10 years ago today on May, 29 2006, the morning sun shone brightly. The sky was robin-blue, and the temperature was a pleasant 72 degrees. It was the start, of what would turn out to be, a beautiful three-day Memorial Day Weekend.
My wife Kimberlee was extremely pregnant. Not just a little pregnant but about ready to pop pregnant. Officially she wasn’t due until May 31st but having been pregnant twice before, she was eager to put these final days of pregnancy behind her and move on to the motherhood phase. And so with this in mind, she had climbed out of bed that morning bound and determined to have a baby.
Somewhere around 10am Kim announced she was having labor pains and we should head to the hospital. “Are you sure” I said? It’s such a nice day, maybe we should head down to the beach and sit for a while just to be sure?” Kim was not known for giving birth quickly or on time. Our first son Will, had come 10 days late and had to be blasted out with the help of a stick of dynamite disguised as a drug called Pitocin. It had been a long poke before Will actually made his debut (he’s been late ever since, stubborn too). Mollie had come along about on schedule but still had taken her own sweet time before actually making her own grand entrance. So with this sort of track record, I wasn’t overly optimistic that things were really in motion. And while I was almost as eager as Kim was to have this baby, the thought of spending the entire Memorial Day Weekend in the hospital instead of out in the sun wasn’t something I was overly thrilled about. But Kim assured me that she was truly in labor and so after making arrangements for Will and Mollie, we threw a bag together and headed to the hospital.
Sure as shooting, no sooner had we checked in then Kim’s labor pains stopped. The doctor (Dr. Wells) told us that things were definitely in motion though and that we should sit tight. The hours ticked by and soon morning gave way to the afternoon and the afternoon to evening. Somewhere around 6:30 or 7:00, I decided to run home, check on the dog and get something to eat. I tossed a frozen pizza into the oven and shortly thereafter my phone rang. It was Kim although Kim wasn’t on the line, Dr. Wells was. “Hello, anyone home? Care to join us? You know we’re having a baby over here.” So as soon as the pizza was done, I slid it onto a plate and jumped back in the car. I made it back to the hospital just in time, pizza in hand. Moments later, at 8;02pm, Graham Austin Fenn was born. And somewhere around 8:30, I finally got the chance to eat my pizza. It had been a long day, especially for Kim who had done all the work.
Today, we are celebrating Graham’s 10th birthday in the exotic Seychelles Islands just off the east coast of Africa, go figure. As with all my kids, I stand in awe at how fast the years have flown by. Will is starting high school in the fall, Mollie is heading into 7th grade and Graham, the baby of the family, is heading into 5th grade, his last year of elementary school. Time certainly does fly.Thankfully, at least for a few more years, we are all still flying together. Happy Birthday Graham. I’m so glad you came along.
On we go…
Note: Kim and I never found out ahead of time if we were getting boys or girls. We always enjoyed the suspense of wondering who was coming to join our family. We have always enjoyed surprises
In August of 1938 my father, William Wallace Fenn (better know as simply, Wally), began his freshman year at Harvard. He ran cross country that fall and was pretty good. He was always a fast runner. I am not sure if he played a winter sport but in the spring of 39, he was introduced to the game of lacrosse, a game that required speed and agility but wasn’t so dependent on the size of the player to be good. Dad wasn’t a very big guy, in fact he was a little on the small side. He would end up playing lacrosse all of his four years at Harvard and by the time he left in 1942, he would be captain of the team.
Like all young men of that era, my dad laid down his lacrosse stick at the end of his last season and shortly after graduation, headed off to fight in World War ll. Thankfully, he survived the war and went off to have a peaceful and productive life. He passed away in January of 2014 at the age of 93.
As a kid, I remember my dad’s lacrosse sticks propped up in the corner of the basement. They were always there my entire life. Occasionally, he would bring them out in the back yard and run around with them tossing the ball in the air, mostly playing with himself. I remember him asking me one day if they played lacrosse at my school. I remember saying “no they don’t” in a rather abrupt, teenager-kind of way. He said “too bad, lacrosse is a great game.”
