Blue Turtle Cruising

Dry Tortugas to Key West and home

June 11-17, 2017

June 11, Dry Tortugas to Marquesa Keys – a bumpy ride + a stow away!

It was finally time to leave the Dry Tortugas and our plan was to head to the Marquesa Keys to anchor for the night before heading into Key West. The weather forecast called for 2-4ft seas which may not sound like much, but it was enough to make the ride a little uncomfortable at first. Sometimes I tend to stay below deck while cruising as it’s more comfortable for me and the dog. We leave our side doors open while cruising so it’s nice in the cabin when calm. When it’s bumpier, the flybridge is the place to be since it seems to have less impact on us. So, I grabbed Sophie and her soft bed and went up top to hang out with the boys. While Sophie has never been sea sick and usually handles the seas quite well, she will get quite clingy to me when it’s rough or she hears loud sounds like things falling or banging against each other. It wasn’t really comfortable to sit anywhere, so I sat on the floor between our 2 built in benches with the wiener dog wedged next to me in her bed. Every now and then a larger wave would hit us and I would go sliding forward across the floor. I finally had to rest my elbows on each bench to brace myself. This went on for about 3 hours until things calmed down a little bit once we reached the shoal.

Sophie and I wedged between the bench seats for a more secure ride

About mid-morning Corey announced that we had a pelican resting on the bow of our boat. We had no idea how long it had been there but she looked quite content and not about to leave anytime soon. We don’t blame her with all the wind and waves—she probably just needed a place to rest. We figured it didn’t hurt to let her stay. Corey started snapping photos of her from the flybridge, and said she was walking down the side of the boat. He then announced that he thought the pelican was going to enter the boat through the side door. I didn’t believe him, I said “no way is that pelican going to go inside.” Next thing we know, he tells us “she just went into the cabin!”  GREAT. A pelican inside my boat! Randy runs down and grabs a boat hook while Corey steers Blue Turtle. I follow Randy down to see what’s happening and sure enough, there is a freakin’ pelican standing on my rug in the cabin! Randy claims the pelican got aggressive with him when he stuck the boat hook out at it and was scared so I grabbed the hook from him and poked at the pelican. It moved back a little and as it was trying to exit, it nervously flapped it wings which got caught on the doors. Finally, we manage to get the pelican out of the boat and it takes off. I felt kinda bad for it but I wasn’t about to have a pelican hanging out in my home. It also left us a little present on our carpet which was lovely (NOT).  Of course, we were so frazzled about the whole thing, neither of us got a photo of the pelican inside our cabin.

Our stow away, the pelican
“Hmmm, this place looks cozy…”
“I think I’ll hang out in here for a while…”

We finally made it to Marquesa and anchored. The trip from the Dry Tortugas took us about 2 more hours than usual because of the rougher seas. The crew was worn out and ready to relax.

June 12 – 15, Key West and a birthday celebration

The trip from Marquesa to Key West was uneventful. Once back in civilization, all of our heads were stuck in our various devices (phones, ipads, laptops) checking emails, weather, looking up the latest wake board videos, etc. During this time, Randy and I both worked and tended to various chores (cleaning the boat, filling water, laundry, trash, etc.). We enjoyed eating out at our favorite spots and in general enjoyed the festive atmosphere around the docks. Randy’s birthday happened to be during our stay in Key West this time, so we went out for a celebratory dinner at El Meson De Pepe, a cuban restaurant. After dinner, our friend Vinnie, a Key West native, met us for a drink and to catch up.  While we had a great time in Key West, we were all itching to be off the dock again so we planned to head out to Jewfish Basin to anchor before heading home. The morning we were leaving Key West, our friends aboard s/v Sukha pulled into the slip next to us. While we had planned to be in the Dry Tortugas together the whole time, the weather didn’t cooperate. As we were coming back from the Tortugas, they were heading out to anchor at Boca Grande for the week. We were all bummed out about our plans of getting together again not happening, but that’s the way it is with cruising and weather.

