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C'est la Vie
C'est la Vie
Port: Everglades City, FL
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FREE DOCKAGE - Southport, NC
Thursday August 30th 2007, Southport, NC

So we only covered 11NM, free overnight dockage at a fun restaurant seem like reason enough to call it a day. We timed the tides and rode the ebb on broad reach downriver to Southport, NC. We tied up at the Provision Company... a well established, mostly fried food, love the cold beer on the patio by the water kind of place located in the Southport Boat Basin. The dock space is a mixture of four floating & non floating piers behind the restaurant. The dockage, much like Carolina Beach State Park, is first come fist serve. This may present problems on weekends and during peak ICW travel times, but being the early birds to migrate south has its advantages. We had no problem finding a space on the floating portion of the dock. The restaurant requests that vessels docking dine in the establishment. There are no services (i.e. power, water, laundry, etc.). Be prepared for many questions from restaurant patrons and some late night rowdiness. If you are a light sleeper this may not be the best stop.

The town of Southport is within easy walking distance. Anne and I enjoyed walking along the community streets. The old part of town reminds us of Beaufort NC & SC. The commercial part of town has a Port City Java with free Wifi, lots of restaurants, and a plenty of shopping opportunities. Unfortunately there is no grocery shopping within walking distance.

The image included was taked by the gracious crew aboard SV Prudence. They took the image at Cape Lookout Bight. We recently received it via e-mail and just had to share. Thanks Prudence.

First time in my life...
Thursday August 30th 2007, Carolina Beach State Park

Today I can mark another milestone in my life. For the first time ever I went grocery shopping via skateboard. That's right me the long board (see image of new transportation) and the open road to Carolina Beach Food Lion. No, I was not so bold as to work the Food Lion isles via the board. It fits snugly on the lower portion of a standard shopping cart. Thinking it would store easily onboard and make for fun urban transport, I traded one of the OB staff some chain for the board. Earlier this summer, I refinished the board in oyster non skin topsides and boot stripe blue undersides. These were trial runs for some upcoming C'est la Vie painting projects. Much to my surprise, Anne put in a few hours of practice on the board while visiting Cleveland, OH earlier this summer. Perhaps we will soon be adding a second board aboard to allow both of us to go shopping.

Back to Carolina Beach... The State Park Marina (see Aug 29 post) proved to be a great stop. We used the facilities to shower and do laundry (coin operated). Riding into town (approx 1 mile from boat basin) I discovered a grocery store, 24 hour Walgreens, bike rentals, Port City Java w/ WiFi, and plenty of restaurants.

A mellow day on the inside
Wednesday August 29th 2007, Carolina Beach State Park

After the excitement of the previous days sail we decided to slow things down a bit today. We started the day with a long coffee shop/internet session in Wrightsville Beach. We motor sailed around 12NM south in the ICW to Carolina Beach State Park. Anne steered while I did some general repairs and maintenance on the main sail.

Carolina Beach State Park has a boat basin located at the southern (Cape Fear) side of Snow's Cut. The slips are first come first serve at $20/night irreguardless of length of vessel and have 30amp power and water. Coin laundry and shower facilities are also on site. This is a great deal and I'm sure it fills up on weekends and heavy ICW travel times. We arrived early and midweek just to be sure of getting a slip. As best we can tell we were the only transients for the night. Image included is of Anne enjoying a boca burger for dinner.

PS - Just after the picture was taken I kicked her butt in backgammon.

Fast - slow - motor - sprint
Tuesday August 28th 2007, Atlantic Ocean

Oversleeping by 45mins did not prevent us from catching a boost from the last of the outgoing tide. Rain fell and Beaufort quickly slipped into a gray haze as we pointed our bow WSW. The morning winds, driven by local showers and thunderstorms, were 12 knots from the NE. Under our main and jib were we making 6+ knots. That's a fast walk to slow run for you land lubbers, but board C'est la Vie 6 knots VMG (velocity made good) is cause for celebration. Our 60NM run to Wrightsville Beach would take us only 10 hours... arriving well before the 20:30 deadline.

During our pretrip planning - that's right the night before heading outside we check, at a minimum, the weather, the distance, and the tides - we knew we wanted to depart Beaufort before 08:30 to use the tides in our advantage. We also knew the tides would begin to ebb (drain) out of Masonboro Inlet at approx. 20:30. If we took too long offshore we would have to fight tidal currents to gain the safe harbor at Wrightsville, we may be faced with large spilling waves as the forecast 4 foot seas met the tidewater racing back to the sea, and it would be dark. At the onset we knew we needed to average better than 5knots VMG to cover the 60NM before 20:30.

By 11:15 we were still on target having covered 12NM but the winds were clocking. The clockwise rotation of the winds forced us to run downwind. The seas were building. We dropped the mainsail thinking that running before 16knot winds we would make better time with less effort on the helm with only a foresail. VMG down to 5.4 knots - acceptable.

