January 2019: The Big Haul Out, Addie’s Birthday, Shark Mania, and Bashing

The girls all left after New Year’s to go back to NC.
Shannon stayed to continue getting the boat ready for cruising.

A few days after the girls left, Shannon (with the help of Kent Meredith, Kathy Meredith, and Joffre DiSabatino) took Aventis down the ICW to another marina in order to get some repairs made and the bottom painted.
Squeezing Aventis into the haul out was a little nerve wracking for sure!
It still amazes me to watch boats get hauled out and moved around by massive Travel Lifts.
During the haul out we had the bottom painted, a cracked bow fixed, underwater lights added, a thru hole for a watermaker added, and one of the sail drives fixed. Kind of scary having holes drilled in the bottom of your boat for lights and thru holes!
Bottom painting Aventis.
Fixing the bow on Aventis.
Ashley and Addie came down to the boat to celebrate Addie’s 14th birthday! Wait until next month to find out her big birthday present!
We went down to Key Largo for lunch and to snorkel.
Before we knew it, Ashley and Addie had to go back to NC.
Before their flight, we went to Le Tub on the ICW for lunch. Addie loves their shrimp!
Shannon was left alone again on the boat, but he seemed to manage ok.
Our friends on Wind Ensemble were leaving the next day for their cruising around the world adventure. Shannon took them to Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour as their last Florida treat for a long time.

Well, as it happened, Shannon got the opportunity to go on the first part of Wind Ensemble’s journey, and so the next day, he left Fort Lauderdale for No Name Harbor on Wind Ensemble with Kent and Kathy Meredith.

We had just exited Port Everglades channel when we encountered this navy submarine. Very cool watching it do drills!
This is Kathy Meredith at the helm of Wind Ensemble on our way to No Name harbor. No Name is a good jumping off point to cross the gulf stream to Bimini. Wind Ensemble is a 2018 Lagoon 42. She sails beautifully!
Shannon and Kent enjoying the sail to No Name.
Before we know it, we are passing the lighthouse on Key Biscayne and arriving at No Name for the evening.
We woke the next morning at 4:00am to start our crossing to Bimini.
We had a great sail over and arrived about 2pm.
After checking into customs, we walked over to Sherry’s for drinks and dinner. Sherry’s is a dive right on the beach, but has the coldest beer in the Bahamas and the best fried fresh lobster anywhere.
This is Kent and Kathy Meredith on Sherry’s deck overlooking the ocean.
The view from Sherry’s.
When we got back to the marina, we watched Bull Sharks have a feeding frenzy.
Needless to say, swimming at the marina is not allowed!
The next day we sailed to Gunn Cay, our jumping off spot before crossing the great Bahama Bank.
We bashed all day into the wind and decided to stop about halfway. We simply dropped the anchor and tried to take it easy for the night. The seas and wind were pretty rough. Luckily, none of us get sea sick!
The next day we made our way to Nassau.
Again, we bashed our way through high waves, high wind, and this time, rain.
Just as we were arriving to Nassau, the weather pretty much cleared up for us!
We enjoyed a great sunset in Nassau!
We had a great evening celebrating a successful and eventful crossing of the gulf stream and great Bahama bank.
The next morning, I took a flight back to Fort Lauderdale.
To this day, Kent and Kathy are still roaming the Bahamas!

Coming up in February 2019: Addie’s Birthday Trip

December 2018: First Sail

Shannon and Ashley headed back to the boat in early December (without the girls this time) and were able to take Aventis out for a sail. This is the first time we took the boat off the dock and we were headed to Key Biscayne for a couple of days!

When we leave the dock we have to swing around to get out the channel.
Whenever we are at the docks, we only go as fast as we want to hit something!

Ashley at the helm sailing to No Name Harbor in Key Biscayne.
Love, love, love turning the engines off and sailing! The mast on Aventis is over 75′ tall. Probably closer to 80′ with the antennas, etc.
Sailing past the lighthouse on Key Biscayne.
We made it to our anchorage just in time for sunset.
Our first trip was a success! 35 miles and no issues anchoring. 🙂
Which meant sundowners on the flybridge!
After our stay in Key Biscayne, it was time to say goodbye.
Back at our dock. Ashley is up on the boom zipping up the mainsail!

