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.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pumpkin Key to Fort Pierce

Overnight passages always bring out a myriad of emotions.  We started with elation as we passed through Anglefish Creek and into Hawk Channel to discover a brisk east wind.  Finally a day for sailing.  Under a full genny and one reef in the main C'est la Vie set her leeward toe rail in the vivid blue water and surged forward at nearly seven knots.
Anne at the helm in full sun garb

Apprehension was the next emotion to surface.  Passing the Fowey Rocks light signaled the northern terminus of the reefs that separated Hawk Channel from the open ocean.  Ocean swells met an outgoing tide at Cape Florida and made for confused seas.  Anne began to feel sea sick, our speed dropped to around five knots, and our elation faded as we realized 120nm of Atlantic Ocean stood between our bow and Ft Piece Inlet.
Fowey Rocks Light off our starboard side

 Passing Government Cut at Miami Beach the put the ebbing tidal flow astern and added depth below our keel.   Cest la Vie regained a steady heel.  Conviction to the passage ahead swelled up as we entered the Gulf Stream.  Making 10+ knots overground in a 34' sailboat is a fine remedy for apprehension.   Committed, we set up the windvane auto pilot - Windy- and established a schedule for 3 hour day watches and 2 hour night watches.

Ft Lauderdale passed off our port side mid afternoon as we continued on close hauled.

Despite a lingering shade of green, Anne made pasta a red sauce for dinner.

Under a nearly full moon we passed the Lake Worth Inlet.

Until sailing the east coast of FL I thought of the geography as a fairly strait line running NNE from Miami to Jacksonville.  The obvious flaw in my naive mental map is Cape Canaveral.  A more subtle yet critical protrusion exists around the Lake Worth Inlet (LWI).  The Gulf Stream runs relatively close to shore from Key West up to the LWI.  Moving north from LWI the land cants westward and the current of the Gulf Stream begins to move further offshore.  Once in the stream it is difficult to give up the 2 to 3 knot boost in speed, but the sailor heading north for Ft Pierce must decide when to alter course and exit the stream.  We elected to hold a course that kept us in depth is excess of 150'.  We hope to pick up as much push as possible from the Stream yet avoid losing too much distance from our destination.

At 01:20 I gave in and altered course directly for Ft. Pierce Inlet.  The winds were beginning to wane as we turned C'est la Vie 58 degrees to the west.  now on a broad reach in light air 15.6NM out from the inlet.  Conviction became desperation.  We started the engine to boost our speed.  Forward momentum from the engine brought the apparent wind on our bow and made the sails go limp.  Blessed with a relatively calm sea state we stowed the sail, switched out Wendy  for the electric auto-pilot -Otto, and continued directly towards the Inlet under power.

At 04:30 our anchor fell to the bottom within 1NM inside the Ft Pierce Inlet.  Fatigued from covering 144NM in 20H57m at an average speed of 6.9 knots,  we relished in a sense of pride for moments before drifting off to sleep.

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