Monday, March 31, 2008

Miami Beach, Florida - Playing In The Sun

Never a dull moment on the water… We were awaken briefly around 4:45 AM by the sounds of what seemed to be gunshots. First, it sounded like 7 gunshots. A few minutes later another 7 gunshot sounds were heard. Then we could hear sirens blaring in the near distance. We fell back to sleep, just thinking we were in the middle of Miami Beach. An hour and a half later, we were again awaken by two news helicopters hovering over the marina. We went out on the back deck and saw firefighters using a water boat to put the fires out on two yachts tied to a dock two over from “ISLAND HOPPER”. Both 70 foot yachts burned to the water and three other yachts received fire and heat damage. A family from Naples, Florida was on one of the destroyed yachts. Two young people were trapped in the hull area of the yacht. Rescue workers handed breathing apparatus through hatches to those trapped, and then cut through the hull to free them. Both victims were taken by ambulance to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. More information about the fire can be found at
After all of the excitement we ate breakfast and prepared for the day. We went to Publix for provisions. Kevin and Ian took the groceries back to boat, while Joan and Debbie went to Lincoln Mall to shop and have lunch. Kevin and Ian walked to South Beach and then went out on the beach. They crossed Ocean to Mango’s for a cold brew and a little music and dancing on the bar. Not Kevin & Ian dancing on the bar, but the restaurant’s live entertainment.(
Mango's Bar & Restaurant
Art Deco Mural at Mango's
Tonight we ate dinner at Barton G’s. It was truly a creative dining experience.(

A Special Message for Natalie- Ian & Joan’s Granddaughter

Hello Natalie,

We are so glad that you are reading the Island Hopper Log and enjoying all of the adventures we are experiencing in America. We are having a wonderful time and look forward to seeing you when we return home to Scotland. Keep reading the wee stories.


Papa & Gran

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Coconut Grove, FL to Miami Beach, FL

We left Dinner Marina at 11:30 AM. cruising only 6 miles over to Miami Beach Marina.(

Dinner Marina Dock

The weather was party sunny in the 70's predicted to be around 83 degrees today. It was a beautiful view heading past the high rises in Miami toward the marina.

After lunch we took the South Beach bus into the South Beach area and got off at Washington and walked two blocks to Ocean. After walking along Ocean we crossed the street and walked on the beach.
Joan & Ian on South Beach

The beach was packed with students on spring break. We continued down Ocean and stopped and had refreshing mango margaritas and beers. We then took the South Beach bus back to the Marina.


Miami Vice with actor Don Johnson became a hit television show, and around the same time a photographer ventured onto the top of one of Ocean Drive's Art Deco hotels for a Calvin Klein "Obsession" photo shoot. Both events helped renew interest in South Beach and it soon became the destination of choice for fashion shoots and films. Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Marisa Tomei, Angelica Houston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Woods, Jamie Lee Curtis, Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner and Sean Connery have all appeared in films shot in Miami in recent years. Fashion and commercial photo shoots are commonplace throughout South Beach.During the day, models, vintage cars, Harleys, and rollerbladers of all ages parade past tourists who are relaxing and people watching from one of Ocean Drive's many outdoor cafes. By night, the clubs sizzle. There’s no doubt that Florida makes a fun vacation destination for travelers of all disposition, but a certain type of person probably isn’t satisfied with common scenes of golf courses, beachcombing and quiet strolls along nearly-empty sidewalks. These kinds of areas are perfect for those looking to escape the madness of the world, but sometimes a different kind of madness does the job just as well. South Beach is famously filled with energy, nightlife options, celebrity sightings and beautiful people. If these are the things that would best take you away from your current situation, providing you with the kind of vacation you need to calm you down and loosen you up, there’s no place like South Beach. This coastal magnet for hedonists around the world has been hopping for years. Fashion shoots, TV and movie filmings, big-time parties and a general atmosphere of buoyant, beach time fun have characterized South Beach for decades - ever since the birth of t-shirt/blazer combos and rollerblading. Things have modernized a bit, of course, but there’s still an otherworldly feel to this destination; it’s as if there are cameras constantly rolling and everyone is ready to attract attention and impress their fellow revelers. In other words, bring your chicest duds as well as a readiness to indulge in frivolity. Lounge on the beach for a bit, taking in the quintessentially relaxing sight of top-notch surf and sand. After you’ve whetted your appetite for swimming and sunning, revive your creative side by taking an Art Deco District Tour. Local historians and architects happily show visitors around the town, pointing out all the noteworthy details of the city’s appearance.


