Paul Fenn

A Sporty First Sail Aboard the Sun Odyssey 490 Brings out the Best in this Exciting New Model

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.

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The main salon aboard the new Sun Odyssey 490 is bright, contemporary and full of great innovative ideas.

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.

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A view of the port side deck aboard the Sun Odyssey 440. Notice how the level of the deck behind the wheel is at the same level as the lowest point of the side deck allowing for easy access to the outer edge of the boat.

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.

Wide side decks and placement of the shrouds allow for easy passage when moving from bow to stern.

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!

Life on deck is truly maximized by this clever design of fold-down cockpit coamings. Who would have thunk!

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.

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Both the Sun Odyssey 440 and 490 feature twin rudders which really help with controlling the boat in heavy air. Notice the windward rudder is barely in the water leaving the leeward rudder to do all the work.

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!

Paul Fenn onboard the Jeanneau 54 in Key Largo FLCall 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.

On we go…

Living the Dream with Dream Yacht Charters – The Seychelles

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.

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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.

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Mollie and Graham at home aboard the Jeanneau 469 as we head out of the channel in route to find our first anchorage

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.

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A view of St. Pierre Island from the deck of our Jeanneau 469

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.

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My wife Kim enjoying a swim while anchored in Anse Possession

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.

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My son Will getting know just one of the many Aldabra tortoises that live on Curieuse 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.

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A view of the harbor including our boat from the top of Curieuse Island.

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!”

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Our Jeanneau 469, securely docked in downtown Le Digue

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!

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Mollie and Kim sip their drinks while enjoying the view over the beautiful Indian Ocean

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.

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When it comes to beaches, Anse Lazio on the tip of Praslin is pretty much second to none

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.

For now, it’s off to Botswana in Southern Africa for a safari adventure, then onto Phuket, Thailand for some more sailing with our friends from Dream Yacht.

On we go…

Annapolis Sailboat Show – Still Growing, Still Very Much a Family Affair

In September of 2013 I published a blog titled, Annapolis Sailboat Show, A Growing Family AffairIt started like this:

“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.”

Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!
The Jeanneau America team in October 2012 following the close of the show along with my 3 kids: Graham (6), Mollie (9), and Will (10)

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.

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Yours truly with a now 13 year old Mollie Fenn working the reception desk at this year’s Jeanneau Yachts display

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.

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The annual Jeanneau Owner’s Party now exceeds more than 200 and continues to be one of the highlights of the Annapolis show

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!

Graham Turns 10

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.

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Graham along about the age of 2 riding on my shoulders. I always liked those glasses but they disappeared like all good glasses do. Bummer!

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.

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Graham about the age of 6 sailing off to some great spot, probably Block Island, RI

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.

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Graham and me building a fire on the beach. We had the place all to ourselves!

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 🙂

Every Stick has a Story. And, so Does the Person who Holds it

IMG_0969In 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.

SCAN0019Like 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.

Dad - NoankAs 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!

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Carolyn Ruth Dunning Fenn: July 11, 1924 – February 8, 2016

Carol FennCarolyn, 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.

IMG_0282After 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.

IMG_02841n 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.

IMG_0247Carol 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.

There will be a special memorial service celebrating Carol’s life at All Soul’s Unitarian Universalist Church in New London, CT on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 11:00am. All are invited!

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 pwfenn@gmail.com.

Happy Birthday Mollie Rhodes

One of my all time favorite pictures of Mollie taken on a New England beach when she was about 18 months old.

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.

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Out on a boat of course along about 7 years old. I should have collected royalties from West Marine!

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.

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All dressed up and ready for 6th grade picture day. October 2015

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:)

On we go…