Florida

Wednesday:  The weather looked promising so we were up early getting everything ready to go.  J and Jerr came out to see us off as this would be the official split of the "Jackass Armada"  J and Jerr finally finished dealing with the insurance company and were planning on renting a car and driving down to Rio Dulce Guatemala and looking for a new boat.  We will most certainly miss our traveling companions and wish them the best of luck finding a new boat and fair winds.  Jamie came to work early to see us off and help us with the dock lines.  The way the wind was blowing it was a good thing.  Immediately after casting off the lines the wind caught the boat and we all had to work hard to keep from hitting the dock pylons or other boats.

We left the dock at 6:45 am and headed over to the fuel dock.  We filled up all the tanks, including the auxiliary "jerry cans" which gave us a total of 86 gallons onboard.  This should be around a 70 hour crossing and at 1 gallon per hour, we should have plenty of fuel.  The direct line route is 342 miles from dock to dock.  We departed Isla Mujeres at 7:10 and set a direct course of 54 degrees.  The seas were 2~3 feet and winds Northeast.  So we were not sailing but making 5.5 knots toward Florida.  About an hour out we were joined by a pod of dolphins that darted around, under, and alongside the boat for over 30 minutes.  Amazing animals to watch. 

Beth hit the sack around noon to prepare for the night shift.  We had to shift off our intended course to a little more northerly due to the winds and seas but we were still making good time.  Beth took over around 6pm and it was my turn to hit the sack. The wind and seas were pretty constant and we were getting a little help from the northerly Gulf stream.  We had a little company from passing cargo ships through the night but the AIS let us know where they were, their course, speed and that we were not going to hit them.

Thursday morning sunrise with a cargo ship for company
I got up around 5am and Beth took a short nap then got up and tried to get a little sun.  The Thursday forecast was holding true as the seas were gentle, 1~2 ft waves although the winds were still northeast so again, no sailing but we were making good time.  We were well into the Gulf Stream and cruising between 6.5 to 7 knots and if we could keep up this pace, we would be early and arrive Friday evening.  About mid afternoon the reel  that we had been trolling with screamed which sent the dogs into a frenzy.  I reeled in a nice Mahi mahi which after Catie played with it on deck for a minute was released.

Beth went to lay down about 4 and shortly after, another pod of dolphins joined us. These guys are so fast they are hard to catch on camera but we always enjoy company on the trip.  The sunset was gorgeous as usual and Beth returned to the cockpit around 7ish.  The seas had picked up a little and were 2~3 feet with about 15 knots of Northeast wind so the ride was getting a little bumpy but not bad.  I am not sure when I got sick but I started heaving.  There wasn't alot on my stomach so the majority was dry heaves. I turned in around 10 but the winds and seas continued to increase through the night. The forecast didn't show this increase as it said the wind should be shifting to the north.  This slowed us down to about 4 knots. 

Friday : When things got interesting and took an odd turn.
I got up about 5 and was feeling a bit better. Beth was ready to hit the bed as she was feeling a bit queasy.  The seas had increased to 3 to 5 ft with the occasional 8 ft swell.  The winds were a steady 20 knots from the northeast.  Beth had chosen a little more northerly route during the night to make the ride smoother and after playing around with the heading for a bit, kept us on the course she had set.  This should put us in the northern part of the gulf stream and help carry us to Florida but with the wind and waves, any advantage we were getting from the current was taken away. We were making 3.5 to 4 knots.  With the sunrise I was feeling better, not nauseous but not great. The wind was in my face followed with an occasional blast of sea spray.
The sun was warm and while the ride was still a bit rough, it wasn't bad.  Beth got up around 11:30 and was heaving over the rail.  I was exhausted and feeling hot and tired so she took over while I took a nap.  I didn't let on to Beth that I was actually feeling quite weak and was feeling some pressure in my chest.  I thought a little rest would help and it wasn't anything to alarm her about.  After laying down for about 1/2 hour, the constant movement of the boat wasn't helping my condition any and soon I was back in the cockpit and over the rail, quite violently this time.  It was obvious that I was quite ill but me not letting Beth in on my actual condition seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  After the hours of heaving, I had little on my stomach and was very reluctant to put anything on it as I knew it would be coming back up.  I did keep down one of the drink packs that Leon had given us but the pressure in my chest was increasing to constant.  I moved a couple of the jerry cans to refill the gas tanks and found myself sweating profusely and short of breath.  That was about 3 pm and I started considering exactly how sick I was.  From my little heart episode back in 05 I knew the symptoms of a cardiac issue and this was starting to look alot like one.  After refilling the tanks, I laid down to see if that would help.  Within 1/2 an hour the pressure was increased and I was feeling light headed.  I started looking at where we were, how long we had to go and considering my options.  We were about 85 miles off Key West and at the rate we were traveling, it would be over 20 hours.  Fuel was becoming an issue as fighting the winds and current, my calculations showed we might be about 5 gallons short.  Not a real issue in itself as we have BoatUS unlimited membership and they would happily bring us fuel or tow us in when we got close enough to Key West. 80 miles wasn't close enough and my situation was deteriorating.  I chose a course to the Dry Tortugas where we could secure the boat and get medical attention. The dry tortugas were still 40 miles out which was 8 hours, more like 10 because we just couldn't make good time in the conditions.  It was about 4pm when I gave Beth all the current facts and when I made the first radio call requesting assistance.  Two cargo ships answered my distress call but didn't have any medical personnel aboard but they set up a radio relay that got the details of the situation to the US Coast Guard, Sector Key West. I had no idea how this was going to work but I felt bad enough that something needed to be done.  Beth was quite concerned and wanted me to get to a hospital and get checked out and everything else would be figured out as we went.

