Key Largo 12.05.2002

The purgatory of day to day life or the hell of winter can be shredded to pieces by a trip to the Keys. It is fantastic how a 2 hours flight can get you from hell to paradise.


The beginning

My week didn't started to good... My heat pump quit on me on the Saturday before the Keys trip so I didn't had heat for 3 days. Thank to Richard and Vera, I didn't passed out in my apartment suffering of hypothermia and I stayed at their place Monday and Tuesday night. Finally Wednesday I got my heat pump back and I had heat for about 6 hours flat... Then hell broke loose. Another ice storm hit Raleigh. For the ones who don't live in US, you have never seen something like this. It rains and it freezes as soon as it hits ... anything. It creates a layer of hard ice on al the objects which are outside. Unfortunately the trees are not too happy with this so they ... of course, break. As I was saying, Wednesday about 10 PM the ice storm started breaking trees and the power went off at about 1 AM. Another thing which went down was the tree that hit my car. Not to much damage but it looked impressive. Check out the pictures.


Day 1

Well, it was not easy to quit Raleigh. All the morning flights were canceled and after panicking out and calling Caper about 10000 times we decided to take our chance and get to the airport. Out flight was leaving Raleigh at 4.11 PM and ALL the flights for Miami before our were canceled.

Kittie and Randy's flight was canceled, all the flights were canceled. It was hell here!!!

Lucky for us (Probably that's Caper's luck, I know is not mine...) our flight left with a huge delay ... about 10 minutes. Can you imagine that????!!!! There were people in the airport for more than 24 hours and waiting for their international flights and us ... we had 10 minutes delay.

So there we went.

We got to Miami on a cold 84 F (28 C) weather. Fantastic!

We got our car and Caper worked wonders to drive us to the Keys. I have to admit, she had a pretty darn good navigator armed with the latest in the the field of high technologies. Of course I took my GPS and my laptop with me right!

We got to Key Largo and checked in the Holiday Inn hotel and then we went for a nice sea food dinner at the Fish House. Great sea food, great drinks and very enjoyable company.

After dinner, you can't go to bed before sitting a litle bit in the hot tub right? That was relaxing, just us, the stars and that gorgeous blondy with hey boyfriend...


Day 2

We got up in the morning at 8 and we went out to get on the boat at 8.30. Well, that's what I remembered about the boat. Unfortunately Jeff the captain of the boat leaves the dock at 8 not 8.30 how I remembered.

This time since we stayed at the same hotel as the marina is, we walked to the boat.

Since I really enjoyed diving with Jeff last time, we decided to go again with the HMS Minnow a nice six pack (this is in diving terms a boat who accommodate 6 divers so 12-14 tanks). Caper and me were the only two people on the boat.

We decided to go dive the Spiegel Grove the big artificial reef sunk just for divers about 10 months ago. Great diving, pretty deep but good visibility and Caper didn't freaked out on me at all. Very pleasant dive. Not to much life on the wreck yet since is so new but still a nice couple of fish including a balloon fish which I played with.

The second dive was on the French Reef a great shallow reef, with allot to see. Of course I shot all my pictures on the roll of film I had with me so I didn't took my camera underwater with me on this dive. Useless to say that we saw one spotted eagle ray, a beautiful manta ray like ray without the frontal flaps and with white blue dots on its top. It was pretty big, about 4 ft. wing span. Great stuff!

Oh, I remember, Caper got sick this day ... and she neeeever gets sick on a boat ... right!!!!

After the two dives we went back to shore and since Caper didn't feel right she decided not to go on the afternoon dives. Lucky enough for me she was nice and told me to go ahead and go by my self. Since Jeff was not going to leave the dock with just one diver, he found me a boat to go dive with.

So, on the afternoon I go out with Island Venture, a bigger boat but we are only 4 divers. Two guys and a cute girl.

We do a shallow dive for the first time, which sucked since the visibility was not too good but oh well, it was better than staying in the room or going to get drunk in a bar. We dive a wreck called City of Washington. Decent, not to much to see but I did see a nurse shark. Pretty big.

