Sylvia, Niki & the Manatees – what a combo!

 

The IVS gang is, yet again, diving down in the warm Sunshine State, this time enjoying the manatee-filled waters of the western coast. It was a family vacation for Csaba Lorinczy and his family, and as soon as was possible, they headed out to Kings Bay to go see some adorably fat sea cows with Adventure Scuba. The first dive, however, ended sooner than expected, as Csaba decided to break his previously held Shortest Dive record of 9 minutes, this time not even making it down the mooring line before calling the dive. It seems he couldn’t get his youngest daughter Sylvia’s weights right, so she was left bobbing at the surface while Csaba and his other daughter Niki continued downwards. The combination of weightlessness and murky water ended the dive. The new record seems to be about 5 minutes from leaving the boat to… making it back to the boat. The second dive was a lot more successful than the first. Going out to the site Three Sisters, it looked to be more of a snorkeling area, so the three quickly suited up, grabbed their masks, fins and snorkels, and jumped in. The water was crystal clear, so it was easy to see the manatees swimming around, and it was shallow enough to even be able to touch their backs. Some even decided to roll over for a tummy scratch. Continuing on past the manatees’ area, the group of three swam through a channel to get to the three springs that the dive site was named after. The maximum depth was 20 ft, the actual springs being the deepest, so the family did some free diving to check out the fish and plants further down. Even 11-year-old Sylvia swam to the bottom to look around, came up to shoot the water from her snorkel, and then rocketed right back down again. After swimming around the springs for a while, they went back out to the manatees before getting back on the boat.

As is IVS tradition, the second dive was followed by a quick so-called lunch before getting right back to the boat, this time to do a drift dive down Rainbow River. The first obstacle was getting the boat close enough to the dock to board. The current was strong enough that it kept blowing the boat right down the river. But Captain Henry and his son Chris, who would be leading the dive, finally got it tied up so the divers could get on. This dive went along even smoother than the rest; the four jumped in and immediately began drifting down the river to look at the funky-shaped fish and eel grass. There was about 200 ft of visibility, so it was easy to look at every part of the river. And the best part about the dive was that Csaba got the satisfaction of seeing the Dive Master run out of air long before he did.

The second day of diving was all about going deep. Csaba and Niki went out to the Gulf to check out some wrecks in the colder, 65 degree waters. Blue Adventure’s Captain Bob took a group of about 10 divers out to dive two wrecks and a “ledge.” The first wreck was Dock’s Barge, a 100 ft barge about 70 ft down. Going down the line, the first fish to greet the divers was a 500 lb. Goliath grouper. One of the new divers nearly used up all his air just seeing a fish that big. Hundreds of snappers swam around the divers as they cruised over the wreck, checking out the jacks and barracudas, as well as the many sea cucumbers. Two more big groupers were seen swimming inside the barge.

Dive number two, the ledge, was an L-shaped ledge 45 ft down and about a foot and a half high. The only thing worth remembering about the “ledge” was the 600 lb. grouper somehow wedged in between the corral.

As the group was getting ready to go into the water for the last dive, one of the new divers decided to skip the wreck and feed the fish instead. His chumming blew up into countless jokes for the next half hour. He was quickly convinced that his seasickness would go away if he went into the water. Still seeming skeptical, but deciding to follow IVS’s own new certified PADI instructor, he jumped straight into the water. The last dive of the day was a blown up old wreck, much like Key Largo’s Benwood, but with a lot less fish. An unnamed wreck, its pieces were scattered all over the ocean floor in about 40 ft of water. Crabs, sea cucumbers and snappers were the most interesting creatures on the wreck, other than the countless pieces of fire coral. It was like a Jersey wreck on a good day.

 That tour gave Csaba and Niki the chance to meet some new people and to, of course, promote ScubaGearPlus. A week later, they returned back to Adventure Scuba to do one last manatee dive. This time with Mama Eva on the boat as well, the whole family went back out to Three Sisters to swim with the manatees. It was just as crowded as the first day, as people are drawn to these gentle giants of the sea, even on New Year’s Eve. The visibility dropped to about 15 ft, though, and some people seemed to be a bit confused; calls of “I just spent 20 minutes petting a rock” were heard from some. It was the official last dive of the year, and it was an awesome way to close out 2008.

 

 

 

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