Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pit Stop @ Key Largo FL.

Before I completely forget that I dove in Key Largo, let me jog a few notes. This happen after the return from the Galapagos on 12/26/2008. I never dove Florida, so I decided to take a 3 days pit stop. Things are very expensive in FL, 3 days of Travel Lodge motel cost $110 a nite and 4 days of car rental cost $600. Diving wasn't too bad, I went with Ocean Divers, I choose to dive the Spiegel and the Molasses Reef.

The next morning, got up at 6am, left Flordia city at 6:30am, it was still dark and got to the pier at 7am. They have 2 boats and a doezn people were getting ready. I found my boat, suit up my 7mm and took my camera on board. The ride out to the reef was not bad compare to Monterey, it was rough but again not that rough and took about 40 minutes. Captain brief divers there were 5 ft surf and rough sea, I took the words cautiously but again, it really wasn't that rough. It was just like an average day in Monterey but several people got sick. The captain spent another 20 mintues navigating around to find a spot that isn't waving that much and ended up at the French Reef. Detail about entry and exist and the use of the current line to get back on boat was described in detail. I did a 60 minutes dive at a depth of around 25 some feet. It has a good 4~5 ft side to side surge which again was average Monterey. The surface was rougher than below for sure, took a little effort to take off fins, hand camera over and climb the slamming ladder. Interestingly after I got back, I wasn't the last to come up. 8 minutes later, the onboard DM had to deploy the rescue line and jump in. Found the remaining divers several hundered yards drifted and had to help them back. After everyone got back onboard, captain decided to call the day and go back. I was certainly disappointed, it was rough but not that rough and the dive was so shallow that it was almost like snookling. With a shorten day, I decided to cruise down to Key West, a long 3+ hours drive just to check out the marker !

With so much driving from the previous nite, I woke up at 7am the next morning !! Knowing I will miss the morning dive, I drove to the pier and search for my options. Fortunately, the afternoon boat goes to the Duane and because the sea was still rough, local said Duane would be a better dive. The boat ride was about the same as previous day, we had to pull ourself through the surface line to the bow line and then decent through some currents and onto the top deck at 98ft. Once situated, it was quite peacful and the visz was great ! Water was about 73F, so my heavy 7mm suit fits me well ! I circle around the wheel house, top deck. A very nice deck with plenty of baracuda patroling the deck and then all sorts of reef fishes. 45~50 minutes later, got back on boat realized 1/2 of the people on board didn't dive due to roughness ! We then venture to Molassess reef, it was a 18~22 ft dive that I can clearly see the bottom of the boat whole time. I didn't go very far, just circling various part of the reef and try to take some fish faces and the reef. I did a 70 minutes dives after the captain bang on the boat enough time. All and all, my short 3 dives experience diving in Key Largo were decent, warm enough to call it tropical. They said summer months between memorial and labor day weekend would be the peak season and best time to dive the Keys. For me going east, I might as well go to Hawaii, nevertheless, it was the warmest dive I had for 2008. If I am going to Florida again, it will be the Crystal River manatee instead.

For my last dinner of the trip, I decided to find a place close to the hotel in Florida City instead at the Key and deal with the driving after. I found this restaurant Mutineer looks decent. I tell you yellow fin snapper and grouper had been my feeding my diet for the last few days and it was awsome. While I am still figuring out should I have grouper or yellow fin one last time, I saw aligator on the menu ! How can I pass that, last time I had aligator was over 15 years. It was preapare sautee with lemon capers, delicious and I still can't tell it from chicken :-)

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