Sailboat Fishing Guide: How to Fish from a Sailboat

Mutton snapper caught while trolling in the Virgin Islands

Sailboat fishing is one of my favorite activities during our boat trips. Fortunately, many of the most popular sailing destinations like the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands (check out my BVI specific fishing tips or Exuma fishing guide) are also excellent places to fish.

Even if you aren’t an experienced angler, with a little planning you can have a lot of success. Here’s what you need to know to catch some serious fish and turn your yacht into a fishing sailboat.

Table of contents:

I usually buy my fishing tackle and equipment from my local fishing store or TackleDirect. I’ve found that TackleDirect is more consistent on pricing and availability than other sites, such as Amazon. So, I’ve included some affiliate links to some of the products I recommend. I might get a commission if you use them, and I appreciate it! It helps me cover the cost of the Yacht Warriors site.

Fishing tackle and equipment

Northern Exumas Wahoo
Wahoo we caught with a diving lure in the Exumas

To rent, or to bring your own?

On our first few trips, we rented fishing equipment, but now we bring our own quality gear. A few things to consider…

Renting

Most charter companies should have an option to rent a rod, reel, and small tackle box for around $20/day. They will also provide a rod holder and gaff. Check in advance if they offer this option and what is included. You should expect to bring your own lures and additional fishing tackle.

Ye be warned: don’t expect quality gear – we’ve had a lot of problems the few times that we’ve rented. The equipment gets a lot of use and tends to be poorly maintained.

Renting is the cheaper option if you aren’t serious about fishing. Buying your own equipment is an investment that will take a couple trips to payback.

For smaller reef fish, the rented equipment should be just fine! If you want to go after the bigger pelagic deepwater fish, consider bringing your own setup.

Bring your own gear

The biggest factor to consider with bringing your gear on these fishing trips is the added headache of dealing with the airlines. You’ll need to check your rods and potentially pay an extra fee. United, for example sometimes tries to charge $200 if the container is over a certain length. If you have preferred status with an airline, you might be immune.

You should also plan to check fishing tackle and filet knives.

Rods

I have two, 6 foot jigging rods that I bring. If you have a local fishing store (mine is Fishing Tackle Unlimited), ask them what they’d recommend – there are lots of options. You can get away with shorter rods for trolling – it might help save you money on airline fees.

I like the jigging rod since you can use it for lower speed trolling, jigging, and bottom fishing. If you bring spinning reels, you can also use them for casting.

I use this Plano rod tube to transport my rods for every trip – it’s affordable, fits several rods, and is adjustable depending on the length you need.

Plano Rod Tube (TackleDirect)

This is the Plano rod tube I use to transport my two rods. It's made it through 7 airline flights now.

Reels

I use Shimano TLD 30IIAs. This was a recommendation from a friend that does some serious marlin fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s why the 2-speed reel is great for sailboat fishing. When fishing under sail and you land a good size fish, you can’t just stop and you can only slow down so much. The 2-speed reel lets you use the low gear to deliver more power to the fight.

I had the reels spun with 65 pound braided line (braid) and topped with 80 pound mono line. 

Yes – this is probably overkill but I would rather be ready when I hook up on monster wahoo!

Spinning reels are also great – if you come up on a school of mahi-mahi, stop the boat, and cast some lures out. Keep in mind if you plan to use them for trolling, you won’t be able to have as much line on them as compared to trolling (or conventional) reels

Shimano TLD-30IIA reel (TackleDirect)

This reel might be oversized for some of the fish you'll catch, but the 2-speed reel will help when you aren't able to take the sails down and have to keep moving.

Fishing tackle for bareboat charter trip
Prepping some lures and tackle ahead of a bareboat sailing trip

Other equipment for fishing off a sailboat

For my tools and knives, I use BUBBA products. You’ll get their famous non-stick grip and high-quality materials that will within stand the saltwater. These things will last for years.

Filet knife – I highly recommend bringing your own, well-sharpened filet knife. The boat is unlikely to have a knife sharp enough for the job. You also want a blade that is flexible. We brought this KastKing knife on our recent Exumas sailing trip and it worked great!

BUBBA 7 Inch Tapered Fillet Knife (Amazon)

Razor sharp and comes with the BUBBA non-stick grip.

filleting a wahoo in the Exumas
Filleting a freshly caught wahoo in the Exumas

Pliers – I use them to help remove hooks and to cut leader wire.

