Google the name Andreas B. Heide, and what you’ll find is not your average run-of-the-mill guy. After all, how many people do you know who go free diving with Killer Whales; in the Arctic no less? Crazy as it sounds, this is exactly what Jeanneau owner, Andreas Heide does.
Growing up close to the sea in the southwestern town of Stavanger, Norway, Andreas became well acquainted with being on the water at an early age. “I started free-diving when I was seven and got my first boat when I was eight or nine years old. Growing up in nature is quite important, you need the basic skills.” His love for nature eventually led him to embark on a career as a marine biologist, conservationist and sailor.
In 2012 Andreas purchased a secondhand Sun Fast 37 which he named Barba after the family dog. And while the Sun Fast 37 may not be the first boat that comes to mind for sailing to the cold Norwegian Sea in, Andreas has found that it does more than fits the bill. “Barba is the perfect platform for a wide range of activities and gives us access to areas inaccessible by normal means of transport. And unlike a powerboat, a sailboat is quiet and non-intrusive.”
Over the years, Andreas has made numerous expeditions to the Arctic to study, and swim with the whales. He has been written about, appeared on BBC World News, and is an active contributor to our friends at Cruising World Magazine. Hopefully, later this summer, we’ll be able to catch up with him in person to capture more of his story for our video series, Jeanneau Underway. But until then, we wish he and Barba safe sailing as they continue to bring us amazing pictures, stories and videos of life of the Orcas and our amazing planet of ours we call Earth.
Over the many years that I have worked for Jeanneau, I have had the good fortune to spend some amazing times on the water. By far, one of my all time favorites was cruising through the islands of Phuket, Thailand with my family in 2016.
Our adventure started when we boarded our Jeanneau 469 that we chartered from Dream Yacht Charters. We didn’t have a solid cruising itinerary but we knew that we would limit our cruising area to Phang Nga Bay, located to the east of Phuket. We had read good things about Pan Yi Village so we decided to make this our first stop. Like any first day, we got off to a late start and although we didn’t have tremendously far to go, we wouldn’t arrive to the harbor until late afternoon. Then, as luck would have it, just as we were about to set anchor, the skies became black as night as a huge front rolled in from the west. The rain came down in lumps and the wind, not to be outdone by the rain,
picked up in earnest and blew like there was no tomorrow. Thankfully, my son Will managed to drop the anchor shortly after the show began and it dug in tight. We quickly retreated down below and except for the occasional anchor check, we didn’t come back on deck until the morning.
I had remembered seeing one other boat at anchor before the front rolled in and now, as I was enjoying my first cup of morning coffee, there she was, just 50 yards or so in front of us. She had a familiar look to her and it didn’t take me long to determine that what I was looking at was a Jeanneau. Now me being me, I couldn’t not go over and say hi, so I climbed in the dinghy, fired it up and ran over and knocked on the hull. And this is how I met Jon King. I liked Jon right off the bat. He and his wife Dot, had sailed here from Australia aboard their Jeanneau 44i, Bali Hai and now were enjoying the good life cruising around Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, we never met Dot who was off in England visiting relatives but we ended up spending a lot of time with Jon sailing in tandem around Phang Nga Bay.
One of the things that makes sailing in Phuket truly magical are the islands themselves which are composed of limestone. Very often these islands will rise high in the sky but the interior will be completely hollowed out from years of weathering. This weathering sends the limestone into the sea tuning it an emerald green. And while the water isn’t crystal clear the snorkeling is still great.
It’s hard to sum up this trip in just a few words but when it comes to cruising or really any adventure, there are always two important elements that make the adventure great. One is the destination and the other, the more important one, is the people you meet along the way. If you like adventure, I highly recommend finding your way to Phuket as we did. And while you’re there, discover the locals for they are what really makes the experience truly memorable. On we go…
If ever there was a year not to go to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), this year is it. Or is it? Yes, the BVI got trounced by Hurricane Irma back in September. Yes, there was a huge number of boats lost. And yes, many of the areas best known resorts such as The Bitter End Yacht Club and Peter Island Resort and Spa, have been forced to close their doors and sit out the season until repairs are made. Despite all this, the British Virgin Islands are still the world’s #1 charter destination, offering awesome sailing, plenty of great anchorages, beautiful white-sand beaches, plenty of good snorkeling, and of course, the world’s best Painkillers!
