Paul Fenn, Take a Shot Media

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…

The Transquadra Race, Where Old Guys Rule

Transquadra 2014-2015

Last Sunday, my 11 year old daughter competed in a local indoor track meet. There were a ton of kids there of all ages competing in everything from the 100 meter dash to the 200 meter relay to the shot put to the long jump to the pole vault. Mollie ran the mile crossing the finish line in 6:35; not too bad considering she hasn’t been training.

The meet was billed as an “all comers” meet meaning that it was open to everyone, kids and adults alike. As a runner myself, I’ve competed in plenty of road-races where it’s common to see people who are well into their 70s and even their 80s truckin’ along in good style. I was surprised however when a group of mature and seasoned hurdlers stepped to the starting line and blasted down the track leaping along like a group of high-schoolers. It was a wonderful thing to see and proves the point that you’re only as old as you feel.

Like those older hurdlers, the Transquadra race is reserved for those sailors over the age of 40 who still lust for adventure and the feeling they get when racing under full sail across the open sea. The other requirement for racing in the Transquadra is that it is only open to those racing either single-handed or double-handed.

The race is broken into 2 legs. The first leg is held in the fall and begins in either St. Nazaire, France or Barcelona, Spain. Both legs finish on the island of Madera. The second leg started earlier this week and will finish on the French island of Martinique, some 3,500 miles away in the Caribbean.

YOLO at the start of the 2nd leg of the Transquadra race from Madera to Martinique.
YOLO at the start of the 2nd leg of the Transquadra race from Madera to Martinique.

Racing this year in the double-handed fleet aboard the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600, YOLO, is my good friend and colleague, Jean-Francois de Premorel. In the first leg from St. Nazaire, Jean-Francois along with the help of Philippe Laperche finished 2nd, only 14 minutes behind the leader and getting 3rd on corrected time; not bad for a couple of old guys in a 7 day race!

“The Sun Fast 3600 proved incredibly stable and powerful in strong winds, and we were able to keep the spinnaker and mainsail under full sail at above 40 knots of wind.  Nothing broke, and we had very good camaraderie aboard, which made for a beautiful first leg of the race!” Jean-Francois de Premorel

YOLO, along with an impressive number of other Sun Fast 3200s and 3600s, left Madera this past Saturday and is currently in 2nd place. They are racing day and night and are due to arrive in Martinique sometime around February 7th. A race like this is not for the weak of heart but just like those older hurdlers racing down the track, they are only as old as they feel and they are going for it and loving every second of their journey.

On we go…

I invite you to track YOLOs progress at www.transquadra.com/positions.php

We Are Only As Good As That Which We Leave Behind

Last Father’s Day I wrote a blog titled Father’s Day, It’s More Important than You Think that was inspired by a young neighbor of mine (Cameron) who lost his father at age 51 after a long battle with cancer. I was luckier than Cameron, my father lived to be 93 and essentially died of natural causes this past January. I haven’t talked with Cameron since this time last year but I imagine that he is thinking about his father this Father’s Day as I am thinking about mine.

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My dad, William Wallace Fenn ll on the front porch of the Cliff House overlooking Canandaigua Lake circa 1942

My dad was born in 1920 in Boston, MA. His father, my grandfather was a professor of physiology at the University of Rochester. When my dad was in high school, his parents bought a summer place on Canandaigua Lake in up-state New York where he learned to sail. Like his father and grandfather, he attended Harvard College where he played lacrosse and eventually became the captain of the team. He graduated with a degree in Biology in 1942 and like all young men of that time went off to fight in World War ll. He joined the Army Air Corps and was sent to the Philippines where he became a radar countermeasures officer. Radar was in its infancy in those days and my dad flew in the nose of a B-29 looking for enemy outposts. It was a dangerous job and at least once they took a bullet or two through the engine of their plane. He told me that they were lucky because the engine kept running and they landed safely. After the war he went back to school at Rensselaer Politechnic Institute and earned a second degree in electrical engineering. He married my mother in 1947 and soon after had two daughters, my sister’s Bonnie and Betsy. I came along in 1959.

