Why I’ve Decided to Celebrate New Year’s Eve on August 31st

Yesterday was one of those perfect summer days; zero humidity, crystal blue skies, plenty of sunshine, a nice breeze and a lovely 75 degrees. The Chesapeake Bay just outside of Annapolis harbor was a sea of white sails while the Severn River just off my community beach played host to a myriad of watercraft from speedboats to jet skies to kayaks to rowboats to small day-sailors. A small fleet of Sunfish sailboats with their distinctive brightly colored sails could be seen in the distance battling around the race course. The tide in the late afternoon was well above the average high tide making for great swimming and diving off our community pier. Yep, it was one of those rare, perfect summer afternoons that make you want summer to last forever.

Graham Fenn and friends make the best of the final days of summer by taking a dip in the Severn River

Graham Fenn (center) and friends make the best of the final days of summer by taking a dip in the Severn River

As I sat on the beach, cold beer in one hand, summer novel in the other, it suddenly hit me that the day felt a lot more like the end of the year than December 31st ever did. There would of course be no wild, late-night New Year’s Eve parties, not on this new, modified New Year’s Eve of mine. Nor would there likely be many champagne corks popping later tonight. There would be no ball drop in Time Square, no funny hats, no noise makers and no hugs and kisses at midnight. Instead, given that tomorrow was the first day of school, the evening was destined to be a quiet one. Friends and neighbors would head home early to prepare for an early start to the day tomorrow. Dinner would be served earlier than normal, bedtime would hopefully follow shortly thereafter. Tomorrow we would rise early and rush around like a litter of blind cats in an effort to organize ourselves for the day ahead. There would undoubtedly be lots of yelling over such things as lost socks, having no “good” cereal to eat and there being no hot water left but we would eventually pull it all together and get ourselves out the door. By 7:30 we would all be gone and Smokey, our faithful hound would be left alone to look after the house until our return. And while there would still be some warm days ahead I know, it won’t change the fact that the summer of 2014 was toast and a new year was about to begin.

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Will, Graham and Mollie Fenn reluctantly pose for a photo moments before hopping on the bus for the fist day of school. Notice “Shoeless Joe” who’s clearly not quite ready for show time. Nothing new here!

The more I thought about this idea of celebrating New Year’s Eve in August, the more I liked it. From both a practical and psychological standpoint, it makes a heck of a lot more sense to my wondering mind to start the new year on September 1st as opposed to January 1st. By September 1st summer is over, America is headed back to work and a new school year has begun. Life is suddenly very different today than yesterday; something good is over and something exciting and new is about to begin. And isn’t that what celebrating New Year’s is all about? Happy New Year everyone and here’s to singing Auld Lang Syne in August!

On we go…

 

 

 

Nothing Much Beats Bumming Around on Boats

Last week I was fortunate enough to find myself stepping aboard a brand spanking new Jeanneau 349 at the Vermillion Yacht Club located in the sweet little town of Vermillion, OH. Vermillion, bills itself as a small town on a great lake. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie between Sandusky and Cleveland, Vermillion has the look and feel of a coastal New England town and is a lighting rod for boaters of all types. It’s also home port to S.O. Bum, the 349 owned by John and Linda Robertson.

Beautiful white houses as viewed from the deck of S.O. Bum, line the channel that leads into the town of Vermillion.

Beautiful white houses as viewed from the deck of S.O. Bum, line the channel that leads into the town of Vermillion.

John and Linda Robertson are no strangers to sailing nor are they strangers to Jeanneau; their previous boat was a Jeanneau 54 DS that they purchased in 2005 and sailed extensively throughout the Great Lakes with their 4 children until 2010 when they sold it to purchase a Sabre 40 (I know, they went to the dark side but at least they picked a classy, good looking, good quality boat!). They upgraded from the 40 to a Sabre 48 in 2013 but John and the rest of his family never lost their love for sailing, hence their decision to purchase the Jeanneau 349.

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John and Linda Robertson with daughters Olivia (L) and Victoria (R) and their Sabre 48, Bumboat. This latest Bumboat follows a long tradition of Bumboat’s that the Robertson family have owned and enjoyed over the years including the Jeanneau 54DS.

