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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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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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Keys Eco-Tours? John Pennekamp State Park

Keys Eco-Tours? See Captain Sterling – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Looking for Keys Eco-Tours? See Captain Sterling at Everglades Eco-Tours Our first stop in the Keys this year was John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, time for another Keys Eco-Tours. This was a new stop for us and we're glad we had the opportunity to check it out. We left Boca Chita while it was still quite windy, but manageable. When we got to where the waterway narrowed down a bit, we passed under the Jew Fish Creek Inlet and Bridge, in Key Largo, Florida, and passed the Anchorage Resort and Marina. We've stayed there in 2010 when we helped the new owner of our Fathom 40 take the boat north from Key West to Palm Coast. Shortly after we emerged from Jew Fish Creek into Blackwater Sound we headed toward the man-made cut, Marvin D Adams Waterway (mile-market, 103.6), it would take us into Largo Sound and shortly after our destination, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The "Cut," created in the late…

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Ranger Tug Kismet Anchored, Hurricane Harbor, Florida

Sky On Fire – Hurricane Harbor – Key Biscayne, Florida

Hurricane Harbor Provided Us with an Idyllic Sunset! Leaving Miami in our wake, we pointed our bow toward Key Biscayne Island. Jim did some research and found this beautiful anchorage, a spot further enhanced by a flaming sunset. The sky was on fire, I must have taken a hundred photos as it morphed with varying shades of sky blues, oranges and hot red tones. Soon after we threw the hook into the harbor, we had a visit by local law enforcement. Hurricane Harbor is adjacent to a popular boater's weekend hang out, located just outside the entrance to he harbor, consequently there is quite a lot of law enforcement visible in the area hovering ready to maintain order. They must do double duty while overseeing the day spot by patrolling and retaining a presence in the small harbor. They work at establishing a casual and conversational dialog, checking boats for their anchoring plans and intentions, making sure people who anchor there are not inebriated and…

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New River View, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Rendezvous with Ranger Tug “Pour House”

Fort Lauderdale has it all. On our way for a week's stay in Fort Lauderdale. This Florida boating destination has it all... lots of canals to explore, a beautiful beach to walk on the ocean, shopping on Las Olas Avenue, a beautiful River Walk for leisurely strolls along New River and  now we can add one more thing to our ongoing Fort Lauderdale list... the warm and welcoming home of Carolyn and Harry House, (homeport for their Ranger Tug, PourHouse). We left our anchorage at Lake Sylvia to secure our reserved dock space at Cooleys Landing, on the New River at the head of the River Walk. One of our favorite marinas in Florida. We took our time cruising there as it was a beautiful day and, as you can see, lots of nice scenery on our route. One of the main reasons we love to stay at Cooleys is we are easily entertained by the parade of mega yachts that slide by our cockpit all…

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Kismet At Dock, Palm City, Florida

New Friends, Laughter, and a Cozy Bed to Boot – Palm City, FL

One of the reasons we love to boat is that we are more prone to make new friends while we're cruising, Visiting friends in Palm City, Florida, was no exception. We had briefly met Alyn & Diane in our hometown, Traverse City, they also live there part of the year, we share a passion for boating. One day they stopped by to look at our Ranger Tug, which Jim often works on while it is parked in our driveway. It's as simple as that and before we knew it (well, actually a few months later) we were visiting them at their home in Palm City, Florida. They found us a dock nearby to tie up to for the night and insisted we join them for an overnight at their home. We had a nice tour of Palm City, shared happy hour and pizza with a them and another couple and slept in a very cozy king-size bed. It was fun, we shared boating…

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We Found a Boating Haven in Indiantown, Florida

Short Cruise Today – Transiting from South Bay Cover to Indiantown, Florida. Leaving South Bay Cove in the morning put us with an early arrival to our day's destination of Indiantown, Florida, located on the St. Lucie River, just off the big lake. Indiantown was established by the Seminole people as a trading Post. On the way to our destination, we were intrigued by Slim's riverside sign (below), too bad we didn't have time to stop, it looked like it might be an interesting place to investigate off the river. Finishing up the last leg of the "Rim Route" today to go through the lock and enter the St. Lucie River. The St. Lucie Lock and Dam awaited us this morning. We were the only boat locking through and, as usual, it was an easy process. By the time we made it to Indiantown, the sun made a spectacular reappearance. Indiantown Marina looked like a peaceful haven for boaters looking to get off…

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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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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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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, 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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Eastpoint, Florida – A Heart as Big as the Bay!