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My dad and my Aunt Ruth sailing on Canandaigua Lake aboard the Lorna Doone about 1938. Dad loved to sail and always tried to get all that he could out of the boat and the conditions. I love this picture with his leg draped over the side in an effort to keep the boat sailing flat.

Growing up my dad was always there for me. Like all good dads he taught me right from wrong. He taught me how to sail and how to tie a bowline at a young age. He taught me how to handle a jack-knife and how to split and stack wood. He taught me how to change a flat tire, use a power mower and run an outboard engine. Somewhere along the way by way of example, he taught me how to be a good husband and a father to my three children.

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Mom, dad and me about 1963 I’m guessing

This is my first Father’s Day without a father to give a gift to or make a phone call to. But thankfully, my memories of my dad are clear and happy ones. More and more I am struck by the idea that we are only as good as that which we leave behind. Not so much by our accomplishments but rather by the examples we set, the lessons we pass on and the tone by which we lead our lives. Perhaps this is why we are here.

Happy Father’s Day!

On we go…

Why I Changed My Mind About Social Media

Social Media

One of the many things that come with growing older is the inability to accept new ideas and new ways of doing things. I never really saw myself as falling into this trap but nevertheless, a few years back I viewed the entire concept of “social media” as nothing more than one big gimmick, just a passing fad that would be gone faster than you could say bell-bottom trousers. So what if Facebook has 1.1 billion users, give it a couple of years and it will be out of here like a wet watermelon pit squeezed between two fingers.

Of course social media hasn’t gone away, in fact it’s only gotten stronger. And so I eventually caved in and took the “if you can’t beat them join them” approach. And interestingly enough, I’m glad I did; not only have I found the world of social media rather enjoyable but also a useful and powerful marketing tool. What I really like about it is, it allows people to see our company’s true personality; an ongoing view into our company’s culture and the people who make it up.

I also like it because for the most part, it’s hard to fake what you put on YouTube; what you see is what you get. I think it’s a lot like running a personal ad. If you’re not straightforward and honest with what you’re putting out there, don’t be surprised when the wrong people come knocking on your door.

One of my favorite videos of a sail across the Gulf Stream for a photo shoot in the Bahamas. A fun, casual look at what goes on behind the scenes with the Jeanneau team.

In this global world of ours with increased competition and similar product offerings, I really see social media as being the vehicle to set ourselves apart from everyone else. Our only challenge is to be bold enough to hang ourselves out there and let our charming personality shine through.

On we go….

Rush Towards the Ball, Rush Towards Life

DSC01068So last night, my son Will had a baseball game, he turns 11 next Monday, April 29th. This year he moved up from the Minors to the Majors and is now playing with 11 and 12 year olds. Most, if not all of these kids, have been playing baseball for several years and at this point are pretty good. In fact, I was surprised at just how much more intense the level of play was with this older group compared to last year’s younger group. Gone are the days of teaching the kids how to throw, catch and bat and teaching them the love of the game. Now it’s all about how to play well and win games. If a kid isn’t qualified to play first base then he plays some other position, like left field or maybe third base. Will is not a first basemen but he has a decent arm and is fairly good at getting his glove on the ball so he often plays second or third base or sometimes shortstop, occasionally he’ll also play in the outfield.

Will is also a decent batter. He doesn’t have a lot of power but his accuracy is pretty good and when he connects, he usually manages to get the ball over the heads of the infielders and out to the outfield. His real talent however is as a base-runner. Will is fast and willing to take risks which makes him the ideal player when it comes to stealing bases. And, since Will loves to be on stage and the center of attention, stealing bases to great applause is right down his alley!

