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Author Topic:   Key West - Fort Jefferson National Park
KellyHicks posted 02-14-2007 05:47 PM ET (US)   Profile for KellyHicks   Send Email to KellyHicks  
I have made about 10 trips between Key West and Dry Tortugas, and consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject. If anyone is interested in taking their own boat over I will elaborate on the essentials for a happy trip there. I can go anytime yet this year EXCEPT the first couple days of March. (company coming)I stay here 4 months out of the year (until March 15th 2007) and will return again November 2007 for another 4 months.
No particular order here, but essentials start like this:
1-Enough gas to travel a minimum of 250 nautical miles, its 140 roundtrip, and there is a lot of area to explore out there.(not to mention a little in reserve)
2-Watch the will burn a ton more gas if the seas whip up.
3-Be prepared to stay for at least 3 days...1 to get there, 1 to catch a limit of whopper fish, and the 3rd to get your 2nd limit of whoppers and get back home.The Park Rangers respectfully request you adhere to GULF fishing regulations while in the Park and you may only possess 1 days limit of fish while in the Park.
4-Bring LOTS OF ICE, and cover some of it with dry ice to keep it frozen...Winn Dixie gets 99cents a pound for dry ice. It takes a lot of ice to get 80 degree fish cold...way more than u imagine.
5-You can primitive camp at the Fort. It costs 5 bux per person to step foot on the island, and the 5 bux covers you for for 7 days.Camping is $3 per day per person.
more info:
6-There is no mooring bouys for the park harbor make sure you have enough anchor, or you may have a sleepless night.
7-I have a new rollup dingy and a 2hp motor for getting to the park. I have seen people anchor and swim to shore, or you can tie up at the Ferry Dock after the ferrys leave for a 2 hour maximum.(they leave around 2-230 pm)doen't leave much time for Fort Exploration.
8-Water water and more water...unless you like being salty bring extra water to rinse off/shower.(Mine holds 60 gallons, and we have never run out)
9-Most of all be self can't buy anything at the fort except souveniers and such-no food or water.
10-While the ferryboats are there, the forts outhouses are can buy stuff from the ferry boats, ans part of their deal with the fort is to provide bathrooms for visitors while there. This is kinda funny, and I have never done it <grin> but they setup a nice lunch buffet, and if you blend in u can get a nice snack and a couple sodas from the ferryboats. They also have a shower to rinse off with on the boat itself. (I was hot onetime after I used their bathroom, and bought a drink and rinsed off on my way off the boat)I was on a seaplane tour when I did this.
More ferry information here:
11-If you like to snorkel or scuba, I would even skip the fishing to do this. sometimes I carry as many as 12 tanks out there with me. A friend has one of them $3500 Snuba/Hukla deals and that was a blast.
Thats about it...Lets go next winter if you can't make it this winter!
-Kelly Hicks
jjandpop posted 02-20-2007 07:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for jjandpop  Send Email to jjandpop     
The last time I took a 20 foot Seacraft to Ft Jefferson I had the Park ferry a 55 gal drum of gasoline out there for me. I was working at Everglades and had some management responsibilities at Ft Jeff. RHIP

I was out there a few years ago after being out of the Park Service for a very long time. I was in my 47 foot sailboat that had more accommodations aboard then the fort had.

I think taking a small boat out there would be a blast except that your ability to carry fuel and water would be very difficult. I made this trip leaving from Flamingo in the Everglades and that took a little more skill because there was no electronic navigation for small boats.

Your suggested plans for carrying lots of stores should be a major concern for any one with a large or small boat.

If my plans permit, I may try to join you next winter. I have an Outrage 20 and have to consider where to carry fuel and water. It's a challenge!!


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