And there’s another reason to go to the BVI this year and that is, the Islands need us. More than anything, what the BVI could really use right now are visitors, especially sailors. While some of the larger resorts are closed, most of the smaller ones such as Foxy’s, the Soggy Dollar, Cooper Island Beach Club, and the Anagada Reef Hotel are open and ready for business. Nothing cures a quiet bar faster than a bunch of thirsty sailors! And, it’s the sailors, us, who can have the greatest impact on the BVI’s recovery right now.
And so, on March 10th, a group of us will be boarding a plane and heading to Tortola in the BVI to pick up our boats from our friends at Sunsail. The weather in the BVI is currently 81 degrees with blue skies and winds out of the Southeast at 10-15. Can’t ask for better conditions than this.
We know the BVI will be quieter this year than in the past. And we understand we will see some leftover damage from Hurricane Irma. But we also know the sailing will be great as always, the water as blue as ever, the air will be warm, and the people of the British Virgin Islands will be glad to see us. It’s going to be great!
The letter began, “Dearest extended family, colleagues, and friends, as the saying goes, “You can’t control the wind but you can adjust your sails.” As is so predictable in life, the time has come for Ken and I to adjust our sails.” Carolyn Schmalenberger, Co-Owner, Norton Yachts
Norton Yachts began in 1948 by Ed Norton. In 1961 the torch was passed to Billy Norton, Ed’s son, who took over. Billy had a daughter named Carolyn, who grew up watching her father run the boatyard in the little town of Deltaville, VA. Carolyn had a passion for the water and sailing which she carried with her through her adolescence and into adulthood. In her freshman year at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, she met a tall, good-looking Ken Schmalenberger. They were married in 1978 and by 1983 they had returned to Deltaville to work in the family business. In 1995, the torch was passed once again, this time to Ken and Carolyn who have been running the show ever since.
“It is truly an honor to say that not only did I spend 20 years with great business people and owners, but forever friends.”Mike Lynch, Yacht Broker at Norton Yachts
In 2004 after a couple of years of banging on their door and basically being a pest, I finally convinced Carolyn to represent Jeanneau in the lower Chesapeake. Norton Yacht’s had been a longtime Hunter dealer, routinely being honored for their outstanding customer service. I knew they would do equally well for Jeanneau, and of course they did!
“Carolyn and Ken made the process of buying and owning a boat a pure joy, but it was clear I’d made new friends, not just a business relationship.” Baylor Fooks, Jeanneau 349 & Jeanneau 469 owner
“When you purchase a boat from Norton’s you are immediately grafted into Family. We have purchased several (we won’t reveal the number!) from Carolyn and Ken at Norton’s, and each time the idea of Family is reinforced.” Christopher Lindbloom and Nancy Glinn Powell, Jeanneau 469 (Bolero)
Last year on February 16th, life for Ken and Carolyn abruptly changed when Ken had a very serious skiing accident in Utah. While Ken survived the accident, the recovery has been hard and slow and left him unable to work, at least for now. As Carolyn wrote in her letter, “it’s a miracle that Ken survived.”
And so, after a great run of 70 years of Norton Yachts being a true family-owned business, Carolyn decided that it was time to look for a new owner but only if they met three non-negotiable criteria. First, the buyers would make taking care of their beloved customers their #1 priority. Second, the Norton Yachts team would remain intact and members would not face unemployment. And third, the new owner would take the 70 year-strong company into the future with the highest integrity and best business practices.
Enter, Michael Kucera and Anton Webre, the New owners of Norton Yachts. Michael Kucera was raised on the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County and is a lifelong boater. Anton Webre has sailed since he was 5 years old, and has completed both trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, as well as numerous trips between the Northeast and Caribbean.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to carry on Norton’s 70-year legacy and build upon the marina’s impeccable reputation. I have known the Schmalenberger family since my childhood, and that makes this endeavor all the more exciting and meaningful.” Michael Kucera
“After a 30 year career on Wall St., I am very much looking forward to producing something real, and helping spread the joy that boating has brought to my life. I feel that we have not just acquired a marina from Ken and Carolyn, but a friendship, and look forward to relying on their wise counsel for years to come.” Anton Webre
Last week, Carolyn cleaned out her desk and officially passed the Norton torch that has burned so brightly for the past 70 years to Michael and Anton. It was bitter-sweet for sure but Carolyn has no regrets. “When it’s time to tack, you tack.”