The second dive was close to the famous statue Christ of the abyss but we haven't see the statue. Now I understand why instructors are SOOOO picky about buoyancy control. The reef was devastated here! It is sad to see things which grow in hundreds of years trashed with the kick of a fin... Such a pithy.

We get back to shore at about 4.30 and Caper was there waiting for me (she is so nice!). We were both starving so after I take a quick shower we decide to go out and eat BUT, Kittie and Randy call and they say that in about one hour they can join us so we decided to wait for them.

At about 6 we reunite the group and we go drinking and eating. Unfortunately I had to much to drink ... but that's next day's story.


Day 3

We get up and on the boat at 8... this time at the right time so Jeff doesn't have to wait for us. Today is more choppy, and me with the amount of drinks I had last nigh I don't feel good at all.

We got to the dive site, this time again a deep wreck called Duane, a coast guard ship sunk as an artificial reef in 1987. I was really not feeling good but I say nothing because I don't want to spoil everybody's day.

We get in the water on probably about 3-4 ft waves and a hefty current. I can't stay up to long so I get beneath the water and wait for the others. Caper is the first in the water after me, very fast and she pulls herself toward our descent line. Kittie and Randy follow and we go down.

Beautiful! What can I say more. Probably about 80-100ft of visibility, no waves, blue water... As soon as we get down we see a turtle and Kittie has to touch her. You can see in the picture that the turtle was not that scared.

...I was a little bit scared since as I said the current was very decent. Probably we had about 0.5 - 3/4 knot of current. Hard to swim against and I almost called the dive off but ... the girlz did great. I was proud of Caper and Kittie. I didn't care much about Randy since I knew he can handle it.

We do our dive, we get back to the descent line and we get to the surface without any incidents. ... I had to put Caper on my spare regulator butt ... I had plenty of air for both of us.

As soon as I get on the boat ... I am loosing it and I get sick. I spare the people but I don't spare Jeff's boat so he had to clean it after I got out of the way. Sorry Jeff!

The second dive of the day was on Molases Reef. Beautiful. I like it more than the French reef. I think the coral was more alive and the fish were more abundant. Great dive. ... Unfortunately, as I was saying I got sick on the boat and when I get sick and than I go on a shallow dive where the waves are still rocking me, that's not good. I got sick underwater and when I took my regulator out to puck Caper freaked out. She was nice to care for me and that's why she got scared.

We got back at the hotel and we had a good lunch (like I was feeling good enough to get food ...) and then we went out again. We dove the Benwood wreck, a shallow wreck with OK visibility but allot of things to see. I have seen a porcupine fish, a couple of eels and all sorts of stuff. Unfortunately the visibility got bad when it started to rain divers from some other boats which anchored on the wreck.

The second dive we did was again on Molases Reef but this time we dove the southern part. Again, great diving. We have seen 2 spotter eagle rays. Gorgeous.


Day 4

... And in the forth day we got banned from heaven. Yes, it was the time for us to go back home, back to the purgatory. Even the weather got rough and we couldn't go diving in the morning and unfortunately Kittie and Randy couldn't go diving in the afternoon nor the day after all day. I guess I do bring bad weather everywhere I go!

We drove back to Miami, dropped the car and got back in out warm NC clothes and got back. We found Raleigh still frozen and nasty with fallen trees everywhere. Richard and Doug E Doug were so nice to free my car from underneath the tree that felt on it. It is great to have good friends!

We dropped off Caper at her apartment and I got back home where I had power but no cable. The power was restored for only a couple of hours so my plants got left in the cold for 4 days. My African violets didn't like it to much. I think they will die.

That's it. We lived to dive another day.

Enjoy the pictures.



The pictures came out pretty good. I shoot 100 ASA film for the first time and that works great. Enjoy:





Updated December 16, 2002 7:12 AM by Vlad Pambucol