After my dad passed away, we hired someone to come in and help clean out my parents house and have an estate sale. My dad’s lacrosse sticks ended up on eBay where they were purchased by a self-proclaimed lacrosse nut, a real historian, and owner of several lacrosse stores across the U.S. In the video that follows is the story of how Jason Ellison purchased the sticks and more importantly, the story they told.
Every stick has a story. And, so does the person who holds it. Enjoy!
Carolyn, better known as simply Carol, was born on July, 11, 1924 in Rochester, New York; the third of six children to Frank B. and Helen Graham Dunning.
She is survived by two children, Bonnie Fenn Sullivan and Paul Wallace Fenn, a son-in-law Kevin, a daughter-in-law, Kimberlee, seven grandchildren, and two great grand-children. She was predeceased by one daughter, Betsy Ann Fenn, a special-needs child who she raised with a love that was all encompassing.
Carol enjoyed a simple and happy childhood with her loving family. She especially enjoyed putting on shows in the garage with her younger sister Jean and her lifelong friend Edith O’Brien. Neither her father nor mother learned to drive, so growing up the family stayed close to home walking, bicycling and riding the street car to get around downtown Rochester.
After high school Carol worked in the clerical department of the Railroad Signal Company where her father Frank was a supervisor. In 1944 she answered the call of WWll and joined the Navy Waves (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). She was stationed at the Brooklyn Naval Yard and served for three years. Her service remained one of her proudest accomplishments throughout her life. Later, she became the first vice president of Connecticut Ripples Unit 40, Waves National, a group formed by Navy Women.
After her discharge from the Navy, Carol went to work at the Behr Manning Company. On her first day, a young William Wallace Fenn (Wally) followed her into the lunchroom and asked her out. Later in life she would joke that at first she wasn’t that interested in him. This soon changed and they were married in 1947. During their early years together, Carol supported Wally while he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering at Rensselaer. They were married for 67 years.
1n 1950 they bought a home in Old Greenwich, CT where they raised their three children Bonnie, Betsey and Paul. They moved to Noank, CT in 1970 where they dropped anchor and never left.
Carol enjoyed volunteering her time for worthy causes including the American Red Cross. She and Wally were longstanding and active members of All Soul’s Unitarian Universalist Church in New London, CT. The community there helped ease several major transitions in Carol and Wally’s lives, and this last transition was no exception.
Throughout her life, Carol was the quintessential optimist. She consistently practiced kindness and respect to others. She loved to smile and laugh (often at herself) and enjoyed deep, rich, longstanding relationships with friends and family. Her family often referred to her as “the great communicator” because she thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her friends, telling stories and staying in touch with those she loved. Hearing from those closest to her was one of her greatest joys.
Carol lived her life according to The Golden Rule and so served as an inspiring example for her children and grandchildren. She will be missed, but never forgotten.
Two organizations that Carol felt strongly about were the American Red Cross and Camp Harkness, one of the few state parks in the country dedicated for exclusive use by citizens with disabilities. Anyone interested in making a donation in Carol’s name to one of these two organizations, should contact Paul Fenn by email at email@example.com.
12 years ago today, just about now, Mollie Fenn slipped into the world with all the innocence that comes with drawing your first breath of life. Up until the time she was actually born, my wife Kim and I didn’t know if Mollie would actually be a Mollie or someone else like a Ben or a Jack or maybe a James. Surprises after all can be a nice thing so why spoil the moment by finding out ahead of time if you’re getting a boy or girl is the way we looked at it. After all, you don’t open Christmas presents in June right?
