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A Top-Notch Marina in Sidney – Vancouver Island, Canada

Sidney, not Ohio or Australia, a city on Vancouver Island was our next stop after Butchart Gardens. Working our way north out of Saanich Inlet and then east through Satellite Channel we ducked into John Passage, at less then slack tide, for a short cruise south to Sidney. We'd heard Sidney was a busy and robust little town with all the charm of a small seaside resort. Upon arrival at the beautiful Port Sidney Marina, I went up to the showers. After quickly shaving I walked into the shower stall, got completely undressed and prepared for my nice hot shower when I realized it was a pay shower. Having to get completely redressed, back to boat for cash and then to the office while still sporting shaving cream on my face just so I could exchange my dollars for Canadian Loonies. One Loonie gets me only one-and-a-half minutes at this marina, so I had to hurry up and get the job…

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Butchart Gardens – Time to Stop and Smell the Roses

After checking in with Canadian Customs at Bedwell Harbor, we continued our day's cruise over to Vancouver Island, down into Saanich Inlet continuing south to Todd Inlet's Butchart Cove. We wanted to pick up one of the free mooring balls for the night. We could then dinghy over to have a tour of the famous Butchart Gardens, located in Tod Inlet, Vancourver Island. Butchart Gardens provides five free mooring balls for visiting boaters for a one night's stay while they spend time at the garden. One of those mooring balls ahead of us has our name on it, we lucked out, there was one free for us to pick up. Late in the afternoon we dinghed over to the dock provided to visitors who come by boat to tour the gardens. Butchart Gardens was started in 1910 and has grown significantly over the years and today is one of Canada's National Historic sights. I have to admit I included this in…

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Checking In with Customs at Poet’s Cove Marina – Bedwell Harbour, BC

Bedwell Harbour – Physical checkin with Canadian Customs at Poet's Cove Marina When entering Canada by water, boaters have to check into Canadian Customs at the first available Customs Station. After anchoring in Prevost Harbor off Stuart Island in the San Juan Islands, we headed into Canadian waters early the next morning.. The San Juan Islands are located off mainland Washington (at the northwestern furthest point in the 48 contiguous United States). Our destination was only six miles or so north, across the Canadian border to South Pender Island where we docked for a physical checkin with Canadian Customs at Poet's Cove Marina in Bedwell Harbour. With passports and boat papers in hand I headed up to the office. Sometimes they have a physical boat inspection to make sure you're not bringing anything illegal into the country. Illegal items might include items such as chicken, fresh produce, plants, too much alcohol, guns or drugs. However on this trip I simply…

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Cap Sante Marina – The Anacortes Connection

There were several Ranger Tug owners we wanted to connect with while we were at Cap Sante Marina. We'd been to Anacortes, Washington, the gateway to the San Juans Islands, several times in the past 15 years so it felt a little like a home away from home for us. After launching the boat and stowing the trailer and truck it was time to get organized for some serious PNW cruising. We needed to stock up and collect our thoughts a little. Guess the week we spent on the road took it's toll. Lisa kept saying maybe we need another day to get organized so we'd not feel so rushed, plus there were several Ranger Tug owners we wanted to connect with while we were at Cap Sante Marina. We spent a couple of days provisioning at the local Safeway, setting the dinghy up, unloading the truck and correcting a hydro lock I created in my 4-stroke outboard. Apparently I did…

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Family Time… In A Family Way

Family Time in Portland, Oregon After dropping our boat off at the Ranger Tug factory in Kent Washington for an auto pilot install we drove to Portland, Oregon. We were excited to spend time with our son Ross, his partner Sarah and our soon to be grandchild, due date early October. Lisa and I were able to spend the afternoon with Sarah while Ross was working. Lunch over Thai food got us caught up on all the pending baby plans. We couldn't be more excited for them and proud to see our family grow in yet another way. When Ross arrived home from his job the family reunion continued with happy hour (virgin bloody mary for Sarah) and dinner out at Pambiche. Before we knew it the evening was over but the memories will last forever. It was hard to leave after only one day, but the separation is made easier knowing we'll be returning, in October, to help them out during the first few weeks after…

