On The Wall – Boca Chita Key, Florida

On the Wall – Boca Chita Key, Florida

Twelve miles south of Key Biscayne sits Boca Chita Island. It is part of Biscayne National Park and consists of 32 acres of land, beach and harbor including the beautiful 65-ft. ornamental lighthouse which sports an observation deck overlooking the beautiful harbor, nearby islands, Key Biscayne Bay, ocean, Miami and Key Biscayne Island. Down below the lighthouse sits an old canon salvaged off a nearby shipwreck. It also includes a hiking trail, picnic facilities with several grills, a campground, an open-air pavilion and saltwater restroom facilities. This island always makes us think we are in the Bahamas. We left Key Biscayne Key and Miami in our wake as we headed…

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Sky On Fire – Hurricane Harbor – Key Biscayne, Florida

Sky On Fire – Hurricane Harbor – Key Biscayne, Florida

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 nice 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 enforcement visible…

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Leaving Miami Behind

Leaving Miami Behind

Leaving Fort Lauderdale today to cruise through Miami to our end destination, Hurricane Harbor, an anchorage Jim found in Key Biscayne. So, we left a multitude of cruise ships in our wake in the wide expanse of Port Everglades before we entered the narrower part of the ICW heading to Miami. It's an exciting area to cruise through with the beautiful homes lining the waterway, yachts of every shape and size and finally the towering buildings of Miami and if you happen to be cruising by at sunset, even better. We left Miami behind us as we entered Key Biscayne Bay.  

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PassageMaker Magazine Book Review

PassageMaker Magazine Book Review

Living the Dream– by Milt Baker PassageMaker Magazine– Upside of Downsizing to a Trailerable Trawler– Reading this e-book, I couldn’t help but wonder how many cruisers might be tempted to follow the example set by Jim and Lisa Favors, a couple with thousands of miles of Great Loop cruising experience who, after five years of full-time living aboard, gave up their comfortable 40-foot trawler for a trailerable 27-foot Ranger Tugs. Like many other PassageMaker readers, I’ve gone aboard boats like this at boat shows, asking myself whether my wife and I might someday want to downsize and try to squeeze…

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Visiting Pour House In Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Visiting Pour House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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 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…

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Hooking Our Way To Fort Lauderdale

Hooking Our Way to Fort Lauderdale

It's very rewarding experience for us when we have an opportunity to explore new inlets, coves and potential anchorages while cruising AND we end up throwing the hook for the night. The previous times we’ve cruised north or south between Stuart and Ft Lauderdale we’ve always traveled past Peck Lake, Lake Worth, Lake Boca Raton and Lake Sylvia without ever stopping let alone anchoring. We’ve either been in too much of a hurry to get somewhere else or didn’t have the time, all that is different this trip south on the East Coast ICW. Peck Lake is not so much a lake than…

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New Friends, Laughter, And A Cozy Bed To Boot – Palm City, FL

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 on or around the boat. We 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…

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A Boating Haven – Indiantown, Florida

A Boating Haven – Indiantown, Florida

Leaving South Bay Cove in the morning put us with an early arrival to our day's destination of Indiantown, located on the St. Lucie River, just off the big lake. On the way to our destination, we were intrigued by Slim's riverside sign, too bad we didn't have time to stop, it looked like it might be an interesting place off the river. 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 the water for a time. Our neighbors at the marina were colorful and unique.…

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Rim Route To South Bay Cove On Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Rim Route to South Bay Cove on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

From our one-night stop in LaBelle, we proceeded toward Lake Okeechobee (or in Seminole Indian language, Big Water), we'll be taking the rim route around the lake instead of going straight across this time. The Okeechobee Waterway, which includes the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River, boasts a 134.3 nautical miles from west to east and is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the United States. You can transit the lake by going straight across or by the more protected, though shallower, rim route that follows the southern edge of the lake. We've never done this path before and…

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A Simple Sailor Man

A Simple Sailor Man

Tribute to a Friend: We lost a good friend. Tom Conrad passed away recently and the boating community lost one of its best. We met Tom and Patsy Conrad many years ago through AGLCA (America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association). If the Great Loop boating adventure did not exist, we probably would never have met – with the Conrads living in Florida's Panhandle and us living in northern Michigan. What a loss that would have been for us. Because we shared a passion for boating and this adventure they call a "Loop," our paths crossed and our wakes overlapped. Loopers, ourselves included, often say that one of best parts about…