BUBBA Stainless Steel Pliers (Amazon)

These pliers won't rust and they also come with crimper and cutting features.

Casting net – I do not bring one of these, but you can if you are a serious angler and have an idea where to catch them. Some countries may not allow them, so make sure you double check the rules.

Trolling hooks – bring some #7 or #8s, such as Mustad Big Game Stainless Steel. The stainless steel are more expensive, but are resistant to saltwater. You’ll use these hooks to set up your skirted lures and ballyhoo rigs (if you can find frozen ballyhoo).

Mustad Big Game Stainless Steel Hooks (TackleDirect)

These are the sharpest hooks you can find and the stainless steel will help prevent rusting in between trips.

Bait circle hooks – I like Gamakatsu #7s. The circle hooks are best for bottom dropping with live/dead bait. The fish is most likely to swallow the bait whole, and the circle hook helps to prevent the hook from getting stuck in deep. Rather, they are designed to hook them in the mouth.

Gomakatsu Circle Hooks (TackleDirect)

These are great hooks to attach some live/dead bait and set on the bottom. Use the Double Dropper Rig (video below).

Live bait net – I’m usually able to catch a couple live bait on sabiki rigs each trip. I keep them alive in this Lindy Bait Tamer. 

Lindy BaitTamer (Amazon)

This one is right-sized for a bareboat charter and has held up over several trips. You can keep it in the water when you are at anchor. When moving, put it in a bucket and change the water every hour to keep the fish alive.

Gloves – I would consider this optional. We usually have a pair on hand to search for spiny lobster. The gloves can make it easier to handle a fish without the help of a gaff or net.

Weights – you’ll want a couple for bottom dropping. The deeper you drop, plan to go heavier.

Swivels – you’ll attach these to your primary line to quickly swap out pre-rigged lures. Look for ~75 pound rated ball bearing swivels with snap connections.

Wire leader – we attach 2 feet or so of steel leader often when trolling since we catch a lot of toothy fish (barracuda, mackerel, and hopefully wahoo). This will help you catch more fish and lose fewer lures. Check out Malin Hard-Wire stainless steel leader. No. 6 (61 pound) will do. Check out this youtube video that shows you how to rig up a wire leader with the haywire twist.

Malin Stainless Steel Leader (TackleDirect)

Attach a copy feet of this leader to your rigs to prevent line breakage from tooth fish (like wahoo).

Fishing techniques and the lures to bring

Trolling lines are in the water - this is what our setup looks like

What is the best way to go fishing from a sailboat? These are your best options.

Trolling from a sailboat for bluewater sportfish

Most of our fishing is done when we are underway. It’s fun to always to toss a line knowing something could hit your lure at any time.

This is also the best way to cover a lot of distance, do some offshore fishing, and hook up on some game fish. We also do it in 30 feet of water too!

Check with your charter company ahead of time and make sure they include rod holders on both the port and starboard side of your charter boat. It’s also a good idea to bring carabiners to tie the reels to the boat. We’ve had a rod holder break on us before and it saved us from losing the whole setup.

You can also bring your own rod holders to clamp on to the railings – not all sailing yachts come with them and the charter company may not have spares.

Amarine Rod Holders (Amazon)

These are an affordable option for clamp on rod holders in case you want to bring your own.

King mackerel caught in Key West
King mackerel caught while trolling with a ballyhoo rig and Ilander lure skirt

We will usually pull one line at the top of the water (or slightly below) and a second 10-20 ft deep using a diving lure.

At the top, we use Iland Ilander Trolling Lures with weighted heads to keep the lure just below the surface. We use the 8 1/4 inch length and I like blue/white, pink, and black/purple. Get a variety! If we have dead bait such as ballyhoo or mahi belly, we will rig the skirt with them.

Iland Ilander lure (TackleDirect)

This is a great all-around surface lure that you can often catch mahi, tuna, and king mackerel with. Blue/white, pink, and black/purple are my favorites.

Iland Ilander Flasher Series lure (TackleDirect)

Try a couple of the flasher skirts as well - the reflective mylar helps to attract some fish species.

Fathom Offshore Calico Jack Slant (TackleDirect)

This Fathom lure has a tapered nose that creates great swimming action. It also comes pre-rigged on 12' of mono and includes a stainless steal hookset.

Check out this video on how to rig a ballyhoo for a skirted lure.

