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Gulfport Florida

One-night Stay – Gulfport, Florida

Gulfport Florida – Always A Nice Stop Bordering St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega Bay, Gulfport, Florida is always a good stop, the little town is within a short walking distance of the marina and has lots of little beach restaurants and gift shops. We are just here for one night. It was rainy and overcast for our entire stay, but we still enjoyed docking in Gulfport again. I loved the pine needle crafts I saw in one of the shops, very "Old Florida," with all natural ingredients, long pine needles and raffia. The town is know for it's local artists and craftsmen, culinary offerings and an active community theatre group.

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Pass-A-Grille, Florida

Laid Back Beach Town – Pass-A-Grille, Florida

Lots of sights to see on the water today as we made our way to Pass-A-Grille. We anchored in a big well in Pass-A-Grille, just behind the beautiful Don Cesar hotel (above). It was a quiet anchorage, well-protected from the elements and had a little boat launch and dock where we could tie our dinghy up to. We passed two "Rangers" today. The one above, looked like an interesting yacht. During our night at anchor we met the crew on Tortuga, the Ranger Tug below, while they circled the anchorage during and evening cruise. Frank and Salma just recently bought their tug and we would meet them later at the Ranger Tug rendezvous in Palm Island.

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Peaceful Night on the Hook – Redington Beach, Florida

Redington Beach Provides a Well-protected Anchorage for the Crew of Kismet. Redington Beach is located in Pinellas County, west of Tampa on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, the town is only one-mile square and has four parks, five public beach accesses, and a causeway with benches for relaxing and fishing. We've stopped here before, it makes a good spot to anchor when traveling north or south on the ICW. The dolphins were loving our boat action today, they love to swim just under Kismet's wake. The anchorage is lined with small homes to one side, a park in the middle, some condos and several restaurants. We've always enjoyed the sunset here as it sets behind the condos to the west. We dinghied over to the ramp and took a short hike around the neighborhood lining the anchorage. Jim did some maintenance in the engine compartment when we got back from our trip to shore. We thought the exercise equipment (below-left) in the park next to our…

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Lunch and a Walk – Keegan Clair Docks – Indian Shores, Florida

Keegan Clair Docks – "Let's Stop for Lunch." Something new today, we found Keegan Clair Docks, a free day dock for boaters, just off the ICW, six miles south of Clearwater. We thought we'd take a break on our day's cruise to stop and have lunch on the boat followed by a short, two block walk into Indian Rocks with access to the beautiful beaches. The dock is free during the day, but has one of the longest list of rules we've ever seen, it's prominently posted near the dock. One of the main rules listed is that the docks are not meant for overnight usage. We think it is very forward thinking of a community to provide this kind of service to boaters, easy access to their town while cruising by on the ICW. We have never seen so many rules, especially for such a few docks. At least nothing is left to guess. If in doubt just consult the rules on the sign. Without…

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Caladesi Island – Trails and a Beautiful Beach!

Caladesi Island –  An Island Paradise! In our experience Caladesi Island is never busy in January. This is our third stop at this state park, we never tire of its beauty. We stayed a few nights, one of only a handful of boats at this time of year. When we tire of walking the virgin pine forest trail around the island to the natural water hole, we take the return route, back to the marina, by way of the beautiful sandy beach. The updated marina has electrical and water hookups and you can stay for three days for a minimal fee. You can visit the island on your own boat or take the ferry over. The ferry departs for Caladesi Island from nearby Honeymoon Island.   We've never seen a snake during our walks on the island, but many birds make their presence known around the island such as the Louisiana heron, reddish egret, snowy egrets, and beautiful roseate spoonbill. Since our…

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Captain Jim On Phone

Launch Day – Tarpon Springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs is a Favorite Stop for Kismet! Kismet was launched at the usual place, Anaclote River Park, just northwest of Tarpon Springs across the river. Turtle Cove Marina was our choice for dockage during our week-long stay while we did all of our usual activities which included, food shopping, visiting our favorite Greek bakery and restaurant for Greek salads. We walked all over town and the sponge docks soaking up the distinctive aromas and unique sounds of the Greek culture. In between all that we did our final provisioning of the boat for our trip south down the ICW. We got the boat organized and cleaned up, a few things needed fixing, so we got parts that were readily available in town. It's nice to start out on the water with a clean, organized boat. One of the highlights of our stay was when my brother, Mart rode his bike all the way from Dunedin to visit. Turtle Cove Marina is located just off the…

