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INNcredible Sea Lodge

I love the water, especially the ocean. Growing up on the Jersey shore (LBI), 10 houses from the beach, I rose with every sunrise to check the surf. If there were waves, I'd grab my surfboard surfing a couple hours before eating breakfast and back to the beach. As a kid you couldn't get me out of the water (I didn't much like the sand) until it was time to eat. In the early 70s I was your lifeguard on 14th Street in Beach Haven. My sailing experience started with a Sunfish which I adored and spent many days exploring Barnegat Bay. I loved my Sunfish so much I tied it on an old pickup truck and drove across country to Santa Barbara, California. Years before (I was 17) I had flown to LA and with backpack on and surfboard under my arm hitchhiked exploring/surfing coastal California. Within 18 months after my return to NJ I was back in CA and calling Santa c Barbara my home.But my love for the ocean was in competition with my dream to become a farmer, an organic farmer; and eventually it became apparent that the possibilities of owning land and farming along the California coast where beyond my wildest reach financially. So in 1974 after an exploratory trip in my 1958 GMC pickup up the coast as far as Willits, looking for land all along the way, we (my friend Larry and I) turned east through Clear lake and eventually up into the Sierra Foothills. By the time we reached Placerville our dashed-hopes of buying land were turning around. And by some divine providence we discovered the long forgotten Gold Rush outpost called Fair Play. $500 down held 34 rolling forested acres with a creek until we could return the next spring.

We packed up the old GMC and Big Bertha (the 1958 Chevy flatbed) with our goats, clawfoot tub, all our belongings including the Sunfish pulling a trailer behind with our hives of bees and set up camp in the middle of "our land". The rest is fodder for its own book but to fast forward 37 years... well let me say a bit about those years. Respectfully clearing parts of our land we planted orchards and then exclusively vineyards and started Fair Play's first winery in 1980. We eventually found another 40 acres of hilltop just up the road and started anew building a massive hand-crafted log lodge atop our wine cellars. The Lodge housed our B&B and tasting room which my wife Diana and I have operated along with the winery on the hill since 1987. Thus the boat's name INNcredible Sea Lodge. And as our guests onboard you'll find comfortable rooms and only high quality healthy food served as we've done at Fitzpatrick Winery & Lodge.

That's quite a leap from Sunfish to a Lagoon 450 cruising catamaran, you might comment. And you're right but my skills as a sailor on my Sunfish, my surfing, my years by the ocean, my recent 15 years scuba diving have ingrained a knowledge base tempered with complete respect of the Ocean and all its might. But when the desire to get back to the ocean re-surfaced so strongly that I became obsessed (about 7 years ago), I reached out and started taking action. I started studying and devouring every written word about sailing, I took ASA American Sailing Association) courses in sequence live in places like the San Juan Islands, San Francisco Bay and out into the Pacific. Every annual vacation became a trip to a different warm water destination chartering catamarans  bareboat and skippering the BVIs, Us Virgin Islands, etc chartering different makes of catamarans each time. Going to Sailboat shows including flying to the Miami Boat Show to be able to walk on many different makes and models to see first hand what was out there.

When I finally mustered the means to actually purchase one I had to make the big choice. And although I had somewhat different ideas of MY dream boat if it was just for me, I have learned over the years buying lots of equipment, like tractors for instance, that you have to make a list of the projected uses first so you can qualify each potential candidate and pick the one that best meets your actual projected uses. And since my plan was to create a floating B&B, I grimmiced but knew that my customers might demand air-conditioning, they won't understand that water is scarce, they'll appreciate private bathroom and showers for each stateroom, some on-board entertainment would be nice, etc. So making the choice at the Oakland Strictly Sail Show in 2011 was surprisingly easy - the LAGOON 450.

So I ordered the Cat which was to be built in France, a long way from California. So, I'd have to go fetch it or cough up almost $150,000 more to have it delivered. And afterall my whole dream is to explore the oceans and coastal outposts of the world, so I flew to France in June 2012 to christen the INNcredible Sea Lodge and sail it home. My first mate Andrew Starr and I sailed her down the Atlantic coasts of France , the Basque Country, Spain's Austurias and Galicia and the Portuguese coast reaching Lisbon by mid-August. There she rested while I returned to the winery to harvest the vineyards and crush the grapes into wine. My return in early November restarts the INNcredible journey which will take us down the African coast and you know what... hop over to INNcredible Journey for the rest of this story.
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