Day Two Of Cavezz ~ Peacock Springs

23 11 2009

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 ~

Today, we travelled to Peacock Springs, where we were going to meet up with Jeff and Amanda! George had his vehicle, JP and Anne Marie also had a vehicle, and Steve and I followed in ours. The three fellas who had just done their RB80 training were also coming.

The entrance to Peacock Springs…

George, Steve, and I went for a walk around, and George showed us the Pothole…

We prepped our gear, and in came Jeff and Amanda! The internet meeting saga was finally over! I was able to see real, human faces!

George was going to show us around, then continue on his dive with the RB80 fellas. He was also toting his video camera. Amanda also had her camera with her!

We opted to do Orange Grove first, and do a second dive at Peacock 1. Orange Grove has alot of duckweed at the surface, and we all looked like green monsters in the water.

Jeff and Amanda went in first. We gave them a few minutes, then George, Steve, and I descended. We got past the tree branches, made our way into the cavern zone, then reached the “Stop” sign. George fired up his lights… one… Two.. um.. two… Uhh ohhh… I see bubbles… and a big thumb. The three of us turned around, and headed back to the surface. By that time, the RB80 fellas were making their way to the water, so Steve and I were going to recalculate our gas, and go ahead, so that George could go out with them, and do a Cave 2 dive.

Steve and I went back in, passed the cave sign, and met up with Jeff and Amanda! I thought it was cool to see Amanda’s shadow behind me, click clicking away, with her camera.

What a relaxing dive. The flow was near to non-existent here, and it was really nice to have a look at the cave, and see the differences between the Florida and the Mexico caves. I really enjoyed this one.

Steve and I reached our turn pressures, and on our return, met up with George, Kirill, Liam, and their 4th buddy.. who I cannot remember his name. George had the video camera running, and I could not help but give the “Rock On” signal as Steve and I passed by.

Click below for video!

I think my reaction, when we surfaced, was, “That rocked!” We got out, left our suits on, and drove up to P1 for our second dive. Amanda had to get going, so we took some pictures, had a few giggles, got soaked from the leftover rain from “Ida,” and said our goodbyes to Amanda, for the day.

Amanda’s cool sock…

Amanda and I, with my face still pocked with duckweed…

Taken by Amanda’s robot camera.. 🙂

Steve, Jeff, and I geared up again, and took the route through the Peanut Tunnel. What an awesome dive! I loved this one! I think I could do this cave 100 times in a row, and wouldn’t get tired of it.

Entrance at P1…

After our dives, we went for a walk along the boardwalk, where we saw Sheck Exley’s Memorial…

We headed back to our hotel, bringing Jeff with us, and we went out for a bite to eat. The restaurant happened to have big bowls of peanuts on each table, so we were able to recreate our dive…. in the Peanut Tunnel…. 😀

Into The Cavez!

11 11 2009

Monday, November 9th, 2009 ~

Meeting time was 9am at EE, and Steve, myself, and George drove over to Ginnie Springs. This would be our first time in the Florida caves, and we were looking forward it. Our Cave 1 course had been in Mexico, and conditions in each place are very different.

Entrance to the water…

Hawk, guarding the entrance…

George debriefed us on the parts of the cave that we would encounter, tips on how to avoid being directly in the flow, and he would run the reel… Thank goodness for that, as I learned very quickly, that descending into the Ear at Ginnie, should not be done in trim… I have to admit, the flow kicked my butt! I had to really work, to get myself down there, and I know that I huffed and puffed a “bit.” Once we were down, George tied into the main line, and we ascended to the ceiling. We made our way along to the lips, and through the keyhole, and made it a bit further, when I turned the dive on gas. On the way out, George pointed out a few of the side tunnels to us, which was pretty amazing!

Now… to get out. Ay carumba… I guess I was in a funny position, and I felt the flow pushing my butt end straight up. I swear, I was going to flip over…lol. George gave me a little shove to make sure I didn’t… Thank you, George! Once I got past that little spot, I was able to brace myself a little bit better. When we surfaced, I couldn’t help but feel that I got my butt kicked… but… I still enjoyed doing the dive, and learing more. I wondered if I wanted to go back in or not, and decided that the only way to get better at it, was to get back in.

