Monday, July 30, 2007

It's a Family Affair: Kevin

I understand fully how lame it is to set up a Google Alert with your name (though please, let he among you who is without self-Google cast the first stone). I haven't had my name appear in print for a number of years now (arguably problematic for a working journalist, but I like to move in the shadows), but the Alert is still a source of great amusement to me because my unusual last name - basically a misspelling that stuck - makes it very likely that anyone who shares the name is a distant relative. Every couple of weeks I get an email from Google pointing me to a news story about a relative I've never met. It's not quite like driving your own flying saucer to work, but this is the kind of shit we were promised back at the dawn of the Space Age. We've decided to feature some of the lost tribe members here from time to time.

Chapter the First: Capt. Kevin.

The Irish are a seafaring people, so let's kick off the series with a cover story from the current Southwest Florida News Press, "Creativity Keeps Boat Tours Afloat: Edu-tainment, service critical, skippers say." Skippers?

Since January, a new Sanibel Harbour Princess has docked outside the four-diamond Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa.

The two-deck yacht is licensed to carry 149 passengers. It has many more interior amenities than its predecessor, said Capt. Kevin Koughan.

Among them: small tables that can accommodate couples or be pushed together for bigger groups and lighting accents in gold and other warm colors; and a lounge area on the upper deck that is outfitted with comfy leather chairs.

There's a bride's waiting room now on the Princess: The boat is a wedding and reception magnet.

Dolphin-watching, dinners and cocktail events are big draws for the Princess.

Business groups overnighting at the resort for conferences are one source of customers. However, "I'm estimating 70 percent of the guests come from outside the resort," Koughan said.

For $53.42, including taxes and tip, dinner passengers get a 90-minute cruise and a buffet with such goodies as shrimp cocktail, braised pork chops and German chocolate cake.

The food is prepared in the resort's state-of-the-art kitchens. An eight-menu rotation means repeat customers taste plenty of variety. There's no roughing it: Tables are set with cloths, crystal and china.

Rough weather short of a hurricane warning is no problem for the Princess. "We've gone out in the backwaters comfortably and safely, in winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour. The boat doesn't even rock," Koughan said.

Demand, he added, is "kind of in a lull now," adding it could remain that way until Halloween or Thanksgiving. He's working with other resort employees on bringing a new, after-dinner entertainment cruise to the Princess, possibly later this summer.

Emphasis ours! The last time the Koughans boarded an ocean-going vessel (and let me check with my English-born wife here...Hey, hon? What year was the Famine? 1847? Okay, thanks!) we were passengers - possibly even indentured servants. Now we count among our number the goddamn skipper of the Sanibel Harbour Princess. What a difference just eight generations make.

But where's the "edu-tainment," you ask. Well, not only is Kevin a "shell expert," he's also a notary public. Edu-tained yet? Yeah, I thought so.

Welcome home, Skip.

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