Dave Speer and his Explorer Group
Hello Fellow Divers!
We had a wonderful dive at Blue Grotto on Saturday. 11 divers made the trip. We started our day at 6:00 AM at PDI. We loaded the cars and were on the road shortly after 6:30. We stopped for breakfast at Micky D's in Orlando and then off to Williston (just west of Ocala) where Blue Grotto is located. We arrived at Blue Grotto around 10:00 AM. Once there, we checked in at the office, watched an orientation video, and signed our liability waivers. We then started to prepare for our first dive.
There were quite a few divers at the spring so we waited until a rather large class exited before we entered. These divers had kicked up a bit of silt so the vis was not as good as we had wished or would expect from a spring. However, I''ve dove in MUCH worse. Outside the cavern, we had a good 60 foot of vis. There were many fish outside the cavern - blue gill, cat fish, sunny, and some very interesting koi. They sell fish food at the office and I bought a bag. Joe Smith and I had lots of fun sitting on one of the dive platforms at 20 foot feeding the fish. There are 3 platforms setup outside of the cavern that are used for classes for checkout skills.
There are tag lines that start outside the cavern that lead you into the cavern along the ceiling. Once inside the cavern, the vis diminished a bit - partially from silt, partially from darkness. The cavern is lit up with 4 1 million candle-power lights - but the kicked up silt did not allow for the excellent vis that I am used to during a spring dive. The cavern is very large and can accommodate many divers. There wasn't a lot to see in the cavern though.
One very interesting item inside the cavern was the air bell at 30 feet. The bell can comfortably accommodate 4 divers. this is a good place to chat with your buddy during your dive. The main point of this dive is the tunnel that takes you down to 100 feet. The tag lines that start outside the cavern continues down the tunnel. It is a rather eery experience descending in the darkness into the earth. Once at the bottom, if you cover your light, you can still see a faint blue glow from the tunnel which still makes this a cavern dive as opposed to a cave dive. A number of our divers experienced nitrogen narcosis while at the bottom.
We did a total of 2 dives. Between dives, we munched on fresh fruit that Dave brought - yummy pineapple, honeydew, and grapes. We also had 2 pounds of gummy bears and 2 pounds of M&M's that the Explorers devoured! The air temperature was a bit chilly in the mid to upper 60's depending on if you were in the shade or the sun. The water temperature was a constant 72 degrees. This made getting out of the water harder than getting into it. However, the facility had very hot showers which we all used. The facility also had picnic tables and grills as well as a small store for purchasing chips and drinks.
We finished up and headed back around 4:00 PM. We stopped for dinner at Pizza Hut in Ocala and made it back to PDI by 8:30. We all had a wonderful time. This was a really neat dive and quite an experience.
Next month - Devil's Den! This will be the last spring dive of the season. We will be heading back to the ocean in March for a beach dive at Vero to catch lobster before the season ends on March 31st. After that, we are planning some boat dives in West Palm and some beach dives off of Ft. Pierce.
Hope to see you at future events!
Last Updated: 10-July-2002