It’s been a while since I expressed my appreciation to those of you who take time to submit comments to this blog. As I have said before, it’s nice to know someone is reading it. Thank you.
Jonathan Warner sent a nice comment a couple of days ago. He “authored a FSB crossword puzzle to hand out Sunday to see if my boys read their Participant Guide.” I have never heard of an adult leader taking time to do this before, but I think it is a great idea and I can think of several ways this approach could be used at the Florida Sea Base.
Yesterday was another job specific training day. The sailors went sailing and the divers went diving. Captain Bert Hubby took us to dive sites to our west, including Independence Reef (a spur-and groove site), Long Key Ledge (a ledge reef of course) and Pillars of Atlantis (an artificial patch reef). The latter two sites are shallow enough to snorkel and are visited by sailing participants on occasion.
I am pretty short on time this morning but I thought I should take a few minutes to define the types of reefs we visit on our Florida Sea Base programs.
For the scuba participants we have a “hard bottom” or maximum depth policy of 60′. The main reason for this number is that the VAST majority of divers attending the Florida Sea Base are inexperienced Open Water Divers. Most have never been as deep as 60′. Diving four miles offshore in the ocean is also a new experience for most. And most dive training agencies recommend a maximum depth of 60′ for Open Water certified divers.
Lay your hand on the table and spread your fingers. That is what a spur-and-groove reef looks like. Your fingers are spurs of coral and the spaces between your fingers are grooves are of sand. These are the deepest reefs we visit, usually 45′ – 60′. These reef systems run perpendicular to the shore. Some of our reefs that are spur-and-groove include Victory Reef, Sharks, Independence Reef, and Triple Forty.
Patch reefs are just as they sound. They are patches of coral (usually round or oval shaped) surrounded by a field of sand. They are usually in the 30′ – 45′ depth range. Aquarium, Rocky Top, and Captain Grumpy’s are a few of our patch reef sites.
Ledge reefs are generally our shallowest reefs, sitting in 20′ – 35′ of water. They run parallel to the shore. The shoreward side is sand. If looking seaward, there is a ledge of coral that rises and then tapers slowly back to sand on the ocean side of the reef. Davis Reef, Alligator Reef and Long Key Ledge our ledge type reefs.
Artificial reefs are manmade. Ship wrecks are the best know examples of artificial reefs. However, most wrecks in the Florida Keys are well below our 60′ depth limit. Pillars of Atlantis lies in about 25′ to 35′ of sand. The pillars are bridge rubble from the demolition of the old Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon. The rumble was deposited in piles that have become very successful artificial reefs. Pillars is a series of artificial patch reefs that are very close together.
I realize that is very brief but I hope it helps. I’m out of time and have to go. Maybe I’ll see you on the reef!
I nearly forgot to bring you up to date on the weather. BRIEFLY -
All was well when we left the dock yesterday morning to take the scuba staff out diving. We knew a front was approaching and were planning accordingly. The wind built some over the course of our dives,but all was still well until we pulled into Matecumbe Harbor (where our marina is located). The front caught up with us just as Captain Bert was spinning the boat 180° to back into the slip. We were hit by strong westerly winds and driving rain. West winds are very hazardous in our marina as they tend to drive you sideways into the concrete wall. Captain Bert did a great job of handling the boat and we landed safely.
The rain is gone, but the wind has built in behind the front. We are in the 20 to 25 knot range this morning. The wind will lay down Saturday night, just in time for the Scuba Adventure crews arriving Sunday. Our low tomorrow will be 60° but we will warm back up into the 80s by Tuesday.
For now, the National Weather Service has posted small craft advisories for all waters around the Florida Keys. However, our massive Newton 46′ Dive Specials do not meet the definition of a small craft. I have not yet decided if the dive boat will go out today. There are two primary concerns; will the weight of the boat possibly pull out a mooring line or drag anchor, and can the boat be docked safely when we return.
Now I REALLY have to run!
Capt. Steve Willis
Professional Scuba Bum™
Aboard S/V Escape