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, April 25, 2012

Ten Thousand Islands to Tarpon Belly Keys

Last night we were treated to a rare, cool late April night in the Ten Thousand Islands - no bugs and blankets required.  Our new plan - sail from Indian Key Pass to Tarpon Belly Keys, 65NM of open water across the South East corner of the Gulf of Mexico (does the Gulf have corners?), required us to depart at dawn if we were to have any hope of arriving before sunset.   We have made this crossing multiple times before and prefer the single long day crossing to the standard cruiser’s route of breaking the jump to the keys into a two day affair by spending one night in the Shark River.
We were underway by 07:00.  The forecast called north winds at 12 knots in the morning to clock around to east winds and diminish in the afternoon.  We expected to sail a broad reach on the northern winds and by the end the day be motor sailing a beam reach in light airs.  Maintaining an average of 5 knots would allow us to arrive in the day light. 
The day began and concluded on the same port tack.  We did arrive at Tarpon Belly Keys with day light to spare (almost exactly 12 hours of travel time.)  We did not expect to arrive in the keys on a close reach under a double reefed main and small working jib, but that is jumping ahead a bit…
The morning seas off the coast of FL, remained agitated from the previous frontal passage and were far lumpier than anticipated.  Sailing on a port tack under a full main and genny negated much of the sea state aboard C’est la Vie.  We were fairing much better than a group trawlers we heard conversing on the VHF about how badly they were getting “beat up”.   We experimented with the new whisker pole for about half an hour until the winds shifted east  and brought the winds too far a beam.  We spend most of the remaining morning hours on the beam reach as the seas and winds diminished around us.   Once our speed reduce to below 5 knots and our estimated time of arrival crep into darkness, we caved in and started the engine.  By using a vang to limit the motion of the boom we were able to continue to carry both sails on port reach.  Approximately 30 minutes into Anne’s 14 – 16 watch the east winds came alive.  We quickly went from motor sailing under full sails to a reef in the main to a second reef in the main to reducing the foresail to less than a #2 working jib and silencing the engine.  By the time I completed stowing the lines from the change in sail plan we were heeled over toe rail slicing through the emerald water at 6 to 7 knots.  The east winds had increased to 20 knots.  C’est la Vie loves a stiff breeze and for the remainder of the afternoon she sprinted towards the Keys.

The conditions in the Gulf were more of a test of Segundo’s lashings than I had anticipated, but she rode well on the bow.

Now we are tucked along the western shore of Tarpon Belly Keys with a beer in hand, dinner plated, and awaiting the sunset.

1 comment:

  1. Have a Sundowner for us. =) Dink looks good on the deck.