Welcome to Our Blog

Thank you for sharing in our journey of building a Fusion Catamaran! We are so excited to be able to chronicle our adventure for our family, friends, and supporters, from our initial decision to (hopefully) a successful launch and beyond. Please post your comments, questions, and cautionary tales-we love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cruising Life!

"So, you're on the boat now! How do you like cruising?" As we talk to our friends, both new and old, this has to be the most popular set of questions.  And the answer generally isn't an overwhelming yay or nay just yet, to be honest!  We know we are really neophytes, and still have tons to learn! But there are so many aspects of daily life that are just different, and definitely take some getting used to; here are some of the biggies so far:

Biorhythms: Our daily sleep/wake cycles seem to have adjusted more to the sun, and we tend to be laying awake at first light, staring at the ceiling. "You awake?" I hear.  "Yep," I respond.  "Let's get going!" Yet after a day on the water, even though it's relaxing, we are both beat, and ready for bed by 9:30. I've heard 9PM referred to as "cruiser's midnight", and now I get it! I've always been a morning person, usually falling asleep on the couch by 10PM, so my clock didn't need too much adjustment, but Dennis has always been a night owl. Before now :)

Entertainment: We grew up in the sixties and seventies, so our childhoods were increasingly defined through the years by TV after dinner.  And, like many adults our age, we regularly watched live TV on a schedule: Grey's on Thursday nights, The Good Wife on Sunday evenings, Castle on Mondays. Our evenings circled around the TV Guide.  But now that we don't have a regular CATV connection (and also because it's really hard to stay up until 11!), we watch shows streamed from Hulu or Amazon Prime, usually seeing them weeks after they aired live, depending on our schedules. We spend our evenings continuing our Backgammon rivalry (I'm currently down by 1 game).  This, I have to admit, has been freeing.  Not having to be glued to the TV at a certain time/date, and catching up on five episodes of Grey's at one time is really much more convenient.  There are times, however, like when Derek Shepherd's untimely death was plastered first on Facebook, when I feel as though I slept through New Year's and missed the ball dropping.  

Hulu, Vudu, NetFlix, Sirius, Pandora, Amazon - the new "TV"

Breaking News: Gone also are the days of listening to the same old CNN stories for days on end, paraded as Breaking News, which I always felt lent every day an air of dire emergency.  Now our breaking news tends to be that the anchor held all night, or that a weather front is passing through.  We watch weather radar several times a day, and the "real news" comes mostly from MSN headlines on our home page.  Our world has shrunk, yet also enlarged.

Provisions: Moving constantly from one place to the next means that I can't really run out to Publix if I'm out of a key ingredient; I just have to make do.  It also means that when we do land somewhere, I have to settle for what I can find.  I may not find the same brand of toilet paper or milk that we've bought for all 35 years of our married lives; I might need to use substitutes or go without for a while.  Living on a (moving) boat also means that we try to shop in bulk when we have the chance. Grocery shopping can take the better part of an entire day, if I count going ashore in the dinghy with our bags, walking or finding transportation to the store, the actual shopping, reversing the trip, and then repackaging everything once back on the boat.  One thing that has really struck me is the amount of unnecessary packaging that is used; we remove everything excess so more things will fit better in small spaces, and make less garbage while we're underway.  And a side note: most marinas we've encountered do not offer much in the way of recycling, which truly took me by surprise.  I've been accustomed to recycling almost everything in the last few apartment complexes we've lived in, and now feel really bad putting plastic right into the trash bins. 

New Mode of Grocery Shopping!
Water and Power Management:  This may be the most challenging area for us so far.  With the recent addition of almost a kilowatt of solar power, and our 30/gallon per hour watermaker, we can really stay "off the grid" until we run out of food or fuel.  But even so, life now is a careful balance of when to run the generator, when to do the laundry, how much to use the air conditioning, and whether there's hot water.  Just this morning, as we rolled out of bed, I heard an ominous "click" as the entire boat shut down, the batteries having hit their "minimum low" of 39%.  We have a lot of options, and the consequences are by no means second nature to us yet.

Our new 12v DC 30 gal/hr watermaker
Internet and Work: Running a GoToMeeting and suddenly losing cell reception has happened already more than a few times.  Although we have cell phone boosters, hot spots and Wifi extenders through both AT&T and T-Mobile, we still find ourselves in sparse areas, or having to plan an offshore crossing during the business week.  This has necessitated more juggling and planning of our travel plans, dependent on scheduled meetings and available signal.  More than once I have been grateful for my covered webcam, as I stand in a heaving vessel, sweating profusely, while trying to conduct a demonstration and sound professional.  As we head up the southeast US coast, I think we will have to add Verizon in to our mix as well, for the most overall coverage.