After our trip, Ashley had to head back to NC while Shannon stayed a few more days to do some maintenance on Aventis. Shannon knew he was in the doghouse when he saw this…

Home (Boone NC) on the national news for crazy snow storm and Shannon hanging out in 80 degree weather missing it? Uh oh!
Ashley sent this video to Shannon so he would know what he was missing…
Caper and Chance love snow!
Ella and Addie had a great time and didn’t mind missing a week of school!
Shannon came back to NC shortly after the big snow and the family spent Christmas together.
Christmas morning. It isn’t every year we get a white Christmas.
Makenzie on Christmas day.
Ella and Makenzie on Christmas day.
Ella, Makenzie, and Addie on Christmas day.
Chance, Addie, and Makenzie on Christmas day.

We had a great Christmas… Spent time with all of our family, including Mikaela’s new husband David (very cool guy and fits in with our family perfectly!).

After Christmas, the whole family (including Caper and Chance) headed down to the boat for a week of play in south Florida.

We waited to have the renaming ceremony for the boat until all of us were on the boat together. As part of the ceremony, we hoisted an Aventis flag,
Caper, Shannon, and Chance chilling out on Aventis.
Caper took to the boat right away. He loved climbing all over it.
Chance turned out to be a fearless boat dog as well!
We went to the beach at Key Biscayne one of the days. This is Addie on the beach and Ella on the paddle board.
Caper and Chance love the water!
Addie, Ashley, Shannon, Chance, and Caper enjoying the beach.
On another day, we took the dinghy down to Haulover Cut sand bar. What a wild place – tons of people!
The next day we went to Dog Beach at Haulover park beach.
Ella, Chance, Caper, and Mak hanging out on the beach.
Mak and Caper playing on the beach.

Coming up in January 2019: Getting the boat hauled out, Addie visits the boat for her birthday, Shark Mania, and Bashing to the Bahamas

November 2018: It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere!

We spent the end of October and the beginning of November at our home in Blowing Rock, NC. The big event in November was the ice storm:

Our backyard during the ice storm.
After a couple of days we were finally able to leave the house and discover why we lost power. Some massive trees took the lines down! That power line is only up temporarily in this picture – it is hardly 7 feet above the road. This is the longest we had lost power since moving to our home in 2002.

So, we decided to escape the icy weather and go to the boat to spend Thanksgiving in South Florida!

Makenzie, Ashley, Addie, and Ella the night before our early morning flight to Fort Lauderdale. We were spending Thanksgiving on the boat! One of the best things about Sierra Nevada is that it is located right next to the Asheville airport. We fly Allegiant back and forth to the boat (Asheville – Fort Lauderdale) so we get to visit Sierra Nevada often! Just one of many great breweries in Asheville!
For Shannon’s birthday (in October) we went to Sierra Nevada brewery in Asheville, NC with Don and Melissa Marlett.
Sierra Nevada is amazing and huge! This is just one of the many outside areas to hangout. Way down the hill under the trees is a stage with live music.
Shannon and Ashley at Sierra Nevada in Asheville, NC.

We made it to the boat and enjoyed the week just hanging out, swimming, some shopping, and of course eating.

Needless to say, we didn’t mind escaping that weather to Hollywood, FL to “work on the boat” over Thanksgiving!
Where the temp was about 65 degrees warmer than the icy weather we left behind!
We didn’t get much work done on the boat, but the whole family loved being in south Florida for Thanksgiving!


Coming up in December 2018: First Sail, Monster Snow, Christmas, and the Family Escapes to Southern Florida

October 15, 2018: Aventis is Ours!

Here is Aventis:

Just kidding! That was our first boat, a Hunter 23, in 1997 at the dock in our backyard in Hudson, FL.

