Thur - Sat, 27-29-Nov-1997, Subject: Dive Report

Dive Trip Report / Thanksgiving in Key Largo

Dive Trip Report to Key Largo:
Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort,

mile marker 103.8 - on the right side going south, a few miles past the start of the middle divide. Michael DeShay is the Director of Guest Services. The Marriott is about 5 years young, years from being built new. Many of the Keyís motel/hotelís were build in the early 1900ís and still look it. The Marriott is all new, heated pool, hot tub, restaurant, barís, co-located dive shop, inside parking, fitness center, and massage. Off season, a two bed, non-view room is $99/night (e-mail me to see how to get a further discount). There are several numbers for reservations. If you cannot get the $99 room from the 800 numbers, call the hotel direct at (305)-453-0582. Tell them your a Florida Resident and just want the least expensive 2 bed room available. Put up 2 or 4 divers in the room, how friendly are you! The rooms are large. Be sure to identify yourself to Michael, heís a fellow diver and can tell you the best places to dive. If heís not too busy, talk him into going along. Michael is people and diver oriented. There are other places to stay, but this combination of Hotel and Dive shop is the best Iíve found to date in the Keys. The Hotel is on about a 5 acre location, the boat is definitely diver oriented. You can find less expensive but then you may have small older rooms and overloaded dive boats, 60 cu. ft. tanks etc.

ITís-A-Dive ,

co-located dive shop. Sam and Denise Barrios are the owners. Capt. Jorge is the dive boat captain. Cathy, Tess and Bruce are the boatís dive Instructors. This crew also is diver oriented . Itís the first dive boat Iíve seen that will carry your own tanks onto the boat and change your tanks for you between dives. Yes, the boat does take snorkelerís. Sometimes they outnumber the divers! But, this dive boat will not hesitate to stop at the Duane first to drop off the advanced divers, then to 5 minutes away to Molasses for the snorkelerís. The advanced divers need the hour out of the water anyway! The third dive can be from 20-40í, great for both the snorkelerís and divers. Capt. Jorge will not hesitate to take you where-ever you want within reason. Tell him where youíve been and where you want to go! When you get back, the dive shop has a wash tub and shower to clean off your gear and storage to keep in till the next dive.

Their good price dive packages include:

3 two-tank dives $105

5 two-tank dives $160.

This includes tanks and weights . The Duane will add $5.00 to these costs. Iíve done the 5 two-tank dives in 2 1/2 days and the 3 dives in 3 days. The 5 dives in 2 1/2 days was exhausting, but worth while. The reefs of Key Largo are really beautiful.

Thursday, 27-Nov, Dive #1
A. Dive Location: Christ Statue - Christ of the Deep, Key Largo Dry Rocks. A 4,000 LB nine-foot statue of Christ with his arms raised. This was my first dive on this location.
B. Conditions: Typical Florida Clear Blue Skies (CBS), 15 kts winds, 1-2í seas.
C. Dive Information: 30í for 40 minutes, water temp 78 degrees. A pretty reef, few fish, some interesting coral to see. We had some problems adjusting my dive partners weights - they had to go back for more weight! This is a worth doing once dive location.

Thursday, 27-Nov, Dive #2
A. Dive Location: Grecian Rocks
B. Conditions: Typical Florida Clear Blue Skies (CBS), winds to 15 kts, water 1-3í.
C. Dive Information: 20í for 40 minutes, Vis 30í. The dive boat dropped us off on one side of the dive location with a dive buoy and went to the sheltered other side of the reef for the snorkelerís. We traveled along the reef line, saw lots of fish and some real pretty coral. At about the edge of our visibility, we saw a 6-8í black tip shark and were glad it went right when we went left. On traveling to shallower waters towards the boat, there were two medium size (1-2 lb.) and 1 large (2-3 lb.) Florida Lobster. Unfortunately, we were within the protected John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and couldnít touch them! This is a good dive to do again!

Friday, 28-Nov, Dive #3
A. Dive Location: Coast Guard Cutter - Duane.
B. Conditions: Typical Florida Clear Blue Skies (CBS), 78 degrees, Water 77 deg on the bottom (3 mm full wet suit), seas 1-2í and blue water. Wind 15-20 kts.
C. Dive Information: 113í for 24 min, Vis 80í. Great Dive, we went down the bow line, did 2 swim throughs, over the stern a little towards the prop and up the stern line. There were lots of barracuda and other fish. Mild current on the top and no current on the bottom (makes for a great dive). I went in with 3500 lb. in a 120 cu ft tank and was on the boat with 1200 lb. left - a nice safety margin! When going from 15í decompressing to the surface, swimming to the tag line and waiting for your turn to get on the boat, itís nice to know you have enough air for the slight wait. You can use a lot of air trying to get to the tag line if the current and waves are strong.