I remember very clearly that despite the fact that we were now only moments away from having someone new join our growing family we were not firm on a girl’s name if in fact we should get a girl. Mollie or Molly was always on our short list but it hadn’t been sitting at the top of the list for some time. But moments before Mollie was born, and I do mean moments, there was a staffing change. Very quickly, the old team of nurses headed out and the new team headed in. The new head nurse introduced herself (I don’t remember her name) then introduced her intern, “this is Molly, she’ll be assisting today.” I knew in a second that it was a good omen and thankfully Kim agreed and so we decided right there and then that should we end up with a girl, her name would be Molly; although Kim wanted to spell it with an “ie” at the end instead of the more common way with a “y”. I’m not really sure why she wanted the “ie” version but one thing you don’t do is to get into an argument with a pregnant woman who’s in full-tilt labor. No more than 10 or 15 minutes later, Mollie was born.
Today is Mollie’s birthday, she’s 12. Like all parents, I stand in awe and wonder at where the time has gone. One day, not so long ago, she was just a little squirt covered in gook. Today, she is on the threshold of becoming a young lady; her final days of pure innocence. It’s a little bittersweet. In one sense you want her to grow into the amazing adult you know she is destined to be but in another, you cherish the child that has been ever-present since the very beginning.
It’s not always easy being a parent but knowing what I know now, it would be much harder not being a parent and missing out on all the joy and wonder that comes from raising children. So Happy Birthday Mollie Rhodes, life is yours for the taking. Be all that you can be… I love you:)
Unlike last year when one week out I really had no idea what my two-week summer vacation was going to look like, this year I got on the ball early and made a firm commitment to once again sail Chase n’ Grace, a Jeanneau 53 from Annapolis to New England for her owner, Glenn Winter of Riverside Yachts in New Jersey. Initially, this would be an all boys trip consisting of my 13-year-old son Will, 9-year-old son Graham, my friend Matt Reed and his 10-year-old son Mitch. Normally a crew like this might be headed for an adventure more conservative like an overnight camping trip to a nearby state park but we were looking for something bolder and thankfully the mothers on both sides had confidence in Matt’s and my abilities to let us go so like all good adventurers, we went for it.
Getting off the dock is always the hardest part of any voyage, there always seems to be one more thing to load aboard or one more thing to do before casting off. At some point you just have to look at the clock and say, “C’mon we have to go, untie that line.” Such was the case when leaving Annapolis. We finally got underway about 2pm.
For the first leg up the Chesapeake it would just be Will and me. The other boys would meet us first thing in the morning in the C&D Canal after the local swim meet finished up. There was a bit of a breeze as Will and I slipped under the Bay Bridge and sailed north. I’ve always treasured my one on one time with my children and today was no exception. At 13 years of age, Will is no longer a kid, he’s a young man with ideas of his own. Girls are now important along with a host of other things that come with growing up. I felt fortunate that it was just the two of us for this first day underway, even if he did spend a good deal of it playing on his iPhone. I hate those things!
Our initial plan was to make it all the way to the Canal but because of the late start we decided to toss the hook at the beginning of the Elk River and spend the night there. It had been a good first day and we would be in no rush in the morning since the rest of the troops would not be ready to be picked up until 12:00 or 1:00 in the afternoon and Summit North Marina where we arranged to meet, was only a short distance away.
Chase n’ Grace was well provisioned with a ton of food including a bunch of Omaha steaks, burgers, wine and a couple of bottles of the all essential Mount Gay Rum. Will and I opted for a couple of burgers which we grilled up on the back of the boat and enjoyed eating in the cockpit as the sun sank slowly into the west. It had been a good first day.
My wife Kim along with my daughter Mollie delivered Matt, Mitch and Graham right on schedule and after topping off the diesel tank, we said our farewells and off we went. Our plan after leaving the C&D was to head straight down the Delaware Bay hitting the entrance just before midnight. Last year when we did this trip we spent the night in Cape May but this year we would keep on moving and head straight offshore to Block Island, about 210 nautical miles to the northeast of Cape May.