The Office!
Maintenance: Coming from ten years of condo living, this has been a big change for us (mostly Dennis).  Cruising has been laughingly referred to as "fixing your boat in exotic places", and I can see how that will be true.  Even with a new boat, even with most things under warranty, there is an inordinate amount of cleaning and fixing, stowing and testing.  The difference is that, on a boat, one lives constantly on a more precarious edge than in a house or condo.  The elements wear constantly on our home, and we are at the mercy of the wind and weather at every moment.  Not to mention the other boaters out there on the waterways!  If our equipment isn't in top shape, if we forget to do a scheduled engine maintenance, if we don't tighten a loose line, the consequences are much more far reaching than forgetting to rotate the tires on the car!  

There are NINE strainers on the boat to keep clean!

Washing the "car" takes on a new dimension
Mostly the biggest difference is that life now is never boring!  We've been yanked from serene complacency and flung into the pot where every day is a new place, a new adventure.  There are certainly moments when we wish for the predictability of the past years, but the joy of looking at a chart each morning, of plotting out our course, of figuring out each day afresh has been rejuvenating and invigorating. Being so close to the outdoors, the weather, sea, and sun has brought a spiritual side to our lives that we'd lost long ago - the recognition that we exist and succeed only by the grace of something larger than ourselves and that the trappings of our lives are self-inflicted. 

Since March began, we made it back around Florida through the Keys, and spent April and May in the Sarasota area, while Mondo finished installing the last few final touches to the project that has consumed the last 3+ years.  

Fixed the first cracked window and Mack promptly dropped a piece of furling gear and broke another...ouch!

Last dinner with good friends and a great team

A Little "Dom" for the celebration

We took a three-week hiatus and headed up to NYC for our grandson's birthday and a business conference, a welcome break from the impending FL summer. 

Happy Birthday Two-Year Old!

Took in a Broadway Show
 Yesterday we set out from Marina Jack Marina for the last time for quite a while, and we will be heading again through the Keys, and then up the ICW for the summer.  We plan to be back down in Annapolis for the Boat Show in mid-October, where we'll once again be on display, and then...who knows?  

Our AIS is working so you can track us at www.MarineTraffic.com, just search for XYZZY.  Yep, we're the only one! See you out there!

Our AIS track

This is for the one who has  found her way, 
and the one who is still searching.

For the one who counts her blessings, 
and who is a blessing to others.

This is for the dreamer, and the dancer, 
and the music maker.

For the ones brave enough to jump, 
and the ones still standing on the edge.

This is for the one who takes the path,
and the one who creates her own.

For the one who fights, believes,
creates, inspires.

This is for you.

Breathe in, Breathe Out, Move On.
~Jimmy Buffett

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Adventure (Really) Begins

As I write today, we are wending our way along the bay side (also called the "inside") of the Florida Keys, passing Matecumbe and tracing along Marathon, on our eventual way to Key West.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, first the Miami Boat Show, then a wonderful visit at our familiar port of the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, and now embarked on our first family cruise with our younger son Jon, his girlfriend Autumn, and their friend RJ.  

We arrived back in Miami on Feb 9th, and turned over XYZZY to the Mondo Team for cleaning and staging.  We settled back into a rental condo for the week, and I was really surprised how much I missed being on board. But it was great fun to meet Peter and Steve who came over from Fusion Austrailia to see the debut US Fusion 40, and we had a wonderful reception at the Miami Boat Show. We met so many folks with dreams similar to ours, some at the beginning of their search, and some coming close to the end, and we really enjoyed sharing our journey with them all.  We were certainly the smallest catamaran at the show, but definitely the prettiest as well, and not only by our judgment! XYZZY is definitely a unique package!

XYZZY at the Miami Boat Show - the prettiest little cat!

Peter and Steve from Fusion Australia with Rian

Our Mondo Team
Once the show was over, we moved her over to the CGSC dock and spent one day taking some of our vendors out for a test sail day.  Sail Magazine also came along and collected information for a spread on multihulls they are doing this summer-can't wait to see what they have to say! 

Our CGSC friends then threw a dock party on Thursday the 18th, and we had the pleasure of sharing our new home with all our old friends.  It was wonderful to see everyone and show them what we've been working on so hard for the past five years.

CGSC Welcomes XYZZY!

Parked at the Main Dock
A couple of days later we got our first onboard company (son and friends), and set about planning our first family cruise. We had thought about going to the Bahamas, but checking the forecast, it didn't look like we would have a good weather window for quite a few days, so we changed our plans and headed for Key Largo instead.

