One of the better perks of being in the business of building and selling new boats is having them available from time to time to go for a sail on. Such was the case yesterday when some colleagues and I found ourselves with an available Sun Odyssey 349 to sail, a lovely sunny afternoon, a solid 15 knot breeze and a bit of time on our hands. Who could say no to that? Definitely not us, so with a couple of bottles of cold beer in hand, we shoved off and headed out for a late afternoon/ early evening sail.
The 349 is a new addition to the Sun Odyssey range with just a handful of boats being delivered thus far. This particular 349 is headed for charter with Sail Caribe in Puerto Rico and is fitted with a deep keel (6’5″), traditional main and 110% jib. The wind was blowing a steady 12-15 which was more than enough to put the lee rail close to the water and get us up to the boat’s theoretical hull speed of 7 1/2 knots. Because the 349 features twin rudders and a well-balanced sail plan, it trucks through the water like a train on a track. The boat pretty much sails itself, even in heavy air.
We made a long stretch to windward across the bay and when we had polished off our first beer, we came about and went off on a new tack that took us more south down the bay. It was a beautiful night to be out sailing and we were enjoying every minute of it. After a while as the sun was beginning to set, we fell off the wind and eventually jibed around and headed for the barn. The sun sank fast into the west and before we were even half way back to the dock, we had pretty much lost our light. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem but this boat was brand new and we didn’t quite have the running lights up and working yet. The wind however pushed us along at a good clip and by the time we had drained our last beer we were sailing into the channel leading into Back Creek where our slip was waiting for us.
In my mind the 349 is a tough boat to beat. It’s priced well, is a blast to sail, has plenty of room in the cockpit, has a great interior layout, and has what it takes to go off cruising in grand style. What else do you need? Well, we could have used just one more cold beer. C’est la vie…
Last week I was fortunate enough to find myself stepping aboard a brand spanking new Jeanneau 349 at the Vermillion Yacht Club located in the sweet little town of Vermillion, OH. Vermillion, bills itself as a small town on a great lake. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie between Sandusky and Cleveland, Vermillion has the look and feel of a coastal New England town and is a lighting rod for boaters of all types. It’s also home port to S.O. Bum, the 349 owned by John and Linda Robertson.
John and Linda Robertson are no strangers to sailing nor are they strangers to Jeanneau; their previous boat was a Jeanneau 54 DS that they purchased in 2005 and sailed extensively throughout the Great Lakes with their 4 children until 2010 when they sold it to purchase a Sabre 40 (I know, they went to the dark side but at least they picked a classy, good looking, good quality boat!). They upgraded from the 40 to a Sabre 48 in 2013 but John and the rest of his family never lost their love for sailing, hence their decision to purchase the Jeanneau 349.
The air was warm and the sky robin-blue as we climbed aboard the 349, Son of Bum and headed out the channel for Lake Erie. On board was my wife Kim, Rob Morley of Riverside Yacht Sales, John Robertson, and his two daughters, Olivia (24) and Victoria (18) and myself. We were 6 all together. On a normal 34 footer, 6 people in the cockpit may prove to be tight but the 349 has a tremendous amount of beam aft, making for a huge cockpit and plenty of room for everyone.
As soon as we cleared the channel we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the 110% genoa. The 349 if offered with your choice of a furling main, traditional or classic main or a performance main. I was happy to learn that John had gone with the performance main which is squared-off on top providing for more sail area and hence better performance, especially in light air. The wind wasn’t overly strong, about 8-10 but despite the somewhat light breeze, the 349 scooted off to windward in good style. A few other notable features of the 349 include the use of twin wheels and twin rudders. The twin wheels allow the helmsman to sail from either the windward or leeward side of the boat while the twin rudders provide for excellent stability by almost completely eliminating the issue of weather-helm even in heavy air.
Winch placement aboard the 349 is also super convenient with all lines leading aft so the helmsman can tweak the sails to his or her liking. German sheeting is utilized as well allowing for the main to be trimmed from either side of the boat.
In lieu of traditional genoa tracks, the 349 utilizes two friction rings that provide a fair lead for both the main sheet and genoa sheet. This clever system saves both weight and cost and works great.
We were having so much fun sailing the boat we didn’t really spend anytime below but this boat has a ton of interior room for a 34 footer. Son of Bum has a 2 cabin arrangement with 1 extremely large head but a 3 cabin arrangement is also offered.
We sailed for a couple of hours and then unfortunately we had to head back to the dock. It wasn’t such a bad thing however because soon after tying up, a front moved through and dumped a boat-full of rain on us. Timing is everything!
You might be saying to yourself that Bumboat and Son of Bum are peculiar names for a boat, I know I did. When I asked John what the significance of the name Bumboat was, he responded by telling me that it’s a long story but that I could read all about it on his web site, www.bumboat.com. It’s an interesting story so I encourage you to give it a read.
When I was a kid growing up in New England, I spent my summers bombing around on Fisher’s Island Sound off the Connecticut coast in a 13 foot Boston Whaler. Ever since that time, I’ve always loved bumming around on boats. I guess I always will.
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. Because of this, the show is big, attracting upwards of 50,000 sailboat enthusiasts from all over the United States, Canada and many European and South American countries as well; it is a true international all-sail show and it’s great!
For those of us here at Jeanneau, Annapolis is a lot more than a show, it is a real production. This year we will show 12 boats from our new 34 footer to the Jeanneau 57. All 12 of them are brand spanking new which means they will first need to be rigged, launched and prepared for the show. Then comes the fun, the Jeanneau staff will enlist family and friends to help load the boats and move them across the harbor and into position. Flags will be hoisted, carpet laid, tents raised and the boats will be washed, waxed and polished to perfection. It is a lot of work but also good work as it represents a great team effort by all involved.
Over the years as my three kids have gotten older, they have become more involved in preparing and breaking down the show. They help move boats, coil lines, polish stainless and lug gear. For the Fenn family, the Annapolis show has become a real family affair.
This year the fun begins on October 6th when we move our boats into the show . We will work on building the display for the next two days. On Wednesday, Jeanneau dealers from throughout North America will arrive in town to help with the finishing touches. And on Thursday, darned in our best duds, we will stand on the transoms of our freshly polished vessels, welcome the public to our display and be happy to be in Annapolis for such an exciting event. 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.