NORDHAVN PENDANA GUEST INTERVIEW Martin & Stephanie Morris MV BLOSSOM N60
Martin & Stephanie at Norman’s Cay, Bahamas
So, Martin, tell us a little something about your cruising to date and where you have been so far?
We’ve had two separate periods of cruising so far.
Our first was in 2009. We trucked our 43’ express cruiser “I Got Lucky” to Florida and intended to spend the year cruising the south of Florida and The Bahamas. Unfortunately, engine trouble cut our cruising year short and we ended up spending 6 months fixing her up in Ft Lauderdale. That was my first introduction to the increased cost deferred maintenance will cause. We blogged about our year at http://igotluckycruising.blogspot.com/ Yeah, we didn’t fully realize how that URL turned out until 3 months into the trip.
Lucky anchored at Little Pipe Cay, The Bahamas
Now we’re into our second period of cruising. We took delivery of Blossom in August 2014 and we’ve spent the time since cruising to iron out all the wrinkles that come – at no extra charge! – with a new boat. After we cast off from the Nordhavn dock in Stuart, we made our way up the east coast to Baltimore just in time for Trawlerfest. Then we headed back south to be in the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show for PAE. After FLIBS and a little warranty work, we headed south to Key West for Christmas and New Year, then out to The Dry Tortugas; up to St Petersburg; across Florida through the Okeechobee waterway; over to The Bahamas where we cruised The Abacos and The Exumas. After the Exumas we headed back to the States and we’re currently in North Palm Beach, FL.
Blossom anchored in the Chester River, Chesapeake Bay
Why did you choose a Nordhavn?
We first encountered a Nordhavn in 2009. We were sat in Bahia Mar waiting for a weather window to head to Bimini when this HUGE ship pulled into the dock next to us. She was being single handed by her owner Andy, who had just come over from Bimini. We asked about the conditions and he said it was fine. He kindly showed us around his boat and we were astounded at the space and utility. The ship was Danouve, his brand new Nordhavn 43. We couldn’t believe it was the same length as Lucky! That opened our eyes to trawlers and we saw many more in The Bahamas.
When we made the decision to cruise again, we decided that a trawler was the way to go. We went to many TrawlerFests and narrowed it down to a Kady Krogen 58 or a Nordhavn 60. It was a close call, but the Nordhavn’s reputation, along with the flexibility PAE showed was possible with a new build, tipped the scales and Blossom was born. It was a difficult process, over 30 months from LOI to delivery, but like all new parents we’re happy and proud!
What has been your cruising highlight so far?
We’ve had many highlights so far – it’s been a fantastic year – but both Stephanie and I burst out laughing with the same memory. When we took delivery our salesman, Jeff Merrill, joined us in Stuart and spent ten days with us to provide us with some training. We travelled to Charleston from Stuart and it included an overnight passage. The waters were so flat that Stephanie saw a seagull riding a turtle! During the passage to Charleston Jeff introduced us to his way of keeping fit and ensuring calm passage while aboard:
Do you travel with an animal/s on board?
We don’t. We were going to and had flown from California to Stuart with our cat George for commissioning. Sadly, he succumbed to cancer early in commissioning and never got to see Blossom. We still miss him and anytime we see a stray kitten there’s a danger that an impromptu adoption will occur.
In your past life what did you and Stephanie do?
I worked in Silicon Valley, managing the care and feeding of business systems for high tech companies. Stephanie was a research study manager at University of California, San Francisco.
Martin, if there is one thing Stephanie does that irritates you while underway what would that be?
Talking. We manage stress very differently. Steph talks, I shut down.
Stephanie, is there one thing Martin does that irritates you?
He never eats enough and he gets cranky when he’s hungry! That makes me stressed so I talk a lot.
Onto irritating things, have you ever run out of something while at sea that has caused problems?
Steering fluid. It was our first trip after taking delivery. Just us and a training captain, we were headed up the outside from Stuart to Cape Canaveral. During one of our engine checks, I noticed oil in the bilge. I tracked it back to one of the auto pilot steering pumps. Jeff and I worked out how to switch to the other pump and then a quick satellite phone to our electronics installer provided the instructions on how to switch the autopilots to the other pump. Fortunately we didn’t totally run out of fluid and were able to make it to Canaveral. I then filled up the reservoir and re-pressurized it that night.
Would you describe yourselves as more hunters or more gathers?
I’m a hunter, Stephanie is a gatherer.
Why did you name your vessel MV Blossom?
