We are writing this blog for one reason and one reason only. To provide a vehicle to make it easier to remain in touch with our family and friends back home.

Our plan is simple. Depart our home port of Goderich Ontario in the Summer of 2011. Cruise Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron while visiting some of the ports and anchorages we have missed over the years. As well as revisiting some of our favourite haunts hopefully with some of our very good friends with whom we have cruised with many times before. All the while adding up the miles and gaining experience with our new trawler. Our first and only self imposed deadline is to be in the Chicago area around Labour Day. South of Chicago, weather and circumstances will guide us!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 15-29, 2012 - Islamorada, FL

Terrmar is on the move again to Plantation Yacht Harbor, Islamorada Key.  We have been exceptionally blessed with great travelling weather and we are so very grateful!   We travelled along the ICW, once again dodging crap pots but otherwise uneventful.  Plantation Yacht Harbor is located at Founders State Park.  The park is wonderful with near new facilities, Olympic size pool, beach and children’s playground, dog park, volleyball, basketball, soccer and baseball fields, and band shell  but unfortunately not really convenient to groceries, restaurants etc.

It was time to provision and we had no choice but to call a taxi for a ride to the nearest grocery store.  The most expensive cab ride we have ever had!  4 miles north, approximately 6 minutes straight road @ $17.25!  The same on the ride back with the same cabbie after he had a verbal tussle with an employee at Winn Dixie for blocking the drive and complaining the whole time about how he is ill done to by the Mom’s Taxi cab company owner – believe it or not – a woman named Terri.  Mark queried the dock master about the taxi rates and he called 2 companies to confirm their rates.  Funny, the next day I took a Mom’s taxi 4 miles south and surprise, surprise, a flat rate of $9.00 (different cabbie, but just as grumpy)!

Just an observation while cruising in South Florida and the Keys, but do big fishing vessels tend to be equipped with big dogs?  Fine and dandy if they stay on the boat, but when one boat has 4 huge pit bulls aboard and they are frolicking on the dock untethered and unsupervised it might make one a tad nervous.  That was our experience the other day while taking Smudge on her daily walk about (on leash, I might add).  One of the bruits (dog not owner), decided to charge poor little Smudge.  Mark put himself in between the bruit and Smudge and proceeded to shout and pound his feet at him until the beast retreated!  This ruckus got the attention of the woman owner as well as the whole marina and she expressed her offense quite loudly at Mark for treating her dog in such a manner even threatening to call the police when Mark countered.  As we walked away, an observer nearby advised us under his breath that we should carry a small sharp knife and pepper spray and not hesitate to use it as he does when walking his 2 Rottweilers past the bruits.  Wow! 
Thank goodness for Margaritas – that’s all I have to say!
Can’t believe we are finally up to date with the blog!  Ha- ha, just in time to head back home tomorrow for Christmas break, leaving the magenta sunsets and trading them for snowy winter wonderland.  See you in the New Year – if the world doesn’t end on Mark’s birthday, December 21!  Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year!
Travelling ICW boardering Everglades National Park

Life is Good!

Founders Park view from the Fly bridge

What a view!

All is calm!

Going for a toot

Mark with Betsy the Lobster

Feeling civilized again after a visit to the salon

Lunch @ Mile Marker 88

Day is Done







November 5-15, 2012 – Marathon, FL

Would have liked to stayed in Key West a few more days but the speed boats are due to arrive, so time to move up to Marathon.  Again a beautiful travelling day, so we decided to venture ocean-side through Hawk’s Channel, crossing under 7 Mile Bridge to our destination at Banana Bay Marina on the gulf side.  What a picturesque (but small) marina with great rates and close to all amenities via a terrific bike path.  It is part of a resort with scenic landscaping and a big clean pool.  The only drawback to this paradise is the stench of dead sea grass pooling in the marina basin, at times almost unbearable.

We decided to tour the Sea Turtle Hospital and found it very interesting.  It was founded by a gentleman who originally purchased the buildings as a motel, but over time his passion for sea turtles led him to convert the facilities to a hospital and rescue/release centre for sea turtles.  Yes, one person can make a difference and now even more with his team of workers and volunteers!  Amazing!