Retrieving Kismet from Storage – Eastpoint Florida Seems like it was just yesterday when we left Kismet at TTC Storage in Eastpoint Florida, in fact it has been several months. We like to cruise in the fall, somewhere south of Michigan and then leave our boat in storage somewhere near where we plan to cruise after the holidays. This time, after our trip to the AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association's 2014 Rendezvous and cruise through Florida's Panhandle, we ended up in Eastpoint to store the boat. We arrived at TTC Storage and met the owner, Mike, at the building. Within half an hour we had Kismet out of storage and ready to go. With a little help from Mike, we located a great oyster restaurant within walking distance of the storage building, had to get our oyster fix before heading out on the road toward Carrabelle.     Eastpoint is an authentic fishing town with a heart as big as the bay. Here you…

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If You Rest… You Rust!

The crew of Kismet is On the Road Again! If it appears that we are eating our way back to the boat, you are right, we are! Seems like we are always on the move, north, south, east or west. Not much to report on during our road trip south to Florida to pick up Kismet, however we found some exceptional food stops along the way. When trailering our boat, or driving back to where she is stored, gives us an opportunity to explore some little towns off the expressway. Shan Chinese Buffet was tops on our list, it was just a fluke that we happened upon it, as it was out of town, off the beaten track and very unassuming. However, one step inside and we knew we were in for a treat. It looked like a well-known trucker stop with a huge parking lot for big rigs, plenty of room to park Kismet. One thing we have to consider when stopping for food…

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Nature's Artwork, Shoreline, Appalachicola River, Florida

Last Leg to Appalachicola Looks More Like a Rorschach Inkblot

Cruise to Apalachicola, a Photographer's Dream Cruise Smooth sailing today as we cruised the last leg of our fall cruise through Florida's Panhandle. A little stormy and overcast but we still got some nice photos of some of the beauty available to see while cruising this area. the cruise to Apalachicola did not disappoint, even though it was overcast, the water was mirror calm and the reflections on the still water gave pause to crew on board Kismet. Nature provided us with some interesting illusions while on the water today. Note the symmetry of the above water images on the mirrored glassy water we plowed through today.

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Kismet Cruising, Grand Canyon Cut, Florida

Cruising the “Grand Canyon” Cut to St. Andrews

Grand Canyon Cut – A Favorite Cruising Channel in Florida's Panhandle Today we cruised Florida's "Grand Canyon Cut," after crossing Choctawhatchee Bay to a man-made, 18-mile channel (statute mile 255 to 260, east of Harvey Lock) that leads to St. Andrews, aptly named due to the steep, up to 100' high, sandy banks lining this cut. Tall pine trees grow along the ridge of the sand dunes and down to the water. One of our favorite areas to boat in the Panhandle.   The clouds provided a stormy backdrop to the sun-it shoreline. Not many boats out on the cut today, a few fishing boats, that was about it. Historic St. Andrews is a community of Panama City, Florida, along the beautiful St. Andrews Bay. We stayed one night at the town's marina.

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Harbor View From Restaurant, Destin, Florida

Remembering the Last Time We Were in Destin, Florida

Fond Memories of Our Last Trip to Destin Florida Destin Florida is a popular tourist destination located in the Panhandle of Florida. It rests on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. Well known for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters, Destin claims to have the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida. The last time we stopped in Destin was in 2008, while on our second Great Loop boat trip. It was Thankgiving Day and we roasted a turkey (below) on the back deck of our Fathom 40 while anchored in the harbor. My favorite way to share a holiday feast is with family back home. Yet, that Thanksgiving was particularly memorable for me. It was just the two of us, the weather was perfect, the small turkey just fit in the roaster, it was a crispy golden brown by dinnertime. While dinner was cooking, we dinghied all over the harbor and visited the beautiful beach for a walk.…

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Lisa Deplaning Air Force One

National Naval Aviation Museum – Orange Beach Marina – Pensacola, Florida

Staying at Orange Beach Marina so that we can take a day to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum. We arrived late afternoon, got settled then borrowed the marina's loaner car to take a tour of the area and visit one of the beautiful beaches. Some folks stopped by (above) that knew us because they also own a Ranger Tug. It's a small world! The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida – A Must See Museum! On our third cruise through the Florida Panhandle, nine years after we heard about the museum during our first Great Loop adventure, we made plans to tour the best aviation museum in the world. While docked at the Orange Beach Marina in Alabama, we used the marina's loaner car to drive the 30 miles or so to Pensacola for the long awaited museum visit. The Pensacola Naval Air Station is home to the Blue Angles and has been a Naval Station since 1826. It is also host to…

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MTOA Rendezvous, Fernandina Beach, Florida

