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Old 15-02-2012, 08:10   #16
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by DoiNomazi View Post
I see... The only available time would be the end of December.

Thank you.

I'm sure you've planned well, and I'm sure you're experienced, but IMO your plan is significantly reckless at that time of year.
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Old 15-02-2012, 08:13   #17
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

Obviously the key point in making the trip is finding a weather window that will give you calm winds and seas for the crossing. However the weather windows in December can be quite short and unpredictable. You could have a great trip from Key West to the Tortugas but have a front come in behind you and be stuck there.

I once spent 10 days in the Tortugas in a 33' well found sailboat waiting for the winds to die down enough to make the trip back to Key West.

Since there is no food or water available in the Tortugas what will you do if you get stuck?
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Old 15-02-2012, 09:22   #18
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

I've crossed the gulf many times, smallest vessel being 26 ft., but I don't have the knowledge for your particular route to the DT. Do you have gulf experience? It behaves very differently because of the gulf stream and loop currents. When it kicks up there really is no good heading, kinda like a washing machine, steep confused seas.

BUT it does seem like an easy trip..
I'd check out the pilot charts, I tried to pull it up for you but couldn't find it on the Internet ( Gord?) and keep getting local knowledge.
A sea anchor may be a good idea ?? In case you do get caught in a northern, but the stream may still get you.
Having said all that, i think small vessels can be safe, even safer than larger vessels. Their seamanship qualities lay in the simplicity of the design. My 2cents
If ya do it, be safe and have fun
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:08   #19
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
I'm sure you've planned well, and I'm sure you're experienced, but IMO your plan is significantly reckless at that time of year.
First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to answer. I value each opinion and piece of info I receive.

Unfortunately, the end of December is the only time I'll be able to break away from work and the daily routine...

I am still in the planning stage. Ironically, it is perhaps the very little of open water sailing experience that fuels this dream. It is an art to strike a healthy balance between knowledge and experience on one hand and the naive exuberance combined with a thirst for adventure on the other.

Of course, one always considers the worst case scenario when planing, but when I think too much about an out of the ordinary endeavor where I do have a lot of expertise I end up giving up to the increasing pressure caused by caution. Sometimes, not too often, although fully aware that the unexpected may happen and ruin everything, I just need to take a chance and step forward. This might be one of those instances.

I will continue to gather opinions and facts. Thank you once again.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:11   #20
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Obviously the key point in making the trip is finding a weather window that will give you calm winds and seas for the crossing. However the weather windows in December can be quite short and unpredictable. You could have a great trip from Key West to the Tortugas but have a front come in behind you and be stuck there.

I once spent 10 days in the Tortugas in a 33' well found sailboat waiting for the winds to die down enough to make the trip back to Key West.

Since there is no food or water available in the Tortugas what will you do if you get stuck?
I usually pack water and food for 10-12 days. During the last sailing trip we had 60 litres of fresh water, 5 litres of beer, 4 litres of energizer and 1 litre of wine.. Not bad for a folding kayak.

A manual desalinization pump is also part of the gear.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:14   #21
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by Ocean Girl View Post
I've crossed the gulf many times, smallest vessel being 26 ft., but I don't have the knowledge for your particular route to the DT. Do you have gulf experience? It behaves very differently because of the gulf stream and loop currents. When it kicks up there really is no good heading, kinda like a washing machine, steep confused seas.

BUT it does seem like an easy trip..
I'd check out the pilot charts, I tried to pull it up for you but couldn't find it on the Internet ( Gord?) and keep getting local knowledge.
A sea anchor may be a good idea ?? In case you do get caught in a northern, but the stream may still get you.
Having said all that, i think small vessels can be safe, even safer than larger vessels. Their seamanship qualities lay in the simplicity of the design. My 2cents
If ya do it, be safe and have fun
Mrs. Rain Dog
Thank you.

yes, we do have a fluke (sea) anchor. I will try to learn as much as possible about the currents in December.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:22   #22
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by DoiNomazi View Post
Thank you.

yes, we do have a fluke (sea) anchor. I will try to learn as much as possible about the currents in December.
A sea anchor is a parachute device used to arrest movement in deep water. I would think your fluke anchor won't do you much good in water deeper than say 10 feet.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:37   #23
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

As others have mentioned water is likely to be your limiting factor at the DTs (one reason many of us cruisers have water makers aboard). I would seriously consider at least bringing along a means of catching rain water if not a hand-held desalination unit or solar still.

