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Old 21-08-2014, 15:08   #16
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

Chris, The holding is not very good in some areas and good in others. There are pockets of good sand, to the SE as you enter the harbor off Ft. Jefferson, and some areas that are just a thin layer of sand over coral. You will have to look around and check your anchor set. I don't like sitting out there in any heavy weather. Sometimes the anchor seems to be well set when it's just hooked in a hole in the coral. Any sudden wind shifts send you dragging across the anchorage. You can dive on the anchor once it's set to check things, and you should. Chuck
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Old 21-08-2014, 15:38   #17
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

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Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
My name is Chris and I'm planning a trip to the DTs from Fort Myers in Feb...what is the holding like once you get out there? It all looks good from Google Earth but if it blows I'd hate to find out at 3am that it's sand over hard-pan.

Thanks,
I've been at DT with 50kts blows when everyone was dragging all over. We stayed put, but it was an interesting evening. As others have said, look for the brightest sand to drop the hook, then snorkel/dive to make sure. Some of the grass on the eastern side of the harbor will let loose in a blow. South of the park mooring ball, from a little east of it to the west by the red marker is best, but watch the depth, it gets shallow real quick south side of the anchorage. I've also had good luck on the west side of the fort, again you must find sand.
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Old 21-08-2014, 16:49   #18
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

I had my Hunter 356 at Fisherman's Village in Punta Gorda last winter and had planned to go to the Dry Tortugas. My son had limited time and schedule and he flew down for the trip. Since we had a schedule the usual happened and we had a three day weather window and wanted four to make the trip to DT and return. This was in mid-February. I use Sailflow for predicting weather and found it. Pretty reliable. We changed our plans, took 3 days, and went to Indian Key and returned. The fourth day would have been in rough weather had we gone to DT. On a schedule, just make sure you have sufficient weather to make the trip and get back whatever time of year. My standards are less than 15 knots and waves less than 2 feet. It will be much worse than that, so whatever the forecast, plan on it being worse and it better, then you are going to be ok. Any month from November until early spring should be ok, just DON'T GO IF WEATHER IS OUT OF LIMITS.

Enter the Dry Tortugas from the north and the channel goes around the west side of Fort Jefferson and swings around to the south and into a semi enclosed area to the east of the Fort. If you can, pick an area with 10 to 15 feet of depth and line up the arch of the outer dock with the entrance to the fort. You will understand what I am talking about once you get there. You can readily see if you are dragging by quickly looking for the two arches to align.

We anchored in similar conditions and spent two days there with an Island Packet 380 with chain and a Delta Anchor. I think the Delta was a 40 or 44 but it was a charter so don't remember exactly. We had east winds sustained around 25 knots the entire time we were there. We didn't drag any and we were anchored in sand. The trick is to have plenty of scope out. Scope is your friend and use 5 to 7 times your depth, including adding about 4 feet from the water to your anchor rode at the deck. Use a piece of nylon rope as a snubber so you take the shock with the nylon, not the chain.

I would highly recommend that you tie your anchor chain with the nylon rope so that pounding in waves while cruising, your anchor will not pull the chain out of the anchor well and your anchor start spooling out while cruising in steep waves. DO THIS BEFORE you leave port and/or your anchorage. The last thing you want is this to happen while heavy weather cruising and you have to go forward to retrieve your anchor. In the shallow water around the keys, you can have a really big problem if your anchor caught while in 10 foot waves and motoring.






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Old 22-08-2014, 05:12   #19
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

Chris Tucker for another sidebar question to the original post, sorry but it's kind of relevant.

Does anyone know of any good sources of weather data via VHF/SSB while out at the DTs? I assume there is no WiFi, correct? I have an SSB receiver and used it very successfully in the Bahamas but that is a much more heavily traveled area/route so I'm hoping to find a source of weather data/forecasting for the DT area broadcast daily via SSB/VHF that I could pick up while at anchor there.

Any insight and/or assistance is appreciated. I will stop molesting this thread now. )

Be well all,
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Old 22-08-2014, 05:14   #20
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

"AnchorageGUY" Thanks so much for the information and insight. I just posted another "side bar" question to this thread and maybe you have some insight into this as well. Do you know of any good weather broadcasts via SSB/VHF that could be picked up while at the DTs? Obviously for that area etc.
I used my SSB receiver and picked up Chris Parker for the Bahamas while down there but not sure about this area of coverage.
Thanks again,
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Old 22-08-2014, 05:47   #21
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

My DT experience is somewhat documented here

pix

I spent over a month going from Boot Key to DT and back and burned less than five gallons of gas. Probably more in the dingy outboard than in the two outboards on my catamaran. As others have noted you may well burn more if you are forced to use the iron genny.

The fast boat arrives every day around 10:00AM. At that point the bathrooms on Garden Key are closed and folks are forced to use the air conditioned bathrooms on the fast boat. The fast boat also has solar fresh water showers that folks can use at will. The fast boat also has an all you can eat lunch (bread, meat, salad, drinks, desert) that costs $US7 when I was there in an air conditioned room. Both of the fast boat captains I met were quite friendly and willing to talk. I picked their minds about the weather and got first hand reports when ever I wanted. The fast boat puts out a couple of trash cans on the dock and the rangers advise folks to put their trash in them daily, something the fast boat guys have no problem with.

The rangers also have wifi and internet access. The radio room at the fast boat dock has (or at least it is suppose to have) a daily weather report posted. If it is not there you can ask the ranger to get it for you. Remember the fast boat dumps a hundred folks on the dock and the rangers have to deal with issuing permits to them so don't expect attention from the rangers during this time.

