31 December 2014

Han Makes his Third Open Water Dive

Han made it to the apartment by 8:10 am and we headed to Birch State Park.  Luis got there just in front of us. We all geared up and headed for the water. Decided to swim NE to the Ledge off Tower 17. Didn't quite make it that far North, but we got well North of Tower 16 and ran the ascents in 30 feet of water. Luis held the reel. Han and I buddy breathed and then ascended while buddy breathing. Han did just fine, but was a little slow. The second ascent was the CESA and, again, Han did fine, but he ran out of air at 10-12 feet and was hurrying to the surface. My computer warmed me the ascent rate was too fast, but I checked the computer profile later, and he was well within PADI's 60 ft/min ascent rate.

After the CESA, Han and I descended, picked up Luis and headed for Tower 15. We went slowly to give Luis time for photographs. At a little past 60 minutes, I surfaced to see where we were I didn't recognize the topography, but we were just a little North of Tower 15. Descended, corrected and swam in.

Water temperature was 76; Dive Time was 72 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 18 feet was 26.71 psi/minute; SAC rate was 17.28 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.45 ft3/minute.

28 December 2014

Solo Dive on the Eastern Ledge off Tower 15

Han was supposed to meet me at the apt at 8:15 this morning and we would go to the beach to finish the two dives he needs to get certified.  He didn't show. He didn't call. He didn't text. I went to the park.

I geared up and entered the water and swam out to the swim buoy. Before I descended, the lifeguards were on the Tower just setting up. No one hassled me, but I was in the water before they got to the beach. I decided to explore some rather than just head for the Little Coral Knoll.  I headed due East to the Eastern Ledge off Tower 15 to see if there is any deep water there for Han's ascents, should he ever get up before noon.  Deepest waster I found was on the sand, just beyond the reef.  It was about 30 feet.  I did find a lot of little spiral like conch shells and a few of the Gaudy Natica aka Moonsnail shells.  On the way back, I swam over the  Dog Rock, though it took a few moments to recognize and verify it.  Then I followed my trail back to the knee high coral, the smaller rock, the Big Rock and the beach.  Chilly, but not unbearable.

Water temperature was 75 degrees; Dive time was 100 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 20 feet was 27.77 psi/minute; SAC rate 17.29 psi/minute; RMV was 0.45 ft3/minute.  

25 December 2014

Anna-Kaisa Rantanen and I dive the Yankee Clipper Jacks

I met AK in the South Beach Parking Lot.  We geared up, got in the water and swam on the surface out to the swim buoy.  There appeared to be a South surface current from the North wind, but the current was headed North on the bottom.  We swam East, but the bearing was 300 degrees to adjust for current set.  We ended up right at the Jacks.  Had a nice leisurely swim along the South side of the Jacks and came back most of the way on the North side, but there weren't many fish on the North side, so we crossed over.  Then swam into the beach.  AK had just enough air and I was down to 500 psi when we got there.

Water temperature was 75 degrees; Dive Time was 95 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 16 feet was 28.18 psi/minute; SAC rate was 18.98 psi/minute; and RMV was 0.49 ft3/minute.

23 December 2014

AK and I dive the Little Coral Knoll

AK and her parents are back from their cruise and she's going to join me diving this morning.  They got to the apartment a few minutes late. I had guessed at the gear she would need and she tried it on, but she only tried on one fin and turns out we had  three 5-6 fins and only one 6 1/2 - 7 1/2 fin. Of course, that one larger fin was the only one she tried on.

We loaded up her gear and drove to the park, geared up at the truck and walked to the beach. We walked out into the water, but AK had trouble putting on her second fin. I tried to move her out into deeper water and get her to descend, but she resisted and wanted to stand in shallow water.  While we're having this discussion, the current is moving us North. So we move back in and stand in shallow water while the waves break over us and she struggles with her fin. I suggest we just go back to the beach, but she just gets more determined. She gets both fins off and discovers that one is smaller than the other. So she puts the small one on first and then the larger and we're off, but we have lost position in the water and need to swim South to get to the swim buoy. We do.

We descend, but I see that we have drifted near to the smaller rock, so we go there and get back on track.  Swim to the knee-high coral and across the sand sea then to the counter-weight and to the knoll. Visibility is getting poorer. Not a lot of life on the knoll and not much sunlight this morning. Looked pretty dull. We go East to the tiny knoll and the comfortable coral, but not a lot of life there, either, and between the lack of sunlight and sand in the water the visibility was terrible. We went back to the knoll and then off to the Porthole Rocks, but no eels there today. No turtles, either. We went back to the knoll and she was down to half a tank so we went back to the smaller rock, up to the Big Rock and West to the beach.

Water temperature was 75 degrees; Dive Time was 73 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 17 feet was 27.27 psi/minute; SAC rate was 18.00 psi/minute; and RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

22 December 2014

Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

I changed the battery in my computer, so it was working just fine.  I got to the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park about 8:40 am and parked a little closer to the gate. I geared up and walked down, but a woman said the gate was locked and it was only 8:53 am, so I waited. Then I also noticed that only one side was locked. The other side was held in place by a pin, but I lifted the pin, opened the gate and went through. Walked to the water and got in.

Swam out to the swim buoy.  Visibility was okay and I could see the Big Rock, so I  descended and swam to it. From there, I went South to the smaller rock, then 130 degrees to the knee high coral, the dead sea rod, and I saw a little green turtle swimming by as I approached the sand sea.  I crossed, found the group of dead rods and went South to the counterweight.  From there, I went  at 130 degrees and tried to compensate for the current.  Found the bare rods, the two rocks North of the Dog Rock and the red and green coral.  I continued on the 130 degree bearing and found the little knoll. Explored a bit to the East, then headed over to the Porthole Rocks, which are about to lose their porthole. Came back and explored to the East some more then I was down to 1000 psi so I headed back the way I came and swam in to the beach. Saw several eels and a large blenny I did not recognize.

I bought a new camera and it's here, but I need to set it up and I really need to get it insured.  

Water temperature was 75 degrees; Dive Time was 104 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 18 feet was 17.00 psi/minute; SAC rate was 17.47 psi/minute; RMV was .45 ft3/minute.

20 December 2014

Han Simpson's First Two Open Water Dives

Han was a little late getting to my apartment, then I missed the turn into Ryan's. Actually, the construction crew had blocked it off and I needed to enter at the Park Tower Building, then drive next door to Ryan's. Eventually, we got there.

Ryan was ready and wanted to hunt lobster. Han was a little under the weather, still, I think. He didn't have much to say. We got geared up and walked down the driveway, across the street and got into the water. Ryan and Han both wear booties and have open heel fins. They finned up on the beach and walked backwards through the surf. Of course, Han fell down. Tide was low, so they had a ways to walk, but. eventually, we all got into deeper water, where I finned up.

I decided to take Han in along the sand on this first dive, and we descended in about 8 feet of water. We headed East and at least started out on the 100 degree bearing. I found a familiar area and turned South, assuming we had missed the blocks because of current set, and we had. We found them and then headed up the gun-sight, over-compensated and ended up a little South of the Gray Mid-way Rock, but I found that, too. We ended up at the Big Coral Knoll, though we went in East of the Perpendicular Rocks. Ryan wanted to chase lobster and did catch one. Han and I swam around trying to get him more relaxed and calmer in the water. I turned the dive when Han got to 1500 psi, but we stopped just past the blocks and went through most of the skills before swimming into the beach. Bill Evans was on the Tower. My computer stopped. Dead battery, I hope. Estimated times

Took about an hour for our surface interval. I brought tomato Soup, which tasted really good.  Then we geared up and got back in. Again, both Ryan and Han finned up at the beach before entering the water. Tide was really out this time and they had a really long walk backwards into the surf. This time, when we got to deeper water, we swam on the surface to the blocks, then descended and headed up the gunsight to the Fish Camp Rocks, where Ryan left us to chase lobster. Han and I swam out to the Ledge and down to about 35 feet where we practiced taking the gear off and putting it back on. He did fine. We swam back, picked up Ryan and headed back in to the beach. This time I was cold by the end on the dive.   .

17 December 2014

Night Dive off Tower 2

I got stuck at the Causeway bridge, but got to the beach by 5:15 pm.  Darryn came at 5:30 pm and Luis was right behind him.  Darryn read the review questions and answers and we discussed how we signalled underwater at night.  We geared up and got in the water.  We swam out past the swim buoy to descend. Luis had a bad regulator hose, but it wasn't as bad as it looked, apparently.  We swam East slowly and turned South in 24 ft of water and swam over some reef to the beginning of the Jacks.  We then headed East along the Jacks and turned the dive at 1500 psi.  Darryn saw a turtle.  I found a small spotted moray eel.  Not terribly cold, but I was chilled for most of the dive.

Water Temperature was 75 degrees; Dive time was 100 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 17 feet was 25.87 psi/minute; SAC rate was 17.07 psi/minute; RMV was 0.44 ft3/minute.  