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Oysters For Dinner

“Oysters Rock Yo Fella”

In Search of Apalachicola Oysters! First we stored Kismet at TTC Storage in Eastpoint, then we went in search of a well-deserved oyster feast. We found TTC to be a great place to store the boat. We feel confident she will be in safe hands during our return home for the holidays. After Kismet was stored in her spot in the building and with the recommendation of Mike, owner of TTC Storage, we headed out of town to Lynn's Quality Oysters. Nothing short of delicious is how we found their specialty, Captain Jack's oyster platter. This meal of Apalachicola oysters was going to have to last us awhile – until we return to pick up our boat in January. The shallow waters of Apalachicola Bay produces most of Florida’s oysters. Big Bayou, a remote and pristine area on the western part of the bay, near Saint Vincent Island, a National Wildlife Refuge may produce the most. Oysters from Apalachicola Bay are considered Apalachicola oysters. Apalachicola…

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Eastpoint, Florida – A Heart as Big as the Bay!

Retrieving Kismet from Storage – Eastpoint Florida Seems like it was just yesterday when we left Kismet at TTC Storage in Eastpoint Florida, in fact it has been several months. We like to cruise in the fall, somewhere south of Michigan and then leave our boat in storage somewhere near where we plan to cruise after the holidays. This time, after our trip to the AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association's 2014 Rendezvous and cruise through Florida's Panhandle, we ended up in Eastpoint to store the boat. We arrived at TTC Storage and met the owner, Mike, at the building. Within half an hour we had Kismet out of storage and ready to go. With a little help from Mike, we located a great oyster restaurant within walking distance of the storage building, had to get our oyster fix before heading out on the road toward Carrabelle.     Eastpoint is an authentic fishing town with a heart as big as the bay. Here you…

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If You Rest… You Rust!

The crew of Kismet is On the Road Again! If it appears that we are eating our way back to the boat, you are right, we are! Seems like we are always on the move, north, south, east or west. Not much to report on during our road trip south to Florida to pick up Kismet, however we found some exceptional food stops along the way. When trailering our boat, or driving back to where she is stored, gives us an opportunity to explore some little towns off the expressway. Shan Chinese Buffet was tops on our list, it was just a fluke that we happened upon it, as it was out of town, off the beaten track and very unassuming. However, one step inside and we knew we were in for a treat. It looked like a well-known trucker stop with a huge parking lot for big rigs, plenty of room to park Kismet. One thing we have to consider when stopping for food…

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Nautical Store, Appalachicola, Florida

Apalachicola, Land of the Friendly People

The Little Fishing Village of Apalachicola is the End of the Line for Our Fall Cruise Apalachicola is definitely "Old Florida." Famous for their fresh oysters, Appalachicola employs a variety seafood workers. It's our favorite place to eat oysters. Apalachicola Bay is well protected by St. Vincent Island, Flag, Sand, St. George Island and Cape St. George Island. We'll leave Kismet tucked away in TCC Storage's building, just across the bay in Eastpoint, while we drive the truck home to spend the holidays with family. We'll return to pick up Kismet January 1st for a winter of cruising in southern Florida. This is our third time docking at Scipio Creek Marina. The restaurant, Papa Joe's, is no longer in business at this location, but being just a short walk from downtown, it's a great place to dock while visiting Apalachicola. The town is focused on providing a shopping experience for its visitors while maintaining that old Florida fishing village appeal. Just love Apalachicola!   We visited the…

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Nature's Artwork, Shoreline, Appalachicola River, Florida

Last Leg to Appalachicola Looks More Like a Rorschach Inkblot

Cruise to Apalachicola, a Photographer's Dream Cruise Smooth sailing today as we cruised the last leg of our fall cruise through Florida's Panhandle. A little stormy and overcast but we still got some nice photos of some of the beauty available to see while cruising this area. the cruise to Apalachicola did not disappoint, even though it was overcast, the water was mirror calm and the reflections on the still water gave pause to crew on board Kismet. Nature provided us with some interesting illusions while on the water today. Note the symmetry of the above water images on the mirrored glassy water we plowed through today.