The air was warm and the sky robin-blue as we climbed aboard the 349, Son of Bum and headed out the channel for Lake Erie. On board was my wife Kim, Rob Morley of Riverside Yacht Sales, John Robertson, and his two daughters, Olivia (24) and Victoria (18) and myself. We were 6 all together. On a normal 34 footer, 6 people in the cockpit may prove to be tight but the 349 has a tremendous amount of beam aft, making for a huge cockpit and plenty of room for everyone.

Olivia and Victoria Robertson hang on the rail aboard the Jeanneau 349

Olivia and Victoria Robertson hang on the rail aboard the Jeanneau 349

As soon as we cleared the channel we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the 110% genoa. The 349 if offered with your choice of a furling main, traditional or classic main or a performance main. I was happy to learn that John had gone with the performance main which is squared-off on top providing for more sail area and hence better performance, especially in light air. The wind wasn’t overly strong, about 8-10 but despite the somewhat light breeze, the 349 scooted off to windward in good style. A few other notable features of the 349 include the use of twin wheels and twin rudders. The twin wheels allow the helmsman to sail from either the windward or leeward side of the boat while the twin rudders provide for excellent stability by almost completely eliminating the issue of weather-helm even in heavy air.

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Yours truly at the helm. I’ve always enjoyed sailing from the leeward side. It puts me close to the water and gives me excellent sight-lines to the telltales on the jib.

Winch placement aboard the 349 is also super convenient with all lines leading aft so the helmsman can tweak the sails to his or her liking. German sheeting is utilized as well allowing for the main to be trimmed from either side of the boat.

DSC02018In lieu of traditional genoa tracks, the 349 utilizes two  friction rings that provide a fair lead for both the main sheet and genoa sheet. This clever system saves both weight and cost and works great.

We were having so much fun sailing the boat we didn’t really spend anytime below but this boat has a ton of interior room for a 34 footer. Son of Bum has a 2 cabin arrangement with 1 extremely large head but a 3 cabin arrangement is also offered.

We sailed for a couple of hours and then unfortunately we had to head back to the dock. It wasn’t such a bad thing however because soon after tying up, a front moved through and dumped a boat-full of rain on us. Timing is everything!

You might be saying to yourself that Bumboat and Son of Bum are peculiar names for a boat, I know I did. When I asked John what the significance of the name Bumboat was, he responded by telling me that it’s a long story but that I could read all about it on his web site, www.bumboat.com. It’s an interesting story so I encourage you to give it a read.

When I was a kid growing up in New England, I spent my summers bombing around on Fisher’s Island Sound off the Connecticut coast in a 13 foot Boston Whaler. Ever since that time, I’ve always loved bumming around on boats. I guess I always will.

On we go…

 

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – The Conclusion (so, did we sell a boat?)

From a boat builders perspective, certainly one of the most important considerations that goes into the making of a great boat is whether or not when all is said and done, people want to buy it. In order for this to happen, especially with a big boat like a 64 footer, a real balance needs to be struck between the design of the boat, how the boat performs, the look of the boat, the overall quality of the finished product and the always important issue of the final price of the boat. Often times a boat will come along that may have lots of great creature comforts but may not sail very well. Other times, a boat can sail great but not be very comfortable to live aboard. And there are still other boats out there that sail well and are plenty comfortable but cost an arm and a leg to buy so not a lot of them get sold. The bottom line is that it’s a real art to be able to consistently turn out a finished product that encompasses all the essential elements for it to be successful in the market. But, as good as I think Jeanneau is at doing this, we never really know how successful a new model will be until it’s built and presented to the final customer. Until that time comes, we often find ourselves holding our breath and wringing our hands waiting to see if we’ve gotten it right or gotten it wrong.

Jeanneau 64 Artist Rendering

John and Kris Palmer made their decision to sell their 54DS and purchase a 64 largely based on these initial artist renderings of what the boat would actually be like.

John and Kris Palmer were among the first to put down a small deposit towards the purchase of a new Jeanneau 64. This had been done last October based on the initial drawings of the boat and a targeted selling price. Today, the Palmers, along with their three kids, Jack, Julia and Sam would be meeting us in Marseille to see the boat for the first time and either confirm their order or give it a pass.

