Key Largo - PennyCamp, Slates, Kelly's! 24-Apr-99

Em's Dive Trip Report

We had one heck of a good time this past weekend.

The trip started by meeting at my house at 6:00 on Friday evening. We packed the trailer with camping gear and the truck with SCUBA gear and headed for Florida City shortly after 7:00 PM.

We arrived at the Super 8 Motel in Florida City at 11:20 PM. We got our rooms and hit the hay.

Up by 8:00 on Saturday morning and breakfast at Burger King. After breakfast, we headed into Key Largo. We arrived at Pennekamp to learn that our camp sites wouldn't be available until after 2:00. So we headed to Divers Outlet for a little shopping. Next, we went to Atlantis Dive Center . We got there around 11:30, got checked in, and made lunch under the cabana by the water. The boat got back from the morning run around 12:30. We loaded up our 19 divers and 2 snorklers and headed for Carysfort Reef Lighthouse which is about a 55 minute ride north of the dive shop.

The weather was wonderful . The sky was clear and the ocean was calm. We had 1 foot seas . The water temp was around 77 degrees and the air was over 80 degrees.

Our first dive was just off of the lighthouse . The reef surrounds the lighthouse and slopes down to about 25 feet and levels off. After a short way, the reef drops dramatically forming a wall and plunges to a depth of 70 feet. We were doing this dive at low tide, so the vis was a little cloudy. We had about 40 foot of vis. Lots of lobster . Lots of fish . I did about a 40 minute dive. One dive team reported sighting a very large green moray eel on this dive.

Our second dive was about a 5 minute ride south of our first dive. By the time we entered the water for the second dive, the tide had turned and the vis had cleared up to about 60 feet. The second dive was only about 30 feet at the deepest point. Lots of coral and fish. We found a number of swim throughs that were pretty dramatic. At one point, my husband was pointing into a very dark hole under a coral formation. I stuck my head in and saw a very large white grouper . This is what I thought he was pointing at. As I pulled my head out of the hole, I spotted something in my peripheral vision. It was a 6 foot baracuda , just hanging out. It startled me a bit. That is what Bobby was trying to point out to me. A little farther in our dive, I spotted the largest snook I've ever seen. OK, I know the water magnifies 25%, but this guy was HUGE!

As we got back on the boat after about 45 minutes, the snorklers told us about a school of eagle rays that soared past the boat. Too cool! Another dive group saw a 6 foot nurse shark . I think I liked the second dive better than the first - probably because I could see better.

Sean was our captain and Rein was our crew. They both did an excellant job in helping our divers in and out of the water.

We ate pineapple and oranges on the way back to the dock. We got back around 6:45, unloaded the boat, loaded up the cars and headed for Pennekamp . We got checked in and got camp setup. After a yummy dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs, we all relaxed around our pseudo-campfire (open fires are currently banned in Florida due to the dry conditions). We used a lantern. :-)

Up early Sunday for a pancake and hash brown breakfast. 2 of our divers did a Sunday morning dive on the Duane Wreck and the Christ Statue while the rest of us broke down camp. 2 others rented a canoe and paddled around Pennekamp. 4 dove the Pennekamp swim area while I snorkled. We saw lots of fish and lobster . This gets to about 20 feet deep. One of our divers found 2 rings under the swim platform - TREASURE!!!!

We finished packing up camp and were off the site by 2:00 PM. We went to Atlantis Dive Center and had lunch under the cabana by the water - again. We headed home around 3:30 and stopped at the Ft. Pierce Pizza hut for dinner. We got back into Melbourne around 9:30.

A number of us noticed red bumbs on our necks and figured that the Pennekamp no-see-ums had feasted on us. We all used bug spray, but figured we had just missed our necks. WRONG!

I got this from John. He did not camp with us and he got the bumps, too. So it was NOT the no-see-ums at camp - it was in the water. He did not have on a wet suit, so he is covered! Those of us who wore wet suits have most of our bumps on our necks.


John's note:

Are you covered with little red bumps after this weekend's dive in the keys?
If so then you have fallen victim to the stinging "Sea Nettle" . There are several things that you can do to help easy the itching, which is an allergic reaction to a venom that is injected into the skin by the stinging cells (microscopic hypodermic needles) of these creatures.
0.1% hydrocortisone cream is available from all drugstores and will help relieve the reaction,
creams like "Lanacain" will help stop the itch,
"benedryl" may also help the allergic reaction, but it might make you sleepy too (its the PM part of excedrin PM)
for those who prefer natural remedies, papain ("an enzyme capable of digesting protein, obtained from the unripe fruit of the papaya," found in health food stores and is the active ingredient of Adolph's Meat Tenderizer) is said to relieve the irritation.
Good luck, and don't scratch or it might get infected!
DISCLAIMER: this is information based on personal experience and should not be taken as medical advice from a medical authority!

Last Updated: 01-Aug-2002

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