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C'est la Vie
C'est la Vie
Port: Everglades City, FL
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Countdown to departure
Wednesday April 11th 2007, Everglades City, FL

Thanks to all the Sunset Island WorkWeek Participants. Without your support & sweat Sunset Island would not be the wonderful basecamp she is today... see image.

As the departure date for our seasonal migration north looms near the project list spouts like so many spring flowers. I've recognized an inverse correlation between the length of the project list and the countdown to departure. Is this a self imposed cycle common to all DIY sailors or a monster of my own creations?

We are aiming to depart Everglades City by Sunday April 22. Or before? Tethered to the dock by obligations to our FL home/workplace, we are attempting to knock out some large, long standing projects - new salon windows; bright work on the exterior wood, repair a soft spot in the starboard deck. These projects come as no surprise, but it does seem that so many side projects take on new importance as the departure nears... installing and wiring a mount for a new handheld VHF, new oar locks on the dinghy; dividers for the ice box, knife rack for the galley, etc, etc. I enjoy these projects and seek refuge in completing DIY projects with a high degree of craftsmanship. Please do not take my rant as whining, but rather a search for others who recognize a similar pre-departure madness.

Did I mention we will be casting off within a weeks time? Due to low water in Lake Okeechobee our decision to sail down around the keys or north and across the lake was preordained. Our friends Art & Marilee on the Iva W will be starting their journey from Ft. Myers to Beaufort, NC on April 20. We hope to spend some time together along the journey. In addition, my parents, Bud & Muriel, have also purchased a Marine Trader 38 docked in Wilmington, NC. We plan to cruise the final leg of our journey with them.

Stay tuned to the blog... we will be posting regular updates during our journey north to Beaufort, NC

C'est la Vie
Damn dock lines won't let go!
Thursday December 21st 2006, Sunset Island

On the cusp of the holidays, I wish I could report on our many sailing adventures and new ports of call over the last month, but the dock lines refuse release their grasp of the cleats. I have managed to get a few projects ticked off the list. I replaced the throttle cable, a small job that, like so many things on a boat, turned into an epic when I could not get the transmission to engage when the new cable was installed. After much hypothesizing and experimentation with no success, I read the directions and damn if the thing didn't begin to work properly. If all else fails read the directions.

Thanks to an early x-mas gift from Polly & Bud, Anne's grandparents, we purchased ourselves a joint X-mas gift... a Garmin Chart plotter. I installed the unit a few days ago. I placed the new unit on the existing swing arm that extends into the companion way, and mounted the existing black and white unit near the electrical panel. The older unit will now serve as a backup.

We purchased some Bristol Finish for the exterior wood, but the rains won't seem to hold off for long enough (work won't hold off either) for us to tackle the exterior wood.

We hope to spend a few days over X-mas on the boat. I'll be sure to keep you updated if we finally escape the dock.

The image included was taken from the upstairs front room of the lodge here on Sunset Island looking WSW across Chokoloskee Bay and Indian Key Pass. Yall come vist now, ya hear.

C'est la Vie
Exploring Dismal Key
Saturday December 16th 2006, Ten Thousand Islands

After a night on the hook at Panther, we dropped origami (the dinghy) in the water and tooled around some of the creeks around Dismal Key.

C'est la Vie
Lindsay's visit
Friday December 15th 2006, Everglades City, FL

Lindsay made the long drive down from WNC to visit us in the Everglades. We found the time get out for an overnight on C'est la Vie. We sailed out to the west side of Panther Key and dropped the hook for the night. Attached is a picture of Lindsay @ the helm.

C'est la Vie
Home Sweet Home
Saturday October 7th 2006, Sunset Island, Everglades City, FL

We arrived at Sunset Island on Saturday morning. Our "day sail", 65NM from Marathon across FL Bay and up to the northern end of Everglades National Park, offered excitement and a few hours of light air sailing. We departed Boot Harbor with the first hint of sunshine challenging the cloudy morning. By the time we cleared seven mile bridge we were facing a fresh breeze of 15+ knots on our bow. After a trip defined by broad reaching and down wind runs, the sailed close hauled under a single reef in the main and the 110 jib. C'est la Vie and her crew enjoyed the excitement of 6.5kts with water lapping the toe rail. Clearing all the shallow coral banks extending off the keys into FL Bay required a few tacks, careful navigation, and a keen watch.

