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Gypsies Palace with Buddy Boat


Wondering what it is like to be full time cruisers?  Gypsies Palace was interviewed by Gulfshore Life Magazine along with our Buddy Boat, One Eye Dog.  This is a copy of the article where you learn what it is like to live on a boat full time and create a community on the water.


Two liveaboard couples leave dry land and create a community on the water.


It’s a particularly hot morning on the Caloosahatchee River, the sun warms the back of my neck despite the clouds threatening an afternoon shower.

Debbie and Steve Russell’s dog Jazzy relaxes on the couch on their boat, “Gypsies Palace” while docked in Fort Myers on May 22, 2020. Jazzy rides with Debbie and Steve while they travel in their boat throughout the year. (Photo by Scott McIntyre for Gulfshore Life Magazine)

The gentle, lulling snores of a sleeping schnauzer, named Jazzy, are audible in the background as he cuddles up against my side. Abby, a one-eyed Maltese, crawls across my lap to get to her owners sitting beside me.

We’re poised around a table at the stern of April and Larry Smith’s home, an Aquila 44 power catamaran lovingly named One Eye Dog, with their boating buddies Steve and Debbie Russell. The Russell’s own Endeavour 500 power cat, dubbed Gypsies Palace, is docked next door.

April and Larry Smith relax on their boat “One Eyed Dog” alongside their one eyed dog Abby (on table) and April and Larry Smith’s dog Jazzy while docked in Fort Myers, FL on Saturday, May 23, 2020. (Photo by Scott McIntyre for Gulfshore Life Magazine)

The four typically cruise from port to port together, and are part of a group of boaters known as Loopers—people who travel the approximately 6,000-mile Great Loop that encompasses waterways throughout the eastern United States and parts of Canada, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and channels that connect the Great Lakes.

When the pandemic hit, the two liveaboard (a term used for people who reside on a boat) couples decided to stay at The Marina at Edison Ford in Fort Myers until docks along the loop started to reopen.

Marina at Edison Ford
Docked at The Marina at Eidson Ford

Southwest Florida’s quiet marinas serve as temporary homes for many boat-dwellers, with some docking at The Marco Island Marina or Goodland’s Safe Harbor Calusa Island once they reach the Gulf. Steve tells me that even beyond the pandemic, Fort Myers is particularly appealing for longer stays, due to its proximity to the city and its plentiful dining and entertainment options, as well as being close to Marco Island, Naples, Sanibel and Captiva.

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