United States’ Most Southern Destination, Key West, Florida

After three grueling days in the boat yard, we arrived at our most southern destination for our winter 2012 boating season, Key West; well, Stock Island actually, one island up from KW. 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 into our big slip, with bath house…

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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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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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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

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

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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Going Back in Time at Everglade City’s Rod and Gun Club

Our mission today was to leave our anchorage in Russell Pass somewhat early in the morning and head over to Everglades City (located along the Barron River on the boundary of Everglades National Park), about a seven mile run. We've been hearing about the Rod and Gun Club since our first Great Loop boat trip in 2005. We never quite made it there during our other two trips through the Everglades due to an unalterable schedule. One of the nice things about having a trailerable trawler is you can get to places quickly with a lot of flexibility. The club…

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Valentine’s Day Dinner in Russell Pass – Everglades National Park

Not many women get an opportunity to enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with their sweetie in a remote setting like our anchorage tonight in Russell Pass – Everglades National Park. It might not appeal to some but I have to tell you I'm lovin' it. We're anchored tonight with two sailboats, one in front of us and one behind us. Showers outside this afternoon and an early dinner on the back deck of Kismet (early because we want to eat outside before the bugs come to eat us). We didn't see any alligators or turtles during our stay, it's…

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Pulling Out at Fort Myers Beach – Driving to Goodland, Florida to Relaunch

We've completed almost two Great Loop boat trips (a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States from the Heartland Rivers to the North Atlantic Seaboard, Canada and the Great Lakes) and both times we bypassed a few stops we wished we had had time to include in our schedule while in Southwest Florida. The first is the little town of Goodland, Florida, just south of Marco Island and the second is Everglades City, at the mouth of the Barron River, on Chokoloskee Bay, just inside of Everglades National Park. Today, we pulled the boat out at Fort Myers Beach and drove to…

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The Historic Village of Boca Grande

The Historic Village of Boca Grande, on the island of Gasparilla, is located at the southern tip of the Cape Haze Peninsula on Florida’s Southwest Coast midway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. Nature has blessed this lush barrier island with seven miles of powdery white beaches stretching the entire Gulf side. Downtown is just a short walk from the marina and the beach, on the Gulf side, not much farther. We spent the afternoon of the day we arrived, and the morning of the day we departed, exploring the town and stopping in a few shops on our way to…

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A Manatee Encounter…

... well the Kadey Krogen kind anyways. This trawler's name was also Manatee. She sure looked good on the water today with the bright colors and her manatee sail catching the wind as she made her way by us on the  GICW. We stopped to exchange greetings and to see if we might meet up down the water somewhere but it appears we are headed in different directions.      

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Stopping at Pop’s – Nokomis Beach, Florida

On our way to a Nokomis and a little restaurant we've passed a few times when traveling through this area. Today we decided to make Pop's a lunch stop and to meet up with fellow MTOA members, Fred and Lorraine Ford-Smith. Fred and Lorraine met us on the dock and we gave them a quick tour of Kismet. They were interested to get on board a Ranger Tug 27 because they're thinking of downsizing someday. It worked out well because we were early enough that the dock was not yet crowded with weekend boaters stopping for lunch at Pop's.  

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Ringling Circus & Art Museum – Sarasota, FL

Established in 1948, the Ringling Circus Museum celebrates the American circus. located just north of Sarasota the museum is a must see for visitors to the Sarasota area.The museum was the first in the country to document the rich history of the circus. More recently the world's largest miniature circus has been on display since 2009. The small replica was created over a period of more than 50 years by master model builder and philanthropist Howard Tibbals. As you enter the museum you will see all stages of circus life from loading up the train that will transport not only…

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Time for Some Big City Action in Sarasota

When we've been anchoring out a lot we look forward to getting into a big city marina and we can't think of a better place along this beautiful Gulf Coast than Sarasota. It has everything here to satisfy a cruising boater. Nice marina facilities (Marina Jack), restaurants right on the dock, music to serenade you to sleep, a newer downtown area with shops and more restaurants and if you happen to be there on a weekend – an amazing farmer's market and art fair. We love Sarasota! The Satasota Farmer's Market is a visual treat. The quality of produce available…

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First Time in Gulfport, Florida

On our way to Gulfport today. Great cruising weather, calm as could be, not too many boat wakes to contend with and we were happy about that. We've heard lots of good reports from other boaters about this little community near St. Petersburg. We made arrangements to stay one-night at the Gulfport Marina, just about a mile from the downtown area. Here's an artsy idea for your car when it needs a new paint job. Tribal art! This is just a little representation of this little community. Many restaurants along the beach area but lots of art galleries and gift stores…

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Redington Beach Anchor – Florida

Anchoring in Florida is a real treat. Lots of options available, we decide to try a few new spots (new to us anyways). Instead of anchoring in St. Pete Beach, which we've done a couple of times before, we stopped a little earlier and tried this spot off Redington Beach. It turned out to be a picture perfect spot in a well protected cove, a good choice for our first night at anchor during this winter trip to Florida.  

