Paul Fenn

Father’s Day Sails into the First Day of Summer Side by Side with Summer Sailstice

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The author, yours truly, at the helm of the Jeanneau 349 on Lake Erie. As I’m always fond of saying, “Life’s too short to sit at the dock.”

This coming Sunday, June 21st, is Father’s Day. Coincidentally, for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator marking the first day of summer. In addition to all this, Sunday is also Summer Sailstice, a world wide celebration of all things sailing.

Summer Sailstice was started by John Arndt back in 2001 as a way to share sailing by getting the whole world sailing on the weekend nearest the solstice. “I’ve sailed my whole life and worked in the sailing business for 30 years.” says John. “And like every sailor I know, I always wanted to share sailing with everyone.  Sailing comes in an endless variety of styles – racing, cruising, dinghies, tall ships.  The enormous variety makes it very challenging for the world to understand and for sailors to unite around a common event.  Yet all these sailors are passionate about sailing and all want to share it with others.  The Summer Sailstice sailing celebration gives every sailor a date  to participate, to hoist sails, to show off their aspect of sailing and to share it with friends and the rest of the world.  It’s growing and we’re looking forward to the day when the whole world sails for Summer Sailstice.  And, when it gets big enough, it will become a global 3-day weekend for sailors!”

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.
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.

For me, the fact that Father’s Day just happens to fall on the same day as the Summer Solstice and Summer Sailstice this year is most appropriate. My dad, who passed away last year at the age of 93 was a huge sailor and a great dad. As a teenager, he learned to sail on Canandaigua Lake in up-state New York where my grandparents had a summer place. Somewhere along the line, my grandfather purchased a beautiful wooden sloop he named the Lorna Doone which my dad lovingly sailed up and down the lake during the long days of summer. Later, when I was a young boy, my dad purchased a wooden racing dinghy called a Jollyboat designed by Uffa Fox. The Jollyboat was an incredibly fast and spirited racing dinghy that often needed 3 or 4 people on the rail to keep the thing from capsizing when the wind piped up. He named the boat Betsey Anne, after my older sister Betsey who was born mentally retarded and never got much of a shot a life.

My dad and my Uncle Dave aboard the Betsey Anne in 1970 just before the start of the Nationals on Lake Erie. My older sister Bonnie is also aboard but somewhere in the bilge out of sight.
My dad and my Uncle Dave aboard the Betsey Anne in 1966 just before the start of the Nationals on Lake Erie. My older sister Bonnie is also aboard but somewhere in the bilge out of sight.

When I was about 14, my dad bought for the two of us to race on together, one of the first 420’s to find its way into the U.S. from France. We named this boat Quick Step because if you weren’t quick on your feet you could easily find yourself in the drink. This was followed some years later by a Rhodes 22 then finally a Bayfield 36.

Like my friend John Arndt, sailing has always been part of my life; largely because my father introduced me to it at a young age and taught me to love and appreciate the sea.

Last year about this time, in honor of my dad and Father’s Day, I wrote a blog titled, We are Only as Good as that which we Leave Behind where I make the point that what’s really important in life is not so much our accomplishments but rather the examples we set, the lessons we pass on and the tone by which we lead our lives. Sailing was a big part of my dad’s life. Turns out, not so surprisingly, it was a big part of John Arndt’s dad’s life too. Summer Sailstice helps to promote the legacy and the love of sailing of those that came before. So here’s to great fathers who loved to sail and do love to sail and perhaps with a little help from the long days of summer, will love to sail. Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere and happy sailing.

On we go…

P.S. Interested in sailing on the Summer Solstice? Hop on board at www.summersailstice.com and enjoy the ride.

John Arndt:
John Arndt: “A picture of 2 of my brothers and a friend of ours in our first ‘”family boat.” I’m in blue and my youngest brother is doubled up w/the life jacket and inner tube. This is where it all began!

The Jeanneau 64 – Almost Home

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The Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes, slices through the water with the greatest of ease. Outfitted with standard furling main and 110% genoa, the 64 is not a yacht that’s afraid to sail.

It’s a long poke across the Atlantic to the east coast of the United States on a sailboat. And a longer one still going all the way up into the Great Lakes to St. Clair Shores located on the east coast of Michigan. But that’s exactly the trip that the Jeanneau 64, Trois Vignes recently completed.

