My So-Called Dive Life

9/24/2007 - Prayers for Nikki.....

 I met Nikki, an all around awesome chick diver and spearo, earlier this year on a trip out of Jupiter . I was solo on the boat, new to the group. She made an effort to draw me into conversation. We discussed spearfishing, being chicks in a male sport, and generally bonded. She convinced me to join Spearboard, then sent me a PM on Scubaboard to remind me when a week had passed and I still hadn't shown up. We only met once, but she left a lasting impression. She was bubbly, smart, funny, and kind. In short, someone I remember thinking that I'd really like to get to know better.

This past Saturday, I went spearfishing off of Boynton. I won't post a profile or report, because sadly, I was a bit negligent and complacent. I went too deep, stayed too long, and in general pushed the envelope. And I'm disappointed in myself, because I know better. At the end of the second dive, I was having trouble manipulating my gun. I was tired of fighting the currents, muscle fatigue had hit, probably more than a little narcosis, and I thought back to my first Jupiter dive and her advice. My exact thought was, "Oh Nikki was right, I really need to work my lats more if I'm gonna do this...I'll send her a PM on Spearboard".

And now, it is tragically appearing that I will not get the chance. At around the same time I was thinking about sending her a message, she was diving 20 miles north of me off of Jupiter. And sometime shortly after that, something apparently went very wrong. She didn't return from the dive. Coast Guard was notified and a search commenced for Saturday and all day Sunday, but no sight of her. Numerous divers have been out, searching both on the surface and underwater. Though the Coast Guard has seemingly suspended search efforts, many individuals who were similarly touched by this awesome woman have pitched in to continue the search by sea and air. And while I'm still praying for a miracle, my faith is shaken with each passing moment.

I feel selfish that i'm reflecting upon my own grief at this time. We met only once and shared some online correspondence. She has so many good friends that know and love her. Her parents are also divers, and her family h as been vocal in their hopes, prayers, and support for the ongoing search. My sympathy and hearts go out them, for their grief must be unimaginable.

I'm grieving because she was my age, shared a love for this sport, and also because it seems so senseless to me. She was a better diver than me, more experienced, in better shape. None of it makes any sense. Jupiter has current, it is notorious, but it's also relatively free of entanglement dangers, and she is a good diver. If she made it to the surface, as seems logical knowing the site and her experience, then why haven't extensive surface searches found her, sunburned, tired and thirsty but with a hell of a story???

I've been in this sport long enough to know that we rarely have the answers that we need. We can read "Lifes Lessons" in Rodales, and it's always so clear cut. But the actual facts are that usually, in diving accidents, we get nothing other than "drowning." And as divers we know that may be the end result but rarely the catalyst. It might help the medical examiner tidy it up and file it away, but the friends and fellow divers are left with the lingering "Why?"

For now I'm still praying for a miracle. I'm praying for her friends, and for those conducting the searches. And if anyone reads this, please say a prayer that this awesome woman will come home.   
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9/21/2007 - Amazing dives today....

Did anyone wonder if I was still alive??  :)  


Dive 1:
Buddies:  Ed and my dad Jeff
Waves: 2-4 ft, mild chop
Current: mellow
Bottomtime: 46 minutes
Depth: 64 fsw
gas: Nitrox 28%
Viz: 64 feet at least

Dive 2:
Buddies:  same
Waves: same
Current: brisk
Bottomtime: 53 minutes
Depth: 63 fsw
gas: Nitrox 31%
Viz:  about 40 fsw

Went out of Boynton Beach today for a 2-tank trip. I've looked forward to this trip since I planned it. For one, I'm taking my father diving, who hasn't been under the water in a couple of years. And another, is because I just love Boynton diving. With the great viz, healthy reef, and abundance of fish, it rarely disappoints. Today was no exception.

We descended to perfect viz and mild current. Along this stretch of reef, the relief is well-defined between sand channels and consistently about 6-8 feet, with many crevices perfect for critters to hide. The reef was was absolutely teeming with life, schooling grunts and chubs and tomtates everywhere. I immediately saw a nice spotted drum, one of my favorites. The current gently swept us north, where we encountered a large green turtle. He was friendly, too friendly actually. He came up between my dad and myself, and was basically eye to eye, before drifting back to Ed and showing the same close-up curiosity. Granted, turtles aren't known to be man-eaters, but I have seen them snap at fish before, and give those jaws a wide berth. It would not be the last time my hackles were raised on today's dives.

Drifting further, I caught some movement under one of the crevices and saw the distinctive tails of two large nurse sharks. These are frequently seen on the reefs here, so that's not unusual. What IS unusual was their behavior. Rather than scattering as per usual, they continued to swim under the crevices, obviously feeding. I handed the flag off to Ed and cruised in for a closer look. As I approached within a few feet, they continued to display aggressive behavior, lunging at the reef in search of food. One emerged with the remnants of some unfortunate lesser occupant of the food chain. I couldn't see the type of fish, as it was shredded by this point. Seeing this aggressive behaviour, my common sense resurfaced and I quickly backed off. Nurse sharks are STILL sharks, and I've seen some ugly bites from these predators. One of the boat captains later shared a couple more scary nurse shark stories, and I was glad I thought of better of hanging around.

We continued to drift along the reef ledge for the remainder of our air/bottomtime, seeing a couple more spotted drums, hogfish, black grouper, and the usual south Florida reef suspects in exceptional quantity. We surfaced to calm seas and got back on the boat. Once aboard, we heard the story of the first diver in our group, who was solo diving and hunting. He had descended to the reef and was gathering his gear, when out of nowhere, a pair of sharks appeared and pulled a large green moray eel from it's home "like a worm from a hole." The sharks took a large bite from the eel, blood filling the water. The diver attempted to get as far away from that area as possible. I suspect that the pair of sharks he witnessed feeding were the same ones we encountered later still in feeding mode.

After a surface interval, we descended for the second dive. After the over the top first dive, this one was more mellow.   Current was moving a bit tho, and viz had dropped.  I did see a school of cuddle fish, something I haven't seen out here. Capt. John said later that they are seeing them more and more on the reefs. Ed was nice enough to carry the flag, so I did get a couple of pics that I'll post later. The reef structure on this dive was more meandering, without alot of definition, and I prefer the first. But it was still lovely. No stingrays or eels or lobster, which is unusual. Still very nice tho. Ed and my dad headed up a little before me, and I enjoyed the solitude for another few minutes before heading up. While hanging on a safety stop solo (which I don't really care much for as I always feel like "bait) I was scanning the reef below looking for anything of interest. I had been there 2.5 minutes when a large shark swam along the reef under me. A careful look showed it to be a bull shark, I'd estimate about 7 feet.  And THICK!  Pucker factor 3 for the day came into play. They are so thick and have the most powerful and menacing look.  Even the aerial view scared me a bit.  He didn't hang around and was out of site as soon as my 3 minutes were up, but I opted not to stay for a full 5 minute stop and surfaced. All in all a really amazing day on and under the water. I'm going out tomorrow morning also, leaving the family at home and taking the spear gun. Hmmm...dinner??? :) I'll post pics later.