Tonight we ate dinner at Nemo, located on the quickly developing South Beach area known as SoFi (for "South of Fifth"), Nemo is a funky, high-style eatery with an open kitchen and an outdoor courtyard canopied by trees and lined with an eclectic mix of model types and foodies. Among the reasons to eat in this restaurant, whose name is actually "omen" spelled backward: grilled Indian-spiced pork chop; grilled local mahimahi with citrus and grilled sweet-onion salad, kimchi glaze, basil and crispy potatoes; and an inspired dessert menu by Hedy Goldsmith that's not for the faint of calories. Seating inside is comfy-cozy but borders on cramped. On Sunday mornings, the open kitchen is converted into a buffet counter for the restaurant's unparalleled brunch. Be prepared for a wait, however, as the crowd tends to spill out onto the street.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Key Largo, FL to Coconut Grove, FL

After putting on 200 gallons of fuel "Island Hopper" departed the Ocean Reef Yacht Club at 10:30 AM.

Yachts harbored at Ocean Reef's docks

Departing Ocean Reef
Winds were northerly at 5 to 10 , with sunny blue skies. The water was smooth with a light chop, since we were traveling on the inside. Today's route will be traveling up Angelfish Creek into Biscayne Bay to Coconut Grove.
Traveling Angelfish Creek

Captain Kevin must stay alert while traveling Angelfish Creek, due to shallow water depths. We traveled successfully through the creek without a problem. From Card Sound entering Biscayne Bay, the wind was on our nose and the water had a light chop. Crab pots had to be carefully watched, since they are throughout the very narrow channel.


With four marina options and a historic anchorage, Coconut Grove is the yachtsman's Miami. It's the one neighborhood in the city where deck shoes are acceptable dress shoes. (This sounds like our kind of place!!) The area's roots run back to the 1830s-era nautically minded people who worked the Cape Florida Light. Homesteaders, farmers, fishermen and salvors followed. The Peacock family imported Bahamian laborers to build a hotel and other buildings in 1884. The Bahamian link is still evident. Every June, Coconut Grove hosts a lively two-day Junkanoo festival to celebrate Bahamian culture. The area began to attract artists through the 1950's, art galleries appeared in the early 1960's,and in 1963, the Coconut Grove Art Festival - the number one arts festival in the country - was established. It is held annually in February. Debbie & Kevin have attended this festival during their visits to Miami's Boat Shows. On the second Friday of each month there is the Coconut Grove Art Crawl, where galleries open their doors to visitors.


The best thing about stopping at Coconut Grove is that there is so much you can see or do on foot or bike. Because south Florida's interior was so difficult, folks traveled among bay settlements by boat. In the 1880's Captain Ralph Munroe gained fame by developing a special swing-keeled craft to negotiate the flats during the 1880's. The Barnacle, his former home, is Florida's smallest state park, offering a fascinating glimpse of 19th century life and early boat building.


Coconut Grove is a mecca for shoppers and hungry visitors. Coco Walk, on Grand Avenue, has fashion shops ranging from Dolce & Gabbana to Diesel. There are numerous restaurants and a movie theater in the open-air complex. There are also eight or so main streets that have cafes and small boutiques. We will be staying at the city's Dinner Key Marina. Although it is larger than other marinas, the city's marina is a bit quieter than the neighboring commercial marinas, due to a fair number of liveaboards, and it is a bit farther from the outdoor clubs and live music.

We walked from the marina to CoCo Walk Area and had lunch at Johnny Rockets. Ian and Joan needed to have a true American lunch. After lunch we went through the CoCo Walk and Mayfair shopping areas. Walking back to the boat we went through the Convention Center's parking lot and noticed many Star trailers and posted security. This is where the 20th Century Fox's crew has set up for the filming of the "Marley & Me", starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. We didn't see any actors, or anyone involved in the movie production. The only problem we have found in the Miami area is the language barrier. Everyone at the Dinner Marina and. the city workers mainly speak Spanish.

Tonight we walked to Monty's Restaurant for dinner. It was a casual dining place on the water.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Duck Key to Key Largo, Ocean Reef Yacht Club

Left the harbor at Hawk's Key Resort at 9:45 AM heading 60 miles to Ocean Reef Yacht Club, Key Largo.( Winds 10 - 15 knots East with seas 2 - 3 feet. The first key reachable by car, 30 miles long Key Largo - named Cayo Largo ("long key") by the Spanish - is also the longest island in the chain.

Tate (a.k.a. Bird Dog) during the journey to Key Largo.

