The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull’Acqua: the Mason’s Saga from Canadian Locks to Florida Key’s Docks

18 mins read

The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull’Acqua

International Yachting Media’s opening feature in our series showcasing Absolute Yachts flourishing reception on U.S. shores focused on the Italian naval yard’s Navetta line. For our second reading, we follow up with an inspirational customer profile on Marvin and Amy Mason.

The American duo recently navigated their Navetta 52 Sull’Acqua – named On the Water as a tribute to the yacht’s Italian heritage – on a double sea odyssey of discovery first, diving into a six-week sojourn around the Great Lakes, before finishing up the following year with a five-month-plus waterway foray traversing through the Canada lock system, then down the Intracoastal Waterway System (ICW) to Marathon, Florida.

The motivation of a Harley Davidson

Our interview commences with the avid adventurists paralleling their travels to the popular proverbial phrase: “It’s about the journey not the destination.” And I concur! By the conclusion of our chat about their travels, the moving, motivational narrative gave new meaning to the maxim. But to fully appreciate the saga of the long distance cruise of Absolute Sull’Acqua, the genesis of the Wisconsinites wanderlust must be discussed.

The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull'Acqua 5 NYC Hudson River Sull'AcquaThe couple’s cravings for “charting a new course” trace back to a Harley Davidson Ultra and a series of wind-in-their-hair tours roaming around back roads of small-town USA without a care in the world or a commitment on the calendar. That spark of seeing the country from a two-wheeled perspective ignited bigger flames with a different point of view. The landscape became a seascape, and an electric-powered 22’ Duffy was splashed in Milwaukee waters in 2017. Infected with the “bigger boat bug,” within a year the Duffy disappeared and a 50’ Monte Carlo purchase opened the door to unchartered territories.

With Marvin now retired from his executive role as chief customer officer for a worldwide training company, he and Amy were hungry for more. Fortunately, their broker had just the right piece of precious cargo to satisfy their appetite, and an Absolute Navetta 52 already on order for Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales (JBYS) went from production in Italy to pick-up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.

The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull’Acqua: a double sea odyssey

Quick at learning the ropes, thanks to professional captains accompanying Sull’Acqua during her maiden voyage home, and from the family’s loads of local use with continual maintenance support day and night from JBYS – the new American owners reserved the summer of 2021 for a “short” 914-mile trial.

Spending $5,482 on fuel and $5,195 in fees at 17 marinas when visiting stunning ports such as South Haven, Saugatuck and Grand Haven… the voyage, in itself, was a reassuring accomplishment signaling the seafarers were ready, willing and able for a grander getaway beyond the Great Lakes. Once back on land, coupling that boost of confidence with planning advice from a plethora of persuadable YouTube videos, itinerary number two was soon inked.

Come July of 2022, windswept pines and craggy coastlines dotting the Georgian Bay, and the dauntingly intricate locks of inland transport along the Trent Severn Waterway, welcomed the couple to Canada. Most fascinating was hearing the Mason’s experience on the railroad lift  which functions by cradling vessels from one level of the canal to the next in a sling or chute, before safely slipping the boats back in the water.

Motoring into New York, locks continued to meet and greet the Absolute 52-footer along the Erie Canal, as did vibrations from a dinged prop. Upon discovering the expensive Canadian souvenir from nicking a rock or object on the bottom of the channel in the Trent Severn Waterway, props were swapped in Oswego, and it was onward along the Hudson River into New York City. After taking a bite out of the Big Apple, the Atlantic Ocean and the changing tides and shifting soils on the Chesapeake Bay came a-calling!

Now midway down the Eastern Seaboard, Maryland also meant making time for unforeseen circumstances gifted by Mother Nature like dodging Hurricane Ian and dislodging jumbo jellyfish from the air conditioning raw water intake strainer; it was also spent reconnecting with friends and family, as was often the case along the way.

During the final stretch southbound on the ICW, the clear skies again vanished requiring anchoring in Fernandina Beach, Florida, (and moving on land to a hotel) to ride out hurricane number two, named Nicole. Then it was onto the last leg of marine merriment, capping off the 3,253-mile excursion with a one month stay at the famed Faro Blanco Resort in Marathon, to give their daughter Olivia and son Connor a chance to connect with mom and dad over the December holidays.

The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull'Acqua Bahamas

The aquatic aficionados wrapped up their waterway tour de force in the Bahamas where they enjoyed mixing plenty of sips of Buffalo Trace with plenty of dips into crystalline seas, prior to heading to their new home state of Florida. Calling Sull’Acqua “casa loro” (their home) for half a year, below Marvin and Amy share their thoughts on the Absolute Navetta 52, which kept them safe, sound and smiling from the bays to the big waters of the USA and beyond!

Interview with Marvin and Amy: let’s discuss about the long distance cruise of Absolute Sull’Acqua

  1. IYM: What were the defining parameters and/or prerequisites at the root of your purchasing decision?

Marvin: Our former Monte Carlo had a slanted windshield with corner posts blocking my views, so visibility inside was crucial. One feature we really like about Absolute Yachts is the 360-degree view from the main cockpit deck and the ease of piloting from the helm station. Having a hardtop that could withstand the wind was also vital. The fact, it opened effortlessly with the push of a button, was like having the best of both worlds.

Amy: The aft galley also influenced our decision. It gave the boat a bigger feel by having the ability to open up the cockpit. Also, I didn’t want to be down below when preparing meals, and I liked being so close to the stern terrace when entertaining.

  1. IYM: What features and creature comforts did you both most enjoy?

Amy and Marvin 2 Sull'AcquaMarvin: I nicknamed the Navetta, the mini ship, because it was tall, had a plumb bow, and when people saw us, they saw a small ship, but “mini ship” is also the literal meaning of Navetta in Italian. However, looking back, the 52-footer was the perfect size. We always found space at the marinas we visited. Sull’Acqua also got lots of looks. She was definitely a major attraction and everywhere we went, we were asked, “What kind of boat is that?”