After multiple radio calls with a ship out of Texas relaying to the USCG they determined that I needed to be taken off the boat and transported.  They dispatched a USCG Cutter "Sawfish" to intercept us. 
Stock photo of USCG Cutter "Sawfish"
We are really sorry for the lack of actual pictures of the following story.  We were a bit busy and taking pictures wasn't even considered.  We also apologize for not getting pictures or the names of all the officers and crewmen of the USCG Cutter "Sawfish", other support vessels, airmen,  and excellent communications personnel of the USCG. Also keep in mind this was written after the fact knowing the outcome.

The cutter arrived around 6pm and with absolute professionalism, courtesy and efficiency dispatched a small RIB "boat" to remove me from the boat and place one of their crewmen aboard with Beth.  The RIB was a really cool diesel powered boat.   The transfer of myself to their boat and their crewman to "Second Chance" was handled easily.  This is where this story splits.  In the black text will by my account of events once I left Second Chance.  The dark blue text following my account is Beth's story while we were apart.  The dark green text was going to be Catie and Cocoa's tale of the events but they were just too tired and had issues using the keyboard so you can ask them yourself when you see them.

The Rib is housed on the cutter in the stern via a small garage door and ramp.  It was like a ride at Disneyland reentering the cutter.  The skipper of the RIB guided it in quite smoothly considering the rough seas we were in.  These guys have some really cool toys.  Once aboard the cutter, I was taken to the bridge and told that a helicopter was being dispatched to take me to the hospital and their ETA was about an hour.  I was asked how I was feeling, which was a bit better even though the pressure I was feeling was pretty constant.  I wasn't feeling short of breath but was exhausted.  There were about 10 cubans on deck that the cutter had picked up trying to make their way to Florida.  All of the crew of the cutter were very professional and courteous and took me down to the galley to rest until the helicopter arrived.  This cutter is 87ft long and at least 3 stories tall and the movement of the ship in the conditions and slow speed were making me queasy as the movement was totally different from what I was accustomed to.  I headed up on deck to get some fresh air.  The cutter was escorting Second Chance back to Key West, maintaining about 5 knots.  The helicopter, based out of Clearwater was dispatched from Miami to intercept us.  It arrived around 7:15 and I was briefed on how the transfer would take place.  It was already dark and the helicopter appeared out of the darkness and I was led onto the foredeck of the cutter.  The helicopter lowered a line to the deck of the cutter where two crewmen grabbed the line, then a basket was lowered to the deck.  It was a bit intimidating with the ship pitching and rolling in the seas but I was instructed to get in the basket.  Because of the seas, the liftoff was a bit interesting. Just as the helicopter started to lift, the ship pitched tossing the basket, with me in it, into the lifelines of the cutter.  These guys on the cutter and the helicopter were really good and put me in the right position to be lifted up, and it was a quick lift.  I tried to thank each person I came into contact with and tell them how much I appreciated the job they did and for helping us out.  If I missed thanking someone on the cutter, please know that the job you do is very appreciated.
Once aboard the helicopter, I was strapped in and given a head set where I was asked all the usual medical questions and since I wasn't critical, we headed toward Key West international airport.  This was my first time flying in a helicopter and it wasn't unpleasant.  The helicopter was similar to a blackhawk model which is very stable and fast.  We were cruising at about 105 knots with a 30 knot headwind, we landed about 40 minutes after I was aboard.  The cutter remained with Second Chance and had transferred another crewman for the task of bringing Second Chance to Key West.  There was an ambulance waiting at the airport and I was quickly transferred.  I was given an IV, vitals taken, EKG and transported to the hospital.  Upon my arrival I was quickly taken care of and checked out.  Blood was taken, another IV hung, another EKG, a chest Xray and a nitro patch applied. The only abnormal reading was my blood pressure was a bit high but the nitro patch took care of that. My resting heart rate was 59 with 15 respirations per min.  I was feeling a bit better and the pressure in my chest was lessening.  