Blue Turtle Cruising

Snorkeling the Dry Tortugas with Sukha and crew

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On our second day in the Dry Tortugas, the weather still wasn’t cooperating with high winds and seas that makes for poor diving conditions. With the winds coming out of the southeast, we decided to try snorkeling Little Africa since it is on the northwest side of Loggerhead Key and would possibly be protected from the winds and seas.  Captain Chris offered to take us all aboard Sukha and it was a lovely and comfortable ride there.  The Leopard 42 is a fantastic catamaran and absolutely great for snorkeling/diving. Randy and I both commented how, with 7 people (and a dog) on board it seemed there was still so much room to move around.

Sukha navigating in the anchorage toward Blue Turtle to pick us up
Leaving Blue Turtle with the dinghies tied to it
Our trusty osprey kite to ward off the birds
Sophie aboard Sukha
Captain Chris steers us toward Loggerhead Key
Corey takes over the helm with Cruiser giving the peace sign
Approaching Loggerhead Key
The Dry Tortugas lighthouse in the distance
Nice cruise aboard the s/v Sukha

When we arrived at Little Africa, we realized the mooring ball we normally used was missing. When we radioed the park rangers to ask about the ball, we were told that it was unavailable at this time and that the ball was for official use only. We’ve used this same ball the past 3 years and figured they must’ve changed it to official use only in the past year. Later, when we were back at the fort, we saw a poster with the whole park and mooring balls labeled. Sure enough, there was a mooring ball at Little Africa on the chart and it wasn’t labeled “official use only”.  Since there was no ball and we couldn’t drop anchor, Chris dropped us all off to snorkel while he idled outside the reef waiting to pick us up.  We could have used the mooring ball on the other side of the island and dinghy into shore and walk over to the reef, but we had left our dinghies tied up to Blue Turtle since we were planning to use the ball that was missing.  The reef, as usual, was amazing and the visibility was surprisingly crystal clear even though the winds and seas have been stirring things up the last week. We saw schools of huge tarpon and barracuda and the corals were so colorful (see our video below!). As always, Little Africa never disappoints and it’s world-class snorkeling just 3 miles from the fort.

Squinty-eyed selfie with Randy
Loggerhead Key and lighthouse
Colorful corals at Little Africa
Beautiful sea fans are everywhere
Colorful Queen Angelfish

After snorkeling at Little Africa, we headed back toward the fort and stopped at Bird Key Anchorage to anchor and snorkel the Brick Wreck. This is a smaller reef but there were a ton of fish on it. The visibility wasn’t as good but it was still a nice snorkel.

Brick wreck propeller is filled with corals and fish
Cole and Corey decide to try fishing the Brick Wreck while we were there

Back at Blue Turtle, Randy and I decided to take a walk around the fort so I could shoot some photos. We took the kayak to shore since Corey and Cole took the dinghy to try some fishing.  The grey skies didn’t really help much with taking photos but it’s always nice to walk the fort. After an early dinner, Randy and I headed over to Sukha for a cocktail and to discuss their plans for leaving the next morning for Key West where they were to pick up the rest of their crew before heading back to the Dry Tortugas.  Cole taught Corey, Cruiser, Tim and I how to play the card game “Golf” which was a lot of fun. After Chris grilled tenderloin for his crew plus Corey, we finally got to see the sun as it dipped into the clouds. We said our goodbyes and hoped to see the Sukha crew again in a few days.

A gloomy day at the fort
Interior of fort
Brick archways in the fort on the second floor
Visitors looking out over Bush Key
Blue Turtle and Sukha in the anchorage
s/v Sukha
Playing cards with the boys
The sun finally peaks out at the end of the day
Blue Turtle and the setting sun

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