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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Thanks to a great deal of luck with tides we made record time around the inland side of Marco and Goodland. We cleared Coon Key and re-entered the Ten Thousand Island around 14:30.  Our winds had veered more westerly so we were able to motor sail along the outside of keys. We turned in Indian Key Pass around 16:00 and rode a flooding tide into Sunset Island.

Two weeks and four hours after our departure from Beaufort NC we had C'est la Vie tied into her dock and a cool beer in our hands.

Thanks to Bud for his willingness to take his time to assist as crew and share the adventure.

Closing in on Marco Island.

As yesterday aged into twilight, the NOAA forecast became less favorable for sailing offshore through the night.  We elected to call it a day and anchor for the night.  We passed Punta Rassa, entered San Carlos Bay, and dropped the hook as the last light drained from the sky.

We greeted the dawn light today while riding an outgoing tide from the bay into the Gulf of Mexico.  Since entering the Gulf we have been motor sailing close hauled under the main.  

We have put astern 30NM and are currently 5NM out from Marco Island.  If the day continues to go as planned, then we should make it home to Sunset Island this evening.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back to salt water!

Despite a foggy start we have cleared two locks and 5 draw bridges today.  We are now back in salt water just north of Ft. Myers, FL.

Our next stop will be for fuel at the Ft. Myers City Marina.  After that we remain undecided... Push on through the night tonight and hopefully arrive E'city torrow or anchor here tonight.  We are looking over weather predictions and tide charts to aid in our decision.

Dinner Guests

Ten hours of motoring delivered us to the River House Docks in Moorehaven, FL.   We arrived midafternoon.  The early arrival gave us time to clean house and shower prior to the appearance of dinner guests. 

First to arrive were Bart Blankenship, fellow Outward Bound Instructor and sailor.  He was assisting is brother with a sailboat delivery to the east coast of FL.  We realized via Facebook that our paths would likely cross.

Quick on Bart's heels, Anne arrived.  She drove up from Everglades City to visit and deliver a few groceries.

We found Joey's Pizza in town and shared a dinner at the picnic area beside the docks.

Lunch guest.

The forecast predicted fine winds for sailing across Lake Okeechobee on Monday.  So we awoke early and motored away from St Lucie Lock well before dawn.  We cleared Port Mayaca Lock mid morning and found the lake a windless mirrorstretching out to the horizon. 

We have now transited Lake Okeechobee many times aboard C'est la Vie, but have yet to sail across.  This day proved no different.  We set the auto pilot and let the motor hum along.

We did have a guest for lunch while moving northward in the rim canal.  A monarch butterfly landed on Bud's sandwich.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

West bound in fresh water

After a morning of motorsailing close hauled under  the genny, we turned west and entered the St. Lucie River at Stuart, FL.  Our plan is to spend the next three days crossing from the eastern, Atlantic coast of FL, to the western, Gulf of Mexico, coast via the Okeechobee Waterway. 

Fifteen miles westward in the river we reached the St. Lucie Lock.  The lock lifted C'est la Vie approx 13 feet and into fresh water.  Immediately following the lock is a state park that offers 8 boat slips on a first come first serve basis.  We were fortunate to arrive early and claim slip #2.

Tomorrow we plan to run upstream in the St. Lucie River, cross Lake Okeechobee, lock down into the Calusahatchee River, and tie up for the night at the Moorehaven town dock.  
Early to bed... Early to rise....

Good day for sailing in Indian River.

After passing the Canaveral Barge Canal and accompanying bridges the winds picked up off our port bow.  The ICW transits the Indian River in this area.  The River maintains a depth and width that allowed us to enjoy some sailing close hauled southward. We were able to shut off the motor and make around 6 knots for over three hours.

 The time under sail proved valuable as we came motoring into Vero Beach Marina on fumes.  We fueled up and grabbed a mooring ball for the evening.

This morning we got another dark thirty start and are current approaching Ft. Perice.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cold north winds aided in our 77NM day.

Despite the cold, north wimd, or perhaps motivated by the hope of moving south to warmer temps.  We rose to a dark thirty start out of the Matanzas' anchorage. The gusty wind was impractical for sailing because it constantly shifted from port to starboard off our stern.  Attempting to harness the wind would have required constant gibes in the stiff breeze.  So we motored on through Daytona and New Smyrna Beach. 