Friday, 28-Nov, Dive #4
A. Dive Location: Molasses Tower, Windlass Wreck
B. Conditions: Typical Florida Clear Blue Skies (CBS), 2-4í seas (starting to build) with a mild current. 78 degrees on the surface, 77 degrees on the bottom. Wind 15-20 kts.
C. Dive Information: 20í for 40 minutes, 30 Vis. Lotís and lots of fingers to go up and down. Lots of colors, lots of fish and we did see the Winch (Windlass) in the middle of a sand field. There was nothing within 20-30í, but outside of that there was lots to see. This area is also must do again.

Saturday, 29-Nov, Dive #5
A. Dive Location: Coast Guard Cutter - Duane. This was my 100th dive!
B. Conditions: Some Clear Blue Skies and Some clouds and Some Rain! 20-25 kts winds, seas 8-10í - yea, it was kind of rough. This was why you need to be advanced certified for this dive. There was a mild current within 10í of the surface and none below!
C. Dive Information: 120í (accurate analog dive gauge), 115í Cochran Captain Dive Computer (not know for reliability) for 24 minutes. I went in with 3500 lb. in a 120 cu ft steel tank and finished on the boat with 1000 lb.. Visibility @50í (OK, but not the greatest), water temp 76 degrees on the bottom. You could feel the temp difference between 100í and 120í, kind of like jumping in an unheated swimming pool. The best part of this dive was, I rented a Nikon camera and strobe and dove with two other experienced divers. The camera presented some problems when entering the water - jump off the bow of the boat in 8-10í seas holding the camera over your head. Unfortunately, the camera was in my left had. On hitting the water and pulling on the mooring rope with my right hand to get to the down rope section, it was difficult to let air out of the BC! The left hand held and expensive camera, the right the rope, the BC was full of air, the seas were ten footers. This used up about 5 minutes and a lot of air to get organized an let the air out of the BC. Thatís when Iím glad to have a 120 tank!! The goal was to go down to the shipís prop and take some pictures about the stern area at the sea bed. That we did, I got some of them and they of me - if they turn out, weíll post them when we get back. We worked our way up and through some of the swimthroughs, to the bow and took more pictures. We came down the Crows Nest line (ships midsection) and went back up it, so we never really did make it to the fantail deck area. There were lots of fish!

Saturday, 29-Nov, Dive #6
A. Dive Location: Molasses Reef - Welwood wreck.
B. Conditions: Windy (15-20 kts), clouds, light rain, cool (78 degrees on the surface). Medium/Strong Surge!
C. Dive Information: 35í (accurate analog depth gauge), 31í (Cochran Captain Dive Computer) for 41 minutes. Vis 30í (almost poor). As stated above, the waves were big, and there was a big surge on the bottom. If you relaxed under water, it was like a mini-roller coaster going and coming with the surge - lots of fun. To the SE of our mooring, there was a down slope to the sand. In this area there were lots of fingers (20í), with lots of canyons and lots of fish and lots of coral. The fish were in large schools, just staying still, but moving @10í to/from with the surge. There was a 6í nurse shark under a ledge, no one would go up and pet her!! There was also one large, 2í, blue parrot fish that one member decided to swim after. The fish swam slowly until the person got close, the broke the sound barrier and disappeared like a flash! This was a very worth while dive, even in the conditions. This also is a must do again dive area. I did find a anchor shackle about 5í long with an eye on one end. It was probably 100 lb. and laying between some coral. As this is a protected area, we let it still. It looked to be many many years old.

Proposed Dive Trip:

After coming to the Key Largo. area on three separate 3-4 day dive trips, Iíd like to propose a dive trip to dive the BEST OF KEY LARGO DIVES.
June ?, 1998, weekend before the holiday, Friday night:
- - - - - Drive to Key Largo - the Marriott, 4 hours from Melbourne.
Saturday: 8:30 am - 5:30 PM
- - - - - Dive #1 Duane - Advanced required, 100 to the deck, 120 to the prop.
- - - - - Dive #2 Molasses or other local reef.
- - - - - Dive #3 Carysfort Reef
- - - - - Dive #4 Carysfort Reef
- - - - - Dive #1 Duane again
- - - - - Dive #2 Molasses or other local reef
- or -
- - - - - Dive #1 and 2 back to Carysfort Reef.

Carysfort Reef is the northern most reef in the Key Largo Pennekamp area. Being so far north, most of the dive boats donít go to it. Thus, itís not tromped on by divers. Itís an order of magnitude more beautifully than the other area reefís (Molasses, French, etc). Thereís acres and acres of living brown elkhorn and staghorn coral, a coral forest in 42í of water. There are lots of swimthroughs also loaded with coral, colors and fish. There is more colors here than any other dive location Iíve seen in Florida. Carysfort is a must dive.
At this time the estimated trip cost is $250. If you might be interested, e-mail me

The Irishman Software's, West Melbourne, Florida
Irishman@SpryNet.Com -

Last Updated 04-Sept-2002