The Palmers had been sailing a Jeanneau 54DS for the past 10 years and loved it. Any boat, including a new 64 footer would be a tough act to follow. The Jeanneau 54DS was one of the most successful boats ever produced reaching a total production of almost 400 before it was discontinued in 2009. Even today, the 54DS is in high-demand on the secondary market; a real testament to its overall design, build quality and price.

The amazing 54DS was produced from 2002 - 2009. Almost 400 were built. John and Kris bought their's in 2003 and lovingly sailed it on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it this past January. It now lives in California.

The amazing 54DS was produced from 2002 – 2009. Almost 400 were built. John and Kris bought their’s in 2003 and lovingly sailed it on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it this past January. It now lives in California.

The 64 was in so many ways a very different boat than the 54DS. Of course it was bigger, by a lot! But, is was also a lot more modern and sophisticated. Instead of using traditional teak down below like the 54DS, the 64 utilizes a light oak. The furnishings throughout the 64 are much more contemporary than those found on the 54DS. And yet, as I explained in part 1 of this 4 part story, while the interior of the 64 is very modern, it’s not so modern to be cold and impractical but is in fact, just the opposite. Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch managed to design a very modern, very contemporary looking boat that is extremely warm and comfortable. The question is, would John and Kris like it, now that they saw it in real life?

Great shot taken by Gilles Martin of the Jeanneau 64 running under main and staysail off the coast of Corsica.

Great shot taken by Gilles Martin of the Jeanneau 64 running under main and staysail off the coast of Corsica. What an awesome machine!

The Palmers arrived at the boat about 2:00 in the afternoon and climbed aboard. Watching them standing in the cockpit reminded me of how I first reacted to the boat; they were reserved trying to take it all in. After a few minutes we encouraged them to go below and check it out. The kids, ages 16, 14 and 12 were off like a shot. John and Kris moved more slowly but I could tell they were doing their best to contain their enthusiasm. Soon we were standing in the main salon and I remember the look of total astonishment wash across John’s face. This was followed by him uttering a single word, “WOW.” This is pretty much what we were expecting but to see it, is to believe it!  Now that the initial impressions were over with and thankfully positive, it was time to throw off the lines and go for a sail.

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Kris, Julia and Sam Palmer enjoy their first sail aboard the Jeanneau 64. Julia  is having fun capturing her younger brother on video. I’m just watching to make sure she doesn’t drop the camera since it’s mine!

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Bob Reed with 16-year-old Jack Palmer at the helm off the coast of Marseille

The wind was fairly brisk and the skies overcast when we set sail just outside Marseille Harbor. We spent the better part of an hour taking back and forth. Not unexpectedly, John loved the way the boat sailed and was especially intrigued with the electric mainsail winch that lived below decks and allowed you to sheet in and out with the touch of a button from either helm station. Another feature that is easy to be impressed with is the optional stern thruster. The 64 comes standard with a bow thruster and with the addition of the stern thruster, it instantly makes docking even in the tightest of quarters a snap. We made good use of both as we eased our way between two other large boats and back onto the cement seawall; Mediterranean style!

It had been a great day but no day is complete without a nice dinner with good French wine, especially when in France. So later in the evening, after having a few cocktails on board, we all headed out for dinner in Marseille. And I guess somewhere along the line, it was all just taken for granted that the first 64 headed to the USA would have the Palmers’ name on it, for sure. Anyway that’s how we were treating things because after we all were seated and the wine poured, we raised our glasses high and said, “here’s to a new 64, congratulations!”

The Palmer family (less young Sam) out on the town in Marseille celebrating their purchase of the Jeanneau 64.

The Palmer family (less young Sam) out on the town in Marseille celebrating their purchase of the Jeanneau 64. Photo by Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center in Michigan.

It’s always fun to sell a boat, especially to repeat customers. And the fact that John and Kris had taken so well to the 64 was, to put it bluntly, flattering. In fact, it was more than that. It was more like love at first sight but then again how could it have been anything else.