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Captain Greg and Monster Help Us Fuel Up

Before leaving Tarpon Springs we needed to top off the fuel tank, we found the F & Y fuel dock close to the Sponge Docks and we were surprised at all the help we got. Captain Gregg and his little dog Monster greeted us along with the fuel guy and helped us secure the boat and fuel the boat. Captain Greg is pretty proud of his companion, Monster. The captain is a real Tarpon Springs fisherman, he and his crew, including Monster, go out in the Gulf several days at a time until his boat's fish, holding tank is full…

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Are You a Turtle?

I was doing laundry at Turtle Cove Marina's Club House during our last day in Tarpon Springs when Jim joined me and we decided to have a beer in the club's bar. It appears Jim had an ulterior motive for meeting me at the club house, he had heard they would have the bar open with an array of snack food available while a football party was starting to heat up. We had met the owner of Turtle Cove Marina, Ed Spaeth, at the beginning of our week's stay at the marina, so he readily welcomed us to the party and…

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Colorful and Delicious Tarpon Springs, FL

We dropped the boat in at a boat ramp in Tarpon Springs (below), one of our favorite cruising destinations. Lots of good food, colorful people and happy music. While at the Farmer's Market on Sunday we came across this memorial to Mother Meres (above), in the 1880s, she became one of Tarpon Springs most admired women – someone very special from the looks of the ornate memorial. Mother Meres was Pinellas County Florida’s original ‘Garden Fairy spreading her love of gardening. Greek almond cookies, our favorite sweet treat in Tarpon Springs (the best are found at National Bakery and Athens St.).…

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Kismet Goes Into Storage Until After the Holidays

It was a fun trip but sometimes good things must come to a... temporary halt (I was about to say END but heaven forbid that our boating lifestyle would end when it just seems to have started). Before we headed out west we had made arrangements with the RV Park Palace, in Chattanooga, to store our boat there while we went home to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. We had a good feeling about this place just from talking with Tim Aslinger. We drove into the RV Park Palace's compound and prepared to store Kismet. Then we watched…

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Back to Padre Bay Canyon – Last Night at Anchor in Lake Powell

We spent our last night in Lake Powell anchored in Padre Bay, the same area we anchored our first night out. This time we found a little cove that was quite a bit more protected just over the hill from our first anchorage site. With a very clean, sandy beach off our bow the site was closely protected on three sides. Jim is an old pro at burying the anchor now. It seems like it only takes a few minutes now to get settled versus the 45 min. we started out with. Here (above) you can see how our back…

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Dungeon Canyon Took Our Breaths Away

We found Dungeon Canyon to be quite impressive. It's another wide open area with lots of sites to beach anchor, plenty of space between boats for added privacy. As the day progressed, we enjoyed watching the way the light changed on the different rock faces surrounding us as the sun set and the warm, gold glow in the canyon turned more to a pinkish yellow before it cooled off and finally set just before the canyon turned dark. The view at dusk off the starboard side of Kismet. (Above) The view at dusk off the stern of Kismet. (Above) Jim is…

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Cruising Twilight, Driftwood and Mountain Sheep Canyons

Exploring Twilight, Driftwood and Mountain Sheep Canyons today. We found this small arch (below) forming just inside one of the canyons. We traveled back as far as we could in each canyon, not many anchor spots available here, so we eventually headed over to Dungeon Canyon to camp for the night. Canyon cruising is very entertaining, before you know it the day is half over.  

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Canyon Walls of Lake Powell

Here are just a few examples of the variety of wall shapes and colors you might see while cruising Lake Powell. We couldn't help but wonder what they faced to become so sculptured and colored. We saw walls with huge jagged pieces clearly pulling away from its mother rock – we imagined they might soon succumb to the elements and make their final descent dissappearing below the deep, dark blue water below.  

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Good Morning Cottonwood Canyon

Our last morning in Cottonwood Canyon was as still as could be. This made it even harder to leave this beach anchorage, but we knew we would have a morning full of visual delights as we headed out towards our day's destination, Davis Gulch and Llewellyn Gulch. The sky and water could not be bluer and the rock walls stood in high contrast as the sun slowly turned them a bright orange.    

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