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Old 11-05-2008, 07:48   #16
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Is its Fun?

We have never been to the Dry Tortugas so I can't answer this question yet but many of our friends have visited and tell us the trek is worth it. I want to visit for curiosity sake and because I like visiting historical sites that I've read about so I can better understand/appreciate what our forbearers endured in their own time. If nothing else it makes one appreciate where we are and what we have today.

On family holiday-cruises we try to do a mix of things--quiet, private anchorages for awhile and then visits to places with museums, theaters, good restaurants, and, for my wife, a spa for at least one "spa day", which she certainly deserves. So, on this cruise we'll be in the middle of things in Key West for awhile and in the middle of nowhere at Ft. Jefferson for awhile.

Finally, still no report on the presence or absence of moorings at Loggerhead Key. Leave it be said that cruiser's inquiries are not high on the list of priorities for the park service!

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte

PS: Happy Mother's Day!
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Old 14-05-2008, 09:35   #17
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We finally received a response to our inquiry regarding moorings at Loggerhead Key:

Quote:
There is one mooring at the windjammer wreck, south of Loggerhead, for
vessels that are snorkeling the wreck. There is only one mooring. I believe
it is being repaired at this time. I don't know what size vessel it is
rated for. Eventually there will be moorings in the area and vessels will
be restricted to the moorings. At this time however, we do not have the
needed moorings so vessels are still allowed to anchor. You are only
allowed to anchor in sand bottom.


Jeremy Ropp
United States Park Ranger- Law Enforcement
Dry Tortugas National Park
(305) 224-4277
Several of our friends/acquaintances have mentioned that the holding at Loggerhead Key is poor so unless the weather is very settled, we will pass. We could take our dinghy but as our Mercury 15hp OB has proven unreliable I don't want to chance a 2 mile trip across open water from the Garden/Bush Key anchorage.

We'll see...

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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Old 01-06-2008, 19:30   #18
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Your trip

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
We are planning a cruise to Garden Key during the first week of June and I was just wondering if anyone has been out there lately. I understand that the channel between Garden Key and Bush Key was completely silted in for awhile but we've heard no reliable news lately tho' several people have suggested that the hurricanes re-opened the channel.

Further, I understand that mooring bouy's have been installed along the west side of Loggerhead Key. I'd appreciate any information on the situation there.

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte

We are sailing to the Dry Tortugas the second week of June from Key West then returning to St. Pete. Any feedback about your trip would be helpful. Thanks George
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Old 16-06-2008, 08:06   #19
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Follow-Up.

We have just returned from our two week jaunt to Key West et al. We departed the Manatee River on June 1 and arrived in Key West on June 4 after stopping first in Venice and then Cabbage Key for one night each. We celebrated my wife's birthday on June 3rd reroute from Boca Grande to Key West by spending the night dodging squalls in 20+ knt headwinds and nasty confused short choppy seas which began the minute after we passed Cape Romano--but fortunately, not before we surprised her with a chocolate birthday cake with a single candle served at sunset. While we did not see them, several other boats from Punta Gorda were making the same passage including one couple in a 30' boat that was reportedly rolled down to her beam-ends, spilling all her stores from the lockers onto the sole. My wife reported that she met the young woman crew in the ladies showers at the Galleon who declared that she'd had her fill of cruising and was going home on the Key West Express (ferry). Fortunately, with our radar, we were able to avoid all but one of the squalls and had no undue excitement.

As it occurred, we did not make it to the Dry Tortugas in our own boat. The winds were very strong during our visit to KW and boats coming in from there reported 25-30 knts in the southeast anchorage and sleepless nights. A couple in a little Cal 28 pulled into a slip near us and basically spent two days at the Galleon Marina sleeping and recovering. Instead, on one day we took the Freedom Express boat out to Garden Key. It leaves at 07:30 and we had a nice breakfast aboard the boat, and later a catered lunch. The trip took about 2-1/2 hours each way, which I largely spent in the wheel-house with the Captain--Randy--discussing the fine points of visiting the Dry Tortugas and recording our track on our GPSMap 76. Basically they sail out on the 2430' parallel until south or Rebecca Shoal and then northwest to R2. Very straight forward and simple with good water all the way. From Randy I learned that if one can get close enough to Bush Key and into shallow water, a 45# CQR would be quite adequate. We also learned that one can anchor on the West side of the Fort for more protection, if necessary, so long as one is clear of the channel but not in the swimming area.

We had a great tour of the Fort given by a very knowledgeable young tour guide and were then left to explore and go snorkeling. The northwest side of the Fort--just outside the moat--is the beat snorkeling and for us included a Manta Ray with a 5+ foot wing-span. (You'll never know how fast a 14 year old can swim until she encounters something like that!) The trip back was uneventful save for 40+ knts over the deck as our 26+ knt speed coupled with the 15+ knt easterlies. Unfortunately, several of the shore-based tourists became quite ill in the chop with one lady hanging over the rail alternately crying and chumming for the entire trip. We felt very badly for her and the others but there was nothing one could do for them.

Next time we will take the yacht out as one could easily spend several daze exploring the Fort and the island. An afternoon isn't enough. I am glad we decided to make the trip, however, as we learned a lot from the crew of our boat who were all filled with a lot of good information and suggestions. We only saw the rangers once, when they came out of their shack--armed to the teeth--to ensure that our skipper wasn't leaving anyone behind. We actually picked up a couple of campers that had had enough of the wind and wanted to get back to Key West early.

Our return to Captiva and then the Manatee and "real life" was fairly uneventful. South of Cape Romano, the wind went flat, so much so that even our spinnaker hung like a dish-rag giving us all of about 2 knts over the ground. Fortunately "Perky" filled in for the wind and got us moving as drifting--while being circled by a very big black-tip shark--was unnerving my better half. We did have one squall with 34-38 knts over the deck just south of Venice but we saw its wind-line coming in advance and double reefed the main in quick-time and so had no undue excitement.

For anyone contemplating a trip to Key West, we recommend the Galleon Marina. It's a little more costly than the alternatives but with floating docks the approach and mooring is easy, the staff are great, and the lavatories, showers, pool and tiny beach are clean and refreshing, making the extra $1 per foot well worth it. Finally, we found that the fuel at A&B Marina was the least costly a $5.05 per gallon (we used about 30 gallons overall on the trip) compared with nearly $7.00 at one of the other fuel docks. Unfortunately, A&B's dock master indicated that he expected another $.40/Gal increase when their next fuel load was delivered. Accordingly, fuel as soon as you arrive--not later.

FWIW--

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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