14 January 2012

Charles and Vaughn on the Eastern Edge of the reef

 Ravi decided not to dive this morning, but forgot to let me know until it was too late to get Chris to come along.  Lose Lose situation.  Charles was late, but did come, and Vaughn was there at the door early and ready to go.  We met Luis at the beach and went to Tower 17. We geared up and got in the water, but it took 40 minutes or so to swim out to the Eastern edge of the reef.   Vaughn was making his first open water dive and Charles was making a search & recovery dive.
I gave Charles the flag and some general instructions on searching for a tire, while Vaughn and I made the 3 ascents he needed to make.  We then swam over to the flag, and sure enough found that Charles had located a tire, pulled it out of the sand and was tying his line onto it.  We swam down and I gave him the lift bag and showed him how to fill it and how to let air out.

He did not quite understand keeping it neutral all the way up, but he did control the speed and make a slow, safe ascent.  Then as long as we were there, I had Vaughn set it up and raise the tire.  I took pictures.  

Then we swam back to the beach.  Luis joined up just past the Ledge.  We had gotten set quite a bit South and I made some correction for current set, but we ended up at the Lost Knoll, so I adjusted some more and we ended up right in front of the Tower.  It was a warm dive, all that swimming. 

We had a fairly long surface interval, but it was not long enough to dry out the gear.  Putting on cold, wet gear for a second dive proved to be too much for Charles, who packed his gear and took off.  Vaughn, Luis and I toughed it out and had a really nice dive.

 We found a small Green Sea Turtle near the Big Coral Knoll and I found the big Green Turtle there, as well, but Vaughn and Luis were too late to see it.

 We found a Nurse Shark under the Eastern ledge of the Knoll and a Red Grouper who had a fish hook stuck holding its mouth open.  These anglers create such pain and suffering.  Really makes me want to hook them and drag them down I-95 for a few hundred miles at 70 mph.  

 After the Big Coral Knoll, we swam to the Fish Camp Rocks where we spotted some Midnight Blue Parrotfish,
 Gray Snapper, and
even a Porcupinefish.  Then we headed back to the beach, all of us getting chilled after almost 80 minutes in the water.

12 January 2012

Ravi and Rafael Complete the Open Water Course

The wind was calm and out of the Northwest.  The sea was flat.  We entered the water in front of Tower 17 and swam to the Eastern edge of the reef.  Ravi got to practice kicking and I got to tow him much of the distance.

Once we got to the edge of the reef, we descended and went through the ascents.  Both Rafael and Ravi did fine, though Ravi did have a few problems equalizing.
 I did an alternate air source ascent with each of them, then they made a buddy breathing ascent together, which was appropriate given that Rafael's regulator did not have an octopus.  Finally, I did a controlled emergency ascent with each of them.  They each made the ascent on the first try.

Then we swam back along the bottom.  The current had set us to the South while we did the ascents.  I corrected, but not enough apparently.  We missed the Fish Camp Rocks and I increased the correction, but we got out at the dune, South of the Tower.

 We saw a small green turtle, some lobster and I got  a lot of fish portraits.  I also found and photographed a Giant Anemone with purple tipped tentacles.
 It was a nice dive, and I stayed warm, though probably because of all the swimming we did.

 Our second dive was a bit easier despite the surf being up some.  We swam just past the swim buoy to the reef and descended, then swam East to the Fish Camp Rocks.  I took the Canon 5d Mk2 with the 100 mm lens this time, so I got some really nice pictures.  We spent some time among the Rocks, then swam to the Furry Rock, which is a pillar coral with extended polyps.  
 Then we swam over to the Big Coral Knoll, where we were approached by a small Green Sea Turtle.  We got to swim with it for a bit and I got a few pictures of Rafael and the turtle.  Using the 100 mm macro lens made it difficult to get a good picture of both the diver and the turtle, but several of them turned out just fine.
 Even when Rafael swam off, the turtle stayed with me for several minutes.  Unlike most Green turtles, this one seemed curious and actually interested in us.  Most of them are fine so long as you are at least 15 feet away, but this little guy was calmer than most Green Turtles.

We made a few passes over the Big Coral Knoll then swam to the Swept Rock and the Perpendicular Rocks, where we found a small Nurse Shark with a shark sucker attached.
Got a nice picture of this little Blue Tang.

Another nice dive, but a much longer one as we were not pushing to get out to the Ledge and then back.

10 January 2012

Diving with Bobby Witkop

I got a call from a former student, Bobby Witkop, who was in town with his college swim team.  He had earned his Open Water certification with me last April and had not been diving since his open water dives with me.  We arranged to meet and get him in the water again.  I spent the weekend in Pembroke Pines and drove over to pick him up at his motel.  Of course 595 was a mess that time of the morning and I was late getting to LBTS.  We drove back to my apartment and got him some gear.  Then we drove to
 the Fort Lauderdale beach only to realize that I had forgotten the flag.  So back we went.

Eventually, we got all of the glitches ironed out and got in the water.  We swam out to the reef and descended, then headed East to the Fish Camp Rocks.  Found some Christmas Tree Worms and some Squat Anemone Shrimp in a Giant Anemone.  Its a little difficult to see the little fellas among the tentacles, especially if the water is moving the tentacles about.
 We swam around the Fish Camp Rocks for a bit, looking for some Midnight Blue Parrotfish, then decided to swim over to the Big Coral Knoll, where we found a small Green Sea Turtle.
 Got a nice picture of a small Seaweed Blenny poking his head out of a bottle.
 Also got a nice portrait of a frond oyster.
 Took a portrait of a Spanish Grunt.
 Of course, I got some shots of the sea turtle.  Most Greens are quite timid and it is difficult to get very close to them, but this little guy swam right up to me and was not the least bit bothered by the flash of the strobe.

I like these little Sharpnose Puffers.

08 January 2012

Open Water dives with Ravi and Rafael

Rafael and I went through his confined water dives on the 31st of December. The water was cold but bearable. Ravi, Marc and I attempted their confined water dives on the night of the 6th, but the water was unbearable. We finished up on the afternoon of the 7th, and it was just bearable. Jorge has said he will heat the pool and I for one cannot wait. That water is so cold!

On the morning of the 8th, Ravi and Rafael met at my apartment. We got Rafael set up with gear and went to the beach. Luis was late, so Ravi, Rafael and I geared up and got in. We swam out to the reef, but the guys were too light and could not get down, so we swam back just in time to meet Luis. I added weight to both Rafael and Ravi. Ravi's main problem is his breathing. He could get down with some help, but had trouble controlling his place in the water column. We struggled through the skills, then swam back in when Ravi got down to 1000 psi.
 On the way back to the beach, we spotted a purplemouth Moray Eel with a tumor.  He was an odd looking fellow.

We spent over an hour on the beach getting warm before we got in for our second dive.  My computer measured the water temperature at 67 degrees.  I quickly chilled.

 We spotted a lobster or two hiding under the coral heads and Ravi pointed out a small green turtle as we were swimming back in.  He seemed to have better control of his buoyancy on the second dive.  Rafael was fine with the extra two pounds of weight.
Ravi ran out of air first, so he and I went back to the beach while Luis and Rafael stayed on the reef a little longer.  I was cold by the time we got in.