16 December 2014

I set out to Recover the Plow Anchor Luis spotted a few weeks ago

I left the apartment just before 8:00 am and got to the beach about 8:12 am. Geared up. Wore long pants this morning. The surface was cold. I got in the water and swam out to the swim buoy to descend. Took the lift bag and decided to look for the plow anchor. Headed due East to the sand along the 100 degree bearing to the Jacks. When I came to the sand after 10 minutes, I swam 1 minute North and then headed back West. I made 3 round trip passes, then just kept going East on the sand to deeper water and turned South. I did not spot the Jacks, but headed SW. I found a nearly new Aqualung mask near the swim buoy, but I put it on my head backwards and it apparently fell off while I was swimming as it was gone when I turned due West and headed for the beach.  So I didn't find the plow anchor I was looking for and I lost the mask I found.  Great search & recovery dive.  Dive Time 101 minutes; SAC 17.89 psi/minute; RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

14 December 2014

Luis and I dive the Yankee Clipper Jacks and swim with a Loggerhead Turtle

Luis wanted to make two dives this morning, but I only had the energy for one, so I offered to let him make a solo dive first, then I would make the second dive with him so the lifeguards would let him in the water. He decided to make only one dive. So we did.

Same basic pattern: we descended just after the swim buoy and head more or less East until we got to deeper water and then head South to the Jacks. Today, we spotted a Loggerhead Sea Turtle as we got into 25-26 feet of water and swam with it a little. Luis may have gotten some pictures. I decided that I would buy a mk iii and worry about what the new mk iv can do later. I was shivering uncontrollably by the end of the Jacks and I just swam West for the beach.

Bottom Temperature was 73 degrees; Dive Time was 100 minutes; consumption at an average depth of 18 feet was 28.71 psi/minute; SAC rate was 18.58 psi/minute and my RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.  

13 December 2014

Ryan O'Connor joined Luis and I for a dive on the Yankee Clipper Jacks

I've been trying to finish up an open water student's certification for a few weeks. I was waiting for him when he sent me a text that he wasn't coming, I called Luis to tell him I'd be a little late as I had been waiting for him. I then saw Ryan's text that he was looking for a dive and invited him to come. I met with Luis a little after 9:00 and Ryan showed up ten minutes later. We geared up and went diving.

I wanted to salvage the anchors we saw last week, so I suggested that we start the dive North of the swim buoy and see if we could find the Danforth anchor we spotted last weekend. We did, and we did. Luis spotted the anchor a little South of where I was looking. He put his Surface Buoy on it and we swam on. We went East until we got into 25 feet of water and then we turned South and swam up to the Jacks. Worked out well, actually. We headed West along about 1/3 of the Jacks and then headed a bit to the South looking for the Plow anchor we had also spotted last weekend.  Unfortunately we did not spot it.

We headed West for quite a ways, then surfaced to locate Luis's Surface Marker Buoy. Took a while to spot it in the waves and we were way South, but we did spot it. I swam for 8 minutes on the surface to get to it, so my computer tracked two separate dives. Luis and I carried the anchor back. While he re-packed his SMB at the shoreline, I carried the anchor out on the surface, which was a lot harder than I expected it to be.

Water temperature was 73 degrees; Dive Time was 81 minutes; consumption rate was 32.32 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 feet; SAC rate was 20.51 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.53 ft3/minute.

Ryan was good with one dive, but Luis is looking to log 100 dives this year and needs a few more dives, so we made a second dive.  My computer says the bottom temperature was 75, but I have a hard time believing that. Seemed colder and I remember seeing 73 degrees during the dive. I do not remember seeing 75 degrees. Seemed like I was cold for almost the last hour of the dive. We began the dive South of the Swim buoy to look for the plow anchor, but we did not find it. We did get to the Jacks, and this time, Luis wanted to continue East so we did for quite a ways. We did not get to the end. I got down to 1200 psi and turned the dive just short of the East end of the Jacks. We headed back to the beach.

Water temperature was 75 degrees; Dive Time was 99 minutes; consumption rate at an average depth of 19 feet was 29.09 psi/minute; SAC rate was 18.46 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.

11 December 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

I was late getting to the park and the lifeguard was at the Tower and his supervisor was in the OR truck when I walked onto the beach. I just kept going, got in the water and swam out. Nobody even said anything, which is really how it should always be.

The visibility was significantly less than on Monday, but once I descended I found the Big Rock and swam South to the smaller rock, then 130 degrees to the knee high coral head and by the dead sea rod and across the sand sea to the dead sea rods, which are really not dead, but there is something wrong about them.  From there I went South to the counter-weight and then 130 degrees past the actually dead sea rods, the green and red  coral head and finally to the little coral knoll, though I could barely make out the tipped coral head on the NW corner as I swam by.

I looked for shells and hung out on the knoll for awhile. I could do that for hours with a camera, but I get bored without one.  So I decided to head due East from the tipped coral head on the NE corner. I went out for about 800 psi and then back, but at 800 psi, I still hadn't spotted the knoll. I went a little slower and spotted the green and red coral head, so I back tracked to the knoll.  I must have gone right over the knoll on the West leg of the out n back, but I didn't recognize what I could see. I explored the knoll until I got to 900 psi and then headed back to the smaller rock and the Big Rock and the West to the beach.  I was shivering when I came up.  Water temperature was only 71 degrees; Dive Time was only 104 minutes; consumption was 27.69 psi/minute at an average depth of 18 feet; SAC rate was 17.92 and the RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

08 December 2014

Solo Dive to the Little Coral Knoll

I got to the park about 7:40 am, geared up, walked to the beach and swam out to the swim buoy. Spotted the old buoy pin, so I descended and then quickly spotted the Big Rock. Good visibility today. I swam South to the smaller rock, then turned to 130 degrees and swam to the knee-high coral, the dead sea rod and across the sand sea to the larger dead sea rod. From there I went South, again, to the counter-weight and then 130 degrees to the tall sea rod, to the red and green coral head and then to the knoll. Twenty feet of visibility is a wonderful thing. Played around the knoll. Spotted a couple of small purple mouth moray eels and one Spotted Moray Eel.  No Turtles and no octopus. Lots of Porkfish and Grunts. It's not the same without a camera. I headed due East for a bit.  Lost sight of the knoll, but picked it up after swimming back West.  At 1000 psi, I left the knoll and back tracked to the smaller rock and then to the Big Rock. Hung out there until I got to 350 psi and headed West to the beach. Came up in 9 ft of water and swam in on the surface.  Water temperature was 75; Dive Time was 100 minutes; consumption rate was 29.11 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 feet; SAC rate was 18.47 psi/minute and RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.  Cold out.  

07 December 2014

AK, Luis and I explore the Algae Patch off Tower 2

I got to the beach early, but Luis came soon after I got there. AK and her folks were just a few minutes after 8:00 am. Luis, AK and I geared up and got in the water. Wind was out of the West, so the sea was pretty calm. I could see the bottom in 15 feet of water.  Been a few days since that was last possible.  We swam to the swim buoy and descended, except AK appeared to have some problem and went back up. I went back to the surface, but her problem was just nerves. She'd done so well yesterday, too. Took a few minutes to calm down and then descended.  She indicated that her mask was leaking, so I reminded her how to clear it underwater. She didn't tilt her head back far enough, though, so there was always some water remaining in the mask. I showed her again and really exaggerated the tilt. She got it that time. We swam together holding hands for a few minutes, then she was fine. Luis took his camera, but didn't get many good shots. We just poked along to the East and then AK indicated she was down to 1500 psi so we turned the dive and headed back.  Seemed colder than yesterday, too, especially when we got out.  Dive Time was 72 minutes; SAC rate was 20.95 psi/minute; RMV was 0.54 ft3/minute.

AK and her parents left to play golf.  Luis and I got back in the water and descended just past the swim buoy.  We headed ENE for quite a ways.  Luis found a Bruce anchor on the bottom. We turned South when we began seeing sporadic reef and swam a long way to the Clipper Jacks. First headed East, then Luis indicated he was at half a tank, so we crossed the Jacks and swam West on the South side. Nice dive, all in all. Just a little cooler than I was prepared for.  Dive Time was 101 minutes; SAC rate was 16.79; RMV was 0.43 ft3/minute.  

06 December 2014

Diving The Yankee Clipper Jacks with Anna-Kaisa and Luis

Got to the beach about 7:30 am, which was half an hour before Luis and I were supposed to meet.  He came a little early and we geared up and got in the water. Surf wasn't bad to enter. Must have been close to high tide. We just got in the water and it was deep, so I finned up and swam out. We descended just past the swim buoy and moved slowly to the East. Current was mild but set us or we over compensated. Hard to know. We missed the Jacks, though.  Luis did better on his air than I did and we turned the dive when I had 1200 psi.  Made it back to the beach just fine.  Found an anchor a little East of the swim buoy and North of Tower 2.  Want to try to find it later. It was a nice anchor.  Large Danforth and in good shape.

