C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Otto our champion

Despite consistently diminishing hull speeds the first night of our passage passed uneventfully.  In response to shifting winds we jibed onto a more northerly heading as we passed Cape Canaveral about 50NM to our west.  Daybreak on the 26th found us on a port tack making 8 knots on a heading of 8 degrees under our genoa.   Our estimated time enroute to Cape Fear had increased dramatically due to our new heading and slower velocity.  Faced with the possibility of two to three more days offshore to Cape Fear we adjusted our landfall westward to Charleston, SC.   The adjustment would match our current heading, worked well with forecasted winds, and provided an all weather inlet at which we would arrive in around 24 hours. 

Giving up on our original goal of a non-stop Lake Worth to Cape Fear River passage left us a little bummed, but our spirits were buoyed by the achievement of covering 204NM in 24hours.   This new record for us aboard C’est la Vie meant that we averaged 8.5 knots during the entire period.

Otto, our Cape Horn windvane autopilot (see image included), proved to be our champion during this crossing.  After the repair on day one of our passage, Otto, maintained the helm for the majority of our remaining time at sea.  This made life aboard much more enjoyable for Anne and I as we were able to share meals together, read books on our watches, and avoid the taxing job of constant hand steering.  It has taken us a long time to work through all the adjustments, fine tuning, and nuisances required to realize the full potential of the windvane, but during this passage Otto has really performed up to our expectations and beyond.

By evening on the 26th we were approximately equidistant, 100NM, from Jacksonville, FL & Charleston, SC.  While unable to view land we were able to witness towering thunderstorms building as sea breezes met the warm southeastern sea board from Saint Augustine, FL north and eastward to Charleston, SC.  Near sunset we counted nine towering cumulonimbus spanning our horizon from 240deg off our port side across our bow to 45deg off our starboard.  NOAA out of both Jacksonville & Charleston informed us that the storms were moving northwestward.  We were free to view the display of backlit storms without fear of their approach. 

Still on our four hour watches with Otto at the helm we slipped silently into our second night at sea.  

As we closed in on coastal Georgia and South Carolina during the early morning hours of July 27th. We encountered confused seas and variable winds left over from the previous evening’s thunderstorms.  These conditions finally brought to an end Otto’s 36+ hour command of the helm and eventually our ability to rely on wind power alone.   The final 6 hours of our approach to Charleston was made motor sailing under the main.

Just afternoon on Tuesday, July 27, 53 hours after leaving Lake Worth, we dropped anchor across the channel from the Charleston City Marina.   Time for a late lunch and a nap.

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