Saturday, July 2, 2011

Navigational Items of Interest

Now that we have returned to home port the Captain has had time to review the ship's log for information worth publishing.  The trip was a total of 1398 miles, from Longboat Key near Sarasota to Marsh Harbour, Abaco and return with island hopping in between. Normally the shortest route to the east coast of FL is to cross Lake Okeechobee.  This route shortens the trip by several hundred miles.  East Coast port of entry is Stuart or Palm Beach.  Since this wasn't possible due to low water in the lake because  of  the continuing drought in FL the route took Island Hopper from Sarasota to Fort Lauderdale via Captiva Island, Naples, Marathon, Key Biscayne and then to Fort Lauderdale where the crew waited for a weather window to cross the infamous gulf stream to West End, Grand Bahama about 85 miles.

Due to the gulfstream moving north at about 3 knots (like a river about 35 miles wide) any wind against this current blows up steep seas with waves that are very close together.  Having done this once before in a sailboat many years ago I knew it can be very unpleasant.  We waited only one extra day for  tame sea conditions and it was worth the wait.  The gulfstream was like a mill pond.  After all it is called "pleasure boating" !

From Sarasota to the port of entry in the Bahamas, West End it was 465 miles.  Total engine hours 32.6 for an average of 14.3 MPH.  This leg the crew guests were Ian and Joan from Scotland.  With them Island Hopper toured another 182 miles in the Abacos in 17.2 engine hours or an avg of 10.6 MPH.  Once in the Bahamas the daily runs are short so the cruising speed was about 10 MPH. 

Joan and Ian departed from Marsh Harbour to return via Miami to the UK.  We will be their guests in Sept on their vessel on the French Canals in the Burgundy region. 

The next crew from Cincinnati, Ed and Barb, reported several days later in Marsh Harbour. You will see on the blog the islands visited.  Total miles 87 in 10.9 engine hours for an avg speed of 8 MPH.  Laid back cruising and anchoring.

Again after a few days for maintenance, Aynsley's family arrived, Husband Tom and Granddaughter ELLA who was 27 months old.  Island Hopper stayed in several marinas more than one night so they could scuba dive, swim and tour landside.  Total Miles 57 in 6.7 engine hours for an avg. speed of 8.5 MPH.

They departed Island Hopper from Marsh Harbour for their flight to West Palm Beach after which the crew fueled Island Hopper with only  enough fuel to reach the US at $6.15 per gallon for diesel, ouch, and headed towards West End.

The return trip stops were the same though we elected to stay an additional day at Key Biscayne to enjoy the beach and the parks and also two nights at Naples to visit relatives.  In boating one must enjoy the journey as well as the destination!

Total miles from Marsh Harbour, Abaco to Longboat Key 607 miles.  Total miles 1398. the amazing thing is that we never experienced one mechanical problem or grounding.  Everything worked which is rare for a vessel that is 5 years old with 1400 hours on her engines.  I dreaded the thought of locating a mechanic or other service person in the Bahamas. All of the preparation work paid off with some good luck thrown in.

This trip was a dream of many years, it lived up to its billing.  The company of good friends and relatives made this trip very special with memories for a life time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ed Daniel's Abacos Video

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ed and Barb Daniel traveled for a week in the Abacos on Island Hopper. Here is a video Ed put together of the vacation.  Thanks Ed!!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tween Waters Marina, Captiva, FL to Longboat Key Moorings, Longboat Key, FL - Homeport!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Island Hopper departed Tween Waters at 9:00 AM for a long run to Longboat Key Moorings.  Captain Kevin decided to go on the outside, but after an hour of Seas 2 -3 feet, with close rollers up to four feet and Winds NW 15 - 20, he decided to go on the inside at Boca Grande.  The ICW was moderately choppy with Winds 15 - 20.  The crew saw Tarpon fisherman, since it is now Tarpon. Tarpon season.