Prior to yesterday, the last time I had seen Trois Vignes was in March, tied to the dock in the port of Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Shortly thereafter, Trois Vignes headed across the Atlantic, first to the island of Madeira off Portugal then to Halifax, Nova Scotia with the idea of reaching the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Unfortunately, although it was the end of April, the St.Lawrence was still chock full of ice forcing the crew to head south to New York where they pulled the mast before heading north through the Erie Canal. It was quite the adventure!

Yesterday, I caught up with Trois Vignes once again. This time in St. Clair Shores, MI where Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center was putting the finishing touches on her before making the final handover to her owners, John and Kris Palmer. The day was shaping up to be a beauty with partly sunny skies and a nice breeze of 10-15 knots. It would be a perfect day for a sail.

Trois Vignes sat quietly in her slip looking beautiful as my friend and work associate, Catherine Guiader and I climbed aboard eager to get underway. As luck would have it, John Palmer was already on board. He had driven over that morning from his home in Illinois. He wasn’t about to miss this maiden voyage in US waters or allow Catherine, Bob and I to have all the fun, no way!

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Beautifully finished teak decks highlighted against the jet-black cap rail and white cabin trunk really accent the true elegance of what the Jeanneau 64 is all about.

The Jeanneau 64 comes standard with a bow thruster but in addition to this, Trois Vignes is fitted with the optional retractable stern thruster which makes maneuvering easier than falling off a wet log. Once out on the lake, we used the electric cabin-top winch to pull out the main. The genoa followed and once sheeted in, we were soon off on a beam reach at a respectable 8 knot clip. Trois Vignes benefits from the optional Harken electric mainsheet winch that lives below decks and allows the sheeting of the main at the touch of a button right from the helm station. It’s slicker than grease on a doorknob. I can’t imagine why anybody would order the boat without it.

The four of us spent the afternoon reaching back and forth and having a grand time. Lake St. Clair is not an overly large lake, so when a 64 footer goes by dressed all in black, trust me people notice. We saw lots of pointing fingers followed by the words “beautiful” as we charged on past our fellow boaters. It was a good day and we were enjoying every minute of it.

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Trois Vignes charging along on a beautiful close reach with Catherine at the helm.

Once back at the dock, cold chardonnay in hand, we talked about the final leg of the journey. In just a few weeks, after the final finishing touches and tweaks have been made, Trois Vignes will make its way up Lake Huron, over the top of the Mitten, past Mackinac Island, and into Lake Michigan. Her crew will continue to sail south down the lake, past Beaver Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes. When they reach Holland along Michigan’s western coast, they’ll slip past the Big Red Light House that marks the entrance to Lake Macatawa, Trois Vignes’ home port.

It’s a long poke from Les Sables d’Olonne to Lake Macatawa but Trois Vignes has handled it as we knew she would, like the true ocean-going yacht she is. The journey is not quite over but for this Jeanneau 64 it’s close… she’s almost home.

On we go….

P.S. If you missed the beginning of this saga, you can catch the beginning here!

 

A Race Down the Bay Lands Invictus Squarely in the Center of the Winner’s Circle

Invictus sailing about 11 knots with the A1.5 reaching kite set.
Invictus sailing about 11 knots with the A1.5 reaching kite set.

The forecast for the 66th running of the Down the Bay Race from Annapolis, MD to Hampton, VA. was for Northwest winds of 15 – 20 knots. The only thing that could possibly have made this forecast any better was for even more wind. As a long-distance ocean racer, the Sun Fast 3600 is deigned to remain safe, stable and fast even when the winds blow hard and the seas build. Because of this, the 3600 is a bit heavy to really get up and move in winds less than 10 knots but when the winds blow, the Sun Fast 3600 is one hard boat to beat.

By the time the starting gun went off at 10:30am Friday morning, the wind, true to the forecast, was blowing pretty much right out of the northeast at a steady 18 knots gusting to upwards of 20. If this held up, it would make for a quick and exciting 120 mile sail down the Chesapeake Bay to Hampton.

I have to admit it right up front and say that my racing experience is limited. It’s one thing to cruise long distance but it’s a totally different ball game when it comes to racing long distance. When you’re racing, it’s game on all the way to the finish. And when I say game on, I’m referring not just to the sailing end of things but the navigation, tactics, and weather forecasting as well. A friend of mine, Lou Sandivol, who had won the Race to Mackinac a number of times once told me, “The Mac Race is won at night.” By this he was referring to the idea that if you let yourself relax during the night, you will make mistakes and lose the race. He was right of course and the same goes for any long distance race where it’s easy to get worn down and over-tired.