After lunch we toured the island on foot. Joan and Debbie quickly realized they were the only ones walking the island, except for the Ocean Reef staff. Kevin assured them the golf carts were for residents. We then walked to Fisherman Village and toured the small shops. Everything in the resort is exceptional. Tonight we are having dinner at "The Islander" restaurant, which specializes in fresh fish. This is truly another Florida Paradise.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Little Palm Island Resort to Duck Key, Hawk's Cay Reort

"Island Hopper" pulled out of Little Palm Island at 11:05 AM. The winds were piping again at 20 knots. The run to Duck Key, a middle key is 37 miles. We are staying at Hawk's Cay Resort. (

Hawk's Cay Natural Pool Lagoon

The resort opened in 1959, is a rambling style Caribbean style retreat, with two bedroom villas and spacious rooms. We harbored at the resort's dock. There were brisk winds and an extremely strong current, but Captain Kevin did a great job backing into the slip. The crew as usual, gave exceptional service to the Captain. The crew has been complimented by other yacht captains along the journey, who have commented that they wished they had Captain Kevin's crew. "Island Hopper's" Crew remains loyal to Captain Kevin, even when he is cranky!!!!!!!!

Captain Kevin in full uniform

Recreational facilities at Hawk's Cay Resort are extensive. The Dolphin Connection provides three educational experiences with dolphins, including the in-the-water Dolphin Discovery program, which lets you get up close and personal with the intelligent mammals. Guests get to kiss, touch and feed the dolphins for a 45 minute session. The cost is $120.00 for guests, or $130.00 for nonguests.

A Pelican balancing on a tight boat line.

We ate dinner at the marina restaurant, Tom Harbor, and had a wonderful meal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Key West, FL to Little Palm Island Florida - It doesn't get any better than this!!!!!

"Island Hopper" departed A & B Marina at 9:45 AM heading 39 miles to Little Palm Island . The temperature was in the 70's, sunny, with easterly winds around 15 - 20 knots. It was a choppy ride with the wind directly on our nose, but "Island Hopper" handled it well. We are all looking forward to staying on Palm Island.

Little Palm Island marks each boat slip by the boat's name.

"Island Hopper" at the dock.

Baby Grand Piano Water Feature Debbie receiving a Hot Stone Pedicure - Courtesy of Kevin!!!

Little Palm Island is on Munson Island. This is where they filmed PT 109, the movie about John Kennedy. Little Palm Island Resorts & Spa, is a five acre island located three miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean and 28 miles east of the historic town of Key West. Sitting at the entrance to Newfound Harbor, the fast running tides help to create the unique white sandy beach and deep water dockage. Over 250 Jamaican Tall coconut palms, planted 65 years ago by its first inhabitant, Newton Munson, grace its shoreline profile. Today, you can find over 28 varieties of palm trees on the island. Munson, fearing the effects of summer storms, built his strongest legacy. With only a rowboat he brought out enough cement to build the "Storm House," a shelter with two-foot thick poured concrete walls. In 1986 the Island was bought by a limited partnership and a 1988 Little Palm Island opened as a resort. In 1995, Mr. Patrick Colee purchased the Island and his vision and financial investment made it into the Island that you see today.

Fire Pit on the Beach Key Deer Protected on the Island This is what Little Palm's website says about the magnificent island.(

The Perfect Island Paradise

You wake up to a blissful quiet, broken only by a heron's call and the gentle lap of waves. You snuggle closer. A cloud of soft linen envelops you in a comfortable cocoon. You dream of your trip here last night on The Truman, the 35 foot launch named after one of the island's most famous guests, and glide again through sultry waters to arrive at this remote island full of Jamaican palms and exotic blossoms. And you wonder if you can ever leave. Welcome to Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, the internationally acclaimed private island paradise, listed among the top resorts in the world by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure magazine.

Tucked offshore of Little Torch Key and accessible only by boat or seaplane, the resort is a world unto itself, alive with hidden pleasures. Crushed seashell paths wind through lush gardens to thatched-roof bungalows, which serve as your guest quarters. Extra spacious, each suite and grand suite has romantic touches such as a king-size bed draped in butterfly netting, verandahs with ocean views and, in some rooms, private outdoor showers and jetted tubs. From the lagoon-style pool to the meditative Zen Garden or the cozy Great Room library, a perfect serenity sweeps over you as you wander the island. Oversized hammocks beckon from the trees. Lounge chairs nestled in the sand call from the beach. And at the end of the day, return to your private bungalow for peaceful seclusion to dream again. We welcome children 16 years of age and older.

Tate "chillin" on the boat at Little Palm Island

No dogs are allowed on the island unless they come on a boat. Tate was the only dog on Little Palm Island today.