Fishing For Tarpon

Numerous Fishing Boats At Sea



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naples Sailing And Yacht Club, Naples Florida to Tween Waters Marina, Captiva, Florida

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Island Hopper Departing Naples Sailing And Yacht Club

The BEautiful Homes Of Port Royal, Naples, Florida

Dolphins Being Fed By Fishermen

Sanibel Lighthouse

Island Hopper departed Naples Sailing and Yacht Club at 9:15 AM heading across the river to American Marina for fuel.  After fueling at 10:00 AM Captain Kevin pointed the bow towards Captiva Island.  Winds were Westerly at 15 knots, Sea 2 - 3 feet.  Skies sunny and weather hot!!!  Kevin decided to seek the shelter of Sanibel Island  for calmer seas by coming up the ICW.  After traveling 50 miles, Island Hopper docked at 2:30 PM at Tween Waters Marina on Captiva Island.  The crew went for a swim in the resort's pool to cool down in the 93 plus temperature. 

Poolside Drinks - Two Pina Coladas With Rum Toppers

Kevin and Debbie ate dinner at Old Captiva House, one of their favorite restaurants in Florida. Another great day on the water.

Naples Sailing And Yacht Club, Naples Florida

Monday, June 13, 2011

Island Hopper stayed at Naples Sailing and Yacht Club for an additional night.  This gave Captain Kevin a day to catch up on some boat maintenance and do some law work.  While Kevin was on Island Hopper he saw Andrew and Ellen Glasglow from Cincinnati cruising on the river.  Small world.  Debbie hit the town with sister-in-law Karen Hopper for lunch and shopping.  It was a great day to shop in Naples, end of the season sales.  Karen prepared a fabulous meal for the crew at her beautiful home in Naples.  It was a fun evening catching up and just enjoying family.  Tomorrow Island Hopper heads to Captiva Island.  One step closer to Tidy Island.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Marathon, Florida to Naples Sailing and Yacht Club, Naples, FL

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Island Hopper left Marathon Marina and Boat Yard a 7:45 AM to get an early start on today’s 115 mile run to Naples. Captain Kevin said it may be less if he can cut some corners. Hopefully, not in low tide areas or too close of corners. Today’s Seas 1 foot, Winds Variable 5 knots, then West 10 in the afternoon.  Another smooth cruise on the Florida Bay. Island Hopper arrived at Naples Sailing and Yacht Club at 3:00 PM. The crew always enjoys being welcomed by Marilyn the Dock master, but it was her day off, so we were greeted by Fernando. Naples Sailing and Yacht Club is one of Kevin and Debbie’s favorite stops. Marilyn is a dear, the club is beautiful and our fabulous sister-in-law Karen Hopper lives in Naples. These are three great reasons to warrant a Naples visit.


Poised between the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades, Naples belies its wild setting and Indian post past with the trappings of wealth – neo- Mediterranean-style mansions, neatly manicured golfing developments, revitalized downtown streets, lined with galleries and one of a kind shops, and a reputation for lively and eclectic dining. Visitors come for its luxury hotels – including two Ritz Cartons- its fabulous white sand beaches, fishing, shopping, theatre and arts, and a lofty reputation for golf. Yet with all of the highfalutin living, Naples still appeals to families, especially with the new water park and the new Children’s Museum of Naples that opened in 2010.

Karen joined Kevin and Debbie aboard Island Hopper for Happy Hour Wine Time. They went to Sea-Salt Restaurant ( ) for dinner and had a fabulous meal. Try the Sea Salt Chocolates.  They are amazing.


Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Key Biscayne, FL to Marathon Marina and Boat Yard, Marathon, FL

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Island Hopper departed Key Biscayne Yacht Club at 8:15 AM, going to the fuel dock to take on some fuel before heading to Marathon. The skies were sunny and the wind an Easterly 5 knots with Seas 1 – 2. Skies were sunny and it was a smooth cruising day. Island Hopper arrived at Marathon Marina and Boatyard at 2:30 PM after traveling 108 miles. The owners have done a beautiful job renovating the marina. A new pool area will be completed next week.