I had no issues with anchoring, but I did move the boat to stay on the lee side of Garden Key. The fishing boats often arrive at, or just after, dusk and may annoy you with noise and lights. On the upside these boats know the best places to anchor and (even if it is against the rules) may offer to trade fish for whiskey. A couple of times the wind did kick up and the highest wind speed the rangers said they recorded was 47 knots, but I never dragged. I do have good ground tackle.

I was able to pickup CH2 weather in the DT on my VHF. I also monitored CH16 at all other times. At times Cubans arrive and the rangers have to deal with them. A couple of times Loggerhead Key was closed while the rangers were dealing with the Cubans.

Only problem I have with your plans is the time frame. A week means you will spend two days getting to DT and two days getting back, or in the alternative 24+- hours sailing and spend the next day sleeping it off.
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Old 22-08-2014, 05:51   #22
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pirate Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

No WIFI? WTF?
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Old 22-08-2014, 07:36   #23
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
Chris Tucker for another sidebar question to the original post, sorry but it's kind of relevant.

Does anyone know of any good sources of weather data via VHF/SSB while out at the DTs? I assume there is no WiFi, correct? I have an SSB receiver and used it very successfully in the Bahamas but that is a much more heavily traveled area/route so I'm hoping to find a source of weather data/forecasting for the DT area broadcast daily via SSB/VHF that I could pick up while at anchor there.

Any insight and/or assistance is appreciated. I will stop molesting this thread now. )

Be well all,
The daily weather broadcasts over the VHF are available if your antenna is high enough. The rangers at the Fort also usually post the printed text for the forecast on the bulletin board. The same weather you received in the Bahamas over HF is also available on the same frequencies. You can receive both voice, text and weatherfax out of New Orleans over your SSB Voice broadcast times and frequencies can be found here, USCG HF Voice and weatherfax, etc. here, Radiofax Charts - New Orleans . Hope this helps. Chuck
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Old 22-08-2014, 08:10   #24
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

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No WIFI? WTF?

HA HA!!!!!!!
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Old 22-08-2014, 13:49   #25
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

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Originally Posted by chrtucke View Post
My name is Chris, after reading some of the posts about Dry Tortugas sailing you seem to be pretty familiar with the Key West/Dry Tortugas areas. I was hoping to ask you a few quick side questions about anchoring in the DT?

I am planning a trip out in Feb from Fort Myers...two questions.

1. Time of year recommendation? (Feb works well for us)
2. What is the holding like out at the DT?
3. Room in protected waters...is there any real concern about being able to find a place to anchor once out there?

I'm thinking I don't mind sitting out a northerly blow if I've got good holding...from the aerial shots on Google Earth the anchorages look like nice sand but I'd hate to find out it's a hard-pan under a foot of sand while it's blowing 30+.

Any insight along those lines would be appreciated.

Chris
We went at the end of March this year trying to miss the winter storms. There are some sites on noaa that Will let you see past forecasts look at those. The weather was great but the water was cold so used wet suits. We have a spot we like to anchor when you pull in pass the pier legs there is a float saying no anchoring past this line we go up from that to 12 ft and a little to the left put out 7 to 1. There plenty of room. I've seen 41 sail boats in front of the pier. Check your daily weather in the wether shack. I used 5 gal in 4 days dingying around but we went all over including the wind jammer 2x. Go to the light house great snorkeling on the other side. As far as going to Marco I live there so I would pass that and go straight to the keys if your going that way first. night sailing is the best. Remember there are 2 channels into the keys from the gulf sail boats can only go in 1. Stay in the channel.

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Old 30-08-2014, 09:22   #26
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

I suggest that you also need to think carefully about your holding tank too. Once you're full, you must get 9 miles out to macerate. My experience has been 2 gals/person per day. The original tank on my Hunter 35 was 12 gallons, which is not uncommon. If you have 3 people on the boat, which is the minimum safe number in my opinion, that's 2 days capacity, although you might do better than 2 gal/day with some care. Be sure to macerate on you're way into the DT to start your stay there with an empty tank.

The conventional wisdom in PG is that in September, PG --> KW -->DT-->PG is the way to go given prevailing east winds. You do not want to beat or motor 70 miles back to Key west.

Many people overnight in Pelican Bay on Cayo Costa the first night as a shake-down before leaving early the next morning for KW. It then takes about 30 hours for us to get to KW from Pelican/CC, and you want to arrive in good light. So, if you add 4 hours travel from PG to CC you're up to 34 hours, which means leaving at 3AM from PG = NG. And, check the current through Boca Grande pass. If it's running against you it adds to the trip.

If you haven't sailed the SWF gulf before , the waves are different. Very short period. If the NOAA marine forecast is for 4-6 foot waves, we won't go, based on experience. On the Atlantic you roll over an 8-10 footer spread way apart, and hardly feel it. Around here they are at 10 second or less intervals and will either pound you or poop you depending on direction. Be absolutely sure to have harness, tethers, and jacklines - something many charter boats do NOT provide. And keep the bottom hatch boards closed just in case. (Been there didn't do that!)
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Old 30-08-2014, 15:58   #27
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Re: Provisions from Key West to Dry Tortugas

Tomfl has it. The fast boat guys are nice and have sammie's, ice and booze. I bet you could even get them to fill your jerry jugs... For a price.

We bartered with the seaplane pilot one time and he flew us out some supplies same day.

We've also hung out on commercial fishermens boats in the anchorage. Rough and tumble, but super nice and friendly. Most are Cubans on American registered vessels.


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