On we go…

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 3 (an offshore passage)

As I stated in part 1, of this 4 part series, my original plan was to spend just 3 days in Corsica but I soon realized that there were too many reasons to stay than to go, so that’s what I did. Thankfully, I have an understanding wife who recognizes a good opportunity when one comes along and not only gave me permission to stay but encouraged me to stay. Lucky me!

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Before all the cameras were packed away, thousands of photos were taken and yards upon yards of video was shot. It was great watching all this from behind the scenes.

The next event in this ongoing adventure was a 3-day professional photo shoot. This may sound like something that’s all fun and games but I can tell you that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye with lots of moving parts. There are shots taken while underway on all points of sail and shots taken at anchor from every angle. Shots taken from the top of the mast, shots taken from the chase boat and shots taken from the helicopter that had been hired. The days are long too. The photographer, Gilles Martin, wanted sunrise shots, sunset shots, evening shots and all shots in between. Everyone involved was up early and went to bed late. Don’t get me wrong, there are worst ways to spend your days other than on a 64 foot boat in the Mediterranean Sea with attractive woman on board, in bikinis no less. Still, there was some work involved here too, so I don’t want anyone thinking it was ALL fun and games just mostly fun and games.

After we wrapped up the photo shoot, we welcomed Bob Reed, the Jeanneau dealer from Detroit, MI on board. Bob had come to help us sail the boat from Corsica to Marseilles. He had also come to meet his customers John and Kris Palmer who were flying in from The States to see the 64 and hopefully confirm their decision to buy one. The Palmers had just recently sold their Jeanneau 54DS so they were well acquainted with Jeanneau and the Jeanneau team.

Bob Reed, Jean-Luc Paillat and Erik Stromberg are all smiles as start our passage from corsica to Marseilles.

Bob Reed, Jean-Luc Paillat and Erik Stromberg are all smiles as we start our passage from Corsica to Marseilles. It would end up being be a grand adventure

The wind was blowing steady at 20 knots out of the northeast when we pulled off the dock in route to Marseilles. Our course would initially take us due south down the coast of Corsica then west passing between Corsica and Sardinia, then finally northwest to Marseilles. If the forecast held true, we’d end up on a beam reach with plenty of breeze all the way to Marseilles.

Sailing the big 64 proved to be a piece of cake, even in 30+ knots of wind. At 68,500 pounds, this boat, or should I say yacht, was rock-solid and sliced through the choppy Mediterranean Sea like the proverbial hot knife through butter. For the first half of our 200 + mile passage, we ran with a full main and 110% genoa, but as the wind and seas continued to build, we made the wise decision to ditch the genoa and go with the 90% self-tacking jib. This change resulted in the boat sailing flatter and more comfortably and we didn’t lose a single knot of boat speed, proving once again that what holds true for dinghies, holds true for big boats too. A boat that sails flat also sails fast.

The wind continued to blow strong and steady throughout the night. Our boat speed consistently varied between 10 and 12 knots although we also saw speeds of 13 and even 14 now and again. The area in and around Corsica is a heavily traveled route for commercial vessels. I was thankful that our duel Raymarine touch-screen chartplotters were equipped with AIS (automatic identification system) enabling us to not only identify the vessels around us but to also see at a glance their speed and the direction they were headed. Talk about taking the angst out of sailing at night, this was an absolute godsend!

By 5;00am the following morning, the sun was on the rise producing a warm orange glow off to the east. It would soon give way to another glorious day which would stay with us all the way into the evening as we closed in on the city of Marseilles on France’s southern coast..

One of the best things about ocean sailing is watching the sun come up. I don't think I have ever experienced a prettier one than this one.

One of the best things about ocean sailing is watching the sun come up. I don’t think I have ever experienced a prettier sunrise than this one.

By 8:00pm we had our sails furled and were tied stern-to in downtown Marseilles, just 27 hours after we had set sail from Corsica. It had been a great trip. The Jeanneau 64 performed superbly in the strong winds and lumpy seas. Tomorrow, we would welcome aboard John Palmer and his family. We would tell them about our adventure and hope that they would sense our enthusiasm and fall in love with this new flagship of the Jeanneau range. For now however, we’ll simply enjoy each other’s company, stretch out in the cockpit, and raise our glasses high to a great trip. Ahh, only if everyday could be like this.