Entrance to the Ear, where the orange marker is…

We recalculated our gas, and went back in. This time, I went head down, and had a much easier and faster entrance into the cave. We had left the reel in, so we were a go. I found it so much easier this time around, as I knew what to expect in different areas, and was able to look at even more of the cave this time. We actually went farther this time, having less penetration gas. Coming out was a bit easier this time around as well, When we surfaced, I was happy that I had done the second dive, and I look forward to going back!

Two other divers were in the water, and when I heard my name, we saw Anne Marie and JP! We had hoped to run into them at some point, and did so right away!

What a fantastic day of cave diving goodness!

A Trip To Alachua & High Springs ~ The First Few Days

10 11 2009

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 ~

Time to head south! Steve and I hopped on a plane for Orlando, with a stop at Washington Dulles airport, where I stopped for a pose with the President and the First Lady.

We hung about for a few hours, then were on our way. When we landed, we took a shuttle train to the luggage merry go round, where all four of our suitcases were waiting for us. Sweet! Down to the rental car place… oi… Of course, the place we chose to prearrange our rental from, happened to be the same one everyone else chose as well. While I guarded our bags, Steve stood in line for over an hour and a half. I had visions of a Seinfeld episode going through my head…

“You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation…”

We did receive a nice Ford Explorer, and our total came out to alot more than was quoted on… I guess that’s par for the course. We packed up and were Alachua bound. We arrived at about 8:45pm, and met up with Guy and Ray, who were gearing up for the next few day’s events.

Friday, November 6th, 2009 ~

Steve had to be at EE early, so I was going to drop him off, then find something to do. We met up with a few more of the gang, and everyone was alot of fun.

Karim and Steven M….

Ray, Guy, and Steve…

I figured I would be productive, and do some work. I went in to say hello to our GUE friends next door, and ended up sticking around for the day. I actually did get quite a bit of work done, and with most amazing company. 🙂 Thank you!!

When all was done, a few groups of us went to The Great Outdoors for some dinner and laughs.

EE has the coolest door handles!


Saturday, November 7th, 2009 ~

Today, I met Sheila and Steve (another Steve!) at EE, and they were going to take me out for a real adventure!! We drove out to Ocala, where we went to the Silver River, for some kayaking goodness. I had never been in a kayak before, and I was looking forward to trying it!

Steve set me all up and helped to launch me, followed by Sheila, then Steve. We paddled upstream, and saw alot of wildlife. There were Egrets, Cormorants, Herons (small and great; blue and white), Snake Birds (I can’t remember the name of them, but they were really cool), a Vulture, Kingfisher, a bunch of Alligators, and… Monkeys! We saw Monkeys!! There are rumours of how they got there – One of them being that they were left over from filming the Tarzan movies. Pretty cool to see them in the wild! We saw those guys on the way back.

We stopped at the half way point, where we got out and enjoyed the scenery for a while. We got back into the kayaks, and continued upstream. I think I made a bit of progress in steering the kayak! We reached our destination, Silver Springs Park. We couldn’t get out of the boats, but we did admire the beginning of the spring, and tried to focus on the statues in the water, left over from previous movie shoots. The water was so very clear, but it was hard to see them through the ripples of the water. They did have glass bottom boats for tourists to see them. We did a bit of admiring, then started back. We had paddled for 5 miles, and still had 5 miles back! At least we would have the current helping us out.

This is where we saw the monkeys. Sheila had told me about them, but that she hadn’t seen them close to the water. What a treat! Once we got back, both Sheila and Steve helped me get the boat in, loaded up, and off to find food!


Steve’s boat…

Sheila and Steve…

Steve suggested a Mexican restaurant, by the name of El Toreo. Two words.. Freakin’ Amazing! I think this is my new favourite…ever… The service was fantastic, the food was incredible, and I really wanted to finish everything on my plate! The bottomless chips and salsa were really good too! The salsa had just enough bite!

Thank you so much to Sheila and Steve, for including me in their day, and for alot of fun!!