The staff at the Lower Keys Medical Center were friendly and efficient.  After 45 minutes or so the pressure in my chest was relieved and the doctor came by again to discuss the events of the day, and the events leading up to the event.  After reviewing the blood tests, it didn't show any indications of a cardiac event but did indicate dehydration, exhaustion, exposure and extreme electrolyte imbalance.  The IV's took care of the dehydration and apparently they had given me something to balance things out. They wanted to keep me overnight for "observation" but I couldn't justify it and I was concerned about Beth.  I left the hospital about 10:30pm AMA.  The other good news is that I am down to 190 lbs from 230 when we started this trip on May 1.  Apparently life on the boat and living in Mexico is a pretty good diet and healthy lifestyle.
Ok, so I wasn't going to die and even though I knew Beth was in excellent hands, I was feeling bad about deserting her at sea.  I didn't have a way to contact her to let her know everything was ok.  So, I was on Stock Island barefoot, in shorts and a t-shirt with a life vest.  I am quite sure I was an interesting sight as I walked down the street toward town. I walked to a convenience store and got a drink and called a cab. The cab i called had not showed up within 20 minutes so I started trying to flag one down.  Fortunately a Dominos Pizza delivery car came by and offered me a ride to Garrison Bight which was at least part of Key West I knew.  I was able to get an actual cab here, went to Duval St. and went to CVS where I got some shoes, basic toiletries and a t-shirt. I headed to Key West Bight marina hoping to find someone on their boat so I could use their VHF radio to try to contact Beth but the place was pretty dead as it was about midnight. I asked around where I might find decent accomodations for the night without having to mortgage the house and was directed back to the other side of the island where I got a room for $100.  Now I was back in the USA, worried about Beth, the babies and the boat. I could eat at all the places we had been talking about going since we landed in Mexico but wasn't the least bit hungry.  I was exhausted and just needed to crash. 
I made it to the motel about 1am and was out quickly.

Saturday:  Up at 6 am and headed to the marina.   I was there by 7 and used their radio to contact the cutter who was still escorting Second Chance.  I relayed my medical condition so they could relay that info to Beth.  When we split, the eta of Second Chance to Key West was 9am.  They updated me on their position and speed and the new ETA was 11am.  The seas had apparently gotten worse and it was more like a washing machine with a northeast wind at 20+ knots.  So I had absolutly nothing to do as everything I wanted was on the boat.  I walked down to an internet cafe and checked email, had breakfast and waited until 9:30 to head over to the USCG base to await the arrival.  I got to the gate about 9 and the call button didn't work so I walked about 1/2 mile to the other entrance which was the Navy entrance.  They wouldn't allow me through and instructed me to go back to the gate and try again.  I got someones attention and was taken to the ready room.  There were several USCG personnel around watching TV and having breakfast.  They got an update on the situation and the cutter had departed and a tow vessel had taken over escort duty and they were now towing Second Chance in and their ETA was 4 hours which would put them in around 1pm.  I got a phone number to call and check and headed out.  I went to Radio Shack and picked up a disposable phone and called family to give them an update on what was going on.  I searched around town for a pet friendly motel room as I figured Beth would really appreciate that once she got here.  Unfortunately Key West is a very expensive town and the best rate I found, with availability was over $400 for one night.  I headed to the internet cafe to do a computer search to see if I could do any better but wasn't successful there either.  I was able to track Second Chance via the onboard AIS and they were approaching Key West.  The SPOT had stopped working as it has to be reset every 24 hours in tracking mode and Beth didn't know about that.  Fortunately the AIS picked up just about where SPOT stopped.  So as I was surfing, I was keeping an eye on their progress.   When I saw them make the turn past Mallory Square, I started walking to the USCG post.  As I approached the base, I saw the mast of Second Chance at the dock and was escorted by one of the guys that helped bring her in.  As we rounded the corner to the dock, Beth was already walking the dogs and was in very good spirits and as happy to see me as I was to see her and the babies.

