We took delivery of our new American Tug 395 Esmeralde on April 1st, 2017, so she will forever be our April Fool’s Girl. (This year, she was also our Easter Girl.) In order to celebrate, Bruce got her winter cover off on Saturday so on Sunday April 1st, her birthday, we could have a little celebration on-board and herald the start of her second season. It turned into a bright sunny day, perfect to enjoy being aboard again.
We grabbed a bottle of fine champagne and hung out together, with the pups, to recall the great times we enjoyed during her first year. Although she is not fully in commission, she was in great shape just to hang, enjoy, and take it all in. And also to contemplate the great things that lie ahead.
It all started with the launch in La Conner, WA, our first night(s) on board, and all the new friends we met. Then there was our fantastic April shakedown cruise in the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands and Puget Sound.
After a maddening experience with trucking across the country (the trip that should have been 7-10 days took 28 days), we had her back home in our familiar cruising grounds in New England for the summer and fall.
She was all we expected, and then some. Kudos to the team at Tomco/American Tugs for building us a terrific boat. Thank you!
In our first year, we spent roughly six months on board. There was the first month in the Pacific Northwest, when we cruised from La Conner to the San Juan Islands, criss-crossed between the islands and Bellingham and Anacortes for shakedown stuff, a quick run up into the Canadian Gulf Islands, then back down through the San Juans into Puget Sound as far as McMicken Island State Park.
At the end of our cruise we returned the boat to American Tug in La Conner, where she was prepped and loaded onto a truck for her trip across the country. After she [finally] arrived in Rhode Island we basically spent the entire summer on board: we settled in a few days after she arrived home in early June, and stayed aboard until after Labor Day.
The summer stint included multiple short-ish hops around southern New England waters that included Mystic, Stonington, multiple trips to Block Island, and a month-long August cruise to Maine that began with a fun stopover in Boston. After a couple of weeks back home in September, we moved aboard again at the end of September for about six weeks while we had work done on our house. We enjoyed several short late-season excursions in nearby waters.
During this first year, we never felt cramped or uncomfortable. She is an exceptional live-aboard platform, comfortable, with plenty of space for us and our two pups, but not so big that daily upkeep and cleaning is a burden. Simple, nice, efficient, and satisfying. And so well-built, so solid. We had cold weather and hot weather, wind and calm. Both underway, and at anchor or dockside, she really performs well.
Our long-term plans for the boat will allow us to do things on the water that we couldn’t accomplish with a sailboat. This coming fall (winter 2018-2019) we will take her down the ICW to Florida, then back north again in the spring. In spring 2020 we plan to become “Loopers”, heading up the Hudson River and into the Great Lakes via either Lake Champlain and Montreal/Quebec, or through the Erie Canal, then down through the center of the country to the Gulf of Mexico, and on to Florida.
Ultimately, we hope to get the boat back to the Pacific Northwest, where we would really like to enjoy more cruising in Puget Sound, the San Juans, Vancouver Island, and then the adventure north up to Desolation Sound, Queen Charlotte Sound, and the Alaskan Inside Passage.
So much to look forward to! But for now, we are simply looking forward to getting aboard once again. We have some spring commissioning work to do, but the weather is still a bit wintery so we don’t need to hurry. After yesterday’s lovely April Fool’s birthday, today, Easter Monday, might as well be April Fool’s Day, as we woke up to snow.
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