Paul Fenn

Planes, Sails and Automobiles, The CanAm Rendezvous is Always an Adventure

One of the better events that I have been involved with over the years is the Jeanneau CanAm Owner’s Rendezvous which takes place each year in June in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a great event that usually attracts between 30 and 40 boats with 50% of them coming from the US and the other 50% coming down from Canada; hence the name, CanAm.

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About 30 Jeanneau’s sit on the dock in Bedwell Harbor for the first annual CanAm Rendezvous (2001)

Over the years, I have attended many of the Rendezvous including the very first one in 2001. I remember very distinctly sailing out from Anacortes, WA under what started out to be warm and sunny skies. With me was my friend and colleague Danielle Launais; neither of us had been in this part of the world before. I am sure Danielle had visions of lying on deck in her bikini as we sailed through the beautiful San Juan Islands but we soon found out that the further we got from land, the colder it got. First, Danielle pulled on a sweatshirt. then she broke out her long pants. This was followed by a jacket, then socks and shoes, and finally a hat. We learned very quickly that while sailing in the San Juan Islands is awesome, it can be chilly so be sure to bring along some warm gear for when things chill down.

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From L to R: Yours Truly, Dan Krier, Danielle Launais, Jim Rard, and John Basingwaith in 2001

One of my favorite CanAm Rendezvous came in 2008 when I travelled with another colleague of mine, Katherine, along with her 5-year-old daughter, Ellie and my 4-year-old daughter, Mollie. Our first mistake was not giving ourselves enough time to get to the airport in Baltimore to check in. While we did manage to make the flight, once we got to Seattle, we learned that our bags did not. This presented a rather awkward predicament because we were meant to be in Anacortes by noon and underway shortly thereafter. After considering our options, we decided that we really had no problems that couldn’t be fixed by a trip to the local mall and a credit card. We therefore decided to stick with the plan and head for Anacortes and worry about our lost luggage later.

Our 1993 red crown victoria w/ matching red velour interior

We had arranged for a one way rental car from the airport to Anacortes. Since Anacortes is not an overly big place, the number of companies that provide service to Anacortes is limited. We ended up with a red 1990’s vintage Crown Victoria complete with red valor seats. This baby had all the signs of having seen some serious action in her day and whoever had done most of the driving must have been heafty in stature because when I got behind the wheel, I sunk down in the seat to a point where I could barely see over the dashboard; talk about a low-rider, yikes!

We found a mall on our way north and quickly ran in and out of several stores throwing down our credit card like a couple of druken sailors on a mad spending spree. With our trunk now filled to the brim with new stuff, we continued on our way to Anacortes. We met our friend Dan Krier at the rental agency where we transferred our haul from the trunk of the Crown Vic. to the bed of his truck. We then made our way to the marina where we would board the Jeanneau 49i and begin our sailing trip through the San Juan’s, across the border into Canada and finally to Bedwell Harbor where the festivities would begin the next day.

Getting off the dock and underway is always a challenge under the best of conditions but throw into the mix a 4 and 5-year-old and it’s almost impossible. Despite this, we finally got loaded up, hopped on board and pulled away from the dock; at long last we were on our way or so we thought. I don’t think we had gone more than 200 feet when I went down below and smelled something burning. The burning smell sent us back to the dock where we learned that for whatever reason the starter motor which is meant to engage the flywheel while starting is supposed to immediately disengage once the motor is running. Unfortunately, in this case the starter never disengaged which resulted in its total meltdown. Since we didn’t have a replacement starter immediately handy, we would be stuck in Anacortes for the night. Just about the time this reality was hitting home, Southwest Airlines called to say that our bags had arrived and they would be delivering them to us before the end of the day. This was welcome news for sure but then we needed to make the decision of what to do with all the new stuff we had bought that now we didn’t need.

After a few minutes of debate, it was decided that Katherine and the girls would go back to Dan’s place and rack out while Dan and I would run back to the mall and return the unneeded gear. We figured this would take about an hour but it turned out to be more like two. By the time we returned to Dan’s place, our bags had shown up along with Dan’s wife Lisa and a few other folks. Cocktail hour had clearly started and dinner was on the stove and underway. The day had been a long one and a little frustrating at times but the good times we were having now was quickly making up for it.

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Ellie and Mollie abaord the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49i in route to the Bedwell Harbor, Canada

By the time we arrived at the boat the next morning, a new starter had been located and was in the process of being installed. The sun was bright and the sky blue when we finally casted off. We had a great sail that day and in the end we had a terrific time with the Jeanneau owners and the team from Marine Servicenter and Fraser Yacht Sales.

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Beaver seaplane, operated by Kenmore Air services the San Juan and Canadian  Gulf Islands

In just about a month, I’ll be heading back to the Pacific Northwest for the 13th CanAm Rendezvous. It will be the first time since I’ve been back since 2008. This time I plan to bring my youngest son Graham (age 7) with me. I have no doubt that it will be just as much fun and as the previous ones. It will be a great father and son adventure. And, since Graham loves planes, maybe I’ll treat him to a truly unforgettable experience and come back to to Seattle via seaplane. It will be awesome!

On we go…

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