For real, here is Aventis:

Shannon on Sailing Cat Aventis at Gunn Cay, Bimini Bahamas, March 8, 2019. Photo Credit: Makenzie Thompson
Shannon at the helm and Ashley bringing in the lines as we depart from our dock in Hollywood, FL on December 3, 2018. That is our friend, Kent Meredith of sailing cat Wind Ensemble, on the dock helping toss the lines.
Photo Credit: Kathy Meredith
Aventis at Hollywood, Florida dock. Notice the towel hanging to dry? 🙂
Aventis has many places to hang out…. the flybridge, the sundeck, the front seating area, the trampolines, the rear seating area, inside…
One of the seating areas in the rear cockpit. This is where we eat most of the time.
The galley and nav station inside.
The “living room” inside.
The master bedroom.
The master bathroom.
This is Addie’s room, which is also the guest room when we have guests on board. Addie’s room has a full bathroom.
This is our laundry room because it is where the washer/dryer is located. We also use it as a guest room. This room also has a full bathroom.

So, that is Aventis!
Coming up next month (November 2018): Escaping the Ice Storm

October 10, 2018: Buying a Boat

Wow! It has been an eventful few weeks since our last post:

We traveled to Fort Lauderdale for the survey and sea trial

We flew down to Fort Lauderdale on Sept 25th and after checking into our hotel we visited some marinas in order to locate a slip to keep Aventis for the next year.  Some marinas don’t have the space for catamarans, some won’t really know if they have a slip until after the Fort Lauderdale boat show the first week of November, and some want as much as $3,000 per month! After our first day of scoping marinas out, we were a little worried that we might not find one in the Lauderdale area.

On Sept 26th we got up early and were at the boat by 8am. With a hired captain, the surveyor, the seller’s broker, and our broker we checked out every inch of the boat for the next 8 hours.

After some inspections for about an hour, we motored down the intercoastal to the marina where we would haul the boat out to survey the hulls. On our way, we also raised the sails.

motoring down river

motoring down river aft

about to raise mainsail

The survey went great. The surveyor found about a dozen things that need to be fixed. They assure us this is a whole lot less than normal since the boat is practically new. The good news is that everything on the list is going to be fixed for us!

After the survey we went to the marina office where the boat is currently docked and we signed up for another year. The marina is in a gated community with 24/7 security, nice facilities for restrooms, showers, laundry, etc and we get to use the community pool and gym. The rent can’t be beat either! The marina is actually in Hollywood, Florida (about 5 miles south of Fort Lauderdale). Hollywood is mainly a resort community, which means lots of good shopping and restaurants for us. So, in one long but fun day we learned a lot about the boat, that the few things wrong are going to be fixed, and where we are going to live on the boat for the next year. Well, we aren’t actually moving aboard full time until June, but we will visit a lot.

The next day we jumped on a flight back to Charlotte. Bye boat and Florida!

We traveled to Galax, VA for a weekend with family cabin’ing

When we arrived in Charlotte we met my sister Jenny aka Skylar at the airport and brought her back to Blowing Rock with us. The next day we cooked and packed and drove up to Galax, Virginia to meet up with my mom, Jack, Shawn (my brother), Miki (sister-in-law), their boys Lucas and Theo, and of course Jenny/Skylar, Ella, and Addie. Makenzie couldn’t join us because she was in the middle of sorority stuff (she is a new member of Sigma Kappa at App State). We rented 3 cabins and celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday. Other exciting news we learned while “cabin’ing” is that my sister got married to a nice (so I hear) guy named Dave Wilkinson and changed her name to Mikaela Wilkenson. For now they are staying out in Fort Collins, CO as a happy newlywed couple. Pretty exciting stuff!

