Education, Enjoyment and Exploration…

USCG Duane – 8/6/09

Our "quiet" getaway.As I steady myself before hitting the water, I wonder how on earth I found myself lurching around on a boat in full tech gear with two deco bottles and a scooter. Well, it all starts with a couple of wreck diving buddies of mine whom I’ve known  for a while, that decided to take a DPV cave course from me earlier in the year. As we went through the course, they kept telling me that I had to come down south and do some “real diving” as David so aptly puts it with his German accent!

I was informed that Silent World in Key Largo puts on what they call “Wreckfest” every year and while my buddies David and Ron have been going since it started, they decided to drag me along on their tomfoolery this time. I decided to sort of turn the week into a quiet get away with my daughter/wreck diving vacation, so I booked myself and Kaley into a beautiful little place on the beach just down the road from Silent World. Little did I know that “the Germans” were staying there also, so the quiet father/daughter thing immediately flew out the window…

Ah well, one thing led to another and I find myself stumbling around this boat with all this gear on feeling like an inebriated, neoprene clad buffoon. Finally I giant stride off the back of the boat, (what the heck, this water’s salty!) and find myself scootering down to this magnificent looking wreck, the USCG Duane, which sits upright in about 130 ft of water off Key Largo. After leaving that weird thing they call a dive boat, I felt much better and dropped back into my usual diving groove. The first thing I notice is that I forgot to add weight to my scooter for the salt water, so I’m trying to go down and my UV-18’s trying to go up, not the best of combinations I must say!

Drinking the koolaid!We’ve cruised around the wreck a couple of times and I look at David as if to say, well, now what? And, aha, he pulls out a reel; finally it’s a piece of equipment I know how to use! We drop the scooters, he ties off and all three of us head inside this gorgeous steel cave. I’m trying to keep the line tight and well-placed behind him, but instead of these little knobs of rock, we have to use these sharp, corroded old pieces of metal, but I’m still enjoying myself, even in this sodium chloride infested water.

We continue on, turn a couple of corners, head down a deck or two and all of a sudden I see light pouring in another hole. Cool, this is like a little mini cave and I’m really starting to get my groove on now. We play around on this gorgeous wreck for just over an hour, pick up the scooters and starting heading up to finish our deco obligation. After the switch at 20’, I suddenly find myself throwing up through my reg, the fish like it and swarm avidly around me, but I’m definitely not digging it! After the dive, I found out a very valuable piece of information, apparently one should never eat shellfish in a month that doesn’t have an “r” in it. It would have been nicer if I’d found this out the night before but it’s too late now!

Our Dive Boat!I finish out my deco, and am suddenly confronted by the thought of how the heck am I going to get all this gear back on the boat? Luckily, Silent World has some great crews who made life really easy on this wayward cave diver and getting back on the boat was much easier than I thought it would be.

Of course, on the way back to the dock, I’m hurling off the downwind side of the boat (hey, I did learn something!) and having to endure the regular’s comments of silly cave diver, miss your drive up sites now and all that other rubbish. I try to protest but to no avail, they’re having way too much fun with me so I just suck it up and think back to how cool that wreck was. After some more friendly jawing at the dock, I leave all pumped up and ready to do it again tomorrow…

  1. Mike Samsen Said,

    Hurling on a wreck diving trip. Welcome to my world! But, up here in New England you don’t have to eat shellfish in an off month. All you have to do is take the 2 -3 hour ride at 5:30 am on a pitching boat out to the dive site. Nice blog BTW!


  2. Rich Said,

    Thanks Mike! Hope you’ve been having fun with that new REVO of yours….. 🙂

  3. Jon Sikorsky Said,

    Thanks for these articles Rich. They inspire young divers such as myself. Very good reading!
    Blessings to you and your family.

  4. Rich Said,

    Thanks John! I have a blast writing them. Hope to see you again soon, bud…

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