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Kismet Cruising, Grand Canyon Cut, Florida

Cruising the “Grand Canyon” Cut to St. Andrews

Grand Canyon Cut – A Favorite Cruising Channel in Florida's Panhandle Today we cruised Florida's "Grand Canyon Cut," after crossing Choctawhatchee Bay to a man-made, 18-mile channel (statute mile 255 to 260, east of Harvey Lock) that leads to St. Andrews, aptly named due to the steep, up to 100' high, sandy banks lining this cut. Tall pine trees grow along the ridge of the sand dunes and down to the water. One of our favorite areas to boat in the Panhandle.   The clouds provided a stormy backdrop to the sun-it shoreline. Not many boats out on the cut today, a few fishing boats, that was about it. Historic St. Andrews is a community of Panama City, Florida, along the beautiful St. Andrews Bay. We stayed one night at the town's marina.

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Harbor View From Restaurant, Destin, Florida

Remembering the Last Time We Were in Destin, Florida

Fond Memories of Our Last Trip to Destin Florida Destin Florida is a popular tourist destination located in the Panhandle of Florida. It rests on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. Well known for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters, Destin claims to have the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida. The last time we stopped in Destin was in 2008, while on our second Great Loop boat trip. It was Thankgiving Day and we roasted a turkey (below) on the back deck of our Fathom 40 while anchored in the harbor. My favorite way to share a holiday feast is with family back home. Yet, that Thanksgiving was particularly memorable for me. It was just the two of us, the weather was perfect, the small turkey just fit in the roaster, it was a crispy golden brown by dinnertime. While dinner was cooking, we dinghied all over the harbor and visited the beautiful beach for a walk.…

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Kismet Anchored, McRee Cove At Perdido Key

Chilling – McRee Cove at Perdido Key – Pensacola, Florida

A 15 mile cruise to a well protected cove next to Perdido Key – McRee Cove The barrier island between Orange Beach, Alabama and Pensacola Bay is called Perdido Key – Pensacola Bay inlet and Santa Rose Island are directly east of Perdido Key. Following the War of 1812 three major forts were built to strengthen the United States defenses in this Pensacola Bay area – one being Fort McRee built at the eastern tip of Perdido Key. Fort McRee is long gone, it was held by the Confederates during the Civil War until 1862 and was mostly destroyed.The property remained in the hands of the United States Navy until 1971 when a large portion of Perdido Key, and Santa Rosa Island, were turned over to the National Park Service, becoming Gulf Islands National Seashore. We departed Orange Beach with only a 15 mile cruise to a well protected cove next to Perdido Key, off of the Pensacola Bay inlet. We…

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Sunset, Ingram Bayou

Ingram Bayou – “I’m Going Back Someday, Come What May, To Blue Bayou”

After a smooth cruise through Mobile Bay, from Eastern Shore Marina, we made a port-side turn into the protected Intra-Coastal Waterway where we soon passed our first tug and tow (above). First landmark we see on the ICW is Lulu's Cafe (below). Not stopping there this time though as we were both in a hurry to get settled into our night's anchorage. Returning to Ingram Bayou... Ingram Bayou is one of our favorite anchorages, this will be our third time stopping here. The afternoon was spent by first hanging by some scarfs to block the heat of the sun while we settled in to lounge on the back deck of Kismet. We watched a few dolphins herding their day's catch up along the shore. After playing a few games and soaking in the beauty of the bayou we retired for a peaceful sleep on the hook. Morning brought a whole new perspective to Ingram Bayou (below).