   
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1/22/2007 - Random Thoughts on Inspiration

Randon thoughts on Inspiration I woke up today to gusty winds and I did NOT feel like running.

For those of you that know me, you'll know that up until about the past year and a half, I've been into running as my fitness regimen. After Hayden was born and I BALLOONED up, I started running, and kept that up for several years, throughout all the travels and moving. It was good for me, I felt mentally better, and it keeps my 350 lb. inner Cheeto Freak fron clawing her way out. I can promise I was one of the very few women I ever saw running around San Jose when I lived in Costa Rica. (I did frequently encounter the national soccer team on their training runs, though. That was kinda neat-o.) But for whatever reason: stress, depression, the move, WHATEVER...I slacked off for the past year. And it's has totally shown...I had gained weight, morale is low, just in general have felt like shit.

So around November (that magical 35th birthday approach) I started to try and get back in shape. Rollerblading, walking, riding my bike. It was a start but not enough. At New Years, I made my resolution to start running again. I've gone slowly but have worked my up and I can already tell it's working it's magic. For ME...personally...it is the best exercise. It's my mental and physical fix.

So today, however, facing gusting winds and above normal temps, I just wasn't in the mood. But I put my running ***** on anyway, kicked on some tunes and took off. Immediately I felt like stopping. Then I remembered a conversation that I had with a friend of mine, Leah. She told me about her last marathon, when she was at about the 20 mile mark and really starting to slack off, she looked ahead and saw a man running in front of her. On two prosthetic legs. She said that gave her the motivation she needed...it put her own difficulty in perspective.

I thought that was such a great story....a moment in time when she was personally struggling, and as if on cue, she witnessed something that put it in perspective.

As I continued to pound the pavement in the still gusting winds, this thought continued to evolve. I remembered a time this past fall when I met John Chatterton at the DEMA convention last October. We were discussing the upcoming dives of Matt Johnston, an amazing young man who is vent-dependent due to muscular dystrophy. Matt has made it his goal to scuba dive. Johnn was working on Matt's team to get him in the water that following week. John said, "What an amazing experience. What excuse do the rest of us have? We can strap on tanks and go down anytime we want. This guy is a true inspiration." With the help of John and Richie Kohler, Conch Republic Divers, a crew of medical personal and a hell of a lot guts and determination, Matt did his first reef dive on Hens and Chickens that following week.

So this was MY moment in time...where I found MY inspiration. It's an amazing thing, really. We all have someone or something that helps us see the bigger picture.

So I continued my run, it took a few minutes but I hit my stride and had a great run. I can now face whatever miniscule challenges I may have today. I'm inspired.    
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1/12/2007 - Update on Cristal Clear Charters- Good news!

After my truly crap weekend in Key Largo, my post on Scubaboard about my experience received a lot of attention.  The owner of the dive shop went above and beyond the call of duty to make it right.  And what is impressive, is that she wants to make it right with the entire dive community.  If you're on Scubaboard, please check out the Florida Conch Divers forum.   We're loosely trying to plan a pre-Invasion invasion of the Keys.  (Ok so maybe it's just another excuse to go to the Keys...but who needs one?) 

What is interesting is that I hope  people also pay attention to GOOD things I post about dive  operators.  I always post trip reports and send kudos to the operations when they are good, and have had SO many positive experiences!  So keep blowing bubbles, and supporting your LDS and dive operators that make this sport we love so accessible! 

   
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1/8/2007 - Very unpleasant experience with Cristal Clear Charters in Key Largo

I wanted to relate a very negative experience I had this weekend in the Keys.  I've been on lots of boats with lots of salty captains, but this experience was by far the worst I've had, or witnessed.  I'm still a bit upset, but will try and relate the story fairly and accurately. 

I went down to Key Largo this weekend to meet up with a friend and a group of divers from the Midwest.  They were bringing students down to certify in the clear waters.  Beats a lake in Arkansas even if conditions weren't great.   I had arranged through the shop bringing the group for 2 days of diving.

Day one I went to the dive shop, checked in, showed my c-card and signed my waiver, and boarded the boat.  We did two quite uneventful dives on Molasses Reef.  I thought it was a bit boring not to move the boat. Conditions were better than the previous two days, and the students were done certifying on the first dive, so they probably would have enjoyed another site.  But regardless, the boat stayed put. 

Day two I showed up at the boat and loaded my gear.  Right before the boat took off, I ran back up to the dive shop to grab a t-shirt.  When I got back to the boat and loaded, the dive briefing was still going on, with the instructors talking to the students about the layout of the wreck, the dive plan, etc.  My buddy and I discussed our plan,  I put my gear together, and sometime shortly after, we took off.   The first dive was at the Speigal Grove.  This was, btw, my 200th dive.  Conditions were GORGEOUS.  Very mild current, 60 ft. viz, clear blue water. Best conditions I've seen on the Grove.  I descended at the end of the first group.  We went with one instructor and the 4-5 new divers and newly certed divers along the boat for awhile.  When the newbies had reached their turnaround point for air,  my friend and I seperated from them (the instructor leading waved goodbye to us)  and continued down the boat and across the superstructure of the boat across to the starboard side and back up to the bow.  By this time, the second group was starting to ascend the line. We ascended behind them, and my buddy and I were the last ones on the boat.  They unhooked from the mooring, and called roll call.  Hmmm...I'm not on the roll call.  That's weird, that hasn't happened before.  As soon as the DM is finished, I go up to him and tell him that I'm not on the roll call.  He says something unmemorable liked "oh really...." or something.  I say my name and spell it, and he adds me on.   Now I'm certified to the Divecon/Asst. Instructor level.  I REALIZE that it's a big deal to not be on a manifest.  And I was diving in CA during the whole Driftin' Dan controversy.  So I'm in no way minimizing this.  As soon as I realized it, I notified someone.  And of course it crossed my mind that I was glad I had ascended when I did.  Even tho I was the last on the boat, my buddy and I still had bottom time and air left.  

So I'm breaking down my gear when the Capt. comes up to me.  He says "were you the one not on the manifest?"  I said, "Yes."  And he proceeds to TEAR ME TO PIECES.  In a very hostile and condescending tone, and in front of the whole boat, he proceeds to to tell me that I put his whole operation and his Cpt. license at risk and I was irresponsible for not notifying them earlier.  With his finger pointed at my face, he says "I could have had my license suspended for a year THAT'S-NOT-GONNA-HAPPEN"  (imagine the finger pointing emphasis on each word) and I was out of the water the rest of the day. 

