Dry Tortugas -2
13 June 2010
Day 13 - Wed 9 Jun 10
We awoke to the same comfortable conditions, except the wind is out of the east this morning. The thermometer inside the boat is registering only 81F, when I had never seen it below 85F on this cruise; that is a significant improvement.
After breakfast, I will be off to shore to register our boat with the Park Service and see what new rules there are since the last time we were here in 2007 with our friends Dan and Sharon.
Registering the boat and paying the $5 per person fee (valid up to 7 days) was quite simple. Meanwhile, Diane had Clyde ashore behind the campground area. I checked the posted weather forecasts and right now it looks like Sat would be a good time to start on the direct passage home of approximately 170 nm with the southeast winds at 10-15 kts.
Back at Diva Di, I was floating off the stern when a Park Ranger came by and without so much as a "Hi, how are you?" told us we had to move our boat because we were too close to the large mooring buoy where the Park Service cargo boat spends the day (she's alongside the dock at night). I am usually a little too eager to please the authorities, but I couldn't give in to this guy that easily. When I asked why we weren't told this by the Rangers when they came by yesterday, he had no answer. When I asked him how many feet I was away from the buoy that said to "stay away 200 feet," he said he had no idea but we were too close. I knew there was no winning this argument, so I told him we would move.
I dinghied over to the companion boat traveling with my buddy, since I knew he was leaving today. He agreed I could drop my anchor close aboard him and then when he leaves, we should be fine. Right now, however, the shifting light winds have our boats too close for comfort under normal circumstances. Fortunately, there is someone staying aboard his vessel the entire day.
Not long after that little "anchor dance," four of us took our two dinghies to various marker buoys on the southern flank of Garden Key to snorkel. Two of the three areas we tried had nice corals and abundant fish of many varieties, including ones you would love to have on your dinner table. We saw one large turtle (couldn't tell the species, but probably a loggerhead), and a number of large lobsters, too. It was a nice excursion that gave us another reason to be glad we came. We plan to snorkel Loggerhead Key before we leave.
After a nice lunch aboard Diva Di, the rest of the afternoon was pretty laid back, but with much going on around us. We watched the seaplane arrive and depart, both fast catamarans get underway, and a mega-yacht come into the anchorage and make several unsuccessful attempts to anchor. Diane kept up a running commentary, mostly about how we got chased away for being too close to the Park Service buoy, and here is this 100 foot yacht much closer. They decided to leave the anchorage for reasons unknown, and anchor about three-quarters of a mile from the fort.
There was a brief rain shower after a thunderstorm passed us to the east, but it wasn't enough to do much. Although no one wants the lightning close by, a nice shower once in a while is a real treat to wash off the accumulated salt and other stuff that accumulates. Since you are not near land, that "stuff" is (in our case) cat hair, Duane hair, and bird droppings.
We had been eating well on this cruise, but I managed to burn the bottom of the pizza last night. Regulating the temperature on our oven is not easy and apparently I failed to do it right. Oh well, one bad meal out of forty isn't too terrible to endure.
The night sky was almost as gorgeous as at Boca Grande Key. We were each resting in different locations at times, depending on what Clyde was doing, and Diane said she saw the most spectacular meteor she had ever seen. Later, Diane elected to sleep in the forward berth and I chose the cockpit.
The wind piped up for a bit due to a passing thunderstorm and we had some rain spitting at us for a while, enough to close the hatches. Diane said it was mostly comfortable, but warm for a bit during the night after the hatches were closed. I found the cockpit to be delightful for sleeping and only came below due to the brief rain.