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View Full Version : Key Largo Trip Report - August 5th to August 7th, 2007



Centerius
08-09-2007, 21:55
After 13 weeks of PEN1136: Compressed Gas Diving at Florida State University (doing a 2 hour lecture every Monday, and pool session on Thursday, and our OW checkout dives at Morrison Spring and Panama City) for our basic open water certification, we were given the opportunity to go to Key Largo after the semester ended to get our AOW and Nitrox certifications. For $350, we got 7 dives over 3 days with 2 nights at The Suites at Key Largo (http://www.suitesofkeylargo.com/), and our Nitrox cert for $60.

First, a little bit about the trip on the way to Key Largo. The plan was to leave on Friday and stay with my girlfriend's parents' house in West Palm Beach, she would stay there while I went to Key Largo. Plus, her girlfriend had an engagement party on Saturday. We left Tallahassee on Friday around 8:30 a.m. I started getting a little tired around Orlando and asked my girlfriend to drive for a half an hour and about five minutes back on the road, traffic was stopped on the Turnpike and my girlfriend slammed on the brakes and they locked up and we slid into the SUV in front of us. The SUV had a few scratches, but our car's hood was dented slightly and scratched up -- and the tires went bald, so we got those replaced (after waiting around for ~3 hours). We finally arrived in West Palm Beach, ate dinner and went to sleep. The next day we went to the engagement party and afterwards I went to sleep early (around 10) to get a good night's rest.

Day 1, August 5th
However, I woke up around 3 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep. I decided to pack up all my stuff and drive down to Key Largo. I got down there around 5:30 and had nothing to do -- I drove around checking things out for a little while until I decided I should probably get a little more sleep. I tried sleeping in the car and that didn't work out. I waited around the dive op (our head instructor chose Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center (http://www.captainslate.com), since he knows the owner) until they opened. It turns out they had a wireless connection, so I just lurked on the board until some of my classmates got there around 10 a.m. I was going through my gear and realized I had forgotten to get gloves, so I went inside to see if they had any gloves for sale (turns out they don't sell gear, just rent out mostly I guess). They didn't have any gloves, so Captain Slate gave me a pair he had in his dive bag to use for the day.

City of Washington
The boats were being prepped while everyone arrived and got their gear together, signed in and got all our information about the hotel we were staying at. We headed out at 12:30 p.m. to go to City of Washington wreck. We arrived at the wreck around 1:30. For this dive, we were to dive with an instructor, and my buddy, Erin, and I were just with our assistant instructor, Ashley. As we were getting our gear on, Ashley talked me into not wearing my dive skin because the water was perfect! Erin, Ashley, and I hit the water. The max depth was 29 ft, with a water temperature of 87 deg F -- nice and warm. We saw many types of fish including a really cool one that had dots that lit up on its body. About 10 minutes before the end of our dive, I noticed something weird -- my tank was wobbling on my back. I reached back to the top of my backplate and my wingnut was gone. I just held my tank in place until we swam back towards the boat. I got back on the boat and no one had a spare wingnut (I was the only person diving a BP/W -- the closest anyone had was a Transpack). We rigged it up with zipties, which seemed pretty stable. Now, I've only gotten sea sick once about ten years ago. I bought some TripTone just in case, but didn't think I needed to take any. I started not feeling too well, and as we were waiting for other divers to board the boat, I stood towards the side and puked just once. After that, I felt perfectly fine. It's funny seeing the fish come to the surface and eat all of it.

Anchor Chain
We moved over to our second dive spot, the Anchor Chain I believe it's called, and the ziptied rig worked great the entire dive. It was just my buddy and I this time, and I mainly spent the time working on buoyancy and getting comfortable. I got to the point where I was using my breathing to move up and down in the water column -- although my SAC rate was still quite high. Max depth 26 ft, water temp still 87 deg F.

We got back a little after 5 p.m. and proceeded to pack up our gear and grab a bite to eat. I tried to find a place where I could get a wingnut (dive shops, k-mart) and yet no one had one. It was Sunday after 5 p.m. in Key Largo... I guess that's all that needs to be said down there. By the way, remember when I said I let Ashley talk me into not wearing my dive skin? I forgot to put sunscreen on and my shoulders burned so bad they were slightly blistered. :(

Day 2, August 6th
USS Spiegel Grove
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. so I could get to True Value which opens at 7 a.m. We packed up all our stuff into the car and went over there. I decided to get longer bolts, a wingnut, and loctite. We made it over to Captain Slate's at 7:30 and analyzed our Nitrox for our first dive. The plan was to dive the USCG Cutter Duane today and the USS Spiegel Grove tomorrow. However, when we arrived at the Duane, the current buoy was practically under water -- the current must have been an easy 3 knots. We decided to head over to the Spiegel Grove and look at the conditions. Conditions on the grove were perfect, and we headed into the water. We dove the bow of the Spiegel Grove with an instructor and 2 other buddy groups. The size of the Spiegel Grove is amazing. The sight was beautiful to me, and looking inside and outside was really cool. We dove to 89 ft for 23 minutes. The temperature at the surface to about 70 ft was 87 deg F and there was a thermocline after that which was at 82 deg F.

