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.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Passing on Two Bells!

We encountered the early morning Defuskee Ferry just after departing the anchorage.  In a southern draw distorted by the VHF the ferry captain requested we pass on “two bells”.  Uncertain of the Captain’s intentions we slowed and let the ferry initiate the pass.   The ferry made an obvious turn to the east and placed us on it’s starboard side.  Like a couple on the dance floor we followed the lead and shifted slightly to the west.  And thus we passed starboard to starboard or on two bells.  Despite being tested on these rules for my captain’s license, when, Anne, asked me to explain sound signals for passing vessels, I was unable confidently provide an answer. Guess it is time for a refresher…

I pulled our copy of One Minute Guide To Nautical Rules of the Road off the bookshelf and read aloud the chapter on sound signals while Anne steered.
For meeting on in-shore waters –One bell signals an intention to pass port side to port side.  Two bells signal an intention to pass starboard to starboard.
When one vessel overtakes another vessel on in-shore waters – One bell signals that the overtaking vessels intends to pass the stand on (slower) vessel on the port side and two bells signals a starboard pass.

In international waters the wording of the rules is a bit different.  At this point Anne gave up simply listening to me read aloud.  I took over the helm as she set about creating paper boat models and figuring out this whole one bell, two bell system. 

 When confused on the sound signals, I’ll now refer to Anne as my resource. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Taste the Water!

“Taste the water!” My immediate reply to Anne’s excited cries of, “the bilge pump is running, the cabin sole is wet, the bilge is full of water!”

While focused on setting anchor in Cooper River before the next thunderstorm washed over us, Anne and I both heard the sound.  Anne described it as the splat from a bag of pasta falling to the floor.  I thought it was a paperback book striking flat on the cabin sole.  I went below to search out the origin of the sound, but my hasty scan yielded no culprit.  We both returned our attention to the dark bruise of a thunderstorm blotting out an ever growing portion of the southern sky.

Agreeing on a spot mid channel in 11 feet of dark brown tannic water, we fell into our well-rehearsed roles for anchoring C’est la Vie.  Anne took the helm and I went forward.  Everything seemed normal… anchor slipped off the deck, under my hands the windlass fed out chain, Anne reversed the boat to set the hook,  Anne silences the engine and begins recording the data on our days travels, I rig the anchor bridle.  The routine derailed when Anne informed me the bilge pump cycled on.  Typically C’est la Vie is a very dry boat and the bilge pump rarely runs.  After a nearly a week of on and off rains, I figured some water had found its way inside and wandered on down to the bilge.  I do not recall my exact words, but I’m sure the sentiment was, “Thanks for the update on the bilge pump it is nothing to worry about.”

Anne slipped below and began to discover other oddities.  The bilge pump continued to run.  The cabin sole was wet.  She lifted a floor board and found standing water.  “Taste the water!” was my urgent reply to her alarmed cry for assistance.

For those unfamiliar with life aboard a boat… when living in/on a floating object there are two distinctly different types of flooding.   One: the gut wrenching, find the source or the boat will sink type of flooding where the hull is breached below the water line.  In this scenario salt water will continue to fill the boat until the hole is found and patched or the boat sinks.  Second:  Much less traumatic is the bummer we just lost our drinking, cooking, bathing fresh water due to a plumbing failure.   The fastest method of discerning the type of leak is… to taste the water.

My hand darted into the bilge and back to my mouth.  Fresh.  Whew, I tasted fresh water.  I rushed forward into a locker under the vee berth and closed the valve just downstream of the freshwater tank.  Unless the tank itself had failed this would stop additional water from leaking into the bilge.

Anne cleaning the bilges after the flood.
Anne followed the water up until she discovered warm water in the locker under the port side settee seats.  Warm water, port side my detective, plumber brain sifted the facts.  Donning a head lamp I scurried over the counter top to inspect the hot water heater.  Here I discovered the proverbial smoking gun.  The source of the leak and the unidentified noise heard on approach to the anchorage – the outlet hose on the hot water heater failed.  Anne focused on the cleanup, while I repaired the plumbing.   Within an hour the cabin returned to normal and our pressure water system was back on line.  Based on our estimates we lost 10 to 12 gallons of water.  Fortunately we carry an additional 10 gallons in jerry cans.  This isolated reserve water proven it value on multiple occasions.

