You are currently viewing Back Under Water
The flag still waves over the USS Spiegel

Back Under Water

I really like how Rainbow Reef runs their scuba business. Everything is top-notch and professional. The rental gear is always high-end and brand new. The make you do some of the work, but it helps you do things right. I really like them. They are why we came back to Key Largo. We were so impressed with the way they did things when we were here doing our Advanced Open Water certifications last year.

Morning came too early. We didn’t arrive in Key Largo until after midnight last night and didn’t get things setup are ready to go until about 1:30 am… and then we had to go sign in, get rental gear, etc. before jumping on the boat at 8:30. I basically skipped breakfast. I took a few sips of some gatorade and some mango yogurt we picked up at Walmart last night, and then I was off… and feeling very disoriented.

I have a new enclosure for my point-and-shoot camera. I’m hoping it will take better pictures than my old GoPro. The enclosure book advised me to take it down empty for the first dive, just in case. By the time we were on the water at the location, I was still fumbling around trying to figure out what I was doing. I wound up jumping in the water before putting my gloves on or strapping my camera to my hand. The water was really rough, as rough as I’ve seen it here. I’m sure it gets much worse in storms, but this was as rough as anything we’ve been in for scuba diving. So there I am, trying to hold on the the granny line with one hand, put my gloves on before I drop them, figure out how to not drop the camera, and pull myself along to the drop point… and then I realize I don’t have enough weight. I can’t drop. This really sucks. It sucks because, now I have to pull myself back to the boat, beg someone to carefully hand me some weights over the side of the boat, etc. But it also sucks because I already had 14 pounds. That should have been plenty. When I was hear last year I only needed 12 pounds. Have I gotten that fat? I guess so. So now I have my gloves, my camera, two five-pound led weights, and the granny line in my hands. This is not a recipe for success. Luckily Charmaine hadn’t descended very far and I was easily able to sink down to her with my new weights. She stuff them into pockets in my BCD while I put my gloves on to continue the descent.

The super powerful (and fairly expensive) video light was attached to the flexible connected to the camera housing. The housing itself is empty, per manufacturer recommendation to dive without a camera the first time — just in case. But the old GoPro was attached to the housing via the cold-shoe directly above where the camera would be. I was happy to see the enclosure didn’t leak. I took it deeper than 100 feet and it was fine. But I wasn’t all that impressed with the new video light. It seemed amazingly powerful, smooth, and even during the pre-dive tests we did at home, but at 85 feet deep I couldn’t tell if it was on or not when I aimed it around. I guess I just have to be a lot closer to see the benefits. It is a 100 degree angle, after all… so the dispersion factor has to be crazy big. But I’m really happy to have our new little spotting lights. The angle of their beam is very narrow and you can really see where they are aimed. It’s funny how blue I thought their light was at home and how pink/red it seems underwater.

The first dive was the wreck of the USS Spiegel. We had hoped to do some swim-throughs of the superstructure, but when we arrived there were already a ton of boats moored at the helm and we were forced to moor at the aft. It’s such a huge ship that we didn’t even make it up to the superstructure during our dive. We only saw about 1/3 of the outside. Crazy. We did see some cool flags, a gun turret, the amphibious transport ramps, etc. It was pretty cool, but not amazing or spectacular. The visibility was about 50 feet. We did see some nice jacks swimming in a circle around one of the posts. It made me remember Cabo Pulmo and how we need to go back.

You can’t stay down that deep for long. You either run out of air or you run into your no-decompression limit. We didn’t want to hit either of those, so we kept the dive fairly short. I haven’t downloaded my watch yet, but I think we were only down about 32 minutes.

When we got up to 20 feet to do our safety stop you could already feel the crazy waves above you. I’m not sure it would have been as noticeable if we hadn’t been hanging on to the descent rope, but there was a slight current and we didn’t want anyone to get separated from the group, so we were all hanging on to that rope and getting yanked up and down. Did I mention the water was rough? It was. And as soon as I made my way to my spot I knew I wasn’t feeling well. I unclipped my BCD as fast as I could and ripped my mask off as I ran to the edge of the boat. I got there just in time to see mushrooms and peppers spew out of my mouth and into the sea below. I felt better immediately and got up and grabbed a cold bottle of water, rinsed my mouth, and took a few sips. I guess the Shake Shack burgers were too greasy to be eaten just a few hours before a rough day at sea. I wound up drinking the whole bottle of water on our way to French Reef.

It’s not a long trip from the Spiegel to French Reef and the water wasn’t as rough at the reef as it had been out by the wreck. But still the boat was being tossed and right as we were preparing to get in for dive number 2, I took another trip to the edge of the boat. This time I only sprayed clear water out, but it was pretty pathetic. By this time most the other divers were in the water. The boat captain came down and told me to just put my fins and mask on and she would toss my gear into the water. That really worked well. I skipped the camera on this dive, even though I knew it would have more light and more fish. I just didn’t want all that hassle. I needed to just relax.

It was a good dive. We saw a lot of cool stuff, including a nurse shark, a huge moray eel, some giant lobsters, hundreds of shrimp, a big beautiful french angel fish, a huge blue parrot fish, some hog fish, damsel fish, etc. It wasn’t packed with fish, but there were plenty to look at and enjoy. I used the spotting light to look down into the tubes and I seemed to see something (usually a shrimp) in each one. I really like that light.

We stayed between 35 and 50 feet for about 50 minutes then did our safety stop and got ready to head back. Charmaine got on board before me and was taking a turn hanging over the edge of the boat when I got up there. Then she told me she threw up through her regulator while diving. Wow. I had no idea. I guess that explains why she switched to her octo part way through the dive. It wasn’t long before I joined her, but this time I had nothing inside to spew out. I just heaved and made a lot of noise. It was almost comical. I grabbed another cold water and poured it on my head. I felt great after that, but Charmaine was still looking green. She sat by the edge of the boat most of the way back to shore. We decided to skip the afternoon dives today, take a nap, and just relax. That proved to be a good choice.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.