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Lovers Key

Lovers Key – Party Central During the Day, Quiet and Peaceful at Night

Lovers Key, at New Pass Inlet, South of Fort Myers Beach, is a Wonderful Anchorage Surrounded by Two State Parks – This is a place we “LOVE” to return to. After a brief stay at Salty Sams, in Fort Myers Beach, we followed Matanzas Pass south, past Ostego Bay. We then crossed Big Carlos Pass on our way to this anchorage between Lovers Key State Park and Pelican Landings Beach Park. We anchored in six feet of water, with the Dog Park (part of the Lovers Key State Park) to our north. The beach park was west of us and the opening to the Gulf, New Pass Inlet was between the two. It was Saturday, by the time we arrived the place was full of weekend activity. Dogs were running and playing in the dog park. Many boats beached on shore. Ferry boats hauled people back and forth to the parks all day long. Plenty of boating activity all around…

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Roosevelt Channel

Valentine’s Day in Roosevelt Channel with My Sweetie– Captiva Island, Florida

First Stop After the Flotilla to Cayo Costa is Roosevelt Channel – One of the fun parts of cruising, and anchoring, is discovering new places to throw the hook. Kismet is beginning the slow process of heading down to the Keys. On this morning, we left Cayo Costa State Park, after anchoring with the flotilla of tugs for two nights in Pelican Bay. Our destination is Roosevelt Channel, off Captiva Island, next to the Buck Key Preserve and Patterson Island Preserve. We were buddy boating on this day with the crew of Liberty, another Ranger Tugs R29S, heading to Roosevelt Channel off Captiva Island. We also had company (below) join us on the boat during lunchtime, think it was the tuna salad he was interested in, more than a boat ride.   Look who we bumped into at the head of the channel, Miss Norma, as in Driving Miss Norma fame, Norma's son, Tim and his wife, Ramie are taking a page…

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Cayo Costa State Park

Post Rendezvous Flotilla to Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa State Park Flotilla Many of the Ranger Tugs / Cutwater Boats rendezvous held around the United States include a flotilla to a nearby anchorage after the event. About ten boats departed Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda the morning after the 2018 Southwest Florida Ranger Tugs/Cutwater Boats Rendezvous, in Punta Gorda, forming a Cayo Costa State Park Flotilla, approximately 14 miles miles from Punta Gorda. Flotillas are always fun! We just had several days to get to know some of the other attendees of the rendezvous and the party actually continued a few more days with the Cayo Costa State Park Flotilla. For us, it started with a dinghy ride around the anchorage with a few friends to visit the other Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats in attendance. Our dinghy excursion ended on the beach with other boats from the rendezvous to watch the sun set over the park.   Our friends on Tug O' My Heart and Snapshot anchored…

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2018 SWFL Rendezvous

2018 Southwest Florida Ranger Tugs/Cutwater Boats Rendezvous

Do You Own a Ranger Tug or Cutwater Boat? The 2018 Southwest Florida Ranger Tugs/Cutwater Boats Rendezvous was held at Burnt Store Marina this year for the first time. If you own a Ranger Tug or Cutwater Boat, you might be interested in attending one of these owner driven rendezvous. Always a fun time meeting other tug and Cutwater owners, we all have so much in common. Mike and Jess Rizzo, on Illusions (above) are the event hosts and coordinators of this rendezvous.   Can you spot Kismet, sitting pretty at Burnt Store Marina? That red hull sure stands out! Look who we found at the rendezvous! Ivan, one of our favorite Customer Service Reps from Ranger Tugs. Always a pleasure to meet up with him and a special surprise and treat to see him so far from his home in Seattle. Most of these rendezvous, held around the country on the water, feature a representative from Ranger Tugs who…

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Cayo Costa

Drone Practice at Cayo Costa State Park, Florida

All Serious Boaters in the Gulf Coast Area Know About Cayo Costa State Park – After a month in Fort Myers, Florida, we are finally pushing away from the dock. The next few days we will be headed to Punta Gorda for the 2018 Southwest Florida Ranger Tugs / Cutwater Boats Rendezvous. But first, we headed to Cayo Costa State Park, a beautiful barrier island featuring a nice anchorage with room for all. In addition, boaters can dinghy to to dock of the park to hike or take a short shuttle ride to the beach on the Gulf Coast. A gorgeous beach awaits those that visit, also providing boaters a chance to get off their boats to exercise and stretch their legs a little. If you go early in the morning, you may have a better chance of finding some nice shells on the beach. If you don't have your own boat, there are several ferry boats out of Punta Gorda,…

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Christening Kismet

Today We Come to Name this Lady… Kismet

Christening Kismet – Christening is a Ritual Started by Seafarers Thousands of Years Ago – We finally got the boat graphics installed on Kismet – time to christen her. Christening, or naming ceremonies, were meant to bring good luck to new vessels and those who sailed on them. The tradition of christening goes back to the early days of boating – thousands of years ago. Viking ships were marked by the spilling of blood in early rituals. In the Middle Ages, religious shrines were placed on ships and a libation of wine was offered as the vessel hit the water. Wine became a substitute for the earlier practice of a blood sacrifice, consequently, for good luck and a safe voyage, wine was poured on the deck to appease King Neptune. Ancient seafaring peoples, rimming the Mediterranean, launched their ships with rituals having religious overtones. These practices, varying in form as nations and cultures evolved through the centuries, have carried over to the present christening…

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Fort Myers, Florida

Kismet is Wintering in Florida – Palm Trees, Dolphins and Beach Walks for the Crew!

