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.