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 18, 2013

The cabin sole is refinished. Check another long standing project off the list!

Ahhh... to bask in the satisfaction of completing a long standing boat project.  With the installation of trim around the cabin, we can now proclaim the cabin sole refinished.  Here are some before and after pictures.

Looking forward from galley - BEFORE

Looking forward from galley - AFTER

Looking aft from main bulkhead - BEFORE
Looking aft from main bulkhead - AFTER
We will share our impressions of the Lonseal Marine Flooring as time progresses. So far we are pleased.  Today, while installing the quarter round I dropped a drill with a counter sink bit on the floor.  It struck with the bit angled at the floor and left no noticeable marks.  Score one for Lonseal!

Painting the cabin trunk and refinishing the cabin sole are two of the three projects that were on our original project list when we purchased C'est la Vie in 2005.  The final project remaining from our original list... paint the decks.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Running Wires for Solar Panels & Wifi Antenna

Pulling wires though small openings and running wires along tubes pretty much describes my afternoon  Wires from the new solar panels now snake over the bimini, along the stern rails, and thorough the deck via a new through deck fitting installed  starboard side aft.

One #10 wire from each panel now runs down along the starboard stern railing and through the deck.
We purchased a WirieAP which serves as a wifi antenna and creates a wireless network for the boat.  Our decision to go with the Wirie was based on a Practical Sailor review and additional internet research.  I must admit the the fact that the creators of the device and owners of the company are live aboard sailors won them some favor as well.  

the new WireAP mounted on the stern wind generator tower
The unit is self contained in a waterproof box.  The only cabling is a wire for power.  The unit is sold as a 12V DC system, but a 120V AC adapter is included in the box.  The unit also includes a mounting bracket for 1" to 2" poles.  Experimenting with different installations on C'est la Vie, we elected to bolt it through the angle brace on the wind generator tower.  This does place the antenna close to the pole, but once again life of a sailboat is a series of compromises (or is that true of life in general?)

With the antenna mounted, I returned to running wires.  Fortunately a through hull fitting already existed for the Wirie cables.

Pulling all the wires below decks forced me to excavate the contents of both the lazurette and the starboard side cockpit locker.  

work zone or obstacle course?
The cockpit quickly became an obstacle course / work area.  

As light began to fade from the sky and the hungry Everglades bugs began to take over, bth the wifi & solar wires run into the starboard side cockpit locker.  Hopefully tomorrow I can complete their journey to C'est la Vie's electrical panel.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Re-installing Deck Hardware on the Cabin

Anne and I spent the day re-installing the hand rails, turtle, and dodger on C'est la Vie's freshly painted cabin.

Previously all C'est la Vie's deck hardware was affixed via wood screws into the cabin top.  The construction of C'est la Vie's cabin top varies from solid fiberglass, to cored wood, to layers of fiberglass with a void in between.  I feel relying on wood screws into a varied fiberglass buildup is a bad idea.  While stripping the hardware off the deck I decided to use through bolts when re-installing the deck hardware (the snaps and dot fasteners on the dodger went back in with wood screws.)

This process began prior to painting the decks.  I drilled out and filled each hole through the cabin top with thicken epoxy.

prepared to fill bolt holes for the turtle, handrails, and dodger.
This process had the added benefit of marking the location of each fastener from below.

We began today with simplest task - re-attach the handrails.  With only two fasteners per rail.  These gave us a good practice for working onward to the turtle and dodger.

I operated below decks and Anne stayed topside.  I began each install by drilling pilot holes through the old screw location.  Anne then confirmed the fit and give me the ok to drill out the holes to the proper diameter.  

We used butyl tape to seal the holes.  This required Anne to slightly countersink the exterior of the bolt hole, before wrapping the bolt in butyl tape and setting it in place.

Anne countersinking holes for the port forward hand rail. Note roll of butyl tape at her feet.
Once in place we worked as a team to tighten down the hardware.

Anne using a combination of  a large phillips head and a box end wrench to tighten down the through bolts.
Using this system the handrails went in place relatively quickly.  The turtle, with 12 fasteners to hold it in place took more time and effort, but the system was largely the same.  

