Rim Route To South Bay Cove On Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Rim Route to South Bay Cove on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

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…

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Rendezvouing With Sea Gator In Marathon

Rendezvouing with Sea Gator in Marathon

  When I was in the planning stages of putting together our book, Women On Board Cruising, an acquaintance introduced me via email to Pat Erhman, a long-distance cruiser, along with her husband Rick on their boat, Sea Gator. I was so happy for the introduction because Pat and I corresponded quite a bit over the course of creating the book and I hoped some day our paths would cross on the water. Today it finally came to be. A friend, another contributor to the book, Ellen, ran into Pat in Marathon earlier in the season and told her we…

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The Route Less Taken – Key West To Marathon

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…

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Stock Island Stay

Stock Island Stay

We can't say enough good things about Key West Harbour, on Stock Island. Our second stay here, for the month of March, was ideal. Great slip right by the tiki hut on the outer rim, open air showers under the hut and a spot to enjoy happy hour under the other hut. Life is good. We were happy to meet up with the Brenda and Vern, on Trouble II, they were our neighbors at Key West Harbour the winter of 2010.

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

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…

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Better Than Sex?

Better Than Sex?

On this particular day we had just consumed a huge lunch at our favorite Cuban restaurant, El Caney on Stock Island. Later that afternoon, we drove to downtown Key West to take a long walk and watch the sunset. We really weren't hungry for a dinner, but we thought maybe we'd just get dessert somewhere. That was when we remembered several people telling us about a dessert restaurant named Better Than Sex, they only offer dessert on their menu. "Why not," we said, "how about we just have dessert for dinner?" Music to the ears of our server. As you can…

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Bringing Home The Shrimp – Stock Island, Florida

Bringing Home the Shrimp – Stock Island, Florida

Not only did the fishermen "bring home the shrimp," but we also brought it home, to the boat that is. Freshly caught shrimp for dinner tonight, what could be nicer? Fresh seafood all within a mile of the marina. Fishbusterz usually has a full array of fish and shellfish available. The Lobster Company, closer to the marina, has more including stone crab claws, a new favorite of ours. This is just one of many reasons we love to stay on Stock Island. The shrimp boats raft off each other in the basin behind Fishbusterz. We originally thought there were docks…

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The Charlevoix Gang Converges On Key West

The Charlevoix Gang Converges on Key West

We're all dock mates from our long-time homeport of Charlevoix, Michigan (the only people missing is our dear harbormaster, Hal and his wife Mary Ann). Although we have not been back to Charlevoix by boat for many years the friendships have endured. Our first get-together this winter was hosted by Jean and Gary on the porch of their downtown Key West rental. Porch dining was a first for us and somewhat of a tradition in this eclectic little town where many houses feature a big front porch. Jean and Gary cooked us an amazing dinner with crab cakes and salad…

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A Favorite Haunt – Stock Island Lobster Co.

A Favorite Haunt – Stock Island Lobster Co.

One of our favorite haunts this winter was the Stock Island Lobster Co., just a short walk from our marina. Unfortunately the whole month of March was very windy and the boats did not get out to get their catch like they, and we, would have liked. Some days they had nothing to sell and others they could only sell a limited amount to us, but we did get some lobster a couple of times and some snow crab claws another.

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Tropical, Eccentric Key West

Tropical, Eccentric Key West

Not only does it boast a colorful, tropical splendor but Key West is a little unconventional with its kooky signs and unusual, creatively painted or put together, bikes and vehicles. Here is something new we saw in Key West this year. Not sure what to call it but doesn't it look like fun? A solar bike with storage to boot. Who would have thought?  Lots of sunshine in the Keys, so why not? One of our favorite signs in Key West, Love Lane. The crew on Illusions (Ranger Tug R27), Mike and Jess arrived in Key West with their friends,…

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Dock Fever? – Let’s Visit The 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…

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Mother Nature’s Tropical Artwork

Mother Nature’s Tropical Artwork

Our first walk in Key West led us to find these beautiful tropical flowers (they had fallen below the tree just as you see them here). Apparently they are from a Pink Bombax, Shaving-Brush Tree, this deciduous tree is native to tropical Mexico. The tree is mostly leafless this time of year, better to see these pink beauties. They start as an brown/yellow banana shaped bud (below-left) which peels down to reveal the pink "shaving brush" flower within. Just one small reason why we love tropical Key West.  

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United States’ Most Southern Destination, Key West, Florida

United States’ Most Southern Destination, Key West, Florida

After three grueling days camping out on Kismet in the boat yard, putting bottom pain on, we arrived at our most southern destination for our winter 2012 boating season, Key West – Stock Island actually, one island up from Key West. We'll be docked for a month at Key West Harbour. Stock Island is close enough to Key West to have fun in the popular tourist town when desired and far enough away to enjoy a relaxed marina setting with beach and pool amenities. This year we procured a slip in the outer basin which is lined with mangroves. We are nestled…

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Boat Yard Blues – Part Two

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…

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Mah Jongg Crazy

Mah Jongg Crazy

After the AGLCA Sunset Celebration came to a close, Cheryll (above-left) and Jess (above-right) and I decided we still had plenty of evening left to play a few games of Mah Jongg in the boater's lounge while the guys watched TV. I always carry a miniature game on board in hopes of bumping into someone who'd like to play, or learn to play. It's a crazy game with lots of weird procedures and rules but once you get the hang of it,it's a fun game to play. I had taught Jess to play during the Ranger Tug Southern Rendezvous in…

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2012 Third Annual Looper “Sunset Celebration”

2012 Third Annual Looper “Sunset Celebration”

The 2012, Third Annual Looper "Sunset Celebration" was a huge success with over 120 in attendance. It was a little windy (not a problem for Loopers) – lots of good food was shared along with a chance to reacquaint ourselves with old friends. Thanks Patricia & George Hospodar for organizing the event and providing Loopers in the area with an opportunity for this fun reunion.

