Dive Florida - Reefs, Fish, Blue/Green Water

Dive Trip Report to: Jupiter Reefs
Purpose: To Dive in Florida for Lobster

Dive Reports:

Dive #1: Sunday, 27-Aug-2000, Morning Dive. My Dive #329
A. Dive Boat / Location: Wayne's Boat (25 ft with 200 hp) / SW of Jupiter Inlet
B. Conditions:
Visibility: 20 - 30 ft horiz, but you could almost see the bottom from the top.
Seas: 2 to 5 ft seas with some chop (not the greatest)
Water Temp: 80's
Skies: Sunny, Clear Blue Skies
Air Temp: 80 - 90's
C. Dive Information:
Depth & Time: Me: Genesis Nitrox Dive Computer - 87 ft for 6 min
Air consumption: Me: (80 cu ft) 3300 - ??
Current: Very Very Strong, measured at 2.5 to 2.7 knots.
Description: Well, this was an interesting dive. All the divers involved are experienced divers. I'm sure you've all heard that serious accidents usually consist of a series of not-so serious events. Well, that's what happened here. The three divers were getting ready to go into the water. Depth was around 80 ft, the current was a ripping. We decided that Wayne would go over one side of the boat with the anchor in his hand. I would go over the other side with the nets and bug sticks. Bob would follow behind us. Just as we were ready to jump, Bob (an experienced diver with 600 dives per year for the past 10 years) had forgot to turn on his air. I turned it on for him, both his main and poney tank. Wayne went over with the anchor. I went over the other side. Little did I know, but later learned that Wayne had forgot to put his reg in his mouth. He was headed for the bottom at a very fast rate via the anchor that he was holding. Somehow he managed to find his reg and put it in his mouth. On the backflip off this boat, I lost my mask. This boat is about 10 inches higher sides than the one I usually backflip off of. Bob was getting ready to jump in and I told him I lost my mask. Bob went in. I got back on the boat and took off my gear. I noticed the dive / rescue buoy's 100 ft of line was wrapped around the anchor line. I cleared it and noticed that it was not moving towards the stern very fast. So, I put on my spare mask and backflipped in. I didn't know it then, but they hadn't set the anchor, so the boat was drifting. As I had jumped in, they were setting the anchor!!! I saw the anchor line and started to make for it. I also saw the bubbles from my dive buddies, but could not see them. I was going to try to stay at the surface in case I couldn't reach the anchor line, I'd drop back to the rescue line, but I was descending. In a few minutes, I was on the bottom. On the way down, I could see the bottom and that I was not losing or gaining any distance based on some sponges on the bottom. At the bottom, I tried to pull myself along the semi-smooth rock bottom towards where the anchor line should be based on my compass readings. I couldn't see it or the other divers bubbles from the bottom. After a few minutes of attempting to pull, I realized I wouldn't make it to them and decided I'd be better off on the surface with a full tank of air.

Up I went. When I broke the surface, skipping the 3 min stop at 15 ft, the boat was 1/2 mile south of me and I was drifting north, away from it. I was way past the safety buoy. The seas were 3 - 5 ft. and I could only occasionally see the boat when I was on top of a wave. There were also two other boats within a mile of me. I blew up my orange sausage and connected it to a bug stick. The sausage will not stay up by itself even when inflated!! This I raised as high as I could and started to wave it. After a while, I took out my flashlight (a UK SL6*] and started to wave it at the various boats. I knew it would be 20 - 30 minutes before my fellow divers came back up to the surface and the boat. Being 4-5 miles off the beach, I decided to slowely kick towards the shore, maybe eventually I could make the shore! The wind was also blowing in that direction, but the current was carrying me north! After about 15 minutes, in the heavy seas, with no luck in attracting attention, and not knowing how long I'd be in the water, I ditched my weight belt (Later learned there's a better way). I was riding very low in the water with an almost full air tank. Later, after some careful thought, I should have taken off my belt, and ditched the weights and kept the belt!!!! Getting rid of 12 pounds of lead around my waste helped me stay above the waves! Well, I was drifting further north and away from our dive boat. There was another dive boat and a party fishing boat in the same area and I waved the flashlight at them with no luck. So, I continued to wave the flashlight as high as I could hold it towards the area of our dive boat!

Time passed. After well over an hour, Wayne and his boat came and picked me up. It was nice to see the boat approaching. They hadn't gotten any bugs due to the very strong currents. Later discussion found they could see the flashlight but it took some careful looking to see the sausage. The weather was semi-bright sunlight in the early morning (10:00 am). So, my 6 'C' celled flashlight was what was seen. Wayne and Bob did one other dive on a 60 ft wall. I decided to stay on the boat and not try to jury-rig a weight belt.

Lesson's Learned:
1. Agree on what to do if you get lost and stick to it.
2. Agree on a direction of travel and time before you turn back (eg to the anchor line). Carry a compass and use it. Take readings every few minutes so you are aware of where the anchor line and your buddy are.
3. Agree on what to do if you have a problem and stick to it. ( I shouldn't have gone back in the water).
4. Carry safety devices. The Flashlight was seen before the sausage, even though it was a bright early morning! I now have safety waterproof flares also. The Flashlight that I've been using for years is a UK SL6 . It's a 6 'C' Cell Xenon Bulb - lots of light! I've used the SL6 for years and have had no problems with this diver friendly, sturdy Flashlight! The contacts are a strong large piece of metal rather then a bend metal sheet. I clean the contacts every other dive, lube the 'O' ring and change the batteries when their 1/2 gone! In this case, it was the primary successful signaling device!

Irishman Software, Satellite Beach, Florida
Mail Corrections / Additions to : Irishman@SpryNet.Com
Last Updated 14-Sept-2000