The letter closed, “As for Ken and myself, we will be cheering for Mike and Anton and are here to provide guidance during the transition as needed. We will continue to work towards Ken’s recovery and spend more time with our children and granddaughter. God willing, on a day when the wind is perfect, we’ll catch a steady breeze and sail wherever the wind blows. Thank you for the best ride of our lives and please stay in touch.” Carolyn Schmalenberger
As for me, I will miss my conversations with Carolyn, brainstorming about marketing, social media, and the importance of always delivering top-notch customer service. And I will miss sharing a cold one with Ken at the end of those long days at the Annapolis Boat Show. But I look forward to working with and getting to know Michael and Anton and someday in the not so different future, I’m going to make it a point to drive down to Deltaville and go for a sail with my dear friends Ken and Carolyn; because that’s what good friends do, they get together, share a cool beverage, do exciting things, laugh, and have fun.
For the most part, the boating season here on the Chesapeake Bay is pretty much toast. Oh, there are still a few boats running around and of course the diehard racers are still out there but for all practical purposes the season is over. Last week however, we had a nice stretch of indian summer with unseasonably warm temps in the mid-seventies, clear blue skies, and plenty of sunshine. This, along with the fall foliage being just about at its peak, served up the perfect conditions to head out onto The Bay one last time to shoot a few photos of the newly arrived Jeanneau NC 14 with my good friend Billy Black.
Over the years, I have worked many times with Billy, including a great trip we took together a couple of years ago sailing from Miami to the Bahamas aboard the Jeanneau 469. Billy likes to start early and finish late in order to take full advantage of the changing light throughout the day. A day on the water with Billy Black is always a long one and today would be no exception. We headed out about 6:30am and ran up the Severn River to pick up my wife Kim and my three kids; Will, Mollie, and Graham who would serve as our models for the day. None of them were too psyched about getting up so early but that all changed the moment they got aboard the NC 14 and walked into the main salon.
The NC 14 is really designed for great on-board living with special emphasis on interior living. The large sliding door aft, big opening sunroof, and huge windows on either side provide for plenty of sunlight making the main salon toasty warm even on a chilly day.
With the exception of the 2 cabins and 2 heads below, everything else is located on the main deck; good size galley to port, nice dining area to starboard, small convertible dinette forward, and great steering station with plenty of visibility. It’s all there just like an upscale Manhattan apartment complete with a view of the Hudson River.
Now that we had everyone on board, including my dog, we headed further up the Severn River to one of our favorite spots that we refer to as Cocktail Cove; the name pretty much speaks for itself. The morning sun continued to climb, casting a welcome glow on us as we dropped anchor in the northwest corner of the harbor. Here against the backdrop of the changing seasons, Billy circled around us snapping picture after picture.
Earlier, in my haste to get off the dock and meet Billy, I neglected to check to see how much fuel we had. Now I know what you’re thinking, “the dummy didn’t run out of fuel did he?” Well, sort of. I’ve always been fond of the saying, “you expect what you inspect.” Unfortunately, in this case I failed to take my own advice and ended up running out of fuel on the port engine. And while this was not an overly terrific situation, it wasn’t completely tragic either since I still had a bit of fuel in the starboard engine. It would prove just enough to limp up to the local watering hole and fill up.
Founded in 1936, Smith’s Marina is one of those little gems of a place that caters to the family boater, everything from jet skis to bow-riders. In short, it’s about as far away from what a marina looks like in Fort Lauderdale as you can get. Because of this, we got some interesting looks as we slid up to the fuel dock in our brand new, 46 foot, euro-styled motor yacht.
We were greeted by a young dock attendant, Anna, who helped us tie up and then passed us the diesel hose so we could fuel up. While we did this, Billy, camera in hand, went off exploring.
One thing I’ve learned about Billy, and I guess this is true for all photographers, he never stops taking pictures. He was like a kid in a candy store, off wandering the boat yard, looking at this and that, his camera clicking away at anything he deemed interesting, including Anna!