DSC01064A team is only as good as the coach and this year the coach is especially good. For one thing, he’s especially good at being in charge and giving the boys clear direction of how to do things or how to do things better the next time around. He has a knack for using just the right amount of sarcasm to make his point without going so far as to embarrass the kids. For example, “Billy, don’t you think you would have a better chance of stopping that ground ball if you put your glove down?” “Yea” says Billy in a not-so-sure voice. “Well get it down then, glove in the dirt, glove in the dirt” he’ll shout. Or, “You know, we’d have a much better chance of winning if you guys would actually catch the ball instead of letting it hit the ground!” My favorite however was directed at Will on the first day of practice when he said, “Hey Will, is that a batting stance you have there or are you planning to take a dump on home plate?” All of us parents standing along the baselines that day got a real kick out of that one, especially me!

So the game is underway and our team, the Philly’s, are playing pretty well. Will’s first time to bat results in a walk,  From there he goes on to steal second and third base and then steals home. As I said, Will loves to be the center of attention and there simply is no better way to do this in baseball than hitting a home run or stealing home plate so Will is now in his glory with lots of yelling and screaming and back slapping from his teammates.

Sometime in the 5th inning, a kid from the opposing team knocked the ball out of the infield but well in front of the guys playing in the outfield. The coach was immediately on his feet shouting “don’t just stand there, rush towards the ball, rush towards the ball.” I started thinking about this statement, which was really more of a command, and it struck a chord with me. “Rush towards the ball” I repeated to myself “rush towards the ball.” 

As a marketing guy trying to push high-priced yachts in a tough economy, this concept of rushing towards the ball or in my world, rushing towards the customer or the market, makes complete sense. In a tough market such as we have had for the past few years, the only effective way I could see to possibly win the game was to tune up my advertising, marketing and sales program and run full steam ahead towards the market with the enthusiasm and the attitude that screams, “we’re your guys, buy from us.”

Rushing towards the market, especially a slow one, is not always easy or instinctive. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. One reason for this is that it’s not always clear how to reach the market or more difficult still, what it will take to capture the market. Another reason is that to capture the market and catch the customer, means spending precious resources which you either don’t have in the first place or are unwilling to spend in the second place, especially when there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful. And lastly, it’s always easier and safer to stay put and let the market come back to you rather than for you to venture out into the field to get it. Unfortunately, the problem with playing it safe is that by doing nothing, you run the risk that your competition might be going with a more aggressive game plan and taking your customers and the market.

It’s not always clear what course to take but history has shown time and time again that those companies that turn up the heat during slow times always come out ahead when better times return. In other words, those companies that rush towards the ball do better than those companies that don’t. For me, the time to rush forward and discover what lies ahead is now.

By the way, during the last inning of the game, Will managed to get a solid hit that was good enough for a stand-up double. One of his teammates got on base with a single and while he was doing that, Will stole third. Another teammate hit a nice fly ball that went deep into center field but unfortunately was picked off by a tall lanky kid on the opposing team. The kid knew what he was doing and immediately threw the ball to the second baseman who managed to tag out the runner coming from first. While the opposing team was busy dealing with the runner at second, Will, who had been leading off third, ran back, tagged the bag and made a beeline for home. All of a sudden there were lots of cries of “he’s going, he’s going, throw it home!” Will dug hard as the second baseman wound up and fired the ball towards home plate. “Slide” the coach yelled, “slide!!” Will did slide, in fact it was pure textbook. That catcher did a fine job and he almost got him but just as the ball was about to hit his glove, Will slid neatly under the catchers arm and got his toe on home plate. “SAFE” the umpire said as he waved his arms over the plate. Again there was lots of screaming and back slapping and “way-to-go” being yelled. The coach just smiled and shook his head. It was a fun moment for sure.

SliderAfter the game, one of the other fathers came up to me with a big smile on his face and said, “Wow, Will sure does like to take risks.”  “Yes he does” I replied; then added, “He always has and I hope he always will.” “Rush towards the ball,” I thought. “Rush towards life.”

On we go…

Unstuck and Underway – The Story Continues

Jeanneau 469 in No Name Harbor, Miami FL.