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The Belle Of The Caloosahatchee – LaBelle, FL

The Belle of the Caloosahatchee – LaBelle, FL

  On our way east on the Caloosahatchee River today with our eye on making it to LaBelle's free town dock 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 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. The next morning before we…

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Friends Helping Friends – Fort Myers, FL

Friends Helping Friends – Fort Myers, FL

After spending the holidays at home in Traverse City, MI, we returned to Fort Myers, Florida for the start of our 2015 winter cruising season. Our plan this winter is to cruise to Key West from Fort Myers, spending most of our time in the Keys. Friends of Tom and Patsy Conrad helped get True North, to Fort Myers. Eddy and Jeff co-captained the boat to Legacy Harbour and its owners, the Conrad's who were anxiously waiting to see, and move back onboard their boat again. Linda, Skip and Lolly were the support team back at the marina, helping the captains into the dock. Nice…

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Fun Times, Good Friends – Fort Myers, Florida

Fun Times, Good Friends – Fort Myers, Florida

We planned our winter trip to include a month 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 that are 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…

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Kismet Shares See Life Too’s Dock – Sanibel, Florida

Kismet Shares See Life Too’s Dock – Sanibel, Florida

While at the rendezvous, we had an invitation to stay at a fellow tugnut's dock in Sanibel. How could we pass that up? Steve and Laurie, on See Life Too, were so gracious to share the dock behind their house with us for a few days. Sanibel is a beautiful island with excellent shelling beaches. We borrowed our host's bikes to go grocery shopping and visit an art fair, we also got some good walking exercise in on the beautiful trail near their house. Our hosts, Laurie and Steve, on the back deck of Kismet for coffee cake and coffee. We were joined…

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New Pass Interlude Near Bonita Springs, Florida

New Pass Interlude Near Bonita Springs, Florida

Lisa and I have an unquenched passion, as it relates to cruising, and it has to do with going places we’ve never been. With this in mind we departed Ft Myers Beach and instead of heading out into the open Gulf we decided to cruise the inside route through Estero Bay, south past Big Carlos Pass, to an anchorage at New Pass inlet, just north of Big Hickory Island. The eight mile trek is a well marked channel but you’d better stay in the channel as it does get very shallow very quickly in many places, having a two-foot draft makes a trip like…

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Hooking Up With Friends – Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Hooking Up with Friends – Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Not a lot going on this time around for the crew of Kismet in Fort Myers Beach. We usually take a mooring ball, but this time we docked at Gulf Star Marina. It was Sunday when we arrived and we were treated to live music at the nearby restaurant, Doc Ford's. Our main objective while here was to hook up with some friends in the area. We scheduled breakfast at this Greek restaurant on the beach with friends, Hal and Marianne, from Charlevoix, Michigan (Kismet's one time homeport), they were renting a house on the beach and rode their bikes to meet us…

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Old Florida Fishing Village On Pine Island – Matlacha, Florida

Old Florida Fishing Village on Pine Island – Matlacha, Florida

Pine Island boasts of having no traffic signals, tolls or high rises! Although we have been on Pine Island 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…

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Birds Of A Feather Flock Together – Cayo Costa State Park, Florida

Birds of a Feather Flock Together – Cayo Costa State Park, Florida

Flotilla Cruise, Shark's Teeth and Happy Hour on Heart Tug 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…

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2014 Ranger Tug Winter Rendezvous – Palm Island, Florida

2014 Ranger Tug Winter Rendezvous – Palm Island, Florida

Kismet is hustling to get to Palm Island Marina, in Cape Haze, to attend 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…

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Two Options For Our Stay – Sarasota, Florida

Two Options for Our Stay – Sarasota, Florida

We always enjoy stopping in Sarasota for a few nights. The city is vibrant and provides a nice break for two salty tugnuts. For our first two nights, we choose the mooring ball option, just outside the harbor, instead of docking at Marina Jacks like we usually do. It was calm enough and just a short dinghy ride to the marina offers us access to town and the ability to get our daily exercise while visiting the Farmer's Market or stocking up at the grocery store. The third night however, Jim had heard of a Hyatt Hotel nearby that also had a little marina,…

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Waiting Out Bad Weather – Longboat Key, FL

Waiting Out Bad Weather – Longboat Key, FL

Nothing much to report about our stay at Longboat Key. The weather turned bad our second day on the hook, so we tied up at Moore's Stone Crab Restaurant for our second night. Dockage is free if you have dinner at the restaurant. Dinner was great and we felt better tied to the dock during the high winds and rain that night.

