View Full Version : Dry Tortugas snorkel & camping

Ron Reefman
07/27/2016, 05:17 AM
I'm starting to put together an overnight snorkel & camping trip to the Dry Tortugas. Right now it's 2 couples and a 3rd friend who are in the SW Florida Marine Aquarium Society. But anybody is welcome to join in. Here are some early details.

The ferry, Yankee Freedom, leaves Key West at 8am on Wednesday 4/26/17 (yes it's 8 months away!). This is a very specific date for a reason. A) It's after the tourist season in Florida (less people). B) It's late enough that the water temps will be up some from the January lows of 70 degrees. C) It's before the rainy season and the Hurricane season get started. D) It will be DARK! April 26th is a new moon (moonless dark sky) and we'll be 70 miles from Key West (no distant lights) and Ft Jefferson is not light up (dark locally). So if we have a clear sky (about an 80% chance) we should see a great stretch of the Milky Way galaxy across the night sky.

We'll camp out overnight at Fort Jefferson, 70 miles west from Key West. This is rustic camping. There are only 10 camp sites and each is approved for only 3 two man tents.

Cost is $195 for round trip on the Yankee Freedom, admission to the Dry Tortugas Park and camping fees. Breakfast and lunch on the boat is included.

I expect to snorkel some on Wednesday and Thursday. I also plan to tour Ft Jefferson (it's huge). Besides doing some night sky watching (and binoculars would be a good idea) the park recommends a night snorkel along the moat wall around the fort. After 15 years of doing a lot of snorkeling, I've never snorkeled at night! The park says to expect a huge increase in the amount of underwater wildlife! We (my wife and I) are buying dive flashlights just for this adventure.

Lots of info and links here:




Comments, questions, suggestions, reviews, recommendation are all welcome.

07/30/2016, 05:30 PM
Great stuff Ron.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Ron Reefman
01/27/2017, 03:57 PM
We didn't get to make last years trip happen, so we are currently rescheduling.

We are taking the Yankee Freedom out to Ft Jefferson on Thursday the 12th of October and returning Saturday the 14th. That's 2 nights of camping out. We are booking now because the camp grounds are small and the ferry will only take 10 camper per trip do to space limitations... so I've been told. We also intend to do a day or two of snorkeling in the Lower or Middle Keys when we get back if the weather is good.

One night for trying a night snorkel along the mote wall just outside the fort and another night to spend doing some serious star gazing and relaxing. In the Fall the Milky Way is just about directly overhead just after it gets dark at sunset. We are renting 'sit on top' ocean kayaks so we can get away from the normal swimming areas and do some snorkeling in more pristine reefs. Loggerhead Key (with a lighthouse) is 3 miles from the fort, that's a long kayak trip if you aren't in good shape or if the weather or tides aren't favorable. I'm in reasonably good shape, but I'll be 68 by the time we take this trip! Unless the weather is absolutely perfect, I probably won't try it. But then I've been known to have my are twisted before and I do have a handheld VHS radio and GPS unit I will take.

If anybody is interested in any part of this trip or learning anything about how we put it together, just ask your questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

01/28/2017, 07:44 AM
Can't wait to see your pictures.

Ron Reefman
01/28/2017, 10:48 AM
Can't wait to see your pictures.

A sample of what we saw in 2015 when we just did a day trip and snorkeled in the swimming area right near the fort.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/sea%20fan%20P7090435R1_zpsfm0yp20w.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/sea%20fan%20P7090435R1_zpsfm0yp20w.jpg.html)

We couldn't have asked for better weather. How can anybody resist this water?

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/fort%20from%20snorkel%20view%20P7090096%202R1_zpstmaqm2yy.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/fort%20from%20snorkel%20view%20P7090096%202R1_zpstmaqm2yy.jpg.html)