Mixsonian Larry


More Diving

Later April, my brother David and I went with a group of divers that Jim Bobb took from Hatts Dive Shop to Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park which is in Key Largo Florida.  It was a really nice dive.  My dive log:

Dive Log - Pennekemp State Park

In May David and I went down to West Palm and went out on a dive boat for two dives.

Diving with David in West Palm Beach

In July I decided to take the Advanced Open Water course which we learned such things as deep diving, night diving and underwater search and recovery.  The course was taught by Jim Bobb and was a lot of fun.  After several classroom sessions our first dive was off of West Palm Beach where we did a night dive which was fascinating to see all sorts of different creatures that you didn’t normally see in the day time.  I also spotted a scorpion fish which were uncommon at the time but in a few years would decimate the native fish.

Dive Log - Night Dive

For underwater navigation, search and recovery we went out west of Melbourne to a sand quarry which was basically pit the size of two football fields where they mined sand.   The pit was about twenty feet deep with ten feet of water in it.  In that part of Florida, if you dig down a dozen feet you likely to hit water thus the joke, “What do you call a basement in Florida?   … A indoor swimming pool.”   For the training, Jim Bobb placed several weights with buoys out in the water to make a course.  After entering the water, we used a compass to dive in a specific direction for x feet where we should find a buoy then from that buoy swim on another compass heading for xx feet to the next buoy and so on.    Another test was to find a lost object underwater in which we put down a weighted buoy and dove in a spiral out from it to find the object.   It was all quite fun although the water was very warm.


Me and Jim BobWe did several dives in August for the Advanced Open Water certificate.  One weekend Jim Bobb took the group up to High Springs to do several dives in the springs.  High Springs is just thirty minutes west of Gainesville so I stayed with Mom and Dad while the others in the group stayed in a hotel.  We dove Ginny Springs which I had done before but also dove several other springs including Peacock Springs.  Peacock springs is one of the top underwater cave diving sites in the world with several waterfilled sinkholes connected by underwaterCraig eating Lobster on beach caves.   We did not do any cave diving, but only went to the bottom and, per Jim Bobb’s strict instruction, were to go no further than 15 feet horizontally into the cave at the bottom of the spring.    Another dive we did in August was a beach dive in which we swam out from the beach, past the breaking surf,  where there was a two to three foot high shelf that sheltered lobsters.  After catching several lobsters each, we went back to the beach were we boiled the lobster on a camp stove and had a lobster lunch.

One dive for advanced certification was a deep dive to 90 feet.  For this we again went to West Palm Beach where we took a dive boat out to what was called the arch.  The Arch was a massive coral formation forming an arch with a fifty foot tunnel under it large enough to drive a bus though.  The bottom of the Arch was at 90 feet while the top of the tunnel under the arch was 70 feet.  At 90 feet, you have about five minutes of bottom time with out doing decompressing stops on your way back to the surface.  If you stayed in the middle of the arch, say 80 feet you would have a bit more time.  The day we went out the Gulf Stream was flowing a good three knots so we were going to do what is known as a drift dive which, instead of staying in one area, you let the current carry you, or drift, with the current.  The dive boat dropped us off upstream and then was to pick us up a hundred yards downstream after going under the arch and back to the surface.  The ten divers on the boat, along with Jim Bobb, got into the water, then on Jim Bobb’s signal, we headed down.  The visibility was amazing, at least a 100 feet, I could see the bottom clearly 90 feet below us just barely make out the dark opening of the arch in front of us.  We followed Jim Bobb down, 30 feet, the current moving us along, 50 feet, the sunlight starts to fade, the current carries us closer to the arch which I can clearly see now.  We approach the opening to the arch at 80 feet, the light has grown dim, and the darkness under the arch looks a little spooky but I can see daylight at the far end of the arch.  The current had lessened as we got deeper but still flowing, carrying us under the arch where I see several large fish, 20 to 30 pound groupers.  As we proceed further, Jim Bobb, who brought a underwater light, points it to one side and there was the largest fish I had ever seen, a goliath grouper, six feet long and probably 400 pounds, and then he points the light to another even larger one.  It all happened quickly as the current carried us through and to the other side in less than five minutes and we begin our accent to the surface. 

Although we in theory didn’t have to, we were instructed to pause at a 10 foot depth for decompression which we did to be safe.  After the short decompression, we rise to the surface to find there was no boat waiting.  We look around and the boat is 50 yards from us, we waive it to come pick us up, the yell back the engine had died, and we have to come to them.  Well in full scuba gear it is not so easy to swim against a 3 knot current, but we set out.  As we got closer the boat crew threw out a life preserver on a long rope which Jim Bobb instructed one of the weaker swimmers to grab on to and the crew pulled her to the boat.  The crew repeated that a for a couple more divers while the rest of us struggled on and finally reached the boat.

I was exhausted, it was hot, 90 degrees and I was even hotter in my wetsuit after the swim to reach the boat, so I quickly strip off my gear and wetsuit.  A crew member handed out cold drinks to the divers while another crew member was in the engine compartment looking at the engine.  I half hour later, the engine still wouldn’t start, an hour later, still no engine.  The hot sun bore down on us, there was no wind, not even a breeze.  The boat had only a small canopy which not everyone could sit under, it was getter pretty miserable when the crew contacted another boat on the radio which soon arrived and towed us back to port.  We were supposed to have done a second dive, well that clearly didn’t happen so we did get a partial refund.   I did really enjoy the Arch dive, but for the travel time and boat problems for 30 minute dive, well it hardly seemed worth it.    On the other hand it met the requirement for a deep dive and I received my Advanced Open Water certificate. 

Dive Card frontDive Card back

Updated: 03-28-2023

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