Ft. Lauderdale to Delray Beach to North Palm Beach (Mar 13-14)

As we head north, not much has changed in size and scope…..big houses….big boats…..


…moving up the Treasure Coast


The AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association) provides an app that allows Loopers to register their point in their travels.  Below shows that there are approximately 50 Loopers that have registered their location in the Florida area.  Each red dot is a Looper boat, the little orange man near Palm Beach (if you can see him) is Kara Mia!


We arrived at Delray Harbor Marina to be greeted by our little gecko friend.  He hung out with us on the docks.


For dinner we walked to Duffy’s Sports Bar where we were pleasantly surprised by an antique car show.  Ron drooled over the Earl Campbell jersey and the antique cars – Karen drooled over the bar-b-que ribs!



Next morning we arose to a beautiful sunrise but chilly weather, but still not as chilly as back home in Brentwood!


….then we were off to Palm Beach where even the bridges were high-end architecture.


We have been impressed by the research centers and nature preserves along the waterway.  Here’s an example of one of the manatee research centers and parks to protect the manatee.  A large part of our travels requires minimum speed in order to protect manatee habitats.



…..this one speaks for itself…….


Bahia Mar – Ft. Lauderdale (Mar 10-12)

As our friends from Nashville – Raymond and Judy, who have a place here, have shared, “we have truly entered the land of the 1%”.  We continue to be amazed by the buildings, the homes, the boats……




The variety and scale of both commercial and private boats was fascinating as we moved up the Intracoastal Waterway.



Early on we encountered the devil, waiting on his table at a local restaurant.  Just one of the many scenes along the water’s edge.  There were sunken boats, lots of boat traffic at points, the “Po Po”, boats being towed….

        ….even the big boats aren’t immune to breaking down!

……and tiki bars, and bakeries……..


and condos and people……lots of people…….

Ft. Lauderdale is a departure port for many large cruise lines heading for the Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico…….and cargo ships connecting with the Atlantic as well…..



We encountered five bridges today and several were lower than we could get under.  Most bridges in this area open on the hour and half hour to allow for your passing.  Around Miami and Ft. Lauderdale this was a routine occurrence throughout the day and often required us to be in a holding pattern until time for the bridge to lift or open.  Make note of our little yellow tracking line on the map, we go up, back, around, and back again while waiting……(more useless information – but part of our daily routine……).  Just showing how our electronics record every move we make.


As we were approaching Bahia Mar, these little sail boats were heading out into the Atlantic Ocean through Port Everglades cut – the same route as the big cruise and cargo ships – you really want to do that?    

We pulled into Bahia Mar Yachting Center and Marina – a welcome stop after the concrete wall and wind the night before.


Shortly after we docked our friends from Nashville, Joe and Reba, joined us.  They were in route to Nashville from their winter excursion in Islamorada.  We toasted to friendship before a short walk to dinner at Coconuts Waterside Dining.



The girls had seafood tacos and the guys had jambalaya…..all was good.


Next morning we were awakened to the sound of a megaphone in the not so far distance.  Daylight savings time had just arrived as well and our bodies and minds were still at 4:30 a.m.  Just across A1A (merely 100 yards away on the beach) we were surprised to find 3,200 people!  It was Ft. Lauderdale’s sixth annual International Triathlon with over 1,200 participants (including Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, cheered on by Eric Trump) and over 2,000 spectators from all over the world.  We grabbed a cup of coffee and walked across A1A to experience a beautiful sunrise along with busy triathlon activities …….bikers, swimmers, runners, music………a lot of unexpected entertainment before sunrise!  The dots on the horizon were freighters waiting to pull into port.

          twelve hundred participants – swimming in the Atlantic Ocean – before sunrise – is that CRAZY?    


Not to be missed today was the men’s SEC Championship game.  We watched from the marina restaurant.  Note the score – at one point Tennessee was ahead but finally succumbed to a 77-72 loss to Kentucky.


An early evening walk found us touring the docks of the really big 200+ foot yachts.  There we found the mega-yacht named “Glaze”.  Most of you don’t know that Karen was a “Glaze” before becoming an “Atkisson”, and she is just sure this is a long lost relative……we are still researching that!


We wondered, as a small boat, how the one hundred foot boats felt among the two hundred foot boats……..

We watched the sunset trying to sneak it’s way between the large yachts…..   

Next morning Joe and Reba headed on to Nashville and we hung around the boat through a rather heavy thunderstorm or two……later the clouds cleared and we had a nice stroll on the beach and our last (and ever changing) sunset in Ft. Lauderdale……



…….tomorrow we plan a short lay-over at Delray Beach before continuing on to Palm Beach………

North Miami Beach (Mar 9)

Stephanie sent pics from back home today…..after seeing Jackson’s car and our back deck…..thinking we will stay in sunny Florida!