The image below is of Bud at the helm while passing Ponce Inlet.

Where luck did not favor us with wind it did grace us at all the draw bridges. In total we passed thru 5 draws yesterday and did not slow up for a single opening.

By late afternoon the winds finally worked in our favor.  We were able to motorsail a broad reach down Mosquito Lagoon and on to Titusville. We dropped the hook around 18:30.  Pleased with our 77NM day, average speed of 6 knots, and the promise of warm weather tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cold Front

After clearing the Bridge of Lions we pushed on to one of Anne and I's favorite anchorages at Matanzas Inlet.

We set the hook with just enough daylight remaining to send Bud up the mast to secure a loose spreader boot in preparation for the forecasted high winds associated the a passing cold front.

Yesterday was the first time I donned shorts on this voyage.  The passage of the cold front delivered the promised 20+ knot winds along with a return to cool temps and a biting north wind.
We have remained bundled up this morning. 

The 20 knot wind are fortunately on our stern as we approach Daytona Beach.

Back on the inside, and still pushing south

After entering Florida we tied up for a night at Ferandina Harbor Marina.  This gave us the opportunity for hot showers, a dinner out, and a trip to the grocery store to re-provision. Keeping to our rhythm we were off the dock pre dawn and taking full advantage of the flooding tide's southward current.

We made the 14:30 opening at St. Augustine's Bridge of Lions.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finally sailing back into Florida waters

C'est la Vie sailed back into Florida waters this afternoon.

For the first time since we began our voyage south just over a week ago, NOAA dropped the small craft advisories for the Atlantic waters in our area (NOAA considers any vessel under 65 feet a "small craft".) 

We began the day in Tea Kettle Creek.  By late morning we were approaching the Brunswick Bar Channel, and after listening to reports from other sailing vessels on the outside, we chose jump out for the afternoon leg to St. Mary's River inlet.

The offshore stretch proved more lumpy than expected, but it did knock and hour off our travel time and afford us the satisfaction of sailing back into Florida.

Tonight we are tied up at the Ferandina Beach Harbor.  Tomorrow we plan to return to the ICW and hopefully make St. Augustine or beyond.

Cruising the Georgia ICW

Our sprint down the ICW has now extended down into the infamous Georgia waters.  Land of the 9 foot tidal ranges and meandering, ill marked channels.  By moving dawn to dark we are continuing to cover about 60NM per day.  Sometimes we.even pause to enjoy the sunrises.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Worlds largest single masted sailing vessel.

What has a beam nearly twice C'est la Vie's length and mast that would reach end zone to end zone on a football field?

Marabella V, the worlds largest single masted sailing vessel - of course.  We passed her tied up at Thunderbolt Marine this morning. We saw the mast from Tybee Rodes, but thought it was a cell tower.

We are currently motoring south through the Skidaway Narrows.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beaufort not Beaufort

Made good time yesterday covering 66NM,  by getting lucky with the tides and running dawn to dusk. 

We pushed hard to make the 11 am opening of the Ben Sawyer Bridge.  Passing the bridge, which only opens on the hour, provided us access to Charleston Harbor.  We made a quick transit of the harbor motorsailing under a full genny.  Unfortunately this would be the first and last time we set the sails on Sunday.  The remainder of our afternoon was spent motoring with a pack of sailboats southward in the ICW.

The daylight faded into a gorgeous low country sunset as we found an anchorage in the upper South Edisto River. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Myrtle Beach to Cape Romaine via the ICW

We continue to make progress south via the ICW despite gale warnings posted for the southeastern seaboard.  Yesterday's run Myrtle Beach to Cape Romaine covered 63NM.  The day started in the morning darkness.  By the time we had good visibility we were down in the beautiful Waccamaw River stretch of the ICW.

By mid afternoon we were making 8+ knots motorsailing down Winyah Bay under a full genny in stiff  north breezes. 

Making the turn west back into the ICW and Cape Romaine NWR, we furled the genny and motored the remaining 15NM to our anchorage at Five Fathom Creek.  During the last stretch Bud prepared a wonderful loaf of bread.

