Sailing from Tampa to the Dry Tortugas - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 27 Old 02-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Definitely good diving. You might check the facebook page of the M/V SPREE, a dive boat that's based in Key West most of the year, and makes trips out to Fort Jefferson. Should be some dive reports there.
Found the page, thanks. They talk about diving a wreck in 200-300' of water at the DTs! Had no idea the diving got that serious around there. Looks like there is a LOT more diving around there than people give it credit for. Think I'm going to want to track down a few more tanks.

That's a pretty huge head boat. Looks like they could crowd up a reef/wreck pretty quickly. Here's to hoping I miss them during my trip.

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post #12 of 27 Old 02-02-2012
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I've got some time off in March, and was thinking about making a run from Sarasota down to the Dry Tortugas. I'm pretty set on the destination, and don't really want to hit Key West or anything on this trip. I've read through some of the older threads on the trip, but they all seem to recommend stopping in Port Charlotte.

Let's say I wasn't interested in making any stops along the way. Is there anything along the route I need to be concerned about (crab traps in the middle of nowhere, unusually shallow areas, etc)? Given a Catalina 36, are the conditions in mid to late March suitable for the trip?

I'm also thinking of bringing a few tanks along to do some diving. I hear there are plenty of wrecks out there, are there any worth diving? Notwithstanding the information about the achorages, and the fort itself that are in the other threads; are there any other considerations I should be thinking about?
The run from Sarasota to Ft. Jefferson is quite straight forward and the entrance from the north pretty easy. Time your arrival so that you will have good light to see the bottom as you get into Garden Key. There is a deep channel but shallows are nearby and the water shoals very quickly. On the direct trip down the only fixed obstructions are a couple of old radio towers but they make good reference points. For some reason, south of Cape Romano a few squalls always seem to develop in the early evening and persist until about 0100 or so. If you have radar, they are easy to track and avoid. Never the less, ensure your reefing gear is in good order and prepare to reef the minute you begin to feel a cool/cold breeze from the east. Some times the shrimpers/fishing boats can be a pain in the neck, especially at night. Acquaint yourself with the lights used by fishing boats and avoid them, particularly if they've got a trawl out.

The holding around Garden Key isn't the greatest--sand over marle--so ensure you have good ground tackle for that. Use Passageweather.com for weather forecasts before you leave. Unfortunately, Northwesterlys can be a bit much in March. The predictions are pretty good for 4-5 daze out. Take plenty of food, fuel and water as none is available on the Key.

FWIW...

"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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post #13 of 27 Old 02-02-2012
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Not only can Northwesterly's be a problem, I went from Destin to Tampa during April and only had 3 hours of wind in 3 full days (we hit Egmont at midnight). So make sure you have sufficient fuel.

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post #14 of 27 Old 02-02-2012 Thread Starter
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Hey Hylite, thanks for chiming in. I forgot you've got a lot of local knowledge in the bay area. Glad you mentioned the radio towers, I hadn't seen those on the charts.

I've got a few fuel cans to strap to the deck so I'll probably fill those up before heading out as well. With luck I'll have a some good pictures to post in a few weeks.
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post #15 of 27 Old 02-02-2012
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hey credence

I'm Andrew, I'm living in clearwater fl at the moment. I'm right on the water near tampa international airport. We have a guest dock here too.

I would LOVE to come out sailing sometime. I am free everyday for now. Just got back from Cozumel did some sailing on "the stars and stripes tour" using the americas cups boats. (I am not a sailer)

I have my good friend and his girl from demark visiting. It would be a dream to have you meet us at our dock and take us out for a little while. Beers and food on me of course!

let me know
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-02-2012
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What no one has mentioned is coming back. The weather can be such that coming back east can be a real problem = very high and choppy waves. Plan at least a week in case you get "stuck" or take the fast cat back to Key West (it will be the vomit comet instead of the "fast cat" on the trip), then return to claim your boat and sail back if you run out of time.
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-02-2012 Thread Starter
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hey credence

I'm Andrew, I'm living in clearwater fl at the moment. I'm right on the water near tampa international airport. We have a guest dock here too.

I would LOVE to come out sailing sometime. I am free everyday for now. Just got back from Cozumel did some sailing on "the stars and stripes tour" using the americas cups boats. (I am not a sailer)

I have my good friend and his girl from demark visiting. It would be a dream to have you meet us at our dock and take us out for a little while. Beers and food on me of course!

let me know
Hey Andrew, I'll be back in the States in March. If your friends are still around then, I'm more than happy to meet up. I'll shoot you a PM as it gets closer.


As for the weather, I think I'm going to have to accept the chance of getting hit with something along the way. I don't know why, but for some reason I always thought passageweather.com was a pay service. Happy to learn it's free, and pretty impressed with the amount of information. It sort of puts sailflow to shame. I've got 9 days to do this, so that should give me a little wiggle room on either end to take advantage of a good weather window. The good news is, I have a new Harken MKIV furler, and a brand new custom mainsail getting put on this week with 3 reefing points, so it wouldn't be terrible putting the new toys to good use.

The only thing that concerns me is fetching I've heard about in the Gulf. We'll see how it goes.
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post #18 of 27 Old 02-02-2012
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Need crew?
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post #19 of 27 Old 02-03-2012 Thread Starter
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Need crew?

I've talked my wife into coming along on this trip so she's going to end up being my crew (though she doesn't know that yet). I may regret that if the weather turns on us, but I'm taking my chances.

If this trip works out well, I might make a habbit of running down there, and to the Keys. If I do, I'd gladly take anyone who feels like coming along in exchange for a few beers/ good company. In the mean time, same offer stands, if you feel like sailing around Tampa Bay, shoot me a PM.
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post #20 of 27 Old 02-04-2012
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That's a pretty huge head boat. Looks like they could crowd up a reef/wreck pretty quickly. Here's to hoping I miss them during my trip.
I've never worked with that particular boat before but I have been able to arrange with head boats and dive shops to take my tanks for fills and pick them up the next day. Success seems dependent on calling ahead during a non-busy time and finding someone that makes (as opposed to follows) the rules.

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