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


What Do You Do All Day?
By Kismet, Sunday, March 1, 2009

When Lisa and I are not traveling on the water and we’ve gotten caught up on our chores (this really never happens completely) our days are freed up to do as we like. This becomes especially rewarding when we’re docked, like we were in Key West for the month of January. People who don’t know about boats, but who are interested in what this Loop trip is about, or maybe boaters who have not done any long-distance cruising but are interested in doing so in the future, always seem to ask: “What do you do all day?” When they ask this question it’s more a statement of what can you possibly do to keep busy all day long, every day. Well I’ve got to say that there’s never a dull moment, and the days are full from the time we get up to the time our heads hit the pillow at night.

Our son Skyler, Lisa and I taking a lunch break in downtown Key West at Hog’s Breath Saloon

With Key West as a model for what we do with our days I’ll start with our first full day after arriving on New Year’s Eve day. We never even made it out of the marina as we busied ourselves getting settled in, and readied ourselves for another much-anticipated week, this time with our son Skyler Nelles. We’d made arrangements for our three sons to join us at different times during our trip. Bart had already joined us in Sarasota during the Christmas holiday, and our other son Ross will join us in the spring, in Florida, on the ICW.

The Fosters, who immediately made us feel at home in Key West, sitting with their four young boys on the deck of their Gulfstar.

Our first night at the marina, Dave and Vickie Foster greeted us with a big plate of homemade cookies and a warm welcome to the marina. We had the pleasure of getting to know them and their four young boys over our four-week stay. They live on their 53-foot Gulfstar motorsailor, and have done extensive traveling with plans to go cruising to South America next year. Dave and Vickie were helpful to us by lending us their bike, taking us into town, and sharing with us some of their local knowledge.

Skyler flew into Key West on January 1st, our first full day at Sunset Marina on Stock Island. After Skyler’s late day arrival we just stayed on the boat to catch up with each other. It didn’t take Skyler long to appreciate the warm, sunny climate, especially when compared to the big freeze he left back in Michigan.

This was our view from Mallory Square at sunset.

The next several days were spent getting the lay of the land and the surrounding waters. In our travels we’ve become accustomed to using alternative means of transportation. From Stock Island we took the green bus route into downtown Key West and the blue route brought us back to the marina. By the time we figured out the color system, waited for the bus and finally took the 30-minute ride into town we’d already invested a couple of hours. We’re used to this scenario. I’m sure Skyler would have preferred a cab. Once in Old Town we had lunch at the infamous Hog’s Breath Saloon, saw Ernest Hemingway’s home, and visited the southernmost point in the U.S. before catching a bus back to the marina. A visit to the pool helped cool us down, and before we knew it, happy hour arrived. Where did all the time go?

Sometimes it was easier to make a grocery run in our dinghy, parking being the only obstacle. Here we hid our dinghy in a mangrove tunnel next to the highway.

Sometimes exploring and executing errands can take a little longer than they do when you have a car handy. Figuring out bus schedules, finding taxis, or borrowing vehicles from other boaters to go to and from a destination can sometimes be complicated and time consuming. But we actually enjoy the challenge of getting around town by public transportation as we are also amazed at the eagerness of people willing to share a bike a car or simply give us a ride. We procured our groceries several ways, by bus, dinghy, and borrowed car or bike.

Waiting for the bus and riding into town and back was always an adventure, here we’re waiting to take the green route.

The next day with Skyler was spent circumnavigating the island of Key West with him manning our 10-foot dinghy. This was a great way to get an overview of the island by exploring all the nooks and crannies, harbors, marinas, and beaches. It must’ve been a 20-mile ride all around the island. We’re lucky we made it back before running out of gas, just in time for a splash in the pool and a soak in the hot tub.

Mallory Square is definitely the place to be for a Key West Sunset. It’s more than a sunset, really, it’s an event, a daily occurrence, and for some an excuse to drink. For others it’s a celebration of life, and for yet others it’s just a way of life. Every day, a couple of hours before sunset, people start to migrate to the square to watch the jugglers, fire eaters, musicians, magicians, and hopefully the western sky will provide a grand sun drenched setting. If you’re in Key West you don’t want to miss it.

When you stand at the southern most point in the U.S., marked here by this monument, you’re only 90 miles from Cuba.