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Simply Gorgeous – Flaming Gorge Reservoir

"If you liked Lake Powell, you should consider cruising the Flaming Gorge Reservoir." Shortly after we cruised Lake Powell in 2011, we started to hear about a place called the Flaming Gorge Reservoir from other boaters. They said, "If you liked Lake Powell, you should consider cruising the Flaming Gorge." With a little research we found out that the the reservoir was formed upon completion of the Flaming Gorge Dam, in 1964. That was the year the Beatles first toured the U.S. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is located in southern Wyoming and northeast Utah on 91 miles of the 730-mile long Green River. The dam was built to create hydroelectricity. Today the Reservoir is a fishing and water recreation paradise. Our cruise concentrated on the 26-mile stretch from Lucerne Valley Marina, in Utah, through the canyon area all the way down to the dam. With only 26 miles between the marina and the dam, and a bright and clear sunny day…

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Launching Kismet, Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Arriving at Lucerne Valley Marine – Flaming Gorge Reservoir

We couldn't help notice the desert like environment we found ourselves in as we approached Lucerne Valley Marina on the edge of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. After three full days of driving across country and camping at RV parks along the way, we arrived at Lucerne Valley Marina early afternoon on the fourth day. We were more than ready to test out the waters of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. As we drove from Green River, in Wyoming, south along the western side of the Gorge we couldn't help but notice the desert like environment. After making the turn and driving the 4-miles to the marina we crossed the state line into Utah, we could see the change in the landscape off into the south, the area we'd eventually be cruising in. Kismet had to clear Utah inspection which was situated right at the boat ramp. The inspection process was made easier for us by having the boat inspected when we…

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Cross-Country Trek – Kismet is Boaterhoming Her Way West

Our boating exploration hiatus is over. Time to head west! Two years ago we set our sights to trailer Kismet west this summer for four months, mainly to cruise Puget Sound up into British Columbia's Desolation Sound, and maybe even the Broughtons, time permitting. On our way we'll put the boat into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Utah. It's been nine months since we had a cruise of any significance – the Tennessee River from Grand Rivers, Kentucky down to Rogersville, Alabama. We are happy to say that the planning is over, the boat is prepared, goodbyes to family and friends (always difficult) were made and the truck is packed. Our first stop on the way out west will be the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, it straddles the borders of southern Wyoming and northeast Utah, and is 1,586 trailering miles from our home in Michigan. Traveling 450 miles per day seemed like a reasonable goal, so we ventured off early Sunday morning…

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Jim, Clifton Marina, Tennessee River

A Little Piece of Paradise in Clifton, Tennessee

Clifton Marina exemplifies southern hospitality! When we're cruising day after day and anchoring out overnight, we get to a point where we'd like to take in the creature comforts a marina will afford. Most marinas offer the essentials of power, water, fuel, laundry and showers, but every once in a while we are "wowed" – our second stay (first visit was during our second Loop trip in 2008) at Clifton Marina in Clifton, Tennessee was exactly that. The welcoming reception and unique experience we received while in Clifton could just well be this part of the country's well-known southern hospitality or maybe it's a business owner who really cares about his customers. In any case, transient boaters, cruising the Tennessee River, who are lucky enough to have turned toward the eastern shore at the end of a cruising day to enter the narrow channel at Clifton Marina, get an experience above and beyond the norm. This is Gene's (the owner)…

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Kismet In Fog, Cypress Creek, Tennessee River

Cypress Creek Anchorage – Tennessee River

We left Duncan Bay knowing we'd travel south on the Tennessee River for only 4 hours, so it wasn't going to be a long day. Twenty-nine miles later, at mile marker 62.6, we made a starboard turn into Cypress Creek, then another right into the first cove. What we found was a anchorage that provided us calm waters in a very protective, natural surrounding. Because of our short cruise day I took advantage of the calm water by continuing my work on the dinghy davit bracket installation (see next post). I like to maximize my down-time by having a few projects in the works, like waxing the fiberglass or stainless, changing the oil or cleaning sea strainers. There is never a lack of things to do when spending a lot of time on a boat. Cypress Creek greeted us the next morning with bank of fog! The next morning we woke up to find ourselves completely immersed in a thick bank…