Out in the marsh grasses, Five Fathom Creek is a bit exposed, but the soft clay bottom provided good holding in 10 feet of water.  My only hesitation for endorsing the anchorage would be the shallow approach.  While well marked we still observed depths of 6 feet at mid-tide.  According to our resources the tide range in the area is around 5 feet.  This could make access at low tides impossible.

This morning, we were running before sunrise this morning and plan to anchor south of Charleston this evening.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hemmed into the ICW by weather

Foul weather off the southeastern seaboard has kept our travels thus far in the ICW. We are making the most of the daylight hours and have managed to reach Myrtle Beach, SC in two and a half days of travel.  If we can continue our pace we will pass thru Charleston over the weekend.

Based on current NOAA forecasts the earliest we can hope to run offshore will be Wednesday.  Perhaps a Port Royal Sound to JAX or St Augustine passage will be in our future.
If anyone is seeking additional information about our travels, I am posting more updates and images to Google+.  Posting from my phone to G+ is easier than posting blogger updates.  Perhaps "the Google" will link these two formats soon?  For now search for Jeff Lovett on Google+ if you are interested.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

South Bound

After lunch with Anne and; my family,  Bud and I cast off from Bock Marine and began our journey south.  We unfurled the new genny while still in Core Creek.  The winds were inconsistent so we motorsailed down Bogue Sound.  We covered 30nm today and are currently anchored in Swansboro, NC.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Back in the water!

The last few days are a blur.  Most of the time and effort has gone into finishing up the rigging and trouble shooting various issues that have arisen from our summer projects (i.e. a tang on the backstay rubbing on the aft halyard sheaves, a kink in the new hose connecting the galley sink to the fresh water tank, etc.)

We finally launched on All Hallow's Eve...

Today we wrapped up our troubleshooting - I hope.  We also, rigged the mainsail and the Dutchman furler.

My father, Bud, who will be crewing for the return trip to Florida, arrived today.  We hope to complete provisioning and some last minute projects tomorrow morning and shove off by mid-afternoon.

With any luck our blog will now transition from documenting projects to a travel log.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A step forward - almost

C'est la Vie's mast is now standing!  The top stays arrived midday and by 14:00 the crane was hoisting the mast into position.  The day was not without is glitches, I mean we are working on a boat.  The retired top stays were made up with Norseman wire terminals.  I removed these from the old rigging and planned to reuse them on the new.  The inner cone must be replaced prior to re-installing the fittings on new wire.  I took my fittings to West Marine and used them to identify the part required.  West Marine ordered a cone for 5/16 wire fittings.  C'est la Vie's fittings are 1/4.  The difference was so slight, that I did not notice at the time.  When Paul, from Omar Sails, began to install the fittings on the top stays, he identified the cones as too large.  Damn, thwarted by the top stays - again.  Here is the point where I must cease my rant and be thankful that we hired a professional rigger, Paul, to assist/consult on our rigging repairs.  It is doubtful the either Anne or I would have realized the cone in the swageless fitting was incorrect for our wire size.  We would have assembled the fitting and likely compromised the integrity of rig.  Paul assured me the mast would stand supported by the four lower stays, the fore stay, and the back stay until the correct parts arrive tomorrow.

I'm an avid and committed Do-It-Yourselfer, but in this scenario having the knowledge and experience of a professional on hand was worth the additional costs.

We moved on from the frustration of the top stays to success with the forestay and new Harken Cruising 1 furler.

By the days end C'est la Vie had regained her mast and boom.

Despite the delays, it feels good to be putting the pieces back together.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top stays, cap shrouds, where's waldo?

Thought we would have the mast re-stepped by the end of the day, but...
Here it is resting atop ever weakening saw horses.  My new goal is to get the mast erect before the saw horses give out.  So whats is the hold up?

Things were going well.  Paul from Omar Sails installed our two new fore stays and assembled the Harken Cruising 1 furler.  I installed running rigging and a rope clutch for the genny halyard.  We completed our respective tasks and surveyed the scene.

"Where are the the cap shrouds?" I inquired.
"What do you mean?" was Paul's reply.
"You know the wires that run from the top of the mast to the chain plate fittings on deck."  I stated.
"Oh the top stays."
"Ok, where are the top stays?"
"I thought you had them."
"No you said you would order them along with the two new fore stays.  I supplied the four lower stays."
"Hmm, we must have had some mis-communication."