For the second rod, we’ll use an artificial diving lure. I like the Rapala X-Rap Magnum and the Yozuri Bonita (look for them in 5-6 inch sizes). They have great action and will dive 10-20 feet below. These are your best bet for catching wahoo.

Yozuri Bonita lure (Tackle Direct)

This has been my most successful diving lure recently, and I caught my first wahoo with it. In 6 3/4 in size, try the Flying Fish, Red Black, and Purple Black.

Rapala X-Rap Magnum lure (Tackle Direct)

Try these in a variety of depths from 15-40 feet. I like Hot Pink, Bonito, and the Green Mackerel colors.

Shark bait in the Exumas
Yo-Zuri Bonita lure (Flying Fish) on a fish that we didn't reel up fast enough!

Experiment with distances – we like to mix it up, and there is no perfect formula. We usually put one line ~75 feet out and the second ~125-150 feet behind the sailboat. You can mark the line with a sharpie to help you quickly get lures back in the water after checking them.

If you notice lots of sargassum seaweed in the water, check those lures frequently and clear them if necessary. While this can be frustrating, the good news is that mahi mahi like to hang out under seaweed lines.

Catching sargassum
This is going to happen to you! Check those lines often.

Casting for mahi-mahi or tuna on the surface

This technique has worked for us a couple times. I also see it successfully done all the time on deep sea fishing charter videos such as StanzFam.

The idea is that while trolling in deeper water, you might come across a school of mahi or tuna. What do you look for?

  1. Birds or a disturbed water surface. This usually means the birds and fish are attacking a bait ball. Go join in on the action! They are in a frenzy and will eat anything.
  2. Mahi-mahi love to hang around weed lines or other floating debris. It is said they don’t like the sun very much. Get close to investigate – you can often see them in clear water.

Stop the boat, toss in some lures, and quickly retrieve them with the reel. This is best done with a spinning reel, but it can work with conventional reels as well. Bring a couple popper lures such as the Rapala Magnum Explode. Tady Lures are another great option.

If you have live bait, even better!

Here’s a variation of this technique: you just caught a mahi. If you can stop the sailboat, see if it’s friends come to investigate. They usually do!

Mahi hook up in the Virgin Islands
Schoolie mahi-mahi caught on a recent trip along a weed line using an Ilander lure

Bottom dropping for reef fish species

Occasionally we’ll stop over a reef and drop a couple lines down to target snapper and grouper. You can even use this technique when at anchor.

We use two hooks on a dropper loop knot and put on some live or dead bait (even if it’s a piece of raw chicken). This video is a great overview of how to tie the knot.

Drop it down and wait for that monster grouper to hit your line!

This technique is hit or miss when sailing. Most fishing boats or fishing charters that use this technique have a sonar fish finder to help them target the fish. Doing it on a sailboat is somewhat of a guessing game, but it has worked for us before. Try and find something with good bottom structure if possible.

Jigging for bottom fish

This technique also targets bottom fish. Drop your jigging lure and let it sink to the bottom. Once it’s down, pull up quickly once or twice and then let it sink back down. You can also try this in different directions.

For lures, the Tady Lures mentioned earlier are a great option. I also like Berkeley Fusion Bucktail Jigs – try the 3 ounce version in pink colors.

Little tunny caught trolling near Key West
Little tunny we caught trolling in ~40 feet of water

Where to fish while sailboat fishing

The obvious answer for me is: anytime we are sailing or moving the boat!

If you are trolling in less than 60 feet of water, you are likely to only catch mackerel, barracuda, and potentially some reef fish like mutton snapper.

To turn your sailboat into a sportfishing boat, let’s head for deeper water. I like to use the Navionics Boating App to help plan our routes. The Sonar Chart and Relief Shading layers help you pinpoint bottom structure and shelfs where the water quickly drops off.

You can have a lot of success trolling over bottom structure – anywhere that might provide a habitat to fish. Where there are small fish there are sure to be bigger fish. Also look for non-dangerous wrecks on your charts.

Drops are where the water can quickly fall of from 100 feet to thousands in a short distance. Troll back and forth over this if it will fit in your itinerary. The BVIs, Spanish Virgin Islands, and Exumas all have drops that you can fish during your charter trip.

The picture below is from our sailing trip to the Spanish Virgin Islands where we had a great fishing experience. We caught mahi-mahi, mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, king mackerel, barracuda, and more. We also did pretty well on a recent bareboat trip to Key West.

