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Whidden’s Marina – A Family Tradition

We bypassed the newer marina in favor of tying up at the famous and historic, Whidden's Marina. Boca Grande's oldest marina was founded in 1926 by Sam Whidden and has been run by the Whidden family ever since. Back in the 20s the marina was also a well known night spot, dance hall and restaurant. All that has changed, but not the flavor and old fashioned hospitality of this "Old Florida" establishment. We enjoyed the old museum and gift shop (which really was another museum of sorts) and the laid back atmosphere. It reminded us of Hoppies, in Kimswick on the Mississippi River. I guess you could call this outdoor facility the Boater's Lounge at Whidden's Marina. We got a big kick out of the outdoor shower facilities (above-right and below). We love showering outside so, for us, this was actually a treat. These beautiful tiles were part of the outdoor shower (above). The marina also is home to a menagerie…

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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 is exceptional, we didn't need a lot since we recently provisioned but we had to buy some fresh corn and watermelon.

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De Soto Point and Longboat Key Anchorages

De Soto Point Anchorage on the Manatee River A quiet night and calm waters greeted us at DeSoto Point on the Manatee River (above and below). A few other boats were already anchored for the night when we arrived late afternoon. It was late so we stayed on the boat, made dinner and enjoyed the sunset. Longboat Key, a Favorite Anchorage We are loving the nice January weather, it makes anchoring out a real treat. We had company tonight when Captain Kathe and a group of women came by to say hi.

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Gulfport Marina, Florida

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 dot this small town. Charming. If you've been reading our blogs, you'll know that sometimes we pass the time playing Liverpool. A fun game and keeps us entertained when there's not much else to do. Here is a cute little restaurant, we liked the chalk board on the door. Instant, directional signage to display specials or to tell you to…

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Reddington Beach, Florida

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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Mother Meres Artwork, Tarpon Springs, Florida

We Remember Tarpon Springs, Florida

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.). Lamb shank and spaghetti is very good at Hella's Restaurant. The Farmer's Market was small and mostly arts and crafts but we did pick up some peppers and oranges to finish our provisioning for the boat. We talked with the guy who sold us the oranges (below-left) and since he was a boater himself, we had a little bit in…

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RV Park Palace Storage

Picking Up Kismet and Heading South

RV Park Palace more than met our expectations for a safe and reliable place to store our Ranger Tug, Kismet, for a few months. Tim took care of everything we needed to have done to the boat – it was freshly washed, tires checked for us and after a few minutes, spent mostly talking with Tim and his crew, we were on our way, heading south for a winter adventure in Florida.

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Shaking Hands

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 as they drove her inside a very clean and organized storage facility. Tim and staff all assured us that what we had learned during our research of the facility about the security and any maintenance issues would be up to our expectations. During our inspection of the trailer and boat outside, this nail was discovered in one of the trailer…

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Boat At Joe Wheeler, Rogersville, Alabama

AGLCA Fall Rendezvous – Rogersville, AL

As "Loopers," we were excited to be able to tow our boat from Lake Powell to Rogersville, Alabama for the AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association) 2011 Fall Rendezvous. Little did we know that, not only would we make new friends, we'd run into a few Loopers that we did the Loop with back in 2005/06. Tom Conrad (above-center), here with his wife Patsy and Janice Kromer, was the MC for the rendezvous. He did a great job. Jim did a presentation on the St. Johns River. Fellow AGLCA Advisory Board members, Audrey Stehle and Patsy Conrad (above-left). Susann and Alan Syme (above-right). Tom and Patsy Conrad (above – Tom's not only the MC for this event, but he's also the famous weather guy Loopers rely on when anticipating the Gulf crossing). Fellow AGLCA Advisory Board members, Rick and Betsy Johnson (above-left). Patsy and Ron Stob sang an original Looper song while Ted Stehle, Steve and Janice Kromer manned the…

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IPad Navonics GPS Tracker, Lake Powell

Making Our Way Back to Wahweap Marina

Our time on Lake Powell came to a close today as we made our way back to Wahweap Marina and civilization. We would highly recommend Lake Powell as a cruising destination for adventurous boaters, whether you bring your own boat or you rent a houseboat. We enjoyed using our iPad with the Navonics app to navigate Lake Powell. Great tool, way outperformed our expectations. This (below) was our carefully saved garbage from our ten-day trip. We also stowed the extra anchor and line we used while on Lake Powell, we won't need it again for awhile. We spent one more night at Wahweap Marine getting the boat organized to put back on the trailer to continue our trek east. Rogersville, Alabama (Tennesee River) for the AGLCA Fall Rendezvous, is our next stop before we put Kismet in storage for a few months while we go home for the holidays.

