My name is LUX

Little white boat floating on the water towards the horizon in the rays of the setting sun. Beautiful clouds with yellow highlights. Aerial view

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes – She is from South Africa.  “I was born in Cape Town in 2004. I love people, traveling, and winds, as well as seas of any kind.  I love St. Augustine, Florida. On my very first trip, I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from South Africa to the Caribbean to meet a French Canadian couple,” says Lux. She is both graceful and drop-dead gorgeous.

I asked Lux, “How was your first trip?” Reflecting back on her experiences, Lux continued, “Knowing that we would not see land for a long while, the crew loaded food, water, and all other necessities. Our first day was filled with excitement. The following few days required some adjustments by all. The crew transitioned to the usual rhythm of passage making.”

In fair weather, crew were on watch for 4 hours, then 4 hours off. All that and a long journey across the Atlantic just to meet a couple in the Caribbean, I asked? “Well, I easily handled all that, it was not a problem,” said Lux with sincerity. She added, “Meeting the Canadian couple was my first very special moment in my life.  They are the ones who named me Lux. I was told that they used the name Lux, meaning light in French.”  She said that her next very special moment in her life was to meet Terry Slattery and Mike Maszczenski on December 8, 2011.

Okay, I just imagined that Lux is a person rather than a boat and, of course, she did not talk to me, but her crew did.

Starting 8 years of a wonderful relationship

After a long search, Terry Slattery and Mike Maszczenski, representing a group of 5 and using intermediaries, met Lux in Tortola Island in the British Virgin Islands. Lux is a  luxurious 40’ Leopard Catamaran made by Robertson and Caine, South Africa’s largest boat builder.

Lux Under Sail

Terry and Peggy Slattery, Carol Rechner, and Mike and Georgiana Maszczenski, are the group of 5 friends, highly experienced pleasure boaters who are the proud owners and the crew of Lux. They are also who make her a special boat.  One of the best parts of multi-hull cruising (catamarans and others) is arriving somewhere and getting to stay in a roomy, comfortable boat while exploring a new place.

Left to right: Mike Maszczenski,Carol Rechner,Terry and Peggy Slattery,and Georgiana Maszczenski

If you think about it, a boat is just a vessel intended to float and be used on the water.  However, two groups of things make it special: the boat’s design and quality, and the story behind the boat and her owners. If you decide to buy a boat, you do not just walk up to a boat and within a minute, say okay, I want it. Just like we all make an investment in any relationship, there is a need to spend some time and get to know the other side. In the boat buying world, sometimes you use professionals to gather information on a boat and have them check it inside out.  Just like home inspectors, there are boat surveyors would do that for you.  Then, of course, don’t assume that others know everything. They can’t have the same perception of the boat as you would. You need to get in, check it inside out yourself, with your family and maybe even your loved ones.  You need to see how you feel when you are in it. Finally, you need to do a sea trial of the boat, no matter if it is brand new or a previously owned one.  Just as in the case of Lux’s owners, experienced boaters know that very well.

The crew of Lux Enjoying the Sunset

Before they met Lux, they had been checking around, everywhere. They talked to brokers on the East Coast of the US, as well as others.  They checked the online resources. As a matter of fact, Terry said that they had put in an offer for another Leopard 40 Catamaran.  Shortly thereafter, their broker let them know that Lux had just come on the market. They asked a few questions about her, and the answers were positive. At that point, the boat had been hauled out of the water, it was getting new bottom paint. They had only three day’s notice.  Terry and Mike booked airline tickets to go down to Tortola, get on the boat, and do a survey. They also hired a professional boat surveyor. It turns out that the owners were down there, right at the end of their survey, because they were going to take Lux out for the last time before they sold the boat.

                                      Captain Terry Slattery

“So Mike and I were in a hotel, the owners [the French Canadian couple] were on Lux, and the broker went with the papers back and forth, helping us to negotiate. At the end of the day, we had an agreement for Lux,” said Terry.  I asked what happened next? Terry said, “We sent a text message to the rest of our partners [Peggy, Georgiana, and Carol] saying you’re now the proud owner of Lux.”