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Dinghy Installation On Kismet

Installing Our New Hurley Davit System

   Hurley Davit System Worked for Kismet! We had been towing our dinghy for over a year when we finally decided to get serious about finding a davit system. Towing is easy and inexpensive, however towing can also become problematic in rough seas or at higher speeds, so we wanted to find a solution, a viable launch and retrieve system where the dinghy would rest upright while overhanging the swim platform slightly. We thought it should be lightweight and detachable when needed, We also needed it to be somewhat flexible, so we could still use our swim platform without completely launching the dinghy. After much research and contemplation, we found a davit system, made by, HURLEY MARINE. It fit our specifications exactly. This will make things simpler for us, we won't have to always be conscience of having to pull up the dinghy line when we slow down for a bridge or lock opening or to anchor or dock. We won't have to…

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Crew Of Thomas James Sailing Vessel, Kilarney

Meeting Captain & Crew of the Thomas James

Thomas James – Visit with an Exchange of Boat Tours! While cruising through the Killarney Channel, on our way to Collins Inlet, we received a call on our VHF. After switching to channel 68, Bill, the guy hailing us, told us that, as he was standing on the balcony of his channel-side home, he noticed our red Ranger Tug slowly cruising by. He said he was so excited to see the "cute tug" he'd love to have a tour and chat with us about it as he had never seen one in person before. As we're trying to figure out his location, we spotted him, with the binoculars, on his balcony taking photos of our boat as Lisa (unknowingly) was, at the very same time, taking photo's of his Thomas James schooner docked in front of his house. We made soft plans to meet the next day on our return from Georgian Bay as we'll need to pass by Killarney again to…

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Kismet Anchored In Colins Inlet, Georgian Bay

Keyhole Island – A Little Peek Into the Northwest Side of Georgian Bay

Keyhole Island on the Northwest Side of Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay is on our cruising bucket list, a trip like this deserves a dedicated stretch of time to explore properly. With that said, we decided to get our toes just a little wet. After we left Covered Portage Cove, we passed through the channel in Killarney for a short, one-day, cruise and anchor in the northwest side of Georgian Bay. Four miles or so east of Killarney is the western entrance to Collins Inlet and a 10-mile run to Mill Lake. It was Collins Inlet, a narrow channel, where we spent time cruising, enjoying the sights of the small summer cottages dotting the rocky wind swept, tree lined shores. Collins Inlet runs between Philip Edward Island, to the south and mainland Ontario, Canada to the north, making the narrow channel a favorite of boaters because of the well protected, safe passage from possible rough waters of Georgian Bay and all the good…

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View From The Top, Covered Portage Cove

Doubling Our Pleasure in Covered Portage Cove

Rendezvous with Freedom's Turn in Covered Portage Cove! Doubling our pleasure comes to mind when we think of our visit to Covered Portage Cove in the North Channel. Not only was it our first time anchoring in this cove, we also had the pleasure of  rendezvousing with friends Charlie and Linda on Freedom's Turn (above). We met them in 2008 while doing our second Great Loop boat trip and cruised several times together, including a trip to Chattanooga and even the Bahamas. With a lot of shared cruising experiences in common, we were excited for the reunion in Covered Portage Cove. We got there one day earlier, so we were ready to enjoy their company once they got there. With the picturesque backdrop of our shared anchorage it felt like old times having happy hour together and eating dinner on the upper deck of Freedom's Turn. We got to laughing about all the good times we've shared during our Loops. The conversation was so…

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Kismet Anchored, Covered Portage Cove, North Channel

Covered Portage Cove – The Perfect Anchorage

Covered Portage Cove anchorage – High rocky cliffs and near-perfect protection from the elements. From South Benjamin Island we made our way past Little Current, Strawberry and Heywood Islands as we skirted south of Frazier Bay to enter Lansdowne Channel on the way to Covered Portage Cove, just west of Killarney, the old provincial outpost that separates Ontario's North Channel from Georgian Bay. We had only dinghied to Covered Portage Cove anchorage in 2007 when we had docked our boat for a few days in Killarney. We vowed then to put it on our list as a future anchorage spot. When I think of the perfect anchorage I conjure up images of a cove with high bluffs, hills or rock formations on all sides, one that gives good protection from high winds. It would also have a dog-leg entrance to keep out unwanted wave action. If you were to toss in, as an added benefit, sunny skies, a slight breeze on a…