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Boat Beach Anchored, Dungeon Canyon. Lake Powell

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 stern of Kismet. (Above)     Jim is giving a demonstration on how we embark and disembark the boat when beach anchored in Lake Powell.     The view at dusk off the starboard side of Kismet. (Above) You can barely see Kismet here (above and to the left), just a tiny speck in this vast canyon. Lots of opportunities for beach anchoring in this canyon.         Jim is checking to see if he could get an…

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Twilight-Driftwood-MntSheet-Canyon. Lake Powell

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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Boats Beach Anchored, Oak Bay, Lake Powell

Back to Oak Bay for a Peaceful Night

We would have loved to beach anchor in Davis Gulch today after our tour of it, but the only available site was already taken, so back to Oak Bay for us tonight. As we mentioned before this is a popular spot and even though it is off season there were a few houseboats already beached when we arrived.

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Cruising Davis-Lewellen Gulch, Lake Powell

Davis Gulch – A Visual Delight

We were the first boat into Davis Gulch this morning and because of that, this is what we found... eerily still waters mirroring the sculptured rocks and dark blue skies. The rock face took on gigantic organic shapes, a few suggesting arrows pointing into the canyon. Absolutely breathtaking.

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Cottonwood Canyon, Lake Powell

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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Kismet Cruising To Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell

On Our Way to Rainbow Bridge

This is what it looked like (above) from inside the boat as we negotiated the narrow canyons on our way to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Each canyon, off the main river route, is marked with these buoy type signs (below-right) that way boaters unfamiliar with Lake Powell, like us, will have a better chance of NOT getting lost. The last tour boat of the day passed us as we traveled up the canyon. We thought this was probably a good thing as the dock and trail won't be as busy when we get there. Only a few boats were tied up to the long dock just before the trail leading up to the monument. We decided to take our time before we left the boat to hike the trail up the hill. I fixed lunch and we ate on the back of the boat. Jim even had a few minutes to clean the hull.

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Kismet Beach Anchored, Oak Bay, Lake Powell

Two-Night Stay in Oak Bay

On our fourth day out, we found the well protected, but wide open, Oak Bay for a couple night stay, we shared a beach with only one other houseboat. This is one of the most popular bays for boaters in Lake Powell. Today we were more comfortable with picking a spot on the beach and it only took us a few minutes to tie ourselves down, mostly because we'd left our lines and spare anchor tied in place on the boat. Most days, we’d leave our beach anchorage to explore new canyons. Later, about mid-day, we’d start looking for a new beach campsite, early enough to enjoy our new surroundings and take in the Technicolor sunsets. At night, we were mesmerized by the bright, almost full, rising moon which grew bigger every night over the luminous, orange rock, formations until the darkening reddish-yellow glimmer of the rock diminished and the light of the moon alone lit up the canyons in…

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Ranger Tugs Rendezvous

Itching to Get Back on the Water

Above photos of a Ranger Tug Rendezvous, courtesy of Herb Stark. When I was a child, our family would drive to Lake Chemung (Howell, Michigan) to spend summer weekends, a family event I always enjoyed. Like many things children look forward to, like getting to the lake, it never seemed to happen soon enough. If I said it once I’d bet I said it a hundred times, “Are we there yet?” and I’m beginning to feel the same way about heading out west to get back to boating. This time with our Ranger Tug R27 trailerable trawler. Later this summer we plan to drive 2,400 miles to Kent, Washington and pick up the R27. We'd like to get onto the water just as soon as we can get the boat into the Puget Sound. Gig Harbor will be our first stop, we’ll spend three days getting familiar with our new boat while exploring a port we've not visited before. As…

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