Captain Mike Maszczenski

A promise made, a promise kept

When all 5 got together back in Maryland, Terry started to make plans on picking up Lux from Tortola and bringing her back to Maryland.  He told the owners group that on this delivery trip, he guaranteed them two things. He said, “There will be times on the trip when you say this is lovely. This is wonderful. I’m so glad I’m here. I’m seeing things and experiencing things I’ve never seen or experienced before. And then, there will also be times when you go, why am I here? To put it politely.” Fortunately, it was more of the former and little of the latter.

42 days on the water

The group made plans and preparations to bring Lux from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, back to the US. Terry, Mike, and Carol had prior ocean sailing experience. They had a sailing schedule laid out because they had to pick up and drop off a few crew members in different places.  Georgiana said that the plan was to go through the Bahamas to get back to the US. They waited until May 2012 to pick up Lux because she was still in the charter fleet and had to continue pre-scheduled charters. In May, all five flew to Tortola, ready to sail Lux back to the US. Peggy, just like Georgiana, was very happy that they sold their 38’ sailboat and got Lux. Neither of them enjoyed the feeling of heeling on a single hull boat.

A traditional sailboat is a monohull–in other words, it has only one hull centered around a heavy keel. A catamaran is balanced on two hulls, with the sails in the middle.

Lux needed a few things to be worked on.  They got the work done and put her in the water. Lux has 4 cabins. That allowed them to have one more couple on board. Having a need to do ocean sailing, non-stop 24 hours a day for 3 days, and having a 7-person crew allowed Terry to schedule a comfortable watch schedule.

Having an active watch person on a boat is a must for safety reasons. The crew on watch are the front line of defense to ensure the safety of the other crew and the vessel. Carol said, “Terry set up a wonderful watch schedule of 3 hours at night and then off for 2 watches and then during the daytime, 4-hour watches. It really gave you a lot of free time before you had to come back on for your watch duty. The lovely thing about having two people is that you’d be keeping each other company. So that worked out very, very well.”

Left to right: Georgiana, Carol, Peggy and Terry in Lux

In the middle of the ocean and the dark, daylight is just around the corner

Peggy said, “The best time is the 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift. First of all, I had to get over the feeling of ‘Are we the only boat on the ocean?’ Terry did remind me that this is a big ocean.”  Also, in the first leg of the trip, the ocean was like glass, tame as it could be. She added, “It is all quiet, tranquility, and euphoria that this is ours, that we can enjoy this.” It was a kind of feeling that they could do this again and again.  Terry also loved the night shift, especially 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. He said, “It’s an incredible time because the day is waking up.” Mike also loves night time sailing. He said, “I love it. It’s great. It’s like Terry says, it is a very calming thing. The only thing, you’ve got to be careful because all of the sea terrors that are out there. You know, one night I stared at Venus for about two hours trying to wait for a tanker to come by. It was never a boat, but the planet Venus. It is very much like the bow (front) light of a large ship at night.

Mike said that one of the many things that Terry does great is his ability to predict the good weather windows for safe passages. He added, “That crossing we made to Bimini was a phenomenal thing. Watching the Gulf stream was magical.”

They had only one really bad storm that was right off the Georgia coast at St Mary’s inlet.  It was a thunderstorm that showed up unexpectedly, and pushed them hard, mentally, and physically. That was the worst weather that they ever had. They were motoring downwind at 7 ½ knots. Mike was driving, and all of a sudden he saw 65 knots on the anemometer, the wind speed indicator. Right after Mike spotted 65 knots, the unit broke. They guestimate that the total wind speed was at least 72 knots. They could not see anything outside of Lux. Peggy said none of the crew was scared, but she recalls that she was glad that she was not on a monohull sailboat.  One of the funny moments was Mike’s reaction to the sudden storm. Peggy remembers that as soon as the storm passed, Mike told the group to get the chicken out for dinner. “We all looked at one another and said, he didn’t just say that. Really, Mike’s worried about chicken now?”

Lux is special because of its owners

The unique partnership of the group of 5 is the reason that Lux, despite the fact that she is considered an older boat, is still today a luxurious brand new looking catamaran. Each member of the 5-person owner group is an experienced boater in their own right.
Carol’s experience started when she was just 11 years old.  Lux was her first open ocean sailing experience.
Mike’s boating experience started with his father when he was a teenager and Georgian’s started when she met Michael.

Peggy and Terry Slattery-Who is the captain?

