Like many boat owners, Alan and Cindee Funk brainstormed numerous names for their new boat: Freedom, Escape, Journey. None of them felt right for their soon-to-be-delivered Princess S60. The recently retired business owners from the Annapolis, Maryland, area hoped inspiration would strike during their sea trial at the Princess shipyard in Plymouth, England, in July 2019.
But as they bid cheerio to their boat in Plymouth and journeyed onward to tour Scotland and Ireland, their S60 remained a Boat Doe.
While they dined under Waterford chandeliers in the George V Dining Room of the nearly 800-year-old Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, they received two eagerly anticipated pieces of news from home: Their boat had arrived safely in Baltimore’s harbor, and the sale of their business was officially complete.
In that moment, they found the perfect name for their boat: Lady Ashford.
“We wanted to remember the joy and the gratitude that we felt in that moment at Ashford Castle for the culmination of everything we’d worked for,” Cindee recalls.
Alan and Cindee both grew up boating: Alan in upstate New York and Cindee in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Even as a young child, I understood that no matter how chaotic life can be, when you step on a boat, your cares just fly away,” she says.
Over the years, their waterfront property on the Severn River in Maryland has been home to an evolving fleet: a Sea Ray 33 Sundancer, a 32-foot Pursuit, a 17 EdgeWater center-console. They upgraded to a DC 365 Pursuit, but it wasn’t big enough for their cruising ambitions. As they’d cruised the Intracoastal Waterway and passed Coinjock Marina in North Carolina en route to the Outer Banks, Alan says, “We’d see all the boats docked at that marina, making these journeys along the Intracoastal, and I would say, ‘Someday, that will be me.’”
They zeroed in on their dream boat’s characteristics: a flybridge, a full-beam stateroom, a garage and sunroofs, with a builder known for service and support.
“I found Princess in my research, and it had everything,” Cindee says.
They went to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in Florida to scout the 50-foot Princess, “but all of a sudden, it didn’t look quite big enough,” Alan says. Next, they checked out the 55 and were stopped in their tracks by the S60. “I could tell the workmanship and quality of everything was exceptional,” he says.
After Princess owners Steve and Carolyn Capalbo invited the Funks aboard their F49 for a cruise to the United States Powerboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, Cindee and Alan were sold on the brand. A month later, in November 2018, they contracted to build a Princess S60 (now known as the S62).
While awaiting delivery, they built a boathouse and attended the 2019 Princess Owners Rendezvous in the Bahamas. “It was so exciting,” Cindee says. “It was our introduction to all these other Princess owners we would soon fall in love with.”
They vowed to attend the next rendezvous on their own boat.
Lady Ashford arrived in August 2019, and the Funks ran with a captain on board for several months around Chesapeake Bay until they felt comfortable at the helm. During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, the couple escaped to the water. They explored the bay on their own, from the Sassafras River to St. Michaels, Maryland.
“Having a vessel in a COVID world allowed us to be able to get away from the chaos and restrictions and be able to have that sense of freedom that the boat permits,” Cindee says. “There’s no other word than ‘freedom.’”
In November 2020, they navigated Lady Ashford toward the Intracoastal Waterway to begin a new chapter in their lives: They’d rented a slip and house in North Palm Beach, Florida, as a base for Caribbean adventures.
“We wanted to be in a community of like-minded boaters with vessels like ours,” Cindee says. En route, they stopped at Coinjock Marina to enjoy its signature prime rib and the satisfaction of a dream fulfilled.
In April of this year, they returned to the Bahamas for the Princess Owners Rendezvous. They stopped at West End and Chub Cay before being guided through the Devil’s Backbone to Valentines Resort on Harbour Island, where roughly 50 boats and 250 people gathered for the builder’s largest rendezvous to date. The three days flew by, they say, with fireworks, a scavenger hunt, a cocktail competition, a Junkanoo parade and a beach day. “It was a huge event,” Cindee says. “Princess takes such good care of us owners.”
After the rendezvous, Lady Ashford headed south to the Exumas. “It was amazing,” Cindee says. “My friend told me that I wouldn’t be able to tell the sky from the water, and it was true. It was just so beautiful.”
They zipped around the shallows in their Williams Sportjet 345 tender and on the cays with their electric bicycles. “The bikes enabled us to get away from the marina and really explore the islands,” Cindee says. On Highbourne Cay, they found a little Tiki bar where they whiled away a few hours. At Compass Cay, nurse sharks sunned themselves on Lady Ashford’s swim deck, one right next to Cindee.
The weather turned on their trip home, but Lady Ashford handled it with ease. “The waves were all the way up to the flybridge, but with the Seakeeper and her high freeboard, we had zero issues,” Cindee says.
Since their return, they’ve enjoyed hosting other Princess owners at their boathouse and dock in Maryland.
“If you build it, they will come,” Cindee says. “We feel like we now have this huge family thanks to Princess.” Their own family has grown as well, with the addition of a new canine first mate: Cooper, a Havanese.
They’re now planning their next journeys aboard Lady Ashford. The couple is eager to return to the Bahamas, perhaps mixing in some scuba diving next time. They’re also eyeing a run down to the Florida Keys, then perhaps a swing up the west coast of Florida.
But whether they’re traveling near or far, each time they take out Lady Ashford and take in the air and the world from the flybridge—their favorite spot on the boat—they’re in their happy place.
“We’re just enjoying every minute,” Cindee says, “and looking forward to many, many more adventures to come.”