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Sunday Fun Day: Jim and Patty Kirkland

You’ve heard the expression, “It’s nice to have options,” right? Well, no couple in the go-fast powerboating community knows that better than Jim and Patty Kirkland of Crystal River, Fla., which is about 70 miles north of Tampa. With their 28-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing Optimax 300XS outboard engines as their day boat and an impeccably kept 1993 Cigarette 38 Top Gun with twin 900-hp Chief engines as their destination boat, the husband-and-wife duo have the best of both worlds when they take to the water.

And they take to the water every chance they get—because Jim Kirkland retired five years ago.

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With a 38-foot Cigarette and a 28-foot Skater, Jim and Patty Kirkland don’t lack for go-fast boat options (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“Now I take in and restore derelict boats,” said Kirkland, who spent yesterday in his 28-footer at the Scream And Fly—a popular online boating community dedicated to small outboard-powered cats and monohulls—“Spring Thaw” event on the Suwannee River about an hour’s drive from his home. “For me, any day is a ‘Fun Day’ because I like working on boats. Right now, I’m going home to put 1,150-hp Chief engines in another Cigarette than I have.”

On a typical day trip—and that includes Sundays—Kirkland likes to run the Skater on the St. Johns River. “The St. Johns is fun,” he said. “There’ aren’t any no-wake zones or speed limits, so you can run 100 mph all day.

“We like to do the 50-mile run to Silver Glen Springs, which is a crystal clear spring that feeds into Lake George,” he continued. “On a weekend, there’s usually 200 boats there on this in this ice-cold, clear water.”

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Jim Kirkland: “For me, any day is a ‘Fun Day.’” (Click image to enlarge.)

While the Kirklands will run south from their home to destinations such as Sarasota, Captiva Island and Naples in either of their boats, they’ll also trailer them across the state for adventures in the Keys. Water conditions determine which boat they decide to take.

“Going to Key West in November, there is no way I would run the 28-foot Skater—it’s too rough,” said Kirkland. “But the Cigarette thrives on that. But in the summer when it’s smooth, we can run the Skater from Key Largo to Marathon. We use the Cigarette mainly for traveling, for destination runs.”

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