Dive time was 103 minutes; consumption was 26.42 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 feet; SAC rate was 156.76 psi/minute; RMV was 0.43 ft3/minute.

Anna-Kaisa Rantanen is in town with her parents and wants to dive before their cruise. She earned her AOW certification with me four years ago. We planned to meet at the Bridge then go to my apartment so she could try on gear. I met her parents, who spoke very little English and since I spoke no Finnish, our conversation was stilted at best.  AK has softened some and says she has quit soccer in favor of becoming a teacher. She still has a mega-watt smile: she got Luis to set up her gear without saying a word. Probably most guys help her out as much as they can. We headed for the water and she had a few difficulties. It was no longer high tide, so we had to fight the breakers in the shallower water before we could fin up. We swam out past the swim buoy to descend. Her first attempt to descent was aborted, but she took my hand and let me pull her down on the second try. We held hands as we swam because she seemed to need the extra weight, but as she calmed down and got used to breathing through the regulator, she let go and maintained her buoyancy on her own. Like the first dive, we swam East, but I wasn't trying to navigate. I just wanted her to swim some. Luis spotted a single Jack and then a pair and finally the whole line of them, so we cruised along the Jacks for a bit then swam over them to come back on the other side. AK had some trouble reading the pressure gauge, but we turned at about 1200 psi like the first dive and headed to the beach.  We did not see the anchor, but I'm pretty sure we were way too far South. We came up at Tower 1. AK and I shared my air for the last 9-10 minutes of the dive as she was low and I wanted her to have the 500 reserve in case we encountered problems exiting the water. We didn't, but I was glad we were ready just in case.

Dive time was only 95 minutes; SAC rate was 19.43 psi/minute; RMV was 0.50 ft3/minute.  Our average depth was only 15 ft compared to 19 ft on the first dive and my air consumption was greater, probably because I was sharing air with AK.  

05 December 2014

Solo Dive off Tower 15

I got to Birch State Park about 8:30 am and took my time gearing up since the gate didn't open until 9:00 am. I headed down to the beach then and swam out to the swim buoy. Surf was rough, but manageable. Current along the shore was surprisingly strong. I could make head way against it, but it was a fight. Descended just past the swim buoy, but had to go NE before I spotted the old pin and then swam to the Big Rock. Off to a good start. I headed South with the current and found the smaller rock, but when I swam out at 130 degrees, I missed the knee high coral head.  Didn't see the dead sea rod and never found the counter-weight. Think I might have gotten set to the South, or maybe I over corrected and went North, but I missed the knoll. Swam North to see if I could find anything familiar but I couldn't. Picked up some shells and golf balls and headed to the beach.  Ran right to the swim buoy and killed some time getting down to 500 psi then surfaced and swam in.

Dive Time was only 100 minutes; consumption was 24.51 psi/minute at an average depth of 18 feet; SAC rate was 15.86 psi/minute; RMV was 0.41 ft3/minute.

30 November 2014

Luis and I dive the Yankee Clipper Jacks

Met Luis at the South Beach lot about 8:00 am. We geared up and got in the water.  Large waves and rough surf, but we both got out okay. Swam out toward the Jacks, but couldn't see the bottom so we decided to descend and just try to enjoy what we could see. Found a lot of little shells and even some bigger ones. Need to figure out how to identify shells. We swam on the bottom out as far East as the Jacks but could see nothing. I started with a low tank and lost some gas going through the surf.  At 50 minutes I was down to half a tank. I signalled Luis and he indicated that he was low as well and we turned the dive. Swam back to the beach and came in at the rocks in front of Tower 2. Two Lifeguards came down to warm us off the rocks and we let the current take us South a little. Unfortunately, it got deeper and I had already taken my fins off. I bounced off the bottom and even tried swimming and finally got my feet on the bottom and came out.

Dive Time was only 83 minutes; SAC was 17.94 psi/minute; RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

29 November 2014

Beach Dive Spent Looking for the Little Coral Knoll

Darryn Timm came by and got an XL full body 3/2mm wetsuit. We drove to the park and met Luis, then we all geared up and got in the water. Luis forgot his fins, so Daryn and I found shelter by the lifeguard tower while Luis went back for his fins. Then we got in. Surf was up but tide was in, so not too rough. Darryn had some trouble getting his fins on and swimming out, but he figured it out. We descended off the swim buoy and hunted for the Big Rock, which we did find. From there we headed South looking for the smaller rock but we ended up at the knee-high coral head and turned to 130 degrees. Went by the dead rod and headed across the sand sea, but missed the dead sea rods and the counter-weight.  At some point, we were just swimming East and then North. Visibility was less than 5 ft for most of the dive and only opened up to 10 ft near the end of the dive.  I went  up to see where we were, which was ESE of Tower 16.  We headed back to the beach. I swam in on the surface and waited too long to get my fins off.  Had to crawl back to deep water, get my fins off and stand up to climb out of the water.

Dive Time was 91 minutes;  my consumption rate at depth was 26.07 psi/minute; SAC rate was 16.87 psi/minute; and the RVM was 0.44 ft3/minute.

26 November 2014

And Yet Another Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to the State park by 8:05 am and was headed around the block to the beach by 8:15 am. Got in the water and swam out past the swim buoy to descend.  Visibility was terrible:  about 5 ft. I couldn't see the Big Rock. Even when I got down, I couldn't see the Big Rock. I swam around and found the old buoy pin and from there I found the Big Rock and headed South to the smaller rock, but ended up at the knee-high coral. Okay. From there I went 130 degrees to the sand sea and the dead sea rods. From there I went North to the counter-weight and then 130 degrees from there to the barren sea rod and then the green and red coral and finally to the knoll. I could hardly make out the ledge at the knoll from the tipped coral, but the sun came out and visibility got better. Still only about 10 ft, but better. Started exploring to the East, but got lost on the way back. Went South of the  knoll, but recognized a small pile of large rocks with a very big Nurse Shark and came back at 45 degrees to find the knoll again. Getting low on air by this time. Played around on the knoll until I was down to 1,000 psi, at which point I headed back:  130 degrees to the red and green coral, then past the barren sea rod to the counter-wieght. Southwest to the dead sea rods and then 130 degrees across the sand sea to the knee-high coral, the smaller rock, North to the Big Rock and back the the beach.

Dive time was 143 minutes; consumption was 21.54 psi/minute at an average depth of 18 feet; SAC rate was 13.94 psi/minute; RMV was 0.36 ft3/minute.

24 November 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Little Coral Knoll

Got to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park a bit after 8:00 am, parked, geared up and walked around the outside of the park to get to the beach.  Swam out to the Big Rock, though I could not see it from the surface. I descended just a few feet from the Rock, then headed off to the smaller rock to the South. Picked up a number of shells, again. From the smaller rock, I swam 130 degrees past the knee high coral head and across the sand sea.  I could not see the dead sea rods, but I swam slowly to the SW and spotted the counterweight. From there, I swam 130 degrees and went right to the knoll. No octopus under the tipped coral head on the NW corner. No turtle under the tipped coral head on the NE corner, either. Lots of fish, but hard to see. I literally could not see the knoll from the tipped coral head on the NW corner of the knoll. Lots of small particles in the water, sort of like smoke or fog. I hung out at the knoll until I got down to 1000 psi, then I headed back. Found the red and green rock and the counter-weight, but I couldn't find the dead sea rods. I missed the knee-high coral head and the smaller rock. I missed the Big Rock, too. I swam into 8 feet of water and then surfaced due West of the swim buoy and still 5-10 yards off the beach. Would have been pointless to take a camera, but I found some nice shells.

Dive Time:  122 minutes;  SAC rate was 14.54 and my RMV was 0.38 ft3/minute.

18 November 2014

Solo Diving on the Little Coral Knoll

The City sent me a letter advising me that the State Park would honor my City parking pass.  If that is true, it would allow me to dive off Tower 15.  I decided to try it out this morning. Got to the park at 8:00 am, but was advised that the fence to get through did not open until 9:00 am. I parked near the entry to the park, geared up and walked around to the beach.

I got in the water and swam out to the Big Rock before descending. I checked around for shells and moved slowly to the smaller rock to the South. From there, I headed at 130 degrees past the knee-high coral and to the dead limbs and then to the counter-weight, except that I did not find the counter-weight on the first pass. Instead, I wandered around and ended up to the East of the Big Rock. From there, I retraced my path to the smaller rock, the knee high coral head, the dead limbs and this time I found the counter-weight and headed off at 130 degrees to find the little coral knoll. Spotted an octopus under the tipped coral head on the NW corner of the knoll and a green sea turtle on the tipped coral head on the NE corner of the knoll. This is one of those dives that make me wish I still had a camera. Swam out to the tiny knoll to the East and the cushion coral but mostly just drifted over the knoll and watched the fish. Lots of grunts, but small grunts.  I left the knoll at 1000 psi and worked my way back to the smaller rock then the Big Rock. I hung out there until I made 130 minutes, then I swam into the beach.

Dive time was 135 minutes; consumption was 23.16 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC Rate was 15.29 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.39 ft3/minute.

16 November 2014

Tommy's Third and Fourth Open Water Dives

Milton and Tommy were 30 minutes late driving up from Homestead this morning. Wind was out of the NNE at about 10 knots, so the surf was too rough for Ryan, who had some errands to run. He told me to park in his spot and go for both dives. We parked as he had directed and geared up, but Mike, the chairman of the Board of Directors, came to tell me that because I was a "commercial diver" and engaged in transacting business, I couldn't park in their lot.  I told him we were just diving and that Ryan had directed me to park in the spot for which he pays rent, but Mike thought that would still be a problem. This is absurd.

Anyway, we headed off to the beach to make Tommy's third dive.  The surf was up, but not impossibly so. We all got out, though Milton had more problems with his bum leg than Tommy did. I ended up towing Milton much of the way out, but he kept sitting up in the water which killed his forward momentum. I asked him once not to do it, but he couldn't help himself, so I just swam off and left him to figure it out on his own.  We got to the sand and descended. Milton held the flag line while Tommy and I did the ascents.  Even though I asked Tommy to signal that he was out of air before he went for my octupus, I had to remind to do it him when we were actually performing the ascent. We went up slowly: 35 ft in 105 seconds or 3 seconds per foot.  The CESA was faster:  35 ft in 46 seconds or 1.3 seconds per foot, which is slower than the 60 ft per minute PADI requires but triggered some ascent warnings from my Suunto computer, which preferred a 30 ft/minute ascent rate. Anyway, we swam back in and I showed them a common octopus hiding in a hole and a Yellow Sand Ray buried in the sand. Visibility was poor but it was a fun dive.

Dive Time was 35 minutes; my SAC rate was 18.51 and my RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.

Ryan was at the apartment when we got back and Mike had spoken with him. Ryan wasn't too concerned about it all. Mike apparently has a reputation as an old maid. The more I think of it, the more I get pissed off, but its really Ryan who ought to be upset.  He pays for that parking spot and Mike has pretty much made himself a part of any decision regarding it.

Regardless, Milton, Tommy and I packed up and drove down to the South Beach Parking Lot to make our second dive and Tommy's final dive necessary for certification. We walked in just South of Tower 2 and headed East. We somehow missed the tiered reef, so I headed South and we went right to the beginning of the Jacks.  Swam along the North side for a bit, but turned the dive when Milton indicated he was down to 1,100 psi.  We headed back a little faster than we swam out. Might have made 2 hours, but wasn't sure how Milton was doing for air. Just as well. We came out just North of Tower 1 and walked up to the truck. Tommy did well using 8 pounds of weight.

Dive time 104 minutes; consumption rate was 23.81 at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 15.71 on an 80 ft3 tank; RMV was 0.41 ft3/minute.

15 November 2014

First Two Open Water Dives with Tommy Olbe

Milton Tinoco, who lives in Homestead, took my open water class during the Spring of 2012 and got OW certified in May of that year. This year, Milton brought his son, Tommy, to Fort Lauderdale to take the course. He as finished the classroom work, including all the quizzes and did fine performing the skills in the pool.  This morning, he would make his first two dives in the ocean.

Our first dive involved no skills, but was designed to get him properly weighted and maybe a little more comfortable in the water. Milton and Tommy drove up from Homestead and arrived at the apartment just a little after 7:30 am.  We headed down to the South Beach parking lot, geared up and got in. I put 10 pounds on Tommy and carried 10 myself so I could swap 3's for 2's or vice versa.  He seemed heavy at first, but it could also be that he just wasn't breathing well.  Later, over the 3-tiered reef, I swapped one of his 3s for one of my 2 pound weights, and that seemed to help.  He didn't want to swap the others, so he dived with 9 pounds.  We went East, but may have gotten set to the North, as well.  I did not recognize the area, but when I went up to look, it appeared as if we were pretty much East of the beach, where we should have been.  I decided to turn the dive anyway, rather than search for the Jacks. We got back to the swim buoys and I signaled for Tommy and Milton to surface with me.  We tested Tommy's weight there and he was just a little heavy, but not much.  After testing his weight, we descended and swam in to the beach.

Dive time  was 70 minutes, which was pretty remarkable for a first dive. My consumption rate was 31.10 psi/minute at an average depth of 16 feet; SAC rate was 20.94 psi/minute and RMV was 0.54 ft3/minute.

During our surface interval and just before our second dive, Tommy and I went over the decompression problems. He obviously had spent some time on them and seemed to understand the tables. We got geared up and headed for the water.  The plan was to get to 20 feet and then run through the skills, which we did. Tommy did fine, except he had a little trouble hovering. I got him to lie horizontal and lift off the sand, but his legs brought him down. We worked at it and got him to actually hover without putting air in his inner tube. Then we headed back to the beach so Tommy could take the final and we could make his third dive and be done.  Milton had to head North to buy a dirt bike and wanted to leave by 1:00 pm.  I pointed out that Tommy was tired and would need about an hour to take the final, so Milton opted to make only two dives today and to make two tomorrow, even though that meant Milton would miss a NASCAR race in Homestead.  So that's what we did.  Tommy passed the final, but just barely.  Should finish his certification tomorrow morning.

Dive time was 37 minutes; consumption rate was 25 psi/minute at an average depth of 15 feet; SAC rate was 17.19 with an 80 ft3 aluminum tank; RMV was 0.44 ft3/minute.

14 November 2014

Beach Dive off Tower 17

Ryan O'Connor, who lives across the street from Tower 17, was kind enough to invite me over to dive the Big Coral Knoll and the Fish Camp Rocks this morning. I got to his apartment 30 minutes early. I might have been a little eager.

We geared up and got in the water. He dives with a snorkel and still puts his fins on before he gets in the water, even when he is not carrying lobster gear, just as the PADI video demonstrates. As we were headed East up the gunsight, I spotted a Nudibranch out for a walk and pointed it out to Ryan. I don't think he was impressed. They are very small, but they are also pretty rare. We swam all the way to the one-sided coral head, which means we got set to the South by the current. We swam back on bearing and went through the Fish Camp Rocks where we spotted a number of lobster. We continued on to the Eastern Ledge. Nice drop to 35 feet and we headed North for a bit. Ryan had some trouble kicking up sand and waving his arms, but his buoyancy was much better. We came up on top of the Ledge and back-tracked to the finger coral, then headed West to the Big Coral Knoll. Had some trouble getting him to follow me. I had spotted several lobsters in the rocks on the SW corner of the Knoll, but he was nowhere in sight, so I swam back. I spotted him near the surface and I thought he spotted me, but he didn't follow. So I went back and let him see me again, but same result. Third time was the charm. Then we swam over to the Perpendicular Rocks and then headed SW to the Cigar Rock and West to the blocks then to the beach.

Dive time was 87 minutes; consumption rate was 25.41 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 feet; SAC rate was 16.13 psi/minute on an 80 ft3 aluminum tank; RMV was 0.42 ft3/minute.

13 November 2014

Solo Dive on the Tower 2 Algae Patch

Got down to the beach about 8:00 am.  No lifeguards in sight.  Geared up.  Added 2 more pounds to my weights and got in the water. Swam on the surface out past the swim buoys, then descended. Had 3141 psi in the tank as I went down, but the water was warmer than the air. Made over 7 minutes to 3000 psi and 20 psi/minute for the first 1,000 psi.  Move slowly to the East looking for shells. Got into deeper water and I got lighter. I couldn't maintain 20 psi/minute and drifted back up to 25 psi/minute. Turned the dive at about 1400 psi and got to the sand at 650 psi.  Hung around until I got to 130 minutes and 350 psi and then headed in. Dive time was 135 minutes;  consumption was 21.83 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 14.41 psi/minute and the RMV wa 0.37 ft3/minute.  Not bad for as long as I've been out of the water.

09 November 2014

Navigation Dive on the Tower 2 Algae Patch

Milton came to my apartment at 7:30 am and we headed for the beach at about 8:00 am.  There was a race or some event for which the police closed FLL Beach Blvd, so we got to the South Beach parking lot about 8:25 am.  We waited for Daryn, who left his boat at 8:30 am and had to negotiate the same heavy traffic that we had.

We briefly discussed the compass and how to use it, then walked through the out 'n back and the square patterns the students were required to navigate. Then we geared up and got in the water. We swam on the surface out past the swim buoys and descended. The two students buddied up and I sent them out at 100 degrees, with Luis tagging along with a flag. Daryn was in charge of the bearing and Milton was supposed to count kick cycles, but obviously had some problems. I expected them back in 5 or 10 minutes and surfaced after 9 minutes, but I could not see the flag. Fifteen minutes after they left I surfaced again and spotted them on the surface about 30 yards NE, so I swam to them. We discussed the problem, shortened the distance and descended again. This time, Milton was on the bearing, but he headed off to the NE, not SE, as I had asked. They came back in about 6 minutes, this time, though, which certainly counts for something. Daryn ran a second Out 'n Back and executed it well. Then Milton ran a square pattern and finally, Daryn did, as well. Then we went diving.

We headed East and spotted several single jacks, then finally, the beginning of the Wall of Jacks.  About that same time, Milton was down to 1100 psi, so we turned the dive and headed West. Daryn was disappointed, but he came with us. As we left the tiered reef, Milton was down to about 500 psi, so I gave him my alternate and we swam together over the sand to the algae patch and then across the algae to the sand, where I indicated to him that he should get back on his own tank, which he did.  I had lots of air, but the flag and flag line were getting to be a problem. We weren't well paired. The alternate hose was pressing into my head and I couldn't feel Milton, so I kept having to contort myself to look back and see him without winding the flag line around my legs. Need to work on that.  

Dive Time was 79 minutes; Consumption rate at an average 15 ft of depth was 29.57 psi/minute; SAC rate was 20.33 psi/minute.  Water temperature was 78 degrees.

08 November 2014

Diving the Big Coral Knoll with Ryan O'Connor

Tim Rice, a PADI instructor who works part time for Matt at Underseas Sports, introduced me to Ryan O'Connor and suggested we might like to dive together since Ryan lives just across the road from Tower 17. I was supposed to meet Ryan at 8:00 am, but got there at 7:30 am. Just a little eager to dive the Knoll again. Ryan was eager, too, but he wanted to hunt lobsters.

We geared up and walked across the street. He had so much lobster gear to carry that putting on fins in the water would be difficult, so he put his fins on at the shoreline and then walked backwards into the water and over the sand bar, just like the PADI video demonstrates. I've never found that to be very efficient. I walked in to chest high water and put mine on. Then we swam out to the blocks. Difficult to see them from the surface, but I got close enough to see them once we went down.

Headed up the gunsight up to Irish Thighs, which looks much smaller than I remember; then past the sponge and up to the Cigar Rock, though I was a little South of the mark but still spotted it. Headed East from there but ended up just below the Bubble Rocks. Corrected course and headed for the Perpendicular Rocks, the Swept Rock and, finally, the Big Coral Knoll. Lots of French Grunts, some of whom were going mouth to mouth. Went around the Knoll. Spotted the green Rock Hind on the tipped over coral head on the North side of the Knoll. No turtles. I wonder if the construction hasn't scared them off to the second reef line, or at least North to LBTS. Made a second lap and then headed over to the English Garden then back and headed to the Fish Camp Rocks.

Ryan chased some Lobster there and caught one. Saw some Sweepers and a couple of Midnight Parrotfish. Really missing my camera on this dive. Ryan was getting low on air, so we headed back to the beach. Had to go South to find the Big Gray Rock, but we did and went from there to the Cigar Rock, the Irish Thighs, over the blocks and back on the beach. Bill Evans was on the Tower and we chatted from a bit. Not a bad dive but a little chilly for my taste and we spent too much time swimming. Should have slowed everything down and ambled up the reef instead of swimming purposefully.

Dive time was 93 minutes; consumption rate was 30.55 psi/minute; SAC rate was 19.77 psi/minute; and my RMV was 0.51 ft3/minute.

Found out later that after our dive, Ryan went to the Emergency Room suspecting that he had developed subcutaneous emphysema:  he heard the bubbles crinkling in his neck. We discussed it and I think it is likely that because he has only had a handful of dives, he would hold his breath as he tried to capture a lobster and, of course, holding his breath would make him positively buoyant so he would float up. He may well have sustained an air gas embolism and ruptured some alveoli.  

06 November 2014

Luis and I make a Night Dive across the Tower 2 Algae Patch

Met Luis in the South Beach parking lot a little before 6:00 pm.  We got in the water pretty quickly as it was getting dark. I could barely make out the swim buoys by 6:25 pm and there was no chance we could track our bearing to the Jacks. We descended and made our way more or less to the East across the algae field. Got into 22 ft of water then came to the tiered ledge, but we weren't where we usually are to get on the Jacks. Luis spotted a young green turtle who hung around us for a bit. Also spotted a large crab. Kind of a nice dive there, but we could have skipped the 600 yard swim to get there. The effective closure of the beaches North of Sunrise and recent high winds have caused me to severely cut back on my diving.  I now lay around and, bored, eat too much. I've put on some weight, maybe 20 pound. I was not well weighted at 10 pounds and my gas usage suffered:  RMV of 0.47 ft3/minute.  Dive Time was just a little over 90 minutes; actual consumption was 27.46 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate of 18.13 psi/minute.  

25 October 2014

Diving the Ledge of Turtles with Leo Paez

I got to the beach at 6:00 am and found a spot behind Tower 20. About 6:40 am, the front spot opened up and I took it. Leo got to the beach after 8:00 am, but still found just barely enough room to park along A1A. We got in the water shortly after he got there. My last dive was six days ago. My gear was dry. Really dry. Between the wind and the disruption of the construction, it just doesn't seem worth the trouble.

We swam on the surface out to where the Rock Pile should have been and descended. Visibility was 2-3 ft at most and I couldn't find the Rock Pile, so we just headed off at 120 degrees. Never saw anything I recognized until we came back from the Eastern Ledge and I spotted Shark's Rock. Must have gone right over Sharks' Rocks East, but I didn't see them. Went south to the Nipple Rock and then West, but never did find the Ledge. I didn't miss my camera at all. Saw the comfortable Rock, but nothing else. We decided not to make a second dive. Dive time was 82 minutes; actual consumption was 25.74 psi/minute at an average depth of 20 feet; SAC rate was 16.03 psi/minute; RMV was 0.41 ft3/minute.

19 October 2014

Final Two Open Water Dives off Tower 20

I got to the beach just before 5:00 am and I was the first car there.  I parked in the former handicap zone.  Luis arrived at 7:30 am and found a place to park two cars from me.  The guys came at around 8:00 am and there were no spaces available.  They parked over by the Pelican and walked back.

First dive was their third open water dive, which means we had a long surface swim to the Eastern Ledge to make those ascents. It took us awhile to gear up, but we finally got in the water. Took probably 20 minutes to make the Ledge, but I think of this as time well spent.  I get to see that they really can keep themselves afloat should there be a problem and I don't have to worry about DCS since they really have no nitrogen load to speak of when we make the ascents. We all descended. Luis held the flag line while I led the guys through the two ascents: an alternative air source ascent and the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent. Both of them did fine. I got concerned because my Suunto was giving me ascent rate warnings, but once I saw the profile graph, I realized what I knew but had not remembered: that Suunto uses a 30 ft/minute ascent rate while PADI's is a much quicker 60 ft/minute. Then we swam back. Luis took pictures and the guys and I just looked on. Dive Time was 80 minutes; actual consumption was 25.16 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 16.61 psi/minute; and the RVM was 0.43 ft3/minute.

We were supposed to go over the problems during the surface interval, but the student who did not bring his problems yesterday failed to bring them today, as well. We worked through the first 4 problems, including finding the appropriate surface intervals in two dives on problem 3 and one dive on problem 4, then they advised me that I had not given them a formula for determining the appropriate surface interval. I lost it. So we gave up on the tables and made their fourth open water dive on the Ledge of Turtles. Swam right to the Rock Pile and descended, then headed up the reef at 120 degrees. Spotted the 3 little green mountainous coral heads just before the Big Rock and swam from there to the Ledge of Turtles. Luis took pictures. The guys and I just hung around looking. We spent about 50 minutes on the Ledge then swam to Shark's Rock and Sharks Rocks East, then we returned to the Ledge of Turtles just to touch base before heading to the beach.  Swam right to the Rock Pile and then to the beach.  Nice dive.  Dive Time was 97 minutes; Actual consumption was 23.24 psi/minute at an average depth of 15 feet; SAC rate was 15.98 psi/minute; RMV was 0.41 ft3/minute.

18 October 2014

First two Open Water Dives off Tower 2

One of my two students had a bad cold when he showed up at the apartment, so we stopped at Walgreen's to buy some decongestant, then drove down to the South Beach Lot and parked next to Luis and Leo's cars, where we geared up. The thinner student carried two 2 pound weights and heavier student carried four 2 pound weights. I would carry two 2's and two 3's so I could trade. Ended up trading with the thinner student, who couldn't get down with only 4 pounds, but did well with 6. Go figure. The heavier student had trouble with his BCD. He kept filling it with the pressure inflator and complained when the emergency release valve would activate and he heard the air hissing. He thought there was a leak, so he would press the inflator button again. He had problems getting down, as well. His ears were a bit of a problem, but the real problem is that he can't control his breathing. He's all over the place and when he tries to adjust his BCD, you never know what he is going to do. When he grabbed the inflator and tried to take air out, he pressed the inflator button and filled the thing up. We swam out past the algae patch and the heavier student was getting low on air, so we turned the dive and came in. We came up just past the swim buoys because he was really low and I didn't want any problems. Thought I was breathing well, but ended up blowing through 1200 psi.  Dive Time was 43 minutes; my air consumption rate was 28.49 psi/minute at 20 feet; SAC rate was 19.59 psi/minute; and my RMV was 0.51 ft3/minute. Really poor control.  

