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, June 26, 2013

Passage Back To The States

Our plan… From Great Sale Cay travel across the Little Bahamas Bank.  At its northwestern edge the banks end abruptly along an underwater cliff where the depths plunge from 15 feet to over 1000 feet.  At this point we will enter the North Atlantic Ocean.  Continuing northwest we will cross through the eastern wall of the Gulf Stream.  Due to converging currents and rapid changes in depths we anticipate our time spent between the banks and the Gulf Stream will be the most turbulent waters encountered on this passage.  Seasonally the Gulf Stream meanders and spins massive eddies of confused currents off its eastern side.  How will we know when we enter the Gulf Stream?  Its warm waters flow northward at 2+ knots along the east coast of Florida.  By monitoring the water temperature and our speed over ground we should note an increase in temperature and speed once in the Stream.   Personal energy levels, sea state, and weather conditions will then dictate where we plot our landfall.  We estimate Cape Canaveral to be a 24 to 36 hour passage and Charleston to be a 60 to 72 hour passage.

07:15 June 24th: We depart Great Sale Cay with the rising sun.  As forecasted the 14 to 16 knot southeast breeze place us on a broad reach. 

Midday June 24th:  Dodging sand bores off Grand Cay force us into a series of gibes and made Anne frustrated with steering.  Sea state growing choppy as winds increase to near 18 knots.  

Approximately 16:00 June 24th: Banks now astern.  The seas grew confused as the 3 foot chop from local winds on the banks met the 5 to 6 foot easterly swell in the ocean.  Displeased with motion and our present forward speed,  we set a course for St. Mary’s River– 223NM at 336⁰ ETE 39H47m.

Approximately 02:00 June 25th :  On a bouncy broad reach still shy of reaching the Gulf Stream.  Our current stats to St. Mary’s River– 183NM at 335⁰ ETE 36H11m.   Reality Check: Between 17:00 on the 24th and 02:00 on the 25th Our progress slowed as the winds diminished and clocked around to a more south southeasterly direction the sea state grew confused.  In 7 hours of sailing our ETE diminished  3.5 hours – frustrating.
Sometime just after our 02:00 log entry we encounter our third large commercial vessel.  The earlier two passed easily off our stern.  The vessel now closing appears to be holding a constant bearing off our bow.  With no way to know the name of the vessel for hailing purposes and unsure if they are aware of our presence we fall 90⁰ off our rhum line and sail northeast to ensure we do not cross off the bow of the  closing ship.  On a parallel, reciprocal course we pass within 1/2NM.  Wondering if they were ever aware of our tiny boat and pleased to put the encounter astern we return to our original heading.
04:00 June 25th:  Found the Gulf Stream and making 7.5 knots.  The sea state is a mellow 3 foot easterly ocean swell and winds were favorable for altering course for Charleston, SC.  New stats for landfall at Charleston – 246NM at 004⁰ ETE 33H34m.

10:30 June 25th:   Becalmed.  Growing weary from alternating 2 hour watches that really only provide for hour long cat naps.  We give up on a Charleston landfall and opt for a worst case scenario of 19 hours of motoring to St. Mary’s River.  10:37 we started the engine and altered course.  Our stats  – 133NM at 325⁰ ETE for St. Mary’s River 19H26m.

Midday June 25th:  Our spirits buoy as the day continues.  Thanks to the Gulf Stream our speed over ground is averaging around 8.5 knots .  We are now north of Cape Canaveral.  Otto, the electric autopilot, is managing the helm.   We each win one game of backgammon over lunch.  Occasionally spotting large sea turtles sunning on the surface. 

23:49 June 25th:  Finally picking up some breeze from the NE we roll out the genoa.  Beginning to lose Gulf Stream Current as we approach Florida Coast.  Depth now 425’ and speed reduced to 6 knots over ground.  Stats – 34.3NM to St Mary’s River at 325⁰ ETE 5H38M

Sunrise June 26th: Now weaving through commercial shrimp trawlers working area around St. Mary’s River Inlet.  Have visual on channel markers and paper mills in Fernandina Beach.  Motorsailed with Otto at the helm through the night. Winds continue to build and are now SW at 14 knots.  Thunderstorms are visible in the distance to the east. 

07:10 June 26th:  Tied up to dock at Fernandina Harbor Marina.  Plan to call in and clear customs when they open later this morning.  Stats for passage – 303NM in 47H55m. Average speed 6.3 knots with a max speed of 9.9 knots.  Ran engine for 21H25m.

Approx 9:10 June 26th:  Using Local Boater Option (LBO) we cleared customs & immigration via a simple phone call.  Thanks LBO it is now time to rest.

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