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Lisa Deplaning Air Force One

National Naval Aviation Museum – Orange Beach Marina – Pensacola, Florida

Staying at Orange Beach Marina so that we can take a day to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum. We arrived late afternoon, got settled then borrowed the marina's loaner car to take a tour of the area and visit one of the beautiful beaches. Some folks stopped by (above) that knew us because they also own a Ranger Tug. It's a small world! The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida – A Must See Museum! On our third cruise through the Florida Panhandle, nine years after we heard about the museum during our first Great Loop adventure, we made plans to tour the best aviation museum in the world. While docked at the Orange Beach Marina in Alabama, we used the marina's loaner car to drive the 30 miles or so to Pensacola for the long awaited museum visit. The Pensacola Naval Air Station is home to the Blue Angles and has been a Naval Station since 1826. It is also host to…

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Fly Creek, Fairhope, Alabama

Fairhope Alabama – Starting Our Cruise Through the Panhandle from Mobile Bay

Boaterhoming Our Way to Fairhope Alabama After leaving Joe Wheeler State Park after the AGLCA rendezvous we headed south with Fairhope Alabama as our intended launch site. However, after a late start and a long day's drive, we called it quits when we got to Greenville, Alabama and found this rustic RV park about a mile off I-65. Stopping here for the night gave us the opportunity to arrive at Fairhope early in the day. The park was quiet except for an evening symphony of cricket chirping in a swamp nearby. We have been by this way twice before and each time stayed at Eastern Shores Marina in Fairhope, Alabama. We ran into Ed, the harbormaster, at the AGLCA rendezvous a few days ago and made arrangements then to secure a slip and check into good launch sites. He suggested the Fairhope Yacht Club across the inlet, since he is a member he offered to go over there with us when we…

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Great Loop Adventure

Great Loop Adventure – Loopers Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park

Great Loop Adventure! The Great Loop Adventure! We packed up our boat and truck and headed down the highway to Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama for AGLCA's 2014 Fall Rendezvous. Jim and I have been Loopers almost ten years (we have done the Loop almost twice). The excitement and camaraderie we feel when out on the water cruising new territory, meeting other Loopers in far off ports, and especially while connecting at one of the rendezvous, or Gold Looper Reunions, never gets old, in fact, it sustains us as cruisers. We laughed, we played, we shared boating stories, we sang and enjoyed music, we exchanged information on favorite anchorages, marinas, boat maintenance and galley provisioning. Seminar speakers help current Loopers prepare to navigate the stretch ahead. Jim gave two presentations at the rendezvous, The Gulf Coast of Florida and St Johns River. With many helpful sponsors in attendance, the resources available to current and future Loopers is huge. One of…

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Anchorage At Fox Island, North Channel, Canada

Fox Island – North Channel, Canada

Fox Island Provided a Beautiful Rocky Hiking Trail Lined with Berries When we left South Benjamin Island we headed for Fox Island, located only about four miles from South Benjamin. We had anchored here once before with our Silverton and remembered how beautiful it was. The landscape is rocky all around the anchorage's perimeter, offering good hiking and photo opportunities. When we anchored here previously, we were the only boat on the hook in the channel, this time there were several boats already at anchor. Our boat has very shallow draft, about 2.5 feet, so we can usually get a spot where bigger boats don't dare. In this case it was way up  almost to the reeds at the tip of the inlet.     We were looking forward to our afternoon hike on the island. Some parts are just challenging enough, we had to figure out how we could continue along without wading through water or climbing up the…

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Roy Eaton's, Little Current Cruisers Network

Roy Eaton – Little Current Cruisers Net

Little Current Cruisers Network is On the Air in Little Current! At 9 a.m., most of the Ranger Tugs attendees hiked up to the Anchor Inn building where Roy Eaton gives his live VHF broadcast of “The Net,” Little Current Cruisers Net, on channel 71 for boaters cruising Canada's beautiful North Channel. This is definitely a must do if you are visiting Little Current by boat. Roy Eaton founded the LCCN in 2004. Little Current Cruisers Net, in operation during the boating season between July 1st and August 31st, not only broadcasts weather, sports and news, (world and local – Roy sometimes injects a little bit of humor), but also helps boaters cruising the area to handle emergencies while also relaying news from one boat to another. Following the news Roy provides a check in for boaters anywhere in the North Channel, giving an overview of where boaters are and where they intend to head to. If you've boated in the Abaco Islands…

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Tugnuts, Ranger Tugs North Channel Rendezvous

Day One of the Rendezvous Began with Introductions, a Pot Luck, and Lots of Smiling Faces

