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Old 16-11-2011, 08:28   #1
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The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

I know northerlies, but beyond that what is the reality of being at the Dry Tortugas in early winter? What is the reality of crossing?

w
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Old 16-11-2011, 09:24   #2
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Gemini, pick your weather carefully if you're planning a trip to the Dry Tortugas. It is wide open with little protection and can get really rough. If you talk to seasoned Florida cruisers that regularly frequent that area, they all have horror stories. A safer bet is Boca Grande Key which has 360 degree protection in its channel (surrounded by flats that dry at low water) and is spectacular in its beauty. You can use that as your base and visit the Marquesas Keys or the Dry Tortugas in settled weather. The fishing is excellent and with the exception of the flats boats that visit in calm weather, you'll have the whole place to yourself. Good luck and good sailing, Ron
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Old 16-11-2011, 09:33   #3
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I would think getting there would be a breeze:-) , leaving maybe not so much. Could be stuck there a long time.
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Old 16-11-2011, 09:43   #4
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gemini Dreams View Post
I know northerlies, but beyond that what is the reality of being at the Dry Tortugas in early winter? What is the reality of crossing?

w
I'd say all of "rognvald's" points are valid. I like Tortugas and have visited twice, with good conditions each time. A friend on another boat was driven ashore from within the anchorage in rough weather during the month of March (many years ago). In other words, local weather is the key, and it's not easily predicted. I have entered both from the north, and from the southeast, and neither approach was particularly difficult with instruments. The markers and buoys are however sometimes difficult to pick up.
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Old 16-11-2011, 09:44   #5
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

sailed there in beautiful weather, got hit by thun der storms during exit--watched them coming and passing during our tenure-- when we saw one coming right at us we left...was awesome.
much of the weather didnt show on maps--we went and enjoyed it immensely--is awesome place for pace and nature. keep a weather eye out. no internets or cell service there nor provisions nor water nor fuel. but that is part of the beauty--you are on your own.
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Old 16-11-2011, 11:07   #6
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

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Originally Posted by Gemini Dreams View Post
I know northerlies, but beyond that what is the reality of being at the Dry Tortugas in early winter? What is the reality of crossing?

w
There are quite a number of threads on this subject. Use the search function above for "Dry Tortugas" and/or "Ft. Jefferson"
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Old 16-11-2011, 15:05   #7
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
There are quite a number of threads on this subject. Use the search function above for "Dry Tortugas" and/or "Ft. Jefferson"
Well lets see...
search "tortugas december" and you get six posts including mine

this is the only relevant one Fort Myers to Dry Tortugas via Boot Key Harbor and Key West

search "tortugas january" and you get nine posts including mine

This is the only relevant one Fort Myers to Dry Tortugas via Boot Key Harbor and Key West

search "tortugas winter" and you get 14 posts mine included

nothing really relevant found to what I am asking.

Just a point I had already done these three searches before posting my post but did not remember the exact number of threads from each search. And Google is great too. I am sure I would get more responses like I did last year when I was looking to go for the first time. If I used just "tortugas" or " jefferson" but that would give me random info. Could you please post the links to you refer to as quite a number of threads ABOUT THE TORTUGAS IN DECEMBER AND JANUARY? I hate being reprimanded for asking a question that does not have an easily findable answer on this board. Why does so many people feel the need to post "Do a search! you #'n idiot" without reading the question.

SO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL TOPIC, I posted wanting first hand info and experiences for those that have gone in December and January. I would love to hear or be directed to a blog with actual time during this period. I don't care that the weather is nice in May at the moment. I do not have a schedule to keep. I just don't want to sit in Marathon all winter. Are the fronts typically days or weeks? or both? What was the temps? Did you go snorkeling? how was the fishing? Would you do it again? Any other details or information? Issues with crossings?

Thanks.
wes
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Old 16-11-2011, 16:40   #8
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

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Originally Posted by Gemini Dreams View Post
...I hate being reprimanded for asking a question that does not have an easily findable answer on this board. Why does so many people feel the need to post "Do a search! you #'n idiot" without reading the question.
Young man, if you think my suggestion was an admonishment you must have been a very delicate child.