Clearing the final bars as the Keys sank below the horizon astern we settled into what we planned to be a quick windward sail up to Indian Key Pass, but the winds did not co-operate. Oddly the winds veered to the SW and died.... We were west of a large storm. The storm was pulling the local winds to the SW. Light, SW winds prevailed until about sundown when we spotted two waterspouts touching down from the squall lines approx 1NM to our east. We dropped sail and steamed onward to Indian Key Pass. The storm, giving us a refreshing shower, passed with out incident off our stern. An east breeze appeared after the storm passed, and John sailed a beam reach into Indian Key Pass. We dropped anchor off Indian Key around 02:00 on Saturday morning.

After a few hours of sleep, our journey drew to a close as we motored in the final 5NM up Indian Key Pass to Sunset Island.

Thanks to Bud, Trish, and John for sharing the journey. There will be more to come!

For those out there familiar with Sunset Island or planning to join us there for the winter, things of the island look great!

C'est la Vie
Long Key to Marathon
Thursday October 5th 2006, Hawks Channel. FL Keys

Maybe this is why NOAA issed that small craft advisory. Our passage from Long Key to Boot Key Harbor (Marathon) was much more eventful that the previous days sail. Today we have weathered numberous squall lines... none too severe but the weather and potential for squalls has kept us on our toes. Again the sailing is on a broad reach under the 110, and again our average speed is around 6knots. We arrived in Boot Key Harbor mid afternoon with enought time to assemble the dinghy and go ashore.

C'est la Vie
Stuck in Key Largo
Tuesday October 3rd 2006, Del Mar Marina, Key Largo

We departed Ft. Pierce mid morning with excellent winds off our port stern. The northeast winds pushing exactly were we wanted to go, but then we found the Gulf Stream just a bit south of Stuart, FL. Despite the fair winds and 34 horsepower (our speed through the water was over 7 knots) the best we could do against the Gulf Stream was 2.5 to 3 knots. If I ever come this way again the travel south from Stuart to Miami will be made in the ICW. Live and learn... The Gulf Stream current began to ease near Ft. Lauderdale/ Port Everglades, but the storms began to build. At the end of my night watch, midnight to 04:00, we encountered our first strong squall. With just enough warning to switch out the genny for a storm jib and pull 2 reefs in the main the squall slapped into us from the east. Sailing close to the wind with minimal canvas, toe rail in the water, and hull speed of 7.5 knots; we quickly lost searoom off the shore to our west. We entered the squall 2 miles offshore and finally were able to gain ground to the east after slipping w/in one mile of shore. C'est la Vie handled the approx 40 knots winds and near zero visibility better than her nervous crew. After the initial wall of wind, the rain and lightening stuck around for another few hours. By day break we were passing Port Everglades and after some debate decided to push on to the Keys via the outside. The image included is of a stormy Miami Beach. The sailing remained pleasant through my day watch, but around 16:00 we found ourselves surrounded by squalls. Unwilling to risk being pushed around among the reefs and shallows of the Keys, we holed up on the NE side of Elliot Key. On the cusp of another squall the anchor dropped. Just after diving on the anchor to ensure she found good holding the storms abated without us receiving a raindrop. Welcome to the keys…

On October first we cruised south to Key Largo on a wonderful NE breeze. We pulled into Key Largo for fuel, water, and food. We found all three and due to the late hour decided to tie up despite a $3/foot fee. Little did we know we would wake up to small craft advisories for the next four days. So here we sit. Stuck in the high rent district. Could be worse.... we do have continental breakfasts, three pools, two workout rooms, multiple bars, etc. Hopefully the winds will ease soon.