Beth's Account of the events.

When the CG took John they left Sam to help me get the boat to Key West.  They said that he would stay with me to help keep up with the cutter until John was airlifted then they would send someone else to help since it was going to be a long trip because we could only manage 4 to 5 knots because of the weather conditions.  We talked and tried to keep up with the Sawfish. Sam was good at keeping me and the babies calm and was very good at steering the boat. Then after an hour or so, the Sawfish called and said that John had been airlifted and they were sending another man over to help and asked if we needed anything. The USCG crewmen were always very nice and always making sure we were ok. Mikey was the one who came over to help us. We all talked for a few minutes then decided it was time to start taking shifts. Sam was going to take the first shift then Mikey then me. So Mikey laid down and tried to sleep, ( due to the wind and the waves it was a very bumpy ride and was hard to sleep). Then after I made sure everything was good I went and laid down but was back up in a couple of minutes due to seasickness. So after a few minutes over the rail, I told Sam I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon due to being so sick and so worried so he could go lay down and I would wake up Mikey when I got tired. Around midnight I was getting tired and was hoping I might get some rest so I woke up Mikey a little after midnight and showed him how to work everything and went to bed. After a few minutes I was back up and over the rail sick again so I stayed out and talked with him for a little while then started feeling a little better so I tried going to bed again. I actually went to sleep for a few minutes then woke up because we had stopped because the gas tank we were on was empty. I heard them trying to get the engine started and then they came and got me and I got it started on the first try (which never happens) at which I realized I had forgotten to show them there was a little trick to get it started, and after they they didn't have a problem. So we got back on our way and I went back to bed but I didn't really get a lot of sleep cause I was up off and on all night till about 6am when we were out of gas again. It took a little longer cause we had to pump the gas from a small tank into another tank but we got it going again and called the Sawfish and let them know that we were going again and the Sawfish informed us that a USCG towboat should meet us around 8:30am and that they gotten word about John and that he was ok, it was not a heart attack it was only dehydration and he was released from the hospital and would meet us at the dock. I was so relieved,  I took over and let Sam and Mikey get some sleep till the towboat got there. At 9am I saw the towboat and woke them up. The towboat came over and dropped off Scott and then the Sawfish came over and picked up Sam and Mikey and they made sure that we were set then they were back on their way. Once I realized they were not making the trip back with us I called them and told them thank you so much. Scott got the boat rigged to be towed and we were off. We were doing around 7 knots and making good time. We didn't have a lot to do so we just talked. Then about 2 hours out I heard him ask Justin, the captain of the towboat, about a football game so I told him we had XM and he could listen to it if he could find it so we listened to the game almost all the way back. About a half hour out, Scott noticed that the arch had broken a weld at the base and called Justin and told him to slow down and then rigged the arch so it wouldn't get worse but because we had to slow down a half hour turned into an hour out. Finally a little after 2 we were at the USCG dock. YAY! We were all so happy. Scott did a very good job at docking the boat and all the guys on the dock was very nice and helpful. I asked if they knew where John was and they said they hadn't seen him since 9am. I was a little worried but knew he would show up eventually. Scott did some paper work then we all got off the boat. The babies were so very happy to be on land and to go to the bathroom. We had not seen Cocoa go to the bathroom the entire trip and had only seen Catie go once so they really had to go. Scott showed me where they could go then showed me the building to go to and wait for John. After the babies were done we started toward the building and I saw Scott and John walking toward us. I was so happy and so were the babies. I gave him a big hug and kiss and so did the babies. We walked back to the boat and told Scott thank you again and left the dock and headed to Key West Bight Marina.
 I tried to thank each person I came into contact with and tell them how much I appreciated the job they did and for helping us out.  If I missed thanking someone on the cutter, the towboat or the base please know that the job you do is very appreciated.