Each pin represents a fish caught during that morning we sailed around the eastern end of Vieques. We weren’t able to reach the drop farther south (black and purple shading) due to sailing conditions (the trades were really blowing), but we trolled over the first shelf drop and other bottom structure.

Fishing route in Vieques
Trolling route around Vieques in Puerto Rico | Pins represent fish we caught (source: Navionics)

We've caught one, now what?

Well first, get it on the boat!! Our setups described above are usually strong enough to pull the fish straight up onto the steps on the back of the pontoons of our catamaran. We don’t usually worry about the line snapping

If you are sure you’ve landed a keeper, you can also grab it with a gaff to make sure you don’t lose it at the boat. I have not seen many of these on charter boats, but you can ask for one if you rent gear.

For hook removal, we simply use a pair of pliers and gloves. The goal is to get that fish back in the water as soon as possible if it’s catch and release.

How to fillet your fish

I think the absolute best resource to learn is by watching videos. Captain Nick Stanczyk is the expert I turn to. Check out his youtube channel StanzFam. He usually filets fish at the end of every episode, and the videos are really fun to watch.

Fileting a mahi at the swim ladder

These are the fish that we would keep if caught:

  • Mahi-mahi
  • Tuna (yellow, blackfin, bonito)
  • Wahoo
  • Snapper
  • Grouper

There can be some varieties of these, so just be sure you are keeping the good eating ones. For example, a little tunny looks similar to bonito, but are not good eating at all. Florida puts out a great guide on identifying types of fish to help. Most of these fish can be caught all throughout the Caribbean.

If you are fishing in areas with ciguatera poisoning, double check local guidance before eating any reef fish.

We always bring supplies to make fish tacos and ceviche (yellow tail snapper is great for this). Simply grilling up some filets with olive oil, garlic, and lemon is also hard to beat.

Fresh caught ono poke bowl
Fresh ono (wahoo) poke bowl from our recent Exumas trip

If you’ve enjoyed this post and are new to bareboat charters or sailing vacations, check out our starter guide here.

Bareboat Charter Key West | Sailing Trip Adventure to the Dry Tortugas

Drone shot of Garden Key and Fort Jefferson at sunset

It had been awhile since I had seen a few friends from growing up in California. We got to talking on a group text, one thing led to another, and soon we were booking a guys sailing vacation trip 10 days from departure!

We looked at a couple nearby destinations, such as Miami, the Bahamas, or the Caribbean. Ultimately, we settled on a bareboat charter to Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

It had everything we were looking for in a short guys trip: close to home, excellent fishing prospects, long days on the water, pre-Civil War era fort exploration, and a bit of nightlife on Duval St in Key West.

Planning and our last-minute booking

This is the first sailing yacht charter trip I’ve booked during hurricane season. After checking the long-range weather models routinely on Tropical Tidbits, it looked like we had a clear weather window – so we went for it. We were careful to avoid the fate of Ernest Hemingway who was marooned at Fort Jefferson for 17 days when a tropical storm moved through!

There are only two bareboat charter Key West operators (that I’m aware of) – Florida Yacht Charters (recently joined a partnership with The Moorings) and Dream Yacht Charter. You may also find Navtours in a search, but they are a DYC partner, so you can choose to book through either (as of July 2022, it’s not clear if DYC and Navtours are still running their Key West operation).

Only one boat was available through DYC that fit our size requirements – a 2018 Bali 4.3 with a flybridge. OK, could be worse (I usually try and book the newest catamaran possible to avoid maintenance issues). But wait, no AC! 

Yes, I’m spoiled. But this was a guys trip and we decided to rough it even though this was August in south Florida. Better to go and sweat than not go at all.

I picked up a copy of the Waterway Guide Florida Keys to help with our route planning. It was helpful to understand the cruising grounds and key landmarks. Be advised there is not much information about anchorages (since there aren’t that many!). The best resource for that info is Garmin ActiveCaptain.

I wrote more about what to expect in this post.

Water Way Guide Florida Keys (Amazon)

This is a useful guide to help plan your trip to the Dry Tortugas or elsewhere in the Florida Keys. Aside from navigational info, there is good discussion about activities to enjoy in each area.

America's Fortress (Amazon)

If you're a history buff, check out America's Fortress for a historical account of the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson.

