Exploring the Bahamas from Miami is a breeze on a Sunseeker, says Rani Zantout, owner of a Sunseeker Manhattan 66
Like many yacht owners, Rani Zantout, owner of a Sunseeker Manhattan 66, grew up around boats. “My dad’s had one since 1980, the year I was born, so sailing really is in my blood,” he says. “I can’t live without a boat.” Fast-forward to today – and Zantout has upgraded from the smaller crafts he grew up around and moved on to Sunseekers. The family recently took delivery of a brand new Manhattan 66 and are busy making travel plans for the season ahead.
Fortuitously, they are based in Miami, a superior yachting destination in its own right, which makes day trips out on the water a cinch. Adventures further afield don’t have to swallow up weeks at a time, either – thanks again to their serendipitous location. The Bahamas, for example, is a family favourite, loved as much by Zantout and his wife as by their two children, aged three and six.
“We boat all year round but we only go to The Bahamas in the summer – you get a big window for the crossing then,” says Zantout. “We’re discovering the islands yearly.” And there are plenty of islands to choose from. “Take Bimini,” explains Zantout. “It’s just 47 miles away from the city, so it only takes a couple of hours to get there.” Having such desirable locations practically on their doorstep means that the family can head off for just a night or two at a time, ideal considering Zantout’s hectic schedule. Once there, the sleepy yachting pace takes over and crazy city life in Miami feels a world away.
Bimini might be small, but it has a rich history, thanks to Ernest Hemingway, who made it his home in the early 1930s, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who visited the island for peaceful inspiration when he was writing some of his most important speeches. Crucially for Zantout and his family, it’s also a fishing and snorkelling paradise, with dolphins, stingrays, marlin and colourful coral to seek out, along with multiple white sand beaches.
“There’s nothing like making breakfast up on the flybridge in the morning before going snorkelling with the kids,” says Zantout. In the evenings, the family tend to hang out on board, cooking and eating together, rather than heading out to local foodie spots. “I tend to buy lobster every time we get there and we’ll grill it on the boat – I don’t necessarily want to go out to restaurants. The experience of having the kids on there with me is amazing.” The family have plans to go further afield on their new boat, too, thanks to its speedier credentials than their previous Sunseeker. “We are going to do Chub Cay and the Exumas this year,” says Zantout. And who can blame them? Chub Cay is part of the Berry Islands cluster and has a reputation for some of the richest marine life in The Bahamas, not to mention miles of untouched white sand beaches.
The Exumas, meanwhile, are made up of hundreds of small islands, making it an obvious yachting hotspot. And while crystal clear waters and white sands are nothing new in The Bahamas, the Exumas boast something truly out of the ordinary. Say hello to Pig Beach on Big Major Cay. Here, a small population of swimming pigs have made this stretch of water famous. There are a few theories about how they got there, but they have, understandably, become a huge hit with visiting boats, who tend to spend their time taking amusingly unusual holiday snaps. For these longer trips, Zantout is grateful to have hired a captain to help out. “The upgrade to a bigger boat means I don’t drive anymore like I used to,” he explains; “instead, I just relax and enjoy it.” And relaxing must be pretty easy on this spacious Sunseeker, with its generous living spaces inside and out. “For me, the lines of the boat are so beautiful –I admire the way they have made a flybridge look sexy, that’s not always easy,” says Zantout. “They are reliable too – I love that.”
It’s no accident that Zantout chose Sunseeker; after all, the couple are committed fans of all things British. “All our cars are British,” he says, “we love British products and this brand is unbelievable – you just get really great quality.” For Zantout, it seems, the Manhattan 66 ticks every box – and with a brilliant base like Miami, the future looks bright, breezy and often Bahamian.