Terry’s experience goes back to his college days. In the case of Peggy, her boating experiences started in 1992 when she met Terry. She said, ”I met Terry and Terry said he had a sailboat. I thought that’s cool. But Terry did not tell me that it was in kit form, all over Mike and Georgiana’s yard. That turned out to be a very good thing. I helped rebuild it. So, I learned a lot from that experience. I did everything, drilling holes, wiring, and plumbing.”

It took the group a couple of years to complete the boat. Mike, laughing about those days, said, “It was after they got the fiber termites.” Apparently, after a hard winter, when they pulled up the keel, it was full of water. In order to drain all the water, Mike and Terry drilled holes in it to let the water out. In order to dry it, Terry rigged up a blower to blow air through it. In order to dry it faster, Mike came up with an idea to pump it full of alcohol first. A couple of guys saw what was happening, walked over, and asked what they were doing. Mike said they were getting rid of termites. The funny part was that the curious passersby believed it.

Strong bond and contributions

Each member of the group contributes to Lux in their own way — that makes Lux a special boat.  At one point, Terry proposed the renovation ideas, and all of them discussed it and chipped in for upgrades. Carol designed and fabricated a very special screened-in all-weather enclosure on the aft (back) side of the boat, creating a very comfortable additional space that was not there before.  Michael and she installed it. Carol also created and sewed fitted sheets for the cabins, which are hard to come by due to the nonstandard shapes of the space. Not stopping there, she redid the trampoline and totally reengineered the sunshades of the deck on the front end. While she was at it, she also redid the door screens and splash guards. Carol said, “If you go to a professional manufacturer, you wouldn’t get this.”  Mike added, “I don’t think there’s another one like it unless somebody made it off our plans. A lot of people have taken pictures of Lux.” Peggy takes care of the business side of their ownership and helps in sailing. She also helped Terry in installing a new air conditioner.

Mike checks the engine compartment

Terry and Mike installed a generator. Mike, together with Terry, deals with all the electronics on Lux. Terry has redone all of the electricals in the boat. Terry also was the initial requirements gatherer of the group and the researcher who spent hours trying to locate the right boat and visited them wherever they were at to check them out. Georgiana is the logistics person who makes their sailing more pleasurable. She is also the provisioning officer who makes sure they have all the food and supplies they need on any trip.  (See Experience Speaks.)

Sailing with Lux

Nearly every winter, the group takes Lux from Maryland down to warmer waters in the south via the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to avoid winterizing it. Mike said, “Every time we’ve kept Lux here, the hot water tastes terrible because you have to put antifreeze in the water system and it never washes out. So you’re always left with a bad taste.” Georgiana added, “For bigger boats like Lux, they need to stay on the water. You do not want to take them out unless it’s necessary; it is a lot of hassle.”  If the group goes down as far as Florida in the winter, they prefer not to go beyond St. Augustine because of the sizable amount of time wasted, waiting to pass through the numerous bridges between St. Augustine and Fort Lauderdale. Georgiana said that every time you turn around, there is a bridge and most are draw or swing bridges. She added, “Because they’re also timed for opening, you just get in line and wait. You have to be there at a certain time. You reach a point where you are literally planning down to the last minute to get between bridges. Otherwise, we’ll be waiting for hours. For shorter boats that don’t have a mast, things may be easier. It all depends on how much clearance they have.”

Sooner or later everyone needs to be on land. Left to right: Terry, Georgiana, Peggy and Carol.

Also, St. Augustine has a special place in the group’s itinerary.  Georgiana said, “We always end up in St. Augustine because Lux thinks St. Augustine, Florida, is a boat spa. She likes to pull in there, break down, make us look for parts. Lux likes it there, seriously. Michael has spent more time upside down in the engine compartment in St. Augustine than most other places.”

Boat ownership requires a significant degree of dedication to your boat to make it and keep it special. In the case of Terry, Peggy, Carol, Georgiana, and Michael, the proof is in the pudding — it is the beauty of Lux.

I bid you Fair Winds and Following Seas.

2 things I learned

  • It makes a big difference if you have an experienced team that can help to resolve all the issues that crop up on a boat or to make the time you spend on the boat more pleasant.
  • The ICW is full of bridges between St. Augustine and Miami.  If you are taking that route, before you go you need to pay close attention to the number of bridges, their clearance, and their scheduled opening times.  Otherwise, you will have to get in line and wait up to a day in some places.

3 things I recommend

How easy?

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