Once the reunion was over and we had thanked everyone, we boarded Second Chance, started the engine and cast off from the USCG dock and headed to Key West Bight Marina fuel dock.  We filled the tanks and I calculated that there was about 2 gallons of fuel onboard.  The rough seas hadn't done any real damage to the boat but a weld on the arch had broken which is a pretty minor repair.  Everything else was just a matter of cleaning up and organization.  We left the fuel dock and docked on D dock and quickly got organized to go to the airport to check the boat and ourselves into the USA.  The customs and immigration procedure was quick and painless and we were done about 6 pm.  We grabbed a cab and went to Wendy's for a proper american cheesburger and nuggets.  We caught a cab back to the marina and collapsed for the night.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Check-in/OK message from Second Chance SPOT Messenger

Second Chance
GPS location Date/Time:11/19/2011 15:04:56 EST

Message:Living the dream !
All is well.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Check-in/OK message from Second Chance SPOT Messenger

Second Chance
GPS location Date/Time:11/17/2011 10:16:11 EST

Message:Living the dream !
All is well.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-85.09&ll=23.01934,-85.09&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Second Chance

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Every day is an Adventure. Share Yours.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Saturday ~ Tuesday

Saturday was a great day.  Everything peaceful around the marina, beautiful weather and a great day.  Beth and I headed into Playa Del Carmen around noon, enjoyed some McDonalds for a late lunch and just enjoyed the day away from the boat.  We got back to the marina around 9.

Sunday  The Marina was abuzz with activity all day.  Jamie was throwing a party for his wife's birthday and his daughter, Sofia's christening. We were all invited and treated to an authentic Mexican fiesta.  Jamie and family went all out for the party.  The festivities started around 3pm and continued into the night.  There was food, drink, dancing, and all around fun.  Vince and Kristine even joined us and J, Jerr, Vince, Kristine, Beth and I enjoyed the festivities.  J and Jerr retired early and Vince, Kristine, Beth and I went into town around 8 for a snack and got back around 9.  It was a great day spent with good company.

Monday.  I headed into Cancun to look for a few things, mainly a new chart book of the western Gulf of Mexico.  I managed to pick up a few treats but no book.  Oddly enough it isn't considered a necessity. I couldn't even find paper charts.  The rest of the day I spent on little odds and ends on the boat getting it ready to leave when a weather window presented itself.

Tuesday:  Continued on little chores around the boat and the weather looks reasonable for a departure tomorrow.  We are not definite yet as we will not make the decision until morning.  Check the SPOT to see if we are on the move.  Beth went into town to pick up groceries for the trip either way.  Vince and Kristine dropped by, apparently they recovered from the party. We said our goodbyes to everyone as we plan on departing tomorrow.  We are not sure which route we are going to go yet but either way, its time we left Isla Mujeres and started making progress.  We ordered out and relaxed for the evening.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monday - Friday November 7 ~ 11

Monday  The weather was looking somewhat favorable for a crossing but the window would be very tight.  We are watching the weather closely to see if we can try to head northeast.   Alot of the day was spent getting the boat ready to go if we decided to head out.  Our friends on the trimaran "Moon"and Bill on the monohull "Adventure" decided to head out about noon.  We wish them the best.
We kept looking at the weather and forecasts.  There is a big front pushing south and will be in Isla on Thrusday and in the Keys by 6 am on Friday.  The seas are not ideal but the window was there.  In the best conditions, the trip would be a 48 hour run, in usual conditions, maybe 60 and bad conditions more like 72.
We felt like we had about a 70 hour window and decided to depart Isla.  We headed down to the Port Captains office and Immigration to check out of the country and by 5pm we were committed to departing.
We finished little things on the boat, Beth cooked a nice dinner and we decided to give ourselves a little extra time and would leave at 9:30pm.
J and Jerr came out to see us off and we sailed out into a beautiful moonlit night and left Isla Mujeres.
Once we passed the protection of the island, the seas were indeed rough as expected and the wind was no help.  We knew we would have a rough 12 hours before things became more favorable.  Beth was at the helm when a pod of dolphins came by for a visit and ran with the boat for about 20 minutes.  The moonset was fantastic and the stars amazing even as we were being tossed around in 10+ ft seas.

