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Old 21-12-2013, 07:37   #16
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

Government, waste, common sense. Yeah, right. Don't hold your breath. Such a pity.
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Old 21-12-2013, 08:04   #17
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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"Vessels may only anchor overnight on sandy bottom within one nautical mile of the Garden Key Harbor Light"

http://www.nps.gov/drto/planyourvisi...&PageID=350231
I understand the one nautical mile rule for Garden Key. What is the rule for anchoring in the sand off the pier on Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas?
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Old 21-12-2013, 08:04   #18
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

Bureaucrats. Gotta love em. A Parks Canada officer posted to Long beach on the West Coast of Vancouver Island told me of the time 2 landlocked bureaucrats came to "inspect" the Park. While admiring the huge expanse of clean sandy beaches, they asked how often the beaches were cleaned. With a straight face he told them "oh, twice a day, 7 days a week."
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Old 21-12-2013, 08:33   #19
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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A little rant here, SNIP
My little rant. Holding anywhere in the park is not all that good. The best place I know of is around Bird Key but is completely unprotected from the wind and waves. With East winds I normally anchor off the West side of the fort and as the wind changes direction I move to the lee side as much as possible. South winds are the worst as the channel North of the spit connecting Garden Key and Bush key is completely silted in.

There are a few balls off Loggerhead but you can only day anchor there. I spent several weeks there recently and my biggest shock was how few pleasure boats were there compared to how many commercial fishing boats were there. Talking to the rangers there is clearly some tension because the commercial fishing boats are not subject to the same rules as private boats. The commercial fishing boats do not have to check in and frequently show up at dusk or later and in violation of park rules use very bright lights (you are suppose to only have dim lights so you don't disturb wildlife nesting), keep their gensets running, and keep the pumps in their live wells running late into the night. Same goes before dawn when the commercial fishermen leave with little thought about disturbing others. More than once a commercial fishing boat came up to my boat and asked if I wanted to trade alcohol for fish.

I got the impression the rangers were overworked. They have to deal with the fast boat dumping 50-100 folks in the park every day and the paperwork involved. But perhaps their biggest task is dealing with the Cubans who are trying to sneak into the US. There is an exhibit inside the fort of a couple of boats used by Cubans. Compared to the Cubans the commercial fishermen are environmentally friendly. If my boat had the same head facilities and leaked oil like the Cuban boats I would be fined big time.

I am not trying to dis commercial fisherman or Cubans. What they are doing is related to their livelyhood or because they want a better life. They go to the Dry Tortugas for completely different reasons than cruisers.

I am not sure where the best place for mooring balls would be. The commercial boats are not suppose to anchor in the area to the East of the fort and that may be the obvious place. Problem is if there was an East wind that area would be fairly exposed. Lets keep in mind getting to Fort Jefferson can expose a boat to heavy weather and should not be taken lightly. Maybe part of the reason the park does not seem as user friendly as it might be is because of its isolation and, compared to other areas, small number of visitors on private boats.

All that being said I love the place and will be returning as often as possible.
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Old 21-12-2013, 08:40   #20
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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I understand the one nautical mile rule for Garden Key. What is the rule for anchoring in the sand off the pier on Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas?
There is one ball close to the poorly maintained dock on the East side of Loggerhead. The rangers told me they can use the dock, as well as volunteers. Cubans also have used the dock. Private boats are prohibited from using the dock, or pier as you call it, due to fear of them suing the park. There are other balls on the West side close to Little Africa and the Windjammer wreck, and more balls at other locations. All mooring balls can only be used in daylight and no anchoring is allowed at any time out side the one mile radius. Except by commercial fisherman who seem to be able to anchor anywhere at any time under the theory of safe harbor. Problem is that the commercial fishermen seem to think they can claim safe harbor on a regular basis no matter what the weather conditions are even if they have nothing wrong with their boats.
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Old 21-12-2013, 09:48   #21
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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I understand the one nautical mile rule for Garden Key. What is the rule for anchoring in the sand off the pier on Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas?
In the RNA, there is NO anchoring allowed (per the rules). After the RNA was created they allowed anchoring until the installation of the mooring balls. Now that is supposedly finished, so the rules state no anchoring. Problem is a few of the mooring balls didn't even last a year and were broken.

I've anchored many times in the sand by the dock at Loggerhead prior to the restriction.

The RNA was enacted in 2006/7 and at that time was advertised as a 10-year program. Of course, we all know that once a rule is on the books, it'll stay forever. The full documentation to the RNA is (it'll help you catch-up on your sleep):

http://www.nps.gov/drto/parkmgmt/upl...0%202006-2.pdf

The first 5 year report is:

http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescienc...&pageid=424918

Not surprising, the same people that campaigned for the RNA wrote the report. Of course the effects of the RNA have been positive.