Before too long, we were back underway feeling much more comfortable knowing that we now had full fuel tanks. The day was continuing to warm and Billy got some more great shots of us as we ran down the Severn River towards Annapolis.
All and all, the NC 14 is a pretty awesome machine. It runs fast and easy, is a piece of cake to maneuver because of the twin Volvo IPS engines with joystick control, has plenty of outside living space, and has a killer interior. And once your fuel tanks are full, the NC 14 is good to go, anywhere your dreams take you; comfortably, safely, and in total style.
Located just 95 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, sits the city of Cadillac, population 10,355. Switching continents, the city of Les Herbiers (pronounced “Laser-B-A”), population 15,500, sits about 45 miles south of France’s fifth largest city of Nantes (pronounced “Naunt”). At first glance, other than population-size, the two cities don’t appear to have a whole lot in common but if you’ll bear with me I’ll explain where I’m going with this.
So in 1957, Henri Jeanneau founded the Jeanneau Shipyard in Les Herbiers, initially producing small wooden runabouts. Five years later in 1962, in the city of Cadillac, the Four Winns brand was founded also building small runabouts. Boat builders tend to stick together and as luck would have it, today, some 55 plus years later, both brands are owned by Groupe Beneteau where not only is experience and technologies shared but production facilities as well.
Groupe Beneteau has a long history of building boats in America going back 30 years with the opening of the factory in Marion, SC in 1986. But up until now, US production has been reserved for only the Beneteau and Jeanneau sailboats. This has now changed with the production of the very popular Jeanneau NC 895 in Cadillac, the very first Jeanneau powerboat to roll down a US production line.
“This is such a fantastic opportunity for us to really serve the American market with our powerboats as we have with our sailboats. We are so excited to be working with the our friends in Cadillac.”Nick Harvey, President, Jeanneau America.
It’s a rather big deal to make the commitment to build boats in America. First and foremost it takes a dedicated team with lots of experience and knowhow building quality boats. And while I’m not an overly technical, industrial sort of a guy, after spending a couple of days with the people in Cadillac and touring the factory there, I was pretty impressed. Not just with the work ethic here but the overall spirit. It reminded me of another group of boat builders I know, one that I have worked closely with for the past 20 years, from a city not unlike Cadillac, in France, called Les Herbiers. And you know something, while we may live in a big world, in our world, the world of boats and water, and having fun, in the end, we are not so different, and this to me is pretty cool.
“The opportunity to build the Jenneau NC895 and other models currently built in Europe is an honor and testimonial to the work ethic and the team we have created in Cadillac Michigan.” Rick Videan, VP of Operations Cadillac
The Jeanneau NC 895 will be making the boat show rounds this winter throughout North America. It’s a fantastic boat, so be sure to climb aboard. It will be easy to spot by its sporty looks and twin outboards on the back. Oh and by the large sticker on its side reading, Proudly Built in the USA!
So originally, my plan had been to attend the annual Cannes Yachting Festival in the South of France during the first couple of days the show. But, due to a number of unforeseen factors, including Hurricane Irma, that plan went out the window. Instead, I arrived in Cannes at the tail-end of the show with the idea of staying afterwords in order to test sail the new Sun Odyssey 440 or 490 or both.
Before I go any further, I need to stop right here and explain that both the Sun Odyssey 440 and 490 represent a new generation in Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey range and feature a host of new and exciting innovations that are definitely worth talking about.
For starters, both boats feature “sloping” side decks which make moving and circulating around the boat truly unique. No longer will you have to step out of the cockpit and onto the actual deck. On this new generation of boats, circulation around the entire deck is continuous.
A new rig design helps as well due to the way the shrouds are positioned with the upper shrouds being attached to the outer most part of the hull and the lower shrouds being attached closer to the cabin top. This provides for plenty of strength and support and also makes for an easy passage along the deck when moving fore and aft.
In the spirit of really maximizing comfort on deck, both models feature very innovative, fold-down coamings, which create massive lounging areas on either side of the cockpit. I mean seriously, this is pretty slick!
OK, back to Cannes and the boat show and my plan to go sailing after the show. As it turned out, both boats, the 440 and 490 were immediately bound for other shows, the 440 to Turkey and the 490 to Genoa. Long story short, I opted for the 95 mile sail along the coast to Genoa aboard the 490.