Tuesday  At 6 am, the seas were getting worse, the wind still no help and everyone was sick.  We turned around and headed back to Mexico. I guess it just wasn't time for us to leave.  We arrived back at the dock at El Milagro just before 11 am.  What had taken us almost 9 hours to go took less than 5 to return.  I honestly believe we could have walked faster.  After being up all night, we were exhausted.  We secured the boat, made a trip into town to again visit the Port Captain and Immigration to clear back into the country, and then slept until early evening when we ordered pizza and went back to sleep.

Wednesday  A beautiful day in Isla.  Light winds and plenty of sunshine.  Beth still hasn't recovered from our outing so she hung around the boat most of the day and I didn't go far.  There really isn't much going on so we watched TV.  I took some of the gas that we had in jerry cans and filled the tank.  I guesstimated that we used about 15 gallons on our little trip. I spent the majority of the day looking for alternative transportation to head home for the holidays and checking when our next weather window might be.

Thursday  The wind switched around to the north during the night which gives us a rocky ride at the dock and woke me up about 6 am.  Still checking the weather, there might be a window behind this front.  It looks like we might have a weather window in about a week.  That forecast is exactly that, a forecast and they are less likely to be as accurate here as they are in the states and we all know how accurate they are in the states.  The rest of the day was spent lazing around.  Beth made beef stroganoff for dinner.

Friday  The wind had picked up during the night again making the boat rock.  I managed to actually sleep in till almost 6:30.  I helped a couple of the guys on the dock get online with their computers.  Checked out all the construction going on at the marina and took a ride into town.  When I got back from town, Beth was up and decided today was the day I was going to get a haircut.  It was long overdue and while its difficult to do on the boat, she did a great job.  I made a nice roast for dinner and we relaxed watching TV.

Saturday - Sunday 11/5^6/11

Saturday was an interesting day.  It started with Jerr banging on the boat at 4:30 am.  Apparently she and J had been arguing since 2am and felt the need to get us involved.  We went back to sleep.  I got up around 8 and met up with J. We borrowed Julio's little boat and went on a cruise, talked about things and had a nice breakfast in town.  When we returned J went to deal with Jerr and I did my best to stay out of things.  They continued their fight into the afternoon and evening creating quite a spectacle around the marina.  Needless to say, alcohol was involved.  Not much else happened on Saturday.  By mid to late evening, J and Jerr seemed to come to an agreement and were at least being civil to each other.

Sunday  I was up early and headed into Cancun around 10.  Beth stayed behind with the dogs to take care of some things on the boat.  I was shopping for a few particular things and after numerous collectivo rides, wound up at Plaza de Americas where I almost got everything on my list.  The weird thing in Mexico is that they might have what you are looking for but its never easy to get to or actually find.  If you want more than one thing, it generally means more than one store.  I spent the majority of the day visiting stores that didn't have anything I needed and the rest of the time on a bus.  I finally returned to Isla after dark with my days treasure.  What had taken me all day would have been a 10 minute trip to Wal Mart in the states.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Check-in/OK message from Second Chance SPOT Messenger

Second Chance
GPS location Date/Time:11/08/2011 14:05:40 EST

Message:Living the dream !
All is well.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-86.7406&ll=21.24345,-86.7406&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Second Chance

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Monday ~ Friday Halloween and Día de Muertos

Monday:  Halloween
I headed out early to Cancun to pick up some new jerry cans and a few other items for the boat as we would be leaving Isla soon.  Coming back on the ferry with 6 big red gas cans ( empty ) and a handful of other things was interesting but I managed.  When I got back I immediately got a cab, stopped by Sammy's Market and picked up a case of flavored water for Beth and headed back to the marina.  It took a few trips to get everything to the boat but Beth came up to help so it wasn't too bad.  It started sprinkling about 5 and rained off and on the remainder of the night.  J, Jerr, Beth and I headed into town to see what was going on for Halloween and have dinner.  There were several children in costumes and trick or treating at various stores and even stopping tourists to trick or treat.   Beth quasi dressed up as a princess and paraded with us but didn't trick or treat.

Tuesday was rain off and on all day.  We only left the boat to walk the dogs. I did work on the bikes as each one had a flat tire.  J and Jerr went into downtown Isla and were told to call us if anything was going on for Día de Muertos but when they called all they said was that the church was open and busy and there were a few candles lit at the cemetery so we stayed on the boat.

