Sailing with Dummies (California to
Texas Florida, Day 38)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Today we planned eight, or maybe nine dives, all wreck dives except for the first one. We entered the waters west of the Florida Keys before sunup and anchored at our first dive spot around 6:30. We slept until 8:00, waiting for good light for diving.
Our first dive was at 50-65 feet in a flat area a east of the Dry Tortugas. The bottom was full of coral and full of fish. There weren’t any coral structures, just a lot of coral growing in the sand.
Preparing for our second we drove around the spot on the map that had the wreck symbol until we saw a structure on out fish finder. Then we anchored and headed downward. There was a very strong current so we pulled ourselves forward to the anchor chain on a rope and then headed to the bottom holding on to the chain. The current was weaker at the bottom (75 feet) but still required constant hard swimming to keep from losing ground. The wreck was a small boat. There were two large (400 pounds?) groupers hanging around the wreck.
For our third dive we repeated the anchoring process. The current was not quite as strong, but still moving fast enough that we held onto the anchor chain for the descent. At 30 feet we passed a thermal cline into cold water. The visibility went to less than 10 feet at that point. We went to the bottom (70 feet) and swam looking for a wreck for 20 minute and gave up.
Our next wreck spot was in 65 feet of water. We never saw a structure on the fish finder, but we did see some nice structures and what appeared to be a steep wall on the way there so we anchored and dived there. This was a nice place with a good, but small, wall. The upper part was 25-35 feet and the lower part went down to 60 feet. Slight current and good visibility made this dive very enjoyable.
Our next wreck spot was in 16 feet of water. The water was so murky we skipped it. And we looked for two more in that same area and skipped both of them, due to no structure and murky water. We decided to head south, away from the Florida Bay and toward the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to have better visibility.
For our fifth dive we found some structures at 65 feet on the fish finder next to a wreck spot on the map. The current was manageable. The water was warm and clear until we hit 30 feet. Then it turned cold and visibility reduced to about 15 feet. We both swam around at 50+ feet for more than 30 minutes looking for anything. Neither of us saw anything except sand and a few jellyfish at the surface. Very barren.
We found some very well-defined structures on the fish finder for our sixth dive. In the water we found no wreck. However, we found some wonderful coral structures teeming with fish. Probably the biggest concentration of fish I have ever seen. Thousands of them, and dozens of different kinds. We spent about an hour at 30-45 feet enjoying the dive.
It was 7:30 when we finished our sixth dive and we were tired. Six dives and five tanks of air each. We relaxed and headed for Fort Lauderdale.
I’ve found that diving creates a lot of hunger. After the first dive was French toast – lots of it – and fried eggs, too. The second dive was capped by a banana covered with peanut butter. And we finished off a bag of chips ahoy, too (it was already open, so we didn’t eat the entire thing, just most of it). After the third dive Bob made tuna sandwiches. We had a fairly long break after the fourth dive. That allowed time for crackers and cheese, an apple, and cereal. And I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, since we ran out of chips ahoy.
Then an odd thing happened. Nothing was eaten between dives five and six. I guess the stomach can only hold so much.