We were on our way to the docks at Schooner Warf to catch the Yankee Freedom II, a 100-foot state-of-the-art catamaran, for a day of historical adventure and snorkeling fun. When arriving at the dock, Captain Mike and his crew took a few minutes to welcome us and give us a briefing of the important general information for the trip. By 7:25 am, all 60 guests were on the boat and helping ourselves to a nice, simple, buffet style breakfast. As we sat on the top deck enjoying our beagles, fruit, coffee and a beautiful Key West morning, the boat departed and we were on our 70-mile cruise along the Keys.
The trip took about three hours, but the journey across the beautiful clear waters along the Florida Keys felt like only one hour. During the trip the crewmembers of the Yankee Freedom II made sure to point out all areas of interest and historical sites. As we looked overboard we could often see the friendly dolphins guiding our trip.
As we approached Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas it was exciting to envision yourself as one of the pirate ships or enemy county trying to pass the waters the fort was built to defend. As we looked at the fort and saw the cannons pointed towards our ship, it was easy identify with those who retreated at this point in earlier centuries. When we docked at Fort Jefferson
we were treated to a tour of the fort and lunch served by the crew. After lunch it was time to explore the waters!
Prior to leaving the ship all those interested in snorkeling were fitted and received their gear (this was done at no extra charge). After the tour and lunch the crew directed us to the waters and the beach for some island adventure. We were directed to the coral reef that resided just about 100 yards off shore. The crystalline waters were perfect for snorkeling. The clarity of the waters and the friendliness of the wild life made it easy to identify many ocean dwellers. We swam with schools of grunts, had encounters with colorful tropical fish and stare downs with barracudas. The underwater reef and sights were among the best we have ever seen.
After a few hours of relating with the tropical underworld we took the opportunity to relax on the beautiful white sand beach protruding off the island. We then walked around the moat surrounding the fort and observed some of the many species of birds that make nearby Bush Key their home.
We boarded the boat for our return trip at 2:30 and cruised back to Key West enjoying the natural beauty of the waters and the surrounding islands as we listened to the tunes of Jimmy Buffet and other various artists. They opened the bar and snack station for those interested. The crew and Captain Mike also opened up the cabin for the guests to view the captain at work.
Our trip to the Dry Tortugas was beautiful, adventurous, educational and very enjoyable. Tera and I are already in the process of planning our next visit before the year’s end.
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