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, July 13, 2013

Dis-masted - Part 1

In an attempt to wait out the weather and make one final offshore push up to Beaufort, NC we spent July 2 & 3 in Charleston.  On the 4th of July we sailed close hauled across a busy Charleston Harbor and re-entered the ICW at Sullivan’s Island. 

4th of July traffic off our stern in Charleston Harbor
The south east winds allowed us to sail the majority of the skinny, marsh grass lined waterway along Bulls Bay and into the Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge.  I recall the day seemed to stretch on a bit long as we fought against a flooding tide for the final couple hours.  We had no idea that it may be our last full day of sailing aboard C’est la Vie.

Initially the 5th went according to plan.  In an effort to take full advantage of the ebbing tide through Winyah Bay, we awoke at dark thirty and were underway as the hazy sun crept above the marsh grass.  A fresh southeast wind greeted us as we entered Winyah Bay.  Once in the bay we raised the main sail.  Motor sailing close hauled on the ebbing tide C’est la Vie bounded towards the ocean at 7.5 knots.  On two bells, we overtook a couple outbound tugs straining to keep their barge in the channel.  Fortunately the depths allowed us plenty of room to slip the commercial traffic before the channel narrowed as the mainland fell away.  Once clear of land the well-marked channel is hemmed on both sides by long rock jetties that occasionally rise above the water’s the surface.  Our 09:10 log book entry notes we put R”4” astern and set a course of 75⁰.  Close hauled under a full main & genny we were making 5 knots. According to our GPS, 13H39m of sailing would place us off the east end of Frying Pan Shoals. 

Offshore, we quickly realized that passing rain showers were confusing the local winds and seas.  Our hopes of sailing the entire final 160NM back to Beaufort faded as the winds increased and backed to the east.  According to the log book at 09:30, only 20 minutes out of the Winyah Bay inlet we restarted the motor.  With the engine now assisting with propulsion, we were able to sail our rhumb line.  Shortly after engaging the engine we put one reef in the main and reduced the genoa to approximately 60%.

Within an hour, the squall passed off our stern.  The winds clocked back south a few degrees.  Local windborne whitecaps rode atop a 3 to 5 foot easterly swell making sea state confused.  C’est la Vie handled the conditions well.  Under the reefed main, reduced head sail, and 1800 rpm on the engine she was making over 6 knots with her leeward rub rail skimming the water.  We set up the electric auto pilot and let it take over the well balanced helm.

Our morning watches were irregular, but by noon we agreed on a cycle of two hour watches.  Anne took the 12:00 to 14:00 watch and I settled into the leeward side of the cockpit for a nap.  I awoke nearly two hours later.  Rousing from my nap, I made a scan of the boat and surroundings.  Another squall was building to the east and the winds were again pushing 20 knots.  Realizing we were now well ahead of schedule and would likely arrive at Beaufort Inlet on ebbing tide, we further reduced the head sail to approximately 40%.  Prior to beginning my watch, I made a log book entry...

33⁰23.947’N  78⁰35.717’W – 7/5/13 @ 14:01 – 38.8NM to Frying Pan Shoals – ETE 6H44m on a course of 76⁰ - Speed 6.2 kts – winds approx 18 knots SE – “Couple of showers to east over Gulf Stream. Motor sailing close hauled on lumpy seas.”

We were both in the cockpit, Anne facing forward and I facing aft when the rigging failed.  Alarmed by a sharp snap and Anne screams, I spun around in time to see the folded mast and white sails entering the water on our leeward (port) side.

No comments:

Post a Comment