July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow

June 20, 2013
New Adventures

May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug

May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference

May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy

April 15, 2013
In The Middle

March 29, 2013
On The Hook

March 18, 2013
Tinker Time

February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix

February 15, 2013
Time Travel

February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation

January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending

January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports

December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current

December 1, 2012
New Neighbors

November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?

November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?

October 15, 2012

October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable

September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem

September 1, 2012

August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options

August 1, 2012
Go West!

July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination

July 1, 2012

June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly

June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour

May 15, 2012
Making New Friends

May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New

April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast

April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler

March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature

March 1, 2012
Last Dance

February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique

February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound

January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World

January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation

December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell

December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds

November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love

November 1, 2011
On the Water Again

October 14, 2011
First Impressions

October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun

September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road

September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!

August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row

August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat

July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home

July 1, 2011
One Step Closer

June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future

June 1, 2011
Made in the USA

May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice

May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around

April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude

March 15, 2011
Helping Hands

March 1, 2011

February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options

February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!

January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing

December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing

December 15, 2010
The New Plan!

December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg

November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water

November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile

October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough

October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?

September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool

September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland

August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"

July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time

July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous

June 1, 2010
On the Hard

May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West

May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board

April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance

April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures

March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise

March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound

February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters

February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise

January 15, 2010
New Frontiers

January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences

December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port

December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady

November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

November 13, 2009
A Cult Following

October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time

October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye

September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature

August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote

August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy

July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay

July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay

June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North

June 1, 2009
Northern Migration

May 15, 2009

May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye

April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!

April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy

March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound

March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?

February 15, 2009
Slow Motion

February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View

January 15, 2009
High Anxiety

January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands

December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure

December 1, 2008
All Together Now

November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River

October 16, 2008
Big City Lights

October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins

September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop

September 1, 2008
The Space Ship

August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle

August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!

July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around

July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop


The Adventure Begins
By Kismet, Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When I was a young boy of nine my parents took a summer vacation in northern Michigan. The only part of the vacation I remember was the stop we made in Charlevoix. I recall the appeal of the Round Lake harbor that sits at the foot of the downtown area, just off of Lake Michigan. I can still remember the feeling when, as a child, I ran down the grassy knoll towards the marina. I still remember seeing all the boats moored at the docks. The year was 1959.

The new and improved Charlevoix harbor

Today the marina is sparkling new with floating docks; the harbor house is built in the style of the late architect, Earl Young. The park has a new band shell and the boats are newer and bigger. What good fortune, what kismet, that 40 years later, Lisa and I would call this same marina our homeport. It’s here that we’ve made all our final preparations, said our goodbyes, and cast off for our two-year Great Loop adventure.

Lisa and I spent Labor Day weekend enjoying time with two of our sons, Bart and Skyler -- Ross is out West. We celebrated Skyler’s birthday ahead of time, had prefect weather for some freshwater swimming at one of our favorite anchorages, and said our goodbyes to Lisa’s mother. The tears flowed easily and the hugs were plentiful, all moments that will be warm in our hearts until we all meet again. Our friends were more than gracious by having us over for dinner, out to dinner, or visiting us at the boat all while we were frantically finalizing all of the last chores on our to-do list.

Saying goodbye to family was one of the hardest things we had to do.

While at a friend’s home, when asked what she’d miss the most while away, tears filled Lisa’s eyes. She said she’d really miss everyone’s friendship, and miss seeing those she cared about for such a long period of time. I tried to lighten things up, saying that I thought Lisa was becoming so emotional because it was finally dawning on her that she’d be spending so much time alone with me. It worked, everyone laughed, and it was on to more merriment as the water and cruising called to us.

So after we said all our final goodbyes, and our I-love-yous, after we stocked the boat, and stored our truck, we woke up to less-than-favorable boating conditions on our scheduled departure day. The remnants of Hurricane Gustav had worked their way into Lake Michigan to foil our exit. We patiently waited three more days for the big lake to settle down.

