Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dry Tortugas - Fort Jefferson

We've been remiss in keeping the blog updated due to intermittent wifi.  Hopefully anyone interested has figured out how to follow the Tumblr updates, they're much easier since they can be done with our phones.

We're currently at Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo waiting for a weather window to go to the Bahamas.  We think we see it on the horizon but more on that another time.

After leaving Stock Island we headed West to the Dry Tortugas where Fort Jefferson is located.  Great trip and quite a place.  A bit surreal that it's even there at all.  The fort was never completed but it saw use as a refueling station for coal burning steam ships and a prison, among other things.  It's most notable resident was Dr Samuel Mudd who was imprisoned there for treating John Wilkes Booth's broken ankle after he had assassinated Lincoln.  He was eventually pardoned after taking over as the fort's doctor when Yellow Fever swept thru the population killing the original doctor.  The history of the place is fascinating and overall pretty horrible... but it sure is beautiful now!

Enjoy some photos!

The trip out was fantastic and we actually got to sail the entire way.

The conditions were ideal.

We anchored the first night at the Marquesas about 20, or so, miles from Key West.
These homemade Cuban refugee boats are all over the beach.  The ingenuity is pretty impressive but looking at some makes me wonder how many didn't make it.

Some are better than others and this one looked like it could make another trip.

Next day we reached the Dry Tortugas.  Angie stands at the entrance over the moat.  Dr Mudd's cell was those small windows over the Sally Port.

That's a lot of brick!  The moat has suffered some damage over the decades but is overall intact.  Shouldn't there be sharks in it or something....?

Huh, what's that?

Uh, seriously, what is that!?!

It's a crocodile!
Right after this photo was taken he swam thru a breach under the wall into the moat!
The photo is deceiving, he's at least 6 feet long.  He's been nicknamed Oscar.  The theory is that he was blown out in a storm and is stuck there.  So far he's behaved and hasn't bothered anyone...

The moat surrounds the entire complex.

A ferry comes from Key West everyday with passengers and brings a little bit of civilization for a few hours.  There's food, ice, a bar, and outdoor showers on the stern.  There's about a dozen primitive campsites on the island and the campers arrive via this ferry.

If you really want to get there in a hurry this seaplane makes 3 or 4 trips a day.  He passed us at least that many times while we were on route!  Once the ferry and seaplane leave the place gets pretty quiet.  The campers and boaters have the entire fort to themselves.

Note the stalactites and stalagmites gradually forming as rain water leaches the lime out of the masonry.

Atop the walls the view is pretty incredible.

Wings is among the boats anchored in the background.

A couple of miles away is Loggerhead Key with 150 foot tall lighthouse built about the same time as the fort.

It's out of service and can't be climbed due to the iron stairs and infrastructure rusting away.

Did I mention it's built of brick!?!

The morning before we left the anchorage was like glass...

Where does the sky start?

Nothing West of here until Mexico...

We anchored just past the Marquesas on the return trip which unfortunately was not as smooth going as the trip out.  For now we're safely on a mooring at Pennekamp.
More about all that another time!

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