I was FLOORED.  Not so much by the subject but how it was approached.  I was embarrassed and humiliated.  I sort of stuttered and stammered and said that I had notified the divemaster as soon as I'd realized it.  He asked why I didn't say anything at roll call before we left dock.  APPARENTLY this had been done while I was up at the shop buying a tshirt.  Probably 5 minutes passed from the time that I got on the boat, and we left dock.  No roll call in that time.  And I (mistakenly) did not realize that I had to sign in again for a multi-day trip.  Frequently, in my experience, a waiver is signed on the first day to cover the trip.  I had tanks on the boat, it was the same DM from the day before, and it truly just never crossed my mind.  Obviously, I will not make this mistake again.  Now why it was not caught at the gate, when a headcount should have been done, both letting divers IN the water, and OUT of the water...is another issue. 

 I was still just seethingly pissed that he had treated me the way he had.  If he had come to me...and spoken to my like a human, and said, "look, this is a big problem.  I don't have your waiver, I can't risk letting you dive again." I'd have had been a little bummed, but certainly would have understood their protocol.  But to be treated the way he treated me, in my opinion, was inexcusable.  I don't believe I've been treated that way in my entire adult life.    After the divers all went down for their second dive, I made my feelings quite clear to him.  He offered a condescending apology, basically  "I'm sorry you feel I was disprectful to you."  then walked away and wouldn't make eye contact with me the rest of the day.  As soon as we got back to shore, I left.

I will accept my share of the fault because I didn't verify that I needed to sign in again.  And I will take that lesson to heart.  The thought of being left to hang on to a mooring ball, and wait for the next charter to (hopefully) show up soon was scary.  And I will be listening for the dock roll call more closely.  But I still think this particular captain was completely out of line for his handling. 

So....there is my experience with Cristal Clear Charters in Key Largo.  NEEDLESS to say, I wouldn't recommend them to my dog to dive.  And to be fair, their style of diving is not to my liking anyway.  Cattle call boat, the tank racks wouldn't accomadate my steel 100's, and they seemed not interested in letting divers control their own profile.  I had decided this well before I was treated so poorly. I'll stick with the several tried and true great operations in the Keys.

 

   
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12/29/2006 - Why I'm glad I didn't shore dive this past week....

Bull Sharks Lurking off of local beaches


Glad surge conditions kept me dry!!!  I've seen a bull shark in the distance off of Boynton before, but a school feeding close to shore would have had me scared out of my wits. 
   
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12/25/2006 - End of year ramblings...

Well it's been quite a year, on the surface and under the water.  In July I went to Cocos Island, a trip I've dreamed of and planned for almost 2 years.  It was everything that I had hoped for...and then some.  The constant action and big animal encounters was almost overwhelming. And my roommate turned into a friend for life, visiting me last month for some wild topside South Beach partying.  (Pics on MySpace.)  The downside was that I found it hard to get back in the water knowing I couldn't top that experience.  My next trip back in the water was in FL with rippin' awful current, making my Costa Rican "advanced" diving look tame kids play.  But later in the fall I was able to reprioritize and find the joy in diving.  

My goal was to get 70 logged dives, and I fell 3 dives short, despite driving out to Ocean Point  several days last week hoping to find divable shore conditions to check out the wreck of the Breconshire, a steel steamer that sunk in the late 1800's.  No such luck, swells were high and surface chop looked like it would make for a lot of surge, not fun conditions for the wreck that lies offshore 100 yards.  Also checked out Pepper Park, in Ft. Pierce, and didn't see any better conditions.  Sooo...have to settle for 67 logged dives for 2006.  I'm headed down to Key Largo next week after to meet up with friends and dive.  We have a drift on the Speigal Grove and then a night dive on the Duane scheduled after, which if we're able to make it happen (weather cooperates) will be AWESOME!  And the BD and I might grab a trip out of Boynton on the way down so he can see a couple of the wrecks there.   The diving off of Boynton is so overlooked, but it's beautiful.  I've seen 40 Goliath Groupers on one dive on the Castor.  Current can be a little tricky but worth the effort. 

So not sure I'm going to make any "goals" for 2007.  Just not sure I'm in that place.  I'm changing jobs the second week of January, going from ER to Recovery Room (and DAYS again...after 4 years on nights.)  And still thinking about going back to school.  I need my Tropical fix every couple of month so I always manage to make it to the Keys to get wet, or Dave talks me into some spearfishing (and flag carrying) off of Boynton.  No need to set goals.  I'm on Island Time. 


   
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12/24/2006 - Key Largo Diving, Dec 12, 2006

Oops, belated trip report for my dives with the BD taking his AOW and Nitrox. 

As he was sick the day before, we left dock with his scolpalamine patch firmly ducktaped in place for a morning dive on the Duane.  The 45 minute boat ride was pretty rough but no one was sick.  We moored up and splashed down on the Duane.  One of the mooring balls was missing, only 2 were in place.  I have come to know this wreck pretty well so I didn't care that I didn't know what mooring ball we were going down on.  It turned out to be the bow.  (the bow and stern were the only mooring balls remaining) I passed the BD and his instructor  going down...it was GORGEOUS!  Very little current, good viz.  Dick from Buffalo was my buddy again, and I led the way through the wreck.  Going into one of the cargo holds, I turned a quick corner to enter another, and ended up a foot away from the mouth of a 400 lb Goliath Grouper.  It was AWESOME!  I turned around to see if Dick had entered behind me yet (he hadn't) so I followed the Grouper as he turned and swam out another door.  By the time I reached the door and exited the wreck, he was gone and not to be seen again.  Dick followed me maybe 10 seconds later but we never saw the grouper again.  I guess he was sleeping in and I interrupted his morning nap.  Poor thing.  But that was as close as I'd come to one and it's daunting to see how HUGE that mouth is!!!  Dick and I stayed as long as possible, and met the others as they were headed up the line.  Great dive.  The Duane usually is. 

Second dive was a spot called Pickles Reef.  Named thus for the wreck that lies nearby of a ship that had been carrying wartime contraband cement in pickles barrells.  The water and seeped in, the wood had rotted away, leaving only the now concrete shaped barrels.  They DM recommended going the other way due to surge and not trying to find the wreck.  I splashed down and never did find Dick, so I decided to find the wreck.  Everyone else went the other way, I went towards the wreck.  And found it quickly....along with the DM pulling up lobster.  Hmmmm.  Sneaky guy didn't want us messing up his bug spot.  But it was pretty cool actually, the wreck was just piles now, the pickle barrels were pretty cool.  One nice sized nurse shark swam by, I found out later he had been scared away from his overhang by the divers who had swam the other way.  After checking out the wreck, I headed along the channels going the other way, saw lots of life on this dive, several eels,  2 more nurse sharks, one large one, lots of fish.  I saw one good sized legal black grouper, and also a nice hogfish.  Both looked...yummy.  :)  The Grouper was under a ledge and fled quickly.  The hogfish seemed quite oblivious to the fact that he was a very tasty specimen as well as living in a hunting allowed zone.  He hung around entirely too long, he could have been dinner 3 or  4 times over.   I tried to scare him a little, just hoping he might think to HIDE the next time a diver came around.  Or find the Marine sanctuary closeby.  He was quite handsome but as fish tend to be, not overly bright.  Anyway, spend about 45 minutes just playing around, never got deeper than 43 feet.  Very easy pretty dive. 

