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Dry Tortugas Diving
At The Araby Maid

When diving Dry Tortugas, the Araby Maid is a once pristine wreck dive reserved for those with technical diving certification.

The final segment of the Florida Keys chain, the Dry Tortugas are remotely beautiful and isolated.

This makes the Dry Totugas a diving destination usually frequented only by the serious Key West diver, due to the greater dive trip distance from Key West.

However, if you have the technical diving certification and the time, this is one Dry Tortugas dive you'll want to explore.

In 1868, this 863 ton, 196' 3 masted steel schooner was built in Scotland by Robert Steele & Co. After a change of ownership she was purchased by M. Englestad and was owned by this Norwegian company until her ship accident occurred in 1903.

The Araby Maid was traveling through the heavy shipping channels off the Dry Tortugas when she collided with the SS Denver, creating a v-shaped gash in her portside bow causing her to sink.

Araby Maid Dive Site Description

Dry Tortugas diving at this wreck site, you'll find that the impact of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma has changed this wreck forever. Like the Rhein Wreck, this vessel was once considered a pristine wreck dive. Popular for it's variety of interesting features and artifacts, this ship is now significantly damaged.

Once fully upright and in good condition, when wreck diving this Dry Tortugas dive site you'll find her 3 masts off to starboard. Her upper deck support beams are collapsed and her hull twists inward.

Her once intact lower deck is now a rubble pile of lumber mixed with pieces of broken bottles, china, nautical equipment, brass fittings, a stove, and brass instrument remnants.

Wreck Diving The Araby Maid
Courtesy of Spree Expeditions on YouTube

On her port side hull you'll find this section is pushed in, and that the upper portion of the ship is separated from the lower portion of her hull. You'll also note that an engine is fully visible amidships.

The heavy density of oyster shells that once covered much of her form and equipment have also broken up and contribute to the litter in the area. Due to the force of these two mighty 2005 Florida hurricanes, her debris field now extends out about 150 feet and consists primarily of her decking lumber.

The soft silty sand surrounding the wreck also permeates the debris field, and the litter on her decking. This silty sand presents a problem when finning around or sifting through the debris because of the lack of current. The silt rises and since there's little to no water movement, it takes longer for the silt to resettle, considerably restricting visibility.

On the plus side, the minimal current makes finning around this wreck site easier when Dry Tortugas diving.

At-A-Glance Wreck Diving Description
and GPS Coordinates

Wreck Name
Araby Maid, 195' 3 masted steel schooner barque
2 miles NW of Dry Tortugas
GPS Coordinates
24 43.831N 83 28.955W
Technical dive site
180.4 ftmax depth 62.5 m / 205.1 ft
Dive Site Description
Current is usually minimal. Remains have been significantly impacted due to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. Decking lumber predominantly cover the area now, with bits and pieces of china, brass objects, broken bottles, and nautical equipment strewn through the debris
Marine Life
Amberjack, bull sharks, permit, oysters, barracuda, goliath grouper, sea turtles

When planning scuba vacations to the Dry Tortugas, at least one overnight stay is advisable. If your diving boat is properly equipped for staying overnight, anchoring off Garden Key is allowed.

Primitive camping is also available at the Dry Tortugas National Park, but you must pack in everything you need, including water.

If you plan on treating your Dry Tortugas diving trip as an overnight diving adventure, you'll have more time to spend wreck diving the various ship wrecks that lie deep off the Dry Tortugas National Park.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040