Blue Turtle Cruising

Day 1 in the Dry Tortugas: Diving, snorkeling and exploring the fort

On our first full day in the Dry Tortugas (Tuesday), we left the anchorage around 7am and headed out for diving. Scott, Brandon and Matt were onboard with us and this was to be their first ocean dive, having just recently completed their dive certification. We were hoping to find a reasonably priced air compressor to bring along to fill the air tanks since we had more divers on board with us this year, but we were unable to acquire one. We ended up borrowing additional tanks (thanks Nick!) giving us a total of 14 air tanks. With 6 divers on board, we each got 2 tanks to use so we split our dives up into half tank dives so we could could get more dives out of our trip.

Our diving crew: Randy, Matt, Brandon, Scott, Corey and me (not pictured)
Our diving crew: Randy, Matt, Brandon, Scott, Corey and me (not pictured)
Corey takes the helm to give Captain Randy a break
Corey takes the helm to give Captain Randy a break
Leaving the fort (and our anchorage) behind to go diving
Leaving the fort (and our anchorage) behind to go diving
The boys getting their gear set up
The boys getting their gear set up

Once we all got our scuba gear setup, we enjoyed the ride out to Texas Rock, our first dive spot. Last year, we didn’t get the opportunity to dive Texas Rock so Randy, Corey and I were excited to check it out. We were blessed again this year with flat calm seas and perfect diving weather. Nothing beats diving in crystal clear water as calm as a lake and having the spot all to yourself with no other boats and divers around!  Texas Rock is one of the deeper dives in the Dry Tortugas (that are marked with mooring buoys) and sits at 55 feet of water. This large coral mound is beautiful with coral heads jutting up from the sandy floor. There were large schools of fish and interesting little swimmers. I spotted one of my favorite fish, a Porcupinefish, which we affectionately call a “Pudgy fish” since it resembles the pug we once had, Pudgy. Randy pointed out a spotted eel hiding in a rock and there were all sorts of colorful tangs, angelfish and parrotfish.

Our next dive was Off Ramp. We dove Off Ramp last year and I love this shallow dive. It is located right near Texas Rock so it makes a great follow up shallow dive after doing Texas Rock. Off Ramp is in about 30 feet of water and because it’s shallow, visibility was great and the colors were vibrant.

Porcupinefish, a.k.a. Pudgy fish
Porcupinefish, a.k.a. Pudgy fish
Beautiful coral head
Beautiful coral head
Brain coral with Christmas Tree Worms
Brain coral with Christmas Tree Worms
Schools of fish and various forms of coral
Schools of fish and various forms of coral
Randy explores the reef
Randy explores the reef

By the time we all completed our second dive it was lunch time and time to head back to the Garden Key anchorage. Once we were rafted up with Sea Crazy, Corey, Matt and Scott took our dinghy out for an afternoon of fishing. Randy and I squeezed onto Corey’s little kayak and paddle to shore to visit Fort Jefferson and snorkel the coal docks. As usual, our evening ended in a wonderful sunset and with Corey blowing the conch horn.

Diving is a gear-intensive sport!
Diving is a gear-intensive sport!
Scotty and Randy at the helm
Scotty and Randy at the helm
Heading back to anchorage after diving
Heading back to anchorage after diving
Corey fishes on the way in
Corey fishes on the way in
Garden Key anchorage
Garden Key anchorage
Fort Jefferson on Garden Key
Fort Jefferson on Garden Key
Pulling up to raft with Sea Crazy
Pulling up to raft with Sea Crazy
Sea Crazy
Sea Crazy
The sooty terns love Sea Crazy!
The sooty terns love Sea Crazy!
A sea plane takes off to Key West
A sea plane takes off to Key West
Sea plane with the lighthouse and Loggerhead Key in the distance
Sea plane with the lighthouse and Loggerhead Key in the distance
Randy and I getting ready to explore the fort
Randy and I getting ready to explore the fort
Johnny, April and Tammy heading back to Sea Crazy after snorkeling
Johnny, April and Tammy heading back to Sea Crazy after snorkeling
Sea plane with our flotilla in the background
Sea plane with our flotilla in the background
Key West to Dry Tortugas sea plane
Key West to Dry Tortugas sea plane
Dinghy'ing around
Dinghy’ing around
View of sea plane from the fort
View of sea plane from the fort
Fort and mote
Fort and mote
View of Loggerhead Key lighthouse from the fort
View of Loggerhead Key lighthouse from the fort
Taking a break and enjoying the breeze on the 2nd level of the fort
Taking a break and enjoying the breeze on the 2nd level of the fort
Our super awesome Blue Turtle Yeti cups, a wedding present from my sis's family
Our super awesome Blue Turtle Yeti cups, a wedding present from my sis’s family
View of the interior of the fort
View of the interior of the fort
Fort interior archways
Fort interior view
Fort interior archways
Fort interior archways
Refugee boat
Refugee boat
View from top of fort
View from top of fort – North coaling docks and Bush Key
The fort's easter wall and mote
The fort’s easter wall and mote
Garden Key lighthouse
Garden Key lighthouse
Bush Key
Bush Key
Docks, dock house and anchorage area
Docks, dock house and anchorage area
Blue Turtle and Sea Crazy rafted up in the anchorage
Blue Turtle and Sea Crazy rafted up in the anchorage
Another view of Bush Key
Another view of Bush Key
Our egret kite kept the sooty terns off our boat
Our egret kite kept the sooty terns off our boat
Winding down after a long day of play
Winding down after a long day of play
Dry Tortugas sunset
Dry Tortugas sunset
Dry Tortugas sunset
Perfect way to end the day!

For those interested in the GPS Coordinates for Dry Tortugas Dive/Snorkel Moorings :

RNAMB1 (Windjammer) N24°37.413 W082°56.548
RNAMB2 (The Maze) N24°36.600 W082°56.914
RNAB3 (Davis Rock) N24°41.209 W082°54.440
RNAB4 (Texas Rock) N24°40.082 W082°53.125
RNAB5 (Off Ramp) N24°40.156 W082°54.506
LMBSE (Loggerhead SE) N24°37.833 W082°55.187
LMBSW (Loggerhead SW) N24°37.8031 W082°55.546

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.