|| Unless you have a private boat or seaplane, the only way to get to Dry Tortugas is on a ferry called the Yankee Freedom — yes, that is it’s real name and yes, an American flag billows off the rear. My ride on the Yankee was particularly rough. Rob, the crew captain, who interacted with his passengers with equal parts dad and drinking buddy, warned us from the terminal building that the seas were high. The waves along the channel into the park averaged five to seven feet high. ⠀
“Dramamine is your best friend today,” he told the crowd. He sold it on the cheap, one dollar per dose. I was no stranger to seasickness, once getting sick over a railing as I guided my own group of passengers through the channel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I popped two chalky pills and spent the next three hours in an open-mouth daze while around me the majority of the passengers who “never got sick” turned white and reached desperately for brown bags. Across from me, my two seat mates, a couple from Dallas, watched the water for signs of land.⠀
“I wonder if they ever see Cubans crossing over,” the man said, lifting his sunglasses to check the waves. It was a hideous picture; the waves could crush any smaller crafts. But we were directly in the channel between Cuba and Miami. Dry Totugas is a midpoint. ⠀
His girlfriend pulled her blonde hair out of her Lily Pulitzer jacket as she zipped it up to her chin. “They’d be crazy not to come,” she said. “We have everything.”⠀
Read about the history of Dry Tortugas, American exceptionalism, and the rest of my trip ((did I see Cleatus the crocodile!?)) at Southeastern. Link in profile.