Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fort Jefferson and The Dry Tortugas

We booked a ferry from Key West to the Dry Tortugas National Park and changed the departure date a few times to avoid the forecasted wind and rain.  It's kinda tricky judging the weather down here based on the forecast after living in North Alabama.  A 60% chance of rain here may amount to nothing more than a light sprinkle sometime during a mostly sunny day, whereas the same forecast in Huntsville means rain gear and significant wetness.  Another factor is the magnitude and direction of wind and wave height.  We would like for there to be as little wind as possible especially if we are to be doing any snorkeling.

After getting up at 5 AM and eating a quick breakfast, we forked our scooter and buzzed off into the dark for Flagler Station to get aboard our high speed (30 mph) catamaran ferry that took us 75 miles west to Fort Jefferson.

Arriving at the Fort 2 1/2 hours later, the weather was cloudy and cool, so no snorkeling for us. We brought our gear to snorkel but even the people who wore wet suits were complaining so we took that off our things to do list.  This place is still primitive from the standpoint of running water, electricity, internet service, bathrooms (none).  There were more amenities during the Civil War than there are today.  Luckily, we were able to use the facilities on the ferry boat that we came over on. You can stay here and camp for up to 3 days if you want and take either the ferry or the sea plane back to Key West.  It's tent camping on the sand if you into that sort of thing.

This is probably the most laid back National Park we have ever visited.  Basically, they told us not to do anything stupid and turned us loose to explore on our own.  There is a self guided tour after the 20 minute talk on the history of Fort Jefferson that you can take, snorkeling anywhere you can get in the water (except the mote) and hike around the Key and look and only look at all the conch shells, coral, hermit crabs and seashells washed up on the beach.  Like all other National Parks, take only pictures, leave only footprints.  If you don't know much about this super interesting place then click on the link above and you will be amazed.

That's a short look at the news and here is a long look at the views:

Our 75 mile route from Key West to Fort Jefferson on a ferry boat

  We passed this sugar white island that looked like a perfect place to dinghy to and snorkel

Arriving at Fort Jefferson

 Aft view from Ferry

 Coming around to the docks

 A De Havilland Otter also brings tourists from Key West

 Our ferry in the background behind the Otter

 Lots of Bricks - More than any structure in the western hemisphere

 Lots of repair work after Hurricane Irma

 The Mote

  The whole entrance was under construction

 Inside Fort Jefferson

 Inside the powder magazine

 Other views inside the powder magazine

Anyone ever told you your name will be Mudd if you do such and such?  This is where they threw the doctor that helped Booth after he shot President Lincoln.

 Looking down from the top of the Fort

Powder magazine from outside

Panoramic view

The Man ON the High Castle

 Path around the top of the walls

 Millions of bricks

 All the cannon are restored pieces left at the fort when it was abandoned

 Lots of restoration yet to be done

 We walked around this piece of the key and found all kinds of neat stuff

Looking back at Fort Jefferson

Shells people find but don't take

Looks like the work of girls to me

 Hermit crabs all over the key all dressed in their claw picked coverings

Reminder of Irma

Back to more cheerful things

 Picking our way along the prickly surf

Where are my Tevas when I need them?

 Viridian water!

 Who wouldn't want to dive into that beautiful water?

 Me :/

 All the halls along the walls of the fort on the first and second levels look like this.  Walls several feet thick of solid brick and granite

 Ocean view

 Heading back east

 Arriving back at Key West, Mallory Dock area (Historic Sea Port)

 Customs Building (red brick) in the background

 This is a motorized tiki bar

 Still signs of hurricane debris along the jetty

Back safe in the Dock


  1. That's it! A motorized tiki bar! I'm going to start up one on Lake Guntersville.