On Dive 3, (the afternoon dive, we went back to dock.)  we went to Conch Wall for Ed to do a drift for his last AOW dive.  We went down in about 60 feet and drifted along a wall.  We were following Ed, and spent a nice 23 minutes drifting.  Ed got called back by the DM for going too deep once.  Heehee...usually that's ME getting in trouble for that.  After 23 minutes he thumbed it and we started heading up.  When we surfaced he showed me his computer...he was totally locked out and showing him in DECO.  I couldn't see what his DECO obligation was because he hadn't showed me on the way up, and now we were past the ceiling so just locked out.  That made NO sense to me because while I hadn't been paying that close of attention to my exact numbers, I remember my last reading as 18 minutes of BTR.  Since we were on the same gas and same profiles and silimar computers, I couldn't imagine how that could hapen.   I waited til after the 24 hours were up and tried to read it, but no luck.  I called Oceanic, and they explained that the computer is out of calibration, it needs to be sent in.  Apparently the computer is reading that we're at an altitude of greater than 14,000 feet.  I live in South Florida....I found that hysterical.  The only elevation for miles is the landfill.   So...no one got bent, just a computer error.  Good reason to carry a backup!! 

But it was a nice couple of days of diving, BD is AOW and nitrox certified, I got my Keys fix.  All is good. :) 
   
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12/14/2006 - Key Largo Diving, Dec 11, 2006

Dive #1 
Location:  The Eagle, Key Largo (Islamorada) FL
Buddy: Dick from NY
Gas: 30% enriched air
Max depth: 112 feet
Dive time:  43 minutes
Ocean conditions:  3-5 foot swells, heavy surge, chop, minimal current, with 50 foot viz.  Water temp 75 degrees more or less.

Dive #2
Location:  A reef in the Keys. :)
Buddy:  Dick from NY
Gas: 33% enriched air
Max depth: 43 feet
Dive time: 48 minutes
Ocean conditions: 3-5 foot swells, moderate surge,  chop,  no current,  50-60 foot viz. 76 degrees


Well after a bit of a hiatus from diving, Ed and I made it down to Key Largo for some diving with Conch Republic Divers.  He got his advanced open water and Nitrox done, I just went along for the ride...er...dive....whatever.

Conditions Monday were ROUGH (Ok rough for Florida...I'm a WWW now) with 5 foot seas on the crossing over to the Eagle.  Half the boat was sick, but we splashed down for a lovely dive on this very quaint Key's artificial reef.  Intentionally scuttled in 1985, she is a freighter that lies in 115 feet.  The bow and stern are seperated in a gash down the middle, with the bow and stern sections resting to port on a sandy bottom.  While not my favorite Keys site, it's in the top 5 and I always enjoy a trip out there.  I was buddied up with Dick, a diver on his first Keys trip who was visiting from cold Buffalo, NY. With the conditions being what they were, and knowing how surge can be, I told him I'd meet him at the bottom.  I descended first down the line, and awaited the others.  When they didn't show up and I didn't see them coming down, I took my own little tour of the ship, swimming thru some of the corridors close by the bow mooring line.  I returned to the line and saw them descending about 8 minutes into the dive. I guess a surface gear issue had caused a delay.  So no solo dive on the Eagle, darnit. I took Dick around on a tour of the boat, heading first where the big Goliath grouper likes to hang out.  He wasn't to be found today, so we toured the stern section, then back up to the bow, through some cargo holds  and along the structure of the boat.  We  made our way back to the bow and swam around til our bottom time was dwindling.  As I made it to the mooring line, one of the smaller Goliath groupers (200 lbs or so) had decided to make an appearance.  I got Dick's attention, as I knew he wanted to see one.  He was able to snap a few pictures before we had to ascend.  A very nice dive. 

On the surface, the seas quickly got the best of half of the boat, even the instructor was ill.  As is the norm, I was fine.  We made it over to the second dive, a reef.  I should remember the name but I don't. :) I can't be bothered with little details like the NAME of divesites!   It was your typical reef.  I tried to show Dick some of the interesting marine life...like a moray eel and a spotted drum.  But everytime I looked around he had disappeared.  I didn't mind much, I'm not the most attentive buddy anyway and he obviously was competent, had loads more experience than me.  We did find each other throughout the dive, and managed to surface (both of us a long ways from the boat.)  I let them come and get me this time, but in hindsight I should have swam because trying to get on a free-floating boat in surge and 5 foot seas isn't very fun. 

Since the boat was sick, we bagged the afternoon dives.  Bummer because it was scheduled as a twofer on the Speigal Grove.  But seas were not cooperating, everyone was sick ( well not me ) and I knew it wasn't the best for Ed to try and do 3 deep dives as much as he was feeding the fish.  So he went back to do his classroom work...and I took a nap. :)

Tuesday morning we did three dives, the Duane, Pickles Reef, and Conch wall. I'll post a report on those later...it's my naptime.  Happy Bubbles!!!
   
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11/17/2006 - The Topside Benefits of Diving....

My friend that I met on my Cocos trip came into town this weekend.  She made the LONG trip from south England...en route to the Bahamas.  She's in so many ways my idol, as she went home and quit her day job to take up dive instruction.

We laughed and joked and socialized tonight...bonding in that awesome way that  seems unique chick divers from around the world that share a love of the amazing underwater world.  We just had the BEST time!!!  And it brings to mind...how awesome this sport is...and amazingly cool it is at bringing people together.

Just wanted to share as I'm feeling a bit sentimental.  When I get bored topside, or conditions suck, all I need to think about is the relationships I've forged through this amazing pastime, and the value of these wonderful friendships. 
   
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11/7/2006 - Diving and Spearfishing (well sorta) off of Boynton Beach, FL 11-7-06

Location:  Boynton Ledges, off of Boynton Beach, FL
Buddies:  Dave B.
Max Depth: 83 feet (deepest I've been on the ledges out here)
Bottomtime: 58 minutes
Gas: 32 percent
Viz: Outstanding 80+ feet
Water temp:  76 degrees


Today I went out with Loggerhead Charters  for a two tank trip on Boynton Ledges.  We did two reef dives, and today was the first day I went with a speargun!!  That was an experience.  More on that later. 

