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, June 8, 2013

Hoffman's Cay - Day 1

Early morning showers once again slipped through the area.  I’m unsure to the origins of these predawn showers perhaps some offspring of the residual foul weather in south Florida?  They do serve as rude wake up calls in the dark morning hours.  At least this shower rewarded me with a nice rainbow and dramatic sunrise.

morning showers in the Berry Islands
As morning crept into day the skies cleared.  Post lunch we loaded up Rosebud and went in search of the Hoffman Cay blue hole. 

The blue hole is mentioned in Pavlidis’ Guidebook, appears on the Explorer Charts, and is visible  on our GPS.   None of these sources provides directions on finding the blue hole.  We dinghied over to the beach closest the location indicated on the charts and began our search.  Locating a trail that lead off from the beach into the thick brush was easy.  While we wandered in land an up hill along the narrow trail, I wondered who creates these trails?  The woods… calling it woods is perhaps an exaggerated compliment to the growth on most of the Cays.  The thick, just over head height, wind sculpted, hot, buggy, inhospitable, and often abrasive with a bit of cactus & poison wood scattered about to add spice growth – lets call it woods for succinctness.
Carving trails through these woods  would require time and tenacity.  Additionally how did the creators of the trial know the route to the blue hole?  My best guess is that the trail was created decades ago when the cay was inhabited and the trails are now maintained simply by their use.  Inhabited you say?  Many of these cays have played host to farmers and spongers during the early to mid 1900’s.  On Hoffman Cay we found old stone fences while wandering the trails also Anne spotted an old chimney from the water but we never located the ruins of a house.  We did eventually find our way to the blue hole.

Anne standing on the edge of Hoffman's Cay blue hole
Impressive!  The salt water blue hole is completely land locked and ringed by a 20 foot cliff for nearly it’s entire circumference.  Glassy smooth water on the surface allowed us to peer deep into the inky blue unknown depths of the hole. 

A bit of wandering about and I located a place to scramble down to the water’s edge.  Despite Anne’s disapproval , the second we walked up on the spot I knew how I was going to enter the waters.

On my way into Hoffman's Cay blue hole
We then donned our masks and snorkels and completed a lap around the perimeter.  Peering down into the dark still depths of the hole knowing that somewhere down there is a passage to leads out to the ocean set me on edge.  I cannot explain the unease, but suffice to say I’m happy to leave cave diving to off my resume.

Anne snorkeling in Hoffman's Cay Blue Hole

We made our way back to Rosebud and did some dinghy recon of the area.  Off the southwest point of Hoffman’s Cay, sheltered from the surges coming in from the cut we observed rays and sharks along the bottom.  The flooding tide and easterly winds sent us back to C’est la Vie. We slipped back into our dive gear for a closer look.

The dive offered great views of large rays, but we seemed to have lost the sharks.   We held onto the the dinghy painter and allowed the winds and currents to drift us back to the boat. Passing close to the rocky shore I began pointing out corals to Anne when she suddenly became quite animated.  We surfaced and she exclaimed that a large grey shark had rounded a nearby outcrop of rock, sized us up, then swam away in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately I never caught a glimpse, but Anne is certain it was not a nurse or a reef shark.

Dinner, another amazing creation that I’ll allow Anne to share,  was abruptly interrupted by an explosion of air from outside the cabin.  Anne and I lept up from the table both assuming that Rosebud had burst.  At first glance she appeared healthy.   Anne pulled her close aside by the painter and I crept aboard her expecting at least one soft air chamber.  We both released  a collective sigh when my hands on inspection yielded no damage. 

If not the dinghy then what?  We were quick to convict the small gasoline tank used for filling the dinghy outboard.  Earlier in the day we were amazed at it’s distorted figure due to the days heat building up pressure in the tank and burped the tank multiple times to prevent any damage.  We would not discover the true culprit until a couple days later…

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