Labor Day Weekend in the Florida Keys
Yet another Florida Keys trip with Deanna - this time we brought Deanna's new
fiance Dan and Kamala, the infamous "Wreck Wrench"! Kamala, used to North Carolina diving,
had never dived in the Keys and Deanna and I wanted to show her why we come back
every year. Kamala and I flew in Thursday
afternoon to St. Pete and Friday morning we began our long drive to Key Largo. We
naturally stopped at the discount divestores in Florida City/Key Largo to fill
up our already full divebags... But, the most interesting thing we passed on the
way down there, while we did an unintended "shortcut", was the Kamala Tropical Garden, and
Kamala demanded that we stopped so she could check it out - Kamala isn't exactly
a common name...
Saturday morning we checked in at the docks for two dives with Island Ventures,
a shop I found on the web and that I had seen some positive reports about in misc.
scuba messageboards and newsgroups. It's a small outfit but they seem to have everything
under control. We were 8 people on the boat and it wasn't too crowded. The others
on the boat had been out with them the previous day and we were told they wanted
to go to an "intermediate divesite", which got me a little concerned as Dan only
had a few dives under his belt after his certification a couple of weeks prior. Well,
"intermediate" is a relative term, as when I suggested Benwood Wreck as a first dive,
they were ok with that... Ok, it's 50 ft instead of the normal 30ft reef dive, but
it's not really that difficult, even for a new diver.
We got back to the docks, cleaned our gear and packed it in the car and drove down to Key West for our next stop. We, of course, had to stop by at the most southern point to have our pictures taken, walk up and down Duval Street and have a few beers at Margaritaville. Sunday morning we were supposed to head to MM 22 for 4 dives with Reef Divers and the well-known Captain Wyatt. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and cancelled both morning and afternoon dives. We called around to the diveshops in the area asking if they were going out and we found one diveshop that was going out in the afternoon. Once there, and after we paid and everything, the captain told us we were going to shallow (10 ft or so) divesite on the bayside where they at least had some visibility and so that the snorkellers could enjoy the trip to. Well, we had the choice of doing a very mediocre dive or none at all and we boarded the boat. But half way out there, the weather looked real bad and they turned around. We did stop briefly at a boat that was sinking! The people in the boat didn't have a radio so our captain radioed the coast guard and we stayed with them until the coast guard arrived just in case they were going to sink. They didn't, fortunately. So that was all the water activity we were going to see that day. We started our drive back up to Key Largo early and stopped by at Duck Key Resort for a late lunch.
Monday morning we drove to Quiescence for our two last dives on our trip. Both Deanna and I like them and usually tries to dive with them but this time, all the staff was unknown to us and they were rude and not very friendly. I hope it was just a one-time occurrence! Well, we get out to the reef - Molasses Reef, where I've had some great dives, and it's almost up to standard - the bad weather had lowered the visibility a little, but it was still good enough for a enjoyable dive. A good finale to the diving for this trip!
We had a long drive back to St. Pete and got there late but that didn't matter as Kamala and I had a late morning flight back to Dallas the following day. This was the first Labor Day trip we've done were we didn't have good weather. We got some good dives in and had a good time so we we'll definitely do a 5th Labor Day trip!
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