First dive was a gorgeous dive.  The weather here has been pretty crummy, overcast with rain and high winds.  I was really expecting conditions to be crap.  Seas were 4-5 feet on the ride out, which also didn't give me an indication that I would be in for nice dives.  When we got to the site, Dave and I backward rolled off the sides and went around to the step to get our guns and the flag.  As is the usual custom, Hilary took the flag.  I was hoping that if I had a gun...I might get a reprieve.  Oh no. :)  Guess that's Hilary's pink duty from now on.   ANYWAY...on the swim to the back of the boat, I was quite surprised to see the sand clearly some 60+ feet below.  Current was running to the south today, ununusal for this area that fringes the Gulf Stream...but it was still great conditions.  I grabbed the flag and my girl gun and we descended.  I had weighted 2 pounds extra to give myself a bit of leverage to adjust to the gun, etc.  Turned out to be unnecessary, I ditched the extra 2 pounds on dive two.

We went down and instead of just going with the current, we swam along the ledges....into the crevices and the channels where the reef fingers out, looking for game.  I was really into this for ...about 2 minutes.  Then  my natural ADD kicked in and I started looking at all the pretty fishies.  At one point, we were coming up from a channel against the main reef, and along the ledge about 10 feet above were a fairly large school of spadefish.  They were hanging along the ledge, in between two rather large basket sponges, and they made a really breathtaking sight.  I was MAJORLY wishing I had a camera in my hand instead of a gun.   And we kept SWIMMING...it was work!  About 40 minutes into the dive, we had seen a few hogfish and snapper but nothing that was legal.  I was lagging behind...all this swimming was wearing me out!  I was about 20-30 feet behind Dave when I saw a nice sized grouper.  I thought he saw it also, and wondered if he was going to shoot at it.  It swam around a few times, and I guess Dave finally saw it because he started stalking it.  It was darting around pretty good (throwin' up some OJ on him...as he put it) and THWACK he took a shot....and missed.  It swam RIGHT by me...and around me a couple times in it's confusion.  And I started laughing not only because he missed it, but also because he was having convulsions underwater.  He was over there screaming into his reg.  I thought he was cussing, as he talks all the time under water and I just can't understand him so I tune it out.  But then I realized he was screaming, "SHOOT IT SHOOT IT!!!"  and it was ONLY THEN that I realized...."Oh...I have a SPEARGUN in my hand!  I came out here to learn to spearfish!!!"  DUH!!  Oh well.  When I realized this....I started laughing hysterically.  He just shook his head and started swimming off.  I think he was a bit frustrated with me.     At that point, we were reaching our time limits (and I had probably used up 200 psi cracking up under water) so we headed up.

On the boat, of course I took some grief for my somewhat miserable  performance.  I kept reminding them that it was my first time.  No one cared.   

On this dive, we hit a max depth of 83 feet.  The water was clear and blue and BEAUTIFUL!!   We surfaced from 80 feet on the sand, and could still see the bottom from the surface.  The reef ledge came up about 15-20 feet in some spots,  providing gorgeous views.  Even with no fish for my supper, it was a gorgeous dive.  And even with all the extra swimming, I still had a SAC of about .46 and I was quite pleased with that. 


Dive #2

Location:  Boynton Ledges
Buddies:  Dave B.
Depth: 64 fsw
Bottomtime: 63 minutes
Viz- Outstanding at least 64 fsw
Gas: 35%
Swells: 2-3 feet
Temp: 76 degrees

Dive #2 was also on the ledges, a bit further north and west of the original site.  I left the speargun on the boat this dive, so we could take the bug gear.  We descended and did about the same profile.  As Dave was hunting, he swam quite a bit more, out along the channels.  I was content to stay along the ledges and look for bugs.  Only saw one, and I waited patiently til he made his way back to me so I could point it out and he snagged it.  I'm sure it's in his freezer now as we speak.  Or he ate it for lunch.  Either way, he offered it to me and I declined.  I was still feeling a bit guilty about the grouper, I guess.
Again was a beautiful dive, and it was a reminder of why I love diving in this area.  I've been so "Blah" about diving since coming back from Cocos Island.  I guess diving like Cocos really spoils one.  Seeing amazing BIG stuff on every dive is hard to beat.  But today, the water was warm and beautiful and blue, the life on the reef very prolific, and the whole day was relaxing and a perfect way to spend a day.  Now that the air temps have cooled a bit here, I've switched back to my 5mm and was toasty warm under water, and comfy above water on the surface interval.  I always love winter diving, both in CA and now here as well.  So anyway, it was a typical drift dive with the usual suspects.  I did see a large spotted drum, one of my favorites, and you don't see those everyday so it's always a treat.  I had stopped at one point to look at something, and Dave pointed out a LARGE moray about a foot from me that I hadn't even noticed.  I screamed.  Funny how easily that sound carries underwater. I'm still nervous around those, still remembering the scubaboard post about the guy that had his forearm devoured by a moray in BVI.  When Dave thumbed the dive, I wasn't really ready to go up.  I looked at my watch and realized we were at a 57 minute bottom time.  Oops.  That meant we'd be over the boat imposed 60 minute limit if we did a safety stop.  Amazing how time flies.  So reluctantly we headed up, hung at 15 feet for about 4 minutes, and surfaced.  It was just a great day diving. 
   
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10/14/2006 - What is the world coming to...

When a ragged disgusting towel can become a commodity????  lol

Click here to see the latest and best scam in SoCal diving. 


   
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10/14/2006 - Oh the days...

When I had time to blog...endless time...  Now it seems I'm busy all the time, between work and the kids.  And since I'm already swamped with no free time...I think I'll go back to school.  I want to consider pursuing an advanced practice degree in nursing...be it a practitioner or anesthetist.  I'm pretty sure I'll be able to squeeze a few more hours in the day.  I'm at my best under pressure.  ...get it...diving..under pressure?!  I KILL me....

Well I moved to Florida to dive, right?  Seemed like I did more diving when I lived in NM!!  But...