If the weather turns nasty on you then you maybe able to work out return transport on one of the tourist cats that runs to the DTs. I've had guests hop rides back to KW with them before.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:42   #24
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

DN.. I can attest to what others said about being caught in the tortugas... I was there for 2 weeks once on a 28' powerboat! I survived by trading cheap beer to the grouper and lobster boats, then trading the fresh fish to the big yachties (a 70+ footer was stuck there with us if that gives you any idea of the conditions) for diesel, fresh water, steak and booze, which I then traded further with the fishermen.... short story long, we came through it with full tanks, and bellies!..... BUT we were there for 14 days!
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:50   #25
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
A sea anchor is a parachute device used to arrest movement in deep water. I would think your fluke anchor won't do you much good in water deeper than say 10 feet.
Indeed, deeper than 20 feet our anchor will be a rather large fishing hook..


We'll buy a sock.


Thank you.
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Old 15-02-2012, 10:59   #26
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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...trading cheap beer to the grouper and lobster boats, then trading the fresh fish to the big yachties (a 70+ footer was stuck there with us if that gives you any idea of the conditions) for diesel, fresh water, steak and booze, which I then traded further with the fishermen....
Something I learned about trading in the DT's years ago (works in other venues too): Go below decks and send your attractive female SO over to negotiate....if she can't row very well that seems to help...mine came back with a dinghy full of lobster and fish. Humorously, an older male friend on an adjacent yacht saw this exchange and decided to row over and partake in the bounty...the fishermen waved him off before he even got close (apparently he did not fully appreciate the "dynamics" of the situation)...out of sympathy we invited him over for a seafood feast that night.

Last time I was in the DTs (2005) the ranger's were discouraging trading with the fishermen. Not sure of the status now.

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Old 15-02-2012, 11:03   #27
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
As others have mentioned water is likely to be your limiting factor at the DTs (one reason many of us cruisers have water makers aboard). I would seriously consider at least bringing along a means of catching rain water if not a hand-held desalination unit or solar still.

If the weather turns nasty on you then you maybe able to work out return transport on one of the tourist cats that runs to the DTs. I've had guests hop rides back to KW with them before.
we are bringing a manual desalination pump.

it is a folding boat so we can take it apart and beg for a ride. I hope we won't have to..
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Old 15-02-2012, 11:03   #28
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

Another thought: As mentioned, conditions can get a bit ugly in the open water before you reach the Tortugas. And, you may encounter some commercial traffic/fishing vessels along this route. Be sure you're prepared for this -- especially if you get caught out at night -- have an effective means of signaling them aboard (very bright flashlight, hand-held VHF, flares...).
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Old 15-02-2012, 11:04   #29
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

They still "try" to discourage it, but as no cash changes hands they are powerless to regulate it, and can do nothing more than bluster.

ETA: it's not the rangers per se, but rather the FWC officers, as it is technically "illegal" to posess seafood I sided the park
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Old 15-02-2012, 11:05   #30
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Re: Small Craft Sailing to Dry Tortugas in December

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DN.. I can attest to what others said about being caught in the tortugas... I was there for 2 weeks once on a 28' powerboat! I survived by trading cheap beer to the grouper and lobster boats, then trading the fresh fish to the big yachties (a 70+ footer was stuck there with us if that gives you any idea of the conditions) for diesel, fresh water, steak and booze, which I then traded further with the fishermen.... short story long, we came through it with full tanks, and bellies!..... BUT we were there for 14 days!
if i get stuck for 14 days in the DT I may lose my day job, so I might just stay there for good..
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