My Florida Vacation
January 15-22 2000
As many of you may know, I have made several trips to FL for my vacation only to do fun dives with my girlfriend and nothing of tech or deep as that is not her way of diving and is OUR vacation , not just mine. After a few trips to the Keys I happen to take a small group to WPB, to be exact Boynton Beach, for a group vacation of non- techdives. We now have been going here for the last 3 years.
There are only 3 known wrecks there the Becks, Bud, and Skyecliffe.I am not a reef diver nor will I ever likely become one. But I must admit, the reefs there are the best I've ever seen. I also happen to pick a boat and Capt. who has the best operation down there I have seen. The boat was the "Little Deeper" with Capt. Leo . Last year he added the boat "Deeper" and Capt. Doug and both work together to run a very smooth and Safe operation for their divers. They do not run techdives!
I was told about "Skyecliffe" depth 200 ft, but, I never asked to go there. The wreck is an artificial one and did not interest me. I was then informed of the hazards of the wreck and number of near misses on the wreck. I planned to dive the wreck and then was passed up to do another dive. On one of my many debates on this list Dan Volker informed me of the dangers of this wreck (lines from fishermen) and currents of which a NE wrecker could not dive. I have yet to find a wreck that I cannot dive. But I will say that there maybe one somewhere I can't or too deep to even try. If a wreck cannot be done safely it should not be done.
My trip to FL. Ginnie Springs- we followed a bus trip down from Va Beach and dived with them on Sat. 15th, I am a wreck diver, the cavern was too easy and I am not cave trained. I did not have a good time diving, my level of diving made the dives I could do boring. But the group trip was fun and to see new divers going for their C-cards was fun and a reminder of how we all got started. Sunday we drove to WBP and settled in for the week of diving.
Monday- I was informed that during my dive I was to be photographed by John Fine and this put me into a bit of a stressful mood. I have not been photograph or interviewed by a professional since the "Juno" expedition in which my friend Tai Wilkerson passed away on. (BTW for those that have been following the case, Alton Hall filed suit on behalf of the family of which I was not named. The suit I am told has been dropped by the family and I am lead to believe this was done as they had no case, which was my belief all along. Maybe Alton Hall would like to comment on this, I do remember a few post made by him at the early stages of this case after it was filed. Not trying to pick a fight here, just would like both sides, now that this is over I may add this story to my book I'm writing and need all the facts. I am also sure that many on these list would like to know.) I had also only one set of doubles with me and they had mix in them for the Skyecliffe dive, I was being forced to dive gear that day I would not normally use as we did not have room to bring all my gear and hers in one car. I did not like a photo being taken of me in gear I had plan to use on a non tech dive and that is how I do not dive wrecks. We dived the Becks also known as the "Tony" that day followed by a reef.
Tuesday-That morning the plan was to dive on the "Little Deeper" and then come in and get on the "Deeper" on which my gear was already on board and go dive the "Skyecliffe". Before Capt. Leo agreed to take me to the wreck several things had to come about. He does not run techdives and only agreed to carry me there, because it was me. I had ask to dive the wreck solo as that is my preferred way to dive. He does not believe in solo diving on that kind of dive and since I had no buddy he would find one for me before I got down to FL. I could not ask Dan or George because it would turn into their dive and I am to dive with them next month anyway, I also think they were at DEMA at that time. Leo found a willing buddy for me just down the dock the Capt. of the dive boat "Loggerhead" Craig Smart, Craig had dived the wreck before and looked forward to the dive.
We both chose the mix 18/34 w/ 50/50 & 02 deco gases. I did not count the 90 ft dive I did that morning, the 25 mins on air I did on the Bud wreck with my girlfriend would not hurt me. Craig and I dived the same plan. We went over a few things before the dive, one of which, was what the signal would be to call the dive, meaning stop the dive. I have seen this cause confusion before. I also asked him to tape "OXYGEN" on the side of his deco tank to help in seeing which gas he was breathing, he did this with no back talk at all. We also had Capt. Doug and Roger an EMT as mates, my girlfriend "Nancy" would be doing on deck photos. We set out for the wreck in sunshine and flat seas.