Back at the marina it was a short walk under A1A to the beach.  We heard rumors that this was possibly a nudist beach.  Not only were there no nudes – there were no people – it was too chilly on the beach!  However, Karen did collect some rather unique shells…….




as the evening faded, we enjoyed a school of dolphins playing at the bow of our boat…….


A down home meal was a welcomed change for our pallet……how much seafood can one consume anyway?


…….North to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow……..

Miami at Haulover Beach Marina (Mar 8)

It was windier than we had hoped for as we pulled out of Black Point, but we were anxious to get up to Miami.


Traveling up Biscayne Bay we encountered dozens (we quit counting at 25) of go-fast outboards, probably a boat club on an excursion to the Keys. They were flying!


As we got closer to Miami we saw hundreds of sailboats here for the multi-class sailing regattas taking place.  They are here to compete for the celebrated Miami Sailing Week on Biscayne Bay.  There were teams representing countries from all over the world.


The images of the journey through the Port of Miami do not do it justice.  The sites were so impressive – everything from the buildings, the boats (ships), and the bridges were in excess – but exhilarating!




Ultimately we docked at Haulover Beach Marina in North Miami.  In high winds we successfully docked against a concrete bulkhead in a small angled slip.


The nearest restaurant was a hike over Haulover Pass into the high-rent district of Miami.  We passed The Ritz Carlton, Neiman Marcus, Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue – to name a few!


After the Miami sunset over Bal Harbour, we dined at Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill – in full St. Patrick’s Day regalia.



….not sure why so many restaurants in Florida staple bills to the walls and ceilings……..


……tomorrow we will check out the beach……..

Black Point Marina, Homestead, Florida (Mar 6-7)

Pulling out of Key Largo…….


After waiting on the best weather conditions, we were blessed with one to two’s (waves) in the Atlantic, out of Key Largo.  We made our transition into the Intracoastal (protected waters) at Anglefish Creek.  Beautiful homes dotted the landscape through the cut, and quiet still waters welcomed us into Biscayne Bay.



Kara Mia cruised at a comfortable clip of 34 mph….


The approach to Black Point was long and narrow but deep compared to the shallow waters of Cutter Bay.


Once into Black Point Harbor we were surprised to find a very active and welcoming marina. Although there were limited amenities (no pump out or showers), the park setting made for fun investigation.  The restaurant and bar weren’t bad either.


We had dinner at The Ocean Grill…….Karen had Macadamia nut encrusted goat cheese and Ron had Jamaica Jerk Chicken – YUM!



……and enjoyed another beautiful sunset…….


The next morning we had a nice sunrise – seeing from our window what Karen thought was a church steeple across the dock – on second look, it was actually a boat mast!

After the sunrise we took a bike hike around the park.  As always, we enjoyed the scenery and wildlife.  Although there were numerous alligator warnings, we encountered none today.



Thankfully we got back before this quick storm rolled through……


We had dinner on the boat and watched the sun set……

Tomorrow we will head to Miami…………

Around Key Largo (Mar 4-5)

Our last days in Keys before continuing our journey………

We weren’t really that bored, but while riding our folding bicycles around the island we were entertained by the variety of mailboxes.



From the Gulf to the Atlantic (first two pictures) the island was interesting.  We encountered hurricane damage, commercial fishing and lobster and crab traps.  The bungalows on the Gulf side were dated but well manicured.




Our time here was not all fun and play.  While Karen worked on income taxes, Ron worked on the boat (cleaned strainers, washed the boat and polished chrome).  Our attempt to patch the dinghy was unsuccessful – maybe we will turn it over to the professionals!  Oh yeah – Karen cooked!


And our last dinner here was at The Key Largo Fisheries Backyard – a commercial fish market and popular local hangout that has an order and pickup window –  and the freshest of seafood.  Karen had a tropical shrimp salad and Ron had a chipotle shrimp wrap along with fresh stone crab chowder.



We have covered the Keys now and are ready to move on……… and with a good weather window we will continue north in the morning……….

Key Largo…… (Mar 1-3)

Our pace has finally slowed down a bit in the Keys….It only took four months for us to begin to learn to relax……The Keys will do that to you!  We will spend the next several days in Key Largo.  Our slip overlooks the Pilot House Restaurant where they have live music most evenings.  Our second night here we sat on the bridge (the top part) of the boat and watched a magnificent full moon rise as we listened to Beatles music, Billy Joel music, and a bit of reggae and steel drums.



….as the sun went down and the full moon rose even higher we were treated to an amazing light show of the moon reflecting in the water below.


As we were enjoying another Key Largo evening sitting on the cockpit (back part) of the boat, we met Dan and Lisa from Massachusetts.  They are “vacationing” on a boat two slips down from us.  New to us is the boat Air B&B concept.  Several boats here at the marina are leased as Air B&B vacation boats.  We enjoyed visiting and learning about their background and families.  Later it became apparent that Santa was interested in Lisa and it doesn’t look like she discouraged him a bit!