Looking aft from forward right to back - hand rail, turtle (raised area resting on wood strip), and dodger (raised canvas that serves as windshield in foul weather, the "glass" is covered to prevent UV damage when not in use.)
 We through bolted the two primary hinge points of the dodger frame.  Each hinge plate requiring two bolts.  The rest of the cabin top dodger attachment points are either dot fasteners of snaps on which we did revert back to wood screws into the fiberglass.

Below decks the backing plates, washers, and nuts from the deck hardware are visible.  This seems a small price to pay for peace of mind when standing atop the turtle to furl the main, white knuckling onto the dodger frame in breaking waves, or placing one foot against the hand rail to coil the main halyard as C'est la Vie heels over making 6 knots in a good breeze.  We do have plans to incorporate the fasteners along the starboard  side turtle into a wooden grab rail below decks, but the will have to wait.  Currently we are looking forward to shoving off the dock and enjoying the view out across the freshly painted cabin top.

Looking out across the cabin from the cockpit.
The fresh paint and non-skid on the cabin trunk highlight the poor state of our decks.  Hopefully by the end of hurricane season 2013 we will have the deck refinished.  

Photos documenting the entire process can be found at...  Painting the Cabin Trunk - Spring 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Solar Panel Installation

The addition of a photo-voltaic (PV) system to C'est la Vie has long resided on our wish list.  Thanks to Ben V., an friend and co-worker who's previous profession was solar installations, for providing the expertise to jump start this project.  We ordered two Sunmodule 80W panels and a BlueSky Solar Boost 2000E charge controller from altE. The size of the panels was a compromise between energy production and mounting space.  I'm certain many cruisers are faced with the same delimia... want / need bigger panels, but lack suitable mounting options.

The equipment arrived in early March.

About a month ago I installed the BlueSky Charge Controller in the electrical panel.

BlueSky Charge controller is on the upper right of image

Then progress on the PV system installation took a back seat to painting and the cabin sole refinishing.  With the painting & refinishing projects nearly astern, we are now directing our efforts back to PV system.  Next step... mounting the two panels.

Our original FRP Bimini, installed in June 2010 (see Fitting Day For the New Bimini) held up well, but was beginning to show it's age... one ripped back corner the result of an accidental jibe and a couple cracks along fittings at the gallows.  All told we are very pleased with the performance of the FRP and elected to replace the bimini with a new sheet, $38 for a 4' x 8' piece at Lowes.  Experience taught us the best way to cut the material is with a fine tooth circular saw for long straight cuts, a hole saw for circles, and a dremel tool with cut off blade for short precise cuts or broad arcs.  

We used the old bimini as a template for the new.  Once the centerline of the new bimini was secured to the frame via conduit clamps (see image below), we placed the solar panel on top and debated the best options for mounting.

The new bimini quickly took on a swiss cheees look as we cut out access points for the solar panel installation

We decided to screw the forward panel frame directly to the wooden gallows.  The rear section of the panel is attached directly to the bimini frame via two conduit clamps.  The FRP bimini is also attached directly to the solar panel frame via machine screws & nuts along the leading edge.  Facilitating access to all the fasteners required five cut outs on each side of the bimini.

Port side bimini & panel installation from below.
From below the only noticeable difference are the cut-outs and the addition of two conduit clamps along the rear frame.  One pair of 10ga wires for each panel will exit the bimini and snake down to a through deck fitting, but that is tomorrow's project.

From above the panels' only shade will come from the mainsail.  Unfortunately the panels are not adjustable to track the sun, but outfitting a cruising boat is all about compromises.

The view from above.  The only shade will come from the mainsail.
From afar the panels are relatively obscure and do not add clutter to C'est la Vie's profile.

The starboard panel from afar.  The installation adds little windage or profile clutter beyond already existed from gallows and bimini. 

The panels will add to the difficulty to securing the mainsail boot.  Due largely to the boom gallows and the cut of our new mainsail, I do not feel the panels will be in any danger from the main sail hardware or sheet.

We created a photo album to document the PV project... Solar Power - Spring 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cabin Sole Refinishing - installing floor hardware

Since returning to Florida, the majority of our efforts have gone towards completing the installation of Lonwood Marine Flooring on the cabin sole.  Save for re-installing the trim we have completed the galley & salon area.