This episode reinforced two best practices on board:  First, don’t’ put all your eggs in one basket.  Always carry additional potable water separate from the primary tank.  Second, turn off the vessel’s pressure water system if everyone departs the boat.  If we had not been on the boat to turn off the breaker for the fresh water pump, then the system would have pumped the entire contents of fresh water tank into the bilge.

Oh, and that thunderstorm looming to the south? It dissipated over Savannah providing us with only a brief shower. 

All is well that ends well.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ICW Northbound Through Georgia

A low pressure trough building over the southeast is forecast to pull moisture up from the tropics over the next week resulting in heavy rains and thunderstorms.  The NOAA is predicting the need to post Small Craft Warnings for coastal waters from Georgia to the North Carolina Outerbanks.   We depart Fernandina Beach mid morning on June 27th resign to the reality that we will be hemmed into the Intracoastal Waterway  (ICW)for the next leg of our Journey.
The Georgia and Southern South Carolina portion of the ICW is infamous for its meandering path, its shoaling, and it’s 8 foot tides that oscillate on 6 hour cycles generating currents that frequently exceed 2 knots .  C’est la Vie’s 3’8” draft is a real benefit when traveling these waters.   At low tide we frequently pass over areas that would result a grounding if we drew 5+ feet. 

Meeting a shrimping trawler in the Georgia ICW
 Masts or outriggers from other vessels dance to and fro across the grassy horizon.  The serpentine channel obfuscates the distance of oncoming or overtaking vessels until their hulls are in sight across the water.  Meeting other vessels in the narrow curves can be intimidating.  

Showers across the Georgia low country
This stretch of the ICW bears a subtle beauty.   Vast, uninterrupted vistas where water, grass, and sky interact and entertain slip past.

Grey morning on the Vernon River, Georgia
Narrow creeks lined with verdant grasses link vast sounds with shoals that stretch on for miles into the ocean. 

Thunderstorm passing off our bow
Four days of motor sailing between and through storm cells and we put Georgia astern.

Anne at the helm with her morning coffee.
The forecast continues to call for torrential rains and frequent thunderstorms with Small Craft Advisories from Hatteras to St Augustine.   Still we push slowly northward and tomorrow we begin the South Carolina section of the ICW.

Bacon veggie burger. That's OK right?

Last night after picking up some tofu from the local Piggly Wiggly I was struck that it is nearly July fourth. I needed to be grilling something!

The Pig inspired me to get the veggie burgers out of the freezer and onto the grill. I had cooked up some turkey bacon a few days ago and thought yum. Also at the pig I picked up some pimento cheese. Being in Savannah Georgia I was tempted to try the locally made pimento cheese. I couldn't do it. It was too crazy with sun dried tomatoes and diced green chilies. I chose my favorite palmetto cheese made in South Carolina. Jeff chose pepper jack for his cheese burger. (Yes more pimento for me!)

Of course we didn't have buns so English muffins would be the sub. I toasted them on the grill along with the burgers remembering this time to spray the burgers with Pam so they wouldn't stick.

At the last moment  I got a wild hair and decided to grill the bacon. You know to warm it up give it a good sizzle? Ha! It flamed up within seconds and was on fire. I just closed the lid turned off the grill and watched the flames licking out of the top vents. Note to self don't grill turkey bacon for more than 3 seconds! It might have worked out OK if I had turned off the grill and then placed the bacon on the hot grill.  That stuff could be used as wonderful kindling.

I made a broccoli slaw. Using a bag of shredded veggies some Newman's own Caesar dressing some mustard mayo and white wine vinegar and some cracked pepper and salt as the dressing. I would add cabbage next time to round out the flavor of the broccoli. It was a very filling summer dinner.