Seeing as how an earlier dive was scheduled due to choppy water and high seas the week before, I was a little anxious and was praying that the weather and seas would hold up. They did. This was my first ocean dive. Ocean dives can be very different from spring dives; spring dives can be much like pools, and most of the spring dives I did, I never broke 50 feet, and we had seen most of everything in the first 2-5 minutes. Ocean dives, well, you can swim around the same wreck probably five times and see something different every time.
Diving off of Jacksonville Beach, Florida:
- Directions from Tampa: There are many ways to get to Jacksonville - I usually go I-75 South, to I-4 East, and then I-95 North.
- Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny and not too warm.
- Personal Notes: This was the best dive I've had yet. I'm sold. This is my new hobby. We saw a very large (probably about a 6 foot wingspan) stingray, many fish of varying sizes (some of them very pretty shades of purple and yellow). One funny note was when my sister pointed away from the first barge and it originally looked to me like the water was cloudy; then the school of small silvery fish (and the school was practically all around us) shifted and suddenly I saw all of them. I was told that I saw a large spadefish, some angelfish...I saw a lobster as well. Also saw three or four barracuda. Spearfishers managed to catch a total of three gamefish, I think. Both barges are almost 80 feet down. One is in better shape; 9-Mile is little more than a frame which you can see and even swim through (we were trying to get a good look at a spadefish that was I would say about a foot square, maybe larger). Boat fee was $50, rental gear ran me about $35 (ouch). Tanks from Atlantic Pro Dive were $6 a pop, we took two. The dive master had few rules, but the important one was "stay at the wreck, don't go away from the wreck." You usually make your descent down the anchor line, which the dive master ties to the actual wreck. We followed some of the spearfishers for the first part of 9-Mile, and at both barges basically swam around the barge, around the top part of the barge, and then over it. Our bottom time was roughly 25 minutes. Then we would ascend up the anchor line, making a 5 minute stop at 15 feet.
The 9-Mile barge is about nine miles off shore. Flounder Barge was so named by this boat because the first dives they did there, there were lots of flounder (apparently a favorite of spearfishers).
I want to go back...I was watching the fish so much that I think I missed some nice coral. My next big dive (aside from The Living Seas) will probably be Boca Raton. (Note: I was looking at this page Feb. 5, 2000, and found it necessary to make an edit to correct some poor usage of the English language; at this time I have yet to do Boca!) - (Note II: Entering this dive into the database on May 16, 2002, I *still* have not done a dive in Boca)
Turtle Porn: On the way back in to shore we came across a couple of turtles that were ... well, goin' at it. Actually quite a rare sight, from what I'm told.
| " Hi! Mind if we watch?"
| "Eek! Humans!"
| Turtles kissin'!
| Studly poses for the camera.
Dive data for dives on this day:
||9 Mile Barge