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Fort Lauderdale to Dry Tortugas by boat

Old 02-06-2019, 10:19 AM
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Default Fort Lauderdale to Dry Tortugas by boat

I know it's a long trip, but my intent is to make it a journey rather than a destination. I'm thinking of basically island hopping down the Keys, sleeping in hotels or camping on the boat or remote islands, and enjoy some fishing and diving along the way. The boat will be a 2018 Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless with twin 225 Verados, fuel capacity is 152 gal, I figure I would be cruising at around 25-30 knots which according to Whaler should get me around 2.5 nmpg. I plan on topping off fuel at Key West before making the crossing.

Has anyone done this trip from the East coast? I know some have done it from Marco Island, but I imagine they would bypass most of the Keys. Any recommendations on hotels to stay along the way? which ones to stay away from as well. Any info on places to camp or anchor for the night? What would be the best time of year to do this trip?

I'm taking delivery of the boat later this month. My plan is to do this trip sometime next year so that I can make some intermediate trips on my boat to dial in fuel consumption, best cruise speed etc...
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:45 AM
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holy,

I have not made that trip from Ft Lauderdale since I live on the west coast of FL, but have been going to the keys for the past 30 years, and if I understand correctly, you are going by boat. If so, then I would recommend either Faro Blanco (Hyatt hotel atttached) in Marathon, or The Galleon in Key West, depending on how far you want to go in 1 phase. The restaurant at Faro Blanco will cook your catch as many will down there, and they are GOOD. I took some mutton snapper in there last time I was there, and it was so delicious my wife was asking me to go back out fishing!

I have been planning a trip to DT myself for this spring, will probably be ready to go back next year, so if you want another Whaler for company, get in touch. All the best!
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Old 02-06-2019, 03:49 PM
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Not a big deal getting down to Key West from Lauderdale. Your run to the Dry Tortugas is a little over 60 miles one way. Your best bet is to do it in Springtime when the cold fronts have stopped coming through. The permit fishing on the wrecks can be great, the seas will be calmer, and you won't fry. Bring plenty of water. Make sure you have enough fuel. Consider bringing a fuel bladder. Enjoy.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:43 PM
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152 is a little light, won't give you much fuel cushion to run around the Tortugas. The rest of the trip sounds awesome.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:52 PM
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2.5nmpg sounds a little optimistic for that setup, especially loaded down with everything for a trip like that. Just make sure you get some real world burn numbers with a load.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by head_hunter View Post
2.5nmpg sounds a little optimistic for that setup, especially loaded down with everything for a trip like that. Just make sure you get some real world burn numbers with a load.
agree, but sounds like a fun way to break in a new rig!
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mattlex View Post
agree, but sounds like a fun way to break in a new rig!
apparently these new Mercury’s are great on fuel. 2.5 for that boat would be awesome. I am thinking of a pair for my 27 open contender. Please report back and let us know the burn rate if you do the trip.
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Old 02-06-2019, 07:20 PM
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I would not make Tortuga a shake down run. Bimini would be a safer run IMO. It’s like 170 miles just to KW. Then 58 to fort. In the summer when it’s fat you could easily do it but staying at the fort would be horrible.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:34 PM
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I ran from Hollywood to KW 2 years ago the first week of May on the inside due to weather. Overnight, food, drinks fun for the night and then fuel, bait and more provisions (ok, beer really) and 2 nights in DT. Fished the way back and overnighted in Marathon before making the run back to Hollywood with a few fishing stops on the way (outside). A truly memorable experience that I hope to repeat. I also carry 350 gallons of fuel but more like 1nmpg so if you're numbers are real, perhaps not much difference.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:04 AM
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I was thinking about doing something similar in my contender (185 gal) but i would be leaving from Bradenton/Sarasota and cruising down the west coast.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by WPBTH View Post
I would not make Tortuga a shake down run. Bimini would be a safer run IMO. It’s like 170 miles just to KW. Then 58 to fort. In the summer when it’s fat you could easily do it but staying at the fort would be horrible.
The plan is to make a couple of shorter runs, maybe Bimini and maybe to Key Largo or Islamorada this year to get to know the boat and get some real fuel burn numbers and then do the DT trip next year.
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Last edited by holy_crap; 02-07-2019 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by BayHouse View Post
I ran from Hollywood to KW 2 years ago the first week of May on the inside due to weather. Overnight, food, drinks fun for the night and then fuel, bait and more provisions (ok, beer really) and 2 nights in DT. Fished the way back and overnighted in Marathon before making the run back to Hollywood with a few fishing stops on the way (outside). A truly memorable experience that I hope to repeat. I also carry 350 gallons of fuel but more like 1nmpg so if you're numbers are real, perhaps not much difference.
Awesome, this is exactly what I was thinking, glad you enjoyed it.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by CurrentSea1 View Post
I have been planning a trip to DT myself for this spring, will probably be ready to go back next year, so if you want another Whaler for company, get in touch. All the best!
How far into the planning are you? I've been talking to the wife about making the trip to Key West and then hopping to the Dry Tortugas, The only problem for me is that she has had neck surgery so it's either got to be calm or going slow. We'd probably do 3-4 stops down the coast from Tampa Bay to Everglades City where we'd head straight to KW.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:26 AM
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Confirm your fuel consumption then roll! We had a great time running down there. It's on my short list of places to go back. As said there is nothing there so bring everything including fuel. 2+ mpg for that set up with people, camp gear, food, ice etc sounds a bit optimistic but you don't know until you get her and run it. I would figure about 200 miles when all is said and done. We went with 150 gallons and came back with 20 but I had a different boat and power all together. You're going to want to run around a bit when you're there and we burned a bit more coming home because we had a short chop on the nose. I had a thread made for when I did my trip with some do's and don't you can probably find it in my post history.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by holy_crap View Post
The plan is to make a couple of shorter runs, maybe Bimini and maybe to Key Largo or Islamorada this year to get to know the boat and get some real fuel burn numbers and then do the DT trip next year.
Sounds like you have a solid plan and it will be an awesome trip. Have a great time! The tortugas is an amazing place!