Jon, Autumn, and RJ go Exploring
Since then, we've been meandering along towards Key West, getting used to cruising life: learning about where to get water, how long our fuel lasts, the ins and outs of our electronics and trying to figure out how to entice the washer/dryer to work. (Seems to be on an unpredictable schedule, no matter what combination of buttons we use...)

Faro Blanco Yacht Club - Marathon FL

An Early Morning Swim
There are still a few things that need to be finished, a few to add (water maker!), and a few that need replaced (the bow sprit design to fly our Code Zero has blown out twice in only 8-10 knots of wind; the design will need to be reworked) but we are slowly learning to trust our boat and know her strengths and foibles. 

Over the next few weeks we are looking forward to a vist from our older son and his family, and to continuing to cruise around South Florida. We will be aiming to end up back in Sarasota at the beginning of April, for some additional work before the Sarasota Boat Show.  After that our tentative plans are to head up the ICW to go north for the comin hurricane season, and spend the summer along the East Coast.  We hope to get up to see friends in New York, Massachusetts, and Maine, before needing to head back down for the fall boat shows.

And so, our blog will transition from a build commentary to a cruising commentary, as we begin our real adventure!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cinderella at the St. Pete Ball !!

Our first goal, after launch, was to take XYZZY to her debut boat show in St. Petersburg, in the beginning of December.  This is an important show for Mondo Marine, as it is local to their business, and a good first show to get our boat show feet wet at.
After the launch, our team worked night and day up until 3AM the night before we had to leave, to get as much done as possible.  The boat would be displayed as "still under construction", but we wanted to have it as near perfect as we could.  I do have to admit that the night before we departed, I went home at 11:30PM in tears - there was just no way I could see this coming together.

But we did leave the next morning, with 11 electricians and carpenters working away all through the four-hour trip from Sarasota to St. Petersburg. I put all my concerns aside during the smooth ride north, and enjoyed being back on the water again, the first time in our own boat in almost two years. 

Here are some photos from our trip:
Captain Dennis takes her out onto the bay

Heading up the Bay to St. Pete

Under the bridge we go!
Once we were tucked into our slip, and the Mondo Team began setting up the dock area, we slipped away back home.  The next morning, we arrived back at the boat for opening day around noon, to crowds of people streaming through - asking questions, admiring the layout, fingering the cushions - it was utterly amazing.  Overnight XYZZY had been transformed from a construction project into a gorgeous luxury catamaran! I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming - Fairy Godmother Lari and her amazing sidekick Patti Trusel had cleaned and decorated until our pumpkin became a golden coach. 

Spruced up for the Holidays

The Mondo Booth

The next three days passed in a blur of people, questions, hellos and goodbyes...we had well over 2000 signatures in our log book.  It has been a long time since a new catamaran name came onto the market; the response was really overwhelmingly positive.  All six of us were busy every minute of each day, chatting with people, explaining, discussing our decisions - so busy that we didn't have any time to go visit other booths!  It was very satisfying to experience such validation in our choices.

Here are some photos from the show:

Bumfuzzle Presides over the Crowds

Custom Cockpit Decorations

The Joys of Boat Ownership!

Our Salon

Master Head

Cockpit at Dusk

Master Cabin
 On Monday, we packed up and headed XYZZY back to Sarasota.  It really did feel like coming home after the ball, watching the coach and four turn back into a pumpkin-under-construction.  But we had a gorgeous, peaceful ride back and the dolphins came and played along side us as we headed back down the bays.

Heading back to Sarasota

My First Lunch for the Crew!
When we returned from St. Pete, work resumed and family and the holidays intervened in our plans for a New Year's departure.  But we extended our lease one last time, and we've made great strides these last few weeks, bringing most all the projects to a close.  This past Tuesday XYZZY parked at Marina Jack's and went out under sail on Sarasota Bay for the very first time, having the rigging and sails assessed and adjusted.  This week we are cleaning and moving aboard, closing up our apartment, packing clothes, selling our car, donating even more things that we have no room for to Goodwill. 
My Life in Space Bags!
Plugh the dinghy goes on the stern

At Marina Jack's before our Test Sail

Test Sail under Way!
We hope to leave early next week to head down to Key Largo, where XYZZY will be hauled to have her water line repainted, and then we will sail back up the east coast to Miami, in time for the Miami Boat Show in mid-February.  What's after that?  The Bahamas!

After so long working at making this dream a reality, it is very hard to believe it will finally happen, yet it is.  Our next blog posting will be from underway!

XYZZY on the Bay