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

   

Falling in Love With Key West
By Kismet, Saturday, May 15, 2010

Have you ever been somewhere for the first time and wondered why it took you so very long to discover a little gem of a place? It could be a restaurant on the Erie Canal that serves the best calzone you’ve ever had (for us it’s Bosco’s – we’ll compare all future calzones to theirs for the balance of our lives) or, it could be a secluded anchorage on the St. Johns River, which provides great wind protection and an unobstructed sunset view. For Lisa and me one of the places that has recently wowed us is Key West, Florida.

As you can see, boats comes in all sizes in Key West Harbor, our view as we cruise through the Harbor.

Our first visit to Key West, in 1999, was by car when we added two days onto a business trip to Marco Island, Florida. The two-day visit was just a teaser. It was really only enough time for us to become infatuated with the Key’s eclectic lifestyle, history, architecture, tropical vegetation and wonderful weather. We knew we would be back again to explore more of the treasures we had so newly discovered, but little did we know back then it would take another ten years to continue the romance. During those ten years our summers were filled with boating in northern Michigan and all of our vacation time was used to maximize our growing summer habit of boating in our homeport waters. By the time fall arrived we’d used up our vacation time and were spending the off season planning more local boating vacations – the thought of returning to Key West seemed like a far away dream.

At the time of our first Key West visit we knew little of the Great Loop and the possibility of circumnavigating the waterways of the eastern United States. We never gave any thought to visiting Key West by boat then because we were basically in the dark about the ability to navigate from Lake Michigan, down the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers into the Gulf of Mexico and on to Florida. So a few years later when we discovered this route, little known to us, you can imagine how excited we were about the prospect of being able to visit Key West in our very own boat. However, we ended up having to wait until 2009 for our second visit, and stayed on Stock Island (just a few miles from downtown Key West) for a full month.

Rick (that’s him on the left) had us all over for dinner on his Fathom, Wishing Star. His friend Jeff, from down the dock, is next to Rick along with our Michigan buds Denise and Jeff sitting next to me (Lisa, as always, is taking the photo).

It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder – this was certainly true for us. Deep down inside we knew that a particular tropical experience was missing from our lives. Our second visit more than satisfied our longing. We enjoyed our 2009 one-month visit so much we’ve returned this year, 2010, for a two-month stay. This time we were able to meet more of the local residents. We got to know a lot of salty fishermen and dive boat captains who were docked next to us at our marina, Key West Harbour. We had friends from home come stay with us and met up with other boater friends who are enjoying their own romance with the Keys for the winter.

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

Our dock mates at Key West Harbour are a commercial dive boat on one side and a small commercial fishing boat on the other. The good part about this situation is we don’t have new dock neighbors all the time; it’s only busy when they’re coming and going and it’s quiet at night. Steve and Wayne take turns taking groups out to dive on the reef (the second largest coral reef in the world) usually making two trips a day. Wayne has spent some time with us telling us of his boating adventures in the keys. He went over charts with us and told us where to anchor and what to be aware of. On one of their recent return trips I jokingly made a comment to Steve that we’d be glad to trade him a ride on our boat, probably the last thing he wanted, for some freshly caught lobster he was cleaning. We were joking around but he took us seriously and handed the four freshly caught lobsters over to us as we were pulling out of our slip for a cruise with friends. Fresh, free lobster, it doesn’t get much better then that. Thanks again Steve.

Our friends Mike and Lynne, former neighbors from Traverse City, flew down to stay with us for about a week shortly after we arrived in Key West; it was their first visit to the Conch Republic. We had looked forward to their visit, not only because we had not seen them since last summer, but also because they’re such good friends and they get along well on a boat. I say this because not everyone understands that being on a boat is not the same as staying at someone’s house. Mike and Lynn do recognize this, therefore it made our reunion and time together on Kismet enjoyable for all.

Mike and me – having drinks and watching over the grilling or was it the other way around?