On we go…

P.S. Read the conclusion of my Corsican adventure and find out if we sold a boat or not! Read it now.

 

 

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 2 (sailing with Philippe Briand)

Whether sitting at anchor or under sail, the Jeanneau 64 is proving to be one sweet ticket to ride!

Our second day in Corsica was met with clear blue skies, plenty of sunshine but not a whole lot of breeze. We had made a plan the night before to rendezvous for lunch. I can tell you that as a long-time member of the Crack of Noon Club, lunchtime worked fine for me. It had been a late night and I for one was still suffering from jet-lag so not having to jump out of bed first thing in the morning was a welcome surprise. We all pretty much hooked up right on schedule and after a nice plate of moules frites (mussels and fries) and a cold Heineken, we were ready for a sail on the Jeanneau 64. We had just cast of the lines and begun to pull away from the dock when who should show up but Philippe Briand. We quickly backed up, hauled Philippe aboard and headed out of the harbor of Porto-Vecchio. Being in Corsica was one thing. Being in Corsica sailing on a brand spanking new 64 footer was even better. But sailing around Corsica aboard a new 64 footer with Philippe Briand the designer of the boat on board? This was pretty much over the top!

The Jeanneau 64 – hull #1, carries two fixed headsails. The outer sail is a 110% genoa on an electric furling system while the inner sail is a 90% self-tacking jib on a manual furling system. This is a very nice setup where the genoa can be used for lighter wind and the self-taking jib for heavy wind and where you find yourself doing a lot of tacking to windward. Hull #1 also has a code 0 which comes in very handy on light-air days when you’re looking for a little extra horsepower.

Jeanneau's Nick Harvey enjoys a spot on the bow of the 64 just in front of the Code 0

Jeanneau’s Nick Harvey enjoys a spot on the bow of the 64 just in front of the Code 0. Note the electric furling unit just behind the anchor which is standard equipment on the boat.

Soon after leaving the harbor we pulled out the main, unfurled the code 0 and went off on a close reach. The 64 has an incredibly big cockpit. In fact at one point, Erik Stromberg and I counted 17 people on board and we still had room for more. Life on deck is essentially separated into two zones with the aft part of the cockpit reserved for the operation of the boat and the forward section reserved for lounging and dining. I did a little bit of both!

Philippe Briand temporarily lost in thought and Jeanneau America's Valerie Toomey put the forward cockpit to good use during our brief but enjoyable sail

Philippe Briand (temporarily lost in thought) and Jeanneau America’s Valerie Toomey put the forward cockpit to good use during our brief but enjoyable sail. Notice how the cockpit tale is down on the port side making for a huge longing area but is up on the starboard side. This arrangement gives you lots of versatility depending on what you’re after at any given time, longing or dining.

The business end of the cockpit is clean and uncluttered. Because the 64 has an arch, the mainsheet traveler is overhead and completely out of the way. Also, trimming of the main benefits from a clever piece of technology in the form of a Harken electric winch that lives below the mast step and does the job of sheeting in and out the main at the touch of a button. Not only does this system make handling the main incredibly easy, it also completely eliminates having yards and yards of mainsheet in the cockpit. It’s really an awesome system!

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Captain Fenn standing at the port helm of the Jeanneau 64. From here, the helmsman has complete control of the vessel whether navigating, trimming sails, motoring or dropping anchor. It can all be done from the vicinity of the duel helm stations.

Philippe Briand on What Makes a Yacht a Yacht:

Because this first sail was just with my fellow Jeanneau colleagues, it made for a very casual and enjoyable setting. It also allowed me some one on one time with Philippe to pick his brain about how the Jeanneau 64 came to be. One of the questions I was most interested in hearing his answer to was “what makes a yacht a yacht and not just another big boat?” When I put this question to him, he smiled broadly and said, “oh, let me think about that for a minute. It’s a good question” You would think that a guy that regularly designs super-yachts between 100′ – 250′ long would have an easy answer to this question but instead, he gave the question serious thought. After a few seconds he said, “a yacht provides the customer with the ability to have his fingerprints on the project. You have to view it more like a villa that is configured and outfitted to the owner’s taste. With a yacht, you have to make accommodations for the owner’s taste by providing more custom options.” “And how do you balance the fact that at the end of the day the 64 is still a production boat and not a custom boat” I asked. “Another good question,” he said. “The great thing about what Jeanneau offers to the customer, is a highly engineered design that allows for a variety of configurations and options that will meet 95% of the customers desires all at a price that doesn’t come anywhere close to a one-off custom yacht. I really think that more than the designers, more than the craftsman, it’s the engineers that should get the credit for the finished product. Without them, the boat would never have been built.” “So it sounds like Jeanneau is on the right track” I said. “Honestly, I think when it comes to modern boat building, it’s the only logical way to go.” Philippe concluded.

