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Old 07-03-2010, 17:29   #1
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Arrow Naples, FL to Key West / Dry Tortugas - Overnight?

I'm looking to sail a 41 Hunter from Naples FL to Key West and on to Dry Tortugas NP... or should I consider going direct? I hear the prevailing winds are Easterly so I suspect it should be a nice broad reach. If I make a conservative guess at an average of 6kts, I'm looking at 18 hours to do the 110 nautical miles. How big of a factor is the tide in that pocket? I have about 8 days to work with to get back to Naples. Any advise and suggestions welcome! Thanks!
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Old 07-03-2010, 19:29   #2
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I did the passage from Marco Island to Key West in early Feb last year. Wind out of the east 15-20 kts all of the way. Took about 18 hours but had to slow down in the middle of the night so as not to enter the northwest channel before dawn.

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Old 07-03-2010, 22:32   #3
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Only dangers are the crab pots and the under-water jetties at the Key West entrance. Leave around 4:00 pm or so.

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Old 07-03-2010, 22:47   #4
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I think he is asking should he go to Dry Tortugas first, then Key West or Key West, Dry Tortugas and then back to Naples. I would go to Key West first, as the beat from Dry Tortugas to Key West this time of year is not fun. And yeah, what Jedi said- get there during the light if it is your first time.
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Old 07-03-2010, 23:16   #5
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We did the trip with Jedi once, March 2003 and had very light conditions. I had to put a preventer on the boom to keep it out and we only took out 1 crab pot during the night. At Key West it went from a clear sunny day to less than 30' visibility in fog. This fog came up in the couple of minutes we needed to take the sails down and we had to come in on radar.

We didn't visit the Dry Tortuga's so no info on that.

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Old 08-03-2010, 05:22   #6
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You will be amazed at the density of crab pots in FL Bay... we came through a month ago in daylight only and it was a pain in the arse.....
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Old 08-03-2010, 05:58   #7
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I came up on those jetties in broad daylight and damn near hit them. I saw a line of breakers in front of me and a line on the chart before I bothered to read it.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:08   #8
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Just as an afterthought, I found a serrated kitchen bread knife about 10 inches long with a blunt tip really good for cutting crab pot lines under water. The blunt tip lets you carry it inside the sleeve of your wetsuit till you get into position and 10 inches give you a nice long stroke.
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:10   #9
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I have done the trip several times from Venice. I prefer leaving mid afternoon sailing through the night, arriving at the Tortuga's with plenty of light. By going direct you are far enough offshore that crab pots are not an issue. All in all it is a very pleasant trip.
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:27   #10
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I've done Marco Island to Dry Tortugas NP at least 12 times. We leave around 4pm and normally arrive 8am. I don't like arriving at dark even though I've anchored there plenty of times, you just never know how crowded it will be. Leaving at 4pm gets you out past the majority of the crap pots before dark, although we've seen a few of them out as far as 50 miles. If sailing, I put the engines in gear to stop the props from spinning, my thinking is we're less likely to pick up a line. Radar is your friend when tiptoeing through the shrimp boats at night, we've counted as many as 18 lights visible at one time during one passage.

If you do want/need to hit Key West, the wind will usually be on the nose if you run east from DT to KW. We've done that and spent the night in the lee of Marquesas, which makes for a leisurely motor into the wind from DT. Next morning it's ~25 miles into KW, allowing you to get there mid-day and no rush. From a wind perspective, you might think about KW first, then a run to DT, then a close haul home.

From Marco, we normally point to the DT NP "I" marker and run the 52 minute line due south into the park. A jog to the west around 'middle ground' and into the NW channel to the anchorage. The channel around the east side of the fort has been open for a couple of years, I've never used it, but the KW ferry boats used it the last few years.

If you are into snorkeling, be sure to hit 'little africa' on the west side of Loggerhead Key. I normally anchor in front of the LK dock in the big sandy area and either dinghy around LK or dinghy to the near shore and walk across, depends on the wind/waves. It's ~2.5nm over there from the harbor, so it's doable with a dinghy, but the wind is normally to high. The Windjammer wreck is a good one also, just be aware of possible current.

Send me a PM and I'll forward the .kmz file of our route to DT (you can view it with Google Maps/Earth).
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Old 08-03-2010, 18:27   #11
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Wow, great notes! Thanks everybody. I'm skippering for a few folks who haven't spent any time at sea, so I'll see how they like the idea of being underway for 18 hours. But, if it's overnight, they might not mind sleeping though it.

I noticed there weren't any notes on tides. I guess it's not anything to worry about?
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Old 08-03-2010, 18:49   #12
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There is a small usually .75 kt current going south. Tides aren't much of a factor. Were heading the same route, tampa to Kw to pick up a couple in key west then tortugas then back to KW. Leaving tampa on the 13th. Maybe see you somewhere along the way.
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Old 08-03-2010, 19:03   #13
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Nice! Great to know. We'll be a few days behind you. Departing Naples on the 15th. Actually I'll be coming through Tampa on the 13th on my way down. PM me with contact details if interested.

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Originally Posted by forsailbyowner View Post
There is a small usually .75 kt current going south. Tides aren't much of a factor. Were heading the same route, tampa to Kw to pick up a couple in key west then tortugas then back to KW. Leaving tampa on the 13th. Maybe see you somewhere along the way.
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Old 22-08-2014, 05:31   #14
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Re: Naples, FL to Key West / Dry Tortugas - Overnight?

Anyone on this thread know of any good weather resources via SSB/VHF while at the DTs? Obviously that cover that area...I'll be going between Fort Myers and DTs in Feb hopefully.
Thanks,
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Old 22-08-2014, 06:03   #15
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Re: Naples, FL to Key West / Dry Tortugas - Overnight?

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Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Anyone on this thread know of any good weather resources via SSB/VHF while at the DTs? Obviously that cover that area...I'll be going between Fort Myers and DTs in Feb hopefully.
Thanks,
As stated in the other thread, the VHF weather channels can be heard at DT, and of course weather fax over SSB along with your SSB email/gribs. The park does post NOAA marine forecast daily on the dock.
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