On the way to the beach, a cop stopped me coming off the Causeway Bridge and gave me a ticket for speeding as I passed him when we crossed Eisenhower Blvd. Nice way to start the day. Still beat Leo to the parking lot; Luis, too, who I was not expecting so I didn't recognize him until he got out of the vehicle. About that time, Leo came with the two women: Carlota and Arantxa. These two had gone through the classroom presentation and pool session yesterday afternoon with a third friend, but he couldn't make the dives this morning.
It took a little longer than usual to gear up, but we got in the water and were getting fins on when Arantxa had trouble getting into her fins. They were too small. Really. Her feet were bigger than the fins. I thought that I must have put the wrong pair of fins in her bag, but they were the only pair of blue fins I found when I got home. Anyway, Leo found a way to get them on her and we dropped onto the sand in about 5 feet of water and slowly made our way to the East.
Arantxa and I buddied up and Leo and Carlota buddied up, but we all stayed pretty close together. Arantxa had some minor ear issues that she communicated to me and then resolved. Carlota got cold, stayed vertical and spent most of the dive apparently waiting for it to be over. Arantxa was horizontal and worked on her breathing. I could see her smiling even with the mouthpiece in place.
We got over the Algae Patch, over the sand to the 3-tiered reef. Leo indicated that Carlota was low on air, so we turned the dive and made it back to the beach. Along the way I spotted an Atlantic Guitarfish. Arantxa found a couple of Balloonfish and I showed her a Flamingo Tongue. Then we were over the white sand and she was having a hard time staying down. She was down to about 600 psi and we were in 6 feet of water. We surfaced, got out of the water and headed back to the truck. Carlota was cold and I teased her a little about it and about staying vertical. Leo thought she was over-weighted. I persuaded the women to get the gear off and get dry so they could get warm, which was a hard sell since the air was much colder than the water this morning.
Bottom temperature was 73 degrees; dive time was 64 minutes; consumption rate was 27.09 psi/minute at an average depth of 14 feet; SAC rate was 19.09 psi/minute on an aluminum 80.
After an hour and a half, we were all warm enough to get in the water again, including Carlota, which rather surprised me. We geared up and walked to the water. Arantxa decided to put her fins on at the water's edge then walk out backwards. She quickly got her fins on and Luis and I helped her walk out. Then we swam on the surface out to the end of the Algae Patch before we descended. Arantxa had some trouble getting down even after I upped her weight from 10 to 12 pounds and took a few extra moments to equalize before she got to the bottom in about 18 feet of water. Carlota had no trouble getting down even though we had reduced her weight from 8 to 6 pounds.
We started swimming East across the sand and onto the 3-tier reef. Arantxa was swimming all over looking at everything with wide eyes and a full grin. Carlota was Luis found a single Jack, so we started looking for the double Jacks and the Eastern end of the whole row of Jacks. Found it, too. Swam East along the North side of the Jacks for awhile, then tried the South side. Always seemed like there were more fish on the other side. Luis and Leo spotted a small Nurse Shark. Both Arantxa and I watched from a distance, then crossed to the North side of the Jacks and found it hiding in the Jacks. It was young, and like many of the young, it just froze when we got to it. It let me gently hold its tail. I tried to interest Arantxa in touching it, but she moved away, instead. She told me later she was afraid the mother was close by and might attack.
We turned the dive at about 1600 psi on Carlota's guage, but along the way Leo held onto Arantxa and Luis helped Carlota so I got to trail along behind them and watch the women swim and interact with the two divers. Carlota was doing much better, but she was obviously cold, but she was swimming under her own power and keeping up. We surfaced in 5 feet of water just South of Tower 2. As Carlota and I walked onto the beach, Bill the lawyer from Tower 17 showed up and he carried her tank up to the parking lot for us. Nice guy.