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Old 04-09-2015, 04:32   #1

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Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

We are headed to the Dry Tortugas next weekend. I checked out the charts in that area and it looks like there is some amazing structure for snorkeling/diving.

Has anyone sailed there? Is it best to find a spot without coral and anchor or should we use the mooring buoys? Any specific places that you've overnighted that are nice? We're going to have some guests aboard that get a bit seasick so a calm anchorage would be nice.

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Old 04-09-2015, 05:32   #2
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

There are lots of rules in the Tortugas.

Half the park is a protected area and no anchoring is allowed. There are 5 or 6 mooring balls installed in the more interesting places that you must use. Mooring balls are limited to 2 hours if someone is waiting.

The fort is in the protected half, but has a 1-mile exclusion zone around it. All overnight anchoring must be in sand within this 1-mile area around the fort. The harbor is pretty well protected, but you don't want to be there for anything "tropical".

There aren't many boats there this time of year. I was just there about a month ago, and never had more than 4 boats in the harbor. Most of the time it was just one other boat. So there probably isn't any need to worry about competition for the anchorage or the mooring balls. There is some traffic that zips over from Key West for day trips in calm weather.

The snorkeling and diving are fantastic. Easily the best in Florida in my opinion.

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Old 04-09-2015, 05:59   #3
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

Best anchoring right I. Front of the fort in the protected harbor. Room for 6 to 8 boats easy. We pulled up till in 6 ft of water on a sandy spots and put out 100 ft of chain backed down hard so the boat was in about 15 ft of water. Held great. There for 4 days it was awesome!!!! You can dinghy In. And have fun

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Old 04-09-2015, 06:43   #4
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

Best anchoring I"ve found is off the SW of the fort, almost directly out from the beach and the western wall. Use your charts but there are some great sandy patches and good holding there. Held through several nights of 35+kts during our last trip while boats drug all over the inside "protected" anchorage.. You drag on the inside and it can get hairy, drag where I'm talking about and you've got miles till Loggerhead Key.

Loggerhead Key and it's surrounding dives are some of the highlights of the Tortugas. Little Africa is an amazing dive site, the Windjammer wreck and the entire area there are beautiful. You can beach the dinghy on the Eastern shore and walk checking out the lighthouse on the way, or bring the dinghy or even the big boat to the other side where there are mooring balls. This time of year you can probably stay as long as you want, however there is supposed to be a time limit on the balls. Don't be shocked to see huge goliath grouper hanging out under your boat, or if you are lucky enough to see the tiger shark that hangs out by the windjammer.

Some other great tips for the Tortugas..

You can get lunch everyday the ferry is there, it's a sandwich buffet with cold drinks. You can also use the freshwater showers to rinse off. During the ferries visit the bathrooms on shore are locked, you can use the air conditioned ones on the ferry as well during this time. Depending on the crew, you can sometimes get them to take trash for you as well. This varies.. If you find yourself needing a part or something critical, talk to the seaplane pilot, they have always been willing to (for a nominal fee) bring parts you need.

Talk with the rangers, ask any questions, they are more then willing to guide you in the right direction. "Tree" is my favorite guy out there, if he's still there. He can answer anything you want to know.

Other then that, have fun!
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Old 04-09-2015, 16:13   #5
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

My advise is turn around and head to the Bahamas or turn south and go to Cuba. More freedom, less regulations, etc. We've been to the Dry Tortuga and I wouldn't go back. Too many rules and the cost is too high for breaking them. The biggest problem is how to know all of their rules? Typical USA Park Non-Service. I think that we as citizens, paying the bills own the USA Parks, but the Park Rangers don't feel that way. They think it's their Kingdom and we are their surfs.
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Old 04-09-2015, 20:03   #6
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

Had a wonderful time in the tortugas. There is a sand hole in front of the fort that's a great place to anchor. I was in a more grassy area but still held in a 40 knot white squall.
Windjammer wreck was better snorkeling than I had in any part of the berries or abacos.
Park service was super helpful, even helping me get in touch with the volunteer docents on loggerhead when I was looking for a lost fin clip. They have nothing to do all day but help you, and are so happy to meet people they want to chat with you.

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Old 04-09-2015, 20:08   #7
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

Serfs perhaps?
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Old 04-09-2015, 20:37   #8
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

It does have its rules, but it's a really great place. You MUST snorkel little Africa and the windjammer. There are also other great spots that are pretty easy to find. The fishing is PHENOMENAL. If you're into spearfishing, the southern boundary of the park is only a couple miles south of the fort. Hint: the fish don't know they're no longer in the protected park there.

It is what you make it. Bring LOTS of water. You can get ice and showers from the ferry.

Tree is still there and is a great source of info.

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Old 05-09-2015, 03:00   #9
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Re: Sailing in the Dry Tortugas

Spent two weeks there in July best snorkeling in Florida. When you arrive you are required to check in with the rangers office. They will give you a 10-15 min run down on the do's and don'ts. It changes year to year, and the rangers are just like most of us, some are better than others.

The best thing about this time of year is the water is wonderful clear, calm and warm. Not much wind unless stormy which means hot.

Don't forget to tarpon fish at sunset in the harbour, great fun to jump in dinghy and fight.

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