Sailing Guide

Area from Key West to Dry Tortugas (Florida)

Area from Key West to Dry Tortugas (Florida)



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.


Florida Reefs

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 Mexico.

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.
The 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.

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Sites around Area from Key West to Dry Tortugas (Florida)
Flying distances - Direct line

The Dry Tortugas (Florida)

The Dry Tortugas are a group of small keys and reefs 63 miles W from Key West. The group is about 11 miles long, in a NE-SW direction, and 6 miles wide.
With their surrounding waters, they constitute the Dry Tortugas National Park.
The first Europeans to discover the islands ...
8 Apr 12

Key West National Wildlife Refuge (Florida)

Key West National Wildlife Refuge (28950 Watson Boulevard, Big Pine Key, FL; 33043. E-mail:
Phone: 305-872-0774) extends W from Key West to Marquesas Keys.Key West National
Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as a preserve ...
14 Mar 10

Marquesas Keys (Florida)

The Marquesas Keys (not to be confused with the Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean) form an uninhabited island group about 30 miles (50 km) west of Key West, 4 miles (6 km) in diameter, and overgrown by mangrove. They are protected as part of the Key ...
8 Apr 12

Halfmoon Shoal (Florida)

Halfmoon Shoal, covered 8 feet, is off the W end of The Quicksands. A wreck covered 6 feet and marked by a light is on the W edge of the shoal.
8 Apr 12

The Quicksands (Florida)

A large shoal, the W part of which is known as The Quicksands, extends 18 miles W from the Marquesas
The shoal is about 4.5 miles wide between the 18-foot curves and has a least depth of 2 feet over its E part.
A strong E to W current is observed in the area of The Quicksands.
8 Apr 12

Rebecca Shoal (Florida)

 Rebecca Shoal, 43 miles W of Key West, is a small coral bank covered 11 feet. Rebecca Shoal Light (24°34'42"N., 82°35'06"W.), 66 feet above the water, is shown from a square skeleton tower on a brown pile foundation on the S edge of the shoal. A red sector ...
8 Apr 12

New Ground Shoal (Florida)

New Ground, a shoal with a least depth of 4 feet at its W end, is about 6 miles long. It extends in an E-W direction about 3.5 miles N of The Quicksands.
A light is on the W side of the 4-foot spot. The water shoals abruptly on the N side of New Ground, and vessels should stay ...
8 Apr 12

Rebecca Shoal Channel (Florida)

Rebecca Shoal Channel, immediately W of Rebecca Shoal Light, frequently is used by vessels bound from the Straits of Florida to points on the W coast of Florida. Vessels bound for Mobile and points W pass to the W of Dry Tortugas.
So far as known, Rebecca Shoal Channel is clear, ...
8 Apr 12

Mooney Harbor SW anchorage (Florida)

Mooney Harbor Key is located only about nine miles from Boca Grand. After carefully picking your way around the island you'll find a great outside anchorage on the west side of the island. This anchorage, with water depths of around 10 feet almost to the shore can be found at 24°33.826'N ...
8 Apr 12

Southeast Channel (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Southeast Channel skirts the reefs S of East Key and Middle Key, and passes between the 25-foot shoal S of Hospital Key and Iowa Rock off Bush Key Shoal. Iowa Rock is marked by a light.
The reefs S of Middle Key can be cleared by keeping S of a line through the abandoned lighthouse ...
8 Apr 12

Pulaski Shoal (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Pulaski Shoal, at the NE end of the group, is 12 miles NW of Rebecca Shoal. Pulaski Shoal Light (24°41'36.0"N., 82°46'22.7"W.), 56 feet above the water, is shown from a small black house on a hexagonal pyramidal skeleton tower on piles on the E side of the shoal.The keys are low ...
8 Apr 12

Bush Key (Dry Tortugas) (Florida)

Bush Key, just E of Garden Key, is a refuge for noddy and sooty terns. These birds come in early April and leave in September.
8 Apr 12
Local Area

The Keys ( Florida)

The Florida Keys are a chain-like cluster of about 1700 islands in the southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the ...
7 Apr 12

West Florida

The coast, for nearly 115 miles, from Key West to San Carlos Bay is low, sandy, and generally wooded. Innumerable small islands and keys, interlaced by many small rivers and bayous, make up Everglades National Park and the Ten Thousand Islands. From San Carlos Bay N to Tampa Bay the ...
6 Apr 12

Gulf of Mexico

The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world. The shape of its basin is roughly oval and approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) wide and filled with sedimentary rocks and debris. Tidal ranges are extremely small due to the narrow connection with the ocean. Considered ...
6 Apr 12

NW Atlantic Ocean

Entre le Groenland et la mer du Nord, l'Atlantique est séparé de l'Océan Arctique par le seuil de Wyville-, zone relativement peu profonde (entre 300 et 1250 m) et de laquelle émerge l'Islande.
Au Nord, c'est-à-dire déjà dans l'océan Arctique, on trouve le bassin de Norvège, ...
19 Mar 15

Key West (Florida)

A W current, counter to the prevailing E set of the Gulf Stream, at times exceeding 1 knot, has been reported in the vicinity of Key West Entrance Lighted Whistle Buoy.
In the S approaches to Key West within the 10-fathom  curve currents are weak and variable.
In the main ...
13 Mar 10

Bahia Honda Key (Florida Keys)

Bahia Honda (meaning deep bay, in Spanish) is an island in the lower Florida Keys.
Bahia Honda State Park. Founded in 1961, occupies most of the island. The channel at the island's west end is one of the deepest natural channels in the Florida Keys.Marine life is quite plentiful ...
16 Apr 12
During your navigation, remember to update the data. If a harbor, marina or anchorage is missing, create it. Thank you for all boaters.