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Kismet Anchored, Torch Lake, Michigan

Torch Lake – Kismet Likes to Anchor Here

Torch Lake has lots of fond memories for Lisa and I. We each boated here before we were married and began our boating adventures together on this lake. We used to trailer our 21-foot Four Winns Sundowner to Torch Lake to spend long weekends on the hook, but since our mode of boating has changed over the last fifteen years it's been a long time since we've been able to bring one of our boats to any inland lake. We kind of like the flexibility we are now enjoying with our Ranger Tug, Kismet. Torch Lake is named, not for it's shape, but for the practice of local native Americas, from the Ojibwa Tribe, who used torches at night to attract fish Torch Lake, Michigan – A Boating Paradise After we squeaked under the Torch River Bridge and entered the lake we did a slow cruise around the lower perimeter of the lake passing by our friend Gene's house on…

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Kismet Docked On New River, Fort Lauderdale

Keeping a Promise in Fort Lauderdale

Lisa made me promise we'd stop in Fort Lauderdale for a week, so after staying in Homestead for two nights to catch up on work and other chores, here we are putting the boat in the water right at Cooley's Landing Marina (below), on the New River at the beginning of the downtown Riverwalk area. Cooley's is one of our favorite marinas in Florida. Nice facilities and location. We can walk to shop in Las Olas, eat out at a choice of restaurants, grocery shop, or get plenty of exercise walking right along the river. Lisa always raves about Cooley's laundry facilities which is more like a laundromat, lots of room to sort, wash and fold. The two times we crossed over to the Abaco Islands, in 2006 and 2009, we stayed at Cooley's, provisioning and cleaning all our clothes and linens because it would be expensive to buy food and wash laundry while staying in the islands. Part of…

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Kismet At Anchor, Florida Keys

The Route Less Taken – Key West to Marathon

When leaving Key West by water, heading east to Marathon, there are two Intracoastal Waterways (ICW) route choices. There is the un-obstructed, direct route of Hawk Channel which runs parallel to the Keys and cuts into Florida Bay at Marathon. Hawk Channel is somewhat protected from the coral reefs that separate it from the Atlantic Ocean; this is the most popular route because you don't need to worry about dodging shallow water. We've taken Hawk Channel several times but have never taken the route less traveled, the Florida Bay ICW. One of the reasons the route north of the Keys to Marathon is not preferred is because of the shallower water depths. With a 2.5-foot draft on our Ranger Tug, we felt we'd have plenty of water below us. Besides we were up for a new adventure, we wanted to take a route we'd never done before. Our objective was to slowly cruise the 30 miles to Marathon by anchoring…

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Kismet Cruising Florida Flats

Mission Foiled – Uninhabited Marquesas Keys – Islands West of Key West

Just for you Rob! We left Key West Harbour early in the morning – with calmer waters and clear skies forecasted, we thought it was time for a little excursion to the Marquesas Keys. The Marquesas sit 18 nautical miles west of Key West and are uninhabited. Our thoughts were that it would be fun to anchor out and enjoy the serenity of these isolated Keys. Although It was a pleasant enough cruise out, shortly after we had cruised halfway around the island and dropped anchor the wind kicked up. There really wasn't an option to move to the lee side of the island because the water depth around the island is VERY shallow for a long ways out, so even the lee side would have been a problem because we'd have to anchor far away from the shore where the wind had plenty of access to us. With no protection available to keep from rocking and rolling, we had to abort…

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Florida Flats

Dock Fever? – Let’s Visit the Florida “Flats”