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Exploring Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge

Exploring Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge

Fort Dade was built during the Spanish American War and remained in military control for many years. In 1974 the island was turned over to the State of Florida and became a state park in 1989. In 1974 the southern portion of the island became Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge (also a bird sanctuary). Visiting Egmont Key should only be done during fairly calm water. Because there are no docks, one needs to anchor a ways off of the island shoreline and dinghy to shore. The shoreline is quite open and unprotected. After securing our dinghy we walked up onto…

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Pristine Anchorage At Mullet Key – Fort DeSoto State Park, FL

Pristine Anchorage at Mullet Key – Fort DeSoto State Park, FL

As one leaves the Gulf of Mexico to enter Tampa Bay, Mother Nature provides two keys that stand sentinel to the entrance of Tampa Bay. In 1889, Mullet Key, to the north, and Egmont Key, to the south, had fortresses built to guard against invasions that never came, remnants of both forts remain today in the parks that were created in the late 1800s. Robert E Lee made the recommendation, in 1849, that both Mullet and Egmont keys become fortified. Fort DeSoto, on Mullet Key, was built in 1889 and later abandoned by the military in stages from 1910 to the mid 1940’s. In 1962 Mullet Key…

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Laid Back Beach Town – 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 Pass-A-Grille, in a big well just behind the beautiful Don Cesar hotel (above). 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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Peaceful Night On The Hook – Redington Beach, Florida

Peaceful Night on the Hook – Redington Beach, Florida

  We've always found Redington Beach to provide a well-protected anchorage, located in Pinellas County, west of Tampa on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. The town has four parks, five public beach accesses, and a causeway with benches for relaxing and fishing. We thought the exercise equipment in the park next to our boat was a thoughtful addition for residents and visitors. The dolphins were loving our boat wake today, they love to swim just under Kismet's wake. We dinghied over to the ramp and took a short hike around the neighborhood lining the anchorage. Jim did some maintenance in the…

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Lunch And A Walk – Keegan Clair Docks – Indian Shores, Florida

Lunch and a Walk – Keegan Clair Docks – Indian Shores, Florida

We found these nice looking day docks on the ICW, just six miles south of Clearwater. We thought we'd take a break on our day's cruise to stop and have lunch on the boat followed by a short, two block walk into Indian Rocks and the beautiful beaches. The dock is free during the day, but has one of the longest list of rules we've ever seen, it's prominently posted near the dock. One of the main rules listed is that the docks are not meant for overnight usage.

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Caladesi Island – Trails And A Beautiful Beach!

Caladesi Island – Trails and a Beautiful Beach!

In our experience Caladesi Island is never busy in January. This is our third stop at this state park, one we never tire of. For a minimum dockage fee at the well appointed marina, we stayed a few nights, one of only a handful of boats at any given time. When we tire of walking the pine forest trail around the island to the natural water hole, we visit the beautiful sandy beach for a long walk and sea shell search. Since our last visit to the island there must have been a recent fire on the island, it was clearly…

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Launch Day – Tarpon Springs, Florida

Launch Day – Tarpon Springs, Florida

Kismet was launched at the usual place, Anaclote River Park, just northwest of Tarpon Springs across the river. Turtle Cove Marina was our choice for dockage during our week-long stay while we did all of our usual Tarpon Springs activities which included, food shopping, visiting our favorite Greek bakery and restaurant for Greek salads. We walked all over town and the sponge docks soaking up the distinctive aromas and unique sounds of the Greek culture. One of the highlights of our stay in Tarpon Springs was when my brother, Mart rode his bike all the way from Dunedin to Tarpon Springs to visit.

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