MTOA Low Country Boil & Crazy Hat Beach Party

Lots of Crazy Fun at the MTOA Low Country Boil As you can see there were a lot of fun and creative hat constructions during the Crazy Hat Beach Party and MTOA Low Country Boil event on Wednesday night during the MTOA 2012 Southern Rendezvous. MTOA members pulled out all the stops and showed up in some very colorful and creative hats. We'll let the photos speak for themselves – the MTOA Low Country Boil sure was a lot of fun.         We think Robert, here with his wife Kaye, on C-Life,  should have won first prize for his hat creation – we know he had a lot of fun making it.     Frank Erwin (above), recent, past President of MTOA, is ready with his hat, a big smile and a good display of turtle pins and attire.     George Kay, here with his wife Mary (above-left), is the Awards Director for MTOA – this basically means…

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MTOA Rendezvous, Fernandina Beach, Florida

MTOA 2012 Southern Rendezvous – Amelia Island, Florida

Pirates Galore at the MTOA 2012 Southern Rendezvous Since pirates played a major role in the settlement of Amelia Island the local gang helped kick off the start of the MTOA 2012 Southern Rendezvous, in Fernandina Beach, at the first morning meeting. MTOA is only one of a couple of the boat clubs we belong to. The club is non-profit and member operated – the yearly events are lots of fun. Every time you volunteer to contribute to the club or an event, you gain a turtle pin. It's not hard to see who the hard workers are as the turtle pins are proudly displayed during the rendezvous. The goals of MTOA and its members include the following:         Maintenance and repair problem solving.         Training and education for our captains and first mates.         Ownership and resale of our member vessels.         Activities and social events for…

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Shrimp, Fernandina Beach, Florida

Our First Ever Shrimp Boil on the Docks

MTOA's Southern Boaters Put Together a Shrimp Boil Friends Ellen and her husband, Roy, on Our Turn, came up with the idea to have a simple, but festive, shrimp boil on the dock tonight and procured shrimp from these fishermen (above and below). This was only the first 150 lbs she bought, it was such a popular topic on the docks, people wanted to buy more the next day, so Ellen ended up purchasing the rest of the catch these guys had to sell, another 150 lbs. This all transpired the day before the rendezvous started, people were still arriving and getting settled in. We were all pleasantly surprised that Ellen and Roy put this thing together so that we would have a fun, carefree evening partying on the docks. Here we are on the dock with our stash to clean (above - shrimp with heads on). We took some of it to the shrimp boil that night and the rest…

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Eating Ice Cream Cones

Fernandina Beach Marina

We were happy to meet up again at Fernandina Beach Marina with the crew on Mosey (above), we last saw them in Marathon in February. Also in attendance at the rendezvous was the crew of Active Captain (below). We had left the marina for a little cruise and to get a pump out. The paper mill (see the smoke behind the boats) was an interesting sight. Fernandina Beach Marina for the MTOA 2012 Southern Rendezvous.     On the way out of the marina for our pump out, we got some good photos of Roy, Ellen and Lucy, on Our Turn (above).         One of the best things about attending this rendezvous was being able to meet up with our good friends, Diane and Louis, on Bella Luna. Here we are enjoying a late night, after dinner, treat downtown.

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Kismet Cruising Canals, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Idling Up New River – Dinghy Ride – Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We ventured out on a long dinghy ride today – up the New River and into a few side channels. We were just a short distance away from the marina and it was hard to tell we were so close to such a big city as Fort Lauderdale. We must have been gone several hours as there is a lot of waterway to cover on the river with a few little offshoots to explore. As an extra bonus we got to see all different kinds of boats – old, new, big, small and some very unusual ones. Jim said that to venture further up the river we had to go under this old bridge. I was a little nervous as to what might be lurking under there but we just had to go for it to see what was on the other side. This took the prize for the most unusual, and classy, boat sighting on the river today. I…

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Kismet Docked On New River, Fort Lauderdale

Keeping a Promise in Fort Lauderdale

Lisa made me promise we'd stop in Fort Lauderdale for a week, so after staying in Homestead for two nights to catch up on work and other chores, here we are putting the boat in the water right at Cooley's Landing Marina (below), on the New River at the beginning of the downtown Riverwalk area. Cooley's is one of our favorite marinas in Florida. Nice facilities and location. We can walk to shop in Las Olas, eat out at a choice of restaurants, grocery shop, or get plenty of exercise walking right along the river. Lisa always raves about Cooley's laundry facilities which is more like a laundromat, lots of room to sort, wash and fold. The two times we crossed over to the Abaco Islands, in 2006 and 2009, we stayed at Cooley's, provisioning and cleaning all our clothes and linens because it would be expensive to buy food and wash laundry while staying in the islands. Part of…

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Kismet At Anchor, Florida Keys

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 to Marathon is not preferred is because of the shallower water depths. With a 2.5-foot draft on our Ranger Tug, we felt we'd have plenty of water below us. Besides we were up for a new adventure, we wanted to take a route we'd never done before. Our objective was to slowly cruise the 30 miles to Marathon by anchoring…

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