Blue Turtle Cruising

Day 3 in the Dry Tortugas: Diving, dinghy rides and running out of water

So on our third day (Thursday) in the Dry Tortugas, the plan was to get up early and head out for a morning of diving. When Randy went to brush his teeth and turned on the faucet there was no water. He checked the bilge (which was previously dry) and realized that it was full of water.  The night before Randy crawled down in the lazarette to check our water storage and we still had half a tank (100 gallons) left.  It turns out that a hose clamp on the hot water heater had been loose and all of the water leaked out into the bilge. We were completely out of water. That didn’t stop us from heading out to go diving though. Thankfully, we had another boat with us and Sea Crazy still had about 100 gallons left and we were all able to take showers that evening. We were also leaving for Key West the next morning and knew we could fill up our tanks once we landed at the marina. Still, not having water for a full day did present its challenges. When we went diving, the six of us weren’t able to take quick fresh showers after getting out of the water to rinse the saltwater off. We’ve been spoiled to be able to do that before but now we all had to remain salty all day long. Brushing teeth and washing hands had to be done with bottled water (thankfully, we had over provisioned on the bottled water) and doing dishes had to wait until we made it to Key West the next day. Thankfully, our heads are plumbed with saltwater not freshwater and we were able to flush them. Running out of water in the Dry Tortugas is not fun and we were lucky to be traveling with another boat with extra fresh water. If we were by ourselves, we probably would have had to head to Key West that morning and missed out on 2 awesome dives.

Our first dive spot was Davis Rock. We dove this spot last year and loved it. Its mooring buoy is located near Off Ramp and Texas Rock, the 2 dive sites we dove on the first day. Davis Rock sits in about 20-45 feet of water and is full of sea life. We spotted a goliath grouper, sea turtle and tons of other reef fish. Other divers on our boat spotted a nurse shark. For our second dive, we decided to do Off Ramp again. I reallt love the shallower dives for video and photo taking since the colors are more vibrant. Both dives were awesome and visibility was great due to the flat calm water.

  • RNAMB3/Davis Rock: N24° 41.208 W82° 54.450
  • RNAB5/Off Ramp: N24°40.166 W082°54.510
diving dry tortugas
Randy checks out the reef

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

diving dry tortugas

After our 2 dives, we headed back to the anchorage to raft up with Sea Crazy. A few of us went to shore to snorkel or explore the fort and Randy, Corey and I decided to take a dinghy ride over to Loggerhead Key. While we snorkeled all around Loggerhead Key the previous day, I wanted to visit the island by dinghy so I could take some photos of the lighthouse and broken building with my good camera (not the GoPro). So, we set off in the dinghy to explore the island a bit. It was flat calm and hot and we walked around the main areas on the island so I could shoot some photos then we headed back in.

The boys on our dinghy ride
The boys on our dinghy ride
Lighthouse Dry Tortugas
Lighthouse and Loggerhead Key
Lighthouse Dry Tortugas
Lighthouse and dock … check out that water!
loggerhead key dry tortugas
Randy and Corey check out the dock and fish
tarpon dry tortugas
Large tarpon hang out by the dock
lighthouse dry tortugas
Entry to view lighthouse
lighthouse dry tortugas
Seaman Apprentice William Graves memorial
lighthouse dry tortugas
The lighthouse is surrounded by tall palm trees

lighthouse dry tortugas

lighthouse dry tortugas
Caretakers quarters
loggerhead key dry tortugas
Front side of broken building
loggerhead key dry tortugas
Broken building on Loggerhead Key

loggerhead key dry tortugas

loggerhead key dry tortugas
Exploring the west side beach where we snorkeled the previous day

lighthouse dry tortugas

loggerhead key dry tortugas
Area closed: broken building
Vegitation varies on Loggerhead Key
Vegitation varies on Loggerhead Key
Fort Jefferson and Garden Key view from Loggerhead Key
Fort Jefferson and Garden Key view from Loggerhead Key
lighthouse dry tortugas
Where do we put our dinghys?
lighthouse dry tortugas
My two dinghys

After leaving Loggerhead Key, we stopped at Garden Key to find the others and to walk around the fort for a bit before heading back to the flotilla. Once back at the boat, Randy decided to clean the bottom of Blue Turtle in preparation for the next day’s journey. Corey and Matt decided they wanted to jump off the top of Grandpa’s boat and I decided that they needed to be supervised. I grabbed life jacket to float on and a beer and got in the water to cool off and watch them. After about an hour or so of jumping and swimming, we received a visit from a park ranger who kindly informed us that we couldn’t jump or swim in the anchorage. This was the first I’d ever heard of this rule and we’d floated (and seen others float) in the water many times to cool off. The ranger was super nice about and explained that should an accident occur, there was no immediate medical help nearby. I can totally understand the jumping off the boat could be dangerous and I’m sure that’s what caught their attention. After a while, Randy surfaced and the others returned from their excursion and it was time for dinner and getting the boats ready to depart early the next day. Once again, Corey blew the conch horn as we watched another amazing sunset on our last evening in the Dry Tortugas.

fort jefferson dry tortugas
The boys and I hiked around the fort
fort jefferson dry tortugas
Exterior wall of the fort
fort jefferson dry tortugas
Back at the flotilla
Jumping off boat
Corey takes a leap off Grandpa’s boat
Jumping off boat
Canonball! Matt makes a big splash
fort jefferson dry tortugas
View from our anchorage
Sea Crazy's osprey kite doesn't seem to keep the sooty terns off the bow
Sea Crazy’s osprey kite doesn’t seem to keep the sooty terns off the bow
A properly installed osprey kite works like a charm!
A properly installed osprey kite works like a charm!
Hanging out for sunset
Hanging out for sunset
sunset dry tortugas
Beautiful sunset!
Corey blows the conch for sunset
Corey blows the conch for sunset

IMG_0795

A larger yacht leaves right at sunset
A larger yacht leaves right at sunset

3 thoughts on “Day 3 in the Dry Tortugas: Diving, dinghy rides and running out of water”

  1. Just a note for future trips, you can pay the concessionaire on the tourist catamaran a daily fee, I believe it is $7.00 or $8.00 per day per person, which gives you access to the boat for the lunch buffet, and fresh water showers! That will help stretch your groceries, as well as the water supply in your boat. The service is available to registered campers on the island, and boaters moored out, as long as you register with the Park Service. They will also allow you to take left overs from the buffet after everyone has finished eating (does not include bottled water, or un-opened sodas!) My wife and I are currently without a cruiser, our last boat was a Grand Banks 36 in Hawaii, but we are looking at getting back into it in a few years, possibly with a Grand Banks 42, or a Marine Trader 44. . . . . We’ve been looking on and off, but as you know that is dangerous! Currently making a living as metal sculptures , but slowly downsizing and traveling more in a land yacht!

    Reply
    • Thanks Scot and Laura. These days, when the Ferry is moored at Garden Key they actually close the compost toilets in the campground and make everyone use the bathrooms and showers on the Ferry. If you are just looking to shower, you can get on free while the ferry is there, however, not sure about the food as I’m sure there is a fee. The problem for us was that the ferry leaves at 2:30-3:00 and with it being so hot, we were in the water until past 5:00 so an early shower wouldn’t work. It would be great though during the cooler months.

      Reply
  2. Shame Big Brother and the safety Nazi’s think and do interfere with people just having fun cause someone might get hurt jumping off a boat into that hard water. Maybe in the future they will start telling us how to cut up our food so we don’t chock.
    Thanks to all for great tips

    Reply

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