CopyRight @ 1997
Some of the most beautiful diving is in the nastiest places... Talcott Shoals is on the north west side of Santa Rosa Island, just aimed up past Point Conception at storm central. Average wind speed here is 28 knots... all year long. Sometimes though, you can catch it calm, or what passes for calm there.
It was a beautiful morning when we woke up on the Peace. Lee Price was acting as dive master for this charter. Of course James and Woody were keeping a close watch too. This is a place where divers want to get off the boat as fast as they can. As I went off, I asked James to time my dive, as I did not have a timer with me.
It was 85 feet deep and beautiful. I went away from the boat quickly, heading away from the island. At Talcott the bottom terrain is a series of ledges that run parallel to the island. It looks like a topography map under water. I have heard it called the hardest place to get lost that there is. All the ledges go the same way. A great way to dive it is to head in or out from the island until you find a ledge that you want to follow. Travel the ledge up current for half your air, then go on to the next ledge. It should not be more than 100 feet. Then come back along that ledge. When it is time to come up, you should be near in line with the boat.
Anyway, I hit bottom and was moving fast. Air is precious at that depth. While heading out across the sand to look for a large ledge to follow, I saw a rock the size of a VW with a crack under it and some big bugs in it. I just snatched in and pulled out a 4 pounder. I reached in again and pulled out a 7 pounder. I had a funny grip on it and could not force it into the bag. It was holding on. I ended up squeezing the bug between by bag and my chest and pulling until the bag was pretty much over the bug, then I closed the bag. About this time I looked back and a 2 pounder was walking out of the hole. He had had enough. Too slow by a mile. I quickly glanced at my air. It was a bit short, but nothing extraordinary for me. I knew that I had seen another big bug in the crack, but I was sure it had taken the natural back door out. One thing about big bugs though, they tend not to always run. Sometimes they get cocky or just hunker down. I was in a hurry, so I just jammed my arm in to feel around. My hand landed right on the back of the carapace of the last one... and that was that. I immediately headed up. I knew it was a waste of time to check my air again. On the surface I put that bug in the bag and headed the short distance back to the boat. James said that I was down 18 minutes. Well, it was an intense 18 minutes.
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