The wreck sits about a mile NE of the inlet, I hardly had my drysuit on when we got to the wreck. I had a bit of a disappointment to see that there was no significant current as I wanted to dive the wreck at its worst to have a true feeling of it. After a couple attempts to snag the wreck proved unsuccessful we dropped on the wreck. The Capt. marked the wreck and Craig with the line in hand and float ball at the other end swam down to the wreck, I had my scooter, it was a cake walk. Craig tied the line on a handrail just aft of the kingpost on the portside. I did a complete gear check as did he. He went to look at the stack that lay by the stern and I went to scooter the whole wreck and met him at the stern.There is a great deal of fishing line on the wreck and anchor line that fishermen have cut and let drop to the wreck as they were unable to retrieve their anchor hooks. This gives the wreck the appearance of a great sailboat. I also saw many abandoned fish traps laying around the wreck.
As I scootered over and around the wreck I looked for answers as to why anyone would get hurt on such an easy wreck, I tied to picture what happen to "Arielle" who nearly lost her life on here(you may read this story on Wolfs' wreck site). I had read Ray Latulippe side of the accident and had notice many gaps in his story, I have heard this referred to as an "authors privilege". In any case the main cause was on air and lack of experience.
On at least 3 times during the dive I became entangled in fishing line, on mix, with a vast amount of dives in cold, dark, net covered wrecks in the north, this was normal for me.I had already been around the wreck( I was on a scooter) and was at the stern when Craig was leaving the stack as I watched him. We both moved up an over the stern which comes up to 160ft. The superstructure is a massive sight that looks to come up to 130ft, I did not go up to the top of it.
As Craig looked around the top of the stern, I scootered into the ER. The main Eng. looks to me to still be there, only the redgear gone as is one Gen. I began to look around for a small artifact to recover, many still rest in there, unseen by those who know not what to look for. It was easy to find, there it rest unseen and untouched, many would consider it junk or raping the wreck. They would not even notice it missing if I did not tell, it means nothing to them.I took the time to look, wiping away the film that covered it from their view, a brass label plate with markings of the manufacture in what looks like Japanese writing. I took the time to remove it without tearing it up. Craig came in to see what I was doing, he left out of the hole in the fwd ER bulkhead and I scootered out the top.
As we neared our 25 min BT we met at the tie in. He had found a wreck hook and was preparing to send it up on a lift bag. I had told Capt. Leo that a lift bag would be a signal that something had gone wrong, so I stopped Craig and clipped the hook to the tie in line. This put us at about 27 mins and I had not noticed that he had triple wrapped the tie in chain and I had a bit of trouble undoing it as I became tangled in more fishing line. At 25 mins Capt Doug and Nancy had come down to 110 ft to ensure our return, as we drifted away from the wreck the line snagged on the bridge wing and Craig undid it, I used my scooter to pull us away from it. On the way up Craig ask me what BT I was going to use and I signaled him 25 mins, I had also so hit a depth of 207 ft, but still used my 200 ft tables. At 20ft Roger came down to watch us during our deco and I left the water 10 mins ahead of Craig as I had stayed on my plan and he must have decided to hang a bit more as we had stayed a bit longer, Roger was with him so he had a buddy.
Wednesday- Once again I was allowed to do something on the "Deeper" that is not normally let done, this allowed because it is me and Leo has come to trust me over the years. I was dropped on a reef and allowed to scooter around solo , the depth was only 70 ft, but it was very fun to freely scooter the reef and jump from reef to reef patch. On this trip I met a woman named "Penny" by far one of the best lobster and spearperson I have seen.
Thursday- Nancy day , went to the Keys and shopped , I got out of the dog house for doing a deep dive on our vacation :-)
Friday- On this day I was truly humbled by the " Spinney Lobster", they looked easy to catch, they look like big roaches. I purchased a tickle stick and tried my hand. I soon found that the minute you touch these guys they jump and are gone, after the divers in my group of 4 got a good laugh at me missing 6, that's right, 6 of those bugs, I was told how to get them. Maybe next time :-) On our way in I was informed of the inlet conditions, 2 boats had already gone 12 miles north to another inlet and come back down the ICW as the inlet was at low tide and a big ground swell had the inlet in a mess. Capt. Leo told me the "Deeper" had the power to ride a wave in and then power in with no problem. He did this and I was glad we did not have to make the 24 mile round trip just to get to the dock.
Hope you have enjoyed this dive report.