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
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


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
THE PERFECT BOAT!


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
Priceless


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

   

Key West - A Repeat Performance
By Kismet, Thursday, April 15, 2010

When a reporter asks a professional sports figure, who has repeatedly won in their respective sport, what their favorite championship moment was they almost always state that it was their first big level of achievement. Their first World Series, Wimbledon, Daytona 500 or whatever the sport title was, and not their second or third. An analogy of this can certainly be used when compared to cruising. I say this because, from my own personal experiences, I’ve found it’s hard to recapture the excitement and awe of a first time visit to a cruising destination we’ve enjoyed previously. Our mission, and yes both Lisa and I have accepted the challenge, is to make our second visit to Key West our favorite as we go for a repeat performance.

As the sign states “Welcome”, and it’s great to be.

If you’ve never been to Key West you need to first understand it’s a little laid back down here, things move at a much slower pace. People seem to put a priority on living their lives to the fullest in the Keys. We’ve been on the move since we left our summer dockage on the Chesapeake Bay. We traveled down the Atlantic Coast, mostly on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), from Maryland to Florida and after exploring Florida’s St Johns River and touring the West Coast of Florida, we are now looking forward to relaxing. The question to ourselves was how do we make this visit as good as or even better than the first one? How do we make our repeat performance our favorite in this, the southern-most city, in the United States?

For Lisa and me it’s not going to happen by visiting the bars and T-shirt shops on Duval Street, we’ve been there and done that a few times. If this second trip is to become our favorite it’s going to happen by going to where the locals spend their time, walking the quaint old town side streets, taking in all the unique architecture, meeting new and interesting people, taking note of unfamiliar exotic vegetation and wildlife or learning about the rich and colorful history of Key West.

For me, immersing myself into the Key West atmosphere is kind of like falling in love and I like to think of our first visit as the opening chapter of that romance. (With only a short month spent here a year ago, I guess you could say it was really more of a tease.) With that said I guess it would mean we are attempting to prolong the romance in this, our second visit. We’re doing this by revisiting our favorite places from the first visit, and then adding new experiences to stoke the fire, thereby trying to make this repeat visit deeper and more meaningful.

Riviera Canal was a nice exploration find.

Lisa and I decided to start out fresh by docking at Key West Harbour Marina, a brand new resort-style marina on the south side of Stock Island (the first island north of Key West) for a two-month stay. Key West Harbour is located just off of Hawk Channel, the third largest coral reef in the world, at 160 miles long. This location gives us great access to explore the area in our dinghy, snorkel or fish. We decided to stay on Stock Island rather then downtown Key West for several reasons, all personal preferences. If we were only going to be in Key West a couple of days we would have stayed downtown, making our stop convenient to the most popular sights and sounds. However, it seems to us that docking downtown is expensive, noisy and a little too crowded for our liking and that’s why we choose Key West Harbour. We pay two-thirds less for dockage, we have peace and quiet and it’s only a half-hour bus or taxicab ride into town.

This little piece of paradise is within 2 miles of old town Key West.

After settling into our new surroundings and getting caught up on long overdue boat chores we headed out by dinghy one afternoon to explore new territory. Lisa and I like to find routes we’ve never traveled before and see where they lead, sometimes getting so involved in our adventure we’ll sometimes get lost.

While riding into town on the bus one day shortly after our arrival I noticed a canal that seemed to offer a shortcut straight into the shopping mall area of Key West, so it was here we headed to on our inaugural dinghy adventure. After exiting the marina and heading out and around the southern side of Stock Island and back into the channel between the two islands, we turned left (west) and entered the Riviera Canal. We found the beginning of the canal lined by very nice waterfront homes on one side and mangroves on the other, later it narrowed and there were mangroves on both sides. The canal trip was a quiet retreat from the busy streets of Key West with clear water, and lots of fish. Although we did not go all the way to the end, because we encountered a very low bridge (we would have to lie down in the dinghy to get under), I did find out that the canal is a protected short cut to Garrison Bight just east of downtown Key West. It wasn’t exactly a Lewis and Clark expedition but it was a fun trip for the afternoon.

Once you get to Fishbusterz you sure cannot miss it with this large mural.