The tide rose high enough to float the Sun Odyssey 509 off the bottom of No Name Harbor about 2:30am. I am sure about the time because this is when my cell phone rang waking me out of a dead sleep. I was happily stretched out flatter than a corpse in the forward cabin of the 469 when Jeff Jorgensen called to report that they were unstuck and eager to set sail for the Bahamas. I on the other hand was not so eager to go anywhere except back to sleep so my message to Jeff was short and simple, “go to bed, we’ll leave in the morning.” I no sooner hung up the phone when it rang again, it was Jeff. Looking out the port I could see his red port running light staring in at me like some evil-looking prehistoric cyclops. “We’re going” Jeff said. “Fine” I replied, “we’ll meet you there, we’ll be a few hours behind you.” With that said, the bloodshot eye of the 509 drifted away and I happily drifted back to sleep.

It was still dark as Egypt’s night, when my alarm went off at 5:00am. I grudgingly climbed out of the sack and headed aft. I met Erik Stromberg at the foot of the companion-way stairs and with just a few words exchanged between us, we climbed into the cockpit, fired up the engine, hauled the anchor and headed out the channel bound for the Bahamas.

Soon after clearing green flasher #1, we set our sails, killed the engine and headed off in a southerly direction. We settled on a course of about 135 degrees magnetic in order to compensate for the strong currents of the Gulf Stream that would be sweeping us north for the next 50 miles. Life for me is always better after Starbucks and thankfully, Valerie had the good sense to send us off  with some of Starbucks’ instant coffee. While not quite the same as a steaming hot latte, in a pinch it is totally acceptable. So with the help of the generator and the microwave oven, we made ourselves a couple of cups; then along around 6:30 the sun began to rise giving way to a picture-perfect start to the day. Life at that moment was pretty nice!

Sunrise sailing offshore from Miami to Bimini, Bahamas on the Jeanneau 509.

Herb McCormick of Cruising World Magazine appeared on deck sometime around 8:00am. By then the sun was up and so was the breeze. Our speed through the water was an impressive 7 knots but over the bottom, because we were bucking the current, we were only making about 4 knots of real progress. We sailed along like this for a good part of the day but then tacked over and headed off on a more north-easterly course. The wind was of course blowing directly from the direction we wanted to go but with the current of the Gulf Stream now behind us we were making upwards of 10 knots over the bottom in a direction that we more or less wanted to go.

Meanwhile aboard the 509, Jeff and his crew, which included marine photographer Billy Black and all the cute women, were making good time and closing in on making landfall in Cat Cay, a small private island on the western most edge of the Bahamas. I should stop right here and restate that our primary objective for making this trip was first, to give Herb McCormick the opportunity to really put the new Sun Odyssey 469 through its paces and secondly for Billy Black to capture the entire adventure on film, hence the need for cute women!

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After a long day on the water which included several more tacks, we finally reached Cat Cay and rendezvoused with the 509. After clearing in with the Bahamian officials, we treated ourselves to a great dinner with plenty of wine. Afterwards, since we were all pretty toasty from an early start to the day followed by a long day on the water, we actually made the prudent decision and turned in early. I know, we’re in the Bahamas, with a great group of fun-loving people ready to party, and we decide to turn in early… go figure right? OK, well in our defense, we were there to work and the day was to start at 5:30am with a full-on photo shoot. Plus, we had gotten a very early start to the day, plus we had drunk far too much wine at dinner and so there you go… give us a break.

The air was warm with just the slightest hint of a breeze when we left the dock and headed out to catch the sunrise. We anchored the 469 in a small cove surrounded by an outcropping of rocks. Billy went straight to work as the eastern sky began brighten.

Stefanie Gallo onboard the Jeanneau 469 in Bimini, Bahamas

We spent several hours following Billy’s direction. If he told us to jump off the boat, we jumped. If he told us to sip wine and look sophisticated, that’s what we did. When he told us to set sail, we set sail and reached back and forth like we owned the place. It was hard work trying to look relaxed. I can’t remember the exact number but Billy shot thousands of pictures that day.