Marathon is a bustling town, at least compared to other communities in the Keys. As it leaves something to be desired in the charm department, Marathon will probably not be the first choice of places to stay. Outside of Key West, Marathon has the most historic attractions, which merit a visit. Fishing, diving, and boating are the main events here. It throws Tarpon tournaments in April and May, more fishing tournaments in June and September, a birding festival in September, and a lighted boat parade around the holidays. ( )


The Seven Mile Bridge is one of the most photographed images in the Keys. Actually measuring slightly less than 7 miles, it connects the Middle and Lower Keys and is believed to be the world’s longest segmental bridge. It has 39 expansion joints separating its various concrete sections. Each April runners gather in Marathon for the annual Seven Mile Bridge Run. The expanse running parallel to Seven Mile Bridge is what remains of the Old Seven Mile Bridge, an engineering and architectural marvel in its day that’s now on the National Register of Historical Places. Once proclaimed the Eighth Wonder of the World, it rested on a record 546 concrete piers. No cars are allowed on the old bridge today, but a 2 mile segment is open for biking, walking, and Rollerblading.

Sunset At Marathon Marina And Boat Yard

Kevin and Debbie ate dinner at Lazy Days, the marina’s restaurant. Kevin ordered Grouper Lazy Days style and Debbie ordered Mahi Mahi with the same preparation. Both meals were fabulous. Just another day in paradise.

Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Key Biscayne, FL

Friday, June 10, 2011

Island Hopper Docked At Key Biscayne Yacht Club

Island Hopper stayed in port at Key Biscayne Yacht Club due to the high winds. The winds were out of the East 15 – 20 gusting to 25 miles per hour. Not a good day to be out on the water.

Key Biscayne and Virginia Key

Once upon a time, these barrier islands were an outpost for fisherman and sailors, pirates and salvagers, soldiers and settlers. The 95 foot Cape Florida Lighthouse stood tall during Seminole Indian battles and hurricanes. Coconut plantations covered two thirds of Key Biscayne, and there were plans as far back as 1800s to develop the picturesque island as a resort for the wealthy. Fortunately, the state and county governments set much of the land aside for parks, and both keys are home to top-ranked beaches and golf, tennis, softball, and picnicking facilities. The long and winding bike paths that run through the islands are favorites for in-line skaters and cyclists. Incorporated in 1991, the Virginia Key remains undeveloped at the moment, making these two playground islands especially family friendly. ( )

Kevin and Debbie rode their bikes to Bill Baggs Park. It was approximately 10 miles round trip. The temperature was in the high 80s and it was hard to find shade. It was and enjoyable bike ride, but hot!!!

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park


Thanks to great beaches, sunsets, and a lighthouse, this park at Key Biscayne’s southern tip is worth the drive. It has boardwalks, 18 picnic shelters, and two cafés that serve light lunches. A stroll or ride along walking and bicycle paths provides wonderful views of Miami’s dramatic skyline. From the southern end of the park you can see a handful of house rising over the bay on ( )

Cape Florida Lighthouse

Cape Florida Lighthouse is South Florida’s oldest structure. The lighthouse was erected in 1845 to replace an earlier one destroyed in an 1836 Seminole attack, in which the keeper’s helper was killed. Plantings around the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage recall the island’s past. The restored lighthouse and cottage offer free tours on Thursdays to Mondays at 10 AM and 1 PM.

After returning to the boat, Kevin cooled down and then decided to head to Crandon Park on his bike. Debbie preferred to stay on Island Hopper.

