April 26, 2014:
I didn’t want to cause too much of a scene getting first aid for my coral collision back at the ferry. To be honest, I truly thought if they saw the blood dripping down my leg, they might quarantine me in some cordoned-off locker on the boat. I could see myself sitting alone on one of the boat benches with yellow crime scene tape draped around me. And, you’ve seen how beautiful it was out there.
There was no WAY they were keeping me off Garden Key any longer than necessary. So, I tried to play a little coy with the ferry boy, but he was a wiley one:
Annie: “Excuse me, sir? I just need a little band-aid please.”
Ferry Boy: “What for?”
Annie (thinking to stop the gushing river from my calf): “Uhhh … it’s just a nick.”
Ferry Boy: “Lemme see.”
Annie: “No, really, it’s nothing. Nevermind. I’ll just … ”
Ferry Boy: “Just let me see it. We’ll get you doctored up and back out there in no time.”
Ahhh … Okay, I thought. Whew. They’re not going to banish me to the lower barracks. The folks on the ferry were great. They washed my bloody patch right up, smeared some Neosporin on it and sent me back out to play. Phillip and I had just about an hour left on the island, so we kicked back in the sand and continued breathing in the view.
I was really surprised by how many different types of people that had come over with us on the ferry tour. I hate to say I fully expected to see only the plump-type tourists sporting their fanny packs and fanning themselves in the heat.
“Now ya’ll get together there Edna, and say cheese!”
And, while there were a few of them, there were also plenty of others from varying nationalities. Two young ladies who rode behind us on the way there sounded like they were speaking Portugese. There were two families who looked to be Pakistani or some other middle eastern descent, and there was this one couple on the beach that really caught our eye. You know when you see beautiful people, you just can’t help but stop and stare for a minute? It was like these two had just walked by:
They laugh because they know they’re prettier than you. Ha ha ha!
But, the couple on the beach had to be European. The woman had this almost inhuman hourglass shape, long cascading dark hair and a tiny string bikini. And, the guy was sporting an even teenier speedo without an ounce of body fat on him. I know, I should have taken pictures so you could see, but we were just kind of mesmerized. And I didn’t want to play the role of creepy tourist that day. They set up a little picnic spot next to us and fed each other little niblets of prosciutto. Like I said, very European. But, it was nice to see so many different types of people, all there enjoying the same breathtaking views.
After our last hour in the sun, the ferry crew started to herd us back to the boat so we could start making the two-hour passage back to Key West. Finding the AC-chilled section of the boat to feel more like a meat locker than a luxury, Phillip and I snagged two sun chairs on the Lido deck to make the cruise home al fresco. And, the best part about the ride home was the drink service! For the cruise back, the friendly ferry crew opened up a full bar for these thirsty Tortuga go-ers! (Well, and by “full,” I mean rum, vodka and beer – but hey, rum works just fine for this Mate, so no complaints here!).
“Well, have two rum runners with an extra shot, please.”
We also found the view from the back deck of the ferry made the perfect backdrop for an all-out photo shoot of the Dry Tortugas! Roll that beautiful footage!
Okay, so there were SOME fanny-packers …
“Next time, we’ll be over THERE!”
“On the ole’ Rest, anchored out with the rest of the sailboats!”
I know, we (well, and by “we” I mean I) went a little crazy with the picture-taking. But, it was so frustrating trying to capture the beauty of the place, the electric green of the water, but finding the photos just didn’t do it justice. I kept snapping anyway, thinking at least the pictures would at least remind me of what it really looked like to see it in person.
There! You see that bright, neon stripe on the water? That’s how green it was! Like what I imagine the color turquoise would like look, if you were on acid. I can only imagine …
We watched as the last white spits of land disappear on the horizon,
before settling into our sun chairs and kicking back for the cruise home. We read, napped, ordered two more rum runners, read and napped some more while the boat cruised along at 28 knots. While we will definitely be coming back to this pristine place someday on the s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, it was kind of nice to make the trip there and back in one day on the comfort of a big steaming ferry.
While the trip there by sailboat is typically about a 15 hour-passage, that is–as is everything with sailing–assuming good weather and a favorable sea state. Case in point, the day after we came and went to the Dry Tortugas via ferry, our buddy Johnny Walker (there he is!)
who made the trip from Ft. Myers Beach down to Key West with us, headed out to the Dry Tortugas from Key West on his 38′ Morgan. And while it was a quick, 14-hour sail there, the sail back turned out to be a 24-hour, 4-6 foot beatdown. The auto-pilot wouldn’t hold and Johnny pretty much had to hold the wheel the entire time. Did I also mention that Johnny is just a few months shy of 72 and still out there sailing like a hellion? A total badass, that one! But, he said it was exhausting. A really rough trip. So, while we do plan to make the trip from Key West to the Dry Tortugas on the Plaintiff’s Rest some day, we know we’ll have to plan at least a week or more to time the weather and sea-state right and really enjoy the trip.
Besides, an adventure like that is not something you want to rush anyway …