The Sun Fast 3600 can be had with tillers or wheels. For Invictus, we chose the wheels which make for easy control when sailing with a crew
The Sun Fast 3600 can be had with tillers or wheels. For Invictus, we chose the wheels which make for easy control when sailing with a crew

With the wind for the most part blowing just off the beam, we were able to fly our reaching spinnaker which generated a consistent speed over the ground (SOG) of between 10-12 knots. Where we got into trouble was when we were forced to head up in order to sail on our rhum line. When we did this, we could no longer carry the asymmetric and had to switch to our working jib. Doing this caused our boat speed to drop by 2 – 3 knots. “What we really need right now” one of the crew members said, “is a code 0.” He was right of course, if we had a code 0 enabling us to sail say 55 or 60 degrees to the wind, we would be on the rhum line and hammering the competition as well. Instead we were sailing as best we could with the working jib and raising our reaching spinnaker when the angle of the wind allowed.

What we lacked in sail inventory we made up for in the makeup of our crew. We were fortunate to have 3 very good sailors aboard whose knowledge of racing and the will to win drove us towards the finish line as fast as we could possibly go. Somewhere around 1:30am, 13 hours and 44 minutes after the start of the race, Invictus crossed the finish line winning first in our class and at least for a while, first overall. In the morning, after the rest of the fleet had finished, we learned that we had lost first place overall to an older Cal 30 by just a little over 3 minutes on corrected time.

A few days after the race, I received a phone call from a fellow by the name of Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital Gazette who was interested to know how it felt to have lost first place by just a little over 3 minutes after racing for almost 14 hours. I thought for only a second and said “Abu Dhabi lost to Dongfeng in leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race also by just a little over 3 minutes. The difference is that their race lasted 17 days and 9 hours. I’m sure that losing that race for the crew of Abu Dhabi hurt a lot more than it hurt our crew aboard Invictus.” In short I said, “it felt alright.”

Invictus with the reaching kite up and pulling.
Invictus with the reaching kite up and pulling.

Today, Invictus is in Newport, RI after sailing from Hampton, VA, some 370 nautical miles in just 48 hours. Other races lie ahead but for now, the crew of Invictus is happy to be in the center of the winner’s circle where we have no doubt we will be again.

On we go…

Learn more about the Sun Fast 3600 at: www.jeanneau.com/boats/Sun-Fast-3600.html

Voyager, a Story of the Bitter and the Sweet

Charlie Forsdick at the helm of Voyager, his 2002 Sun Odyssey 43
Charlie Forsdick at the helm of Voyager, his 2002 Sun Odyssey 43

Yesterday, my son Will celebrated his 13th birthday. Like all parents, I can remember so clearly the day he was born. Then a decade went whizzing by and before I knew it he was 10. And now, I have a teenager on my hands. Wow, time certainly does move along.

Totally by coincidence, I had a call from an old customer of ours, Charlie Forsdick, and learned that Will was not the only one having a 13th birthday, Voyager, a Sun Odyssey 43 was also turning 13. Charlie and Terry Forsdick had taken delivery of their new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 43 in the Spring of 2002 in Westbrook, CT. Charlie was planning on retiring soon and he and Terry were itchy to throw off the lines and go cruising. “We must have looked at 25-30 boats before deciding to buy the SO 43″ Charlie told me. “Ted Novakowski, who originally sold us Voyager, really did a great job finding us the right boat” he added.

“This was a big project” Ted Novakowski recalls. “Charlie had thought through all the systems vital to the cruising program he was looking to do and given plenty of consideration to comfort aboard over extended periods. The radar arch/dinghy davits was one of the earliest projects to be tackled. There were considerations in both functionality and appearance. Additions and adaptations were managed as the installation progressed. I remember an inch here and a degree there… it was a bit of trial and error but in the end I think the function was just what was hoped for and the appearance was really complimentary to the lines of the boat. I still remember the christening. Charlie and Theresa know how to throw a party and the christening was no exception. Voyager was showcased in a slip outside the marina clubhouse, visible from the street, docks, and water. We all enjoyed a great occasion with food, drink and friends. With the boat as the centerpiece of the day, this really celebrated the beginning of the cruising lifestyle Charlie and Theresa had planned for years.”

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Voyager’s christening party in 2002 at Westbrook Sailing Center in Westbrook, CT. It was a grand day!