As a practical matter, the subject of visiting the Dry Tortugas has been discussed at some lenght quite a few times and it happens that people with the experience are commoly only willing to repeat themselves so often for a Noob before simply ignoring repeat questions on the same subject.

As for weather, check the pilot charts for the Gulf of Mexico for December and January. What Fred Farkel experienced on his own particular cruise last year, or in years past, is irrelevant to your own plans. A single year or two's experience is not an indicator of the future. The Pilot Charts however are compilations of years and years worth of experience and, from a probability standpoint, are relatively accurate as to "average" conditions.

Leave it be said that, in general, cold fronts sweep across the Gulf every three to five daze during the winter months with accompanying wind-shifts and high winds behind them. And sometimes it blows like stink. In general, the bottom conditions are several feet to a few inches of sand over marle making anchoring in high, shifting, winds tenuous and requiring the right gear for ones own yacht, either a Rockna or Manson Supreme for some or a Fortress for others, remembering that one must always be prepared to move--if at Ft, Jefferson, from the east side of the Fort (commonly "the anchorage") to the west side or back.

For any given period of up to about 7 daze, you can refer to Passage Weather and/or Sail Flow for the area--both based upon the GFS model--and get a pretty good forecast but with decreasing reliability going forward. Great for tomorrow. Next Week? Not so much.

In general, the water around Ft. Jefferson is rather too cold for swiming at that time of year for most absent a fairly decent wet-suit. Some, with anti-freeze in their veins or from the far reaches of the north, might find the temps rather "invigorating" without a suite. In any case, Passage Weather will give you sea surface temperatures.

FWIW...

For more help on Searches, an appeal to GordMay, the Guru od Search, mey be helpfu.
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Old 16-11-2011, 17:12   #9
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Well at least part of that was relevant and helpful. THANK YOU but could you explain 7 daze? od mey Could you lead me by the hand to the posts specific to spending time in the Tortugas during the winter? I have only been on the board for 3 years and 4 months I don't have a high post count since I can read, use the search and don't play well with others.

I am still looking for 1st hand info instead of lecture.

w
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Old 16-11-2011, 17:13   #10
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Young man, if you think my suggestion was an admonishment you must have been a very delicate child.

As a practical matter, the subject of visiting the Dry Tortugas has been discussed at some lenght quite a few times and it happens that people with the experience are commoly only willing to repeat themselves so often for a Noob before simply ignoring repeat questions on the same subject.

As for weather, check the pilot charts for the Gulf of Mexico for December and January. What Fred Farkel experienced on his own particular cruise last year, or in years past, is irrelevant to your own plans. A single year or two's experience is not an indicator of the future. The Pilot Charts however are compilations of years and years worth of experience and, from a probability standpoint, are relatively accurate as to "average" conditions.

Leave it be said that, in general, cold fronts sweep across the Gulf every three to five daze during the winter months with accompanying wind-shifts and high winds behind them. And sometimes it blows like stink. In general, the bottom conditions are several feet to a few inches of sand over marle making anchoring in high, shifting, winds tenuous and requiring the right gear for ones own yacht, either a Rockna or Manson Supreme for some or a Fortress for others, remembering that one must always be prepared to move--if at Ft, Jefferson, from the east side of the Fort (commonly "the anchorage") to the west side or back.

For any given period of up to about 7 daze, you can refer to Passage Weather and/or Sail Flow for the area--both based upon the GFS model--and get a pretty good forecast but with decreasing reliability going forward. Great for tomorrow. Next Week? Not so much.

In general, the water around Ft. Jefferson is rather too cold for swiming at that time of year for most absent a fairly decent wet-suit. Some, with anti-freeze in their veins or from the far reaches of the north, might find the temps rather "invigorating" without a suite. In any case, Passage Weather will give you sea surface temperatures.

FWIW...

For more help on Searches, an appeal to GordMay, the Guru od Search, mey be helpfu.
See...that wasn't so hard now was it?
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Old 18-11-2011, 13:32   #11
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

We're planning to visit the Dry Tortugas before heading to the Bahamas. Hope to see you there.
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Old 18-11-2011, 14:58   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte

Young man, if you think my suggestion was an admonishment you must have been a very delicate child.