We traveled to Annapolis, Md for the US Sailboat Show

We returned from “cabin’ing” on Sunday and then on Wednesday morning we took off to Annapolis to go to the US Sailboat Show. This was our first time in Annapolis – what a neat, historic city by the water! Since we now (almost) have a boat, being at the show was different for us from our past shows. We toured a bunch of catamarans and even a monohull. Our decision to get the Lagoon 450 was definitely reaffirmed! We also price shopped for equipment and supplies we want to add to the boat. We didn’t buy much (more than we meant to actually) because we are going to wait for the Lauderdale show and/or Miami show to actually get everything since we will be so close to our boat then. The best part of the show was meeting other cruisers and soon-to-be cruisers.  We met the broker selling our boat there. He is also going to be our neighbor at the marina. He lives aboard the same kind of boat and conducts sailing and boat buying seminars as Catamaranguru.com. Having someone so knowledgeable about our model so close by is awesome for us. While in Annapolis we also went to a party at Leopard/Moorings hosted by Happy Together, a cruising couple we watch on Youtube.  One day we also met one of the owners of Just Catamarans (Jim, our broker works for Just Cats and we will definitely have Just Cats add some equipment and do some modifications/maintenance for us). Interestingly, the owner we met, Kent, moved up to the Blowing Rock area full time just last month!

Well, we toured, shopped, ate, drank, and talked for four days and flew back home. We thought we would close on the boat while in Annapolis, but the paperwork didn’t get finished in time.

We closed on our new boat!

After being home a couple of days from Annapolis (the first day back was Columbus day so nothing was happening that day) we finally closed on our boat! We are now the proud owners of Aventis. 🙂

Aventis is currently getting everything on the survey list fixed. We hope to go down for our first visit as owners (to clean and perform the renaming ceremony) next week. We will let you know in our next update…

September 23, 2018: Changing Course!

In case you haven’t heard, we sold our company. Over the past year we have been working with the new owners to take things over. Shannon still does a little training (school administrator training) and accounting for the company, but for the most part the new owners are doing most everything and they are doing great. We will continue to work with the new owners to ensure their success.

Our Blowing Rock house is on the market (to help pay for our adventure). You can check out the listing here.

Makenzie is enjoying her freshman year at Appalachian State University. Currently she is in the middle of sorority rush events.

Ella is a senior at Watauga High. By taking a few online classes over the past year she was able to skip her junior year entirely. She is getting ready to submit applications to Duke, NC State, and a few universities in Florida.

Addie is in 7th grade at Blowing Rock Elementary. She is excited about our sailing adventure as long as we have internet and she can visit her friends occasionally.  A lot of people she meets are jealous that she gets to be “boat schooled”. She started a bakery business this summer but we have pretty much stopped taking orders since she started back to school. It was a lot of fun to do this summer, though!

Caper and Chance are spending a lot of time at their friend Lin’s house as we travel to boat shows, look at boats, etc.   Lin spoils them, like letting them sleep in bed with her, so they really love going to doggie camp.

We (Shannon and Ashley) have been chartering boats for the past couple of years and have been taking sailing classes in order to confidently sail a large catamaran.

We made an offer on a 2017 Lagoon 450 F!

Lagoon 450

We really love this model (learn more about it here). It has 2 cabins on the port side, each with an en suite with their own full showers. It has an owner’s suite on the starboard side with tons of room and storage and, of course, a big en suite. It has a forward cockpit (sitting area), a huge aft cockpit, and our favorite sitting area – a flybridge. The flybridge is also the helm station and offers great visibility. There is quite a bit of debate among cruisers regarding the flybridge. There are a couple of drawbacks (such as not being a part of the aft cockpit and being exposed to weather on your way to/from the flybridge), but over 95% of the time we are going to love this particular feature. Those who have the flybridge model overwhelmingly love them.

The cat we made an offer on was practically a brand new boat last summer (2017). It was in at least one hurricane (Irma or Maria). As a result of the hurricane it was dismasted though. It has since been completely restored. However, due to receiving hurricane damage and the fact that the owners have purchased a larger boat, we were able to quickly get a like-new boat with our list of requirements.

It is currently docked in Fort Lauderdale. It gets surveyed on Sept 26th and we take it out for a sea trial. Barring any unforeseen issues, we will close on it sometime during the first two weeks of October.

If we purchase this cat, we will spend between October 2018 and at least June 2019 traveling back and forth between Blowing Rock and Fort Lauderdale getting it ready for full time cruising and getting it ready for living aboard.

The first week of October we will be at the boat show in Annapolis checking out the new models, but more importantly shopping for some new equipment and items for this Lagoon (we will know by the show if we decide to purchase it or not based on the survey).

We will update you after the survey/sea trial!