Valerie Toomey relaxes on the drop-down swim platform after taking a refreshing dip in the cool Medateranian Sea.

Valerie Toomey relaxes on the drop-down swim platform after taking a refreshing dip in the cool Mediterranean Sea.

We manged to find the time to drop anchor and take a swim before heading back to the dock. After-all, we wanted to test all aspects of the boat. While at anchor, Erik was lamenting to Philippe about how much it had cost him to outfit the boat with high-end pillows and comforters. “This stuff cost a small fortune” Erik said. “Of course” Philippe replied. “What did you expect, it’s A Yacht!” “Oh” I chimed in, “so the real difference between a yacht and a boat is that a yacht cost more?” Philippe smiled and laughed and said, “of course, that’s what makes a yacht so special!” I should have known!

Enjoying a cold Heineken on a beautiful day in Corsica aboard the Jeanneau 64

Just me enjoying a cold Heineken on a beautiful day in Corsica aboard the Jeanneau 64

The story continues at Love at First Sight – Part 3 when we set sail for some of Corsica’s most beautiful harbors for a photo shoot and then head offshore for an ocean passage to Marseille.

On we go….

The Jeanneau 64, Love at First Sight – Part 1

Corsica

Corsica is a rugged and an amazingly beautiful island. Although not part of the original plan, I’ll end up spending 10 days here sailing aboard the new Jeanneau 64

We landed on the French island of Corsica at 10:30 at night. Located about 200 miles south of the French mainland and just west of Italy, Corsica is one of those quintessential Mediterranean Islands that rises up out of the sea like a rough-cut diamond. Lonely planet describes Corsica as “an island designed for beach lovers, culture buffs, hikers, and divers. It combines vast stretches of shoreline with the beauty of the mountains, plenty of activities for your body and some rich history to engage your mind.” I along with my two associates, Valerie Toomey and Jeff Jorgensen, have come for a different purpose, to see, sail and help launch the Jeanneau 64, the new flagship of the Jeanneau range.

I had seen the 64 while under construction back in December. And, while my friend and colleague Erik Stromberg, did his usual great job walking me through the boat and describing what the finished product would eventually look like, artist renderings and imagination can only get you so far. Now it was time for seeing and believing.

Jeanneau 64 at night

The Jeanneau 64 sits stern to in downtown Porto-Vecchio. While it may not be the largest yacht in town, it’s impressive none the less.

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was late. But we had no sooner gotten out of the car and headed to check in when out on the water under a bright canopy of stars, came the Jeanneau 64 gliding by in all its brilliance headed for the marina. My first thought was “where is she coming from and why is she out so late?” My second thought was, “wow, this boat looks awesome.” The 64 sports a triple spreader rig and this specific boat (hull #1) has the optional double headstay with a 110% genoa on the outer stay and a smaller, self-tacking jib on the inner stay. The combination of the white painted mast, triple spreaders and double headstay, immediately left me with the impression that the 64 was much more than just a big boat, it was a true yacht.

Since the marina was just a few steps from the hotel, Valerie, Jeff and I quickly dropped our bags and made a bee-line for the boat. I was excited to find on board a bunch of my friends from Jeanneau including Erik Stromberg who I have worked with now for 15 or 16 years. Erik welcomed us on board and handed each of us a glass of red wine. We all made our way below and stood for a while in the main salon. “Well, what do you think” said Erik. My initial response was “don’t rush me, I’m taking it all in.” And I was, this was a lot of boat. Huge master cabin aft, two guest cabins forward, a fourth cabin to starboard with upper and lower berths, beautifully appointed galley to port, and a main salon that screamed “come on in, sit down and enjoy yourself… all of you!”

