Diving Key Largo

by Rob Tiller

Sally and I just got back from a four-day mini-vacation diving out of Key Largo. I’m a bit battered. My hands got sliced in several places from razor clams, my wrists itch from some sort of bites, my neck got stung by fire coral, I bruised my thigh climbing into the boat in rough water, and something took a slice of skin off my left ankle. I had a low air/decompression scare (apparently a computer malfunction). We spent quite a few hours moving fast on small boats in up to three-foot seas, and early on I had a couple of bouts of sea sickness. But it was fantastic.

I did thirteen dives (only four without Sally), including two deepish wrecks (the Spiegel Grove and the Duane), a night dive (at the Benwood), and a lot of shallow coral reefs (including Molasses Reef, Elbow Reef, North Dry Rocks, Eagle Ray Alley, North North Dry Rocks, Christ of the Abyss, and Horseshoe Reef). I got certified on nitrox the week before, and used it for the first time on several dives. The trip included my fiftieth logged dive.

The reefs were really beautiful. There were thousands of reef fish, including quite a few new to me. Among many other fish, we saw several schools of barracuda, a goliath grouper, a nurse shark, green and spotted morays, and such exquisite creatures as gray and queen angelfish. The coral and plant life were also incredibly varied and amazing. It was really cheering to see the reef looking healthy.

We had our moments of anxiety (wondering, where are we, and where’s the boat?). At times there was current or surges to contend with. Visibility was not always great. But most of the time it was so peaceful. Floating weightless. And more and more, my body seems to know how to maneuver in the water with very little effort. There’s a feeling of wonderful freedom.

We went with a group of sixteen or so other divers organized by Dan P. and Down Under Scuba. The price was amazingly cheap, and it was great not to have to worry about the flights, hotels, and such. It was also good to spend some time with experienced divers, who were generally good folks who shared interesting tips. Dan was an inspiration, as a diver and a person, and we’ll look forward diving with him again.