The original plan if you remember was to spend two nights in the Bahamas. But, we had lost a full day screwing around in Miami trying to get our act together and now our time here was cut short. As I stood on the deck surrounded by turquoise water, I could feel the spirit of the Bahamas pulling me east across the shallow waters of the Bahamas bank and further into the island chain. It would be so easy, just sail east and keep going. Unfortunately, schedules and commitments were already nagging at us to get back to reality so although none of us were ready to leave, we pointed the bows of the 469 and the 509 to the west and began making our way back to Miami.

Sailing onboard the Jeanneau 469 offshore from Bimini, Bahamas to Miami FL.

The low-lying islands of the Bahamas quickly disappeared from view behind us. The sun, low in the sky now, would soon drop below the horizon and it too would be gone.

We had a beautiful sunset and later the moon hung high in the sky behind us lighting up the cockpit as we sailed through the night across the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. For awhile, the two boats sailed along in tandem but somewhere in the night, we lost site of the 509 after Jeff tacked away to the north. We eventually caught up with her again just as we both were approaching the channel leading back to Biscayne Bay and No Name Harbor.

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In the end, what can I say, it was a great trip! We had accomplished all that we had set out to do. We had gotten ourselves to the Bahamas, had a great photo shoot with Billy Black, had gotten Herb McCormick behind the wheel of the new 469 for a real ocean voyage and somewhere along the line, managed to have a heck of a great time; tough to ask for more than that.

On we go….

P.S. For an enjoyable look behind the scenes of more of our adventure and photo shoot, check out this fun video we made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_VRUg7Ne5E

High and Dry in No Name Harbor

I’ve been around boats all my life and the one constant that I have always found to be true is that it’s never easy getting off the dock and underway. It’s always something, “we just have to get some ice,  I just need to stop and top off the fuel tank, I’m just going to grab another case of beer, do we have enough rum, maybe we should stop and get another bottle?” It simply takes forever and a day to actually cast of the docklines and leave!” So was the case with us when we tried to get not one boat but two boats off the dock and underway to the Bahamas.

Sailing onboard the Jeanneau 469 to No Name Harbor in Miami, FL.
Crossing the Gulf Stream can be as easy as sailing on a duck pond or as wild as shooting rapids on the Colorado River.

The original plan was to leave Miami early in the morning on Wednesday with the new Jeanneau 469 and big sister 509 and sail across the Gulf Stream to Cat Cay on the western edge of the Bahamas, arriving late Wednesday afternoon. We would spend Wednesday and Thursday nights in the Bahamas and sail back to Miami first thing Friday morning. Sailing with us would be Senior Editor, Herb McCormick of Cruising World Magazine, marine photographer Billy Black and his assistant, Megan, crew member Stefanie Gallo, and Jeanneau staff members, Valerie Toomey, Jeff Jorgensen, Erik Stromberg and myself. In theory, this was a reasonable plan but from a practical standpoint it had “not a snowball’s chance in hell” of actually working.

Jeanneau 469 sailing in Miami, FL.
The Sun Odyssey 469 doing sea trials off Miami.

The wheels really came off the wagon on Tuesday when we had over committed doing test sails aboard the 469 which we had just introduced at the Miami show. We then got hung up in customs Wednesday morning trying to clear out of the US. Then there was the usual delays trying to get everyone on board and settled. The long and the short of it all was that by the time the last boat left the dock it was close to 4pm in the afternoon and we still needed to pick up diesel fuel.

Jeanneau crew relaxing on the 509 and 469 in No Name Harbor, Miami FL.
The Sun Odyssey 509 and 469 laying on the Sea Wall in No Name Harbor.

We decided to opt for plan B which was to spend the night in No Name Harbor on the southern end of Key Biscayne and depart at first light for the Bahamas. So we parked the 469 and the 509 on the seawall, shot a few pictures, had a few cocktails, and headed up to the Boater’s Grill for dinner. We were all feeling pretty relaxed now having finally left the dock and having been properly watered and fed;  then, somewhere along the way, there was a movement to go back to the boats and immediately set sail for the Bahamas.This idea had a certain amount of merit, if we left now, we could make the 50 mile trip across the Gulf Stream at night, arriving in the Bahamas at dawn to catch the morning sunrise and make up for the time already lost. So we gathered ourselves up, paid the bill and headed back to the boats.