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A view of the dining table in the main salon. Notice the light oak wood with off-white leather upholstery. Large hull ports bring in plenty of natural light and provide for a view to the sea while seated

The red wine continued to flow as did the conversations. Those of us who hadn’t seen the boat before took ourselves on a self-guided tour. Some of us first went forward while others started aft. Some hung in the galley, others stretched out in the owner’s aft cabin. Soon we all settled around the table in the main salon. “Well?” Erik said. “Really comfortable” I replied. “It just feels really warm and comfortable” I added.

The interior of the Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just big. It’s also extremely well proportioned, things just fit together nicely. The seating for example around the dining table is super comfortable, it’s just the right height. You feel like you can sit there for hours just hanging out with friends, wine glass in hand, solving the problems of the world. The colors and choice of materials go together extremely well. For example the wood that is used is a light oak while the color of the salon floor is dark, almost an ebony. Dark leather is used to accent the light oak as well. The contrast is amazingly nice. And while the interior is definitely modern, it’s not so modern to be impractical or cold. In fact it’s just the opposite. It feels very practical and very warm.  Andrew Winch, the interior designer on the project really nailed it.

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Yours truly seated at the aft end of the main salon enjoying a fine glass of Bordeaux shortly after my arrival in Corsica

It’s easy to be impressed by a big boat, especially one that’s 64 feet. The Jeanneau 64 is a lot more than just a big boat however, it’s a real yacht. And what makes a yacht a yacht? Follow more of the story at Love at First Site – Part 2, when I go sailing with the designer Philippe Briand, and ask him that very question.

On we go…

We Are Only As Good As That Which We Leave Behind

Last Father’s Day I wrote a blog titled Father’s Day, It’s More Important than You Think that was inspired by a young neighbor of mine (Cameron) who lost his father at age 51 after a long battle with cancer. I was luckier than Cameron, my father lived to be 93 and essentially died of natural causes this past January. I haven’t talked with Cameron since this time last year but I imagine that he is thinking about his father this Father’s Day as I am thinking about mine.

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My dad, William Wallace Fenn ll on the front porch of the Cliff House overlooking Canandaigua Lake circa 1942

My dad was born in 1920 in Boston, MA. His father, my grandfather was a professor of physiology at the University of Rochester. When my dad was in high school, his parents bought a summer place on Canandaigua Lake in up-state New York where he learned to sail. Like his father and grandfather, he attended Harvard College where he played lacrosse and eventually became the captain of the team. He graduated with a degree in Biology in 1942 and like all young men of that time went off to fight in World War ll. He joined the Army Air Corps and was sent to the Philippines where he became a radar countermeasures officer. Radar was in its infancy in those days and my dad flew in the nose of a B-29 looking for enemy outposts. It was a dangerous job and at least once they took a bullet or two through the engine of their plane. He told me that they were lucky because the engine kept running and they landed safely. After the war he went back to school at Rensselaer Politechnic Institute and earned a second degree in electrical engineering. He married my mother in 1947 and soon after had two daughters, my sister’s Bonnie and Betsy. I came along in 1959.

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My dad and my Aunt Ruth sailing on Canandaigua Lake aboard the Lorna Doone about 1938. Dad loved to sail and always tried to get all that he could out of the boat and the conditions. I love this picture with his leg draped over the side in an effort to keep the boat sailing flat.

Growing up my dad was always there for me. Like all good dads he taught me right from wrong. He taught me how to sail and how to tie a bowline at a young age. He taught me how to handle a jack-knife and how to split and stack wood. He taught me how to change a flat tire, use a power mower and run an outboard engine. Somewhere along the way by way of example, he taught me how to be a good husband and a father to my three children.

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Mom, dad and me about 1963 I’m guessing

This is my first Father’s Day without a father to give a gift to or make a phone call to. But thankfully, my memories of my dad are clear and happy ones. More and more I am struck by the idea that we are only as good as that which we leave behind. Not so much by our accomplishments but rather by the examples we set, the lessons we pass on and the tone by which we lead our lives. Perhaps this is why we are here.

Happy Father’s Day!

On we go…