North Sails NEWS


Tom Fortner Embraces the Cruising Lifestyle With 3Di OCEAN 330

Ad Astra 3Di OCEAN North Sails Cruising

Tom Fortner lived most of his life in Prescott, Arizona, but set his sights on moving to Florida to buy a boat and begin his next life adventure. He took ownership of the Island Packet 45, Ad Astra, in January and has been sailing as much as possible since then. “I’ve always wanted to get a boat and learn how to sail so I can cruise around,” said Tom. Now he’s cruising up and down the United States’ east coast.

Though he has been sailing for ten years, Tom still considered himself a novice. That all changed when he acquired Ad Astra; he’s been sailing more than ever, almost non-stop. “I got my bareboat and ASA certifications to be better prepared. I don’t race, so I have also never learned how to trim sails properly. The times I did spend sailing, I likely wasn’t trimming properly and never had my telltales flying right.

Ad Astra is currently outfitted with a new inventory of a 3Di OCEAN mainsail and genoa. Tom worked with Ft Lauderdale based cruising expert Bob Meagher. “When I got my new sails and trimmed them in, I was amazed by how perfectly they looked,” he remarked. “The telltales were flowing in the right direction naturally on both sides, and the sails noticeably had a great shape. Once North Sails delivered my mainsail in St. Augustine, FL, I was ready to head North.”

Ad Astra 3Di OCEAN North Sails Cruising

Ad Astra’s Journey North: Florida to Maine, Summer 2020

Tom began his east coast adventure in Dayton Beach, FL, headed North towards Charleston, SC. There, he met with sail expert John Bowden to have his new 3Di OCEAN genoa installed. “It was perfect,” Tom said. “The North team in Charleston also helped me with my gennaker sail bag that needed some new stitching.” From there, Ad Astra’s trip up North had officially begun.

The next stop was Beaufort, NC, then on to round Cape Hatteras. “Fortunately, we had decent weather to Norfolk, VA, and it was smooth sailing up and around the cape,” Tom reported. After a few days, Tom departed and headed up the coast, making little stops and checking off locations on his bucket list. Passing by Hampton, VA, Ad Astra took a pit stop in Annapolis, MD, for a few days before continuing North. Tom stopped in Newport and Block Island in RI, and Cuttyhunk, MA, eventually sailing to Maine.

A ripped gennaker on the way to Maine required a call to the North Sails loft in South Freeport. “I had ripped my gennaker on the spreader, which I now call the ‘shredder.’ Sail expert Eric Baldwin and team couldn’t have done a better job making sure I got back on track. They quickly fixed my sail and returned to me on the boat within a couple of hours.”

“I got live Maine lobsters straight from the boat for the price of a hot dog. It doesn’t get better!”

In Maine, Tom took in all the sights, cruising around Pulpit Harbor and Seal Bay. He spotted a lobster fisherman and snagged a few bugs for dinner, where he and some friends cooked on the beach that night. “For my first trip to Maine, it was spectacular,” he said. “The fact that I sailed from Florida made it even more satisfying!”

Reaching his Northern limits, Tom and Ad Astra turned south, first stopping in Boston, MA. Tom picked up his son-in-law for the trip down to Long Island, NY from Massachusetts. Sailing into New York harbor for the first time under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty is a moment Tom won’t soon forget.

Ad Astra 3Di OCEAN North Sails Cruising
Tom in New York Harbor visiting Lady Liberty for the first time on a sailboat.

Working his way back south, he returned to Annapolis, MD to spend a couple of weeks before heading back to Florida.

What’s next on the bucket list? Tom commented, “I am thinking about venturing to the Bahamas at some point. Maybe attempting a circumnavigation. I’m getting to an age where I’ll miss my opportunity if I don’t do it now. A big sailing trip is something I’ve wanted to experience for quite some time. I am so glad I’ve taken the leap to check off an experience I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”

East Coast Support + Service with North Sails

“What I enjoyed most was being able to work with the different lofts all along the east coast, no matter where I was. North Sails has a great network with easy access for a transient sailor.” This trip was his first time Tom had ever sailed offshore overnight for an extended amount of time. For someone new to cruising, Tom was impressed with the North Sails support; both close to home and during his trip. He commented, “It’s nice to know that I can travel around and get the same service and expertise no matter where I land.”

Why 3Di? “I chose North Sails 3Di because I knew they would last,” said Tom. “I can’t do this forever, but I am confident these sails will last the entire time I own this boat. It was a choice I made that I know I won’t regret.”

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