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, April 6, 2013

Sewing new bug screens for hatches

Our existing hatch screens, made by Anne over 7 years ago, grew threadbare.  So now it is my turn to sew the hatch screens.  

With all the Outward Bound Staff departed we utilize the large spaces in the Sunset Island Lodge as work areas. 

The west end of the dining room converted to sewing loft.
 Having ample space to lay out projects is incredibly helpful.  For this endeavor a portion of the dining room became the sewing loft and the salon floor a space to draft out patterns.  

I utilized plastic sheeting for the pattern material.  Patterns represent the "no-see-um" screen portions of the hatch covers.  Due to it's light weight I find the screen difficult to work with so patterns assist with the layout and cutting. 

Basic geometry - a framing square, a straight edges, a 3' piece of string, and a tape measure were used to create the patterns.    
Fortunately C'est la Vie's two hatches are square.  The center hatch frame measures 22" x 22".  To leave ample room for operating the hatch, I created the pattern based on a 24" square.  The forward hatch measured 20" x 20" thus I used 22" for the pattern.  

Each hatch screen consists of two panels of "no-see-um" material.  The curved section wraps around to form the sides and back of the cover.  The rectangular  section follows the arc of the leading edge of the hatch as it moves from a close to open position.
Two patterns - the upper two panels are for the smaller forward hatch,  The larger patterns in the fore ground are for the  center hatch.
I use two sided tape to join and test the patterns.  Satisfied with the fit, the patterns are laid atop the screen and weighted down to hold the pattern and fabric stationary and wrinkle free while cutting. 

Ready to cut the screen.   Battens, straight edges, and a square are used to hold the fabric &  pattern stationary while cutting.
Attempting to cut clean edges on the screen is futile.  I hide all the edges of the screen in the finish product.  

For joining the screen sections prior to sewing, I use two sided basting tape (I gave up on pins a long time ago.)

joining the two screen sections with basting tape.
The screen material is too flimsy to securely hold stitches.  My solution is to use 1" nylon webbing as binding tape on the screen to screen seams.  This method has the added benefit of hiding those rough edges on the screen.

finally time to begin sewing.

We own a Sailrite LZ-1 and purchased a 1" binding tape attachment along with the machine.  This attachment is a must have in my opinion. Similar attachments are available for most machines.  

To more easily differentiate between to hatch screens, I used yellow binding tape on the center hatch and blue tape on the forward hatch. 

filling tubular webbing with lead cast net weights.
Tubular webbing filled with lead cast net weights serves as the ballast in base of the hatch screen. The lower edge of the screen and the weighted webbing are hidden inside a Sunbrella base.

the long sunbrella base sections.  
Since the sunbrella is a heavy fabric and the base sections are simple in shape, I did not create patterns for these pieces.   

Sewing base proved more complex than I originally speculated. Initially the two sections of the sunbrella base were sewn onto each side of the screen (i.e. interior & exterior.)   Next I tacked one end of the weighted tube onto the sunbrella base.  Finally I joined the two bottom edges of the base.

test fitting the final product.
Can't say I'm eager for a buggy night at anchor, but at least we are a bit more prepared.

More images from this project are available in the Hatch Screens - Spring 2013 photo album.  


Friday, April 5, 2013

Inflatable Dinghy

Our first dinghy, an 8 foot Port-A-Boat we called Origamy, served us well. 

Origami beached on Carrot Island with C'est la Vie in background - Beaufort, NC
After 7 years of faithful service the only alarming signs of wear were her seats splitting at the seams.  She towed well and stowed well on the starboard side along the rail.  

Origami stowed on C'est la Vie's starboard rail - Key West, FL
We retired her in spring 2012 after I completed the re-build / conversion of a 8 foot wooden sailing pram into a rowing dinghy - Dinghy Rebuild .  

Segundo - awaiting her first launch - Sunset Island, FL
We christened her Segundo.  She is a looker and we received many compliments on her.  We transported Segundo on the forward deck. 
C'est la Vie with Segundo on deck motor south in the ICW just off the Fort Pierce City Marina, FL.
Stowing a dinghy forward had the added benefit of serving as a fantastic hatch cover but added noticeable weight and windage to the bow. Did I mention weight?  When refitting Segundo I focused more on durability than weight.  Her 7'10' hull weights approximately 80 pounds. Ultimately her beauty could not overcome her foibles.  She proved to be a wet ride under power and towed poorly. 

For our next dinghy we decided to experiment with an inflatable.  Size and weight considerations eliminated the popular Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) designs.  That left us three options... aluminum roll up floor, wood slats floor, or inflatable floor.  This time around we elected to prioritize weight over durability and purchased the West Marine HP-275.   
Our yet un-named inflatable dinghy.
The HP-275's  high pressure floor (11 psi in floor vs. 3.6 psi in tubes) is identical to an inflatable stand up board. Having experienced the performance and durability of Anne's inflatable board boosted our confidence in this construction.  Thanks to the inflatable floor the HP-275 provides more carrying capacity and more free-board than her aluminum or wood slat brethren. She weighs in at  a svelte 63 lbs.  

We will experiment with various options for transporting the dinghy, but my guess is that for multi-day crossings she be deflated and go below; offshore hops she be stowed at the bow; and for daily travels inshore we will tow.  I plan to rig a bridle system for storing her out of the water along side C'est la Vie at night.

Does anyone out there have recommendations or diagrams for creating towing bridles or bridles for using a halyard to lift the dinghy out of the water for nightly storage? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The winds of change are upon us...

Thunder from the spring's first afternoon thunderstorm rolling across Chokoloskee Bay signals a change in the seasons.  The absence of staff here on Sunset Island signals the end of our winter work with the Outward Bound School.
Afternoon thunderstorms rolling across Chokoloskee Bay
Now that Anne and I have the island and some time to ourselves we plan to dive headlong into awaiting boat projects.  

Items on the list include...

  1. Purchase new dinghy
  2. Complete install of new GPS
  3. Sew new bug screens for hatches.
  4. Complete refinishing the interior wood.
  5. Refinish exterior wood.
  6. Install new cabin sole.
  7. Install solar system
  8. Install new lower bow running lights
  9. Replace broken hatch with new solar vent fan in head
  10. Reseal starboard salon window
  11. Paint Cabin trunk
  12. Kiwi Grip on top of cabin trunk
We hope to have the projects completed and all our personal items moved off Sunset Island in time to depart for the Bahamas by mid May.   Now lets get busy.