Provisioning for the Dry Tortugas

The last couple of weeks have been busy on Blue Turtle.  We’ve been gearing up for our annual trip down to the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.  This year will make our 4th year heading south to our favorite cruising destination. We’ve been working diligently to get Blue Turtle ready and stocked up for the trip. […]

The last couple of weeks have been busy on Blue Turtle.  We’ve been gearing up for our annual trip down to the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas.  This year will make our 4th year heading south to our favorite cruising destination. We’ve been working diligently to get Blue Turtle ready and stocked up for the trip. It can be exhausting just prepping for a trip like this, but after 3 years we pretty much have it down to a science. Aside from our regular prep checklist, Randy has also been busy installing a new AC in the forward berth (more on that to come). Below is just some of the items we check off when preparing for a trip like this.

  • Check running lights (if cruising at night)
  • Have bottom and running gear dove and cleaned
  • Check engine maintenance
  • Bring spare fuel filters and impellers
  • Bring extra oil, transmission oil and coolant
  • Fill fuel and water
  • Pump holding tank
  • Check diving and snorkeling equipment
  • Provision for food and water
  • Provision for any pets traveling with you

In addition to that, we also borrow about 7 dive tanks from a friend to give us a total of 14 tanks. Randy has them all filled at the local dive shop and loads and secures them onboard.

These borrowed tanks plus our 7 will give us 14 tanks to dive with in the Dry Tortugas

This year our plans are to cruise to the Content Keys/Jewfish Basin area to let the boys do a little spear fishing, then head into Key West for a night or two to fill up our water tanks and do some last minute provisioning before heading to the Dry Tortugas. In the past, the longest we’ve stayed in the Dry Tortugas is 7 days and this year we are hoping to extend that to about 11 days, weather permitting of course. The maximum stay there is 14 days.

While Randy has been busy getting the boat in shape and ready to go, I’ve been meal planning and stocking up on food. We will have about 1 week at anchor before heading into Key West and then off for another 11 days at the Dry Tortugas. My plan this year is to stock up for 2.5 – 3 weeks (basically our whole trip) of food and beverages so that when we get to Key West, I’ll only need to pick up fresh produce and other perishable items. I’ve also decided to make things a little easier on myself while in the Dry Tortugas by cooking several crockpot meals in advance that I separated out into individual meal ziplocks and freeze. We are in the water most the day snorkeling and diving, and by dinner time I just want something quick and easy to make since I usually have 3 cameras worth of images to download and get ready for the next day.  And after all, it is vacation!

Crockpot chicken tacos (top) and BBQ chicken (bottom) are now frozen and ready to be thawed for our trip to Dry Tortugas

3 meals worth of chicken, potatoes and carrots

Needless to say, my freezer is jam packed as well as all of our cabinets. I buy a lot of canned vegetables and fruit for long trips like this. Usually my produce lasts the first 5 days or so and we try to eat that up first then move on to the cans. I also tend to buy fruits and vegetables that last longer. Whole melons usually do well until you cut them. Whole fruits like apples and oranges work well on longer trips too. I don’t have as much luck with bananas and berries so if I do have them we eat them right away. While I love salad on land, I don’t usually make it on long trips since lettuce doesn’t tend to last that long. I buy a lot of onions, bell peppers, zucchini and squash that we can grill.

Grocery run on the morning we left

We also load up on several cases of bottled water. Finding a place to store all the water along with beer and wine can be quite a challenge. Our water capacity is 200 gallons which can get us about 2 weeks on hook with the 3 of us. This, however, is in super-conservative water-saving mode. It means quick showers and washing dishes only once per day. Thankfully, we are all pretty good about being conscious with saving water.

Some of the bottled water for our trip

We are super excited about this year’s trip to the Dry Tortugas. We have plans to meet our friends Chris and Courtney and family there which should be a lot of fun. We are also stoked about it since I will be writing an article for PassageMaker Magazine about cruising to the Dry Tortugas (more on that to come!). I’ll be in full-on picture-taking mode for this trip and can’t wait!

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