I went out a couple weekends ago with Conch Republic Divers in Tavernier (Key Largo).  We did 4 dives in 2 days.  Day one was on the Speigal Grove, and I did one dive and sat out to catch some rays the second dive.  No really...I had been up more than 24 hours...the current was RIPPIN' on the first dive...and I just didn't feel like going.  That is very unusual for me, I'm usually of the mindset to DIVE DIVE DIVE!  Day two was the Duane on the first dive.  It also had a pretty brisk current, but I was well rested and I never care because I JUST LOVE THAT DIVE!  It's everything a wreck should be (for a rec wreck diver like me)  Open, easy to go thru, lots of growth on the hull.  Really a beautiful dive.  The second dive of the day was on Snapper's Ledge.  It was shallow, max depth was 35 feet or so.  The highlight of the dive was finding THREE Flamingo Tongues, all on the same sea fan.  It was quite beautiful...and picturesque.  My camera was topside.  Figures.   I also saw a nurse shark, and while I was swimming thru a swimthru, 2 reef sharks swam over it.  Figures.    Such is life.  Still had a great time...as is the norm in the Keys.  And in talking with the DM on the boat, it turns out we know many of the same awesome people in Ventura, CA, where he used to live and I used to dive.

My fun news is that my roommate on my Cocos trip is coming to the States (She is in England)  for a few days and we're going to be able to get together.  That is what is so great about diving.  You meet so many great people...and sometimes the bond is just instant because you share a love of the amazing underwater world.  It's truly unique and special. 

So it's good to see that everyone else is still diving and trip reporting.   Life has been hectic and unpredictable of late...but it's good to read everyone's reports and see their pictures.  I hope to get more active again soon. 
   
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9/7/2006 - Please read re: hotels when diving the Oriskany..BEWARE!

Hello Fellow Divers and Bloggie Friends,

I had plans to dive the USS Oriskany in July, but due to a change in my plans, I had to cancel.  I had reservations at Ashton Inn and Suites.  I cancelled my reservation a full 3 days in advance (and their cancellation policy is 24 hours.) 

I noticed in July that I had been charged and called immediately.  I was told they had my cancellation on record, they were sorry and I would have my card refunded.

2 months later, faxed credit card receipts, and unfulfilled promises of resolutions, and I still have not received a refund.  Not only that,  I was treated very rudely by the staff at Ashton Inn and Suites.  I was told that I must have fabricated the cancellation number (that I was told in July was listed in their records) and they refuse to refund my $94.78.  (This person also refused to give me her name.) 

So....when making reservations, I would be highly suspect of doing business with this facility or giving them your credit card.  And I would encourage everyone to explore other lodging options in the area.  If this has happened once, it will happen again.  And if you have to cancel, plan on being out a nights stay, even if you keep all copies of your records, as I did.

Of course I've disputed it with the credit card company, and am confident I'll receive a satisfactory outcome.  I've also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau as well as looking into a complaint with the Consumer Fraud Division of the District Attorney's Office for Escambia County.  (Obviously, I'm ticked.  It's not the money..it's the principle.  And the money.  That's a day on a dive boat!!) 

But just wanted to warn anyone who wants to go dive this site.  I want to go!  Very soon!  But will certainly be finding other lodging!

   
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8/23/2006 - More on Cocos...for my fellow Blue Team members

I figured I paid enough for this trip...it's good for a few entries.  HOWEVER...I did take the time to resize them so they fit properly on the website.  Since I received a few complaints. :)  And...since my photo editor decided to ...Oh I don't know...meet the woman of his dreams and is no longer available to assist me as he once was...I had to do this MYSELF!  And I've discovered it's a bit time consuming!!! 

I've acclimated back to life on land, and miss my fellow "Blue Team" members.

The trip wouldn't have been what it was without the expert guidance of our amazing divemasters....David "Yes David!" and Wilson "I'm SORRRRYYYY WILLLLSONNNN!!!"  They were incredible...and we know you liked the Blue Team best!!



You guys ROCKED! 


Was that a MONA skull??  I never was quite sure..




Cindy, who is living my dream life playing hooky from her job and traveling the world after finishing IDC in Utila... (Except I think she's back to work now...poor Cindy!)



Jim...who is more than competent, despite the fact that his first story that he shared with me started out with "Well I was in 88 feet of water, with 22 minutes of deco and 2 minutes of air, but there was a LIONFISH on a SEAFAN and I just had to get a picture..."



Roger, our favorite mild-mannered police detective from Wisconsin.  What's the story behind all the tat's anyway?  I think you have a secret life!  Make sure I get that invite for the upcoming nuptials!  I think a Costa Rica reunion is in order.




And finally Helen, who must have been the photogenic one of the week, because I couldn't choose my favorite picture!  Chasing the pufferfish (photo courtesy of Jim..thanks so much for sharing!!)....or calling me a "LOSER" underwater?  Decisions decisions!!!

And finally....why does this little puffer fish look scared?  Jim knows the answer!  (those POOR pufferfish!  They were glad to see us go!) 


   
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8/11/2006 - Return from Cocos

Oh no!!!  Max is ahead of me on entries!  Gotta post gotta post gotta post!!

Well let's see...I'm back from Cocos...7 days of diving, 22 dives total.  I could probably stretch that in 22 entries...which would put me WAY ahead.  It would probably also annoy the heck out of everyone...so I'll refrain.  However, I did log and narrate all the dives (mostly) and will be happy to share all 11 pages with anyone that needs help going to sleep.  Just email me. 

So..in summary....Wow!! 

I'm back.  The trip was amazing.  The Undersea Hunter crew was professional and provided service in the highest manner.  

So let's just say...Amazing.  Splendid.  Awe-inspiring.  To try and sum up the week is just impossible other than to say as a diver...a serious diver...it's a trip that must be experienced to be believed.  To see a whale shark, hammerheads, galapagos sharks, silky sharks, dolphins, schools of jacks, a mobula ray, and hunting tuna...all in one dive??  It's just truly marvelous.

The diving wasn't easy.  There was current on almost every dive, thermoclines that were truly WICKED.  The viz would be perfect, and you could see ahead (or below) the telltale blurring of the cold water currents upwelling.  The water would go from clear and blue to murky and green in seconds.  Your lips would be blue from the cold.  The surge was incredibly powerful and could rip you loose from your hold on the rocks and send you tumbling.  But the action was awesome and everything I'd hoped and dreamed of witnessing was there to behold.  

Topside...it was interesting.  The group seemed to just naturally segregate into the europeans...and the Americans.  With two girls (also there solo) from the UK on the american side to balance things out.  It's not that they were mean, but whether it was a language barrier...or just a difference in cultures, I don't know.  My roomie was a cute perky girl from England, Helen,  and she was SIMPLY FABULOUS!  We entertained ourselves having either “British” days or “American” days, where we challenged the other to speak in fashion.  On “British” days, I was banned from saying words like “Awesome” or “Dude” or “Y'all.”   I instead had to use words like FABULOUS and SPLENDID and SMASHING.  It was all in all quite fun, and I loved hearing my roomie try and talk with an american accent.  The crowning moment of the contest, I believe, was when she took her reg out of her mouth at 80 feet and yelled “AWESOME!!!!”    But we had a great time and we're already planning our next dive holiday in the Maldives next year.

