The Dry Tortugas are a cluster of seven islands in beautiful, clear, turquoise water 70 miles west of Key West, FL. After a 29 hour slog overnight in 2-6 foot rolly seas, we finally arrived and anchored just off Garden Key, the home of Ft. Jefferson, a large masonry fort which was built over the course of 30 years but never finished. During the Civil War it served as a Union military prison for deserters and after the assassination of President Lincoln, 4 men convicted of aiding and abetting were imprisoned there. It was abandoned in 1874 and became a wildlife refuge in 1908.
|Arriving at Ft. Jefferson, Garden Key, Dry Tortugas|
|Moat as seen from inside the fort on the second floor|
|Can you see the crocodile in the corner?|
Four of the islands are permanently closed to visitors and a fifth one is closed during the nesting season of the sooty terns. A number of others birds inhabit the islands, but most impressive are the Magnificent Frigate birds that sore over the Fort throughout the day.
|Nice snorkeling reef outside the moat|
|View of the interior from atop the wall|
|Walking on top of the fort|
Visitors come to the island via sea planes or ferry and have the option of camping for up to 3 days. However, they must pack everything in (including water) and everything out. (It’s not called “dry” for nothing.) Except for composting toilets, there are no services or amenities. Cruisers are allowed to anchor out in the small bay with virtually no time restrictions.