By 13:00 we continue to run before the wind but due to short period 4 foot seas are unable to hold onto averaging 5knots. We surf down a wave at 7+ knots only to claw up the next wave at 2knots. It is unbelievable that we cannot make better than 5knots VMG with all this wind. Did I mention the serious flaw in our planning? Based on our recent success towing Origami, our dinghy, we decided to attempt towing her offshore. We will not make this mistake again. We are forced into tying her 2 inches off our stern. We learned early on at giving her a long leash made her less stable and large waves would surf her into our stern with alarming force. We realize that tacking downwind, sailing from broad reach to broad reach would increase our speed, but we fear flipping or swamping the dinghy. Ahh - some lessons are best learned through experience. We decide increasing sail area is the best way to increase our VMG. With no small effort and great work on the helm by Anne we manage to drop the jib and raise the genoa (a larger foresail). During the process we discover the clew on our newly refurbished jib is damaged and threatening to rip out. Good thing we decided to swap sails - bad thing for our relationship with the company that did the work on our sails - Sail Care.

Anne continues to steer as I set about repairing the jib. 10 to 12 miles offshore, Anne takes us through the busy waters off Camp Lejeune. We see an aircraft carrier, a destroyer, and two hover craft in the distance. Jib repaired, Anne gives up the helm to admire a pod of dolphins that chose to escort us. For nearly 30 minutes Anne watches them play off the bow. Then with a huge aerial stunt that ends in a crash of white spray the dolphins are gone. Back to the reality that our VMG has us arriving long after dark and against the tides. Spirits sink as we resort to cranking the motor. Here we are 16knot winds reduced to motor sailing because of a silly dinghy in tow (see image). Better to lose style points that arrive after 20:30.

At 16:45 with 20NM to go the wind has continued to clock and now we are forced on to a broad reach. Despite our fears and growing seas the dinghy appears able to handle the conditions. As waves pick her up the stern swings through 180 degrees, with the dinghy following us like the wagging tail of an eager puppy we raise the main to take full advantage of winds.

We cover the remaining 20NM in less than 3 hours. Our max speed reaching 10.3knots surfing down waves dinghy in tow. As we rapidly approach the outer buoy at Masonboro Inlet we debate the best plan of action. We are over canvassed and turning windward in the 4 to 6 foot seas to lower the genny does not sound appealing. Some quick chart work and calculations lead us to believe that if we jibe when bearing to the breakwater is 300 degrees then we can sail a broad reach directly into the inlet and avoid venturing onto the foredeck to drop the genny. Hmm - some second guessing here about our calculations and the worst case scenario if they are wrong. We keep time by watching the bearing creep up towards 300. Like a child watching the second hand of a clock on Christmas morning the slow pace is killing us... 285 - 287 - 288 -289 - 290 - And we can't stand the wait. Prepare to jibe.... Jibe ho. We make the move ten degrees early.

The jibe goes smoothly and the seas on our new heading of 290 are kind. Trust in our team and experience grows as we realize our calculations are correct and we executed a smooth jibe over canvassed in 18knots of wind with a dinghy in tow. Since we jumped the gun and jibed at 290 we are forced to run down wind with the main shadowing the genny. This demands a great deal of focus on the helm in the ocean swell, but soon we round a nun, gain the channel ,and are able to fall onto our planned broad reach as we clear the breakwater. The gps reports 9.3 knots over ground as we ride the tide in Masonboro Inlet.

We averaged 5.8knots over 75NM. Whew, fatigue sets in. We feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in our abilities, but realize that some of our errors - towing the dinghy and running downwind over canvassed were errors. Some lessons must be learned through experience. Wise are those that learn from these experiences. Arrogant or ignorant are those that chose to ignore.

The winds that delivered us to Wrightsville beach now cool our cabin and recharge our batteries. Anne prepares an amazing dinner of roasted potatoes and salmon. Sleep comes easily.

Hunting ghost crabs...
Monday August 27th 2007, Cape Lookout, NC

Carlie and I started the day with a walk on the beach. She loves to hunt ghost crabs, but fortunately her hunting has not yielded any kills. Her efforts make a great spectator sport (see image included). After a mellow morning in the bight and another touch and go with the crew of Prudence - we hope to see you in a future anchorage, we returned to town for a final visit to all the essential stores - West Marine, Staples, Groceries. We rowed back to the boat with yet another thunderstorm barking up our heels. The rain forced us to batten down the hatches for the night. Fortunately on our town run earlier in the day we purchased two new fans in the vee berth. These were installed and running by bedtime. We plan to get started with the dawn light tomorrow and make a 75NM passage outside to Masonboro Inlet / Wrightsville Beach. The winds are forecast to be favorable and making this long day on the outside will avoid two days of motoring in the ICW. We will let you all know how is goes...