Fishbusterz is a seafood market just off of the commercial fishing boat docks and only a short walk from our marina. It’s a great experience to watch the offloading of the fresh catch through the windows of the processing room and we enjoyed being able to buy hours-old fresh seafood. However, an even better benefit is the ability to buy snapper, grouper and lobster at close to wholesale prices. The lobsters were still alive and snapping when the processor cleaned and prepared them for us. When we got back to the boat to prepare the lobster for grilling the tails still had movement in them just moments prior to cooking. That’s what I’d call the freshest seafood we’ve ever consumed.

This fleet of vessels are used to harvest shrimp and lobster off the Key West coast.

Our boat is a 40-foot Fathom expedition style fast trawler and because the company is relatively young there are not a lot of Fathom’s plying the waterway. So when we got to Key West we were excited to meet up with Ron and Bev Copeland, owners of a dark blue flybridge Fathom very similar to ours (we actually saw their boat in its infancy at the factory in Bow, Washington while we were waiting for ours to be built). As luck would have it they were also staying at Key West Harbour and were the first to greet us as we arrived in the marina.

Fresh shrimp and lobster getting ready to go on the grille!

It’s easy to make friends with other boaters since right off the bat we share a similar passion. This is doubly true of the Copelands and ourselves since we are not only boaters but we both own Fathoms. A few days after our arrival we all went to dinner at a place we’d never been to before called Salute. Salute is a beach side, open-air restaurant located on Higgs Beach on the south side of Key West. We shared cruising stories, discussed our different Fathoms (we’ve had our boat for two years and Jim was able to help Ron and Bev, who just bought their boat, with some maintenance tips) and had a wonderful time with new friends as the ocean waters lapped up onto the beach only a few feet away. The Copeland’s have a car down here and offered to stop at the local Publix grocery store on our return drive to the marina. We had not yet had an opportunity to visit the grocery store let alone stock up on items that would have been hard to carry on the bus. It’s experiences like these; time spent exploring new places with new acquaintances and sharing a helpful hand that will ensure that our second visit will be the most memorable.

Ron and Bev’s Fathom, SeaVenture, is docked near us at Key West Harbour and ready for their travels north.

On one of my bus trips I ran into two guys I know from our hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. In the course of our short conversation I found out that my friend Dan keeps his sailboat at the same marina as Lisa and me. Upon returning to the marina I walked over to the big basin to take a look at Dan’s sailboat. Nothing unusual about doing this except when I was walking up the dock a woman asked me “is everything alright out there?” I said yes and that I was just checking out a friends boat. We had a short conversation and Lois said, “We have a sunset happy hour on our boat every Wednesday shortly before sunset so if you’d like please come over and join us.”

Terry and Lois on the bow of Coconuts getting ready to take in a spectacular Key West sunset.

At that time Lisa and I only knew Ron and Bev at our marina so, being the social types that we are, we decided to attend so we could meet more boaters at the marina. I guess what intrigued me was that in one social event we’d get to meet most of the other boaters in the marina, hear their personal stories of adventure and get a tour of Coconuts, Lois and Terry’s 60-foot Florida Bay Coaster Boat. These impressive boats are made on the St Johns River in Florida. Coconuts was a 19-year-old unfinished metal hull when they bought it several years ago and completed it themselves. The uniqueness of the boat is evident from its dockside appearance but once inside we were able to appreciate the open floor plan, large rooms, full-size refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer and a stand up engine and work room. It’s a very roomy boat and it’s not very often we get to tour such a unique vessel like Coconuts.

The sunset that night was nothing to write home about but the opportunity to meet the 20 revelers was well worth the time. We met two cartoonists, one a Pulitzer Prize winner, a novelist, a couple who just bought a 60-ft. Jefferson, another couple who just got married, bought a sailboat and are cruising with little or no experience on the water and a very experienced cruising couple who’ve made numerous trips to the Eluetheras, Exuma’s and lower Bahamas. We’ll be sitting down with Doug and Tammy to get their input on those cruising grounds, as this could be our 2011 cruising destination.

In the short time we’ve been in Key West we’ve done a pretty good job at experiencing new things, going to new places and meeting new and interesting people. This is the stuff that makes memories intense. However, I’d have to say it’s too early to determine if this will be our best trip to the Keys. We’re working on letting the romance build, so stay tuned!