We’re free for the next two to three weeks. We’re starting to plan a trip to the Dry Tortugas via Boca Grande key in the Marquesas Keys (not to be confused with the Marquesas Islands in the south Pacific. We have one potential buddy boat for the trip (RJ & Mel on Kinfolk), and are open to others also (in case you or a friend may be interested).
We have significant coastal cruising experience, but this will really be one of our few times out on open water with no protection from the reef. We’ve done the New Jersey coast and northern Florida coast outside before, but that’s all for open ocean sailing. Bite sized pieces are right for us at this point.
Here’s what I’m thinking so far:
50 gallons of water
30 gallons of gas (for our 8hp 4-stroke Honda outboard)
Tethers, harnesses, jacklines, foul weather gear, etc
Dramamine (started 24-48 hours before the trip, along with no alcohol for 2 days prior)
Collapse our inflatable dinghy and outboard and store in the v berth
Have our compass calibrated before the trip
Plot and track our gps coordinates on paper charts every 10 minutes
Consider renting a satellite phone or getting a SPOT gps tracker
Our primary instrumentation is a bulkhead compass and garmin self-contained bulkhead mounted small color gps. We have a digital depth sounder also.
Our radio is a good old VHF that has good signal.
Backup gps navigation on a laptop with gps receiver and also on iPad.
I have not yet had the chance to talk to any local charter captains or fisherman about the Marquesas Keys and the currents and shallows, etc. This is a top priority before we leave. I especially want to ask about uncharted shallows and the entrance to Mooney harbor in the Marquesas Keys!
Being out of communication in case of emergency
Unexpected current from north or south when beyond the reef’s protection, which might push us off course
Running aground when trying to anchor in the Marquesas
Unexpected storms of course
We do not have a life raft (our boat is our life raft!)
The east winds that are prevalent this time of year. It would suck to get stuck out in the Tortugas for a few weeks of nonstop heavy east winds or storms!!!
Maybe we should head to the Tortugas at the tail end of an easterly and then hang in the Tortugas while the winds are south, and then return to Key West when they clock around to the west. That’s been the dominant weather pattern here for the last month, but still you never know!
I don’t want to have to reply on communication and the coast guard in case of emergency, but I’d like to be able to contact someone if something huge happens like losing our rudder or running hard aground, etc.
I suppose we could leave the dinghy behind, but it could come in handy to have it in case we ran aground and need to kedge off or if we want to dinghy over to loggerhead key, etc.