The area from Key West for 63 miles W to Dry Tortugas is a continuation of the keys with their intervening reefs and shoals. The keys are low, small in extent, and, except for the Dry Tortugas, generally covered with dense growths of mangrove.
Once you leave Key West, be aware that there are no services whatsoever in the remainder of the Keys headed west, not even at the Dry Tortugas National Park. There is no fresh water, no fuel, no wireless, no marinas.
On the straits side of the keys, and at an average distance of 5 miles,
are the Florida Reefs, a dangerous line of shoals which extend along the
entire length of the chain. These reefs extend from near Stuart, on the
Atlantic coast, to the Dry Tortugas, west of Key West, in the Gulf of
The most prolific reef development occurs seaward of the Florida Keys.
The reefs here are spectacular and rival those of many Caribbean areas. Approximately 6,000 coral reefs are found between Key Biscayne and Dry Tortugas.
The reefs are particularly hazardous because they do not break in smooth weather and few of them are exposed.
water shoals abruptly between the reefs and along their outer edges.
When approaching the reefs from seaward, their proximity usually is
indicated by a change in color of the water from deep blue to light
green or by the bank blink.
However, too much reliance should not be
placed on such indications. Lights and daybeacons facilitate navigation
along the reefs in clear weather, but soundings should be resorted to
in thick weather. Depths of 50 fathoms indicate a distance of 2 to 3
miles from the reefs, and great caution should be used in approaching
closer. Fogs are infrequent in this area. The water always becomes milky
following windy weather. The usual color is bluish green on the reefs,
while the rock patches are dark, shading through brown to yellow as they
approach the surface. Sand patches are bright green. Grass patches at
depths of 10 to 15 feet have the appearance of rocks. With the sun
astern, the line marking deep water and the edges of reefs is
surprisingly clear from a position aloft.
La zone partant de Key West, sur 63 M à l'W, vers Dry Tortugas est occupée par des keys avec leur rochers et leurs eaux peu profondes. Les keys sont basses, peu étendues, et, excepté pour les Dry Tortugas, généralement couvertes d'épaisses mangroves.
Une fois que vous quittez Key West, sachez qu'il n'y a pas de service dans le reste des keys à l'W, même pas au parc national de Dry Tortugas. Il n'y a pas d'eau, pas de carburant, pas de port de plaisance.