Technically speaking, all dives were all on a 32-33% mix.   The shallowest dive I logged was 67 feet on the checkout dive.  The deepest 114 feet.  The structure made for nice multilevel dives, spending the time at depth around the rocks, then drifting out into the blue where the skiff retrieved us 1 by 1 as we ran low on air.  The dive profiles were as safe as they could be, really, considering it was 3 deep dives a day.  2 hours or a bit more was standard for surface interval, with deep stops and several minute safety stops around 15 feet.  (NDL diving was the rule for the week.) 

The last day, I was obstinate and did not want to get out of the water.  I stayed at 15 feet until I was so low on air I won't even go there.   I wanted to see if I noticed a difference on ease of breathing with my reg...I didn't.  Go Atomics!  Woohoo! 

The crossing home, I was a bit gloomy.  I guess...when you anticipate something for so long, and it's so SPECTACULAR...you just don't want it to end.  But we spent the time sunbathing on the deck, chatting, and remembering all the wonderful moments. 

We arrived to port at 2 am, and they let us sleep til 7, when we were served breakfast and were to get off the boat for the bus to take us to San Jose.  I was still being obstinate, the buses had arrived and I was basically refusing to leave the ship.  So as I was in the salon, socializing and enjoying the last yummy Undersea Hunter meal, I noticed that everyone around me was quiet and looking towards the door.  I glanced back to see what had everyone so quiet...and...

The best TOPSIDE surprise!!??  My wonderful husband and flown into the country and rode the bus to pick me up at the port.  I could NOT believe it.  I was FLABBERGASTED! (Is that a UK word, guys?)  He had planned it all out with the USH office to spend a couple days in the country after the trip.  It was so awesome...we went and did the canopy tour (those are a bit of work, btw) and then shopping and to visit all our old favorite hangouts in Costa Rica.  It was such a treat and all my gloominess just evaporated at that point.  So Ed, if you read this...thank you.  You totally Rock! 

So that was my trip in a nutshell.  I'm getting my Photobucket album sorted out and then will post the link to that.  I'll post a few of my pictures below, and might post another few entries on the trip when I get settled, or in the upcoming dry months as I start school and am spending less time diving.  Email me for a copy of the detailed dive reports.  Cheers! 






 Rosy-Lipped Batfish...Endemic species.  I spent 66 minutes freezing my tail off to be rewarded with seeing two of these goofy things.  The only boring dive at Cocos was Silverado.  Usually there is a silver tip cleaning station there..however it seemed to be closed becauase we saw nothing except 2 of these funny buggers. 



Juvenile King Angelfish hiding..isn't he sweet???  i wanted to take him home..but it's a protected preserve.  He just reminded me of Nemo.



 My second favorite find of the weel...a Blue-Spotted Jawfish...also endemic.  I saw him on the checkout dive the first day, and never saw another. 



Hammerheads!!!!  We saw thousands.  Above us, below us, and drifting amongst the schools.  Amazing!!


 

(We're tied again, Max!!!)
   
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7/22/2006 - Countdown to Cocos...

So only a week...7 mere days...til I head to Cocos Island!  I can't wait.  Of COURSE I would have to get a cold NOW.  I've been disgustingly healthy for months...and now this.  So I'm taking every OTC cold remedy available..as well as mega vitamins, Vit C, and a little echinacea thrown in for good measure.  I THINK I should have the bases covered.

Since this is my first liveaboard, I'm not really sure what to take.  I've followed the list sent to me by the travel agency verbatim.  I have my gear altogether, tested (last's week technical difficulties at the Keys were a wake up call).  Whatever caused my free flow from the Atomic SS1 hasn't been duplicated, but I'll have back-up oct/reg combo just in case.  I have Scolpalomine patches, meds for Nausea/vomiting, etc etc etc. I have a fully stocked PHARMACY going with me!  As well as the usual assortment of books, sunscreen, batteries for the camera, an extra SD card....anything else?  Oh and clothes.   Think I'm set?  Any comments on something else to take?  Feel free to chime in!

So on the down side...a guess nerves are setting in.  A little nervous about the diving...the setup...how I'll do on a 90 foot boat for 10 days on the open Pacific, etc.  Hoping I don't get caught in a downdwelling...or get swept out to sea away from the divesite...or get left to float for days in shark infested waters.  :)  All of those things.  Is this normal?  The boat assigns a radio controlled locator device to us to wear all week...so I guess it can find me within a 5 mile radius.  Which is comforting.  NOT that I plan on needing it, I am good at folloing dive briefings and I haven't completely messed up yet!  (Not completely :)  But I'm looking forward to this...REALLY!  I've wanted to go for years. 

7 more days!!!!
   
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7/19/2006 - Dive report and Pics!! The Eagle, SB Invades the Keys, Key Largo, FL July 15, 2006

Dive #1

Max Depth:  105 feet
Bottom time:  40 minutes
Gas mix: 26% enriched air


Saturday dawned sunny and bright.  After a phone call to my friend and favorite instructor, I was able to get my computer programmed correctly to pick up the transmitter and read my tank pressure!  WOOHOO!!  Thanks, Michael!  And I didn't even have to call you back at 5 am Pacific time (Aren't you glad??!!)

We headed out with Conch Republic divers for a dive on the Eagle.  I buddied up with George and Ann on this dive.  As the mooring lines were taken, the boat did a live drop of all the divers for this dive.  All technical difficulties seemed to have been resolved and I splashed down without incident.  The surface was a little choppy but we made it across the granny line to the mooring and descended.  Viz was great, maybe 80 feet, and soon the remnants of the ship came into view. 

At work the previous night, a co-worker and fellow diver gave me a hint on where to find the goliath groupers.  As I descended and got my bearings, I headed straight for the crack in the hull where the ship was split in two.  As I hovered through this space, i could see two groupers hanging out just outside the hull.  Moving in for a closer picture, I could make out the protruding metal in which he said he saw the big daddy grouper the last dive.  I was not disappointed, and as I moved closer I saw him hiding (can a 500 pound fish hide???) behind the rusting metal that protruded from the hull.  He was a MONSTER! 




I was so excited.  I snapped a few pictures of him and the other retreating groupers, then headed back to explore the rest of the wreck.

This dive is so different than the dives I've done thus far.  Being in an area known for slack currents, it doesn't have the large clusters of growth on the hull.  The area around the ship is sandy, giving it a barren, almost lonely feel.  It definitely has a different flavor to it, but it's beautiful none the less. 

We headed up the line, and after our deep stop and safety stop at 15 feet, surfaced.  The boat had not been able to tie up to a mooring, so I started swimming towards the boat.  They met me halfway and I climbed aboard. 