Crandon Park

The laid back park in northern Key Biscayne is popular with families, and many educated beach enthusiasts the 3-mile beach among the top 10 beaches in North America. The sand is soft, there are no riptides, there’s a great view of the Atlantic, and parking is both inexpensive and plentiful. Because it’s a weekend favorite of locals, you’ll get a good taste of multicultural Miami flavor: salsa and hip-hop, jerk chicken and barbecue ribs. Crandon Gardens at Crandon Park was once the site of a zoo. There are swans, waterfowl, and dozens of huge iguanas running loose. At the north end of the beach is the free Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Center. Here naturalists give tours of sea-grass beds and the many red, black and green mangroves. (

Kevin and Debbie ate dinner at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club and were seated at the table next to other St. Petersburg Yacht Club members. It was nice chatting with the two of them.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lauderdale Yacht Club, Ft. Lauderdale to Key Biscayne Yacht Club, Key Biscayne, Florida

Thursday, June 9, 2012

Don Davis, Owner of Spanish Cay, Ft. Lauderdale Waterfront Home

Island Hopper Departing Lauderdale Yacht Club

Island Hopper Heading Under The Bridge

Downtown Miami
Island Hopper - Home Sweet Home

Island Hopper departed Lauderdale Yacht Club dock at 9:45 AM.  Traveling the intracoastal (ICW) 35 miles, moderate chop and winds East 15 - 20 knots gusting.  MV Island Hopper arrived at Key Biscayne Yacht Club at 1:30.  After the crew completed a few chores they had lunch aboard Island Hopper. Kevin washed the boat to get the sea spray off.  Tonight the crew is going to have dinner at the yacht club.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old Bahama Bay, Grand Bahama to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - The Crossing

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Island Hopper Leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina, Grand Bahama
Sunrise Over The Sea

Debbie and Kevin woke up at 6:00 AM to prepare for the crossing from the Bahamas to Florida in the gulf stream.  Island Hopper departed Old Bahama Bay Marina at 7:00 AM.  Skies were partly cloudy, Seas 3-4 and at times up to 5, with winds East 15 20 knots.  The seas were rough and and confused at times.  Luckily Island Hopper was running with the current.  This was not a day for the auto-pilot. Captain Kevin used the throttle to keep Island Hopper above the waves. At times it felt like a sleigh ride.  The deepest waters were 2,5000 feet.  This was noted on the charts, since the depth meter doesn't register until 750 feet or less.

Captain Kevin At The Helm

Island Hopper's Wake

Seas 3 -4

Confused Seas At Times

Seas 4 -5

Depth Gauge Reading 738.9 Feet

First Mate In Desperate Need Of A Pedicure

First Sighting Of The Florida Shoreline

Island Hopper arrived at Lauderdale Yacht Club at 12:30 PM after traveling 85 miles.  It feels good to be back in the U.S.  Kevin and Debbie had dinner at the Yacht Club.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spanish Cay to Old Bahama Bay Marina, Grand Bahama

Tuesday, June 6, 2011

MV Island Hopper Cruising On The Seas

“Island Hopper” departed Spanish Cay at at 7:50 AM headed to West End, Grand Bahama – the jumping off point to the United States. Winds East 10, Seas 1-2. A very pleasant day on the water. Today’s journey to west end is 97 miles. “Island Hopper” docked at Old Bahama Bay at 12:30 PM.

Smoke From Fires On Grand Bahama

Locals Fishing For Conch

Kevin and Debbie did chores on the boat and then went for a walk around the resort and out on the point.  The wind picked up in the afternoon.  They ate dinner at marina's restaurant. Tomorrow will be an early departure for the crew, so they can get an early start for the crossing. Kevin will be closely monitoring the weather. This has been an experience of a lifetime and a dream of Kevin’s.

The people of the Abacos are gracious, welcoming and warm people.

boat Harbour to Spanish Cay

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aynsley, Tom And Ella Leaving In The Cab

Tom and Aynsley packed and prepared for their departure from “ Island Hopper”. After breakfast and heartfelt good-byes, Tom, Aynsley and Ella got in the taxi heading to the airport in Marsh Harbour. It has been an unforgettable 10 days aboard “Island Hopper” exploring the island and watching the three of them experience new adventures as a family and to watch Ella experience living on a boat and relishing in island life. She is definitely a water child, a little adventurer and a great traveler. Papa and Mimi see many travels in her future; Hopefully With Them!!!!!