On Sunday we decided to bike to San Pablo Catholic Church.  What’s the big deal?  We found out the hard way 4 miles one way with a 15 knot head wind, arriving just in the nick of time.  It was worth the effort that allowed us to wander through the beautiful, serene gardens and catch our breath before tackling the trip back.  We stopped for lunch at Brutus Seafood Market.  What a find!  Their restaurant just opened in October 2012 and the seafood was the best!!  Yummy stone crab claws for a third of the price as we found in Islamorada and fresh off the crab boat!  We couldn’t resist buying fresh lobster tails, pink shrimp and key lime pie to go.  This treat sustained us for the rest of the bike ride home.
Hawk's Channel

7 Mile Bridge

Sea Turtle Hospital

Sea Turtle Patient

Recovering Green Sea Turtle

Banana Bay Marina



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 1 -5 – Key West, FL

Key West here we come!  We managed to find dockage for 4 nights between Fantasy Festival and the Speed Boat Races at the Galleon Marina.  After being advised that if we made a stop at Little Shark River, on our way to Key West we would have to carry buckets of bug spray, we decided to venture into the Gulf and push for one long 9 ½ hour travel day.  The weather spared us once again and we had a very pleasant ride, our only annoyance being the “dodge the crab pots” game we had to play for the duration of the trip.  I really can’t complain because I do enjoy eating my fair share!

The harbor was very busy with every manor of pleasure craft, but we managed to tie up at Galleon Marina and chill out in record time.  This marina was not far from Old Town and bikes are a very popular mode of transportation.  In fact I would recommend them instead of cars if travelling this area.  There is always something to do and see on Duval St.   While strolling we came across a live band playing in the street, shops, open air bars and of course Key West’s famous descendants of Cuban fighting cocks wandering freely about.  Although the Galleon Marina was not dog friendly, many bars in the area welcome them.

 Smudge took us for our exercise walks, meandering through the tourists along the Harbor Walk.  Looking over the railing into the clear blue-green salty water, it is fascinating to get a glimpse of the treasures of the sea, numerous fish species including enormous Tarpon.  How ironic it is to look up and see an ocean of large fishing vessels seemingly unaware that the objects of their desires are just below their keels- almost taunting them!  One afternoon a small commotion caught our attention and upon investigating, discovered the tourists were ogling over a manatee who decided to dine on sea grass that had drifted into the basin of the marina.  What a treat to see this gentle giant in its natural environment! Too bad I was without my camera. 
Wonder if Mom knows he is getting a tatoo

Free-range chicken

One of Key West's oldest houses
View to Harbor

Tour Boat with Mooring field in background

St. Mary Star of the Sea church-walls open to outside

The Lourdes Grotto

Beautiful Garden

St. Mary Star of the Sea Church

Terrmar @ Galleon Marina








October 16-November 1, 2012 – Marco Island, FL

The trip from Naples Bay to Marco Island was short and pleasant.  We had local knowledge of a tricky spot we had to be careful of when entering the channel to Smokehouse Bay.  We were warned that a pool of fast churning water at the narrow shallow entrance meant that Terrmar had to increase speed in order to maintain control so as not to be pushed too far out of the channel.  Unfortunately, the boater that relayed the caution learned too late this expensive lesson, after the current pushed him into nearby docks.  Despite the idle/no wake/manatee signs, we had no choice but to heed the warning, thus having to endure a tongue lashing from one of the area residents.  Boat crash or tongue lashing-hmmm-think we made the right decision!
Esplanade Marina was a great choice with excellent facilities, sheltered from effects of Hurricane Sandy, waterfront restaurants, groceries were within biking distance, and beautiful.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and our front row seats when the outdoor Tiki Bar had live music and a Halloween party.


Entering the Gulf of Mexico from Naples Bay

Approaching Marco Island

Relaxing on the dock

Esplanade Marina

Enjoying the sunset

Mark enjoying his solitude

Egret hoping for a meal







October 8-16, 2012 – Naples, FL

We are heading south to Naples, FL and the weather gods have looked down on us with favour!  When travelling in the Gulf of Mexico we always cross our fingers and hope for comfortable boating.  Four hours of sunshine and 1 foot waves, even Smudge was relaxed!  We were excited because it is one of our favorite Florida winter destinations and interesting to view from a boating perspective.  Naples City Docks was our resting place for 5 nights (Naples has a strange rule that transient boaters may not stay any longer than 5 nights at a time at any particular marina).  It seemed like home and we were well acquainted with the area, many attractions and restaurants within biking distance including their famous white sand beaches and boutique shopping districts.  Visits to Handsome Harry’s and Tommy Bahamas restaurants were a must and didn’t disappoint! We were enjoying Naples so much that we decided to splurge a few days and tie up at American Marine $$$ (advertising a pool), continuing north near Tin City, past Naples City Dock. 