We enjoy a marina picnic with our son Skyler. Then, just before departure we had one last northern Michigan sunset dinghy ride with our son Bart.

Saturday morning I woke up before the 5 a.m. alarm went off, anxious to get ready so we could make the 6 a.m. bridge opening and enjoy the calm waters that waited. We left under the cover of darkness with the only light coming from the setting quarter moon and the two-dozen fishing boats plying the early-morning waters.

We had to trust that all the fishing boats had lights on and that our radar was picking them up, as we inched our way out past them at a slow seven knots into the Lake Michigan waters. Needing the sunrise to help guide us we were thankful the waters were calm for the first four hours. The waves were only 1 to 2 footers; our decision to delay the start by three days had been a good one.

Once past the protection of the Manitou Islands, just off Leland, Michigan we were rudely greeted by consistent four-to-six-foot waves, with the occasional seven-footer thrown in. We hadn’t expected this after closely monitoring the weather. Although our Kismet handled the rough water and kept chugging along, Lisa and I would’ve preferred not to be tossed around as much as we were.

We were up and departed before sunrise to get an early start on the day.

As the waves rolled against our starboard front quarter, pushing the boat around, I found myself clinching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I was struggling to accept the water conditions in which we found ourselves, conditions our boat seemed to accept without question. The only causality was a latch on the master bed that holds down the mattress platform. I heard one of those new noises I hadn’t heard before so I left the pilothouse to investigate. I found the mattress platform bouncing up and down like the jaws of a hungry alligator, whenever the bow ran into one of the larger waves. Four long hours later we dropped anchor in the protected Frankfort, Michigan, harbor to spend our first night.

Even though we’ve been living on Kismet for six months, we consider the first portion of our trip a shakedown of sorts. Once we got settled into our anchorage I took the time to check all the fluids, inspect the sea strainers, hoses and belts. I wanted to make sure all was as it should be and it was. I then repaired the latch so the mattress platform would stay secure the next time we found ourselves in bumpy conditions

Frankfort has a picturesque harbor approach with the lighthouse and Sand Dunes, which grace the shoreline.

Also on my list was to check our newly installed satellite antenna. It worked fine during the first week back in port but we’d never tried it while at anchor. We don’t watch much television, and never while underway, but it’s nice to be able to catch up on national news or watch our favorite shows. However this was not going to happen on our first night on the hook!

After resetting all the satellite parameters and receiving a reception signal of 86 percent, we had no picture. Very frustrating. It took two-and-a-half more days and several phone calls to our service provider before we finally found someone who knew how guide us to an obscure setting change. If this is the toughest situation we’re faced with over the next two years I’ll consider us very fortunate.

We found the water conditions for the next three days to be less than favorable and decided only to travel two of the three days. We made our way 45 miles south to Ludington, Michigan, where we spent two nights moored at the Municipal Marina. Visiting new towns, whether they’re planned stops or weather related layovers, are all part of the fun.

Kismet at the dock in Ludington, Michigan

We walked into town to make visits to the post office, a used bookstore, and had lunch at the fourth-generation Greek restaurant Old Hamlin. We then had to stop at the original House of Flavors ice cream store/factory for treats -- they produce 40 million gallons per year! This is small town America at its best.

When we left Ludington Tuesday morning, we were greeted yet again by another water condition, following seas. We had large, mostly four-footers, and Lisa and I agreed it was a gentler ride than during our prior two travel days. After eight-and-a-half hours the gentle surfing began to wear us out and we looked forward to our anchoring out in Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan.

As we entered the protected harbor off Lake Michigan we were greeted by a couple of Looper friends, Ginger and Laura on Stargazer. They too have decided to venture off for a second Great Loop adventure, and their start just happened to coincide with the start of ours. They were calling us on their VHF radio from the same anchorage area we were descending upon. What a small world.

The waves were pretty big the first few days out. It was a rocky ride to say the least. But we got through it, got our sea legs, and now our adventure has officially begun.