When we surfaced, we learned that the other boat had suffered engine problems and was dead in the water.  After dropping her divers, our boat went over and hooked up and towed her away from the other dive boats, where she was becoming quite a nuisance.  The other divers had yet to splash down, and we gazed over the water the dejected faces of our friends on the other boat.  Soon, however, the Macgyver talent's came to light and Danny, DiveMaster Extroidinaie...managed to get the boat started.  I don't know EXACTLY what happened, but I did hear stories of fuel line problems and parts from the head being used to fix the engine.  The head was out of commission for the rest of the day, but at least they got to dive!!

Because of the engine trouble, it was decided that we would make a SECOND dive of the day on the Eagle.  Hmmm...two deep wreck dives in one morning... twist my arm.

Dive #2

Depth: 112 feet
Bottom time: 34 minutes
Surface conditions:  choppy 1-2 foot seas
gas mix: 26% enriched air


We ascended down the line again, and commenced with our tour of the Eagle.  As I was focusing in on a section of the ship (as was recommended to me to find more photo ops) I found several little arrow crabs.  Alot of the pics were out of focus, but I found this one along with an anemone, and thought the picture came out quite nicely.  I love arrow crabs. :)

This dive was quite short, due to the length/depth of the first dive.  Let's just say after about 15 minutes we made a VERY SLOW ascent to the surface.  I snapped this picture of Ann on the way up.  I told her she looks like Pebbles when she dives!  We had a great time diving together and hope to get the chance to dive alot more in the future!



On the way up we learned that Loonie Son of Moonie had been snatched from MissDirected (without her knowledge...isn't that great?)  and was found sunning his rather prominent behind topside.  Below  is Loonie in all his glory, as well as the other pics snapped from my dives on the Eagle. 

The only downside on this dive was as we were getting ready to pull away, a small fishing boat was fishing in the area.  For one thing...I instantly thought they were idiots.  Anyone knows that divers and bubbles scare fish.  Duh?  What were they going to find?  We were just down there...there wasn't any good game fish in the area.  And THEN...they started chumming.  CHUMMING??!!  Wtf???  What MORONS!!!  The dive captains wasted NO time telling them this, either.  I have learned to enjoy fishing, and esp. offshore fishing, but I just can't imagine the idiocy and selfishness that one must possess to chum in waters where there are 30 divers under the boat.  IDIOTS!!  ANYWAY...

I have to say that this was my first large scale SB get together and I had a BLAST!  I met so many great people, dived, socialized, and overall had a wonderful time! What impressed me, of course in addition to the great stories to share and all the fun, was the sense of selflessness.  The raffle on Saturday night was to help TekDiveGirl, and so much effort went into making the trip, the dives, the raffle, and the party a success.  It was a great time...but it was also more, ya know?  Just a really special time...and  I'm SOOOO ready for SB Invades the Keys 2007!!!








I snapped this shot, and just a few seconds later, the fish were scattering as a large tarpon was on patrol.  Isn't that cool??






   
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7/19/2006 - Trip Report, USCG Duane, SB Invades the Keys July 14, 2006

Dive #1

Max Depth: 119 feet
Bottom time: 21 minutes (you'll see why so short if you keep reading)
Gas mix:  30% enriched air



Wow what a weekend!  Those Scubaboarder's know how to party it up right! 

Friday night, I made it down to Key Largo for my night dive on the Duane.  Now...as many of you know, I have been looking forward to this dive ALOT.  It's a great artificial reef, really the best you could hope for.  Scuttled in 1987, in an area known for currents, it is TEEMING with life.  It's hull is covered in soft corals, it attracts all the schooling fish and bait fish one could ever hope to see it.  It's GORGEOUS.  And diving it at night is something I've always wanted to do.  So Friday was the night!  Unfortunately, I was beset with technical difficulties that somewhat dampened my enthusiasm.  While trying to change the backlight settings on my computer, I somehow messed up the settings and it wasn't functioning as an SPG.  Hmmm....that's not very comforting.  I messed with it as long as I could, and then gave up and used a rental console from Captain Gary's stocks.  So I was a little flustered at that point, but still going with it.   (I only altered my plan by opting to leave my camera on the boat.  Without a good strobe, and with the added taskloading of unfamiliar gauges, it decided just not to deal with it. )

All was fine til I jumped off and SWWOOOSH!  MASSIVE freeflow from my safe second that no dunking could stop.  I made it back to the boat and had my valve turned off, and unhooked the LPI hose and hooked it back it and it seemed to stop the problem.  Unfortunately...it stopped the problem only after losing 1400 psi.  So...dropping down to over 100 feet on a night dive with only 1800 psi left?  Not using my familiar computer gauges?   On a site known to be advanced and unpredictable?  I thought about it for...a nanosecond, waved to the boat, and descended. 

I soon forgot ALL my frustration as I descended the line to the boat.  I had to practically push the barracudas out of the way on the descent, they were so thick.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Schooling baitfish were swirling around the hull, the corals were alive and open, the current was slack.  As I descended onto the bow of the Duane, I interrupted a large school of spadefish hanging there.  Looking up through the water, i could see the large barracudas on the prowl in the waters above.  Knowing my air supply was limited, I kept it a tight circular tour of the boat.  Down along the starboard side, up and around the wheelhouse, and back around to the port side to the line.  No large groupers and really no surprises on this dive, but it was gorgeous none the less. 

I started my ascent up, did my stops, and was back on the boat with my one-third air intact at a short but very enjoyable 21 minutes later. 

From there I headed over to Irishman's for the Margarita Party!  Wooo those were tasty!!!  I gotta get the recipe, George! 


   
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7/1/2006 - Blah Blah Blah...

Wow!!  It's been three weeks since I posted.  Since I've been dry, I haven't had much to blog about.  I got moved into the new house, it took 6 days for the internet to be hooked up, and longer for the cable.  Do ya think I was bored???  Of course, but the kids and I swam alot, went to the beach, watched alot of rented movies, and basically communed and had a great time. 

28 more days til Cocos!!!  I am more than a *little* excited.  I'm stocking up on books for the crossing, looking at strobes for the picture taking, I have about 17 swimsuits lined up to take.  10 days on a boat...with no laundry...4 dives a day.  (except I'll probably do 3 most days because 3 100+ foot dives a day is probably enough and I am a born napper.)  I plan on doing the night dive to see the blacktip feeding frenzy a couple nights, but plan on just doing the 3 dives most days.  (and...who am I kidding...everyone knows I like Happy Hour )  I still haven't heard of anyone else on the same trip...which is a bit of a bummer...as that first night we have to spend in San Jose.  Having lived there a couple of  years, I know the good spots to eat and hang out!

Next dives are planned in a couple weeks in Key Largo.  Haven't really had time or the right conditions to shore dive yet.  And with work starting (and already scheduled for OT the first week) I don't think I'll make it out for any local diving before the Keys on July 14th. 

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!!!!

BB

   
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