Dive Report / Weather Report Biscayne - 07/21/06

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Posted by Patrick on July 21, 2006 at 20:57:22:

We’re coming up on the end of this year’s Biscayne National Park/CMAR site survey and although the project has been moving along well, there were still some tasks that were outstanding.

On Thursday evening over dinner with the Resource Manager of the park (Brenda Lazendorf), we went into great detail of what data was still required to close out our site plans and management reports for the sites (the wrecks of the ALICIA and the ERLKING). During a great Italian dinner and the requisite bottle of wine (a very nice Yellowtail Merlot), all the tasks for Friday’s dives were discussed and planned in precise detail. To close the evening, we checked the local weather folks who assured us that gentle easterly winds and calm seas awaited us on the morrow. Cool!

This little guy and some of his buddies greeted me at my motel after dinner – I love geckos. I’m not real sure about that insurance company, though.

This morning – Friday morning – it is a bit overcast, but all the big, nasty-looking weather seems to be off to the north, so we load our trusty 22-foot Whaler and head out to the ERLKING site. So, except for some voracious no-see-em’s that made continuous attacks as we loaded gear, the morning is looking pretty good.

However, once we clear Elliot Key and hit Hawk Channel, we notice that our weather folks may have been a tad optimistic. Our 5-knot easterly winds are already huffing at 10++ making for a slightly bumpy ride to the site. Okay. No big deal. At the site, Carol is over first to hand set the hook, and Mark and I quickly follow behind her leaving Chris Broland our SCA intern to boat sit.

It is a great site to work…

Carol Linteau - great data taker – perfect buoyancy

Mark Norder working ERLKING

Just over two hours into the first dive, I hear the boat engine start and pop up to see what’s going on. As I hit the surface, the first thing I see is about a third of our Whaler’s bottom exposed as it rears up over a white-capping wave.

Holy crap! Our beautiful turquoise ocean is now gunmetal gray, and the sky is black. Wind at about 25 to 30 knots has white-crested combers everywhere. Yep! I concur. II dropped back down to alert Mark and Carol of the situation, and waited on the surface in the slight lee of the boat as they skidded on board through the dive door. Once they were de-geared, I dropped back down to kick the hook loose while Mark pulled the anchor. Once the anchor was up, Chris ran back to me downwind then when he signaled, I kicked my but off, and rode one of the swells up on to the boat through the dive door. Then began the interesting trip back to Park headquarters. Through periodic rain squalls and constant wind and swell we slowly pounded our way southwest back into the relative calm of Biscayne Bay.

Heading for shelter in Biscayne Bay

Instead of the blue skies and turtles that were the more common faire, we experienced lightning and waterspouts. Numerous tornado touchdowns occurred over a 30-mile stretch of SE Florida coast, from Key Largo to Miami.

Though we had to cut and run early, we did manage to complete several of our tasks for the day, but not all. Since we had much of the day to kill, we spent some time filling tanks, and again, arranging and xeroxing our data from previous dives.

The park has a great fill station (and it was out of the rain)

Though the day was still young, persistent rain and thundershowers really prevented us from additional work, so, after an early dinner at a local rib joint, we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest.

Aaarrrrrggg! A perfect way to end a not so perfect day.

Stay wet

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