Set sail for the Dry Tortugas archipelago in the stunning Florida Keys

****Warning – this is an exploratory trip! Before we open it up to the general public, we’d like to get out there and test the waters, so to speak. So we're inviting you along. We've wanted to run it for a while, and we've done a lot of research for it. We’ll also have our most experienced skipper, with more than 25 years experience, at the helm. That said, we’re pretty sure there will be some surprises along the way. If you’d rather wait until next year, when things will be running like a Swiss watch, that’s OK. But if you’re the pioneering type with an adventurous spirit, and are up for a challenge, this trip is for you!****

It might surprise you, but the most isolated and least visited national park in the US of A doesn’t involve mountains, pine forests or lakes. The trees aren’t very tall there and there’s not a grizzly bear in sight, but you will find sea turtles, frigates and schools of colourful fish. Yep, we’re talking about the Dry Tortugas Islands, located in the stunning Florida Keys off America’s south-eastern tip. Join us on this special sailing expedition as we chart a course through tropical archipelagos – snorkelling and beach-bumming in the uninhabited Marquesas Islands, visiting historical Fort Jefferson and letting our hair down for a night of fun in Key West.

Start
Key West, United States
Finish
Key West, United States
Countries
United States
Themes
Sailing
Code
SSSF
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 8
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • This brand-new trip ventures to some of the USA’s most remote and least-visited national parks – a world away from the well-beaten tourist trails
  • Swim to shore at the bird sanctuary on Loggerhead or Hospital Key and scout out which birds are around
  • Snorkel with sea turtles in the pristine waters off the Marquesas
  • There’s flexibility and room for spontaneity. Join us in shaping this new and exciting adventure while it’s still in its experimental stages

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 September 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Arrive in Key West for a 3 pm start. Take some time to wander around town, enjoy an early dinner and perhaps head out on the town for a taste of the night-life. Keep in mind that tomorrow’s start is very early!
The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago that extends from the southern coast of Florida [24kms/14.9mi from Miami] in a south west direction. Key West is the southern most inhabited city on the Keys and is also the southern most city in the continental USA. It's actually located closer to Cuba, approx distance 160kms/99.5mi, than it is to Miami, approx distance 240kms/150mi.
The coral cays were once underwater reefs however when the water levels started to drop some 25,000 years ago they emerged as low islands and overtime mangroves started to form along the fringes of the isles. The Dry Tortugas are located at the southern most point of the keys making it the most remote of America's National Parks. Both the Dry Tortugas and Marquesas are a haven for marine and bird life with green sea turtles nesting in the area and if you're very lucky you may see a manatee around the waters of Key West [if you want to increase your chances of seeing manatees why not look at our Key West to Key Largo trip].
This morning we'll be setting sail for the Dry Tortugas well before dawn, mostly likely leaving around 4am to make the most of your time (approximately 70 nautical miles).

The coral cays were once underwater reefs that, over time, emerged as low-lying islands when water levels started dropping some 25,000 years ago. The Dry Tortugas, located at the southernmost point of the keys, are the most remote of America's National Parks. Both the Dry Tortugas and Marquesas are a haven for marine and bird life, with green sea turtles and manatees nesting in the area.

The plan is to spend two nights in the Dry Tortugas, though this is flexible (If the weather deteriorates, the boat may return to Key West early). As the most isolated and least visited national park in the United States, Dry Tortugas has very few services on it and your group will be completely self-sufficient during your time here.

Heading ashore at Garden Key, tour the Civil War-era Fort Jefferson National Monument, which had been converted into a prison. Snorkel the surrounding reefs in search of sea turtles, coral and colourful fish, perhaps swimming to shore at Loggerhead Key or Hospital Key for a look around (just be sure to clean up well and minimise your footprint). Bush Key offers great bird-watching, which can be done from the yacht. As this is a bird sanctuary, landing here is prohibited.
Depart the Dry Tortugas early in the morning and make sail to the Marquesas (approx. 44 nm). As you'll be arriving before dark, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of these uninhabited islands and turquoise lagoons as you approach. The swimming here is excellent, and the 300-foot no-motor zone established by local authorities has helped protect such creatures as nesting turtles and birds. Keep your eyes peeled (and your camera ready) for red, blue and masked boobies.
Sail to Key West, stopping off en route for some fantastic snorkelling at dive buoys moored along the reef (approx. 26 nm). Tonight we spend either harboured in Key West Bight Marina or anchored out in Man of War Harbor. Perhaps check out some of the bars, restaurants and cafes this ‘end of the road’ destination has to offer, calling in at La Te Da for cabaret or heading to Porch or Virgilio’s for a drink.
Farewell your fellow travellers today as your trip comes to an end back in Key West. There are no activities after breakfast, and you’ll be disembarking the yacht by 10 am.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
Transport
Boat
Accommodation
Overnight boat (6 nights)

Dates

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Important notes

PASSPORT DETAILS:
Please provide full passport details at time of booking including exact name as per passport, date of birth, nationality, issue and expiry dates as these are essential for booking services on this trip. If not available at time of booking, we must have these details a minimum of 12 days prior to departure. The passport details that we are advised, MUST be the passport that you will be travelling on.
DIETARY REQUIREMENTS:
Dietary requirements are required at the time of booking so that any included meals can be properly catered for.
MINIMUM AGE
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 18
PARTICIPATION
You don't need to hold a recreational skippers ticket or any sailing experience at all to join this trip however you may be called on to help out around the boat, help keep the bathrooms and galley clean. You will also be asked to chip in at meal time, either helping out with food preparation, cooking, setting or clearing the table and washing up dishes.
EXPLORATORY TRIPS
What's an exploratory trip? Well before we introduce a new trip we like to get out there and test the waters, so to speak. For this trip we're inviting you along. Yes, that's right you get to join our Sailing Operations Manager on our research and development trip. We're not going to call you guinea pigs but we will be taking on board your feedback on ways to improve this trip before we open it up as a regular departure.
If you're worried about joining this trip because we haven't run it before our Operations Manager has over 25 years sailing experience and he has sailed this route on numerous occasions.
That said, we’re pretty sure there will be some surprises along the way. If you’d rather wait until next year, when things will be running like a Swiss watch, that’s OK. But if you’re the pioneering type with an adventurous spirit, and are up for a challenge, this trip is for you
ITINERARY CHANGES
***The beauty of sailing is that each day is unique and, while we have a destination to reach, if the weather changes or something takes the group’s fancy, we are flexible on the day's itinerary***

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes