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.  


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