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Old 19-02-2009, 10:09   #1
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pirate May 1st, trip to Dry Tortugas info

Hello All, . .. I have a trip planned this May, sailing from Bahia Honda State Park to the Tortugas. I am seeking any recent information about the Marquesas Keys, as a stopover before our trek to the Tortugas.
I am looking to possibly enter thru Mooney Harbor Keys. Any information from someone who has been to the interior of these keys would be appreciated. Please note I will be in my F-27 Trimaran, which
has a centerboard at 4'6" down, and can be raised to allow 14" draft.
Thanks, .. ..

MJ Johnson
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Old 19-02-2009, 10:50   #2
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I've always bypassed the Marquesas because of draft (5 foot). My understanding is that the place can be awfully buggy at times.
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Old 19-02-2009, 16:08   #3
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not exactly answering your question, but the Dry Tortugas are so absolutely worth the trip . . . what a great place to go.

We went about 10 years ago, and did stop the night at the Marquesas on the way East to Key West (we had come from Naples to Fort Jefferson). Had no issues with our draft but I don't remember which place we stopped. We draw 5' on our BCC. I do remember bugs.

It is well, well worth the trip to Fort Jefferson. You will not regret it one bit!
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Old 19-02-2009, 17:48   #4
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The wife and I did the Dry Tortugas 2 years ago in May from Big Pine Key. The weather was still a little cool but just starting to get hot.
I sail with about a 4’ draft and sail most of the time just in the north bay of where the Bahia Honda State Park is. Lot of Keys to see back there so do not miss seeing this area. We spend long weekend out there all the time. This is the well marked ICW that will take you out to the Gulf of Mexico, it’s a nice scenic ride.
We took the north side of the Keys down, lot of gunk holes to spend the nights. Went into Key West for the one night for a minor repair than off to the Marquesas in the morning. There is a 4’ to 5’ deep spot to get up close on the south west corner of the Key. Small but nice beach there and at high tide a dingy ride inside was nice. We spent the night then left early to the Tortugas and it was an all day sail. Just south of the fort is the main anchoring area. Warning: The island just to the east is a rookery for tern, millions of then and they will drive you crazy with their squawking 24/7! The Fort is a must see and a walk around the grounds. Garden Island has the big light house, cool to see and nice dingy ride over. Check out the north side of Garden, it has some shallow coral that is beautiful.
Winds are still clocking in May but prevailing winds are mostly out of the southeast which means sail one way motor the other way unless you got time to sit and wait.
Your going to love it!
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Old 19-02-2009, 20:36   #5
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Thanks, David This is some great knowledge for our trip. We plan to arrive Bahia Honda SP May 2 to prepare for 9 day cruise.. . . this will be our base, as we await a weather window to shoot out to the Tortugas, stay a couple days and shoot back to Key West..
for a night, and then back out to explore the keys.. .. the Marquesas keys look good for
a day sail from Key West. Your insight and suggestions help bolster all the research I have been doing in planning this trip. Thank you again, .. MJ
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Old 24-02-2009, 09:18   #6
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MJ--

If you like, with your draft you can actually get into Mooney Harbor at about N24 33.584 W82 07.901 by approching from the south on a heading of about 33* (Mag) between Harbor Key and Gull Key. You'll just have to go slow and keep your eyes open for coral as there are several heads on the south side near Gull Key that uncover at low tide. The sun will be behind you, however, and the water is very clear so you shouldn't have any problem although you may find the anchorage a little buggy around sun set. If you prefer to not go into the interior, there is a good anchorage in 10 feet at about N24 34.013 W82 10.085 on the west side. Note that there is a circle of pilings on the west side so you'll need to kep your eyes open for them.

As for Ft. Jefferson, while the northeast channel has reopened, the Rangers are still suggesting that people go around and approach from the west side. With you draft you should be able to tuck in pretty close to Bird Key on the southeast side of the Fort. If the wind picks up from the east or southeast, you can anchore on the west side of the Fort as long as you are east of the channel markers and outside the bouys marking the swimming area.

In either case, the holding's not great so use a lot of chain and a rock hook if you've got one. A danforth type isn't so good as there's a lot of thin sand over coral so you'll have to look for a good sandy spot if that's what you've got. Be sure to pump you holding tanks while you are at sea before you arrive as you cannot discharge anything within the park limits and the Rangers are very serious about the rules.

Have fun...

s/v HyLyte
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Old 24-02-2009, 14:54   #7
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Ahoy' s/v HyLyte ; This is great encouragement and detail to help in my first trek to the Tortuga's and Marquesas key. Of all the research I have been doing to prepare, all of the sites point out the BUG situation. I am taking precautions with long sleeve shirts, and gallons of spray deterrent. I guess you have to take the bad with the good ! Thanks for the detail of entering Mooney harbor and the approach to Ft. Jefferson, and especailly the anchoring. I have a danforth and am seeking a CQR to
compliment by Tackle. May 1st. can't get here soon enough ! Thanks again,

MJ
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Old 24-02-2009, 17:41   #8
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MJ--

The bugs are only problemsom at sunset and then only if there's not much wind. Take along a couple of Citronella candles. They cast a nice light below deck and they will keep the little buggers out of the accomodation. You'll do fine. Just be sure to carry plenty of water as you can't get it on the island. In re: anchors, for an F-27, I think I'd carry a Quick-Set or a Bruce type (like a Manta) before a CQR but that's just my take on it. In any case, you'll be okay.

Cheers,

s/v HyLyte
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Old 25-02-2009, 11:44   #9
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HyLyte,
I appreciate the advice on the citronella candles... I have added to my list of supplies. Thanks on the anchor suggestion, as well. Hope you have a great day,
and fair winds... Best Regards, MJ
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Old 25-02-2009, 12:09   #10
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no see'ums

About 10 years ago we spent a week in early June on our sailboat in the marina at Bahia Honda State Park. Great beaches, good showers, great fishing, well-protected. We have full screens andused Citronella candles and bug spray, but the no-see'ums still ate us alive. We were covered with bug bites. We are Florida natives and used to all sorts of insects, but these bugs were really aggressive. I noticed that no one was out walking at night. Sunset on top of the bridge is amazing and the bugs were not bad up there in the breeze. We were at the Dry Tortugas last year and really enjoyed it. The snorkeling around the old coal docks is great.

Steve W
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Old 25-02-2009, 15:10   #11
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Steve, I've seen youtube videos of the 'old' Coal Docks, and people snorkeling there. I am looking forward to it.. also the large Grouper that seem to hang there for handouts...! As for those no see'um's .. here in Texas we do have them. I got my first introduction to them in Destin,FL where I purchased my F-27, in 2006... They can be mean and nasty.. I spoke to the lady at the Marina @ Bahia Honda and she told me they have good years and bad years of them.. ! Hopefully they are not too bad in May.. ! Also, they just re-opened the Marina Basin's new two lane boat launch. Thanks for the great insight.

Regards, MJ
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