Key Largo Summer 2003


The Keyz, again and again. Why do I go there all the time? Well, because is close is rather cheap, it is an US territory the water is clear, the weather is good and the diving is fantastic. It is a little corner of paradise.


The Beginning

The beginning was pretty calm this time - well, if we compare this with the last time we had to fly right after that ice storm we had - although I had a lot to do at work. I even went to work early this day to be able to leave at 1 PM since our flight was leaving at 4 PM.

We started our trip and the flight went fine until we got to Miami where the pilot announced us that due to thunder and lightning, we can't get out of the plain and we have to stay on the run way for another hour. ... One and a half hours later, the storm passes and we finally get out and go toward our rental car. No problem there, Richard got a great rate and a nice car ... except that after we packed all the luggage in the red convertible on parking 46 we got told that that was not our car and they will bring another one. 15 minutes and one unpack later, we got another convertible, exactly like the first one but blue. What is the difference? I don't know, probably the serial numbers did not match.


Day 1

First day was shitty. It rained all night long and it was still raining when we got up in time to go get some breakfast.

Jeff, the boat's captain called and told Richard that we can't go out until 10.30 Am since it is lightning so in stead of sleeping until 10 and getting a light breakfast, we got up at 6.30 to get ready.... I love to get up early in the morning... Probably the only thing I like more than getting up early in the morning is to have my nails puled by a bunch of raged monkeys...

But so far so good, we get on the boat at 10.30 and after signing the usual release forms we start our trip toward our first dive site Molasses Reef. Great dive, beautiful coral and colorful fish everywhere. The dive was long, like all the shallow reef dives, the water was warm and clear ... We could have had better vis, but I don't want to complain.

This dive I decided to take down with me my brand new digital camera in the housing I flooded last time I tried ... I was really concerned how it would do but It did great. Of course during the whole dive I checked and rechecked the housing for leaks but nothing happen.

The second dive was also on Molasses Reef but we anchored on another mooring ball. Again, great dive. Turtles, butterfly fish everywhere, angel fish of all sorts ... It was great.

After another hour under water, we got back on the boat and we headed back in shore. The weather at this time started to get better and by the time we got back on the docks the sun was out. It was the last time we saw clouds this trip. Even the wind was down the whole time.


Day 2

This day we decided to do 4 dives, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The cool part about shallow water diving is that you can have 4 dives each one hour long a day and not even feel it on your nitrogen level. ... You will feel it on your body because you will get tired and most definitely you will feel it on your whalet :-)

We left the dock as requested by Jeff, at about 8 AM and we headed toward Conch Wall. Well, don't imagine the 6000 ft deep wall that you see in the islands, this wall was from about 65 ft to 80 - 90 ft but it had enough difference to be easy to navigate.

Great dive again with a lot of small critters to see. And of course a lot of conchs.

The second dive was close by, Conch Wall. This time, since it was a really shallow dive Eric and I decided to have a little cocktail under water so we took two of those Capris Sun juice pouches with us and we toasted 24 ft beneath the surface of the ocean. Unfortunately Jeff didn't drop over board the bottle of vodka at our signal. Oh well, you can't have everything.

We got back in shore and we went to have lunch at the hotel's bar. Great food for a hotel's bar.

Back on the boat at 1 PM and here we go for our afternoon dives.

The first dive we did was on Snapper Ledge. Why do they call it Snappe Ledge? Well, because there are enormous schools of yellow snapper and goat fish all around this site. You will see in the pictures that the schools are enormous. Great dive again. Same clear and warm water, same nice fish. I think I shoot a roll of film this day too. I don't remember...

We did another dive and we got back on the docks just in time for dinner. It is really hard to do 4 dives a day. You re under water for at least 4 hours and there is even a little bit of boat time.


Day 3

This day, being Saturday Jeff was going to treat us with a night dive after the two dives that we had in the morning.

The first dive of the day was on the Spiegel Grove, a artificial reef sunk a few years ago. It doesn't have to much growth on it yet but is interesting to see. This was a deep dive though so we didn't spent that much time under water and we even found a thermocline. We got pretty cold at 77 deg. F on the bottom at 133 ft.

The second dive of the day was French Reef, or now since the war, Liberty Reef :-) (I got this from Jeff, I don't want to take credit for it). VERY nice dive. I think it is on this dive that I found those interesting and colorful snails that I don't know how to spell their name. Great colors.

We got back for lunch and a nap and we started preparing for ... the night dive. This was my first night dive when I could see something. The rest of my night dives were with students in the mud puddle we use for training.

It was fantastic. I couldn't imagine something that beautiful. The pictures I took don't reflect the beauty of all the things we saw. I think my strobe is not synchronized with my flash so I didn't have enough light. One of the pictures is good. We somehow saw a small squid in mid water sparkling rainbow colors. It was phenomenal ... And when we thought it couldn't get any better the squid grabbed one of the small fish that pass it and eat it. From now on, I want to do a night dive after each day of diving I have! I still hope I'll do a night dive on the U352 on the NC coast!


Day 4

Richard and Vera decided that they had enough diving for this trip and they want to see the everglades. They said it was very interesting, two hours on a boat full of people where a guide was looking through a binocular and telling stuff about birds.

...Eric and me decided to go diving and we were right ...

The first dive of the day was on Duane, another artificial reef. I like Duane since you can see bigger stuff on it. I don't know why but I think the fish you can see on Duane are the same as the ones on the reef but about 3-4 times bigger. Nice dive, not that long since it was deep.

The last dive of the trip and of the day ...

It started pretty boring with a normal dive on the outside of Molasses Reef. Eric started playing with his duckie, the mascot he has in his BC pocket and I took a few pictures of that. The duckie is trained to scare the sharks away and the sharks all know that the last who tried got beat up pretty bad so now Eric has to only open his BC pocket and the duckie is out for blood :-)

The dive went without events, we have seen the normal cool stuff and we got even close enough to a nurse shark so I took a picture of it.

We got back to the boat and we were hanging out for the last 5 minutes of our dive when a big hammer head shark passed us. It was big and fast but I still snapped a picture of it. Those sharks are rare and it is a miracle to see one. It was my first hammer head shark I have ever see in my life. Great!

After a treat like this I didn't thought we could see more so I started shooting macro on a piece of brain coral when I hear Eric screaming (you realize how distinct was that under water ...) and waving his hand in front of my mask showing me something in the distance ... He was showing me 3 spotted eagle rays flying by at about 15 ft distance of us.

What a site to finish perfect dive and a perfect vacation!

The pictures are here, all digital this time. I still have to pick up the 3 rolls of film I shoot but the good stuff is already posted. If you want the bigger version of any of those pictures let me know. The best resolution I have those in is 2592x1944. Enjoy







Updated June 12, 2003 7:34 PM by Vlad Pambucol