I had hoped to work through the table problems during our surface interval, but one student did not bring his problems. Maybe he didn't do them. In any event, they re-took the quizzes they had not passed and each of them failed this second time.

The thinner student stuck with six pounds and we brought heavier student down to 6 pounds for the second dive. He looks to me like he has more body fat than I do, but he is apparently more muscle. Once he learns to breath correctly, he could probably lose another 2 pounds. We swam out past the swim buoys and went down. The heavier student started down then swam frantically to the surface and thrashed about. He had forgotten to turn his air on after Luis helped him with his regulator. He could have orally inflated his BCD then either reached back to turn on the air or even taken the BCD off to turn on the air, but he was too busy pressing the inflator button and treading water in a panic to solve his own problem. When he calmed down, we descended again. This time, he could not get the air out of his BCD.  He was horizontal in the water and not holding the deflator hose up so he could not deflate his BCD.  He may have been pressing the inflator button, as well.  I just couldn't see well enough. Finally got him down and he joined us and we set off to the East.  Saw a Loggerhead Turtle, at least I think it was a Loggerhead.  Its face looked vaguely like a Green turtle, but the shell was large and smooth like a Loggerhead.  I don't take pictures any more, since I flooded my camera.  Luis may have gotten the shot but hasn't downloaded, edited or posted his photos. We were a little South of where we should have been and maybe a bit West, still.  Never saw the Jacks but we were on the tiered reef.  Maybe too far South for the Jacks.  When the heavier student signalled that he had only 1200 psi, both students and I turned the dive and headed for the beach.  Leo and Luis stayed to finish their dive.  This time I did better with my breathing.  RMV was 0.41 ft3/mintue and the dive was 77 minutes.  Not bad for their second dive.  

17 October 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Algae Patch off Tower 2

Up early, but didn't make it to the beach until about 8:45 am. Went to the South Beach lot. It's just easier than fighting for one of the five spots available on A1A. Geared up and got in the water. Air was cooler than it has been; the water, too, but it was warmer than the air: 80.6 degrees. My tank pressure increased when I got in. Descended to about 14 ft just at the swim buoys and moved slowly across the algae to the sand and then onto the reef. Didn't see anything familiar. Probably got set to the South. Saw a Goldspotted Eel, though I had to look it up when I got home. Really do miss my camera. I liked having photos of the fish I spotted and I enjoyed reliving and reexamining the dive as I edited pictures after the dive. I miss that. Air Consumption rate was 21.64 psi/minute at a maximum depth of 23 feet.  My SAC rate was 14.57 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.38 ft3/minute.

14 October 2014

Solo Diving off Tower 2

Took Monday off.  Just stayed in bed and and enjoyed my own little pity party. Between the stress of finding parking and the fact that I can't get to Tower 17 and the Big Coral Knoll, I just don't feel the same need to dive. I got to the South Beach parking lot around 8:00 am, but took my time gearing up and getting in the water. The beach was windy with odd cross-currents. Still, I got out okay and descended over the algae patch. Visibility was terrible:  less than 2 ft over the sand and not much better until I got into 18 feet of water. Visibility never got good. Maybe 5-8 feet at best. Swam due East not really looking for the jacks, but wouldn't mind knowing where I was. I never found the Jacks, think I was too far North because of the current. Once I got to the reef, I found some fish and things got a little more interesting, but there really isn't that much life there, at least not compared to the Big Coral Knoll.

05 October 2014

Luis and I make two dives on the Ledge of Turtles

Like yesterday, I got to the beach a little after 5:00 am to get a parking spot behind Tower 20.  Luis came later and, again, got a spot just South of mine. We swam on the surface to the Rock Pile, then descended and headed out at 120 degrees to the Ledge of Turtles.  Came about 10 feet from Turtle Rock, corrected and swam to the Ledge. Luis had forgotten to charge his camera batteries, so neither of us was shooting.  We headed off to Shark's Rock, just like yesterday, except I missed it.  I don't know where or how, but suspect we got set to the North by the current again. Went to the Eastern Ledge and then South before coming West to the beach. Didn't see anything I recognized. Dive time was 102 minutes, but the RMV was .30 ft3/minute which is a record low. SAC was about 15 psi/minute  at 20 ft.

Annoyed that we had missed Shark's Rock, I wanted to go back to the Ledge of Turtles and try again. We swam on the surface to the Rock Pile, then descended and headed out to the Ledge. Swam at 120 degrees and went right to the Big Rock and then swam to the Ledge. From the Ledge we headed due East to the Nipple Rock, but missed it again. We continued East to the Eastern Ledge and then went South before coming West to the beach.  On the way, I glanced at some lighter coral to my North and then slowly recognized the Ledge of Turtles.  From there we went 300 degrees to the sand the West to the beach. Dive time was 102 minutes, but the RMV was .30 ft3/minute which is a record low. SAC was about 15 psi/minute at 20 ft.

04 October 2014

Diving with Leo Paez and Luis Monroy off Tower 20

Today was Saturday and Leo would be up from Miami.  As is necessary now, I got to the beach a little after 5:00 am in ensure that I had one of the few remaining parking spots on A1A.  Sure am glad I bought the parking pass at the inflated rates just before this construction project decimated the parking. Luis came about 8:00 am and got a spot that just opened up. This road repair project has certainly interfered with my diving. There are now only about six parking spots available on either side of A1A North of Sunrise to 20th Street.  Though the construction crew is not working on the West side of the road from Sunrise to the Park Tower building, they have blocked off all of those spots. Someone just wants to be malicious.

Our first dive was a Search & Recover dive, which was part of Leo's divemaster program. Leo, Luis and I met behind Tower 20 and discussed the search patterns we might use and the knots would likely need to tie off the lift bag. We then discussed our dive plan, which was relatively simple: we would swim on the surface out to the Ledge, descend, the swim East staying within sight of each other and looking for a tire. Leo would then tie off the tire and take it to the surface using the lift bag. Then we got in the water.

As planned, we swam out to the Eastern Ledge off Tower 20 and descended.  We were, at least for a time, about 20 ft apart and headed East. I spotted a tire and signaled to Luis, who, in turn, looked for Leo, but Leo was no where to be found.  I headed for the surface to see if he were looking for us, but saw him swim in from the North, which was odd since he had started out South of Luis, who was South of me.  Anyway, Leo tied the tire off and I pointed out that he needed to shorten the lines or the tire wouldn't get lifted very far.  He did.  He then attached the lift bag with a sheet bend.  Finally, he took the tire to the surface, but had some trouble because he couldn't get the air out of it near the end.  Dive Time was 120 minutes and the Respiratory Minute Volume was 0.36 ft3/min.

The guys wanted to make a second dive, even though Leo and I had Cesar Souza's scuba review class scheduled at 2:30 in the afternoon. So we did. They took their cameras. We swam out to the Rock Pile to descend, then swam at 120 degrees to the Ledge, except the current set us North a bit and I spotted the comfortable rock as we swam by. From the rock, we swam SW to the Ledge of Turtles. We hung out there for a good while, then went to Shark's Rock and Sharks' Rocks East. Then back to the Ledge and back to the beach.  Dive Time was 125 minutes with almost 1000 psi still in my tank. RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.

25 September 2014

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks with Dmitry

Dmitry and I went diving this morning. We entered the water South of the rocks in front of Tower 2 and swam on the surface just past the swim buoys, where we descended and began slowly working our way East. We ended up at the Jacks, though I really don't understand how. We followed them about 2/3rds of the way along the Jacks, when Dmitry indicated that he had only 1100 psi left.  We turned the dive and headed back.  He was at 500 just as we left the reef and he shared air with me back to the sand before the beach, when we had sucked my air down to 500 psi.  Seemed like a calm easy dive and I was expecting a dive time around 135 minutes, but it all changed when Dmitry got near the bottom of his tank.  Water temperature was 84 degrees; Dive Time was 107 minutes.  My SAC rate was altered when I shared air with Dmitry, but calculated out to 17.74 psi/minute.  RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

22 September 2014

Diving out of Jupiter with Emerald Charters

Early this morning, Gary, Dave, Louie, Bryan, Laila and me left Fort Lauderdale and headed to Jupiter to dive with Captain Randy Jordan of Emerald Charters. Jordan hand feeds sharks as part of his dive operation and had been charged by the FWC with a misdemeanor for doing so within State waters. On February 8th, 2014, members of the Sheriff's Office dive team dove with Emerald Charters and allegedly took video of Jordan hand-feeding sharks and using a milk crate filled with fish chunks to lure sharks to his divers.  The deputies used GPS devices to confirm that Jordan’s location was in state waters, which is up to 3 nautical miles from the nearest point of Florida coastline.  I'd signed us up for a 3-tank trip. 