C'est la Vie
Back in FL!
Thursday September 28th 2006, Ft. Pierce, FL

Before resuming our travels south we switched out some crew Trish Haitz took Bud's place on the boat. With Helene's passing,the forecast for resuming our offshore passage looked promising so we steered south out of Port Royal Sound, SC our goal was Ft. Pierce, FL. With thunderstorms dancing around the Sound, we motor sailed to the outer buoy. Upon reaching the outer buoy a 20NM trek, be killed the motor and quickly found ourselves becalmed. This passage was certainly different than our last. Confident that we did not have fuel for the entire 300NM passage and counting on winds in our future, we steamed through the night. Each time a whisper of breeze found us we hoisted the sails, killed the diesel, and found ourselves becalmed within two hours. We did reach the Gulf Stream off Cape Canaveral and we joined by playful dolphins and pilot whales for long stretches of time. (see image and note the crystal blue water!)

How you may ask are we sure we entered the stream? While attempting to maintain steerage and forward progress in the light airs on the midnight to four am watch the steering compass and knot meter told me I was slowing moving SW both GPS units we informing me that C'est la Vie and her crew were moving NE over the globe. It took me a few minutes to figure this out and a few hours of light air sailing to escape the Gulf Stream current. The winds arrived none too soon to alleviate our fears over dwindling fuel. Around sunset on day 3 out of Port Royal and just east of Canaveral the winds appeared. Light and on our bow at first they built though the night and allowed us to sail a broad reach into Ft. Pierce Inlet by morning. Our average speed sailing on the final night was over 6kts!

Interesting to note that while both passages were entirely different --
the first passage -strong winds and developed seas and the second passage light airs, calm seas and lots of motoring we averaged 4.5 kts over 260NM on the first passage and 4.6 kts over 300NM on the second passage.

We are unsure of the plan from here, but we will do our best to keep you all updated.

C'est la Vie
First leg of the return to FL
Monday September 25th 2006, Beaufort, SC

C?? est la Vie left her summer home of Beaufort, NC early in the morning of Wednesday, Sept 21. Anne and Carlie are currently pursuing other adventures so I recruited John Grey and Bud Lovett as crew. With a forecast of fair weather and moderate swell from a distant Hurricane Helene we planned to sail offshore and attempt to come in somewhere around Jacksonville, FL. The seas from Helene haunted our passage and made sleeping and meals difficult. We rounded Cape Fear around 04:00 on Sept 22. We found ourselves in a small craft advisory with 20kt winds and 8+ foot seas off of Charleston, SC around midnight on the 23rd. The winds slowing veering onto our bow, we were finally forced to tack back NE off the outer buoy at Charleston, this placed us running close hauled directly into the 8+ foot seas, while C?? est la Vie performed admirably, the crew was not eager to hold the NW tack for long. The forecast called for more of the same so we bailed out and joined the ICW via the North Edisto River. Anchoring in the South Edisto River on Saturday, the 23rd, provided our first full nights sleep since leaving Beaufort. We took the ICW south to Beaufort, SC and tied up at Lady?? s Island Marina. The attached image is John & Bud motoring along the ICW.

C'est la Vie
Still working towards the launch date.
Thursday September 7th 2006, Bock Marine, Beaufort, NC

That's right the ides of September are creeping up and we are still on the hard at Bock Marine. Between work and wet weather we've struggled to get the boot stripe and hull painted. Weather permitting… we hope Florence follows her forecasted route and stays out to sea, we should be ready to launch on Monday, September 11th. We've run the motor, started up the fridge, and even managed to get one coat of paint on the boot stripe. The hull is sanded and just waiting for the right day to apply paint. I promised an image of our new bow sprit chain plate (I guess that's what you would call this piece). The older design only had four 5/16” screws w/ fender washers on the inside. This system was failing… holes elongating and bolts bending. The newer design uses seven 3/8” bolts with backing plates and a "T” shaped plate on the exterior of the hull. We feel much more confident about this system and the extra time and $$ spent to make this repair offer us a much greater piece of mind. See image included…

C'est la Vie

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