back to the Bight
Sunday August 26th 2007, Cape Lookout, NC

After a two day sprint of logistics and good byes - thanks and fair winds go to the Lovetts, Chadwicks, and all our down east friends - we returned to the boat and to Lookout Bight. Robin Chadwick joined Anne and I for a busy sail from Beaufort to the Bight. The total distance from Beaufort to the Bight is only 12NM. At the 3NM mark you must exit the Beaufort Inlet and travel the next 9NM in the Ocean. The morning's slick calm gave way to 20knot east winds and four foot seas by the time we entered the ocean. We motor sailed out the inlet through steep waves that plunged the bowsprit below water. Reaching deep water to our north we then turned onto a beam reach, hoisted the 80% jib and killed the motor for the leg to the bight. Anne was on the helm and did an exceptional job sometimes reaching almost 8 knots of hull speed with the dinghy in tow. With a thunderstorm threatening Dennis taxied Robin home from the bight. The image included was taken after the storm passed. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse can be seen in the background.

Cape Lookout Bight
Wednesday August 22nd 2007, Cape Lookout, NC

Thanks for all the comments on our Aug. 21 post! Please keep posting comments and if anyone has questions about the boat or our adventures please ask.

After months of work on the hard and life on land, Anne and I decide a short shakedown cruise to Cape Lookout Bight is in order. The overnight trip quickly generated a long list of forgotten provisions. The sailing was lively with wind on our nose both out and back on the 9NM run in the Atlantic Ocean. The image included is from our trip out to the bight. The new dodger is six inches lower that the previous one. The reduced height and new glass add dramatically to our visibility. No more standing on tiptoes to see over the dodger! Guess we will need to find a new exercise for our calf muscles.

Over the summer we sent both our genny and jib off to sail care to have them cleaned and repaired. We ran up both sails during the trip. The sails look great and we've now decided our main looks quite dingy... guess we'll add that to the project list.

Fresh breezes through the night made for fine sleeping. Ahh its good to be back on the water. One note for fellow cruisers - we were surprised at the consistent depth of 20 to 25 feet in the anchorage. This is more depth than I expected in the area. I was also surprised to pull up black muck on when raising the anchor. I was expecting sand. The black muck makes for great holding, but quite a cleanup job when raising 100+ feet of muddy chain off the bottom. Hmm maybe we should add a pressurize wash down to that project list.

We will be back on land working out the car and provisioning logistics until next Sunday. We will post more before raising the hook and departing Beaufort early next week.

To Beaufort for dodger installation
Tuesday August 21st 2007, Beaufort, NC

We departed Bock Marine for a quick rundown the ICW to Beaufort. Thanks yet again to all the staff a Bock Marine. Kenny Bock runs a great yard and consistently has friendly, helpful staff. The morning's 10NM trip to Beaufort offered our first trial of the new drive shaft, new cutlass bearing, new shaft seal, and balanced prop. The reduction in noise level and vibration is obvious and very welcome. Because Tony @ Beaufort Canvas Works needed dockside access to C'est la Vie for the dodger installation we tied up to the Beaufort City Docks ($2/ft.) for the night. See image of Tony installing the dodger.

Back on the water!
Monday August 20th 2007, Bock Marine - Beaufort, NC

C'est la Vie made her return to the water today! As is apt to happen on boats, our project list expanded once the repairs and maintenance began. What started as an arduous project to replace the dripless shaft seal, a critical barrier to flooding that is buried deep in our bilge, turned into replacing the drive shaft and cutlass bearing in addition to the shaft seal. This project offered us added time to knock out some other long standing items on the to do someday list... We finally repaired the yawl bearing and repainted the wind generator. We re-painted the boot stripe and recoated the anti fouling paint. We refinished the tiller, some of the topsides teak, and the oars for the dinghy. The list goes on... Image above shows off fresh bottom paint and a bit of bling from the freshly balanced and polished prop.

We are eagerly awaiting completion of a new dodger. For those unfamiliar with boat speak, the dodger serves a similar function to the windshield of a car. I'll surely post a picture of the new one when it is installed...hopefully tomorrow. The new dodger and refurbished foresails will surely sharpen our look underway. Think of it as an Oprah fashion makeover for our forty one year old girl.

Anne and I will spend the remainder of this week knocking out logistics for our trip south and saying goodbye to all our Down East friends. Weather permitting we will begin traveling south by next Monday.

We will keep everyone updated via our sailblogs site so keep checking in. Please leave us a message by clicking on the "comments" tab - look lower right of this post then click the "add at note" tap on the upper right of the pop up box. We really enjoy hearing from you all and it is fun to see who is checking out the blog.

Wait we are still here...
Thursday May 24th 2007, Beaufort, NC

Please keep checking back. We only plan to be dry for two months and then were back to sea. Our rate of posts will slow as Anne and I return to work. The focus of the updates will change from places and people to repairs. We will continue to post happenings. While on the hard we hope to replace our shaft seal, replace the current dodger, replace the glass in our ports, paint the topsides, clean & repair our sails, new coats of bottom paint, etc...

We will send out a mass e-mail when we launch in the end of July.

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