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Tug Nuts Reunite In Marathon

Tug Nuts Reunite in Marathon

Just a few days before our week-long visit at the Harbour Cay Club in Marathon came to an end, Mike and Jess (below-middle), on Illusions (shown above) and Rich and Cheryll (below-right), on Roam (both couples own Ranger Tugs) joined us and before we knew it, we were having a mini Ranger Tug Rendezvous in Marathon. We had all recently met in Fort Myers Beach during the First Annual Ranger Tug Southern Rendezvous. We communicated often as we were traveling different routes down to the Keys with the hope a get-together would be possible – at least for a few days. As luck would…

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Bridge Walk – Seven-Mile Bridge

Bridge Walk – Seven-Mile Bridge

We got up early this morning to do a four-mile walk on the Seven-Mile Bridge, two miles out and two back. It's a fun walk, we almost always see some aquatic life in the water below while walking. Today we saw several stingrays. The Seven-Mile Bridge is a famous bridge in the Florida Keys. It connects Knight's Key (part of the city of Marathon, Florida) in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Among the longest bridges in existence when it was built, it is one of the many bridges on US 1 in the Keys,…

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Happy Hour Special – Stone Crabs At Keys Fisheries

Happy Hour Special – Stone Crabs at Keys Fisheries

Amazing as it seems, Jim and I have never tried stone crab claws, so, off we go for the well known happy hour at Keys Fisheries Restaurant in Marathon. This is a good way to try this seafood special at a great price and we love the atmosphere. We've been here before for lobster reubens, another unusual treat for boaters from the Great Lakes. We're glad to report the claws, along with the tuna sashimi we also ordered, were absolutely yummy.

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Dining In The Keys With Crew Of Chip Ahoy

Dining in the Keys with Crew of Chip Ahoy

Dinner in the marina tonight with friends Scott and Cyndi Perkins, on Chip Ahoy. It's always a pleasure to bump into this couple whom we met on our first Great Loop boat trip in 2006. Also from Michigan, Scott and Cyndi sail down Florida's West Coast to the Keys every winter. Cyndi is a talented writer/editor (Cyndi has also written chapter's in both of our books, When the Water Calls and Women On Board Cruising). Scott is a gifted musician and performer. Click on the CD covers below to read more about and listen to some of Scott's excellent boating…

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2012 MTOA Gathering In Marathon

2012 MTOA Gathering in Marathon

Another fun party in Marathon. Ken Chumley, on Mosey, organized the 2012 MTOA Gathering on the docks of Sombrero Dockside Marina (same spot as our Tuesday night pot luck a few days ago). It was a good time with lots of food and conversation. Lorenzo (Little David), Lisa, Ellen and Roy (Our Turn) (below) are trying to hide from the sun under that sad little palm tree at 1 Palm Tree Ct. It was a hot one but we don't look to be suffering too much. We also got to meet Pete Donnelly (above - member 0001 - First member…

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Tuesday Night Pot Luck – 1 Palm Tree Court

Tuesday Night Pot Luck – 1 Palm Tree Court

Tuesday night was the first of three boat parties this week in Marathon. It will be followed by an MTOA get-together on Wednesday night (same spot as tonight – on the docks at Sombrero Dockside Marina) and a Looper Sunset Celebration at Banana Bay Marina on Sunday night. The 1 Palm Tree Ct. gathering (a private event – by invitation only) is held weekly by several of the boats docked close to the restaurant at the marina. Every year they put together a "boater's lounge," so to speak, right on the dock under a sad looking, half dead palm tree.…

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Initiating More Turtles

Initiating More Turtles

Jim couldn't wait to initiate Louis and Robert into the Turtle Club (below). Remember the post we made while in Tarpon Springs, when Ed initiated us into the club, Turtles Inc.? So if you happen to see Louis or Robert don't forget to ask them, "Are you a turtle?" We had lunch with a group of boaters who are staying at Sombrero Dockside Marina. Diane and Louis, on Bella Luna (left), Phil, on Wonderland (center), Robert and Kay, on C-Life (right) and Alice, also on Wonderland (right in sunglasses). Wade and his daughter Shauna, on Shady Lady met us one morning to…

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Arriving At Harbour Cay Club

Arriving at Harbour Cay Club

We are ultimately on our way to Key West but we're stopping in Marathon for a week to visit with a group of Looper friends who are staying at Sombrero Dockside. Last year when we brought a friend's boat down to Key West for him we found out about this little boat club on the Florida Bay side of the island, we stayed a few days and really liked it. So, back in January we checked into the possibility of securing a slip for a week in late February. Our chances looked good since a few members would be traveling…

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