We learned that with all of the rain back home in Nashville, February was recorded as the wettest month in Nashville since 1890.  And still in the low 30’s at night?  I suppose we will just stay in The Keys where the sun is always shinning and the warm breezes blow.


One of our best meals yet – homemade smoked salmon nachos!


We are still waiting out the Atlantic wind and waves for our continued trip north……

Key Largo (Feb 28)

The day started with a slight bit of excitement when Karen fell – stepped back while helping to load the dinghy and fell right down into the engine room! Ouch!  After some ice and band-aids, all turned out well.

We had to wait for high tide to leave Islamorada.  What was supposed to be 1 foot waves for our travel today in reality turned out to be 2 to 3 feet so we decided on a leisurely pace for the short 34 mile trip to Key Largo.  Along the way we saw our first large sea turtle.  He was about 2 1/2 feet in diameter and unfortunately Karen was not quick enough with the camera to get that pic!


It was a beautiful half mile runway into the marina from the Atlantic.  There we were greeted by Steven, the dock master at The Pilot House Marina.


Upon arrival we found another Looper couple that we had met in Alabama at Joe Wheeler during the Looper Rendezvous.  Dennis and Dana, from Missouri, are on “Pharm Life” and will complete their one-year loop trip in about two weeks.  We got together for dinner at The Pilot House Marina Restaurant and caught up on our different ports of call since we saw them last.


….we will relax in Key Largo for several days while waiting on the next weather window to travel…….

Final Days in Islamorada (Feb 26-27)

A typical day in Islamorada started with a vigorous four mile morning walk but soon diminished to relaxing by the pool and soaking up some of those Florida rays.  We enjoyed meeting Randy and Cheryl out by the pool.  Later, cousins from Brentwood, Nan and Lewis, arrived to spend a few days with Joe and Reba.  We enjoyed visiting by the pool along with a refreshing dip or two.  Most afternoons after Karen headed to the pool, Ron headed to tan.  This does not mean tanning under the Florida sun – “tan” for Ron means –  “Taking A Nap”.


One of Karen’s favorites was sitting in the lounge chairs on the beach – watching and listening to the waves rolling in and the songs of the various birds.  It was an especially peaceful time and place………….


On one of our last evenings in Islamorada, we joined Joe and Reba and Lewis and Nan for a trip to Mile Marker #88, and the “Marker 88 Restaurant”.  Marker 88 is located on one of the few natural beaches in the Florida Keys and of course serves fresh Florida seafood.  They offer waterfront dining at “glider tables”.


The sunset view from Marker 88 was priceless…..



Okay, a bit about the guys in the back of Joe’s SUV…..Reba suggested that since Karen was the smallest of the group that she sit in the back of the SUV, for the 15 mile ride to the restaurant.  Plenty of room for a short girl!  Only problem, Reba wasn’t aware of Karen’s bit of claustrophobia!  Stuff me in the back of an SUV with no escape for 15 miles?  I don’t think so!  So our choices were – take two vehicles or call an Uber.  Thinking that was nonsense, Ron and Lewis took turns covering the ride for Karen, and they continue to remind her of her indebtedness!  Thanks guys!

As Ron had vowed to have pizza every day while in Islamorada, his last supper was non other than a family sized seafood pizza from Habanos’ Ocean Front Restaurant – smothered in fresh lobster, shrimp and seafood!  Ron will leave Islamorada a happy camper!  …..or boater should I say………


America’s Great Loop Cruisers Sunset Party at Banana Bay (Feb 25)

Every year for the last nine years loopers have met on the last Sunday in February for a Sunset Celebration hosted at Banana Bay Resort in the Florida Keys, sort of like a family reunion of loopers.  The annual notice is put out over the America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) forum and goes to loopers all over the country.  This year over 160 loopers attended.  For more information go to the AGLCA website.



Each year loopers are entertained by local Key band, “4 Sheets to the Wind”, – and yes – they play a lot of Jimmy Buffett songs!


A rather large Manatee crashed the party as he munched on algae at the dock………we all took time for photos!


Several looper boats make it a family affair!  They home school which allows the kids a far greater life experience.  The Wilson family, with three daughters on board, organized a weekly  “Clean Up the Keys” campaign that has been very successful in helping with the hurricane damage.  Here the Wilson kids and Maddie are playing “Cups”.  The Cup Game is a clapping game that involves tapping and hitting a cup using a defined rhythm.  Karen has challenged herself to learn!


We all came for the sunset celebration and it seems like Bobbie (on First Forty) is really enjoying it.


Special thanks to Joe and Reba for loaning us their vehicle.  This allowed us a ride from Islamorada to Marathon to join in the celebration.

Thanks guys!……………………….