June 1st, 1996 found us diving in Key West on an old cable laying ship. The dive notes gave me only 20 minutes of dive time at eighty-feet. Visibility was good and the temp was 80 degrees on the surface. It was a cool day as June summers go, though maybe it’s because it was only ten in the morning. The last notation in the log said we saw two large jew fish. Now, ‘large’ can mean a couple hundred pounds of fish, but then everything underwater looks twenty-five-per-cent bigger. Photos are current from the web and representative. Drawing is from my dive-log notes.
We dove with Southpoint Divers in Key West. Very good, well controlled operation. I would use them again and recommend them (at the time) to anyone asking.
The 1st dive was on a 230 ft cable & buoy tender called Caymen. We saw three jew fish, largest one was (as big as me). This fish must have gone 200lbs. The smaller ones were half that. All (this was) atop the deck.
(photo credit Dive-the-World weblog)
There were plenty of queen angels and others. (We) didn’t see (any) eels. (The) best part (of the dive) was that Mindy and I were comfortable diving together. We were able to drift about and look at things, communicate our interest, even comfortable enough to hold hands for much of the time. This made getting the other’s attention even easier.
The current made for some work in ensuring enough air was left. I use five-hundred on my ascent from eighty-feet, working against it and keeping Mindy with me so she could get the float line. The shop used a down line and tank at fifteen feet. They are the first operation I’ve seen do this (it’s dive number 58 for me). I was glad to see it. One minor problem with the way the set it up. The line sags and gets taut as the boat (rises and falls) with the waves. Divers hanging on the line make it sag. Still it makes a good reference for depth.
(Divers going below 60 feet need to spend time at 15 feet for a ‘safety stop’, where breathing air at less pressure allows the diver’s body to breathe off excess nitrogen. The ‘down line’ allows the diver to hold at that depth for the five minutes, instead of drifting up or down, above or below an imaginary line in the water. The ‘down line’ makes a good visual reference in a reference-less environment)
The second dive (this day) was a very nice reef dive. Again, comfort with communications made it even better. (Some of our dive partners) found lobsters right off. I spent several minutes examining the one found under a rock on the bottom. I looked for eggs. I couldn’t get the lobster to move enough to see under the tail.
Next item of interest was a sea turtle. I kicked over to (within a few feet of it) and drifted along with it for three to five minutes. I felt ‘futility’ in watching the creature. The front left fin was gone, but the bone and muscle under healed over with skin still moved as if the stroke in time with the right one. I wondered if the animal even knows it lost a fin?
The next event was following the sand between reef fingers. I noticed some ‘tracks on the bottom and wondered what made them. The appeared to be a single train going in a circle. I chastised myself; “Dummy! Follow the tracks!” I quickly found the rock that the train came from. It was a small conch. It fit into the palm of my hand, and I turned it over to see the animal, but it, of course, drew into its shell, leaving me only the claw to look at. Carrie (our daughter) was above us, and Mindy took the crustacean up for her to see before we returned it to the place where we found it.
The final ‘event’ is Mindy giving me excited hand signals. (There was something) she really wanted me to see! She put her hands into the sand…and stood on her head!! Silly girl. We sure had fun on this dive!