After sending off Tom, Aynsley and Ella, “Island Hopper” departed Marsh Harbour, Boat Harbour at 10:00AM heading to Spanish Cay. Winds were NE 5 -10, Seas a light chop and a 45 mile cruise to the destination for the day.

Spanish Cay is a 3 mile long private island. ( ) This island is very safe and a great and beautiful place for adult and kids alike. There are three beautiful beaches to relax and play. This tropical paradise is 186 acres in size and has more than 7 ½ miles of water frontage. On Spanish Cay you will find Coconut Palm trees, Royal Poinciannas, Frangipani, wild orchids, Bouganvilla and Hibiscus There are several rare albino white owls nesting on the island and are often seen at dusk. There are also Ring Necked Pheasants, Dove, Quail, several species of Hummingbirds and thousands of hermit crabs. Great shelling is found on the five beaches that rake daily to keep it clear of sea weeds. The 3rd largest barrier reef is located a quarter mile SE of the island. There is a sunken airplane in about 15 feet of water on the north end of the island by the airport.

One Of The Five Beautiful Beaches On Spanish Cay

Spanish Cays Airport is a 5,000 foot paved runway with Customs and Immigration service available 7 days a week. The airport is private and available to the island’s homeowners, marina guests and hotel guests. Many quests leave their boats at the marina and use the island’s charter service or their own planes to fly back to the United States.

The Wrecker’s Raw Bar is open May – July and is a short walk to the marina. The bar is built directly over the water. The view of the ocean and the sunset is just astounding.

Wrecker's Raw Bar

The island has two tennis courts for the guest’s enjoyment. Golf carts are available for rental. The Bar and Game Room has pool tables, shuffleboard, ping-pong and darts. Karaoke is run selected nights of the week with a selection of over 28,000 songs. (Did you read this Tom??? Karaoke Heaven!!!

The island has 9 generators that supply power to the entire island, including the marina. All of the water is from Reverse Osmosis; they make over 26,000 gallons per day and store over 150,000 gallons in tanks. The marina asks that guests be mindful of power during the hours of 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, since this is when the most power is used.

Island Hopper arrived at the dock around 2:30 PM. After getting the boat tied up and ready to hook up the electricity, the dock master, Merrel, informed the crew he had put “Island Hopper” in the wrong slip. The slip he put Island Hopper in was reserved. With approximately 70 open slips Kevin and Debbie had a few questions for Merrel. After his apologies “Island Hopper” was moved one slip over. Go figure! After checking in at the office, the owner told Kevin and Debbie the first round of drinks were on him. Kevin and Debbie walked the entire island to see the sights and get some exercise. It is small and very private. There are only 5 private homes on the entire island. Don Davis bought Treasure Cay 13 years ago from the owner at the time, for the Dallas Cowboys. Don is quite the entrepreneur. He is from Dallas, Texas, but has his main residence in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He owns the yacht MV Status Quo that is on Yacht World for 27.9 million dollars. The boat was not completed by the time of the scheduled delivery, so he bought the shipyard. He renamed the company Richmond Yachts, for the city it resides in Canada. Mr. Davis also owns numerous restaurants throughout the US. He was very interesting to talk with and is quite the character. You can find him singing karaoke in the bar.

In the slip nest to “Island Hopper” ( The Reserved One) were a boat with three sport fishermen. They caught some fish and chopped it up to entice the sharks to feed. Kevin and Debbie saw a 6 foot lemon shark take the fish from the fisherman’s hand near the water. The shark swam right up and put his head out of the water to grab the fish. There were other smaller lemon sharks in the area also. A huge ray swam under the sharks to catch and eat the scraps. It was quite the sight to see.

Spanish Cay Marina

A Beautiful Sunset Over The Spanish Cay Marina

Kevin and Debbie ate dinner at the Point House Restaurant and Bar. Conch Chowder for Debbie and SHE Crab soup for Kevin. Both were delicious. For entrées both Kevin and Debbie had The Spanish Key Grouper. While Kevin and Debbie were eating dinner, the owner’s dog Molly sat by their table and eyed every bite.

