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Manatee Springs – 4/20/10

Well here we are at gorgeous Manatee Springs for the last day of my buddy Dave’s scooter class. Allen is also with us, he completed his course last week and is just along for the ride so to speak… 🙂 Dave’s been here many times before, but Allen’s somewhat new to Manatee so on our way to Catfish Hotel, we stop and check out Friedman’s sink, the furthest entrance into the system. There’s a possibility we may come back here on Thursday and scooter, so this is a water level scouting mission also!

We hop in the vehicles and head down to Catfish Hotel. We run into TJ from Dayo Scuba who’s teaching a cavern class, so it looks like we’ll have the cave all to ourselves, sweet! Luckily, two of us have hand carts and yes, the one who forgot would be me. My faithful van died a couple of weeks back, so while it’s getting repaired I’m diving out of my Ford Explorer, which is taking a bit of getting used to! Anyways, the guys are nice enough to let me borrow a cart to haul the UV-26 down to the water and eventually we get all geared up. We covered all the needed drills apart from one yesterday at Devil’s, so today should just be a nice relaxing scooter ride to finish up the class.

Dave’s volunteered; okay read commandeered, to run the reel down to the gold braid, so after our pre dive checks and an S drill we drop down into the cavern area. I’m part of the team today, as I don’t really fancy scootering Manatee in the dark. This is my usual practice at Devil’s, but the ups and downs and dark walls here don’t lend themselves well to scootering by someone else’s light…. J Dave flips the scooter between his legs, the leash is still a tad too long but he’s cradling it nicely, and deftly ties in the primary and heads into the murkiness ahead. A little ways in, he puts in a very professional looking secondary tie off and soon enough ties us into the gold braid. The scooters get unclipped and we are out of here!

Vis is the usual 20’ to 30’ in the cave and the flow is it’s usual resilient self, but we knuckle down and motor off into the depths. Allen’s leading and he settles into a comfortable pace, but my eyes are on Dave just ahead of me who’s trimmed out just above the shroud and looking darn good! I know that he’s being having some ear issues lately and the ups and downs of Manatee are probably not helping any. We go by Sue’s Sink and I glance up, but nothing, the vis just isn’t good today. I’ve gone by here before and the sun has been shining down from a perfect round hole, but no such luck. We negotiate a couple steep up and downs and come across the T that leads up to Friedman’s. We stop and take a moment to admire the beautiful little cavern above us and then we’re back on the trigger and heading into power passage, I keep thinking I’m seeing Dave wince ahead of me and sure enough at one of the low points in the tunnel, he flashes Allen and gives us the hold sign and points to his ears. I feel bad, as we have to go back through all this stuff, and I’ve seen enough so I give him the thumb and back to Catfish we head.

I pull my last remaining drill a couple of hundred feet past Friedman’s on our return, the guys handle things just fine and pretty quickly we’re back at the primary reel. It looks like a placement has come off so I do my best to get entangled in our primary line and Allen gives me that yeah right look, swims over and untangles me staring me down as if to say, hey this isn’t my class!

After a little bit of deco we’re back at the steps, lifting our gear out, quite to the amusement of some tourists whom I believe thought we were quite insane! We take all the gear back to the parking lot, debrief, say “bye” to the rangers after collecting our C cards and head over to the BBQ joint back on the main drag for a late lunch. After reviewing the test, I congratulate Dave, we make plans for some future diving and head on our way after a great day of scooter diving, heads full of that after dive buzz which my friend calls “the mellows”….

  1. Dave Grimm Said,

    Rich,

    Thanks for conducting a really great DPV course for me! It was very thorough, I learned a lot and had a fun time doing it. You can’t ask for a better combo than that! BTW, I went to my ENT and got some new meds that seem to be finally working. Looking forward to diving with you again soon.

    Dave

    PS: You’re a pretty good writer too!

  2. Rich Said,

    It was great diving with you Dave. Glad to hear the good news on the ears, can’t wait to dive Buford with you in a couple of weeks!

  3. admin Said,

    How is Buford currently? I was planning to head over there sometime in a few weeks as well, I haven’t been in a while…are the trails acceptable?

  4. John Faraner Said,

    this post is very usefull thx!

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