Boat trouble a-brewing

Stock Island Yacht Club and Marina sunset
Enjoying the morning breeze at the poolside dock at Stock Island Yacht Club & Marina

We arrived early on Wednesday and had a few hours to kill before boarding at 5pm. We got our first taste of the Florida sun as we explored downtown Key West and secured some souvenirs for the kiddos back home.

Garbo’s, made famous by the Diner’s Drive in and Dives, was a welcome respite from the heat. Check out the Umamiburger or Mahi Tacos and pair with a cold beer from the attached Hanks Saloon. The live music was already jamming.

Fish tacos at Garbo's
Cold beer and fish tacos at Garbo's and Hanks Saloon

Check in with DYC went smoothly and it was a luxury to have a well-established food delivery program available through Instacart. Prices were high, but it’s much cheaper than you’d pay on a bareboat trip in the Caribbean.

After stowing away our provisions and gear, we moved the catamaran over to the pool dock where we could better take advantage of the prevailing breeze (no shore power AC either since the boat was 220v).

We enjoyed the pool, showers, and restaurant available to charterers at the Stock Island Yacht Club and Marina. They also have a small store a short distance walk from the main building.

Unfortunately, the next morning we learned that an engine water pump was failing and the inverter was busted. We could live with the inverter, but a replacement would be needed for the pump. 

When the pump didn’t arrive on time, we decided to salvage the day and sailed down to the coral reef in Western Sambos for a swim and snorkel. We spent the night at anchor outside of Stock Island to soak in as much breeze as possible.

Sailing to Dry Tortugas - our catamaran finally gets underway

Boca Grande Key Sunset
Epic sunset over Marquesas Keys at Boca Grande

We received a call from DYC the next morning with a new plan – they just had a Nautitech 40 check back in that was available during out trip. After an inspection, cleaning, and swapping out of our gear, we were ready to get west – towards the Dry Tortugas at last! We jammed some sailing tunes and got underway.

Side note: I hadn’t been on a boat type quite like the Nautitech 40 – it has two helm stations at deck level. This made visibility for the helmsman especially difficult. After the challenge of dodging lobster trap buoys throughout the trip, let’s just say I won’t charter a boat like this in the future (unless of course it’s my only option).

Given the late departure, we spent our first night anchored off Boca Grande. The remaining 50 nautical miles to Fort Jefferson at Garden Key we would tackle the next day. You can enjoy spectacular sunsets here over the Marquesas Keys. 

What to expect from the Key West Bareboat Charter Cruising Grounds

If you choose this anchorage, expect to swing with the changing tide, so make sure you get that anchor set well. This is one of the reasons the Florida Keys or Key West requires more sailing experience and isn’t considered a beginner cruising ground. Some other reasons:

  • Few protected anchorages
  • Mostly anchoring, limited moorings available
  • Longer passages
  • Trickier navigation with shallow areas and hazards to avoid (such as lobster buoys!)
    • Dodging the lobster trap buoys was very frustrating – here’s my advice: charter a boat with good visibility from the helm station and go farther south on your route to the park (time and weather permitting)
    • I asked the operator of the Yankee Freedom (high speed catamaran that takes tourists to the park daily) if there was a better route to avoid the buoys – they confirmed there is no better route than the one we took
  • Less predictable weather – shiftier trade winds, hurricane season, and cold fronts in the winter

Fishing en route to the Dry Tortugas

Being a guys trip and all, we took the fishing seriously!! We brought our own gear and tackle. Ilander skirt lures were rigged with ballyhoo. Most of the time we fished in 30-60 feet of water, but we also ran south past the reef to deeper water (300+ feet) in search of tuna, mahi, and wahoo.

We trolled with two rods – one with the ballyhoo towards the surface, and the second with a diving artificial lure (Rapala X-rap Magnum for example).

We weren’t able to go too far offshore because of the ground we had to cover, so we had to settle for fish caught in the shallower depths. This time of year when the water is warmer, the pelagic species are generally going to be farther out towards the Gulf Stream – apparently out of reach for us on this trip.

If you want to learn more about how we fish, check out our sailboat fishing guide.

Dry Tortugas sailing route
Our track, with an attempt to reach deeper water on the westward passage | Pins are where we landed fish

Dry Tortugas fishing totals – I give us a C+

It was a decent haul, but we didn’t do as well as expected. Sadly, nothing was caught that we wanted to make fish tacos out of. Here are the totals for the trip.

