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Port Madison

A Gem of an Anchorage – Port Madison, WA

Port Madison is One of Our Favorite Anchorages in the Puget Sound Area! – Still getting to know our new Kismet. Our first get-a-way after we dropped our grandson Silas off to his parents was to return to Port Madison, Washington. Located east of the Olympic Peninsula, at Bainbridge Island, We first visited this anchorage in 2012 soon after we took possession of our then Ranger Tugs R27. So we thought it would be appropriate to make a return visit with the new and improved R29. We are headed north of Puget Sound now, anchoring out as we make our way to Anacortes and then the San Juan Islands. We remembered how peaceful and beautiful it is there and after a week with our active grandson, Silas on board, we were ready for something quiet and restorative. There are a couple yacht clubs in this long narrow inlet, we passed them to go further back, seeking the quietest spot we could…

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Kismet Cruising, Everglades, Florida

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 been cold recently so we think the alligators are still buried in mud keeping warm, but we did see these white pelicans (below) on our way into the pass. It was too shallow to get closer for a better photo. We don't often see large groups of white pelicans like this in one spot, so it was a special treat…

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Kismet Cruising, Goodland, Florida

Haul Out – 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 Calusa Island Marina, in Goodland, to put the boat back in the water. We decided to just anchor out near the marina and it was the right decision, it was a beautiful night to anchor and not too buggy. A few posts back we showed a photo of a boat called Manatee. Well, as we were making our way to…

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Women At Farmer's Market

Up Early for the Farmer’s Market

   In true boater tradition, Ranger Tug owners still at the rendezvous, Carol, Jess, Cheryll, and myself got up early to hit the Farmer's Market about two blocks away from the marina under the San Carlos Blvd. Bridge. It was a small affair but we all found something we needed.

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Boater Friends On Kismet

Cheers with Good Friends

CHEERS... Here's to Here & Here's to There. Whenever we meet up with boaters from our homeport of Charlevoix, Michigan, we have a special toast, and it's always the same. The HERE is always where we currently are and the THERE is always where we love to be and it's always the same... Charlevoix. We've been meeting up with Hal and Marianne (above) in Florida the last few years. (Hal is our harbormaster in Charlevoix, Michigan and they are both dear friends.)  This year they decided to try Cape Coral area so it worked perfectly with our schedule. Before we left home, we were in touch with friends Bill and Mary (below – also from Charlevoix), and we weren't surprised that they would be in the Naples area during the week we planned at Moss Marine for the Ranger Tugs Rendezvous. We thought it would be fun to get a group from Charlevoix together to catch up far from home. First drinks on the boat…

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Friends

Cape Coral Anchorage Near Tarpon Point Marina for a Rendezvous with Friends

Just a little jaunt over to Cape Coral this morning, approx. 30 miles to Tarpon Point Marina where we threw the hook out within sight of the marina. Spent the afternoon catching up on the blog and bills until it was time to dinghy over to the marina so friends, Andy and Mary could pick us up for dinner at their rental located just a few miles from the marina. We met Andy and Mary in Charlevoix just before we began our second Great Loop boat trip in 2008. Always a fun time when we see Mary and Andy (above-left). It was good for us to get off the boat to socialize a little, we've been anchoring out, just the two of us, a lot lately and...  from my perspective, it's good to get some "girl time" in when I can.

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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 the beach. The residents on this island zip around on golf carts and seem to be very happy about spending their winters in paradise. A local resident recommended 3rd Street Cafe, so we had breakfast there in their "Secret Garden." The best homemade hash browns, with homemade blueberry jam, we can remember ever having in a restaurant.

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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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Dinghy Davit Decision

   Lisa and I gave a great deal of thought to the purchase of our Ranger Tug and GMC tow truck but, until recently, we never gave much thought to the dinghy we'd need and how we'd transport it on and off of the water. We finally had some boating downtime over the holidays and were able to do some research and after a great deal of thought settled on a small 7' 7" Achilles inflatable, with a soft bottom, made of hypalon material and powered by a Tohatsu 4 HP 4 stroke outboard. It arrived in a neat little package (above). We wanted to have a dinghy that was lightweight, narrower than our boat, and one that was easy to disassemble and stow when it came time to trailer our boat to a new cruising ground. With the dinghy purchase accomplished, our next mission was to figure out how to transport it while under way on the water. We've…

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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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Anchorage Off the ICW Between Lido and Otter Keys, Florida

Lido and Otter Key provided a peaceful anchorage for Kismet tonight. Before dinner, we got in the dinghy and cruised a nearby canal, this is where we found this very unusual (to us) tree (below). No leaves on the tree just these beautiful  bright red, orchid -like, flowers sitting next to some closed up, brown pods. Do you know what kind of tree this is? Please let us know if you do. We haven't seen another like it, so we think it's somewhat unusual, but hey, we're from northern Michigan and a little unfamiliar with tropical plants. This is the sun (below) just about to set over the houses on the beach. Can you see the halo around it? We've seen this a couple of nights on this trip and not sure what it is. We have seen this around the moon before but not the sun. Could it have something to do with solar storms? We want to call it…

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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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Captain Greg And Monster

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 of catch, sometimes as long as 11 days. We sure do meet some colorful characters on the water.

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Turtle

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 while sitting with us proceeded to tell us about another club he belonged to, he wanted to induct us into this special organization but first we had to answer four key questions that are asked of every potential member before becoming a "Turtle." He assured us all of the questions, and answers, were "clean" and we should not assume the…

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Kismet Docked, Tarpon Springs, Florida

Turtle Cove Marina – Tarpon Springs, FL

The last three times we were in Tarpon Springs by boat, we stayed at the Municipal Marina by the sponge docks. We always enjoyed the stay for it's proximity to the great restaurants and it's also a good spot to hear the Greek music and smell the great aromas wafting from all the little restaurants, but the facility is slowly deteriorating and we just felt it was time to try something different. After hearing several recommendations for Turtle Cove Marina from other boaters we decided to give it a try and we were not disappointed. It's also only a couple of blocks from the Sponge Docks. We were well looked after by the team at Turtle Cove. Can't tell you how often we were asked if we needed anything. The facilities are first class and more like a resort with a clubhouse, within a short walk from the marina, and some unexpected amenities that surprised us. Peter (below-right) took good…

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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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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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Lisa Cottonwood Canyon, Lake Powell, Utah

Just the Two of Us in Cottonwood Canyon

Our anchorage in Cottonwood Canyon was my personal favorite. It was such a beautiful spot, we spent two nights there; I could have spent more. With so much to see, and not knowing what surprises lay ahead of us, we did eventually, but reluctantly, move on, but what a wonderful two days of solitude and peace we had in this spectacular canyon. I don't know exactly what grabbed at my heartstrings while tucked into this isolated, natural harbor, but I felt like we had been transported to another world. To climb high up the rocky shore and look down at the tiny spec our Ranger Tug, Kismet, had become, anchored neatly below was breathtaking to say the least. We couldn't have had better windless days, or more ideal temperatures, during our two-day stay in Cottonwood Canyon. By this time we've really got the beach anchoring procedure down pat. With the anchor dragged up on shore and two lines out, one…

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