Paul's final statement left me speechless.

I left Paul to expedite the order of two new stays and walked away to inform the yard manager that we would not be needing the crane for a couple more days.

At least the bottom painting is on schedule...

Pictured above is the first coat of Pettit Trinidad Pro.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Windlass rebuild complete!

We installed the refinished windlass on deck last week - Refinished windlass installed - but I'm finally getting around to icing the cake.  Polishing the bowsprit and greasing the anchor rollers is much easier without the anchors hanging from their rollers.   Polishing & greasing complete, I hoisted the anchors back onto the bowsprit.

Here is a link to our photo album documenting the entire process - Refinish Windlass - Summer 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Installing the new mast step & compression post

Weeks of pondering, prep work, and fabrication culminated in today's installation of our new compression post and deck mast step.  The pondering began when we pulled the rig in early July.  The damage due to chafing between the mast and the deck partners compromised the integrity of our mast.  We explored the options and elected to amputate the damaged, lower section of the mast and replace it with a post below decks.

The three primary components of the solution - modify the existing mast step to accommodate a new step for the compression post; fabricate a new two step plates and a post; and create a solid, cosmetically appealing  platform for the mast deck step - are all complete.  Here is  a link to more photos of the process -  Rigging Repairs and Modifications - Fall 2011

Today we assemble the components....

We began with a test fitting to locate the proper position for the compression post mounting plate.
After a bit of head scratching and calculations we marked the correct position. With the post hanging in the hole from above decks we charged ahead...

 We taped off the deck step, created a electrical barrier between the aluminum mast sleeve and the stainless steel deck plate, fit the wooden centering puck on the post, ran messenger lines for mast electronics, and finally fit the base of the compression post onto the assembly.

Lowering the post down for another test fit we were discouraged to find the gap between the deck and the deck plate was in excess of 1/8".  We designed the system to have a 1/32" to 3/32" inch gap between the deck and the deck plate.  This gap will ensure the compression post bears the force of the mast load not the decks.  A gap in excess of 1/8" meant the post was too long, or did it mean the step on the keel was to high?  Cutting the post would require us to delay our installation while the post returned to the machinist.  We could grind down the interior step and continue the fitting today.  Bet you can guess our next move...

We rigged up some plywood and tarps in hopes of limiting the fiberglass dust inside the boat and began to grind down the interior step.  This was a time consuming process that required a bit of grinding followed by a test fit.  Then more grinding.  Then another test fit.  Then... and you get the idea.

By the time we were satisfied with the fit Anne and I were using  a sheet of paper to feel for gaps.  To be certain we did not leave any voids under the step we applied mold wax to the base of the post and a thin layer of thickened epoxy to the step.

The final installation of the post went smoothly.   My focus was on the interior.  Anne managed the topside installation,

In the final assembly the tiny gap between the plate and the deck was filled with 3M 5200.

We left the original hole in deck to allow for the installation of the post and to ensure the decks were not bearing the load.  I created a 1 1/2" wood puck to center the post in the original mast partners and prevent any movement.

The puck is fitted snugly in the partners and bolted directly to the deck plate and mast sleeve.

Looking down on the deck step the two bolts that affix to the wood puck at visible inside the mast sleeve just fore and aft of the messenger lines in the image above.  The lag bolts at each corner of the deck step are set into the 2" thick solid fiberglass deck platform.

We plan to install the rigging on the mast tomorrow and step the mast on Tuesday!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

mast modifications

The mast lying on saw horses aside C'est la Vie is a sad sight, but the situation does offer a opportunity to make some repairs and modifications that have long resided on our to do list.

First: Replace the mast head sheaves, run the halyards internal on the mast, and add additional halyards:


Originally the mast had two halyard sheaves that accommodated a main and foresail halyard.  These sheaves used the through bolt, visible in the center of the mast just above the white coaxial cable, as an axle. (see image above)  This allowed C'est la Vie's rig to run two external halyards.  Our addition of a roller furled head sail and a removable inner stay for the storm jib will require two fore halyards. To accomplish this we will add additional sheaves and reroute the halyards inside the mast.  The new system will provide two fore halyards and two aft halyards.