When we inquired about a good snorkeling place, Dave recommended Boca Chica Key. A few days later Lisa and I threw some snorkeling gear into the dinghy and took off in search of local underwater marine life. During our four-mile dinghy ride to the snorkeling site we spotted turtles and nurse sharks, and we ran our dinghy aground trying to cut across a cove. Once in the protected Boca Chica nature area the water was crystal clear. We found the wreck Dave had told us about, sitting in five feet of water. We set the diving flag in the water next to the dinghy and I jumped in. I was excited to be up close and personal with all the colorful fish. Apparently I was a little too personal, because as I was heading back to the dinghy I had an intimate encounter with a jellyfish, and got stung. After struggling to get back into the dinghy, Lisa surveyed the sting on my ankle. It resembled a mark like Zoro used to leave on his victims, and the pain was getting worse. Lisa recalled seeing an episode on Survivor where they discussed urinating on a sting to relieve the pain. I did this and surprisingly it worked well enough to make it back to Kismet without to much discomfort. I then soaked my entire foot in a bucket of vinegar for half an hour. After a week, the sting was almost completely healed, but I’ll think twice and look carefully for signs of jellyfish the next time I jump into the water.

That’s me drinking a cold one and soaking my throbbing ankle sting in vinegar.

We’re staying the whole month in one spot, so I decided it would be a good opportunity to wax the boat from top to bottom. It took some time but I scheduled a small block of time each day until the job was finished. I’m glad to have that behind me now before we head to the Abacos. We like to plan chores for in the morning or at night so that we can use the middle of the day to explore or socialize.

Lisa and I like to take in the local sights as much as we can, and avoid the tourist traps. By going where the locals go we end up with a richer experience. With that in mind we ask locals what their favorite restaurant is, or if they had only a short time to visit their city what would they do or where would they go. Once you get past the tourism of Duval Street there’s a lot to take in --  a military base, snorkeling, fishing, and many local restaurants.

There is estimated to be upwards of 60,000 people buried in the Key West Cemetery, more people than live in Key West.

We went into town to visit our friends Charlie and Linda, who were staying on their boat, Freedom’s Turn, in Key West Bight. We’ve traveled with them several times since we first met them on the Illinois River back in September. We heard that Key West has a historical, 163-year-old cemetery in the heart of Old Town that’s worth a visit. So the four of us made the short walk through the quiet, tree lined, neighborhood streets of Key West to visit and learn more about the 19-acre cemetery, which also has the highest elevation on the island. Some of the notable gravestones are the USS Maine Monument, William Curry (Florida’s first millionaire), and “Sloppy” Joe Russell who was Key West’s best known barkeeper and fishing guide to Ernest Hemingway.

Jose’s Cantina was the first place we ate in Key West, one of many local Cuban restaurants.

The Cuban culture has a big presence in Key West and up until 1938 there was a ferry service to and from Cuba. This is one of the reasons you’ll find a large number of Cuban restaurants tucked away in the neighborhoods on the island. These family-owned restaurants are not ones that the typical Key West tourist would casually discover. While getting a haircut at Floyd’s Barber Shop, the barber suggested one such place to us, El Siboney. We had another authentic Cuban dinner at José’s Cantina downtown.

Key West is a small town. You can walk from the Gulf side to the Ocean side of the island in 30 minutes if you’re not sightseeing. Understanding that, it was still a surprise when we walked into a small wine bar and bumped into friends of ours from up north. Rick and Elene had just arrived in Key West from Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the winter. Last fall we’d planned to meet in Key West along with more friends from home, Gary and Jean, from Charlevoix, Michigan. Rick and Elene had us all over to their quant Old Town rental home for an old-fashioned cook out. The happy hour, barbequed ribs, and chicken were all wonderful. However, having the company of good friends to enjoy in sunny Florida was the best gift of all.

Getting together with friends from home in Key West was a special treat made possible by Rick and Elene (left). Gary and Jean (right), our slipmates in Charlevoix, Michigan.

Most of the things that keep us busy on a daily basis have been fun and new, so they don’t seem like chores yet. We still do all the normal things we’d be doing if we were land dwellers --  bill paying, boat chores, keeping our blog updated, shipping out our book out to those who ordered it, and writing for BoatU.S. and other magazines. So when we add everything up, our lives are full, our days are complete, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Editor’s Note: Learn more about the Favors new book, When the Water Calls… We Follow by linking to: www.favorsventures.com/p/bus-wtwc.html