  • 3 barracuda (one of which was the biggest I’ve ever caught…and I seem to catch a lot of them)
  • 2 king mackerels 
  • 1 little tunny

If you do fish, be aware of the the fishing regulations for the Dry Tortugas National Park – certain areas are restricted and you should stow your gear before arriving. If you do have any fish aboard, radio the Park Rangers on Channel 16 to report your catch before entering the park boundaries.

Within a mile of the Garden Key, fishing is permitted from a boat.

Exploring Fort Jefferson and Garden Key

Exploring Fort Jefferson
Exploring Fort Jefferson after the crowds from the Yankee Freedom had left | We had the place to ourselves

Adventure was the objective for this trip, and what could answer more than a long journey to the least visited lower 48 National Park with plenty of history?

We arrived at the Garden Key anchorage and found that we had the it all to ourselves (one boat later arrived)! Excellent. The crowds from the daily Yankee Freedom ferry were also gone so the fort was empty.

Before going ashore, I dove on the anchor and was visited by the largest barracuda I’ve ever seen. I’m sure he makes the anchorage his home – he hung around under the boat during our entire visit. I was also hoping to see some of the goliath groupers during the day, but they only showed up after dark.

Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas National Park

Heading ashore at Dingy Beach

We took the dingy in at, yes, Dingy Beach (there is a sign, you can’t miss it), and walked over to the boat pier to get our permit – it’s free. All you need to do is pay your entrance fee ($15/per person). The office also posts daily weather reports for the boating community.

Following the self-guided tour, we enjoyed learning about Fort Jefferson such as the construction, purpose, and famous prisoners including Dr. Mudd. Atop the fort next to a monster Parrot Rifle, it was fun to see our catamaran lying peacefully in the anchorage below.

You can also camp at the fort – and we spent some time mingling with a few of the campers. Most had taken fishing boats to the fort, enjoying the bountiful waters surrounding the National Park. We were jealous of their fresh catches!

Unfortunately, the very next day we had to begin the return trip to Key West since we lost a day with the boat issues. Next time we return, we’ll make sure we have more time for adventuring and exploration in the park, including Loggerhead Key.

Homeward bound - back to civilization

Dodging squalls
Dodging isolated squalls on our return to Key West

With the prevailing trades blowing in our teeth and a long distance to cover, we had to motor much of the way back. Such is the reality of a catamaran charter trip with firm travel dates.

We spent another night at Boca Grande with a mesmerizing sunset, one of the most magical I’ve seen. There was a massive thunderstorm complex to our north that put on quite the lightning show for hours and hours. 

We thought it was coming closer at times, but thankfully it stayed away. This made the perfect backdrop for a showing of Master and Commander, which we enjoyed with our projector after sunset cocktails. 

I slept on the catamaran trampoline out front each night, and this was the only time I was scared away below decks due to the approaching storms!

Our last day and a change in plans

On our way back to the marina, we enjoyed some more fishing and snorkeling at Western Dry Rocks. Check the state park and fishing regulations, but fishing and lobstering was permitted at this location during our visit. Unfortunately, I came up empty handed on the spiny lobster this time.

After swinging by the fuel dock in the afternoon at the Stock Island Yacht Club and Marina, we decided to debark and find a hotel. Our flights didn’t leave until the next evening, so it allowed us a refuge to hang out for the next 24 hours.

We chose the Perry Hotel, a welcome respite from the heat at neighboring Stock Island Marina. We enjoyed showers, a poolside happy hour, and of course – some AC! It was the perfect place to wind down and share sea stories from our Key West sailing charter trip.

Poolside happy hour at the Perry Hotel
Poolside happy hour at the Perry Hotel

Not qualified to do a Key West bareboat charter on your own yet?

Check out our starter guide here if it’s something you are interested in. 

Can you still take a similar trip in Key West? Yes! Crewed charters are available. Ask your charter company and they can help pair you with a skipper for the Florida Keys. You can also look into a power catamaran option if you have some boat know-how.

You may also stay in Key West and take some day trips. Day charters aboard catamarans are available for reef snorkeling and sunset cruises. The high-speed ferry Yankee Freedom also leaves Key West daily at 8:00am to bring you to the Dry Tortugas. You’ll be back by 5:00pm.

Thanks for reading my post about a Key West bareboat charter to the Dry Tortugas and making it all the way to the end! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe or check out some of my other articles, like this one about sailing to St Croix and visiting the Spanish Virgin Islands.