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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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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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Tugnuts Happy Hour

Cayo Costa State Park – Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Flotilla Cruise, Shark's Teeth and Happy Hour on Heart Tug – Cayo Costa State Park Mike Rizzo had organized a post rendezvous flotilla to Cayo Costa State Park for a one-night group anchor event, about a dozen boats participated. First, after anchoring, most of us dinghied to shore and the entrance of the park where we caught a buggy ride to the beach – we all seemed to be on a hunt for shark's teeth. Later that evening everyone was invited to Heart Tug for happy hour. Now, this seemed to concern a few of us because, although Heart Tug is one of the bigger tugs, a 31, we were just wondering how everyone was going to fit on the boat at one time and not sink it. To our best recollection, there were 22 or 23 people at the happy hour. We had to be careful of how we moved around and certainly we couldn't all go to one side of the boat to get a better look at something…

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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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Pass-A-Grille, Florida

Laid Back Beach Town – Pass-A-Grille, Florida

Lots of sights to see on the water today as we made our way to Pass-A-Grille. We anchored in a big well in Pass-A-Grille, just behind the beautiful Don Cesar hotel (above). It was a quiet anchorage, well-protected from the elements and had a little boat launch and dock where we could tie our dinghy up to. We passed two "Rangers" today. The one above, looked like an interesting yacht. During our night at anchor we met the crew on Tortuga, the Ranger Tug below, while they circled the anchorage during and evening cruise. Frank and Salma just recently bought their tug and we would meet them later at the Ranger Tug rendezvous in Palm Island.

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Great Loop Adventure

Great Loop Adventure – Loopers Rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park

Great Loop Adventure! The Great Loop Adventure! We packed up our boat and truck and headed down the highway to Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama for AGLCA's 2014 Fall Rendezvous. Jim and I have been Loopers almost ten years (we have done the Loop almost twice). The excitement and camaraderie we feel when out on the water cruising new territory, meeting other Loopers in far off ports, and especially while connecting at one of the rendezvous, or Gold Looper Reunions, never gets old, in fact, it sustains us as cruisers. We laughed, we played, we shared boating stories, we sang and enjoyed music, we exchanged information on favorite anchorages, marinas, boat maintenance and galley provisioning. Seminar speakers help current Loopers prepare to navigate the stretch ahead. Jim gave two presentations at the rendezvous, The Gulf Coast of Florida and St Johns River. With many helpful sponsors in attendance, the resources available to current and future Loopers is huge. One of…

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Two Ranger Tugs

And Then There Were Two… Kismet and Illusions

Two Ranger Tugs on the Rocks – North Channel, Canada Coffee tasted extra good high up on the granite rocks this morning. Jim and I discussed how long we should stay in this spot at South Benjamin Island before we headed to the Ranger Tugs Rendezvous in Little Current – we both agreed, it might be one of those long three-day stays. We only have five days before we need to be in Little Current for the rendezvous and sometimes it's just not as relaxing to move every day or two to cram several spots in. We figured it doesn't get much better than this and we should stay put. We are anticipating the arrival of another Ranger Tug, Illusions. We have been corresponding with friends Mike and Jess for several months planning where we'd meet while we were both in the North Channel for the rendezvous. It's a good thing we agreed on South Benjamin on August 2nd ahead of time by email because…

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Downtown Seattle

Seattle – Miss You Already!

Downtown Seattle is within close proximity to everything we could possibly need during our stay. As we approached the final weeks of our PNW cruising adventure, I asked Lisa if there was one place she wanted to visit before our trip came to a close. Unsurprisingly she said, “Downtown Seattle of course.” That's why we positioned ourselves at the Bainbridge Island anchorage. We stayed for two nights there waiting for an available slip at Bell Harbor Marina, before we made the short 8-mile trip across Puget Sound into Elliott Bay and finally to the Port of Seattle's Bell Harbor Marina. The reason we like docking in downtown Seattle is that everything we could possible need is with 10 blocks or so of the marina. This proximity provides us with an endless amount of activities. Our favorite is the Pike Place Market.. of course. While waiting for our slip to open up at the marina, we cruised around the harbor and happened upon two-year old Serene,…