Having the ability to walk around the bed in both the master suite and VIP cabin was great. It was also nice to have such a large size bed for when guests were staying over onboard.

Amy: The abundance of seating areas for times when we were socializing was super. On the flybridge of Sull’acqua, we loved the open space and added two loose chairs where we would start the day with a coffee and end the day with a whiskey talking about the journey. Storage was also plentiful. We kept discovering new spots once underway, and at the end of the trip had accumulated enough stuff to fill a U-Haul truck.

  1. IYM: Sull’Acqua holds 528 gallons of fuel and is powered by twin Volvo Penta D6 IPS 650 engines rated 480-hp each, how were her handling maneuvers?

Marvin: We mostly traveled between 9 to 15 knots and fuel economy was excellent in this range. The Navetta rode so well naturally at trawler speeds, and when we wanted to pick it up to a planing speed, we could, and we did. Coming down the ICW, we encountered boats that actually radioed to pass us, given that, they were built strictly for planing and struggled to hold the slow speeds. It’s really a shame because they miss out on the beautiful coastlines, and made us really appreciate having the displacement hull.

In terms of navigating, being powered by the pods and autopilot, weather elements were always corrected and we never felt like the winds were overtaking. Having the joystick controls made it easy to push back sideways and pick back up if need be. I also started to realize the value of using the Seakeeper 6 gyro when docking. It made a major difference and I would turn it on about 20 minutes prior for it to spool up. The starboard side access door was also very helpful when docking, or if needing to step out to speak with someone.

  1. IYM: During the long distance cruise of Absolute from Canada to Florida, what were some of the challenges of the diverse and changing seascapes the boat encountered?

Marvin and Amy helm Sull'AcquaMarvin: In the Canadian locks, the side slopes of the narrow passages make them really much narrower than they appear, and it was crucial to stay as near to the center as possible. We also learned early on the importance of announcing our passages prior to going through, to alert vessels traveling toward us.

 We don’t have moving tides and currents in the Great Lakes, so halfway down the coast, the learning experiences continued when entering the brackish waters. During the long distance cruise of Absolute the navigating equipment would indicate safe depths, which at times were not accurate, due to the shoaling. The most valuable source of data was relying on community tools shared in real-time. Also, as we expected, the salt water caused more growth on the underside, and we had to have divers scrape the barnacles off along the way at different marinas.

  1. IYM: Your YouTube channel Sull’Acqua documenting the long distance cruise of Absolute as a memento to share with family and friends has become an inspirational tool for fellow boaters. From your interaction with followers, has anyone pushed those throttles forward and purchased an Absolute?

Marvin: It’s funny, so far we seem to have two groups of people, those who are considering an Absolute and are seeking more clarity in a general sense, and then there are the new owners waiting for their Absolutes to be delivered and they want tons of details. All the conversations are easy to have because the Navetta fulfilled our needs perfectly.A

Special feature of Sull’Acqua: 5 essential enhancements for extended travels

In preparation for the second long-term expedition, Marvin fills us in on five essential enhancements he and Amy upgraded the Navetta Sull’Acqua with, all installed within a week’s time at Jefferson Beach Yacht Sale’s Holland facility. Each component was incredibly valuable for the service it provided, and this input is worthy of careful reflection for boaters considering a marine undertaking of this magnitude.

1-Water maker and purification system of Sull’Acqua

The water maker and purification system was initially installed for anchoring in the Bahamas to provide flexible access to water, which can be costly and at times a challenge to find. The water maker produced 50 gallons per hour, and the purification system produced 83 gallons an hour.

It also further purified both seawater and harbor water. In addition to filling our 158-gallon tank with fully purified water it offered an advantageous reduction in plastic bottles and reduced boat washing time, it cut down time spent washing the boat, seeing that the water was so pure, no spots needed to be dried off.

The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull'Acqua Sull'Acqua Headsets

2- Motorized tilting antenna

Not wanting to reach a destination with a low bridge and then have to turn around, we installed an electronic hinge on the mast that automatically tilts down the Garmin without having to unbolt stuff. This was most useful up in Canada on approach to lower bridges when navigating through the country’s lock system.

3- Flybridge decking

During the long distance cruise of Absolute we spent a great portion of time up on the flybridge, we added a spongier type of marine matting which made walking around barefoot more comfortable. As a second benefit, the cushioning also absorbed sounds better with less rattling.

4- Automatic Identification System (AIS)

The Automatic Identification System is a shipboard broadcast system that acts like a transponder, operating in the VHF maritime band. For all vessels using the system, it relays pertinent information including the size and location of the boat, as well as, the direction of travel and the real-time distance and countdown until a collision. A main reason we added the AIS was as a safety feature for the ICW where there are many commercial vessels.

10 Starlink internet Sull'Acqua

5- Starlink satellite internet

We discovered how fast Starlink is from boating buddies, and while we have a router system with a cellular chip, we found all the photos and videos on our devices were consuming the data plan. To use the Starlink Satellite System , it was as simple as plugging it in, downloading the App, and then looking for the satellite connection source to go online. This became our primary internet source, and then we would switch to the Verizon Wireless chip when we were moving.The long distance cruise of Absolute Sull'Acqua Sull'Acqua transom

In closing, as you can see, the Navetta is a pinnacle of achievement crafted for life at sea in longer increments when time is not considered a limitation, but instead a treasured luxury. Below is our initial story on the line for lectors who missed it and would like to learn more

Please surf back soon, as our series turns to the equally appealing, albeit sportier FLY line.

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