Sunday morning started off quite early. We are talking 5:45AM “way too early” early. That time of the morning when your alarm goes off and you feel depressed for the next 3 hours. After much fighting and snoozing, we finally awoke from the dead and made our way through the darkness to the car, and drove our little sleepy selves to the beach.
Our lovely friend Julie accompanied us on this grand adventure. Starbucks was our meeting place. We all stared blankly at the menu for longer than a standard minute as our brains tried to comprehend english. After ordering some snacks and a little caffeine, we meandered our way to the ocean to meet up with more friends, and more importantly, a boat. We were merrily on our way to do some diving.
After loading up, and suiting up, we made our way out to sea. It was 8:00AM by this time. Half of us were so doped up on dramamine we couldn’t think straight (myself included), but with a fear of sea sickness we chose to keep it at bay. I managed to fall asleep to the sound of the rumbling engine and the slow toss of the waves. The next thing I knew, we were 15 miles off shore and I was being woken up to get ready. Because of the mildly un-calm seas, I knew, from past experience, it was important to get in the water as quickly as possible. So I hopped in my 3 wetsuits (yes I know, a little overboard) and threw all my gear on and off I went, giant striding into the big blue!
WHOA! What a shock the water temperature was. Well sort of. I knew it was going to be cold, I had been swimming in it the day before, in nothing but a bikini. But cheese and rice, this was REAL cold. Like 64 degrees cold. Hence the 3 wetsuits. Descending was even worse since we were hitting pockets of colder water as we went down 39 feet. Visibility was pretty good considering we were smack in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Per the usual, we took our assortment of ridiculous pictures and choked on our air supply making each other laugh hysterically under water.
Justin tried to get friendly with a bat fish. We found sea cucumbers, a school of amber jack, snook, little reef fish, and lots of fun coral.
After frolicking around the artificial reef for a bit we made our way back to the boat. This was a 2 tank dive and certainly an awesome one at that. We headed out to sea some more to a reef called “mango tango.” Tango anyone? The second time around in the water was a challenging one at that: I was shivering so badly as we were descending that I was shaking Justin as I held onto him for warmth. This was a deeper dive (50 feet). Julie and Rod had jumped ahead off the boat with a spear gun, as Julie was eager to try one for the first time. They got pretty lucky considering we had 3 hooked hog fish sitting in the cooler by the time we got back (all of legal size, of course). We found a wider variety of species on this dive, including the extremely poisonous stone fish (Synanceia), which is considered to be one of the most venomous fish in the world (probably a good thing Justin didn’t tell me this until after we were out of the water). There were a multitude of lizard fish, french angel fish, and even a couple lion fish (unfortunately, these are an extremely invasive species of fish, normally native to the indo-pacific, but introduced by accident into florida coastal waters sometime in the 1980’s or 1990’s). It was a most spectacular morning, filled with sunshine, salt water, and a little exploring.
The moral of the story this time around: trust your instincts and decisions when you decide to try something new. Work through your weaknesses (mine being motion sickness) and don’t let them stop you from doing something you love. Be open minded to new experiences, and always remember to appreciate the good memories. Sometimes, wandering brings you to just the right place.