As a practical matter, the subject of visiting the Dry Tortugas has been discussed at some lenght quite a few times and it happens that people with the experience are commoly only willing to repeat themselves so often for a Noob before simply ignoring repeat questions on the same subject.

As for weather, check the pilot charts for the Gulf of Mexico for December and January. What Fred Farkel experienced on his own particular cruise last year, or in years past, is irrelevant to your own plans. A single year or two's experience is not an indicator of the future. The Pilot Charts however are compilations of years and years worth of experience and, from a probability standpoint, are relatively accurate as to "average" conditions.

Leave it be said that, in general, cold fronts sweep across the Gulf every three to five daze during the winter months with accompanying wind-shifts and high winds behind them. And sometimes it blows like stink. In general, the bottom conditions are several feet to a few inches of sand over marle making anchoring in high, shifting, winds tenuous and requiring the right gear for ones own yacht, either a Rockna or Manson Supreme for some or a Fortress for others, remembering that one must always be prepared to move--if at Ft, Jefferson, from the east side of the Fort (commonly "the anchorage") to the west side or back.

For any given period of up to about 7 daze, you can refer to Passage Weather and/or Sail Flow for the area--both based upon the GFS model--and get a pretty good forecast but with decreasing reliability going forward. Great for tomorrow. Next Week? Not so much.

In general, the water around Ft. Jefferson is rather too cold for swiming at that time of year for most absent a fairly decent wet-suit. Some, with anti-freeze in their veins or from the far reaches of the north, might find the temps rather "invigorating" without a suite. In any case, Passage Weather will give you sea surface temperatures.

FWIW...

For more help on Searches, an appeal to GordMay, the Guru od Search, mey be helpfu.
Thanks for the info. Not sure I'll make it this winter, but I appreciate you taking the time write such a thoughtful response. It was very helpful.
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Old 18-11-2011, 15:37   #13
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Been there at least 15 times. Best months are April & May, big surprise. Never been there in January, but have been there December & February - be prepared to stay a few extra days while the wind blows. As far as the anchorage, you can find shelter on the south or west side of the fort. Take enough fuel to motor back to KW with 20-25kts on the nose.
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Old 18-11-2011, 15:54   #14
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Gemini, Sorry I didnt give a better answer earlier, We are going to take a sail from N of Tampa to KW over Christmas,, Weather is always a concern,
Here are two great sites that give good historic wind data, That I have found useful. Though still cant help me make the ultimate decision until close to the day of departure and we see the real forecast, as Hylyte indicated earlier.

As Dotdun also said can really suck getting back to KW. Took us 22 hours to make 24 miles with over 20kts on the nose heading east to the NW channel entr.
not fun and burned alot of diesel.
Trip Planner : Weather Underground
I really like this site though great graphics
Windfinder - Wind & weather statistic Key West#
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Old 18-11-2011, 16:05   #15
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Re: The Reality of Dry Tortugas in December - January

Florida & Southern Sailing Information - SOUTHWINDS | Sailing & Cruising - Florida - the South has a monthly magazine that will give you the windroses for the month that it is posted.. you can view back issues.

Generaly speaking weather that time of yr is iffy at best.

NOAA will only tell you that a front is coming thru. It is up to you to understand how weather patterns in florida are at that time of year. Personally I wuld not risk my life or my boat offshore to or from the Tortugas.. especially in such an exposed anchorage. Plenty of other wonderful places to go during that time of yr.
Weather Underground and other places are great places but I have yet to see them mention some of our more famous phenomenoms..such as fronts that come south, hit the straits of florida and go back north as a warm front that smacks into a cold front. It creates some really crappy weather. NOAA does not mention this when they start telling us that a front is coming thru. Its a case of local knowledge. Late December to end of Feb is that kind of weather.. the gulf of mexico is "unsettled" pretty much to early may... there are weather windows that one can use to get from say st pete to key west.. and those last winter were short to say the least.
YMMV
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