Our long-range plan last year was to spend the winter in Florida this year. After hauling the new Kismet across country last fall, we put her away in a storage building in Sidney, Ohio for a three-month winter's nap. We like to be home with our family for the holidays and always leave northern Michigan after the new year. It would be tough, due to ice and snow conditions, to leave Traverse City with a 10.500-lb boat behind our truck. Ohio is a little safer bet. Even if it is in the throws of a storm, we'd be out of it within a day, driving south. We stored our boat in this same building just last year. It is the perfect spot for us due to it being so close to Jim's mom's house, just off I-75.   After three days of successful trailering to Fort Myers, Florida, we launched Kismet at the downtown ramp. Then cruised less than a quarter-mile…

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Ganges Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

One Night in Ganges Salt Spring Island –  After we pulled up anchor in Madrona Bay, we headed the short way into Ganges Salt Spring, to stay for one night before we head over to Wallace Island to anchor in Princess Cove. We love Ganges, it's a quaint waterfront town with lots of character. The only other time we were here was during our trip to the Pacific Northwest for the Ranger Tugs Desolation Sound Cruise. The town is just big enough that everything is within walking distance of the marina and docks on the waterfront. The marina was not very busy and there were lots of available dockage. There were two other Ranger Tugs with us at the dock this night.      

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Sunset, South Bay Cove,, Lake Okechobee

Rim Route to South Bay Cove on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

"Big Water" – Lake Okeechobee and the Rim Route From our one-night stop in LaBelle, we proceeded toward Lake Okeechobee (or in Seminole Indian language, Big Water), we'll be taking the rim route around the lake instead of going straight across this time. The Okeechobee Waterway, which includes the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River, boasts a 134.3 nautical miles from west to east and is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the United States. You can transit the lake by going straight across or by the more protected, though shallower, rim route that follows the southern edge of the lake. We've never done this path before and are looking forward to seeing something new. We'll stop one night to anchor at South Bay Cove, a spot Jim found on Active Captain and heard other boaters talk about. It is located at the southern end of the lake. It was a very thickly overcast day so we did not get very good…

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Friends, Jim Favors And Tom Conrad

A Simple Sailor Man

Tribute to a Friend – Tom Conrad We lost a good friend. Tom Conrad passed away recently and the boating community lost one of its best. We met Tom and Patsy Conrad many years ago through AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association). If the Great Loop boating adventure did not exist, we probably would never have met – with the Conrads living in Florida's Panhandle and us living in northern Michigan. What a loss that would have been for us. Because we shared a passion for boating and this adventure they call a "Loop," our paths crossed and our wakes overlapped. Loopers, ourselves included, often say that one of best parts about doing the Great Loop boat trip is all the wonderful people we meet during our tours around the eastern United States waterways. Many of those relationships go on to become life-long friendships. Tom Conrad was a sailer, a captain, a boater's boater, a true friend to any human being, a person that would help you out without ever expecting anything in…

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Lisa On Ranger Tug Kismet

The Belle of the Caloosahatchee – LaBelle, Florida

Free Dock in LaBelle, on the Caloosahatchee River! On our way east on the Caloosahatchee River today with our eye on making it to the free town dock in LaBelle for a one-night stay, we had to go through two locks to get there. The Caloosahatchee River always provides us with a scenic cruise and the easily accessible free dock was a welcome stop, one we had not taken advantage of before. LaBelle, Florida, was settled along the Caloosahatchee River, in the late 1800s. At the turn of the 19th century, rivers were the highways of Florida. The region was populated by cattle and citrus farmers in 1895. There were several boats already docked when we arrived, but still plenty of room for a few more boats. The newly reconstructed docks have stern-to berths for six vessels between fifteen foot wide concrete pilings. We spent happy hour talking with the crew on the trawler next to us (above). The next morning before we shoved off…

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Crew On True North, Fort Myers, Florida

Friends Helping Friends – Fort Myers, Florida

First Stop Legacy Harbor Marina, Fort Myers, Florida After spending the holidays at home in Traverse City, MI, we returned to Legacy Harbor Marina in Fort Myers, Florida for the start of our 2015 winter cruising season. Our plan this winter is to cruise to Key West from Fort Myers, spending most of our time in the Keys. Legacy Harbor Marina is a fun spot to spend a week, a month or a whole season. Last year we spent a month enjoying the amenities of the marina while exploring all the events in the Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral and Naples area. One of the Friends of Tom and Patsy Conrad helped get True North, to Fort Myers. Eddy and Jeff co-captained the boat to Legacy Harbour and its owners, the Conrad's who were anxiously waiting to see, and move back onboard their boat again. Linda, Skip and Lolly were the support team back at the marina, helping the captains into the…