I would have preferred, and was assuming, we would be leaving early Monday morning but as it turned out, the skipper who was hired to deliver the boat, wanted to leave Sunday night so we would arrive in Genoa early the next morning. So, shortly after the show closed, just about sunset, the skipper, his buddy, and I, climbed on board, fired up the engine and headed out into a choppy Mediterranean Sea.
The wind, which had been blowing hard all day, continued to whistle out of the Southwest, putting it dead astern of us at a solid 25-30 knots. We had started out with a single reef in the main and just a small bit of jib out but soon realized that we still had too much sail up. We quickly tucked in reef #2.
Both the Sun Odyssey 440 and 490 feature twin rudders which make sailing the boat, especially in heavy air, a real delight. Unlike a single rudder boat which can easily round-up when heeling in strong winds, twin rudder boats allow the leeward rudder to sit deep in the water, providing excellent steerage and control.
I’m always careful not to overestimate wave heights and wind strength but I’m confident in saying that the seas were big, like 8, 10, 12 feet big and breaking. Speeds coming down the waves in the following seas were consistently between 15-17 knots, which for a 49 foot cruising boat is FLYING! And, although our autopilot struggled at times, the big 490 tracked straight and true throughout the night, even if at times I did not!
Call me a baby but I have to say, the brightening sky followed by the rising sun was a welcome sight. The wind was still blowing but not quite as hard. And, it had shifted direction so we enjoyed the benefit of being somewhat in the lee of the Italian coast so the seas were a more reasonable size. It was still lumpy but not huge as it had been.
By 10am or so we were firmly on the dock in Genoa. My shipmates, who I really didn’t spend a lot of time chatting with, quickly packed their bags and disappeared. I on the other hand, was in no real rush. I kicked back in the cockpit, closed my eyes, and remembered that great line from Captain Ron, “The best way to find out Kitty, is to get her out on the ocean. If anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen out there.” And I smiled of course and laughed and thought to myself, he’s right. Just make sure when you’re “out there” and it “happens,” you have a good boat under you like the all new Sun Odyssey 490.
Located 900 nautical miles off the east coast of Africa, just below the equator in the Indian Ocean, sits the Seychelles Islands. Well known for its pristine beaches, coral reefs, diving, nature reserves, secluded harbors, and rare wildlife such as the giant Aldabra tortoise, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands, most of which remain uninhabited. With all that the Seychelles has to offer, it should come as no surprise that when it came time to pick a sailing destination to cruise for a week with my family, the Seychelles were our number one choice.
Our adventure began by first flying from Washington, DC to Dubai and then to the island of Mahé, the largest of the Seychelles Islands and home to 90% of the nation’s 89,000 citizens. From Mahé, we took a fast-ferry to the island of Praslin where we boarded a beautiful Jeanneau 469 that we chartered from Dream Yacht Charters. Picking the boat up in Praslin was super-convenient as it put us just a few miles from several smaller islands and saved us the 25 mile sail from Mahé.
I should stop right here an explain that there are two distinct seasons or monsoons in the Seychelles, the summer season and the winter season. The summer season (December -May), is high-season with loads of travelers flocking from the north to escape the winter chill of the northern hemisphere. The summer season, unlike the winter season, offers much calmer, more predictable weather which is ideal for the visiting yachtsman or visitors in general. The winter season (June-November) is low season and while the sailing is still good, it’s almost too good in the sense that you can easily find yourself having to deal with 25-30 knots of wind which is more than ideal if you’re trying to relax and have a good time.
As a family, we have never been very good at getting away from the dock early. We always seem to be running around doing this or that or checking on something before getting underway. I think it was close to noon before we finally cast off the dock lines, raised the anchor and headed out the channel of Baie St. Anne. The wind was blowing about 18K from the west, so once out of the channel, we decided to hook left and shoot down Praslin’s east coast in the lee of the island.
Once out of the wind and the lumpy seas of the Indian Ocean, we had a nice reach down Praslin’s eastern shore. Just a few miles down, we decided to make a stop at the tiny island of St. Pierre to take a swim and check out the island’s surrounding reef. We were expecting to find moorings here as you do in the British Virgin Islands but surprisingly enough, moorings are pretty non-existent in the Seychelles, even in the overnight anchorages. We anchored easily in 15 feet of water being careful to avoid the coral reef below, threw on our snorkeling gear and hopped into the warm turquoise water. We circumnavigated the island finding the snorkeling to be exceptional with great visibility and plenty of sea life. It was a well-worth stop for sure.
