Today, we get up really early to go to the Dry Tortugas. It was just barely twilight when we started out for the docks. We have looked forward to this visit for a long time.
The boat that will take us out is the Yankee Freedom III.
It is a pretty fast catamaran and can make over 25 knots or 29mph. It is 2 floors, just over 100 feet long and 32 feet wide, up to 150 passengers on each trip out to the park. There are both inside and outside padded seating, 4 bathrooms, breakfast and lunch are included, and serves snacks drinks both non-alcoholic and alcoholic are for sale. The alternative to this would be a float plane or lease a private boat. Both of which would be at least 10x more expensive.
The park is about 70 miles to the west of Key West. Fort Jefferson was built as a protection against enemy ships traveling in the Gulf. For all that effort, the fort never fired on an enemy ship.
The fort was built with bricks from Escambia County Florida. Yes, most of the brick used to build forts before and through the civil war were made with “Escambia Clay” which was considered the best clay for making long lasting bricks. Considering that 16 million bricks were used to build the fort, it must have taken a lot of boats to bring them over. The fort is the 3rd largest fort in the United States. Fort Pickens would fit just inside the walls of Fort Jefferson.
Before touring the fort, we grabbed our snorkeling gear and headed to the southern beach.
The beach is strange. Sand is ground up coral, so it is kind of course. Sponges and coral fans are washed up on shore. I would love to bring something home with us, but the rules are very strict. Nothing can be removed from the park.
We put on our gear and headed out along the outer moat wall. There were a lot of coral and fish to see. After about 45 minutes, we decided to head to the boat for lunch and to warm up then back to the beach to see what else we could find.
Touring the fort, it was apparent that it is starting to show its age and needs more renovation.
It is amazing to see that coral was used in the concrete at the fort.
The primary use of the fort was as a prison. Dr. Mudd, who is famous for treating John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Abraham Lincoln, was held here for just under 4 years. The cell he was kept in is here, but the bars have been removed.
There were some pretty views from the top of the fort.
Back to the boat for the return trip. We got something to drink and some snacks.
We said goodbye to the fort as we pulled away along with the sea planes.
We both filled out a comment card and turned them. I had no idea that they draw a card for a free trip. Guess who won. We did! We will have to call tomorrow to setup a return trip if they have room.
When we landed, we headed to dinner at a restaurant and Mallory Square for the sunset.
We had a great day!
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...