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.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trish's perspective on our crossing from Wilmington, NC to the Abacos

To assist with our transit of C'est la Vie from NC to FL we invited Trish aboard as crew.  Below is her recollection and musing on our 5 day crossing from Wilmington, NC to the Abacos.

         I find myself sitting in the corner berth of C’est la Vie, our dock lines firmly tied to a little spit of land in the Atlantic Ocean.  Getting to this place was no sail on Caribbean blue sea.   Our journey began November 19th shortly after I finished the Florida phase of the International Semester course.  Anne, Jeff and I packed the Vibe full of our needed gear and tools and headed north from Sunset Island.  After a quick overnight at Joe and Lisa Waas’ we arrived in Wilmington, NC on the 20th of November.  Bud Lovett, Jeff’s father, beat us to the boat yard and was busy sanding and gathering supplies for us to finish the prep for the upcoming launch.  The 21st was spent painting the bottom of the boat, checking weather reports, working on evaluations and budgets.  On the 22nd, Jeff worked with guys at the boat yard to launch while Anne and I spent the day doing laundry, hunting down various provisions and of catching movie (Harry Potter of course).  On the 23rd we cast our lines off the dock, waved good-bye Muriel, and followed Sunshine down the Cape Fear River.  Looking back, that was the easiest part of our voyage.

         Upon reaching the Atlantic Ocean, the winds were S-SW and the seas were rolling.  Having never been in these type of conditions for a sustained amount of time, I was not emotionally prepared to be sea sick.  By the following night I had started to violently vomit for the next 24 hours.  Any movement outside of taking the helm or laying in my corner berth had me immediately hanging my head over the toe rail.  Leaving traces of my DNA all over the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic Ocean.  Left with no other option, I took two Dramamine and slept for 12 hours. 

         In the mean time, C’est la Vie was still crashing through the sea that regularly slammed her hull and brought green water pouring over her bow.  With each crash of the sea, something small seemed to go wrong and on a couple of occasions a few large things as well.  The list included the bilge pump failing (Jeff was able to fix this underway & hanging upside down in starboard locker), the head pump failed (a trash bag sealed the bowl to prevent the contents from joining us in the cabin), running out of diesel, the main sail head board separated from the track (which could have “un-zipped” the main from the mast), and a bag of chips slipped in the chain locker to cover a drainage point (this allowed each wave crashing over the bow to come into the anchor locker then into the v-berth and then on the soul of the cabin). 

         As a crew we worked sponge water, take bits apart and put them back together, talk through different tacks, and quietly sit with one another while the other held a white knuckle grip on the tiller.  We were all digging deep to find the optimism and courage.  Wanting desperately to push pause and catch our breath, just a small break in the chaos, but that was as far away as land at that point (about 200nm).  I found myself talking to father, looking for signs that he was listening, begging him to help lay down the seas.  I don’t think he had anything to do with us making it to Green Turtle Cay, but it was good to talk to him.

         On the morning of the fifth day (we were planning on four when we left Wilmington) we finally spotted land.  Thankful for this sighting, we still could not take a deep breath.  We had to navigate through the “Whale.”  A break in the reef where waves can break your boat in half and us with 4 gallons of emergency fuel in the tank.  Finally we get a break.  Light winds out of the North, tide coming in, and the sea state was calm.  We slip in the Whale wing-on-wing and ready ourselves to come into the safe harbor. 

         Looking back on those five days, I do not want to repeat them.  I do not regret any part of it, just do not want to repeat a five day passage across or down the Atlantic Ocean.  With that perspective, I am thankful and humbled by my discoveries.

         These lessons I have learned are many and will be put to good use.  I feel like I am a sophomore sailor after this passage.  I know what I know and don’t know, as well as confident that the knowledge can be obtained.  It has also become clear that I do not want to circumnavigate the world in a sailboat.  Yup, long passage making; I can check that box off my list.  I am still invested in living on board my own boat and exploring the world via the cock-pit and tiller.

         The most wonderful discovery is the wilderness.  The ocean is the last great wilderness on the this planet.  when we were in the thick of it, there was no one else to help us out or anyway to stop action.  If one of us got badly injured, we did not have the option of call ing 911.  Unlike the land where you can stop and make a dynamic situation immediately a static on, the wilderness of the ocean is always dynamic.  I am truly humbled by that.  Thankful we never had any major injuries, but there were a few times when I wish we could have made our very dynamic world static.  Along with the discovery of the dynamic state of the marine environment, is the Ocean itself.  The vastness and diversity of the live within and above.  And the simple fact that we did not see any other people for four days.  Truly out with no signs of civilization.  I loved it.

         Sitting here safely tucked in behind a cay in the Abaco Sea, I am again thankful for the adventure.  Now I just have to keep the lessons alive.

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