Looking aft at new flooring in the salon & galley. 
This section of flooring had two weeks of dry time while we traveled to North Carolina.  Over the past couple days, I  trimmed the edges at the floorboard joints and installed the floor hardware.

Floor hardware?  Well this includes a recessed finger handle for each floor board and a strike plate for the bulkhead mounted table leg (both visible center, right in image above.) 

After finding the ideal location for each floor board's handle, I began the installation by using a 1 1/8" paddle bit to auger out a depression for the center of the handle.  The circular center is the deepest portion of the handle. While the large diameter hole is only partial depth, the I did ensure the paddle bit's center point did pierced the backside of the flooring. The small hole will prevent water from pooling under the handle. 

I began the floorboard handle installation by drilling out the center section.

With the center drilled, I then used calipers to mark the location of the hinge portion of the handle.  The hinge is the second deepest portion of the handle.  A razor knife and chisle were used to excavate the flooring material. 

using the handle to mark off material to be removed.
At this stage the base plate of the handle rest flush on the new flooring and could be used to trace out the remaining area to be removed.  The thickness of the new flooring nearly matched the thickness of the handle plate so in most areas only the new flooring was removed to recess the baseplate.

Once the handle fit neatly into the recess, four #8 counter sink screws hold it in place.

Previously only two of C'est la Vie's five removable floor boards contained  recessed handles.  We plan to install a handle in each section.

With the area aft of the main bulkhead complete, we are onto making templates and cutting flooring for the forward area.

back to creating templates and cutting flooring.
 We plan to glue the remaining flooring down tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

a short hiatus - a.k.a. off to opposite ends of North Carolina

One of the difficulties of sharing personal information on the internet is you never know who is out there consuming.  So rather than advertise our absence from Sunset Island and a loney C'est la Vie awaiting at the dock for our return, I simply remained silent about our two week trip to NC. 

After 9 years of calling Sunset Island home, we are now moving out.  

Sunset Island Lodge and the Sinker boarded up for the summer season
Our dream to live aboard C'est la Vie for a couple years is becoming a reality,  but some of the steps along the way are difficult. Surprised by the amount of stuff we have collected and saddened at the thought of leaving this amazing island on the cusp of Florida's Ten Thousands Islands, packing up belongings that will remain on land during our trip proved both physically and mentally taxing.

Wow that is way more stuff than we envisioned packing up.
Anne departed a couple days before I did.  After a deposit at our storage unit.  She went to the mountains to open up the Outward Bound School's Cedar Rock Basecamp Kitchen, welcome a new kitchen manager to the facility, and visit friends.  Her travels went well.  She reveled in the verdant tunnels of green that embrace the back roads during the western NC spring.  She enjoyed cooking for the staff in the spacious, industrial Cedar Rock Kitchen (I heard the fresh baked pretzels were to die for.)   She caught up with long time friends living in the Brevard and Asheville area.

My journey took me to the opposite end of North Carolina - the Outerbanks.   Like Anne, my first stop in NC was to visit my parents and make a hefty deposit in our rented storage unit.

Thanks to my father for helping us stuff our storage unit to full capacity.

After a couple days of classic Outward Bound logistics that involved sorting and transporting large quantities of outdoor gear over long distances I made my way back to the Atlantic Coast.  Upon my return my to Marshallberg, NC, I was greeted with a wonderful home cooked dinner from our friend Peggy.  I then set up Outward Bound's Outerbanks Basecamp and instructed a six day staff training.

practicing wet exit drills in the shadow of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse
A couple days of high winds and foul weather served to elevate the quality of the training.

paddling in 20+ knot winds off Bells Island
I enjoyed my time in the OBX and appreciate the NCOBS staff for contributing to the success of the training.  More images of from the training are available on line... OBX Staff Training - Spring 2013 

Anne and I reunited in Beaufort, NC on April 10th.  We spent one night catching up with local friends at our favorite Friday night hangout - Aqua, before renting a car and returning to Sunset Island, FL.  

The plan now is to complete a few outstanding boat projects... Cabin Sole Installation; Solar Panel Installation, Re-install deck hardware on the freshly painted cabin trunk, etc.