Jim and I both agree that two of the more fulfilling trips we have done during our boating adventures was scheduling one week cruises, at different times, this winter with both of our moms. While they have both spent long weekends with us in our Great Lakes cruising grounds in the past, before we retired, they had never traveled very far with us, especially in unfamiliar territory or in tidal salt water. We had the idea that our moms didn’t really understand what we’re up to as we’re traveling around the Eastern United States by water on Kismet and you know how moms are. We are gone for long periods from our families as we are out seeking new adventures and gathering boating experiences. Although we maintain an extensive blog for our family and friends, our mothers found it hard to access it on the Internet so they really were in the dark as to the particulars of our life on the water. So last fall we started to make plans to set up the “Mom Cruise” on board Kismet.
|Our mothers Barby (left) and Diane (right) each joined us on Kismet for a week.|
Since my mother, Barbara (Barby) Targal was driving to Dunedin, Florida from Michigan, with my older brother Jem, to visit my youngest brother Mart during the holidays, we decided that the west coast of Florida would be the perfect cruising grounds to pick Barby up and introduce her to our current boating lifestyle. We love the Gulf Coast cruising grounds of Florida – It’s not as overbuilt and congested as the east coast shoreline, we’d planned to spend some time here cruising even before the Mom Cruise became a well formed idea. Our plan, as we were heading south on the ICW from the Chesapeake Bay area (where we spent the 2009 summer), was to go as far south as Stuart, Florida where we would make a starboard turn to enter the St. Lucie River in order to cross the state of Florida through the Lake Okeechobee Waterway. Right after crossing the big lake we continued on the Caloosahatchee River to Fort Myers where we stopped for a few days before heading north to our final northern destination, Tarpon Springs. But before we made it all the way north we decided to make Venice the spot we would stop, rent a car to drive north to Dunedin, to pick Barby up.
We arrived at the free dock in Venice on Sunday and early the next morning I rented a car and headed over the Skyline Bridge, north to Dunedin. We began the Mom Cruise with a fun ride back to the boat, just the two of us “girls” with the use of a car and I was in hog heaven and not particularly eager to rush back. “Girls Day” included lunch and shopping at Kohl’s and a grocery store run. We got back just before dark to a well rested captain who, I’m sure took advantage of a quiet afternoon to himself, before women took over his boat.
|Barby is headed up to the flybridge to watch the sun set over the mangroves on Caladesi Island.|
We left Venice the next morning to head for an anchorage at Longboat Key. We wanted to spend at least one night with each of our moms while swinging on the hook in a somewhat remote location. We love this anchorage and had been here once before, the last time being just last year as we traveled south to the Florida Keys. The weather was quite nice, sunny and warm. Barby sat on the back of the boat soaking up the sun and watching the white pelicans fishing nearby. She even got to meet some Loopers who dinghied up to the back of our boat to have us sign their copy of our book When the Water Calls… We Follow (http://www.favorsventures.com/pages/bus.html). It was a warm, still evening, we grilled steaks on the back deck of the boat with Barby feeling right at home.
|We found lots of shells to choose from when walking on this amazingly pristine beach on Caladesi Island.|
Our next stop was Caladesi Island. We had never been here before and were excited to experience this remote island for the first time with Barby on board. Thankfully, we had good weather, the first day anyway, and enjoyed a wonderful walk on the pristine beach collecting seashells and taking in the salty air. There is a marina on this island and we decided to spend the night. Well, one night stretched to two due to a storm, which produced very high winds. We spent the weather delay day working on the boat in order to catch up on some projects (we never seem to get caught up) while Barby watched all the birds, at least 20 to 30, taking advantage of the shelter the mangrove trees provided during the high winds.
|One of my mother’s favorite places is Tarpon Springs but she had never seen it from the perspective of the Anclote River.|
The following day, after the winds died down, we left Caladesi Island in a thick fog as we headed for Tarpon Springs. Luckily, we got behind a motor yacht that plowed through the fog ahead of us. As we entered the Anclote River, Barby sat on the bow of the boat to get a better view as we passed all the fishing and sponge boats docked along the downtown area. We spent three days at the downtown municipal marina enjoying long walks around town, buying our favorite almond cookies and enjoying several meals at Hella’s Greek Restaurant.
|Barby wanted her photo taken in front of Kismet before she left.|
On Sunday my brother Mart and his family came to visit us on the boat and to pick Barby up. They would see to her travel arrangements back home to Michigan where we look forward to seeing her in a few months. Two days later Jim’s mom Diane Thompson would fly into Tampa and join us for her week on Kismet.
|First night on the boat, mother and son could hardly contain their happiness.|
Jim’s dad, Don, passed away a few months ago after having been ill for quite a while, so when we had made plans for Barby to join us for a cruise on the boat last fall, we didn’t think it would be possible for Diane to do the same. Shortly after Don’s funeral we mentioned the idea to Diane about joining us for a week on the boat in Florida and she seemed really interested. We all thought a trip, somewhere sunnier, away from home in Sydney, Ohio where she had been taking care of Don for a long time and unable to get away, would do her a lot of good.
So, we rented a car again and shopped our way to the airport, (whenever a long-distance boater has access to a car you can bet there will be power shopping involved) picked her up and brought her back to Tarpon Springs for her first night on the Mom Cruise. Again, we walked through town and ate more Greek food. It is so good we just can’t get enough of it. Friday morning we departed Greek Town to head back to Caladesi Island. We didn’t want to stay overnight again on the island but we did want to take Diane for a little walk on the beautiful sandy beach (voted one of America’s best) so she could dig her toes into the warm sand and, luckily we had a partly sunny day, which made the excursion to the beach very relaxing.
|We ate out a few nights while Diane was visiting. Lots of restaurant options in St. Petersburg.|
After a few hours’ walk on the island we headed to an anchorage in Boca Ciega Bay, where we were treated to the biggest and brightest rising moon of the year. Called a “perigee moon,” when it reaches the point closest to earth it is 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser moons. Being also the first full moon of the year it is also known as a “wolf moon,” a term which originated in the Native American culture. We enjoyed sitting around looking at and talking about this spectacular moon. Earlier that evening, as we were swinging on the hook, we got an email from some boaters who were familiar with our BoatUS Logs and lo and behold they also had a good view of us from their condo, which sat within 200 yards of where we anchored. Early the next morning they emailed us a photo of our boat with the moon shining above it. Between the moon, the warmth of a surprise welcome from fellow boaters and having Diane on board we felt life just couldn’t get any better than this.
|After we walked around downtown a few times the 25¢ bus ride was very appealing and the bus driver gives a little tour information during the ride.|
The next morning we left our spot in Boca Ciega Bay and headed for St. Petersburg, approximately 14 miles away. Our plan was to stay at the municipal marina right downtown so that we could amuse ourselves in a relatively big city for the remainder of Diane’s visit. We kept busy with a trip to the farmer’s market, restaurants, several museums, aquarium, a tour of the Vinoy Hotel and even had time to go see the movie Avatar in 3D. All this was available within walking distance of the marina for a 25¢ bus ride, when we were tired of walking.
|On a rainy day we walked into town to see the movie Avatar. We thought we looked pretty cool in the 3D glasses.|
After Diane’s departure, a week after she arrived, we reminisced on all the fun times we had with our moms on board. We are both still amazed at how easily our mothers fit into our unusual lifestyle. We could tell that they were comfortable with the accommodations and our trip itineraries. We played games, we laughed and boy did we eat. Jim and I both agree we made some wonderful memories on the Mom Cruise – we think they feel the same. We hope they had as good a time as we did because we’d love to squeeze a few more Mom Cruises into our travel plans in the near future.