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Jeff Jorgensen tries every trick in the book to get the 509 floating again including swinging the boom out to the side and bouncing on the end of it.

Initially,  I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the sailing at night plan, primarily because I was tired and was really looking forward to looking at the inside of my eyelids rather than at a compass all night. But, the thought of sailing under the almost full moon across the Gulf Stream in tandem with the other boat was suddenly exciting to me and I found myself walking along the seawall with a renewed sense of energy, eager to  hop on board and cast off.  However, as we approached the boats, we noticed that the 509 was sitting at an awkward angle, with the bow being unusually high and the stern being unusually low. We gave the 509 a wiggle but got no movement. The boat was clearly aground in a very large way. Our attention quickly fell to the 469 and thankfully, although she too was aground, we were able to get her moving with the help of some strong hands and the diesel engine moving in full reverse.

As we moved the 469 away from the dock and into the anchorage, we looked back to see Jeff Jorgensen and the crew of the 509 earnestly trying to get the boat unstuck. They would labor on for a while longer before they would eventually give up and give into the idea that the best solution was to wait for the tide to come back in and float them off. For now, they would be left sitting high and dry with Billy Black who continued snapping pictures throughout the ordeal. The Bahamas would have to wait just a little longer.

KokapelliTo Be Continued…..

You can Bring a Moose to Maine but don’t Bring a Jaguar!

Friendship 2Some time ago my wife Kim and I went to Maine to visit Kim’s Auntie Lou who lives in the small town of Friendship. Lou didn’t always live in Friendship but she did always live in Maine. Lou grew up on North Haven Island which sits out in the middle of Penobscot Bay, not far from Rockport and Camden. I remember her telling me that she was one of just 14 in her graduating class. She went on to be a teacher and taught in the Connecticut school system for 30 years. She was and still is as smart as a whip. She never married and at the end of every school year, on the last day of school, she would load herself into her car and drive home to Friendship. Lou is warm-hearted but she’s about as stubborn as a 200 pound mushroom anchor that’s been sitting in the Maine mud for the past twenty years.

Kim and I flew into Manchester, New Hampshire because at the time, Manchester was the closest airport to Maine where Southwest flew and we always flew Southwest. Kim, being the more organized one of our small team, had dutifully and efficiently arranged for a nice, reasonable, economy minded,  rental car for us.  Up until this point, I had not played a very important role in the planning of this trip (I know, no big surprise. What can I say?). This however quickly changed when the rental agent asked “would you be interested to hear about our available upgrades?” Kim immediately said “no thanks” but I was louder and 1-jaguar-hood-ornament-jill-regermust have been more assertive because at the same time, I replied “absolutely!” As it turned out, “absolutely” was the only thing the agent behind the counter conveniently heard. Fifteen minutes later, we were loading our bags into the trunk of a very shiny, immaculate looking, extremely posh, Jaguar XJ6 and heading for the quiet New England town of Friendship. Oh and didn’t we feel special, for a mere 12 dollars a day extra, we were now driving in grand style, sitting behind the wheel of, yes.. a Jag! We had the music going, the sun roof open, we were feeling as flush and important as a couple of Wall Street bankers.

seals-1Friendship, population about 1,200, sits on the rocky shore of Muscongus Bay. Aunti Lou doesn’t live in town but rather on the coast on a hunk of rock that looks out over the water. Tides here are large, about 12 feet between high tide and low tide  One of the things that never ceases to entertain us is watching the seals that live here. When the tide is out, they like to climb up and sun themselves on this clump of rocks that are uncovered at low tide. When the tied comes in, the rocks are covered so the seals have to one by one jump off and swim around for several hours until the tide turns and heads out again. It’s always fun to look out and see the last couple of seals giving into the inevitable and reluctantly taking the plunge.

seakayingmusbayThe extreme tides also make for good kayaking. The trick is to launch your kayak on the incoming tide and ride the current all the way into the mud flats at the head of the bay. These areas are completely dry at low tide but covered when the tide is high. A simple kyack allows you to slip effortlessly along over the flats and into a myriad of hidden nooks and crannies that team with wild life. Then, when the tide starts to turn and head out, you simply paddle along with it and ride the current all the way back to where you started. Such a deal!

