March 17, 2018 – After nearly 3 months filled with non-boat stuff: trip to Korea for Winter Olympics with the Smith Family and Tokyo to check in on Jeff and Valerie Montgomery, friends and family weddings in Philadelphia and Tampa, CPR training (kinda boat related), ski trips (Karin to Verbier with girlfriends and Thach to Jackson Hole with Tony’s annual NAG – Newport Adventure Group – trip, and weeks of cleaning up to get our New Haven home ready for sale (it’s now listed), we are finally back on board Emmanou – with Luigi the cat but without Rosie the dog. Having failed the porch potty test on our last trip, Rosie was packed off to live with Zhach in Denver – turns out she’s a happy mountain dog, so all’s well.
Left to the attention of James Knight’s crack team at Yacht Tech, Emmanou has had a make over of sorts from a total compound and waxing of all external surfaces to the fixing of a long list of niggly problems we were aware of and a bunch more we were not. Enhancements included new mounts for the tender, a complete rebuild of the davit, and the installation of a SirenMarine Pixie remote boat monitoring system. Closing in on the one-year anniversary of ownership, we are now past the 10% of purchase price guideline for the running cost of Emmanou – to be expected as this included the initial punch list of items uncovered during initial inspection. The nature of boat ownership is that the to-do list never ends – we even had a diving crew turn up the morning of our scheduled departure to scrub Emmanou’s bottom (interesting visual indeed) and other critical underwater running gear (rudder and bow and stern thrusters).
While in North Palm Beach we also caught up with Jim and Margaret Andreassi, now both back in good health – Jim remarkably spry from recent hip replacement – and with Winston, a new adorable puppy (apparently named after Churchill and not Jameis) and marina friends, including James and Wendy on their motor-cat Time-Out-Of-Mind, who gave us limitless advice on cruising the Bahamas and confirmed our choice of weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream, as they were planning to leave the same morning. We agreed to look each other up on the other side.
As our float plan included an overnight run, Tony abandoned family and a home construction project to join us for the run to West End and on to Harbour Island. As forecast, the trip across was smooth with little wind or waves. With the Gulf Stream we were crabbing slightly South the whole way, while encountering returning traffic crossing from the Port, including a slowly crawling motor-cat that looked a lot like Tim-Out-Of-Mind – which we ignored as they should have been well ahead of us. Turns out, as we later found out, their main cooling hose let go flooding the bilge. They limped back to North Palm Beach on one engine, and we blissfully cruised past them.
Landing point for clearing Bahamas customs (including pet passport clearance for Luigi) was Old Bahama Bay in the West End. Boaters abbreviate that to “Obama Bay” over the VHF – presumably a more recent practice since 2008. Gathering documents for Bahamas immigration after arriving Saturday evening, Thach realizes that he grabbed Zhach’s British passport by mistake, but armed with a photocopy of his own passport, a US driving license, a Green Card and endless charm – people always do a double-take on the latter – he manages to avoid Bahamas immigration sending Emmanou packing back to Florida. After a generous tip to the customs officials (for working overtime and on a weekend) and swapping our yellow quarantine flag for a courtesy Bahamas flag, we have officially arrived!