Remember, no commercial fishing was ever allowed in the park, so the RNA is only protecting the area from recreational fishing. Although the fishing in the park is/was excellent (boat limit in 1 hour kind of fishing), IMO, there just wasn't enough recreational fishing going on the make a dent in the fish populations.
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Old 21-12-2013, 10:06   #22
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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There is one ball close to the poorly maintained dock on the East side of Loggerhead. The rangers told me they can use the dock, as well as volunteers. Cubans also have used the dock. Private boats are prohibited from using the dock, or pier as you call it, due to fear of them suing the park. There are other balls on the West side close to Little Africa and the Windjammer wreck, and more balls at other locations. All mooring balls can only be used in daylight and no anchoring is allowed at any time out side the one mile radius. Except by commercial fisherman who seem to be able to anchor anywhere at any time under the theory of safe harbor. Problem is that the commercial fishermen seem to think they can claim safe harbor on a regular basis no matter what the weather conditions are even if they have nothing wrong with their boats.
I've been to DT at least 15 times, I've never seen commercial fisherman anchoring outside the 1 mile from the fort. Bird Key anchorage is the farthest out I've seen them. Multiples rafting up, noisy, and sometimes obnoxious, yes. I've seen them come in late at night and use the only mooring ball in the anchorage that's reserved for NPS boats and then leave at sunrise. And when you do trade cheap beer for fish, you'll get the illegal fish, the ones that are too small. The best deal is to trade with the shrimpers outside the park, I got a 5 gallon bucket of huge shrimp for a cheap 12 pack of beer. The last few years, the deals have been a little less generous.

As far as holding, DT is no different than any where else, the sun is your friend and the brightest color sand is what you want. Grass or off-color sand and you'll be dragging when the wind picks up. There is no 'if the wind picks up' at DT, you can plan on it happening.

I hope to visit there at least 15 more times! In the right weather, it's a fantastic place, it's a Caribbean paradise right here in Florida!
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Old 21-12-2013, 10:17   #23
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
In the RNA, there is NO anchoring allowed (per the rules). After the RNA was created they allowed anchoring until the installation of the mooring balls. Now that is supposedly finished, so the rules state no anchoring. Problem is a few of the mooring balls didn't even last a year and were broken.


SNIP
I was in the Dry Tortugas in August and September till the government shutdown resulted in private boats having to leave, but the commercial fishermen were still able to claim safe harbor.

I used the mooring ball off the East side of Loggerhead and dove it to check the condition. It seemed to be in great shape to me. I walked across Loggerhead and swam out to Little Africa and took a dinky to the Windjammer. The mooring balls seemed in good shape to me. It was much easier to navigate with a dinky from the East side of Loggerhead to the West side than to take a big boat there. For most of the time I was anchored on the West side of the fort (with wind out of the East) and never saw another boat use the mooring ball off Loggerhead. The rangers did go there but used the dock to off load volunteers who were doing some stuff they asked me not to talk about.

Just my two cents. Six weeks was not nearly long enough to explore all there is to see. There were several days when once the fast boat and sea plane left only the rangers and my boat were there. Until the commercial fishermen came in just as the sun was setting. I got the impression the park is greatly underused when the fast boat leaves. The mooring balls in Boot Key Harbor are used a lot more than those in the park and they are constantly maintained. I would guess the park service has some idea about how frequently the balls in the park are used and has determined the demand for them does not justify more balls. But I would love to have a ball to tie up to when I visit the park.
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Old 21-12-2013, 10:20   #24
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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SNIP

There is no 'if the wind picks up' at DT, you can plan on it happening.

SNIP
Thread winning post.
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Old 21-12-2013, 10:24   #25
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

I was waiting on the dock to meet a friend coming out to DT on the fast boat when an employee of google walked off the boat. He was there to take pix for street view. My boat was the only boat anchored, just off the North coal docks when he took the pix for street view. So if you want to see the Blythe Spirit you can check it out on google.

Or you could just go to my facebook page and look at the album

Dry Tortugas
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Old 21-12-2013, 10:35   #26
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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I was in the Dry Tortugas in August and September till the government shutdown resulted in private boats having to leave, but the commercial fishermen were still able to claim safe harbor.

I used the mooring ball off the East side of Loggerhead and dove it to check the condition. It seemed to be in great shape to me. I walked across Loggerhead and swam out to Little Africa and took a dinky to the Windjammer. The mooring balls seemed in good shape to me. It was much easier to navigate with a dinky from the East side of Loggerhead to the West side than to take a big boat there. For most of the time I was anchored on the West side of the fort (with wind out of the East) and never saw another boat use the mooring ball off Loggerhead. The rangers did go there but used the dock to off load volunteers who were doing some stuff they asked me not to talk about.

Just my two cents. Six weeks was not nearly long enough to explore all there is to see. There were several days when once the fast boat and sea plane left only the rangers and my boat were there. Until the commercial fishermen came in just as the sun was setting. I got the impression the park is greatly underused when the fast boat leaves. The mooring balls in Boot Key Harbor are used a lot more than those in the park and they are constantly maintained. I would guess the park service has some idea about how frequently the balls in the park are used and has determined the demand for them does not justify more balls. But I would love to have a ball to tie up to when I visit the park.
I think you were there is the lowest season of the year. I've been there when there are 30 boats all anchored on the south side of the fort. Go out there in April/May, you'll see a difference in numbers of visitors.

