We’ve been “trapped” in the Dry Tortugas by weather, waiting to sail to Key West. The wind was high, seas were rough, and we needed to get out! A risky departure puts us in danger and retreat was necessary!
In this article/video we cover the following:
- Watching the weather and planning our departure, Dry Tortugas to Key West
- Waking up to our anchor dragging
- Lots of Happy Hours
- Sailing in rough seas, losing our anchor overboard
- Making Backup plans in St. Patty’s Day.
The Full Story
Soon after arriving in the Dry Tortugas near Key West, the wind and waves immediately picked up and ultimately ”trapped” us in the remote islands. The weather wasn’t great and after about two days, we saw what there was to see in Fort Jefferson. With that being said…Nick and I can make our own fun, wherever we are, even if there is nothing to do! We took some more dinghy rides and made a couple more trips to explore the fort further.
Watching Weather (Dry Tortugas to Key West)
We were keeping a close watch on the weather and discussing our options with the crew of Ohana and 2nd Unit. Our first attempt at leaving was the Thursday of that week. Our plan was to leave Dry Tortugas around sunrise and head to Key West. We wanted so badly to spend St. Patricks Day at Irish Kevin’s. It would have been a blast! Sadly, when we got up that morning, the weather was still not good enough for us. The winds were consistently blowing around 25 knots and the seas were 5-6 feet. Although Satori could handle that, it would not be a comfortable sail so we chose to wait it out.
Nick and I went back to sleep to be woken up suddenly because our anchor was dragging. Luckily Jeff from Ohana saw it happening so he jumped on his dinghy to help. I tried my hardest to get Satori straight while Nick was on the bow. The wind was howling and I didn’t have enough experience to know what to do. Jeff jumped onboard and helped me get her straight. We came within 5 feet of a catamaran that was also in the anchorage. I was surprised that their chain didn’t get caught in our rudder. We were lucky!
Happy Hour, Happy Hour…. and more Happy Hour
Later that day, we hung out on the fort and prepared a Happy Hour on Satori for our friends. That was always a fun part of the day. We would sit together for a couple of hours and have some delicious snacks and cocktails while sharing stories. I always looked forward to those happy hours. At that happy hour, we discussed our plan for leaving. We all decided the weather forecast looked decent so we decided to go for it. Only this time instead of heading to Key West from the Dry Tortugas, we would go straight to Ft. Myers.
Bailout to Ft. Myers Beach in Rought Seas
Since it is a 24-hour sail out of the Dry Tortugas, about the same as Key west, we didn’t have to leave early. We decided to leave at noon. When we started to head out, everything seemed okay. The seas were a little rough but nothing crazy. After about an hour we heard Jeff from Ohana on the radio contemplating on turning back. The further we got from the protection of the reefs, the worse the seas got. The waves were crashing on the bow, the windows were soaked and it felt like Satori caught some air on a few of those waves. There must have been some 7-8 foot waves while they were consistently 5-6 feet. I know the video doesn’t do it justice but alas that was the situation we were in.
We Lost Our Anchor!
Satori was handling the conditions like a champ so Nick and I decided to keep going. Until……our anchor bounced out of the bowsprit and went flying over the side. It was banging against the hull, quite the terrible predicament. Nick had to do something, the anchor could have easily put a hole in the hull! He hooked himself in and went to the bow with a razor blade. The only thing he could do was to grab the anchor and cut the line. Luckily he got it free pretty quickly. He brought it to the stern and tied her up. That was the moment we decided to turn around with Ohana and 2nd Unit.
Regroup… at Happy Hour
When we returned to the Dry Tortugas, it was time for another Happy Hour on Ohana! We enjoyed snacks and some Irish Whiskey in honor of St. Patricks Day while looking at the weather. All of us agreed and decided to head to Key West from Dry Tortugas the next Day. This was our best chance in terms of the weather and I had to get back to work on Monday. Key West has flights to Tampa everyday so that made it easy for me.
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Intro Song – Carribean Cuisine 4 – Magnus Ringblom
King Arthur Intro – 3:55 – Rule Britannia Classic – Traditional
Ending Song – Figure It Out – Daniel Gunnarsson
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