Lisa and I wanted to share our love of Key West with our friends so we made sure they experienced a sunset from Mallory Square, a tour of Duval Street and a visit to the historic Key West Cemetery. Mike and I went to Fishbusterz several times to purchase fresh lobster, shrimp and tuna for cookouts. We went kayaking, attended youth baseball games and all the other things we would have done at home except we were doing it Key West style, warm, laid-back and relaxed.

We always see something new when we tour Key West Cemetery (note the above ground tombs).

When we were neighbors (for 15 years) Mike and I would help each other with our various house projects, so it was no big deal for Mike to help with a boat problem we were having. Our Fathom has a fold down mast – I had put too much silicone around the joint the last time I raised it to its upright position in an effort to solve a small leak problem we were having. The mast’s interior had developed a water leak into a cabin locker and every time it rained, I’d have to clear out the locker and dry it out. My first effort to fix the leak did not work and actually was made worse by an overload of silicone. In order to stop the continuing leak the mast had to be lowered to determine where the leak was coming from but I couldn’t break the silicone seal because of its superior adhesion abilities. I had been trying for over four months to solve this problem by myself without success. This is one of those cases where too much of a good thing actually made more of a problem!

Good friends Mike and Lynne looking happy at one of the great happy hours in Key West, Kelly’s.

While Mike and I tackled the mast problem Lisa and Lynne went to the pool, played games and enjoyed each other’s company. We figured out the only way to break the seal was to use wood shims to create a wedge in the seam between the mast and the base. After working on it for the better part of two days we finally broke the seal, lowered the mast, cleaned up the mess and used rubber O washers on the bolt shafts to create a new seal and keep water from the interior locker once the mast was put back up into place. It’s been two months with no leaks. Success! Thanks Mike.

We had to prove we were in Key West, even Lisa got into a photo!

Shortly after Mike and Lynne’s visit (we miss them already) we met up with other friends from home who were vacationing here in downtown Key West. Jean and Gary, our long time dock mates from Charlevoix, Michigan were here for six weeks staying in a condo a block off Mallory Square. Jeff and Denise, also boating friends from Michigan, were here for a week, as well as Rick and Elene who were docked at the A&B Marina, staying on their Fathom, Wishing Star. Happy hours, a dinner on Rick’s boat, dinners out and lunch at the pier were all enjoyable but the best part for Lisa and I was to be with our friends in our home away from home sharing our mutual love of Key West.

While Jeff and Denise were visiting, and because they’d only experienced the Conch Republic by land, we invited them for a day-cruise around the islands on Kismet. It was one of those picture perfect days with violet blue skies, a slight breeze and calm, iridescent turquoise waters. From Stock Island we headed out into Hawk Channel to the southern most point in the United States. Along the way we had the pleasure of the company of a few schools of dolphin, as they darted through the water seemingly playing hide and seek with us as we made our way into Key West Channel.

Jeff and Denise watching the dolphins as we head to the southern most point in the U.S. (that’s it off in the distance).

Leaving Fort Taylor to our starboard we headed past Key West proper and into Key West Bight for a tour of the harbor and marinas. Lisa and I never tire of touring marinas to see the large variety of boats and it was no different for Jeff and Denise. From the comfort of our pilothouse we had time to get caught up on their Michigan summer plans (they just bought a boat) as well as our recent travels while we all shared the marvels of Key West from the vantage point of the water.

Maybe one of the reasons Key West is so special is because it’s not on the way to anywhere, it is the destination! You just cannot get off the freeway for a visit or make a small detour to get to Key West. Getting here is a journey and once you’re here you’re at the end of the line – the line of islands called the Keys and what a place to be. So much to do and so much to see, we always wish we had more time. I guess we’ll have to come back. Like the calzone from Bosco’s on the Erie Canal – we’ll continue to compare our newest cruising destinations to our now familiar love… Key West!