Just a stone’s throw from St.Pierre, we found a nice anchorage in Anse Possession in about 10 feet of water over a sand bottom just on the other side of Pointe Zanguilles. We didn’t take advantage of it but just a short dinghy ride away, is the four-star waterfront resort, Le Domaine de la Reserve in case you’re looking for an upscale meal along with a little first-class pampering. Other resorts are in this area as well that are just a short walk from the beach.
On day two, after a leisurely start, we slid over to Curieuse Island. Curieuse Island is a bio-reserve that is managed by the Marine Parks Authority of the Seychelles‘ Center for Marine Technology. Here you will find no hotels, no restaurants and from what we could tell, no permanent residents with the exception of the Aldabra tortoises and other wild creatures that roam the island.
In addition to the tortoises, there is a beautiful walking trail that winds its way through a dense section of Mangrove trees and weather-worn cliffs that leads to the other side of the island. Along the way, there are some beautiful views of the harbor and surrounding islands.
We stayed two nights in Curieuse before sailing over to the island of Le Digue. Le Digue offers everything that Curieuse does not; hotels, glamorous beaches, restaurants and plenty of entertainment. There is a clearly marked channel that leads into the inner-harbor. Once inside, you need to drop your anchor and tie-up stern-to, to the sea wall. It’s all fairly easy and there are people around to help you get your lines across to the seawall and secured. A big bonus of coming to Le Digue besides the island itself is that dockage is free. That’s right, free as in “no charge!”
We stayed three nights in Le Digue for the simple reason that we were enjoying ourselves. We rented bikes and zipped around the island from one end to the other, more than once! We treated ourselves to dinner out and somewhere along the line found this great spot at the top of the mountain that we hiked up to and indulged in some great, all natural, cold tropical drinks. It was terrific as was the view!
There are many other islands worth exploring but the wind continued to blow fairly hard for my young crew so we opted to keep things simple and head back down the coast of Praslin to Baie of Chevalier and Anse Lazio. Voted by Trip advisor as the 6th best beach in the world,anchoring off Anse Lazio is quite simply hard to beat.
When all was said and done, we didn’t put a whole lot of water under our keel and didn’t get to as many islands as we would have liked to. But, we had a terrific time exploring the islands and harbors we did get to and decided as a family that we’ll just have to come back and visit those islands a little further off the beaten path the next time around.
“As my children have gotten older, they have come to realize that October is a fun and exciting time of the year. Not because of Halloween which is what all kids look forward to in October but because of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For those of us who make their living in the boating business, the Annapolis Sailboat Show is a big deal. Not only is it the largest all-sail show in North America but it’s also the only show where all the new models from the various manufacturers are introduced for the first time.”
Fast forward to October 2016 and for the most part, not a lot has changed over the past 4 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Jeanneau team is bigger now since Jeanneau has gown significantly since 2012. I am no longer President having passed that honor onto my friend Nick Harvey a couple of years ago. But for the most part, the important elements of what makes the Annapolis show truly great remain the same.
Annapolis is still the largest all-sail show in North America, attracting sailors from all 50 states and every province in Canada. It’s still the only show where you’re guaranteed to find all the manufactures with all their new models for the coming year on display in one place. And for me, it’s still very much a growing family affair. And not just my immediate family, but the larger family of Jeanneau owners as well.
This year the show kicked off under brilliant blue skies on October 6th. We displayed an impressive lineup of 10 boats from 34-58 feet. More than 50,000 people attended the show and more than 200 Jeanneau owners attended the annual Jeanneau party making this year’s Annapolis Sailboat Show one of our best ever.
In 2012 I wrapped up the Annapolis show blog this way:
“Not everyone has the luxury of enjoying what they do to make a living but thankfully I do and as an added bonus, I get to bring my family and friends along for the ride.”
Since these words still ring true for me and still seem a fitting conclusion to my brief tale here. I am going to be rather unimaginative and end the same way. With the exception of adding, I look forward to seeing you at next year’s Annapolis show. Let the fun continue!
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 🙂