|DIve Report - Continued (sort of) Biscayne Bay, NPS & CMAR|
Posted by Patrick Smith on July 29, 2005 at 19:41:33:|
Sorry for the hiatus in reporting the ongoing efforts of CMAR and their support of Biscayne National Parkís Shipwreck Trail project. Our internet connection has become senile and frustratingly intermittent. The connection has been down for two days except for momentary connections, so Iíll drop in this report ( and hope it makes it) and try to get the pictures later.
The days have been rigorous; usually only two dives per day Ė Iíll explain why later Ė but with total bottom times running way over 200 minutes, along with filling, schlepping tanks, gear and recording photos and data into the wee small hours, it does take the stuffing out of you.
The two-dive day is mainly because of the prevailing weather patterns in the area. Typically, by 14-15:00 thunderstorms move out over Biscayne Bay from the Everglades. These storms bring torrential rains, are very powerful, but usually of short duration. Rain isnít the problem. Itís the rather energetic lightning that comes with them. Since lightning seeks high points for its strikes, boats, and boats with metal Bimini top supports, become prime electrical attractors, staying out during these conditions is a bit more fate tempting than the NPS (or any sane person) allows. Also, frying a boat full of support people would create a lot of paperwork the NPS would just as soon avoid. That said, weíre usually wrapping the dive day between 2-3:00 PM most days. Today was a bit different. Conditions were absolutely perfect Ė flat, glassy calm, 50-70 foot visibility, surface water temp. 91 degrees (a bit warm, really) and a very comfortable 86 degrees on the bottom. But by 13:00, thunder heads and dark rainsqualls were moving our way, fast. Captain Dave Choate called the dive. We grabbed our gear off the bottom and hauled for home. We caught a bit of weather inside Biscayne Bay, and those of us not wearing sunglasses put on their dive masks to see through the stinging rain that was driving down. Once in, we hauled and filled tanks for tomorrow, then retreated to our hotel to assemble the data collected so far. It was good to have an early day.
Yesterday we had some time to look at a wreck new to us, the English China wreck. It lies in shallow water Ė 10-15 feet Ė the area made up of mostly sand and turtle grass, and a few coral heads. What is amazing is the amount of broken and (some) intact china that is strewn across the site. Though a name has yet to be given to the vessel that was lost here, a Smithsonian project some years ago determined the china to date from the late 18th or early 19th century.
The other interesting feature of the site was the huge population of lobsters claiming the site as home. As an aside, I believe these creatures to be the retarded cousins of our own Paniluris Interuptus. If you wave at these bugs, they step on over to see whatís going on. I think Jeff Foxworthy must know these guys.
Though the work is exciting, and the diving spectacular, there are a couple of things that keep south Florida from stealing my heart (though it is getting a fair amount of my bloodÖ). I mentioned the thunderstorms and the possibility of arbitrary execution by random lightning strikes.
Then there are the mosquitoes.
I donít even know how to describe these single-minded kamikaze minions from Hell. They eat 20% deet, they nosh on 50% deet. Iím now up to 98% deet, and am finally holding the bastards (I know all the ones that bite are female) at bay. You can hardly imagine how miserable you can become when pursued by 15 billion blood-sucking demons from hell, that, if given the smallest opportunity fly right up your nose or down your throat.
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