A few years went by. Then in 2006, true to their plan, Charlie retired and off they went, full-time… first to the North to explore old haunts; Block Island, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Cutty Hunk, Nantucket and then to the south to sit out the winter months in the Bahamas. They did this for many years, up north to New England for the summer, down south to the Bahamas in the winter. A few years ago, they bought a place in Ft. Pierce, FL that they now call home. They continued to cruise however, exploring both coasts of Florida, the Panhandle and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Charlie always had the need for speed as demonstrated in this awesome shot of Voyager sailing close-hauled in a steady 15 knot breeze

Charlie and I spent a good bit of time on the phone reminiscing and talking about all the adventures he and Terry have had over the past 13 years. “It’s really been great Paul. My experience with the boat and the people at Jeanneau has really been wonderful. Unfortunately, I’m not as young as I used to be and well, Terry is suffering from some memory loss and it’s not as easy for her to get around, so as much as I hate to do it, I think it’s time that Voyager find a new home.” I could tell that Charlie wasn’t overly excited by this dose of reality but like all good sailors, he was making the best of a situation that was less than perfect.

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Terry kicked back, enjoying the great cockpit of the Sun Odyssey 43. “Spending time aboard is always wonderful!”

As we were wrapping up our conversation, I commented that while it’s sad to be forced to sell Voyager at least you bought her in the first place, outfitted her with the best gear possible, threw off the lines and realized your dream of going cruising; so many people never get that far. He agreed with me but I couldn’t help hear a little disappointment in his voice.

There’s an old saying that’s been around forever that the two best days in a boat owner’s life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. It’s a humorous saying but for those us us who really love the lifestyle, it simply isn’t true. The story of Voyager is one of both the bitter and the sweet. Thankfully, there’s a lot more sweet than bitter and that has made all the difference.

On we go….

P.S. Voyager has been listed for sale with Florida Coast Marine Yacht Sales located in Harbortown, Marina, Ft. Pierce, FL. For anyone looking for a great boat with a great legacy, please contact Kim Korman at 772-489-0110 or by email at kkorman@fcmyachts.com.

Farewell Valerie Toomey and Bon Voyage

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Valerie Toomey at the helm of the Jeanneau 509 crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas for a 2013 photo shoot

It is said that the true character of a company can be found in the people who work for it. Valerie Toomey joined Jeanneau America in 2010 bringing with her an over abundance of positive energy and a unique style all her own. Now, 5 years later, she leaves us… not for a bigger or better job or to seek out new opportunities, but to do something most of us who love spending time on the water only dream of, going cruising.

Beginning in July, Valerie along with her husband, syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey, and their two children, Madeline age 12 and William age 10, will head to Les Sables-d’Olonne, France where they will move aboard their brand new Lagoon catamaran. From there, they’ll spend the next year (maybe more if Valerie gets her way. And she usually does!) cruising through the Mediterranean and eventually south across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. It will be a grand adventure I’m sure.

“When I started working for Jeanneau, I really wasn’t a sailor but over the past 5 years, after organizing numerous boat shows, photo shoots, owner’s parties and rendezvous’, I have learned a thing or two and discovered that I love sailing and being aboard a boat” Valerie says.

Pirate Night during the 2014 BVI Owner's Rendezvous (L-R: Rosie Rigaux, Catherine Guiader and Valerie)
Pirate Night during the 2012 BVI Owner’s Rendezvous (L-R: Rosie Rigaux, Catherine Guiader and Valerie Toomey)

It’s never easy to lose a good employee or say goodbye to a good friend. But the fact that Valerie is headed for an adventure that’s right out of one of our brochures, somehow makes it all a little bit easier to accept. So Bon Voyage Valerie Toomey and thanks for shining your light on Jeanneau. It’s been a great 5 years!

Valerie and her girls at the close of the 2013 Annapolis Sail Boat Show
Valerie and her girls at the close of the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show

On we go…

Sailing the Spanish Virgin Islands and Loving it!

A Jeanneau 469 chartered from Sail Caribe sails just of f Tamarindo Point near the western end of Culebra.
A Jeanneau 469 chartered from Sail Caribe sails just off Tamarindo Point near the western end of Culebra.

There’s no doubt that the British Virgin Islands offer some of the best cruising to be found anywhere on the planet. Plenty of breeze, easy-peasy navigation, good snorkeling, lots of good restaurants, and plenty of good harbors make the BVI a great choice for a winter’s sailing adventure. The only downside, if there is a downside, is that the place can get crowded, especially during peak season. And if you have sailed in the BVI already, it might be nice to try someplace different.