 The Owner's Dog Molly Dining With Us

Finally, the waitress took her into the kitchen to be fed. One word to describe the meal, Outstanding!!!!!! But that was not enough, they were easily enticed by Don’s brother-in-law into ordering a piece of banana bread pudding. Again, a dessert to be remembered for a long time.

Small Island, Big Personalities And An Evening To Remember!!!

Abaco Beach Resort, Boat Harbour

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The crew rented a center console to explore the Lubbers Cay. The rental boat was a 23 foot Concept. The crew prepared for the day and boarded the boat. It was a quick 7 mile trip to Lubbers Cay for lunch at Cracker P’s. Captain Tom and First Mate Kevin got the crew to the lunch destination safely. Fresh fish dip for an appetizer to share and the casual meals of snapper, conch and chicken. After making purchases of T-shirts, koozies and Cracker P’s hot sauce, it was back to the boat for a cruise to Tahiti Beach.

Heading to Lubbers

Cracker P's

Cracker P's Menu

Tom Trying the Cracker P's Hot Sauce

Aynsley's Conch Platter   Yummm!

Cracker P's Bar

Menu Board At Cracker P's

Cracker P's Dock Sign


This small beach at the southern tip of Elbow Cay is a popular boater’s stop. The soft white sand is well protected from the close ocean cut by thick vegetation, a few barrier cays, and shallow water. This shallow area is popular for shelling, and of course simply relaxing and watching the tide rise. At low tide, the true beauty of this beach is revealed when a long sand split emerges, perfect for picnics. It’s great for young children, as the water on one side of the spit is ankle deep, stays calm, and remains warm. During peak season the beach can become a bit crowded.

Captain Tom and First Mate Kevin anchored the boat in a small cove at Tahiti Bay. The water was about 4 ½ feet by the boat and of course, became more shallow closer to shore. The crew walked along the beach in awe of its beauty. Ella wasn’t enjoying the walking in the sand, but she enjoyed being carried through the water. Such a relaxing way to take in the beauty of the Abacos. While walking on the beach, a local approached Debbie and kindly told her that the Island Hopper’s crew had anchored in an area infested with jelly fish. Well, after quick negations, Debbie, Aynsley and Ella said they would be picked up at the dock instead of swimming back to the boat. All for the safety of Ella!   Kevin and Tom, “Island Hopper’s Heroes” walked safely in the water back to the center console. No stings from jelly fish.

Kevin And Tom In Jelly Fish Territory

Debbie and Aynsley saw a couple of jelly fish that had washed up on the beach. Everyone was aboard the boat and headed back to Abaco Beach Resort, Boat Harbour. It was such a fun day renting the boat and exploring Tahiti Beach on foot. Ella loved it and laughed the entire time the boat was cruising fast. She is such a little sport. After returning to Boat Harbour, Debbie and Aynsley took Ella to the pool, while Kevin and Tom returned the boat.

Aynsley And Ella On The Boat leaving Tahiti Beach

Tonight the crew had a fabulous meal at Angler’s, the restaurant at Abaco Beach Resort. Theresa the server is so sweet and the crew enjoying talking with her about the island. Sunday night just happened to have music. Debbie & Aynsley passed a note to the musician saying, “Tom would like to sing Suspicious Eyes by Elvis Presley. Well, Tom was called to join him at the microphone. Tom did a great rendition, while Aynsley, Debbie and Ella danced. It was another fun night.

Debbie (Mimi) And Ella

Family Photo

Debbie, Kevin And Ella

Ella And Bitty Baby

Ella Dancing At Dinner

The it was back to the boat for Ella to jump in bed with Papa and Mimi. This has become her nightly ritual. She tells Aynsley, “Bye, Bye and to shut the door”. Kevin and Debbie have had an experience of a lifetime. Waking up and seeing Ella in the morning and snuggling with her nightly before she is taken to her bunk. PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!