BTW, it's only 1.5 hours of motoring @ 6kts from the anchorage around the south end to get to the mooring ball at the Windjammer. It's very worth going over there. Watch for slack tide, the current there can be horrendous. I like to dive that wreck, even though it's shallow, you get a different perspective from on the bottom.

AFAICT, the NPS doesn't have the know-how or equipment to maintain the mooring balls. I was there when the contractor was installing them and I do believe they were put in correctly. The one at the Maze was missing within 6 months of installation. When I reported that to the park office, they didn't even know it was gone. So much for cruising the park perimeter on a daily basis.

The current park superintendent seems to have changed the volunteer program, at least enough to irritate the longtime ones that came back year after year. I became friends enough with one couple that stayed on Loggerhead every year and actually got to go up in the lighthouse. What a beautiful view from up there.
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Old 21-12-2013, 11:22   #27
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

I think at one time I counted about 23 boats anchored in various places. Went there with a buddy boat but he made the mistake of having a calendar on his boat and had to get back by some day called Tuesday. Problem was he got caught in a line squall just before Key West and had to call TowUS. I noticed when there was a good weather window there seemed to be a mass migration out of DT.

There has been a big change in the volunteer program. One of the female volunteers really seemed to bother the campers. When I called up the park service before I left they told me there was a waiting list for volunteers. Once at the park the ranger said I could volunteer on the spot, if I knew how to fix the watermaker on Loggerhead. The volunteers I met on Loggerhead were doing some kinda turtle stuff they wanted me to keep quite about and not post the pix I took.

Not sure if you saw it but when I went to the lighthouse on Loggerhead there were about 30 huge Rolls batteries at the foot of the lighthouse with bulges on the sides. I was afraid to get to close. I normally took my dinky to Loggerhead. Takes a couple of minutes to put stuff in it and 20 minutes to motor there. On the big boat you have to deal with raising the anchor and even worse setting it again when you get back. Currents can get bad at the Windjammer but it is a fun dive. I really liked Little Africa as well. One reason I went when I did was because the diving is often better in the summer when it is calm. Here is a pix of how calm the water was

SUP

One day I took the SUP over to Loggerhead and Little Africa. Had a school of huge barracuda follow me around as I explored the place. Definitely will go back.
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Old 22-12-2013, 13:01   #28
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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A little rant here, Ive been visiting the Dry Tortugas for several decades. Ive seen them spending big money trying to slow the atrophy of the monument to our governments waste. Ie.. the big fort that was never finished or used for anything worthwhile. Meanwhile they exclude us from areas of the park and charge admission supposedly used to police us.Wouldnt the money be much better spent on putting mooring balls in locations all over the park that people want to visit? Ive seen many people dragging into the coral, not to mention the damage done as anchor chains and rodes sweep the bottom clear of plant life and coral. Theyve excluded most of the park to recreational fishing now when on a given day Ive never seen more than a handful of people dropping lines in the water, me being one of them. i just dont get it. Are the officials really that stupid? I should mention my fishing is done while under sail dragging a spoon or two, not sitting in one place trying to catch everything under the boat. Little common sense here would seem to be in order.
Whay the hay!! I have not even got to go there yet? can't FISH?
How far out is the boundry for fishing? Thats my dinner! I gota fish or spear to eat! Whats the penalty? Where in the heck in the world can I just go, live on the water and eat a freaken Fish! GEEZ! I gues I will have to fish at night? They act like it's cocain! Should I GIVE UP my trip?
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Old 22-12-2013, 13:10   #29
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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There is one ball close to the poorly maintained dock on the East side of Loggerhead. The rangers told me they can use the dock, as well as volunteers. Cubans also have used the dock. Private boats are prohibited from using the dock, or pier as you call it, due to fear of them suing the park. There are other balls on the West side close to Little Africa and the Windjammer wreck, and more balls at other locations. All mooring balls can only be used in daylight and no anchoring is allowed at any time out side the one mile radius. Except by commercial fisherman who seem to be able to anchor anywhere at any time under the theory of safe harbor. Problem is that the commercial fishermen seem to think they can claim safe harbor on a regular basis no matter what the weather conditions are even if they have nothing wrong with their boats.
So you have to be 1 mile IN to anchor? Out side the 1 mile rad but for how far? Is there any place towards key west to anchor? Was planning of going BUT MAYBE not after reading about all these freaken problems! I don't care about checking the fort out, just wanted to live and fish some! GEEZ!!
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Old 23-12-2013, 10:20   #30
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Re: The Idiots in Charge of Dry Tortugas

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So you have to be 1 mile IN to anchor? Out side the 1 mile rad but for how far? Is there any place towards key west to anchor? Was planning of going BUT MAYBE not after reading about all these freaken problems! I don't care about checking the fort out, just wanted to live and fish some! GEEZ!!
From Marathon to the Tortugas is about the same distance as Marathon to Bimini. Go to Bimini.
w
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