We hit the mouth of the Delaware about on schedule and as soon as we felt we were a safe distance offshore, we turned left and settled in on our course of 60 degrees magnetic. Matt and I decided that I would take the first watch while he stretched out in the cockpit. Graham did his best to join me but it had been a long day for a 9-year-old and once he slid into his sleeping bag he was toast. Mitch, age 10, lasted a bit longer but soon he too was off sailing with the Sandman instead of with yours truly.
I should stop right here and state clearly that sailing offshore is not something that should be taken lightly. As long as the weather is calm everything normally goes smoothly. But things can go south quickly when the weather worsens and when it does, it’s always nice to have a solid and substantial craft under your feet to keep you safe when the wind decides to blow and the sea begins to boil. At 53 feet and 39,000 pounds, the Jeanneau 53 is a big, solid boat that provides plenty of security but is not so big that it’s difficult to manage by a small crew. For me, the Jeanneau 53 is the perfect sized boat for my family of 5.
Somewhere around 3am, Matt opened one eye and said “ready for a break?” For which I promptly replied, “thought you’d never ask.” So Matt roused himself up and took over the duties of keeping us safe and headed in the right direction. The boat is on autopilot most of the time so actually steering the boat isn’t necessary but it’s important to keep a sharp lookout for other boats to make sure they don’t run into us and us them; hence the use of the word “watch” as in “be sure to watch where you’re going.” We were trying to stay on a watch schedule of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. Matt’s watch from 3-6 is a nice one because you have the great joy of watching the morning sunrise which for me is always a great treat when at sea.
Our young crew who had the luxury of being in their bunks all night, began arriving on deck somewhere around 7am in search of breakfast. We had made good headway during the night consistently averaging 7 knots since making the turn at Cape May and were now a solid 50 nautical miles along our track which was taking us farther and farther away from land. Some people get very freaked out when they can’t see land but this was not the case with our crew. For these boys, being at sea surrounded by nothing but salty water seemed as natural as walking down the street. It was a nice thing to see and be a part of.
One might think it’s boring being at sea but there is always something to do to occupy your time such as reading or navigating or playing cards or having conversations or simply scanning the horizon to see what’s out there. One of the most exciting things that can happen is spotting a pod of whales or dolphins which we were lucky enough to do. More than once, we were visited by dolphins who road our bow wave for several minutes allowing us to get a really good look at them and shoot a little video as well.
One of the benefits to having started our ocean passage at night was that it allowed us to begin crossing the busy shipping lanes that run in and out of New York during the day. Last year when we made this trip, we headed out of Cap May in the morning which meant that by the time we were off New York it was dark, making the trip across the shipping channels more difficult and more tense simply because things are not as clear at night as they are during daylight hours.
We hadn’t done much sailing so far but we were making great time thanks to our nice big diesel engine. The 110hp engine can easily push Chase n’ Grace at 9 knots but at this speed it burns a lot of fuel, probably 3 gallons per hour. Since the fuel tank wasn’t overly large, we opted to slow things down and run at just 7 knots which we figured allowed us to burn more like 2 gallons per hour or perhaps a little less. The trip from Cape May to Block Island would take us roughly 30 hours and hence about 60 gallons of fuel. At this rate we wouldn’t have a lot of fuel left over but we would make it.
Before the sun dropped out of sight we decided we would take advantage of the calm weather and grill up a few of those prime Omaha steaks we had on board. And since a good steak is simply not the same without some mashed potatoes to go along with it, we whomped up some in a pot as well as some fresh broccoli. Dinner was served in the cockpit under the setting sun surrounded by the salty Atlantic Ocean. Decadence at sea suddenly took on a whole new meaning.
By nightfall, our GPS was telling us that we were only 56 miles from the entrance to Block Island. At this rate, we would be in with our anchor down before dawn. Somewhere around midnight, we picked up the lighthouse on the tip of Montauk. and while it appeared to be close enough to practically touch, it took us a good three hours to actually reach it. The boys had long ago succumbed to a long day spent at sea and were all below happily sleeping the night away as we slid past Montauk Point in the predawn hours of our second night at sea.
