The truly unique culture of this legendary island is best experienced on the open water. Let Waypoints arrange the ultimate Key West vacation.
At the end of a 110-mile-long chain of islands, stretched like a string of pearls across a Caribbean blue sea lies charmed Key West, the uninhabited Westerly Keys and historic Dry Tortugas National Park. Our Key West base provides a unique starting point to set off into beautiful tropical sailing grounds with no passport required. Come explore one of the best kept secrets in America and sail the lower Florida Keys.
The Keys sits along the third largest barrier reef in the world with miles of pristine protected coral reefs teaming with colorful tropical fish. Dozens of uninhabited keys fringed by white sand beaches are ranked some of the best places in the U.S. for star gazing. Key West is only a three-hour drive from Miami on the Overseas Highway, rated one of the top scenic drives in America, or direct flight via several major US airlines.
Summer & Fall are Peak for sailing to the Dry Tortugas
70 miles from Key West lies the Dry Tortugas National Park and magnificent Fort Jefferson. Expect the unexpected when you anchor up next to the largest brick masonry structure in the Western hemisphere set on an island in the middle of the Straits of Florida. The archipelago’s coral reefs are the least disturbed & healthiest in the US and the park is teaming with life. Get up close and personal with abundant sea life, playful dolphins, curious sea turtles and dozens of species of birds. The park is accessed only by one daily ferry, sea plane service or private vessel. The jewel in the crown is Loggerhead Key, accessible only by private vessels. Learn more about this unique destination by visiting www.nps.gov/drto
10 for 7 special for departures between May 31 – October 1, 2020 OR a 15% discount off of charters with a 3 night minimum.
Contact Us for More Information on these Special Offers
Dry Tortugas Sample Itinerary
DAY 1 Charter check out – anticipate a window of approximately 2-2 ½ hours to complete the check out commissioning of the vessel. There are two check out windows available each day, standard 10:00 am & 2:00 pm (additional fees apply for late check-out). Check-in time on the last day of charter corresponds, although extensions can be made. It is not possible to reach an anchorage suitable to a Dry Tortuga itinerary on day one, regardless of your check out time. Charterer should plan to stay at the dock the first night to provision & prepare for a morning departure.
DAY 2 Depart Key West early morning and make straight for the Marquesas. There are two lovely wild beaches on the Western Keys to explore once you arrive. There is no access to the interior of the island group due to the extreme shallow conditions and strong tidal currents. Guests are restricted to walking the beach’s as the inland areas are protected as bird preserves. NAVIGATION: Passing the southern tip of the Marquesas, the anchorage is accessed by going out and around the shallow sand bars and into an 8-10’ depth area off the western beach. There is a secondary Southern anchorage point to use in the event of Northerly winds only. There are no Eastern or Northern anchorages at the Marquesas and sailing over the Quicksands to attempt access is not allowed. Approximately 35 miles –six hours from dock to anchor down cruising at 7 knots
DAY 3 Depart the Marquesas after weather check to ensure a 72+ hour favorable weather window. An early morning departure will get you to the anchorage in time to enjoy an afternoon touring the Fort with very few other people as the Ferry leaves at 2:00. Garden Key is the second largest island in the Dry Tortugas group, about 14 acres in size. Located on Garden Key is historic Fort Jefferson, an architecturally unique 19th century fortress and the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere. Garden Key is also home to the park headquarters, visitor center, campgrounds, great swimming and snorkeling areas. When arriving by personal vessel you must pay the entrance fee and file for a free boat permit upon arrival. The park fee is $15 per person.
When adjoining Bush Key is open, visitors are welcome to walk out and back on the 1-mile round trip shoreline trail from sunrise to sunset. Bush Key closes every year around February to September, when up to 80,000 Sooty Terns and 4,500 Brown Noddies make nests and raise their young on the island. This is the only significant breeding colonies of Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies in the United States.
NAVIGATION: Departing Marquesas, stay south of the Quicksands, Halfmoon and Rebecca Shoals. Watch for strong north/south current running through the area after passing the tip of the Quicksands. Access to the anchorage area is by the Northern route over the top of Garden Key and using the well marked channel access around the west side and then south into the anchorage area in close proximity of the Fort. Access to Garden Key from the charter vessel is by tender. Coming ashore is allowed at dinghy beach, or you may use one of five slips at the dock on a first come first serve basis, with a maximum two hours of use. Approximately 35 miles –six hours from dock to anchorage cruising at 7 knots
DAY 4 Take a day trip to Loggerhead Key. The largest island in the Dry Tortugas, Loggerhead is a site of shipwrecks, a significant lighthouse installation, and where the historic Carnegie Laboratory for Marine Ecology once stood. Named for its abundance of loggerhead sea turtles, Loggerhead Key has long been a haven for wildlife. Located 3 miles away from Garden Key, Loggerhead Key is open to the public for day use only. Visitors must stay on marked paths. All buildings and boat docks on Loggerhead Key are closed to the public. Private vessels must check in and file a boat permit on Garden Key before visiting Loggerhead Key or recreating within the park. This is not a place for overnight anchorage – make your way back to Garden Key well before sundown
DAY 5 Return to Marquesas. It is important to make a very early morning departure, especially during winter months with limited hours of daylight. The predominant Easterly winds we usually count on can make for a slower return, often motor sailing. Approximately 35 miles –six + hours from anchorage to anchorage cruising at 7 knots
DAY 6 Return to Key West. Plan to arrive at marina fuel dock no later than 5:30 to refuel & if you haven’t dumped tanks offshore have them pumped out at the fuel dock. Overnight at the marina. Approximately 35 miles –six hours from anchorage to marina cruising at 7 knots
DAY 7 Charterer Check in –In preparation plan to have time allotted to remove & dispose of all trash & food, wipe out any spills in fridge, freezer, microwave, broom sweep and tidy the inside, return items to their proper storage area and do a fresh water rinse of the vessel. The charter base manager will arrive to do the check-in at the agreed upon time. The charter check-in process takes about 1 hour.
* Express Check-in is an option to discuss with the charter base manager.