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Kismet Cruising To Powell River, Canada

The Storm in Malaspina Straight

The waves we encountered in Malaspina Straight were steadily increasing in height and uncomfortableness. Leaving the calm of Pender Harbour behind us, we headed out toward the Malaspina Straight, pointed southwest towards the Gulf Islands. We were aware of the storm that was to arrive later in the day and, based on the weather reports, we thought if we left early enough in the morning we’d miss the high winds, as it’s only about 36 miles across to Nanaimo, on Vancouver island, our planned, end of the day, destination. No such luck! Not long after we left the calmness of the protected harbor, the waves we encountered were steadily increasing in height and uncomfortableness. You know things get rough when Lisa is not taking photos, but instead is holding on in anticipation of each roller coaster ride type wave. In turn, Lisa really knows we’re in trouble when the captain looks worried, it hasn’t happened often, this was really only…

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Jim, Lisa On Kismet, Chatterbox Falls, Canada

Last Night Docking – Chatterbox Falls

Sitting at the Dock in the Bay, Along with Absolute, a Little Tonic and Santana to Light the Way By our third night on the dock we were really starting to feel at home as we helped departing boaters leave the dock and newcomers tie up. This exchange of boats happens twice daily at Chatterbox Falls. Seaplanes came and went and after the second slack tide of the day, the dock was full again. The beauty we saw and the atmosphere we felt during our time at the falls was almost indescribable. Hope the photos help to share our experience. Three-days Docking – Chatterbox Falls. How could we not enjoy our time at the falls with Absolute and Tonic sharing the dock with us along with a little Santana to ease nature's daily ritual as she transformed the day's blue skies at the the head of Princess Louisa Inlet into absolute darkness (above and below). Dinner on this night was centered around some…

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Kismet Stern Tied, Walsh Cove, Desolation Sound

Cruising Homfray Channel to Walsh Cove, British Columbia

Anchoring in Walsh Cove while waiting to get dock space at Toba Wildernest. One of the beauties of cruising in Desolation Sound is that when you leave one place you have plenty of spots to consider for your next days docking or anchorage. We left Laura Cove after the three-day holiday weekend and headed northeast up Homfray Channel. We passed Homfray Lodge, a stop recommended by some friends, but we decided to pass on it and continue cruising as we were hoping for a black bear sighting. We had heard bears were often sighted along the shoreline of the channel, however, after striking out on the bear sighting, we cruised up to Wildernest Lodge and radioed in to reserve a spot on their dock for the next day and night, we then proceeded on our way to Pryce Channel, down into Waddington Channel and finally into Walsh Cove where we decided to anchor for the night – all this within…

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Freshwater Lake, TeaKerne Arm, Desolation Sound

Teakerne Arm – A Waterfall And Fresh Water Lake

Teakerne Arm – A Waterfall and Hike to a Fresh Water Lake Leaving Grace Harbour, we had a short cruise to Lewis Channel before we made a turn up into Teakerne Arm and another anchorage in the British Columbia wilderness. In the open waters I kept seeing a distinctive peak off in the distance, it seemed to appear from behind and above the waterside hills, fjords and mountains as if it was following us as we worked our way around Desolation Sound. With a little research I found Mount Denman (the pointy tipped mountain in the middle of the photo below - taken from just outside Melanie Cove) to be 6,299 feet high, it rests at the end of Desolation Sound and is considered Canada's Matterhorn. At the head of Teakerne Arm one is greeted by a cascading waterfall spilling into the saltwater away from Cassel Lake, a fresh water lake just above the falls. We continued past the falls and…

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Simply Gorgeous – Flaming Gorge Reservoir

"If you liked Lake Powell, you should consider cruising the Flaming Gorge Reservoir." Shortly after we cruised Lake Powell in 2011, we started to hear about a place called the Flaming Gorge Reservoir from other boaters. They said, "If you liked Lake Powell, you should consider cruising the Flaming Gorge." With a little research we found out that the the reservoir was formed upon completion of the Flaming Gorge Dam, in 1964. That was the year the Beatles first toured the U.S. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is located in southern Wyoming and northeast Utah on 91 miles of the 730-mile long Green River. The dam was built to create hydroelectricity. Today the Reservoir is a fishing and water recreation paradise. Our cruise concentrated on the 26-mile stretch from Lucerne Valley Marina, in Utah, through the canyon area all the way down to the dam. With only 26 miles between the marina and the dam, and a bright and clear sunny day…