Back in civilization and at the Commodore Boat House (notice the kid clutching the iphone?)
Sun setting over Blue Turtle at Key West Bight Marina
The birthday boy and Corey at El Meson De Pepe
Selfie with the birthday boy
Sukha arrives at the marina just as we are leaving

June 13, Jewfish Basin and our amazing dolphin encounter

Heading out of Key West on that Friday, the water was flat calm and incredibly clear. I had never seen the water there so clear and lake-like. It was a gorgeous cruise over to Jewfish Basin and along the way we spotted fish, stingrays, turtles and sharks in the clear water. While on the bow of the boat looking at the water, Corey and I spotted a pod of dolphin heading right toward us. We’ve had dolphin ride our bow many times and it never gets old, but with the water so clear, it was amazing to see so many of them (about 11 total) and their shadows on the sandy bottom beneath them. Once anchored at Jewfish Basin, the boys snorkeled and tried to spear some fish. We had a beautiful sunset and relaxing evening before our long trip to Marco Island the next day.

Picture-perfect day cruising out of Key West
Lake-like and crystal clear water
A nurse shark scurries away from us
Dolphin approaching our boat
Just a happy guy with wine and his wiener dog
A beautiful sunset

June 17, Heading home toward Marco Island

Our trip to Marco was uneventful. We had the same flat-calm seas the whole long day. It was bittersweet to be getting close to home and see the water color and clarity changing. We pulled in near Snook Inn after a long day and dropped Corey off where his mom picked him up. Randy and I anchored near the Snook Inn which was our first time there. It seemed like a nice anchorage although we weren’t there very long since we headed out the next morning to go home.

June 18, Marco Island to Fort Myers Beach

Once again, we had calm seas for most of the day until we got off the coast of Naples. A storm blew up and was headed north toward us. As it got near, we prepared the boat to drive from the lower helm. This means snapping on our bridge helm cover, bringing the GPS and other electronics down below and removing the window covers of our cabin. As it pushed up behind us we realized there was no way to avoid it. It started out having a lot of orange and red on the radar but somehow we managed to skirt most of the storm and only get wind and rain. It a little nerve racking with the following seas coming from behind us but thankfully, they were not big enough to cause any trouble.  All was well and good and we made it back to our home marina slip, still wishing were south in that crystal clear water.

Uh oh! Looks like a storm brewing


Randy navigates the following seas from the lower helm

5 thoughts on “Dry Tortugas to Key West and home”

    • Hi Bill,

      We brought with us 14 dive tanks for 3 of us and since the weather didn’t cooperate, we didn’t use them all. We’ve seen boats with air compressors in the anchorage but they are really loud and have heard it takes an hour to fill 1 tank. We usually just borrow additional tanks from friends.

  1. I’m in the market for a trawler, seems like they are all pretty tippy even in small waves, people get seasick easily on them, Is one better than another? is Grand Banks less tippy than Marine Trader. Also one or two engines? seems like all the commercial fishing boats in Alaska are all one engine. Is a bigger trawler a better ride when it’s rough. Thanks like your blog.

    • Hi Duncan,

      I’ve never really ever though of a trawler as being “tippy”. Most are made for ocean-going passages and handle the waves quite well. We’ve never been seasick on Blue Turtle (knocks on wood). I guess it all depends on what you are calling a trawler. A single or double engine trawler usually has a full displacement hull which in our opinion handles the waves better for slow cruising. If you are looking at a sundeck motor yacht, many have planing hulls which are built for getting up on top of the water to travel faster. These probably wouldn’t handle the waves as well. I think the most important factor is the hull design and whether you think the boat is built solid. The other important factor (probably the most important) is not going out in rough seas. You need to plan for delays and weather windows and when you do, you’ll mostly find that it’s a whole lot more fun cruising in smooth seas than rough water when trying to stay on a schedule. As for single vs. dual engines, I wrote a post a while back on our thoughts:

      Hope this helps.



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