The average income for Friendship is only about 45,000 per year with many of its residents making their living lobstering or working on and around boats and on the water. One thing you see a lot of in Friendship are pickup trucks, one thing you don’t, are Jaguars. To say we stood out driving our fancy car through the rural streets of Friendship is an understatement. Did I mention the car had New York plates?  We arrived at Lou’s later in the day but well before dinner. “What ya got there, a new caa?” Lou called to us as we pulled into the driveway. “Wow, very fancy… a Jaguar.” Kim immediately shifted all the attention to me with her response, “talk to Paul, it was his idea.” “Yea, well, seemed like a good idea at the time” I said.

Lou thought that lobster should be in order to celebrate our arrival and first night in Friendship. She told us the best place to get lobster was down on the docks where the boats come in. She said if we hurry, we could just catch the guys before they all head home. She told us to ask for hard-shells. She said that most of the lobsters being hauled right now were soft-shells but we should ask for hard-shells because they were better eating. So we piled back into the Jag and headed off to the local lobster dock in search of some fresh, hard-shell, bona fide, Maine lobsters.

Lobster ViewThe smell of the bait shack that wafted our way on that summer evening about knocked us off our feet. Lobsters are scavengers, cleaners, they live on the bottom of the ocean and although they prefer fresh food, they are happy to pick away at most anything, even if it’s dead. Because of this, lobster traps are always baited with very stinky, dead fish. The fellow in the boat sported orange-bibbed overalls. “Hi” I said, “we were hoping to buy a few lobsters.” “well, I got-um.”he said.” “Got any hard-shells?” I said. “Nope, just shedd..es.” I looked at Kim with an expression that asked the question, “shedd..es, what the hell are shedd..es?” After a few seconds of looking somewhat stupid, I then remembered where we were, Kim and I quickly determined that “shedd..es” was “Maine talk” for shedd..er or in other words a lobster that had recently shed its shell and was now in the process of growing a new one. To keep the conversation short, we said “we’ll take three.”

Now, while I’m no expert on lobster, I have bought a few in my life and when I did, all of them came with pegs or rubber bands around their claws to prevent them from reaching out and grabbing your finger. These lobsters however came right off the boat and they were waving and snapping their claws as if they were dancing the flamenco. “Do you have a bag?” “Nope.” “How about a box?” “afraid not.” “Ah… well do you mind just sticking them in the trunk of the car?”  So the lobster dude in his orange-bibbed overalls climbed out of the boat and onto the dock and with a disgusted look on his face and rubber boots on his feet, he trudged over to the Jag and dropped the lobsters into the trunk. Talk about feeling like the turd in the punchbowl, yikes; we were definitely it. We paid him cash and quickly hopped back into the car and headed back to Lou’s.

Once we got home and hauled the lobsters out of the trunk and into the pot, we had a grand time recanting our story to Lou all about the “shedd..es” and the guy in his orange-bibbed overalls and how because he had no bags we had to carry the lobsters home in the trunk of our car. The wine was flowing as steady as the incoming tide by then and the story became more hilarious with every sip. It was a great first day to be in Maine.

We tried not to dive the Jaguar after that. For the remainder of our trip we let ourselvesAR_MooseXingLarge succumb to the easy-going summer days of Friendship. We kayaked when we could and rode the currents of Muscongus Bay. We watched the seals hop on and off the rocks. We talked politics and religion, drank far too much wine, played cards after dinner, laughed a lot, enjoyed each other’s company, and came to the conclusion that while you can always bring a Moose home to Maine you shouldn’t bring a Jaguar.

On We Go…..