This was a slightly rough trip, as we did Weeki Wachee the day before this dive; we rented a hotel room for the night before. With travel the way it is, these places are probably around 1.5 to 2 hours away from each other, so a hotel room close to the shop was welcome.
Diving off of Madiera Beach:
- Directions from Tampa: Get on I-275 South. In St. Pete, take Exit 13 and turn right onto 38th Ave. North. 38th meets up with Tyrone Blvd.; take a right onto Tyrone Blvd. Look for SR-666 which should lead you to a draw bridge called the Tom Stuart Causeway. It dead-ends on the other side of the bridge at Gulf Blvd. Take a left. The shop is on the left (I'd say about a mile or so down...like most dive shops, look for the big dive flag!). It's about an hour's drive from USF.
- Conditions on the day of my visit: Sunny and cool.
- Personal Notes: Getting a hotel room was difficult, not because of the time of year (that actually made it easy, and cheap!), but because of the number of hotels that didn't answer their phones, didn't take overnight visitors, or didn't have the kind of room we were looking for. The Beach Directory helped, and my sister and I stayed at the Surfs Inn right on the beach, about 2 minutes away from the shop.
I took an Allegra-D the night before the dive due to the previous day's difficulties (the doctor has me on that or regular Allegra, depending on my congestion level), and then used my Afrin just before the boat left the dock. We went out with Scuba Quest yet again. Mark was our boat captain this time; as we were going out with a class of students, there was Mike and Glen as dive masters/instructors. My only critique of the crew this time: Mike let everyone know he didn't want to be there (more than once), and wanted it to be over as soon as possible. Poor crew etiquette IMHO.
I was understandably concerned about my ear before the dive; I warned both my sister and Mark that I would call the dive immediately if the pain level changed, or I could not clear.
The artificial reef gave me my first spotting of a toad fish ... well, his head anyway. His head was big, he looked ugly and mean, and I wasn't about to try to push, coax, or otherwise bother him into coming out of the hole he was in. Lots of sheep head, some snapper, quite a bit of flounder. We even spotted some conch moving around ... it was kind of funny because they leave tracks that look a lot like a dirt bike. We saw several hog fish, some trigger fish, and of course plenty of coral, algae formations, and fish which I have no clue as to their name. We were down for 44 minutes.
Kokomo had a 4 foot ray not too far from the anchor; one of the students bothered him and he zipped off. We saw a pretty purple and yellow damsel fish, a female flounder with three males courting her. Lots of other stuff, of course. I had buoyancy issues off and on during this dive. After 30 minutes my sister and I got cold; bottom temp on this dive was 69 degrees (up from 68 on the previous dive, but colder than the spring, and my beanie hood had come off).
Dockside Dave's is a restaurant right next to Scuba Quest ... I suggest their blackened grouper sandwich. It's to die for!
Dive data for dives on this day:
||Madiera Beach Artificial