Spanish VirginsLocated slightly off the beaten track tucked snuggly between the US Virgin Islands and the eastern end of Puerto Rico, you’ll find another handful of islands commonly referred to as the Spanish Virgin Islands or Passage Islands. Ceded to the United States in 1898, the area is primarily made up of the islands of Culebra and Vieques but there are plenty of other surrounding islets and cays to explore. And while the British Virgin Islands are distinctively British, the Spanish Virgin Islands are distinctively Spanish. You don’t hear about these islands that much but for anyone looking to escape the crowds of the BVI and try something new, they are well worth checking out which my family and I discovered firsthand on a recent charter to these simple and unspoiled islands.

We began our sailing adventure from the town of Fajardo on the very eastern end of Puerto Rico where we picked up our boat, a Jeanneau 409 called Island Girl that we chartered from Sail Caribe based out of the very nice marina of Puerto del Rey. One big advantage of sailing out of Puerto Rico that is realized right off the bat is cost. In my case, as a family of 5, we flew on Southwest direct from Baltimore to San Juan for about $400/ person or $2,000 total. Had we gone on to fly to Beef Island on Tortola in the BVI, we would be looking at an additional $2,000. That’s a whopping 4K just in air fare, a hefty amount for the average family.

After a brief introduction to the boat and a good chart briefing, we hoisted the sails and headed for Culebra. If there is a downside or should I say inconvenience to sailing in the Spanish Virgins, it is that every destination is up-wind from Fajardo making for a sometimes long and tough beat to windward. Such was the case for our first sail to Culebra located just about 18 miles dead up wind. With the winds blowing a steady 15 to 20 and seas running 3 to 4 feet, we took the advice of those in the know and motor-sailed our way to Culebra’s south shore and into one of the many recognized anchorages that can be found along the entire southern coast. I’m going to stop right here and say that another great thing about cruising in these islands is that there are plenty of moorings to be had, all of which are, now hold on to your Tilly Hats, FREE. That’s right free, as in no charge! How about that sport’s fans? A pretty good deal right?

My daughter Mollie enjoying a swim off the bow pulpit.
We have the anchorage all to ourselves as my daughter Mollie enjoys a swim off the bow pulpit.

Perhaps one of the sweetest harbors to drop anchor in is on the small island of Culebrita located just a stone’s throw to the east of Culebra. Here you’ll find pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise blue water, and lots of healthy intact reefs teeming with fish, sea turtles, coral and conch. There are hills to climb, a great lighthouse to explore and the natural charm of what the BVI was like 40 years ago.

A killer sunset as seen from the island of Culebrita. It's hard to imagine anything much better than this.
A killer sunset as seen from the island of Culebrita. It’s hard to imagine anything much better than this.

We ended up spending 5 nights just cruising around from one quiet harbor to the next before ever going into Culebra’s main harbor and only town, Ensenada Honda. And you know what, we didn’t miss it.

A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to have had a similar experience cruising through the beautiful Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, where there were no beach bars, no on-shore boutiques, no restaurants, no nothing, except natural, unspoiled beauty. It was truly an awesome trip where we totally unplugged, enjoyed each other’s company and were happy just to be. This is what cruising is supposed to be all about and what you can find in the Spanish Virgins.

My soon to be 13 year old son Will enjoying Laura Hildebrand's best seller Seabiscut on the deck of the Jeanneau 409.
My soon to be 13-year-old son Will, enjoying Laura Hillenbrand’s best seller Seabiscut in Culebrita’s awesome and mostly deserted harbor.

At the end of the day, we never managed to get to Vieques. We could have but to be honest, we enjoyed sailing around Culebra and Culebrita so much, we figured we would just have to come back and check out Vieques the next time around.

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Enjoying another great sunset from the deck of the Jeanneau 409 in Almodovar Bay on Culebra

On the way back to Puerto del Ray, we made a final overnight stop on the small island of Palomino where we once again found a lovely harbor, free moorings, great snorkeling and as a bonus, a beautiful full moon to shine its light on us. What more could we ask for?

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Will, Mollie and Graham Fenn pause for a photo-op on our way up to visit the lighthouse on Culebrita.

For information on chartering in the Spanish Virgin Islands, please contact Sail Caribe. They have a nice fleet of both late-model Jeanneau monohulls and Lagoon cats to choose from. And once you leave the dock… simply unplug, relax and enjoy all that the Spanish Virgins have to offer.