7:40 PM Sunset over the water

Joan and Ian having dinner waterside.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Key West, FL - Touring the Town

Ian and Joan left the boat at 7:15 AM to take the fast ferry to the Dry Tortugas National Park. The winds were 25 - 30 knots and the ferry ride was predicted to be rough, but most of all the snorkeling and swimming were cancelled due to the muddy water from the extreme winds and waves. They took the word of the ferry staff and returned to "Island Hopper". We walked into town and had lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Restaurant(
Ian and Kevin toured the Key West Art & Historical Society Museum.( We later went to Mallory Square and then on to Kelly's for dinner.

Bagpiper on Mallory Square

Flame juggler on Mallory Square

The restaurant is co-owned by Kelly McGinnis, who starred in Top Gun with Tom Cruise. (

Ian and Joan at Kelly's

Kevin and Debbie at Kelly's

Jeremy, the brewmaster's area at Kelly's.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sightseeing in Key West, Florida

Today "Island Hopper's" Crew toured the town and shopped in Key West. We took the Conch Train, a 90 minute toured train ride to cover many sights.( The tour began on Front Street. The best of Key West is on this tour. The Conch Train is one of Florida's most popular attractions, and for good reason. We saw Hemingway's home, which is now a museum, and many area attractions. After the train ride we shopped until we dropped on Duvall Street.

Conch Train Ride

Custom House Museum
Route 1 runs 2,209 from Key West to Maine
We went to Mallory Square to see the talents and artists' wares. For dinner we went to the wonderful restaurant Cafe Marquesa. Chef Susan Ferry, who trained with Norman Van Aken at his Coral Gables restaurant, works her magic in this 50 seat eatery that adjoins the Marques Hotel. The restaurant is located at 600 Fleming.(

Cafe Marquesa

Ian in front of Ernest Hemingway's house.

Key West Lighthouse

Key West "One Man Band".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Naples, FL to Key West, FL

HAPPY EASTER TO ALL! “Island Hopper” left Naples Sailing and Yacht Club at 7:45 AM to go to Naples Yacht Club for fuel. The fuel dock opened at 8:00 AM. We arrived just prior to 8:00 AM. By 8:30 AM “Island Hopper” headed south towards Key West, FL. Today’s journey is 110 miles and the ETA is 3:00 PM. The temperature started off as a damp and gray 65 degrees, but ended up with a warm blue sky, less humid, and in the mid 70’s. The seas and winds were calm, so this made a great day for traveling the gulf. Captain Ian and Best/First Mate Joan kept “Island Hopper” on the course, while Captain Kevin checked the engine room. Debbie & Tate made sure the crew was attentive to their duties. We arrived at A & B Marina at 2:00 PM. ( This will be our berth for three nights. Key West is situated 150 miles from Miami, FL and 90 miles from Havana, Cuba. This tropical island city has always maintained a strong sense of detachment, even after it was connected to the rest of the United States – by the railroad in 1921 and by the Overseas Highway in 1938. The U.S. government acquired Key West from Spain in 1821 along with the rest of Florida. The Spanish had named the island Cayo Hueso (Bone Key) after the Native American skeletons they found on its shores. In 1823 Uncle Sam sent Commodore David S. Porter to chase pirates away. For three decades, the primary industry in Key West was wrecking – rescuing people and salvaging cargo from ships that floundered on the nearby reefs. According to some reports, when pickings were lean, the wreckers hung out lights to lure ships around. Their business declined after 1849, when the federal government began building lighthouses. Although the rest of the keys are highly outdoor-oriented, Key West has more of a city feel. Few open spaces remain, as promoters continue to churn out restaurants, galleries, shops and museums to interpret the city’s intriguing past. We went to Mallory Square after sunset and had dinner at Grand Cafe.(

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Naples, Florida - Another Day in Paradise

Joan and Ian went into town and shopped on 5th Avenue. After their return to the boat we drove to Karen's home at Pelican Bay. ( We took the tram at Pelican Bay to the North Beach. During the ride to the beach we saw two alligators and a roseate spoonbill.

Roseate Spoonbill at Pelican Bay

We ate lunch at the restaurant on the beach.

After lunch we took the tram back to the car and the girls went shopping at "The Best of Everything". This was a true American experience for Joan. Tonight Karen is joining us at the boat for cocktails and then we are having dinner at Bistro 821 on 5th Avenue in Naples. ( Staying in Naples is truly visiting paradise. Our thanks to Karen for being the perfect hostess and most wonderful tour guide!!!!

Cocktails with Peter Cottontail on "Island Hopper".

Karen, Debbie & Joan at Bistro 821