During the build, we were talking about our new boat a lot. At first we used “it”, “her”, “she”. I told Stephanie that we had to have a name, even if only a working one, so that the boat wouldn’t get angry with us during the build. Stephanie thought it would be funny to call such a tough looking boat a soft and frilly name and we decided on “Petal”. So we were calling her Petal. It occurred to me that while Petal is a good name for her, it is better suited for our tender. After all, a petal is a small thing that drops off a bigger thing. I suggested “Blossom” and we could go with a cherry blossom theme. I like cherry blossoms. Stephanie did some research and learnt about the ephemeral nature of cherry blossoms and how they are a symbolic reminder of how life is beautiful and too short. Then the name stuck. I’ve been going to art school and I talked one of my old class mates into helping us come up with a great design for Blossom.
Cecelia did a great job. If anyone is looking for some logo design work, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with her!
Having only recently commissioned MV Blossom how did you find the process?
Necessary! For all of the great work the factory does, there’s very little “integration testing” done before a new boat is shipped from China. Like software, when a boat is tested as much as she is during commissioning things break and need to be fixed. To PAE’s credit, they take on the responsibility of this testing and then the subsequent repairs. Other manufacturers let the warranty period take care of it, which is much harder on the new owners. Nonetheless it took much longer than we expected– seven months.
What was the best thing about the process?
Seeing Blossom turn into a capable trawler. She arrived in Stuart bare-bones. Functionally capable of going from point A to point B but really not much else. Seeing the electronics get installed and the rooms be furnished, the vision turned into reality.
..and the worst?
Dealing with the equipment failures. A lot of the OEM machinery had issues, some large, some small. We found most of them during commissioning. When we left Stuart we went to Baltimore and back, a journey of some 2,500 nm, and had three things fail during the trip – an air conditioning chiller, the 9kw generator and the aforementioned steering pump. Thanks to a policy of redundancy, none stopped our cruising and we were able to get all fixed easily enough.
What other names did you consider?
We decided very early on that whatever name we chose would not have “lucky” in it.
What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while at sea?
There was the time Jeff Merrill video’d me dropping (and “breaking”) the toilet. I still haven’t had a good explanation why Jeff was videoing, but enjoy:
What’s the biggest mistake you have ever made on the water?
In my defence we’ve been cruising in very shallow waters this year, but I’ve run aground. Multiple times! With Blossom, it’s no big deal. The prop is well protected by the keel and it’s proven straight forward to get off the mud: Crank the wing, stern thrust into deeper water and reverse.
Lucky, on the other hand, was a 12 Boat Unit learning opportunity. She has IPS drives – one of the first ever as it happens – and when she runs aground, metal hits. In this instance it was on rocks just outside the ICW in Ft Lauderdale at low tide. All four props and shafts needed to be replaced.
Tell us a little something about MV Blossom?
Blossom is our dream boat! We worked with a fabulous team to create her, along with PAE, we had our salesman, Jeff Merrill, designer Scott Cole and consultant Steve D’Antonio involved in the planning and build. She’s a pretty highly modified 60 and we couldn’t be happier with how she turned out! One of our more obvious modifications is that she’s the first 55/60 (that we know of) to open up the pilot house:
Are you scared of spiders?
I’m not but Stephanie is. One of my many hats is “designated live spider removal”. If we had the kind of spiders you guys have to deal with in Australia, things may be different.
What’s your favourite photo ever taken while at sea and why?
We fell in love with cruising in 09 while in The Bahamas and dreamt on returning someday. This photo was taken on our sea trial in August 2014. We realized the dream!
What would you never leave behind (besides each other) when heading out to sea?
A satellite phone and, for me, tea. Lots and lots of tea. Stephanie can’t live without her quilting supplies (her stash continues to expand and is slowly taking over the VIP cabin).
Tell us something about yourselves that no one knows.
Stephanie used to be a belly dancer and Martin used to be an ice hockey goalie.
And finally, where to next?
Up the coast to Charleston where we’ll be meeting my mother and she’ll be meeting Blossom for the first time. From there we’ll head back south and leave Blossom in LaBelle, FL for our off season. We intend to cruise with Blossom 6 months a year (spending the other 6 months at home in California). Next year we want to spend more time on the west coast of Florida and then head to The Bahamas.
Martin, Stephanie & Sandy (Steph’s Mom) enjoying Rachel’s Bubble Bath, Exumas
Thank you very much for your time, will be watching this year’s progress closely.
Good luck with your travels!
MV Blossom’s blog site can be found at: http://n60blossom.blogspot.com/
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