Growing up sailing on Long Island Sound, I have made tons of trips to Block Island over the years so navigating the channel into Great Salt Pond at night was not a problem. I had rousted Will out of bed just before making our final approach. I did this for two reasons; first, I wanted him to help with the anchor but more importantly, I wanted him to appreciate what it was like to have to haul yourself out of a warm bed and onto a cold deck when there was work to do. It was still dark and the air heavy with dew as we made our way down the channel and into the harbor. As soon as we cleared green can #11, we swung ourselves to port and into the back of the anchorage. Once we found a spot with plenty of swinging room, I gave a thumbs-up to Will to drop the anchor. Anchoring in Block Island is always a little dicey because the water is deep and the holding ground can be poor if you don’t get the anchor really set. Luckily, Chase and Grace carries something like 300 feet of chain plus another 100 feet of nylon rode so anchoring is rarely a problem. Once we were confident that we were set for the night, we shut the engine down, gave ourselves a quick pat on the back and headed below for some sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a big day… after all, we were in Block Island
Located just opposite Italy along the western shore of the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by such countries as Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia, sits Croatia; a country steeped in a rich history with long mountainous coastlines, sapphire waters, ancient cities and dotted with more than a thousand islands. In short, Croatia is a true cruisers delight and a real gem for anyone who loves and appreciates the sea. And so it was decided that with all this beauty, and all this history, and all the great sailing that can be found here, Croatia would be the spot to introduce for the first time the new Jeanneau 54.
Sailing fast on the heels of the Jeanneau 64 introduced just this time last year, the new 54 comprises the same look and spirit that has made the 64 an instant success throughout the world. In order to do this, the same design team of Philippe Briand and Andrew Winch collaborated on the design of the 54 with Philippe Briand focusing his talents on the boat itself and Andrew Winch bringing his expertise to the elements of the interior.
First and foremost, the 54 is a boat designed for on-deck living. The cockpit, like that of the 64 is incredibly large and separated into two zones; the aft section is totally dedicated to the business of sailing while the forward section is set up for simply enjoying the ride. Move to the foredeck and you’ll find a clever feature in the form of a built-in sun lounge complete with awning that folds neatly away when not in use.
Drop-down swim platforms have proven to be extremely popular in recent years and are now found on all Jeanneau models from the Sun Odyssey 349 right up to the 64. But the new 54 goes one step further offering not only a swim platform but an actual terrace of sorts complete with two built-in lounge chairs that lowers and raises at the touch of a button. Check it out!
Below decks, the interior, like that of the 64 is contemporary but not to the point of being cold. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Plenty of bright colors combine with a host of natural light to make the interior of the 54 extremely warm and inviting. Once again Andrew Winch really nailed it!
Something that’s remarkably different about the 54 compared to other models is the large amount of room that has been given over to the cabins. The owner’s cabin for example which is located all the way forward resembles that of a luxury hotel room complete with an awesome centerline queen bed low to the floor and a huge private head and shower compartment. There is a second VIP cabin aft that’s almost as large as the forward cabin plus a third, smaller cabin also aft, on the chance that you end up sailing with a third couple or possibly some kids. All things considered the 54 is a boat that has been designed for her owner.
Officially, the 54 is part of our yacht series along with the 57 and 64. But in many ways, the 54 is in a class all by itself, almost a luxury long-range cruiser for couples looking to chuck it all behind and simply sail away in grand style. Has the cruising lifestyle been whistling a tune in your ear? If so, the new Jeanneau 54 may just be the perfect partner to dance away with. Either way, love is definitely in the air this summer, especially in Croatia and especially aboard the new Jeanneau 54.
On we go…
P.S. Stay tuned for more on the 54 including my day on the water with Jeanneau 64 owner, Andrew Winch himself.
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!”
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.
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 Behindwhere 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.