Ever since we arrived for our month-long stay, it's been very windy and this has inhibited our plans to explore the surrounding area of Key West by boat; we were getting itchy to push away from the dock. We're usually not interested in taking random boat rides, so when we do sever the dock lines and head out, we like to have a purpose and a plan. Key West, being the southern most spot in the U.S., is somewhat at the end of the road and although the cruising options for a day out on the water are limited, the choices are unique. The Dry Tortugas, Marquesas Keys and the flats, in the Lakes Passage, all sit west of Key West and it was the grassy flats we chose for a day cruise. We left Key West behind us (above) as we approached the shallow waters of the flats (below). It's so shallow in the flats, it was easy to see…

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Kismet Bottom Paint Job

Boat Yard Blues – Part Two

I am truly in the swing of things on day two in the boat yard. The good news is the On & Off product helped de-wax the hull, one of the steps needed to properly prepare the hull for bottom paint. Next, and it was probably overkill, I applied acetone to the hull to assure that all wax, from when the hull came out of the mold, was completely gone. After a good washing I taped the hull off an inch below the boot stripe then applied a very light 220 grit scuffing followed by a final washing in preparation for the painting, which I feel is the easiest part.     Bottom paints are like opinions; there is plenty of each. There are several brands we could have chosen but in the end I decided on Pettit Vivid for the bottom paint and their corresponding Pettit Skip Sand Primer. The primer is described as a "pre-treatment primer designed to…

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Jim On Kismet In Boatyard

Boat Yard Blues

We never addressed the issue of bottom painting our Ranger Tug until one day, while taking our boat out of the water in Ft Myers Beach; we were surprised by the excessive growth of barnacles on the hull of Kismet. We recognized the problem and we wanted to take care of it ASAP. After arranging to have our boat hauled by 3D, a self-service boat yard in Key West, I began researching how to clean the hull and what to apply to help the process along and what kind of paint we might need. Because we use our boat in salt and fresh water, trailer it and, at times, it will sit out of the water, we found we needed to have a hard ablative paint for our particular usage. After leaving Marathon and arriving in Key West, we launched our boat on Stock Island and cruised the short distance to the 3D Boat Yard to have Kismet hauled out…

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Getting Rid of Odiferous Aromas

If you're a boater or have ever walked a marina dock, sat on the back deck or cockpit of someone's boat, you've most likely had the occasion to inhale the odiferous and unpleasant aroma coming from the vent of a black water holding tank as someone flushed their business down the boat's toilet. I came across a solution a couple of years back and I've just installed it on our Ranger Tug. It helps us, our guests, and dock neighbors not be bothered by disagreeable odors. The product I installed is an inline, charcoal activated, holding tank vent filter called SaniGard. To install you cut out a section of the vent hose coming from the black water tank to the exterior vent. The SaniGard (there are other brands on the market as well) is installed above the black water tank, where you've cut the vent hose away. Miraculously, the activated charcoal eats the odors away before they escape the exhaust…

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Manatee Trawler

Thanks to all the “Ted’s” Out There

Recently we made a post about meeting Ted, on Manatee (below - left), a very friendly boater whom we spent only about an hour of total time with. We first met Ted while we were both traveling south on the GICW (we slowed down for a short conversation about where we were headed), we finally met up with each other in Goodland, Florida where we anchored near the Calusa Island Marina where Manatee was docked. In an hours length of total time I don't think you could say we were good friends but good enough for us to know Ted is a good natured guy, willing to help out another boater if the need arises. Not long after we left Goodland for Marathon, another Ranger Tug boater, and friend, called us from his anchorage in Russell Pass (in the Everglades) to discuss his engine starting problems, he was literally dead in the water. This was Rich's first time in the Everglades,…

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Dinghy Davit Decision

   Lisa and I gave a great deal of thought to the purchase of our Ranger Tug and GMC tow truck but, until recently, we never gave much thought to the dinghy we'd need and how we'd transport it on and off of the water. We finally had some boating downtime over the holidays and were able to do some research and after a great deal of thought settled on a small 7' 7" Achilles inflatable, with a soft bottom, made of hypalon material and powered by a Tohatsu 4 HP 4 stroke outboard. It arrived in a neat little package (above). We wanted to have a dinghy that was lightweight, narrower than our boat, and one that was easy to disassemble and stow when it came time to trailer our boat to a new cruising ground. With the dinghy purchase accomplished, our next mission was to figure out how to transport it while under way on the water. We've…

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