Very rough seas prevented us from diving yesterday but today, we buckled up and set out for an adventure. With 3 to 6 foot swell and the occasional 8, I was barfing by the first dive interval. It was a rough ride to the wrecks.
We dove two ships today, the Bibb and the Duane which have the US record of service time (except for the USS Constitution). The Bibb lays on its side while the Duane sits upright. On our first dive the Bibb was an amazing sight and a surprisingly relaxed (though deep) dive. We walked around, swam around, perched on its structures until it was time to come up.
The Duane was waiting. The ship sits upright in a hundred feet of water, its crows nest can be seen from the boat on a clear and quiet day. But it’s not a clear and quiet day.
After being ‘hot-dropped’ (the boat doesn’t stop, just tries to stay near the line, above the ship), we begin our descent towards the wreck.
After four minutes hovering above the bow, looking at very large Barracudas, we start swimming towards the center of the boat. Suddenly and without warning a cold sand storm envelops us , our visibility reduced to a couple of feet. Sam and I decide to swim together, close.
The water is colder, a thermocline, though it’s hard to tell what caused the silt could. We seek refuge in the wheelhouse for a quick and eerie photo shoot.
The water is still heavy with sediments and we don’t quite know where we’re going. We follow the main axis of the boat looking to get to the ascent line.
After a brief stop at the crows nest, I rely on Sam’s experience to lead us. As we swim between the mid-section of the boat and the stern, we’re enveloped by troubled water and can’t really see anything until our slow descent takes us to the lower bridge portion. We’re not really sure how long we have to swim but now we’ve got a point of reference a couple feet down from us. We eventually reach the stern and its ascent line which we follow up, dutifully and slowly.
We get to the surface as I deploy my safety sausage. We don’t really need it cause the boats is 30 yards away but I hadn’t used it since I bought it a couple years so what the hell !
After those two dives our captains take us closer to shore, for a nice, shallow, relaxing reef dive. We get to see (or rather Sam doesn’t seem to notice fish around us, most of the time, he likes big chunks of rusting metal, but a camera in hand he seems to enjoy being tossed around on the reef. We get to see lobsters, a small spotted moray eel, a couple of small stingrays, a mantis shrimp and many other things. More photos later. I’ll leave you with a very nice one, from Sam again (all wreck photos from Day 3 are his, he’s really getting the hang of it) as we wave goodbye to the Keys. For now.