Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dry Tortugas - a Gem not to be missed!

Dry Tortugas – a short history
1513 Spanish Explorer Ponce de Leon discovers and names the Tortugas (Spanish for Turtle)
1832 Naturalist John James Audubon observes bird and marine life in the Dry Tortugas
1846 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begins construction of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key
16 million bricks were used in its construction
1861 Start of the Civil War; Union soldiers stationed at Fort Jefferson for first time
1865 Nearly 2,000 people (soldiers, prisoners and some civilians) are at Fort Jefferson
Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the man who set the broken leg of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was the most famous prisoner. Mudd arrived in 1865 but was later exonerated and released in 1869
1898 USS Maine anchors before sailing to Cuba; Spanish-American War1935 Fort Jefferson National Monument established to protect the nesting colonies, marine life, and historic resources

We had two of the best sails ever! - going and coming back - it is a wonderful place - the history is incredible - seeing the Cuban Chugs and meeting the park rangers who volunteer and keep the place spotless...

....the anchorage is not the best for holding but then again...it makes for interesting times when you meet your new neighbours in the middle of the nite when you swear 'they' are moving forward and it is really you moving backward....and don't try rafting up....we witnessed a complete horsedance as our friends Ace and Suzy got dragged along with their buddyboatin friends rafted to each other and trying to minimize damage and keep out of the shallows.

...one interesting anecdote...because they are on constant watch for Cubans coming ashore (the dry land theory of immigration in the US) they are quite vigilent about keeping their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. Kaija, Doc & the Capt decided to take a little dinghy ride out to a wee island some ways away and while the Admiral was hunted for shells and Doc was fishing, the Capt decided to get a wee bit of colour on his 'buns'....so after a couple of hours of relaxing we dinghied back to the anchorage only to be met by one of the park rangers who was fond of Doc and she exclaimed..."well you folks gave us quite a start today" I asked what she meant and she explained that when they saw us out on the small island they figured it was more Cubans coming ashore, but after checking us out 'thorougly' with their high powered cameras and binnoculars the head park ranger said "they ain't no cubans...not with big ol white buns like that".... ;o)

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