Dove with Dive Charters International run by Leo Sands (888) 340-DIVE.
The real purpose of the trip was to work as a safety diver for some tech divers on a mission. The mission was cancelled due to high currents (and considering the events during the week that was a good thing) but since the vacation time was already planned and getting it rescheduled later in the year was not going to happen due to the ever-popular Y2K 'bug', I went anyway just to go and dive. If you just want pictures here they are. All dives were done on 36% DNA.
Day 1 - Saturday - sunny - calm - light swells
Dive 1 - Lynn's Reef - 67FSW 0:53 60' viz 80F
Dive 2 - Seagate - 66FSW 1:09 60' viz 80F
Dive 3 - Brown House - 64FSW 0:53 60' viz 80F
Dive 4 - Shark - 65FSW 1:04 80' viz 80F
Most of the dives this trip were with Kathy (Leo's SO) and she is a shell collector as well as the S Florida bag lady. We didn't do any dives this weekend where she didn't come up with 3 catch bags full of trash. It is sad that people feel they can just toss their trash overboard but it is nice that there are others like Kathy that clean up after them. That means we spent most of our dives out in the sand on the inward side of the reef. Sometimes between the reef and the false reef and other times on the inside of the false reef. I don't mind this as it is a chance to see a whole different set of critters. Lots of batfish and 4 or 5 scorpion fish as well as a lot of rays.
Most people don't think they have done a dive unless they see the reef. They don't know what they are missing by NOT seeing the reef. There are lots of different UW environments just as there are different environments above water and each has it's own set of inhabitants. The capper was a guitarfish (which you will NOT find on the reef.)
The current was strong on the first dive but by the end of the day there was essentially no current at all. We spent a large portion of dive 4 in almost the same spot moving maybe 100 yards through the course of the dive.
We are watching Floyd churning through the Atlantic. Looks to be a couple of days away and is on an intercept course with Boynton Beach.
Day 2 - Sunday - sunny - calm - 2-3 foot swells on a long cycle
Dive 1 - Gulfstream - 66FSW 1:02 40' viz 80F
Dive 2 - DelRay Ledges - 69 1:00 40' viz 80F
Dive 3 - ????? - 64 1:03 50' viz 80F
There were 4 dives today. I opted out on dive 4 as my left ear was giving me some pain on dive three. On thinking about it later, I had forgotten to take my morning dose of Flonase and had some congestion as a result. The object lesson here is 1) don't forget your medications and 2) Don't be afraid to NOT do the dive - no one will think the less of you and you will live to dive another day.
Much of the same as day 1 though we did scare up a couple of nurse sharks and I did have the opporunity to get up close with a scorpion fish (though the film was jammed in the camera and the pictures did not come out.)
Floyd is rumbling closer and by the end of the day, we are starting to see some of the outer bands of the storm.
Day 3 - Monday - mostly cloudy - starting to blow - 3 foot waves
Dive 1 - Bud Bar - 96FSW 0:36 80'viz 80F
Dive 2 - Seagate - 66FSW 1:04 40'viz 80F
I have several times in the past tied off to the Bud and then retrieved the line but had never had the chance to dive it. This time Allan (one of the other DMs) and I dropped the line down and did the dive then when everyone else had gone up we played for a while longer and then detached the line and went up.
There are two HUGE jewfish on this wreck if you can find them. They will be down inside and get through some spots that seem to be much smaller than they are. I did get some pictures on the wreck and one of a turtle came out especially good (IMO). There is one that Leo looked at and said 'nice scorpion.' I had not seen it and am still not 100% convinced it is really there and not just part of the wreck but it looks like it could be. Check the picture in the upper right-hand corner and judge for yourself.
Second dive and the fish are starting to disappear as is the visibility. By the end of the dive, it was rocking and rolling pretty well. Several divers were providing hot meals for the fish on the trip back in. Floyd is less than 100 miles away and we are starting to see the effects.
Time to start preparing the boats. Everything removeable had to be removed. After several hours of pretty back-breaking work, it was time to retire to the Two Georges for Miller time.
Day 4 - Tuesday - cloudy - windy - no dive trips today
Spent the day getting the boats ready and then searching for a generator before bagging it and going back to the house to board things up. High tide this morning was REALLY high. The dock was knee deep in water. Floyd is pushing a pretty good surge ahead of himself.
High-tide at midnight and we visit the dock. It is even higher. All of the fishing boats have moved to the other side of the marina to ride out the storm most with their owners aboard. We drove N on A1A to S Palm Beach and portions of A1A were underwater.
Day 5 - Wednesday - A near miss
Floyd missed but not by much. There was some wind and rain during the night but as Floyd hit the Gulf stream, it was sheared off to the north. 20 or so miles farther to the west and we would have been in deep kimshee. It is now far enough north and east that we can start reassembling the boats.
During the high tide this PM we were sitting in Two George's having lunch/beer and watching the wait staff wade through the water that was almost knee deep. On our way back, I saw a small barracude swimming on top of the dock.
Day 5 - Thursday - Cleaning up
Except for splicing an anchor line. I feel pretty useless today. Worked on Leo's computer and got it up to speed but as far as helping out with the boats I was I am afraid not terribly useful. Everything is back in order and ready for tomorrow. If the gods will it there will be diving tomorrow. One thing Floyd left was a huge sand bank at the mouth of the inlet. You can see the waves breaking over it. The pumps are running but who knows what tomorrow may bring? Still very rough. Wouldn't want to be out on the water today.
Day 6 - Friday - Back to Diving
Dive 1 - Lynn's Reef - 62FSW 0:53 6' viz 80F
That's right! Six foot visibility. I have seen much much better days at Lake Travis! Everyone aboard agreed that the second dive was a waste and we went back in after one. It is still rough and the fish are getting hot meals. My buddy (a relative newbie) was very excited that a large school of baitfish wanted to stay with us for an extended period. I was not as excited but was instead wondering what it was they were more afraid of than us.
Day 8 - Saturday - SE Florida Mini-NED Fest
Dive 1 - Seagate - 62FSW 0:43 8' viz 80F
Lee Bell and Michael Doelle joined us today but the best part of the day was at the Two George's afterwards. Michael did win the prize for best piece of junk. He found a steering wheel (but not the rest of the boat.) More very low viz and bad conditions. I elected not to do the second dive since I was flying the next morning and the conditions did not justify the risk in my mind. Hard to say what we saw. It was like swimming in milk.
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