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