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Gift Store, Matlacha, Florida

Old Florida Fishing Village on Pine Island – Matlacha, Florida

Pine Island's Colorful Matlacha, Florida Although we have been on Pine Island and Matlacha, Florida by car before, we had never visited by boat. Jim did some research and found Olde Fish House Marina, a local marina in Matlacha Pass, situated smack dab in the middle of one of the most colorful little "Old Florida" towns in Florida. Matlacha is just a small part of Pine Island, when you cross the bridge going toward the bigger (18-mile long) Pine Island, Matlacha proceeds it. You will know you've arrived by all the colorful gifts shops lining the way. We stocked up on seafood and enjoyed touring the gift shops, all within a very short walking distance of the marina. Pine Island is surrounded by mangroves, three aquatic preserves, acres of fruit groves and is home to may creative folks... artist, authors, song writers and poets. It is often referred to as "Florida's Creative Coast." The restroom facilities were some of the most basic we've seen, but…

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Tugnuts Happy Hour

Cayo Costa State Park – Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Flotilla Cruise, Shark's Teeth and Happy Hour on Heart Tug – Cayo Costa State Park Mike Rizzo had organized a post rendezvous flotilla to Cayo Costa State Park for a one-night group anchor event, about a dozen boats participated. First, after anchoring, most of us dinghied to shore and the entrance of the park where we caught a buggy ride to the beach – we all seemed to be on a hunt for shark's teeth. Later that evening everyone was invited to Heart Tug for happy hour. Now, this seemed to concern a few of us because, although Heart Tug is one of the bigger tugs, a 31, we were just wondering how everyone was going to fit on the boat at one time and not sink it. To our best recollection, there were 22 or 23 people at the happy hour. We had to be careful of how we moved around and certainly we couldn't all go to one side of the boat to get a better look at something…

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Tugnuts, Ranger Tugs Rendezvous, Palm Island, Florida

2014 Ranger Tug Winter Rendezvous – Palm Island, Florida

Kismet is hustling to get to Palm Island Marina – Cape Haze We are attending the 2014 Ranger Tug Winter Rendezvous. Over the four years we've own our Ranger Tug, we've met lots of other owners, some we'll see again at this rendezvous and we looked forward to making new friends during the rendezvous. The event was hosted by fellow tug owners, Ted and Carol Whittier and Mike and Jess Rizzo. Many thanks to all of them for a well-organized and fun Ranger Tug Rendezvous!     A Ranger Tug rendezvous is a good place to ask information of other tug owners. Everyone wants to help if there is a problem. One owner had a hard to diagnose situation in his engine room and look how many boaters stopped to give their two cents or to lend a helping hand. We had already briefly met Frank and Salma (above), on Tortuguilla, during our night on the hook in Pass-A-Grille, Florida, in fact, we had told…

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Produce From Farmer's Market, Sarasota, Florida

Two Options for Our Stay – Sarasota, Florida

We always enjoy stopping in Sarasota for a few nights. Sarasota is vibrant and provides a nice break for two salty tugnuts. For our first two nights, we choose the mooring ball option, just outside the harbor, instead of docking at Marina Jacks like we usually do. It was calm enough and just a short dinghy ride to the marina offers us access to town and the ability to get our daily exercise while visiting the Farmer's Market or stocking up at the grocery store. Sarasota is a very walkable city, there is always something interesting going on, we never tire of making this stop. The third night however, Jim had heard of a Hyatt Hotel nearby that also had a little marina, we decided to check it out and glad we did, it seemed like a little vacation from our winter cruising activities with its resort atmosphere, large pool, laundry facilities (right next to the pool, so I could do laundry and swim at the…

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Excerpt, Women On Board Cruising, Book

Blog Readers SPECIAL

Blog Readers SPECIAL $24.95 for Both Paperback Books When the Water Calls... We Follow and Women On Board Cruising (Regularly $44.90 for both books) Christopher Shustak (above) When the Water Calls… We Follow Charlotte Snider (below) Women On Board Cruising   WOMEN ON BOARD CRUISING FOR CONTRIBUTOR SLIDESHOW AND EXCERPTS – CLICK HERE Twenty-five seasoned women boaters including editor, and long-distance cruiser, Lisa Targal Favors of Traverse City, are sharing the trials and tribulations of life aboard in the newly released book, Women On Board Cruising. Conceptualized, edited and published by Ms. Favors, the book is designed to inspire and inform women and their significant others who are planning on – or just considering – spending an extended period of time on the water. The contributors humorously recount their very personal experiences and openly share life lessons learned about this little-known lifestyle. Several women tell their story with a rare, revealing vulnerability. Not all initially welcomed the thought of life within the confines of a boat but…

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Kismet At Anchor, Long Boat Key, Florida

Waiting Out Bad Weather – Longboat Key Florida

Longboat Key Florida, Waiting Out Stormy Weather Longboat Key Florida is a regular stop for us whenever we are cruising the west coast of Florida. However, this visit, the weather turned bad on our second day on the hook. So we moved to shore and tied up at Moore's Stone Crab Restaurant for our second night. Dockage is free if you have dinner at the restaurant. Dinner was great and we felt better tied to the dock during the high winds and rain that night.

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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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