Our first dive began somewhere along the Jupiter Drop Off. Jordan, who dived with only one fin as he had sanded off the front part of his left foot, took his spear gun and ppv and got in the water. We followed. I went to the bottom, but Randy and most of the others stayed at about 100 ft. I went up. We all followed Jordan and followed followed him some more. Finally, he speared a good sized Jack and zipped off on his scoter. He hoped that sharks would come for the recent kill, but none did. It was a boring dive being off the bottom, but the bottom mostly algae and rock, anyway.  Dive Time was 36 minutes; SAC rate was 16.58 psi/minute; RVM as 0.43 ft3/minute. 

The second dive was more of the same, except that  it was not as deep.  Randy wore two fins on this dive and did not ride the scoter nearly as much. I went to the bottom and watched the Rock Beauties, Ocean Surgeonfish and Grunts.  I saw nothing unusual on the bottom.  I went up to about 60 feet, joining the others swimming after Randy.  I spotted a Nurse Shark lying in a large, sand-filled hole in the rocks, but it took me several glances to actually identify it.  At first, I thought it was kelp that just looked like a Nurse shark. Then the kelp moved and it did not.  But I was at about 65 ft and it was 20-25 feet below me.  Dive Time was 53 minutes; SAC rate 14.66 psi/minute; RVM was 0.38 ft3/minute.  

On the third dive, we descended on the Bonaire. When Jordan started feeding the sharks I and several others perched on the deck about 5 ft above the sand. As the sharks moved about, the visibility dropped to 8 ft or less and I could make out Jordan's fins and sometimes see the sharks coming.  Other times they just popped out in front of me.  I saw a small Goliath Grouper well above us who was apparently attracted to the commotion, but I focused on the sharks.  It was all pretty controlled and Jordan seemed quite comfortable in the middle of it all.  I never felt threatened, but I had also dropped to the sand and slipped under the Bonaire and was not out in the open.  It was exciting.  I was the first to run out of time and head up, first to the top of the Bonaire, then to the surface.  I thought I was going very slowly, but the computer registered 5 separate ascent rate warmings plus a "Below Floor Deco" warning which  means I was too deep and that I was not getting decompression time credit.  I deployed my SMB but also dropped to 30 ft while doing so.  I made a 5-minute safety stop, then surfaced.  Would have been really nice to have had my camera as I'm pretty sure I'm never going to waste time and money on this dive again. Dive Time was 40 minutes at 90 feet; SAC rate was 14.76 psi/minute and RVM was 0.38 ft3/minute.  


21 September 2014

Diving on Sea Pup Diver out of Riviera Beach

For Sunday, I booked a 3-tank dive trip on Sea Pup Diver with Captain Dustin McCabe and his wife/deckhand Kristy McCabe. Darryn Timm and his friends, Leo Paez and Dmitry Titov could not make these dives, but the four Canadians and I were joined by Laila Haddad, who has previously dived with us.

Our first dive was on the Princess Anne, a 350 feet car ferry used to carry 800 people and some 200 automobiles across the Chesapeake Bay before coming to Florida. Gina, our divemaster, was not able to tie the ball to the wreck, so we had to hot drop on the wreck. Captain Dustin set us down a bit to the East. I was on the Western edge of the group and could see something to the West, but I wasn't sure if it was the wreck or not until I saw two Goliath Groupers head towards it.  I tried to signal to the others, but then Gary spotted it too, so I went to the wreck, emphasis on wreck.  Not much structure left standing. We saw several Goliath Grouper, but not as many as I had expected from our 2013 dive on The Caster.  I got separated from the group, and was fussing with the SMB when Laila came by and showed me hers was already deployed.  I put mine away, but took my eyes off the group as I did so. They were a little above me and apparently in a swifter current because when I looked back up, they were gone.  I deployed mine again and shared it with Jackie, a young spearfisheress and we surfaced together. My maximum depth was 91 feet; Dive Time was 39 minutes; SAC rate was 15.24 psi/minute and the RVM was 0.39 ft3/minute.

Our second dive was on the Governor's River Walk Reef: a group of 4 vessels turned over to the Palm Beach County’s Artificial Reef Program by US Customs as part of Operation River Walk, a program to eliminate drug smuggling operations on the Miami River. Gena lead this dive carrying a large ball.  We went to a large wreck, first, the ShaSha Boekanie, which was on its side but still had structure.  Then a small wreck called the St. Jacques. Then past the Thozina and finally to the Gilbert Sea.  Saw a Hawksbill Turtle and a Spotted Moray Eel.  Went up with Gina and did not deploy my SMB.  Maximum depth was 91 feet; Dive Time was 39 minutes; SAC rate was 15.24 psi/minute; and my RMV was 0.39 ft3/minute.

The third dive was on the Mizpah Corridor: The Mizpah, The PC1170, and the Amaryllis that line up to form an amazing 1700 foot drift dive. Again, Gina lead the dive and carried the ball. It was a pleasant dive in about 80-85 feet. This time, Laila and I got separated from the group and I deployed my SMB.  I dropped the finger spool, however, while trying to deflate the sausage at the end of the dive and, fortunately, Laila caught it before it completely unspooled. Trickey. Dive Time was 43 minutes; SAC rate was 13.72 psi/minute and the RVM was 0.35 ft3/minute.  

20 September 2014

Diving on Scubatyme with the Red Devil Canadians

As anticipated, Gary Smith, the owner and operator of Red Devil Scuba in Chatham, Ontario, and his intrepid group of divers arrived yesterday morning. With him were David Ebare, Louie Jerome and Bryan Merchant, each of whom had enjoyed Fort Lauderdale in previous years. We had tentatively planned to make a shore dive, but conditions were not obliging and I really don't think any of the group truly appreciates the wonder of our first reef line in merely 25 feet of water. So they made themselves at home by the pool and generally unwound from their flight.  Some of them worked on gear and Bryan Merchant set up a clever suspender system for his weight belt.

In the morning, they piled in their van and followed me up Federal Highway to Sands Harbor Marina in Pompano Beach for our first dives of this trip.  I had augmented our group with five other divers:  Darryn Timm, a recent student, and his friends Teri Smith and Michael Wilson; Leo Paez, a divemaster candidate and frequent dive buddy; and Dmitry Titov, a new dive buddy and possible student of mine.  We were ten in all and eager to board Scubatyme and head to sea.

Doug Barkley (the videographer) was the divemaster for our trip, but had reserved the front of the boat for some divers who failed to show. The 10 of us got stuck on the stern, except I stowed my camera under the seats up front. Then I put my camera together and brought it to the stern.  I put the camera in the camera bucket where I thought it would be safe and heard a gurgling sound. The dome port had come off, flooding the camera and housing.  I quickly got the camera out of the bucket, dried everything off as best I could and put it in Enzo's van while we dived. Unfortunately, nothing the camera would not turn on the next day. I think I have destroyed yet another camera.  Worse, I got no pictures of the dives today and will get none of the dives scheduled for Sunday or Monday.

As we geared up on our way up the Intercoastal Waterway to the inlet, Bryan discovered that he had a short fill tank with only 2,600 psi in it.  I swapped tanks with him. Our first dive was on the Ancient Mariner, formerly the Coast Guard Cutter Nemisis, which sits in about 70 feet of water.  The water was a pleasant 84 degrees and visibility was good. I swam around the wreck, then headed off to look for the tug, the Berry Patch off to the SE. I got out of sight of the Mariner but had not yet recognized the Berry Patch and decided to head back while I still could.  Leo was to swim with and act as divemaster for Darryn, Teri, Michael and Dmitry, but mostly he swam around and took pictures. If I had a camera, I might have, too. I was the 3rd diver in the water and the last one up, but I also made a 5 minute safety stop. Cheap insurance.

On the boat, Dmitry had problems with an o-ring during his surface interval. Doug helped him out. Leo missed the whole episode. The dive was less a DM training dive and more a vacation. Dive time was only 46 minutes, but I used only 1,941 psi.  My SAC rate was 15.43 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.4 ft3/minute,  

Our second dive was a drift dive over Abbey Too reef, which runs parallel to the beach and not far from the Mariner. There is a 10 foot ledge on the West side of the reef and the depth was 55 feet to the sand and about 45 feet on top. Captain Oliver pushed us on our surface interval and I had too large a nitrogen load about 10 minutes into the dive, so I spent a lot of time at about 30 - 25 feet just so I could stay in the water for the whole dive.  Lots of fish on the reef.  Gary spotted a small baby eel about 7 inches long.  Other divers spotted a Green Sea Turtle. Nice dive and a fairly strong current.   Dive Time was 67 minutes; my SAC rate was 15.93 psi/minute and my RMV went up a hair to 0.41 ft3/minute.  

