Just after sunset on Christmas day, we pulled into the Dry Tortugas National Park. We were welcomed by a flock of snooty terns as we maneuvered to our chosen anchorage at Garden Key. As we approached the anchorage, we were in awe of the glimmering sky and surprised with a falling star! With 15 knots of wind out the east, we had a perfect 31 hour sail here from Dunedin. Our guests finished their Christmas dinner then polished off some apple pie while playing board games.
The next morning, we devoured a strawberry french toast strudel before loading into the dinghy to go ashore. The wind was up a bit making the water too murky for good snorkeling, so Joe gave a guided tour of Fort Jefferson instead. They explored the powder room where the gunpowder was stored then circled the numerous cannons that were outfitted to rain burning cannon balls heated in the furnace to set enemy boats ablaze. We stood in the infamous cell of Dr. Samuel Mudd where he lived out his sentence for setting John Wilkes Booth's broken leg after assassinating Lincoln before being pardoned in 1869.
Ponce De Leon discovered 'Tortugas’ in 1513 and named the group of 7 Keys for the plentiful turtles that lived there. Eventually, the charts began reading 'Dry Tortugas’ to mark no fresh water for reprovisioning. The United States took procession of the Dry Tortugas in 1829 and began constructing a Fort in 1846 to protect trade into and out of the Mississippi River. Throughout its history, Fort Jefferson was home to military operations, slaves, and prisoners before President Roosevelt proclaimed it a National Monument.
The next day after breakfast, we headed over to Loggerhead Key. As we dinghied onto the west side of the island, we were greeted by a friendly park ranger who gave us a tour. While half the group did the tour the others snorkeled The Indians (a site just north of the abandoned boathouse), known for plentiful sea life and a beautiful reef. After the tour and snorkeling we returned to Kuma Too for lunch and a sunny ride back to Garden Key.
It was our last day at the Dry Tortugas, so we headed into shore to watch the sunset from the fort. At 6am, we brewed coffee and hoisted the anchor as we began our 10-hour run into the lively Key West harbor where we would ring in 2019. To learn about charters on board Kuma Too, visit www.SailingKumaToo.com.
Until next week, Happy Sailing!