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Kismet Docked, Legacy Harbour Marina, Fort Myers

Fun Times, Good Friends – Fort Myers, Florida

Kismet Secure at Legacy Harbor Marina, Fort Myers We planned our winter trip to include a month-long stay at Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers. Many of our Looper friends stay in this area during the winter months, some of them at this marina. We find that boating is like that, we bump into Loopers or boaters we know everywhere we go– planned or not. We did parts of our second Loop with buddy boats, Bella Luna and C-Life. We know other Loopers docked here from being involved with AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association). In the past, when in Fort Myers, we've always stayed at Fort Myers Yacht Basin, but this year we wanted to be where our friends were even though the Yacht Basin is only a few blocks away. When we arrived at Legacy, we were given a couple of choices for dockage. We chose the dock in front of Joe's Crab Shack. It was the perfect spot for Kismet for the month…

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Kismet Docked In Sanibel, Florida

Kismet Shares See Life Too’s Dock – Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida – An Invitation We Couldn't Refuse While at the rendezvous, we had an invitation to stay at a fellow tugnut's dock in Sanibel Island. How could we pass that up? Steve and Laurie, on See Life Too, were so gracious to share the dock behind their house with us for a few days. Sanibel is a beautiful island with excellent shelling beaches. We borrowed our host's bikes to go grocery shopping and visit an art fair, we also got some good walking exercise in on the beautiful trail near their house. Our hosts, Laurie and Steve, on the back deck of Kismet for coffee and coffee cake. We were joined for breakfast by two other tugnuts, Dominic and Carolyn who just happened to be at a marina two blocks away.

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Beach, Lover's Key State Park, Florida

New Pass Interlude Near Bonita Springs, Florida

New Pass, a welcome break before we head into Fort Myers for a month. Lisa and I have an unquenched passion, as it relates to cruising, and it has to do with going places we’ve never been. With this in mind we departed Ft Myers Beach and instead of heading out into the open Gulf we decided to cruise the inside route through Estero Bay, south past Big Carlos Pass, to an anchorage at New Pass inlet, just north of Big Hickory Island. The eight mile trek is a well marked channel but you’d better stay in the channel as it does get very shallow very quickly in many places, having a two-foot draft makes a trip like this a lot easier for our Ranger Tug. The cruise to New Pass could very well have been a day trip, however we thought it would be nice to stretch this scenic cruise into a couple days stay. New Pass is surrounded by parks and nature, not…

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Jim And Kismet, Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Hooking Up with Friends – Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Fort Myers Beach – Gulf Star Marina Not a lot going on this time around for the crew of Kismet in Fort Myers Beach. We usually take a mooring ball, but this time we docked at Gulf Star Marina. It was Sunday when we arrived and we were treated to live music at the nearby restaurant, Doc Ford's. Our main objective while here was to hook up with some friends in the area. We scheduled breakfast at this Greek restaurant on the beach with friends, Hal and Marianne, from Charlevoix, Michigan (Kismet's one time homeport), they were renting a house on the beach and rode their bikes to meet us at the restaurant. Next, Looper buddies Linda and Charlie, on Freedom's Turn, met us on the boat, we had done parts of our second Loop with this couple. We later went out to dinner and while waiting to order saw this pitcher of beer. This method of keeping beer cold in the Florida heat…

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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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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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Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge

Exploring Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge

Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge – from Fort to Ruins Fort Dade was built during the Spanish American War and remained in military control for many years. In 1974 the island was turned over to the State of Florida and became a state park in 1989. In 1974 the southern portion of the island became Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge (also a bird sanctuary). Visiting Egmont Key should only be done during fairly calm water. Because there are no docks, one needs to anchor a ways off of the island shoreline and dinghy to shore. The shoreline is quite open and unprotected. After securing our dinghy we walked up onto what used to be a brick lined boulevard of Fort Dade’s military base. Most of the housing, fire department, general store structures are long gone. So it felt eerie walking the streets and walkways of where a whole community of buildings once stood. There is still a manned lighthouse station…

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Pristine Anchorage at Mullet Key – Fort DeSoto State Park, FL

Two Fortresses Were built to Guard Against Invasions that Never Came, Mullet Key is one of them As one leaves the Gulf of Mexico to enter Tampa Bay, Mother Nature provides two keys that stand sentinel to the entrance of Tampa Bay. In 1889, Mullet Key, to the north, and Egmont Key, to the south, had fortresses built to guard against invasions that never came, remnants of both forts remain today in the parks that were created in the late 1800s. Robert E Lee made the recommendation, in 1849, that both Mullet and Egmont keys become fortified. Fort DeSoto, on Mullet Key, was built in 1889 and later abandoned by the military in stages from 1910 to the mid 1940’s. In 1962 Mullet Key was turned over to Pinellas County and became the Fort DeSoto Park. In our quest to find new and unique anchorages during our winter cruises, we stumbled upon Mullet Key while doing some research of Florida West Coast cruising grounds. On the charts…

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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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