Wednesday the sun came out and it was again a beautiful day in paradise.  It warmed up nicely and even though they don't believe in drainage, things started to dry out.  The low spots in the streets were still filled with water and pretty hazardous to navigate. I decided it was the day to work on Mahalo Nui.  There wasn't much to do except put the onboard fuel tank back and take my portable diesel tank out.  The reconnection wasn't difficult.  I put about 3 gallons of diesel in, bled the air out of the system and it started right up.  I put my diesel tank back on the generator and tested it as well.  Everything was working as it should.   The moron that owns Marina Paraiso on Isla Mujeres decided to start putting in new dock supports in the transit area between El Milagro and Paraiso.  Eric Schott who owns Milagro was on it quick with calls to the Port Captain and the government body that controls things like this.  They managed to get one pole set, right in front of Mahalo Nui.  While it wasn't impossible for them to leave the slip, it would make things more difficult.  The Port Captain arrived and put a stop to them setting any more posts while it was investigated regarding permits and the actual legality of putting things in a federal transit zone.  It is my understanding that Frank, the owner of Marina Paraiso, did not get any permits and isn't even up to date on his paperwork.  It is very unlikely that he will get permission to expand and hopefully he will be heavily fined for his asinine and childish plans to hurt the business of El Milagro.  Once the Port Captain showed up, we decided we would head to the fuel dock and get ready for our planned departure on Saturday.  Since we were unsure of Franks idiotic plans, we docked on the opposite side of El Milagro.  When we returned to the dock the frigate birds were chasing something around the marina and were driving the dogs wild which in turn drove most of the people on the dock wild.

J and Jerr went to Puerto Aventuras with Vince and Kristine so Beth and I decided to go to Cancun for dinner and a little light shopping.  The ferry ride was uneventful and we took a cab down to the party area of the Hotel Zone for the last day of Día de Muertos.  There was just the usual going on and nothing special for Day of the dead.  There were a few people dressed up but nothing spectacular. We ate a great meal at Caminero's and Beth did some deals with several vendors but only bought a shirt for Cocoa.  We boarded the ferry at 10:30 and were surprised when J, Jerr, Vince, and Kristine were aboard. We all chatted on the way back and once back on Isla we went our separate ways and called it a night.

Thursday  Another pretty day in Mexico.  The sun was out, a gentle breeze and nothing to do. Beth headed into downtown Isla to shop for the things she didn't get or find in Cancun.  While she was gone I worked on getting the boat ready to leave on Saturday.  I secured all the new full fuel cans and put every thing away to be ready to go.  Once that was done I worked on the ice machine which worked while I had it apart in the cockpit but when I put it back together and put it in the boat, it didn't work.  Hmm, a project for another day.  The good news of the day was that J and Jerr's insurance company finally contacted them.  The boat is totaled and apparently they agreed on the submitted amount for the rescue, transport to Isla, dockage and full insurance value.  The stated they were preparing the final release documents and would have them to them by Monday. J and Jerr spent the majority of the day looking at boats for sale online.  Beth returned with several bags of stuff but nothing to eat.  Grocery shopping would be tomorrow.  Jamie let me borrow his scooter to visit the veterinarian as we needed the dogs paperwork updated before we left Mexico. While the rain had stopped, several streets were flooded and very interesting to traverse on a scooter.  Dr. Delphino took care of the dogs paperwork and I headed back to the boat for dinner. Beth prepared an interesting chicken and macaroni dish that was ok but I doubt it will be made again.

Friday:  Another beautiful day but the wind was shifting out of the north and the boat was being  rocked.  I considered moving the boat but as we are supposed to be departing tomorrow, we could tough it out.  I checked the weather and pretty much decided that a Saturday departure was not going to happen but I wanted to discuss it with the other people that were going to travel with us.  We have quite a little flotilla preparing to head out with us.  A trimaran and a mono hull will be heading with us.  By noon, we were all in agreement that this wasn't the most opportune time to head out with the forecast wind and waves.  Beth headed into town to do some grocery shopping and actually came back with lots of goodies.  Once she got back and the decision to stay was final, we needed to move the boat back to the south side of the dock or be rocked all night.  The wind had picked up to 20ish knots so it was an interesting move.  We docked quite well given the conditions and we secured the boat to the dock and hooked everything back up.  Beth made a hamburger pasta dish that was pretty good.  We relaxed for the evening watching TV as the wind continued and a light sprinkle hit the area.