Ahoy To The Kinghorn

21 10 2009

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 ~

Since my other half was working, Andy and I decided to take a run out to the Kinghorn, with his fancy new Mini G. He was hoping that the last challenge of weighting was exactly that… the last challenge.

We stopped at Caiger’s, to see if we could meet up with Yasuko, who was on a charter that day, but they had not come in yet, so back to Jeff’s we went. We took our sweet time getting ready, as it was a gorgeous day, and we decided to have a bit of a snack before diving.

Ok.. enough snacking.. time to dive. Another two buddy teams surfaced before we got in, and said the visibility was improving. Andy and I got in, did our predive checks, and noticed some funky black clouds over the river. We got through our checks, and headed out. As we followed the line out, I could feel water coming in through my neck seal. I knew I needed to replace it, but I was hoping to get a few more dives out of it. I guess this was it.

I knew it was going to be a short dive, and that it would be me that called it, but I figured we could at least get to the wreck. We came upon the bow of the Kinghorn, paid respects to Doug’s plaque, then made our way down to the stern. Ok… time to call it… I had already communicated to Andy, that my neck seal was pooched, so he was waiting for my call. As we swam over the deck, we came upon one of the holds. We looked at each other, smiled, and down we went. We had to swim that way anyway, we may as well go in. You know… since we’re there and all. 🙂 We swam inside, checked out the artifacts, then made our way back up and back to the line.

We saw some pretty big carp on the dive, as well as a couple of pike. Although it was a short dive, it was still alot of fun. I’m sure the bruise on my shin will heal quickly…lol.

Bottom Time ~ 37 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 91′
Water Temp. ~ 60/61
Visibility ~ 35′ – 30′

When we got out, I had received a text from Yasuko, so we ended up seeing her after all!

Two Days On The Jodrey

8 10 2009

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 ~

Steve and I had prepacked the DGTU #2 on Friday night, and were ready to head down to the river. We bid a good morning to Mer, who was going down to the river for some scootering goodness, and away we went. Once we got there, we met up with friends from the east, and some friends from the good ol’ US of A, for a trip out to the Jodrey!

Our friends, Becky and David were tying the knot today, so we decided to congratulate them from afar!


Jeff P….

We loaded up the Shaleka J, and headed out towards customs.

Claudia, Sean, and I were diving together today, Kevin and Steve were headed to the Engine Room, and Ron, Ed, and Chris were also diving together.

We got through customs, and made our way over to the mooring tree. We had all geared up, and had to have a couple of Animal Crackers, that Chris so generously shared.

Since Kevin and Steve had a longer run time than the rest of us, they splashed in first. Their mission today, was to go into the Engine Room, and plan to bring the camera the following day.

Chris and Ed ready to go…

Then Sean, Claudia, and I splashed in, and descended down to the wreck. Or… so the plan was… When we reached 140′, we realized that we were in a different spot, and did not see the crow’s nest. We descended a little more, and decided to hit the trigger. We scootered alongside the wall, with no wreck in site, so we turned around and headed back. Ohh… look! A wreck!! *Phew!* Judging by the time that we had gone out and back, we realized that we had descended beside the hull, and being in complete darkness (lights didn’t do much there), we did not see it. Oh well… here we were.

We swam around the bow, and did a tour of the wheelhouse, before it was time to turn around. We made our way up the wall, and had a nice, relaxing deco… until we got back around the boat. The current was screaming there, and Claudia’s borrowed scooter wasn’t cooperating. We managed to make it back to the boat, and chilled in the shallows for a bit. Oh… not without some more congratulations…

Then, of course, the Kool Aid shots…

Once everyone was back aboard, we headed for the dock, and went for dinner. The kind folks at Boston Pizza donated a pizza to our cause, which was very much appreciated!

Sunday, September 13th, 2009 ~

Another day, and another trip out to the Jodrey. Kevin and Steve took some video footage of the Engine Room.

It was a fantastic day out on the river, and we even had a rasta friend aboard…

Some shots from the day…

A couple of happy Engine Room fellas…

Special thanks for all of the Scuba Snacks too!

When we got back to the shop, Jeff showed us his new Commercial Diving rig, for his upcoming course!

We had alot of fun in the sun, and really, there’s only one way to sum it up…