Dive Trip Report to: Ginnie Springs
Purpose: TO DIVE in cold clear spring water - and a Cavern!
Dive #1: Saturday, 30-Jan. My Dive # 169?
A. Dive Boat / Location: No Boat - Dive from a Pier!
Visibility: 100' - or as far as the eye could see
Seas: Flat River
Water Temp: 71 deg F at 50'
Skies: Some Sun / Some Clouds
Air Temp: Cool - 70's
C. Dive Information:
Depth & Time: Me: Genesis Nitrox Dive Computer - 53' for 31 min Me: Analog - Didn't take it along!
Dive Partner: Cochran Captain Dive Computer (Unreliable) -didn't take it along Dive Partner: Analog - 51'
Air consumption: Me: 3500 lb -> 2000 lb (120 cu ft)
Dive Partner: 3100 - 2000 lb (80 cu ft)
Current: Medium to Strong water flows
Ginnie Springs Home Page: http://www.ginniesprings.com/
Rodale's Scuba Diving Underwater U.S.: http://www.scubadiving.com/US/flsprings.shtml
How to Contact Us http://www.3routes.com/scuba/na/usa/fl/07/0597.html
Florida Springs: http://enigma.phys.utk.edu/~th/flasprings.html
We left with a group from Melbourne at 6:30 am on Sat, 30-Jan, the weather was cool (70's) Clear Blue Skies. We arrived 3 hours and 200 miles later at Ginnie Springs. After checking in and setting up the tent along the Santa Fe River the group met at Ginnie Spring. Of the 5 Spring Systems, this is the only one where you can enter with a light if your not cave / cavern certified. Wet suits are required the water temp was 71 deg on the bottom. There were lots and lots of divers from all over the USA.
We suited up, checked our equipment - had flashlights and a Nikonos V camera and strobe - and entered the water. From a very large wooden deck area, we went down a about a dozen wooden stairs into 3' of water. The first time the COLD 70 degree water entered my boot - I let out with one heck of a scream. It took about 5 minutes to get in and under - it was coooold! We found the entrance to the cavern, entered and made our way down to the grate on the bottom. This was at the 50' level. Holding onto the grate (to keep you out of the caves) you could really feel the water flowing out of the 10' x 10' hole! You could also hear the sounds similar to a freight train going by of the water flowing through the caves and underground aquifer. Later, I learned my dive partners took a drink of the water - I didn't and would almost go back and do the dive again to get this real fresh drink of water.
We swam around all of the cracks, holes other assortment of possible dive areas. There were a few that I didn't venture into - I'd prefer to have a rope to follow my way out in case I kicked up too much silt! We went over, under, and into whatever areas were there. On the way up, there was one particularly big (50 wide and 2' high) crack that seemed to have a lot of fish in and around. I tried to get close to some of these for pictures - we'll see how they turned out later this week.
Back at on the surface, we made our way out the shallow (5' deep by 5' wide) channel to the river. Not having a required dive flag, I was cautious about going too far into the river. There, the water went from 5' down to what seemed like infinity. The color changed from clear to a dark brown with vis of 10'. It went down at a 45 degree angle and you could not see far down or up/down stream. It was a very eerie feeling and we turned back before we got to the bottom- we did get to about 15'.
After pulling ourselves along the bottom back to the springs, and being COLD, we went to warm up, dry off and sun our cold bodies on the wooden decks. We still had half full tanks - but the water temp at 71 degrees was below our comfort zone of 85 - 90 degrees in the Keys and West Palm! The rest of the day was spent finishing up tent setup, eating and breaking out the R&C!
On Sunday, after a warm water shower (which was 0.3 miles away over a sand road and was not very clean), I called Pilot's Weather Brief. There were heavy rains to the NW and NE of us. If they hit us, they would last for at least an hour. By noon the weather would get worst! We returned to camp and packed up - couldn't believe that all of the equipment fit in the car on the way down - it sure didn't seem to fit on the way back! After a great breakfast, we rented a canoe for a quick ride. It was light showers by this time. Paddling against the current was very difficult at times. Twice, the current took hold of the boat an turned it around on us. We had to go to one side of the river and paddle in the heavy grass. After about ½ hour of this fun and excitement in a low overcast (800' solid), light rain and cool air - we decided to call it a day and return to Melbourne. The three hour drive was exhausting! Just think - 6 hours of driving, a week of planning, a week of cleaning up for one 31 minute dive to 50'! Hmmmmm. Worth doing at least once! I might even do it again, knowing now what's there to see. - but I'll let someone else drive!