Paul Fenn, Take a Shot Media

Annapolis Sailboat Show, A Growing Family Affair

A great areal shot of last year's Jeanneau display featuring 9 boats. This year we're shooting for 12 boats!
A great aerial shot of last year’s Jeanneau display featuring 9 boats. This year we’re shooting for 12 boats including the new Sun Odyssey 349 and Sun Fast 3600.

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!

Jeanneau's Catherine Guiader, Valerie Toomey and Will Fenn are all smiles during the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show.
Jeanneau’s Catherine Guiader, Valerie Toomey and Will Fenn are all smiles during the 2013 Annapolis Sailboat Show.

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.

Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!
Young and old, everyone on the Jeanneau team turns out in force to lend a hand building the display. Team Building at its best!!

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. 

Will and Catherine hard at work on the building of the display
Will and Catherine hard at work on the building of the display
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The girls at Jeanneau run the show!

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.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Annapolis Show!

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

Sailing with Murphy

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” – Murphy’s Law

I didn’t even see him slip aboard but then again, when it comes to Murphy, you seldom do. He’s tricky and just when you think all is well, he sneaks by you and quickly tosses a wrench into the works. He’s been around since the beginning of time and he rarely misses an opportunity to create havoc whenever and wherever he can. I am convinced he does his finest work while on a boat but I am sure he is a credit to his namesake on land as well.

The air was fresh and strong when we threw off our lines and headed out for an afternoon of sailing, aboard the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469. Sailing with us was John Kretschmer of Sailing Magazine and John Armstrong of Canadian Yachting who had come aboard to assess how this new model of ours would perform. The waves were steep and the current strong as we made our way out of Miami’s Government Cut Channel under power.

Miami’s Government Cut Channel – Photo by Ross Cobb

I knew that we were seriously low on fuel but I didn’t expect to completely run out; unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Damn I thought, Murphy is here. I don’t mind saying, it’s an awkward feeling to lose power while in the middle of a busy shipping channel with lots of wind and tide. Fortunately, we didn’t totally lose our heads and much like Harold with his purple crayon, we came up thinking fast and quickly set sail. We turned on our heel and with the wind behind us, we began sailing back into Miami Harbor. We knew the fuel dock was just in front of us and while sailing to the dock is something more commonly done in smaller boats in calmer conditions on say a lake or cove, we decided to give it a shot.

We approached the entrance to the marina under mainsail alone and at a pretty good clip. As we got closer, I said to my friend and colleague Erik Stromberg, “let’s lose the main, we’ve got plenty of speed.” Erik quickly furled the mainsail just as I made the final turn and headed for the end of the fuel dock which was thankfully unoccupied. Docklines and fenders were rigged and in the final few yards just before we made our landing, Erik gave the engine one last shot to see if there was any life left in it. To our surprise it started and I was able to quickly shift into reverse and make a perfect landing right on the end of the dock just like we had done it a hundred times before. “Well done someone cried, great boat handing!” I smiled to myself and thought… ha, take that Murphy!

John Kretschmer, author, sailor, all around good guy
John Kretschmer, author, sailor, all around good guy

With our fuel tank now filled, we headed back out the channel, leaning hard on the throttle in order to make up for lost time. The sea was still steep and the wind still piped hard but all was going well untill Murphy appeared on deck and unexpectedly dumped our anchor and chain over the bow. “Crap” I said under my breath, “this is not good.” John Kretschmer, our fellow crew member, accomplished sailor and the author of several books, rushed forward and begin to deal with the problem. Erik joined him on the bow and together they began the task of wrestling the anchor back on deck and regaining control of the situation. After several minutes, and with the help of a good sharp knife to remove some unwanted fishing line, the anchor and chain were once again back in their designated places. Again we powered forward and once we cleared the last buoy, the sails were hoisted, the engine shut down and the boat took to the sea as she was meant to. It was, in the end, a great day to be on the water and under sail.

In my mind, sailors are a great bunch, they expect the unexpected, remain unflustered when the boat does cartwheels across the waves and while they wouldn’t deliberately invite Murphy to take the wheel, they know that he is always on board and as long as he doesn’t completely sink the ship he is a welcome crew member.

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Jeanneau 469 sailing off the Florida coast. Photo by Billy Black

I have to say that I have had smoother test sails in my life. But, if I have learned anything at all, it’s that Murphy’s Law always holds true, “if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.”  It’s just the way life is and in my book, it’s not such a terrible thing. Not everybody can hit a curve ball and if you’re one of the lucky ones who can, it means that you’re just that much further ahead than the next guy.

I’ve always taken the approach that life is meant to be lived on the balls of your feet. This way, when the music suddenly changes, you can quickly change tempo and dance away to the new beat.

On We Go…