The original sheaves are the large wheels in the lower portion of the image. The four new Harken sheaves are above the originals (three of which are still wrapped in plastic.)  Paul from Omar Sails cut the exit slots and installed exit plates on the lower mast.  He also located and drilled holes on the forward and aft side of the mast for the bolts that act as axles for the new sheaves.   The two sheaves that occupy each axle are separated by a shim.  The shim, visible between the two halyards in the image below, runs fore to aft and is anchored in place by the axle bolts.  The shim prevents the sheaves from sliding side to side and prevents the halyards from slipping off the sheaves and becoming entangled.


Secondly:  Improve the attachment of the spreaders:


C'est la Vie's aluminum spreaders are not original to the vessel.  1960 vintage Morgans were equipped with wooded spreaders.  When we purchased C'est la Vie she came equipped with aluminum spreaders.  These are a nice improvement, but were poorly attached to the mast.  In rough seas the spreaders would swing fore and aft.  We discovered that two 1/4" bolts fit into 5/16" compression tubes were used to attach the spreaders.

We added a 3/8" bolt to the center of the assembly and enlarged the outer two bolts to 5/16".  These modifications eliminated the play in the spreaders.


We are closing in on re-stepping the mast.  Below is the long view of our progress...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Head refinishing project completed!

Since the port side chain plate brackets are behind much of the head plumbing, we stalled the head project to await the complete installation of the chain plates.  After using a water hose to test the deck seal of the chain plates - no leaks -, I installed the head pump and made up the hose connections above the new counter top,

Our pump for the lavac head is located in the cabinet above the counter.  On C'est la Vie the pump is plumbed so that it can be used to flush the toilet or pump out the holding tank when offshore.

Here is a look at the completed head...

Here is a link to a photo album documenting the process of refinishing the head and replacing the plumbing - Refinish Head - Summer 2011 

We do plan to order a new toilet seat seat/lid when we get back to Florida this winter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Refinished windlass installed

Once we added the final grease..

 And Anne used the excuse of  torquing down the bolts on the base to show off her guns...

We reunited the windlass with the foredeck...

Now all that remains is to service the anchor rollers on the pulpit and rehang the anchors.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chain plate deck fittings rebuild is complete!

With the completion of the new chain plate deck fittings we are one project closer to re-stepping the mast.  The entire process is detailed in our photo album - Chain Plate Deck Fittings - Fall 2011



 We applied the third coat of Brightsides Paint to the surrounding area yesterday.  spot painting around the chain plates, mast step, and anchor windlass certainly highlights the sad state of our topsides paint.

Today we used 3M 4200 to re-bed the chain plates.  This process prevents water from seeping through the deck fittings.

While working in the area we installed & bedded a new flush deck waste pumpout fitting.  Over the past few weeks of working in the head I have noticed some water leaking in near the portside aft chain plate fitting.  Unsure of how the water was intruding, we played it safe and re-bedded the port and starboard stanchion bases as well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

working above and below the waterline

Today's efforts were a continuation of yesterday's projects.  I started the day by adding epoxy thickened with a fairing filler to the area around the rudder stock.  This filler is easy to sand and will allow me to return the hull to a smooth surface by sanding the cured epoxy.

While the epoxy cured, I turned my efforts to adding another coat of Brightsides Paint to the mast step and chain plate fittings.  Adding a coat of paint is actually a time consuming process the starts with sanding the area, then wiping down the area with solvent, then wiping the area with a tack cloth, then mixing the paint with thinner to achieve the correct viscosity relative to the temp, then applying the paint, and finally cleaning up the tools.  A few hours of work went into coat number 3.

By the time I finished the coat of paint on decks, the epoxy below the water line had cured.  A few minutes with the orbital sander and the hull returned to a smooth surface.

The next stage in repairing the hull is to add  seven coats of barrier coat.  The barrier coat serves to keep water from soaking into the fiberglass hull. The red bottom paint visible on the majority of the hull serves to inhibit marine growth.

I was able to complete 3 application of barrier coat this afternoon by rolling on the next coat once the epoxy on the hull became tacky.  To keep the epoxy and roller from hardening I placed them in a cooler with ice.  To accelerate hardening of the epoxy on the hull I used a hot air gun to elevate the temperature.  This method allowed me to apply the three coats in about one hour.