18 September 2014

Dimitry and I dive the Clipper Jacks

Dmitry Titov came over to dive with me this morning. He needed to borrow a regulator, but had everything else.  We went to the South Beach lot, then swam on the surface out to the Jacks to descend.

I took my camera and got this shot of a small school of Bar Jacks just above the Wall of Jacks.

I also got this shot of a Blue Parrotfish.

Dimitry did well in the water, but he still wants to stand vertically rather than swim horizontally.  He also waives his arms a fair amount, suggesting that he has not really learned to breathe well.  But he was comfortable in the water and cautious.  He didn't band into the reef or the Jacks.  

I got lots of shots, including the pair of Christmas Tree Worms,
 this Initial Phase Striped Parrotfish,
this Midnight Parrotfish
this Ocean Surgeonfish,
this Redband Parrotfish,

and this Yellow Snapper.

Dimitry went through his tank fairly rapidly, but our dive time was 92 minutes, which is good for a fellow with only 15 dives in his log. I invited Dimitry to join us on Scubatyme on Saturday.

My SAC rate was 18.54 psi/minute; and my RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.

07 September 2014

Darryn Timm, Luis and I dive the Clipper Jacks

Chad was apparently concerned about his ears and skipped the dives today. Darryn came to the apartment a bit before 7:00 am and we headed to the beach.  We geared up and swam out to the reef, but could not find the Jacks.  So we make the Alternate Air Source, CESA and buddy breathing ascents from 27 feet of water. Darryn did well.  We spent the balance of the dive swimming North then South looking for the Jacks, but we never found them.  

Dive Tme was 80 minutes; RMV was .4 ft3/minute.
Luis was in the lot waiting for us when we got back. We took a little bit of a break, geared up and got in the water with our cameras.  We swam on the surface to the single Jack in line with the Firehouse. The Jacks were to the North a bit.  We swam long the line of the Jacks taking pictures.  Got several shots of the Hawksbill Sea Turtle above and a few of the little nurse Shark to the right.

 Got several shots of a Bicolor Damselfish,

 an Intermediate Blue Tang still showing traces of the yellow of its Juvenile state,
 a resting Spotted Goatfish being cleaned by a Neon Goby,

a Scrawled Cowfish,
 a Sharptail Eel,
a Largemouth Grunt,
and the first Tobaccofish I have ever seen anywhere.

Darryn was excited and ran through his air faster than usual.  Dive Time was 103 minutes; RMV was 0.35 ft3/minute.

06 September 2014

Darryn Timm, Chad Scott and I dive the Algae Patch and Clipper Jacks off Tower 2

Luis was at the beach when we got there.  Leo came 10 minutes later.  We geared up and then Leo locked his keys in his car.  Spent some time trying to contact his wife to drive up from Miami with a spare set of keys.  Then we got in the water.  We did not follow blonde surfer dude's rule that divers had to swim on the surface until they were outside the buoys.  Luis and Leo continued to swim towards the Jacks, but Chad, Darryn and I dropped down in about 10 feet of water and went slowly out onto the algae patch.  Chad had some trouble equalizing, but worked through it. Darryn had good buoyancy control except when he was performing skills and would focus on the skill instead of his breathing.  Chad was not so good with his buoyancy, but he had moments when it seemed like he got it.  We swam out to the second tier of the three tiered reef and turned as Chad hit 1500 psi.  Darryn was at 1800 psi and I had 2300 psi.  Dive Time was 68 minutes.  My RMV was a sad 0.46 ft3/minute.

During the surface interval we went over the table problems and the guys took their final exams.  Pattie Conrad joined us.  Leo acted as the dive leader, gave the briefing and lead us out on the surface about as far as we swam on the first dive. Pattie was getting tired and we went down a little earlier than we might have, otherwise, but we found several single Jacks then got to sand.  I incorrectly decided to head South.  Chad had trouble getting equalized and Leo took him back to the beach.  I finally decided the Jacks were not South of where we had been and Pattie, Darryn and I headed North.

We passed two single Jacks in a line and I was having second thoughts, but we soon came to the Jacks.  We got on the South Side and headed East to the end, then came back to the Western end of the Jacks.

Along the way, we found a small school of Doctorfish on the Jack, one of whom was carrying a Cymothoid Isopod.

 Got this shot of an Ocean Surgeonfish.

A Porkfish.
A Sand Diver.

A Smooth Trunkfish.
and a Trumpetfish.

After touring the Jacks, we surfaced to see if we could find Leo's flag, but we could not.  In that few minutes on the surface, however, we drifted far enough North that we could no longer see the Jacks.  This time, I knew they were there and we quickly found them, but it was amazing how quickly we lost them.

We swam back in to the beach and Leo and Chad were waiting for us by the truck.  Leo's wife had not arrived with the spare key.  Pattie needed to go and I took Darryn and Chad to fill tanks.  We later met Leo at the Bridge and he worked with the guys on the snorkel skills and the regulator and mask clearing skills from the first confined water dive.

Dive Time was 96 minutes; my SAC rate was 17.66 psi/minute and my RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

01 September 2014

Jack, Leo and I dive the Ledge of Turtles

Although DOT has shut down most of the parking spots North of Sunrise, there are 5 spots still available behind Tower 20. Jack and I got to the beach and there was only 1 car parked near the beach entrance.  We parked behind them.  I texted Leo regarding to let him know where we were. We started to gear up and get in the water.  Between the darkness and the poor visibility, I could not see the bottom from the surface.  We descended where I thought the Rock Pile would be, but it wasn't and we didn't find it swimming North.  I went up and saw that we were way North, and we went back down and swam South.  This time, we found the Rock Pile.  From there, we headed up the reef at 120 degrees.  I spotted the large round coral head that sits SW of Turtle Rock, and we headed up to the Large Rock and the Turtle Rock, then to the coral head and then to the Ledge.  No turtles.  Lots of fish.

Jack and I hung out on the Ledge with the fish and I took pictures.  Got this shot of a Flamefish.
 This French Grunt
 This Redband Parrotfish,
This Rock Hind
This shot of four Shortfin Sweepers
 and this shot of a Spanish Grunt.

Jack did well on his air usage, considering this was his 5th dive.  Dive time was 122 minutes; my SAC rate was 14.35 psi/minute; and my RMV was 0.37 ft3/minute.

Leo was on the beach to meet us as we got out.  He was eager to make a dive.  I would have been happy to stop at one, but Jack seemed interested, too, so we geared up and made a second dive.  I did much better at finding the Rock Pile this time and headed up the reef to the Large Rock and the Turtle Rock.  Then to the Ledge.  Leo and I spent some time taking photos, then we headed over to Shark's Rock and Shark's Rocks East where we got a few pictures, including this Grouper looking fish I can't otherwise identify.
 Also got this shot of a Yellowhead Wrasse,

and this shot of a Yellowline Arrow Crab.

Then we headed back to the Ledge.

 I went South from the Ledge and found some Caribbean Reef Squid and got some pictures, including this shot.

Then I looked up and Leo and Jack were gone.  I had the flag, so I wasn't sure how I could find them, but I headed for the Large Rock and they were there.  We went down the reef together.  Nice dive and I did a little better on air.

Dive time was 130 minutes;  my SAC rate was 13.83 psi/minute; my RMV was 0.36 ft3/minute.

31 August 2014

Jack Holts final two open water dives on the Clipper Jacks

Luis got to the beach before Jack and I did, but we were not far behind.  We all geared up and got in the water. Surf was rougher than yesterday.  Visibility was terrible over the sand and early in the algae patch, but by the time we got to the 3-tiered reef, it was looking pretty good.  We had trouble finding the Jacks.  No single jacks in sight. We finally just went down. Jack and I swam North and Luis swam South.  The Jacks were to the North, but we were well along the line of Jacks when we found them. We continued on to 25 ft section, and then Luis held the line while Jack and I did the alternate air source ascent and a CESA.  We were a bit fast on the CESA. Anyway, we made the tour of the Jacks and then headed back to the beach.

Luis took his camera and got several good shots, including this shot a of a small school of Atlantic Spadefish.
 This shot of a small flounder of some kind.
This shot of a Hogfish.
 This shot of a Porcupinefish.
 This shot of a Spotted Trunkfish.
 This shot of a Trumpetfish.

and this shot of a Yellow Sand Ray.

You can see ore of Luis's work at Luis Monroy Photography.

Dive Time was 121 minutes; RMV of 0.32 ft3/minute and 795 psi still in the tank when I surfaced.  Not bad for Jack's 3rd open water dive.

Luis left after the first dive and Jack and I went over the Table problems, then Jack took and passed his Final Exam during our surface interval. We geared up and got in the water for his 4th and final dive. I did not take the camera as Luis made only the one dive with us.  We descended in 16 feet of water and headed out to the SE.  Got into 22 feet and turned North.  Bumped into the 3-tiered reef line, but did not see the Jacks.  headed back to the beach.  Dive Time of 94 minutes; RMV of 0.31 ft3/minute and almost 1500 psi left in the tank.