Ranger Tugs North Channel Rendezvous Welcomed 14 Tugs and One Cutwater! Ranger Tugs arrived all morning at the town docks in Little Current until all fifteen boats (35 people) were secure in their slips. Introductions continued all day as we met people from all over the United States (8 boats) and Canada (7 boats) – 14 Ranger Tugs and one Cutwater. The boat coming the farthest distance in the U.S. was from Texas and the farthest Canadian boat hailed from Alberta. Many different people, tastes and personalities all sharing one common passion, their Ranger Tugs/Cutwater boats. Carolyn, on Pour House (above), brought a big pan of ribs for consumption by the hungry boaters at the scheduled pot luck. Soon after arriving and getting settled at the town docks, everyone was busy getting a dish ready for the pot luck that night. Mind you this was no ordinary potluck! It is truly amazing what elaborate and delicious dishes can be made on our little tugs.   Lots of…

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Roy Eaton 2014 Ranger Tugs North Channel Rendezvous

Rendezvous Early Birds

First Ever  – 2014 Ranger Tugs North Channel Rendezvous We arrived in Little Current one day early for the 2014 Ranger Tugs North Channel Rendezvous. Jim is the organizer of the event, the first ever for Ranger Tugs in the North Channel. First things first. We headed to the town dock for a pump out before going to our slip assignment. We thought it was important to arrive early since we had a few loose ends to tie up. We needed to visit the local grocery store, located just up the hill from the marina so that we had ingredients for our pot-luck dish. We also needed to find a good pizza restaurant, since pizza is the main event on the last night of the rendezvous. Little Current is a small town, so we could walk it quickly to get our chores done and hurry back to greet the tugs at the dock. We had a surprise guest to the docks…

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Two Ranger Tugs

And Then There Were Two… Kismet and Illusions

Two Ranger Tugs on the Rocks – North Channel, Canada Coffee tasted extra good high up on the granite rocks this morning. Jim and I discussed how long we should stay in this spot at South Benjamin Island before we headed to the Ranger Tugs Rendezvous in Little Current – we both agreed, it might be one of those long three-day stays. We only have five days before we need to be in Little Current for the rendezvous and sometimes it's just not as relaxing to move every day or two to cram several spots in. We figured it doesn't get much better than this and we should stay put. We are anticipating the arrival of another Ranger Tug, Illusions. We have been corresponding with friends Mike and Jess for several months planning where we'd meet while we were both in the North Channel for the rendezvous. It's a good thing we agreed on South Benjamin on August 2nd ahead of time by email because…

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Ranger Tug Kismet, South Benjamin Island, Canada

On the Rocks – South Benjamin Island

Rocking On the Rocks We left Eagle Island early so we would have the best chance to secure a place on the rocks at South Benjamin Island. We anticipated a lot of boating activity in the North Channel this weekend due to the Canadian Civic Holiday falls on Monday. We wanted to get in early in the day to snag a good spot. Kismet On the Rocks! We had previously anchored in a small cove near the southwest entrance to the channel. Although that spot was free when we arrived, we soon spotted another location further in where we had seen boats tied up before, it looked interesting and it was empty. Only one other boat, a sailboat, was tied up in the channel when we arrived so we made a quick decision to try the new spot – we were glad we did. At first we tied up side-to the rocks, but just didn't like the looks of that for our boat…

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Ranger Tug Kismet, Sailboat, Eagle Island, Canada

First Anchorage – Eagle Island

After launching the boat in Spanish, we decided to anchor at Eagle Island. There we spent most of the late afternoon and early evening organizing and storing stuff on the boat. Since Jim organized the rendezvous, we have boxes and boxes of ditty bag items, printed agendas and books to stow on board. We finally found a home for everything and were able to relax on the back deck to enjoy the last remnants of the sun setting behind the island. Eagle Island, which is 2.25 miles in length, has a large open bay, but we found it to have good protection and anticipated our first night swinging on the hook in the North Channel. Our plan, as always it seems, is to cruise to a few familiar anchorages and investigate a few new ones and finally arrive in Little Current for the 2014 Ranger Tugs/Cutwater North Channel Rendezvous. A four-day event for Ranger Tug and Cutwater owners.

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