On we go…

The Jeanneau 64 – A Champagne Toast to Trois Vignes

Coming down the dock and seeing Trois Vignes for the first time, a brand new Jeanneau 64, I found myself smiling and muttering the words, “we shall sell no wine before its time.” Elegantly dressed all in black with brilliant-white spars, white cabin top and honey-colored teak decks, Trois Vignes, which is French for three vines, looked stunning and ready for a glamorous evening out on the town.

The honey-colored teak deck really pops against the jet-black cap rail. If it's a yacht, and the 64 is, you gotta have teak decks. And why wouldn't you, they're gorgeous!
The honey-colored teak deck really pops against the jet-black cap rail. If it’s a yacht, and the 64 is, you gotta have teak decks. And why wouldn’t you, they’re gorgeous!

For John and Kris Palmer, the owners of Trois Vignes, their journey started 18 months ago in 2013 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show when they sat down with their dealer, Bob Reed of St. Clair Sailboat Center and Erik Stromberg, Jeanneau’s Sailboat Product Director to discuss the Jeanneau 64 in detail. I say in detail but at that time the details were in short supply since a boat had yet to actually be built. But Erik, in his usual good and informative style, along with some great artist renderings, was able to paint a clear picture as to what the 64 was all about. This, along with the fact that John and Kris were not new to Jeanneau, having owned a Jeanneau 54DS (also a Trois Vignes) for ten years, gave them the confidence that the Jeanneau 64 was ultimately going to be a very special 64 footer. Soon after this initial meeting, John laid down a deposit to reserve a hull and immediately listed his 54DS for sale.

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The original Trois Vignes, a 54DS anchored in the North Channel. The 54DS was an amazingly popular boat. Almost 400 were produced between 2002 – 2009. John and Kris bought theirs in 2003 and lovingly sailed it with their 3 children on Lake Michigan for 10 years before selling it to buy the 64. It now lives in California.

The first 64 to be built began production in November 2013. By April it was in the water and by July it was in Corsica where I had the pleasure of spending a week aboard it and helped to sail it to Marseille on the southern coast of France.

Living large aboard the Jeanneau 64 in Corsica during the official photo shoot. It's a rotten job but someone has to do it right?
Living large aboard the Jeanneau 64 in Corsica during the official photo shoot. It’s a rotten job but someone has to do it right?

It was in Marseille where John, Kris and their 3 kids saw the completed boat for the first time. I still remember the look of total astonishment wash across John’s face as he stood in the main salon for the first time. He only uttered a single word,“WOW.” Over the course of the next 8 months, John made several trips to the factory to meet with Erik Stromberg and check on the progress of his boat, hull #4. During these trips he experienced firsthand the complexity and the detailed engineering that goes into such a project. It’s truly mind-boggaling. By December, the new Trois Vignes was floating in the test tank and then just last week, after a visit to the paint shed, the Palmer’s new Jeanneau 64 was launched in the port of Les Sables d’Olonne in the Bay of Biscay on France’s west coast. It was a longtime coming, pretty much 18 months from concept to reality. But as Andrew Winch, the interior designer told me, “details make the project a success and details take time.”

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Aboard Trois Vignes, John Palmer (L) and Andrew Winch (R) talk about the details incorporated into the Jeanneau 64. As a side note, Andrew is getting his own 64 which is in production now. He has hull #11 which ironically is the same number that John’s 54DS was. Go figure right?

There is something completely and utterly rewarding about seeing the owner of a new boat step aboard it for the first time, especially when the boat we’re talking about is a 64 footer. So often they approach it slowly and with caution; taking it all in bit by bit so as not to miss anything. So was the case today when we welcomed John and Bob Reed aboard. It was a great moment. It had taken some time to get it right but we got there. And as we raised our glasses of real French Champagne to toast this new elegant lady, I once again found myself saying to myself, “we shall sell no wine before its time.” And with a name like Trois Vignes, that saying seems most appropriate.

A champagne toast with (L-R) Andrew Winch, John Palmer, Bob Reed, Erik Stromberg, and Paul Fenn
A champagne toast with (L-R) Andrew Winch, John Palmer, Bob Reed, Erik Stromberg, and Paul Fenn

Trois Vignes is scheduled to set sail in about a week, first to the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal, then onto the Big Apple. From there, the mast will come out and the boat will travel through the Erie Barge Canal to Lake Ontario. She’ll eventually end up on the west coast of Michigan where she’ll be fondly admired by all who see her. What a life she’ll have!

On we go….

But, before you do, enjoy this short video of our day aboard Trois Vignes.

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