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Ketchup and the Krogen 55' Expedition: The Final Chapter

It seems like it was just yesterday when I walked the deck plug for the new Krogen 55i Expedition and then on this website compared a bottle of Heinz ketchup and the first in our new Expedition Series. It went as follows: iYou all know that famous 70's ketchup commercial. The one where the camera is focused on someone just waiting for that 'goodness' to come out of the bottle with Carly Simon's 'Anticipation' playing while we all sat glued to our TVs and watched and waited also. Many a ketchup lover also went through the same routine. We knew once it was out, it would be wonderful, but in the meantime, we were forced to wait and salivate. Sticking a knife in the bottle to make it come out faster would just plain ruin it!i Essentially my message was that it was going to take time, but certainly be worth the wait.

On Tuesday I was in Savannah, GA for the offload of the first Krogen 55' Expedition iInvictusi built for Bill and Lisa Roberts. Billis grandfather had sailed around the world in a sailboat of the same name. No coincidence, the naming of both yachts was inspired by the William Ernest Henley poem.

The offload crew for this milestone consisted of myself, Tom Button who is our Vice President of Operations whose responsibilities include overseeing all production activities, Gregg Gandy, our Service Manager who oversees the stateside commissioning work, and Mike Warren, a former sailor, and current Krogen 42 owner. Among other reasons, Mike was along for the ride since a) he is the Robertis insurance agent and b) he and his wife Dyan have serious interest in the 55 Expedition. More about Mike later.

We arrived at the port at the appointed time, went through the security clearance procedures and drove to the berth where the guard told us we could find the ship. We snaked our way through the port passing what seemed like thousands of containers with trucks moving containers whizzing around every which way like gigantic ants working in a colony. We eventually arrived at an empty Berth 8 n no ship. Gregg Gandy, our Service Manager, made a few calls and was assured that the ship was on its way in. So after 18 months of anticipation, still no ketchup.

Sure enough, what seemed like an eternity later but was really less than an hour, the ship arrived and we were cleared to board. By 3PM Invictus was in the water and we were heading to Thunderbolt Marina where we took on fuel, groceries and more gear. We left at first light Wednesday morning and took the inside route down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and spent the day checking out systems and stowing gear before we would venture offshore. In simple terms, we wanted to be certain that Invictus walked well before asking her to run. It was an uneventful day and the 4i10i draft of the 55i Expedition made transiting this notoriously shallow section of the ICW a much less daunting task than on some other vessels. We arrived at St. Simons Island in plenty of time to watch a gorgeous sunset over the marshlands.

Thursday morning we left at first light and headed out the inlet. Invictus would now be given the chance to really test her legs and mother nature gave her ideal conditions for her first full day at sea. We began by literally being flushed out the Brunswick River with the outgoing tide, our speed averaging over 11 knots. Once clear of the sea bouy, we headed south towards Fort Pierce, FL, our destination for Invictusi final commissioning. The wind started southwest at around 15 knots and as the day progressed it shifted more west and increased to 20 knots with the seas building to a moderate 4-6 feet. South we went at just under 8 knots with the twin John Deere engines humming away. Dolphins appeared early in the afternoon, and while itis not an unusual site to see dolphins when underway, it always amazes me at how long they stick around a Kadey-Krogen and play in the bow wave. Perhaps itis that the Pure Full Displacement hull form of a Kadey-Krogen is similar in many ways to a dolphin n a fine entry followed by a full mid-section trailing off to a streamlined stern - a model of efficiency.

On we went into the night, each of us standing 2 hour watches and since electronics have not yet been installed, we were hand steering. I hear boaters in general complain about hand steering, but aboard Invictus, it was not an issue at all. On my midnight to 2AM watch in 4-6 foot beam seas, less than a quarter turn on the wheel was all that was needed as a periodic correction to keep her on course. During that watch I tried to think of the name of any prospective customer who went on a sea trial aboard a Kadey-Krogen and then bought another boat because they thought the ride was better on the other boat. I could not think of one. You would not buy an expensive new car without a test drive, why would you buy a new yacht without a test drive? And make sure to hand steer.

When I awoke Friday morning, the wind had clocked around to the northwest giving us more of a downhill run the rest of the way to Fort Pierce. Seas had subsided to 1 n 2 feet and by 9AM buildings on the shoreline became visibile. With us back in cell range, Mike made several phone calls, some business and some personal, but each with a mention of the trip. Being on watch in the pilothouse with him sitting and working at the settee behind me, I couldnit help but hear his description of the 55 Expedition. Unfortunately, the language was a bit too passionate and colorful for me to print here, but suffice it to say, Mike is hooked.

By 1:30 PM Invictus was out of the water and the commissioning crew was busy at work. With only a week and a half before Stuart Trawler Fest, they have their work cut out for them.

Was the ketchup worth the wait? No question, but donit take my word for it. Come see her for yourself at the Stuart Trawler Fest January 22-24 or at the Miami International Boat Show from February 12-16.

The William Ernest Henley poem iInvictusi concludes with:
iI am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.i

You only get so many spins around the sun. What will you do with yours?

Larry Polster