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!

Friday, February 3, 2012


April 23rd, 2012
 Yacht Center Sarasota
The Unveiling of XYZZY

Yes, she's finally arriving!  In the months since the last post, we've been busily getting ready for the appearance of our kit, which will ship at the beginning of March, and after a long journey from the Thai manufacturing company, CMBI, arrive in Sarasota, Florida in April.  It will arrive in two 40' shipping containers, and then Rian and Mondo Marine can begin the build process. 

During the wait, we've had time to figure out how to insure the kit throughout the shipping process, once it leaves the hands of CMBI, during its 4-6 week transit.  We finalized the builder's risk insurance that will insure the parts and partially assembled vessel during the build process here in Florida.  And we've had to locate an international freight forwarder to help coordinate the two ends of the shipping process: packing, fumigating (yikes!), and loading in Thailand through to landing in Tampa, clearing customs, and being delivered to the yard in Sarasota.  Truly, I have visions of customs officials wearing pirate costumes holding the containers offshore for ransom because I've forgotten some small but critical detail!

So to keep from worrying too much while waiting, we're using the time to do two very important things:  choose and implement a project management system, as well as educate ourselves on various marine topics. 

From the beginning of the project, even as we interviewed builders, we knew that having some sort of way to manage the project and keep track of all the various threads would be integral to the success overall.  Most available project management software has grown out of the computer software development industry, and many programs that we looked at have things like built in version control, and bug tracking (and they aren't talking about the ones that are going to be fumigated!).  We discounted those that looked like they were designed to be used at Apple. One big priority was that all parties (us, Mondo Marine, the boat yard, the subcontractors) had to be able to have access at any time, from anywhere, to the project.  We had heard from several previous kit builders that it was very important to be ON SITE with the boat and builder, to keep things moving along.  We briefly toyed with the idea of relocating to the Sarasota area, but we really, REALLY like Coconut Grove, and didn't really want to move to the west coast (of Florida).  So, to help avoid weekly 8-hour round trip drives, we intended to choose a project management system that would be online in the "cloud", rather than installed on any single computer. 

Besides needing a web-based system, it was also important to have a system that would track To-Do lists, have a group project calendar with milestones and events, be able to organize emails from all parties into categories, and notify the participants when updates were posted.  Another important feature was to be able to upload, categorize, and store scanned documents, pictures, spreadsheets, and web links, so we can all collaborate on products we find, designs we like, contracts, schematics, drawings-the list is endless, really.  We needed a system that would also track all the purchases that will go into the boat: where it came from, when it was purchased, for how much, what the warranty is, and when the warranty period started and ended.  (The tracking of the purchased components will help us to determine the final value of the vessel, but also to develop a database of suppliers for spare parts.)  And lastly, we looked for a system that Mondo Marine could use to track their employees' and subcontractors' time on various aspects of the build. 

More than just fulfilling an obsessive need to document the project, managing the project through software is also a matter of putting together a schematic for future builds, and working to perfect the process.  From the beginning we have seen our venture as the first of many Fusions to come, and using the project management software will help us and Mondo Marine build a template for future clients. 

With all of these criteria in mind, we chose a product called BaseCamp.  It came with a free trial, and an easy-to-handle monthly fee after the trial expired.  It offers all the features we looked for, and lets us all "work" on the project whenever we have a few minutes.  We can email and post from within BaseCamp, so everyone sees the communications, and we can have a "campfire" and chat realtime, or work online together on a collaborative document, such as the spreadsheet of electrical specifications that Dennis and Rian are building.  Each can see the changes that the other is making, and everyone always sees the latest version of the document.  In the planning and preparation phase, this has already been extremely helpful, and we haven't even started the actual construction!

Another way we've been using the time prior to the arrival of our kit is to attend classes.  Yes!  We've gone back to school!  We chose a very special institution called Seven Seas University (http://www.sevenseasu.com/).  This is the educational branch of an organization called Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) (http://www.ssca.org/) which provides various services and information to cruisers worldwide.  SSU students (the university) do all of their classes through online webinars that are offered in 1-2 hour sessions in the evenings.  Through SSU we have learned about weather: the flow of cold and warm fronts, how to tell the progression of storms, how to interpret barometric pressures, read various weather maps, and what websites would give us the best information about weather while cruising.  We've learned about how to sail in various kinds of heavy weather, and techniques for waiting out bad weather, should we be on a long passage.  We attended a session on wind and solar power, and another on marine air conditioning, and refrigeration.  Here is a short list of topics they offer:

 Safety at Sea      Electronics    Women's Issues    Diesel Engines   Electronics

Watermakers     Communications    Provisioning     Anchoring    Pets Aboard

Writing for the Boating Market    Alternative Energy    Sail Trim and Inventory

As you can see, the topics are very extensive, and pertinent to both building a boat and the cruising life.  They also have wonderful presentations about many of the best cruising destinations, and the easiest routes to get there, which are extremely inspiring, just in case we've lost sight of our end goal! 

We were first introduced to SSCA and SSU at the Miami Boat Show last year, and later attended a "GAM" (meeting) during the summer, where we listened to various speakers, and met fellow cruisers.  With few exceptions, we were the youngest people there, but it was great to meet and learn from others who have been cruising, full-time or part-time.  Every person there had a commitment to cruising; some had already made their dream happen, while others were still planning.  One couple touched us dramatically-Roger and Betty. Roger and Betty were easily in their mid-to-late seventies.  Roger's hands trembled uncontrollably at the table, while Betty was stick-thin, wrapped in many sweaters, despite it being mid-summer in South Florida, and looked as if a slight breeze would bowl her over.  Roger proudly pulled out a business card, and showed us a photo of his trawler (which is a power boat, not a sail boat).  He told us they would be going on their maiden voyage this year-to Tahiti!  Wonderful, we told him!  What a great plan!  Where was the boat moored now?  Still on blocks in his backyard, he told us; she still needs some work, but, by golly, we are going to do it this year!

Listening to Roger and Betty's plans made us both very sad and very inspired.  But most of all, it made us determined not to be looking back at our lives in twenty-five years, wishing we'd done this sooner.  of course, none of us never know what life has in store for us, and the picture can change in an instant-no one has to tell us that!.  But never let it be said that we didn't try and live the journey. 

We hope to see many of you at our XYZZY Arrival Event on April 23rd, at the Yacht Center Sarasota, to share the launch of our dream-you're all invited!  Let us know if you can come down, and we'll help you make arrangements.  We will be having local press, as well as folks from vendors, and hopefully some of the Fusion Team from Australia.  We know we never could have begun this adventure without the support of all of you and look forward to sharing the beginning of that realization with you all!

Days, precious days
Roll in and out like waves
I got boards to bend, I got planks to nail
I got charts to make, I got seas to sail

Sails are just like wings
The wind can make 'em sing
Songs of life, songs of hope
Songs to keep your dreams afloat
I'm gonna build me a boat
With these two hands
It'll be a fair curve
From a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
Cause I've got boats to build!
                                                        -Jimmy Buffett, License to Chill Album

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