Blue Turtle Cruising

Garden Key and Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

We lucked out with beautiful weather and calm seas the first 3 days which provided us with excellent diving and snorkeling, however, the latter part of the week the wind kicked up and seas weren’t as calm. Since diving was out, we spent a couple of days snorkeling around Garden Key and exploring Fort Jefferson.

Garden Key is the main island of the Dry Tortugas in which Fort Jefferson lies. The main anchorage for boats is on the south side of the island and it’s a quick dinghy ride to get to shore. The park is open year round and you can explore Fort Jefferson during daylight hours for a $5.00 fee that is good for 7 days.  You arrive at Garden Key by boat or sea plane. Those without their own boat can take the ferry out of Key West. Camping is allowed at the park for a nightly fee but beware, there is no fresh water and the grounds are primitive.

Map showing Garden Key with Fort Jefferson and Loggerhead Key (Click for full size map)
Map showing Garden Key with Fort Jefferson and Loggerhead Key (Click for full size map)

Garden Key is located  70 miles west of Key West and is the location of Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson was built by the U.S. in an effort to control navigation to the Gulf of Mexico. Construction began in 1846 and went on for 30 years but was never finished. The fort served as a military prison during the Civil War but was eventually abandoned in 1874. In 1908 the area was designated as a wildlife refuge for the sooty tern before becoming the Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992. The park’s natural treasures include its namesakes, the endangered green sea turtles and loggerhead sea turtles as well as a variety of birds and marine life.

Blue Turtle anchored at Garden Key
Blue Turtle anchored at Garden Key
A sea plane getting ready to leave Dry Tortugas
A sea plane getting ready to leave Dry Tortugas
Sea plane getting ready to take off
Sea plane getting ready to take off
The boys at the entrance of Fort Jefferson
The boys at the entrance of Fort Jefferson
Interior courtyard of the fort
Interior courtyard of the fort
Randy and Corey in the fort
Randy and Corey in the fort
Cuban refugee boat
Cuban refugee boat
Ammunition storage for the fort
Ammunition storage for the fort
View from the fort
View from the fort
Fort courtyard view
Fort courtyard view
Randy and Corey at the top of the fort
Randy and Corey at the top of the fort
Fort docks and Blue turtle are behind me
Fort docks and Blue turtle are behind me
View of ferry docks
View of ferry docks
Blue Turtle at her anchorage
Blue Turtle at her anchorage
South coaling docks
South coaling docks
Coaling docks and Blue Turtle
Coaling docks and Blue Turtle
Snorkeling around Garden  Key
Snorkeling around Garden Key
Snorkel selfie
Snorkel selfie
Purple sea fan
Purple sea fan
Corey and Randy snorkeling around the fort
Corey and Randy snorkeling around the fort
Snorkeling south coaling docks
Snorkeling south coaling docks
Coral growth on the docks
Coral growth on the docks
Christmas tree worms
Christmas tree worms

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Coaling docks and sooty terns
Coaling docks and sooty terns

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