Unfortunately, although very pretty with pool and floating docks, we would have preferred the more cost efficient city docks.  The wind was kicking up and coupled with a nasty current, docking proved to be a bit of a challenge.  By now captain Mark was very adept at handling his own vessel, however when docking in less than ideal conditions it is always welcome to have help from experienced, capable dock hands.  This marina could learn a thing or two from their competition down at the city docks.  The 3 Stooges come to mind and the cardinal rule of docking – wrap the line around a cleat!   Despite very arrogant attitudes, completely ignoring any instruction from “the little woman” on board Terrmar, even though this “little woman” has helped dock this vessel while travelling over 3000 miles with many different docking scenarios, Terrmar landed safely.  Could not believe my ears when the oldest of the 3 stooges, proceeded to lecture me on docking etiquette, patronizingly explaining that the dock hands are suppose give orders to the captain and boat hands when docking????  All the while I smiled with gritted teeth, silently vowing not to spend another cent at this marina!  Determined not to let our first impressions ruin our visit we enjoyed the pool every day, explored Tin City by dingy and let the parade of boats navigating the channel entertain us as we relaxed on the fly bridge.
Naples 3rd Ave.

Handsome Mark @ Handsome Harry's

Terri shelling @ Naples Beach
Mark on his way to the beach

Naples City Dock

Sailboat engulfed in flames @ Naples City Docks

Naples Bay

Driving from the Fly Bridge

Estate house in Naples Bay




Monday, November 26, 2012

October 1-8, 2012 – Fort Myers Beach, FL

Ok, time for a change of scenery, so hello Salty Sam’s Marina at Fort Myers Beach, Fl., located between the  entrance to Caloosahatchee River and Sanibel Island.  Normally a very busy place, but we are off season, so quieter than usual.  Fortunately we came prepared and well stocked with food etc.   Grocery store not within walking or biking, but 2 restaurants located on site helped make our stay enjoyable.  We ventured out in the dingy a few times to see what we could see and had dolphins playing in our dingy wake.  A clean and quiet marina with new floating docks made a pleasant stop on our looper adventure. 

Travel outside the green channel marker because of silting

Terri having a break

Mark preparing for weather

Salty Sam's Marina

Rainbow a good sign

Mark & Smudge outside Parrot Key Grill

Pirate tour boat







September 23-October 1 – Arva Fl. (Owl Creek) & Fort Myers, Fl.

Whew!!  What a whirlwind of a spring and summer!  It didn’t take long to get right back into the swing of life back home.  We made it home just in time to welcome our precious grandson into our family.  We are truly blessed!   Took time out for Mark to have his knee replaced and back on his feet.  Wonderful to see all our family and friends, almost didn’t want to say goodbye.

Tempus fugit (time flies) and in a blink of an eye we arrived back to Terrmar at Owl Creek.  There she was, in the water, alligators still on watch, ready to cast off.  Surprise, surprise, what a small world!  Loopers Jerry and Jenny from “Sweetgrass” arrived at the same little backwater boat yard, the same day.  Chatted just long enough to say hello and then we were both headed out on the next leg of our journeys.  Terrmar, back down the Caloosahatchee River to Legacy Harbor in Fort Meyers, and Sweetgrass fast tracked for their home in South Carolina.

The heat and humidity hit us like a brick oven!  Apparently Florida was having unusually hot autumn temperatures and even the locals were complaining.  Looking at weather reports and day after day – 34 feels like 44 (Celsius).   Thank goodness for air conditioning, otherwise we would have melted away.  Late afternoons it cooled off long enough for us to enjoy our surroundings on the fly bridge.   
Sign of Spring

Grandchildren Ian and Lauren

Mark chatting with butterfly who visited us for 2 1/2 hours

Terri inhaling "The Bruce" @ Wey's Cottage

Jerry & Jenny from Sweetgrass

Condos towering over us @ Legacy Harbor