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Five things every boater should do this spring

ar131446967360507As the days get longer and warmer and the smell of honeysuckle starts to fill the air, my mind start to drift away to the endless boating opportunities that await me this summer. Every year around this time I find myself planning for the perfect boating season. Let’s face it, even though here in Florida we can boat most of the year, many of us tend to take a break during the winter months. (Mostly due to the fact that we think anything under 75 is not suitable for outdoor activities!)

Now that the temperature is rising and the days are getting longer, there are a few things you need to do to ensure that your perfect boating season starts with all of your oars in the water.

A Scenic Waterway

Screen_Shot_2013-01-10_at_2.52.01_PMThe Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) between Stuart and the Jupiter Lighthouse is a ride of about 25 miles through towering mangroves and past the gorgeous mansions on Jupiter Island. This is the southernmost stretch of the Indian River Lagoon, one of the most biologically diverse waterways in North America. There are great bars and restaurants on either end of the run, including several where you can tie up in Stuart's Manatee Pocket. In Jupiter, make sure you check out the legendary Square Grouper Tiki Bar at Castaway's Marina. ( Article by  Terry Gibson. VisitFloirda.com)

A Scenic Waterway Part 2

peanut-island-shore-sunbathingThe Lake Worth Lagoon runs from North Palm Beach to south of Boynton Beach. Preserves and habitat restoration efforts offer plenty for the nature lover to enjoy. Munyon Island is a great restoration success story that teems with fish, ospreys and manatees. Peanut Island is a great party spot and point of diverse interests just to the south of the Blue Heron Bridge, across from great waterfront dining at the Sailfish Marina. From there, heading south, the ICW will take you between the thriving City of West Palm Beach and the mansions of the Town of Palm Beach. Stop off at the Old Key Lime House in Lantana for drinks and great food. Article by  Terry Gibson. VisitFloirda.com)

Sailfish Appearing on the Reef in Large Numbers

Screen_Shot_2012-11-28_at_8.48.12_AMAccording to Captain Chris Johnson, who is part of the Yamaha National Fishing Team and specializes in gulf/bay, offshore, reef/wreck, tarpon and shark fishing out of the 7 Mile Marina in Marathon, sailfish are appearing on the reef in increasing numbers. Whilst the most exciting event of the year for most people in Marathon will almost certainly be the forthcoming Christmas light boat parade, which promises elaborate light displays and carnival cruises, the city’s many offshore fishermen will no doubt class plucking a sailfish out of the sea and landing it in their boat as their own personal highlight if they are lucky enough to do so.

These impressive specimens can grow up to three metres in length and weight up to ninety kilograms, making them a catch that is well worth having. Their meat is relatively tough and consequently isn’t widely eaten but they are highly valued as game fish, partly due to the challenge that they pose because they often fight vigorously when they are hooked, diving and leaping repeatedly out of the water in a desperate attempt to free themselves and get away. This means that they can take hours to land and provide worthy adversaries for fishermen. Captain Johnson says that these fish are being caught by people live-baiting off the deeper reef edge and advises those seeking to catch them to use pilchards, goggle eyes, ballyhoo or small blue runners as bait.

Hooked on Carrabelle

Year after year, as I travel across the state looking for that perfect boating destination, I often find myself coming back to one small fishing community located in the heart of the Forgotten Coast. Carrabelle, Florida is not your typical tourist destination. Most people I talk to actually have no idea where Carrabelle is located or if they do, they quickly associate it with fishing. So during our last visit we set out to find other adventures -- adventures that could be enjoyed either by the entire family or by a couple just looking to reconnect.


The beauty of Carrabelle is found in its simplicity. There are no red lights (there’s only one in the whole county!), but there are great boat ramps, mom-and-pop restaurants and lodging, plus easy access to Dog Island and St. George Island. You don’t have to look far to feel like you’ve stepped back in time. For this trip, we chose a private beach house on St. George Sound, just a few miles from the center of Carrabelle. Not quite sure what to expect, we were elated to find a beautiful three bedroom home located directly on the beach and surrounded by towering pines. A private deck provided a priceless view of the sunset over St. George Island. This oasis delivered everything we needed to escape from our everyday lives.