Benwood
Our next dive was the Benwood. This dive was just my buddy and I again, and as we dropped into the water, we were swimming around and I wasn't very impressed with what I saw. I just saw a bit of reef, and the captain said it had been used by the air force for target practice, and to me it just looked like there was nothing left. Well, after about 10 minutes, we see this huge school of fish in one spot and I'm amazed at seeing all these fish. After a minute of looking at the fish I look behind them and see the bow of the ship. I proceed to smack myself in the head because we didn't get onto the wreck after getting off the boat. Anyways, we spent the next 22 minutes swimming around the wreck looking at various things. My buyoancy is getting much better and my SAC rate is improving. The new bolts and loctite on my BP/W is still holding up very well -- I think I'll keep it like this.

City of Washinton, Night Dive
We got back to the dock and went and got lunch and took a nap before our night dive. At dusk we arrived back at the City of Washington wreck and jumped in the water as the sun set. Only a few minutes into the dive we saw a nurse shark swimming around. I decided to bring my camera along with me for the first time this trip and I got to snap a few pictures of it. I also saw a few conch shells, lobster, and lots of other cool fish. I was the first out of the water, and I took my gear off and hopped in the water to swim around while people were exiting the water. When I got back on the boat, Ashley came up to me and said, "You won't believe it." I asked her what she was talking about and she handed me my wingnut I lost the day before. That was just crazy. I spent the ride back to shore sitting up on the bow talking to some people I hadn't introduced myself to in class before and enjoying the sky lit up with the stars. Back at the dock we all voted on whether we would dive the Spiegel Grove again and one reef, or do two reefs. The majority won with two reefs, and off we went to bed.

Day 3, August 7th
Donut Reef
The next morning we checked out of the hotel and headed back to the dock for our last two dives. The first dive was to Donut Reef. There was a bit of current, but there were plenty of things to look at. I saw a few angel fish, weird coral, and was basically just enjoying being underwater.

WTF Reef
The last dive was to WTF Reef. I was quite tired at this point and was swimming around just relaxing. There were plenty of fish here to look at, and I snapped a few good photos of one that didn't care if I came within inches of him. My SAC rate for these two dives was pretty good considering the current, and I even used less air than my buddy who has a very, very low SAC rate.

It was quite a long ride back to Tallahassee, and pretty uneventful. However, I have to say that this was the best vacation I've ever had (thus far...). Captain Elmo and mates on our boat were amazing. When we exited they took our tanks off, while we were in the water, they moved our second tanks forward, and if we asked anything they were there to help us out. I'd recommend Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center if you're diving in Key Largo.

deepdiver47
08-10-2007, 04:41
Thanks for this Centerius, I am heading back to KL in November where the water temp will not be 87 (boy that is hot). It will be more like 75 or so

COW is a great wreck even though there isn't that much left. You guys didn't do Molasses Reef? it's a nice drift dive. So is French. Benwood is nice as well.

Take any pics?

DougNR
08-10-2007, 07:34
Nice report! Posts like this are what I most like reading here.

So what did you get your SAC down to toward the end? You noted improvement, but no numeric figure...

Centerius
08-10-2007, 08:32
I did take pictures, I think I'll get them up today. I went from about 1.1 to 0.8 SAC rate. Still not that great, but at least it's an improvement.

creggur
08-10-2007, 10:21
Thanks for the report...My wife and I are trying to put together a little excursion down there at the end of October... Looking forward to it!!!

Black-Gorrilla
08-10-2007, 11:53
sounds like you had a good couple of days, and you got the good weather days too.
thanks for the write up.

DougNR
08-10-2007, 12:27
I did take pictures, I think I'll get them up today. I went from about 1.1 to 0.8 SAC rate. Still not that great, but at least it's an improvement.

That's good improvment. You'll be under .5 in no time, just don't skip breathe!

Regards;

Foo2
08-10-2007, 12:35
Great report Centerius! Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to see the pics!

Centerius
08-13-2007, 15:34
Great report Centerius! Thanks for sharing and I can't wait to see the pics!

Arg, still haven't gotten around to getting the pictures up. Hopefully I can get it done by tomorrow (some of my friends are still waiting, too!).

Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:20
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Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:24
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Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:25
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Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:25
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Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:26
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Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:26
http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_0bdddcd6.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/0bdddcd6.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_2fdfdebd.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/2fdfdebd.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_b30088ac.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/b30088ac.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_2273b1fb.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/2273b1fb.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_cc69ed76.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/cc69ed76.jpg)

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_95d12b86.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/95d12b86.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_92641a70.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/92641a70.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_2673f5d7.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/2673f5d7.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_556acbfa.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/556acbfa.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_a886ff9b.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/a886ff9b.jpg)

Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:26
http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_7b072f5d.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/7b072f5d.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_fc010fb6.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/fc010fb6.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_2aab1193.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/2aab1193.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_4825c702.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/4825c702.jpg)http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/th_bbe66bd4.jpg (http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z207/jamescuster/Key%20Largo%20SCUBA%20Trip/bbe66bd4.jpg)

Centerius
08-14-2007, 17:28
Now updated with pictures. :)

WV Diver
08-14-2007, 17:28
Great report and good pics, looks like you had a great time.