There is a ton of info on here if you do some searches. The trip to the tortugas is relatively easy. The first 25 miles or so from KW you can run the lakes passage so its protected.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:48 AM
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I used to make the run all the time .... from Fort laud, or Miami or Islamorada ...

when I had the 26 Regulator we would burn around 140 gallons RT from KW to the Fort.... Think she only held 180 gallons...

That was fishing around the fort only,,,, if we ventured out for trolling or deeper drops then obviously we would burn some more...

We always brought along 10+ gallons of extra fuel just in case... figured worst case I could limp home to KW @ 7 knots in the stream on one screw

Personally, the run from fort laud is a bitch ... 180 miles or so to KW then 70 to the fort.... try to break it up if you can...

Fort Laud to Islamorada,,, Islamorada to KW ... KW fort.... Spend a day in each to enjoy and relax
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:09 AM
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Great trip and I'd have no reservations making the trip you propose.

But the estimated 2.5mpg is very optimistic. You might be 1.75 -1.9 mpg in a regular load.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:54 AM
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Sounds like you are doing the right thing with pre-planning and open discussion, like you stated I'd do a run of 60 miles and fill up and that will give you the start of real range and as others have stated make sure its loaded to similar amount, makes a bit difference.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by chrisrack View Post
Great trip and I'd have no reservations making the trip you propose.

But the estimated 2.5mpg is very optimistic. You might be 1.75 -1.9 mpg in a regular load.
I think your numbers will be close. I looked at whalers website and they had 2 people and 1/2 fuel to get that 2.5 number. It was also at 3500, if the weather is nice I’d most certainly bump up to 4000-4500 you lose about .1 mpg but cut the trip down 15-20 mins. Many times they ride better with a little extra speed. He’s also going to have probably another 2000lbs on board when all is said and done.
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Old 02-11-2019, 07:54 AM
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We have a group of 5-6 boats doing this trip from Ft Lauderdale to the Dry Tortugas this 4th of July week. Ft Lauderdale to Travernier the fist day, then Travernier to KW, 3 days of boating in KW with one of the days running out to Fort Jefferson. Then back to Ft Lauderdale. Over 500 miles of boating with a goal of hitting some of the shipwreck trail that is shallow enough to snorkel, check out some of the lighthouses on the way down, snorkel the christ of abyss, and visit Fort Jefferson. Looking forward to it and will post about the trip when we return.
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