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Launching Kismet, Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Arriving at Lucerne Valley Marine – Flaming Gorge Reservoir

We couldn't help notice the desert like environment we found ourselves in as we approached Lucerne Valley Marina on the edge of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. After three full days of driving across country and camping at RV parks along the way, we arrived at Lucerne Valley Marina early afternoon on the fourth day. We were more than ready to test out the waters of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. As we drove from Green River, in Wyoming, south along the western side of the Gorge we couldn't help but notice the desert like environment. After making the turn and driving the 4-miles to the marina we crossed the state line into Utah, we could see the change in the landscape off into the south, the area we'd eventually be cruising in. Kismet had to clear Utah inspection which was situated right at the boat ramp. The inspection process was made easier for us by having the boat inspected when we…

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Crew Of Thomas James Sailing Vessel, Kilarney

Meeting Captain & Crew of the Thomas James

Thomas James – Visit with an Exchange of Boat Tours! While cruising through the Killarney Channel, on our way to Collins Inlet, we received a call on our VHF. After switching to channel 68, Bill, the guy hailing us, told us that, as he was standing on the balcony of his channel-side home, he noticed our red Ranger Tug slowly cruising by. He said he was so excited to see the "cute tug" he'd love to have a tour and chat with us about it as he had never seen one in person before. As we're trying to figure out his location, we spotted him, with the binoculars, on his balcony taking photos of our boat as Lisa (unknowingly) was, at the very same time, taking photo's of his Thomas James schooner docked in front of his house. We made soft plans to meet the next day on our return from Georgian Bay as we'll need to pass by Killarney again to…

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Kismet Anchored, South Benjamin Island, North Channel

South Benjamin Island – View From The Top

South Benjamin Island, a Rocky Delight! Topping off our great anchorage find is the incredible view from the top of this South Benjamin Island. This is where Jim found all those yummy blueberries and where we went to stretch our legs and enjoy the view when we felt cramped on the boat. Great weather during our stay here, hot temps with unseasonably warm water for swimming. Life is good for the crew of Kismet tied up to this little South Benjamin Island. We took a long hike on the island that sits in front of the Benjamin's, it protects the whole rocky channel that separates the islands and protects our boat sitting just below in a little rocky cove.

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Victor With Bag Of Wild Blueberries On Dinghy

South Benjamin – Where’s the Beauty?

South Benjamin – It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I reference this because we recently spent time at the Benjamins, South Benjamin specifically, and it is our contention that the rocks on this island are gorgeous, Not to mention the blue beauties Jim found on those rocks. We recently cruised Lake Powell, in Utah/Arizona, the landscape there is ALL rock and water. Both are beautiful, however, the difference between the two locations is dramatic. Lake Powell has very large, rock buttes, plateaus and mountains, and not much greenery except for Navaho Mountain, whereas the rock formations on these North Channel islands are more intimate and, dare I say sensual. We love the beauty of them both. Have you been to one or both places? If not, take a look at both locations on our blog and let us know what you think. This trip to South Benjamin we like to talk about the beautiful…

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Kismet Anchored, South Benjamin Island, North Channel

South Benjamin Island Cove – Three Days of Peace and Quiet

South Benjamin Island Cove – Time to Relax! It's amazing how we can spend a few days on the hook and not get bored. At South Benjamin Island cove, we both had chores to do, organizing our belongings on the boat, we swam in the unseasonably warm water, played games, read books, cooked, ate and just plain relaxed. This is our big trip of the summer, we're taking it well ahead of our son's wedding in September. Things will be crazy when we get home, so we are enjoying the restful calm right now. Can you think of a better place than South Benjamin Island anchor ? Going to shore to walk around on the smooth rock formations then hike up the hill for photographs and the amazing view. It was hot during the day so we used our towels to make some shade over the cockpit area.

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Anchor Line To Rock, South Benjamin, North Channel

Tying Up to Boulders on S Benjamin Islands

We left Spanish early the next morning and made our way through Little Detroit, a channel so narrow it's customary to make a, "Securité. Securité. Securité." call to announce your intentions so boaters, on the other side of the channel, can stand clear. You wouldn't want to be passed by a speeding boat and veer off the center of the channel onto those boulders lurking below the water. S Benjamin Islands – Mooring Cove Available for Kismet. We had one of those magically calm cruising days for the short 12-mile run (approx.) to our first scheduled anchorage at South Benjamin where we hoped to find a well protected spot snuggled up to a boulder or two. It sounds strange, but a river has formed between the boulders/islands in S Benjamin Islands where natural mooring coves have formed. We've always wanted to tie up in this area, but all our previous boats have had too deep of a draft for the spots available in that…

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Marina Sign, Spanish, North Channel, Canada

Road Trip… Canada Here We Come – Spanish Marina

In light of some of our road trips recently, the one we took today was relatively short. We started by heading north along the scenic route of northwest Michigan. We drove Kismet across the Mackinaw Bridge, through the Upper Penninsula, across the border into Canada and finally, 260 miles later, we launched her in Spanish, Ontario – right in the heart of the North Channel. We stayed one night at Spanish Marina getting things organized and prepped for our two week North Channel boating fix, it had been five years since our last visit to this magical Canadian wonderland, way too long for Lisa and I. Spanish Marina is a good central location to launch a trailered boat into the North Channel. Spanish is a great spot to launch a trailerable boat. Great facilities and everyone is friendly and helpful. The boat ramp is one of the steepest we've encountered (see below) but it all worked out once we got…

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Kismet Anchored, Torch Lake, Michigan

Torch Lake – Kismet Likes to Anchor Here

Torch Lake has lots of fond memories for Lisa and I. We each boated here before we were married and began our boating adventures together on this lake. We used to trailer our 21-foot Four Winns Sundowner to Torch Lake to spend long weekends on the hook, but since our mode of boating has changed over the last fifteen years it's been a long time since we've been able to bring one of our boats to any inland lake. We kind of like the flexibility we are now enjoying with our Ranger Tug, Kismet. Torch Lake is named, not for it's shape, but for the practice of local native Americas, from the Ojibwa Tribe, who used torches at night to attract fish Torch Lake, Michigan – A Boating Paradise After we squeaked under the Torch River Bridge and entered the lake we did a slow cruise around the lower perimeter of the lake passing by our friend Gene's house on…

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Kismet Bottom Paint Job

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 for the painting, which I feel is the easiest part.     Bottom paints are like opinions; there is plenty of each. There are several brands we could have chosen but in the end I decided on Pettit Vivid for the bottom paint and their corresponding Pettit Skip Sand Primer. The primer is described as a "pre-treatment primer designed to…

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Jim On Kismet In Boatyard

Boat Yard Blues

We never addressed the issue of bottom painting our Ranger Tug until one day, while taking our boat out of the water in Ft Myers Beach; we were surprised by the excessive growth of barnacles on the hull of Kismet. We recognized the problem and we wanted to take care of it ASAP. After arranging to have our boat hauled by 3D, a self-service boat yard in Key West, I began researching how to clean the hull and what to apply to help the process along and what kind of paint we might need. Because we use our boat in salt and fresh water, trailer it and, at times, it will sit out of the water, we found we needed to have a hard ablative paint for our particular usage. After leaving Marathon and arriving in Key West, we launched our boat on Stock Island and cruised the short distance to the 3D Boat Yard to have Kismet hauled out…

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Tiny Mah Jongg Game

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 Fort Myers Beach. Tonight we taught Cheryll to play. They're both fast learners. It was a crazy night of Mah Jongg, we played until well after the guys retired and we each won at least one game. Mah Jongg  is a fascinating rummy-like game played with tiles rather than cards. The game originated in China, dating back to the time…

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Dinner With Friends

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 have it both boats arrived at the marina on Saturday – we quickly caught up on all of our travels over an impromptu dinner at the marina.

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