Again I joined the Orlando Reef Divers on our annual traditional start of the diving season by attending the Derby Dive in Boynton Beach. The event consists of arriving in Boynton Beach on Friday night, diving early on Saturday morning, having a potluck gathering to watch the Kentucky Derby, then wrapping up the event by diving again on Sunday morning.
Since I had stayed with my parents the week of the dive I drove across the state in evening/night. I actually took a wrong turn at one point which added approximately 45 min to my trip. I arrived at the Hampton Inn and retired to my room as quickly as possible as I needed to rest before getting up super early. I didn't sleep well but I did get a little rest.
On Saturday morning I got a quick breakfast and met up with some other ORD members, other than my roommate Mike that I had met the night before. There was talk of a small craft advisory and many of the group decided to sit out diving for the day. I had missed dives in the past based on such rumors and I really wanted to get my fins wet so I gambled and went to the dive boat. The Loggerhead, captained by Capt. Jim and assisted by Josh, was still on to go out so we filled out the appropriate paperwork, loaded our gear, and shoved off.
Our first stop was the Delray Ledges. We got in and submerged and the first site was a great barracuda which I don't recall seeing around this area before but it disappeared shortly after we got to the reef. I was taking my new camera for a test drive but I didn't get a shot of large fish. We explored the reef a bit. I ran across two resting loggerheads. I love being on a reef very early in the morning when it starts to come alive as the sun rises in the sky. The temperature was decent and we had decent visibility although it seemed like there were some particulates stirred up that the slow current wasn't flushing away. We saw a couple of green moray eels and I saw a "sleeping" nurse shark. I was having a little difficulty with buoyancy as well as my mask kept flooding but nothing serious and the first diver of the year is meant to work out the issues of being rusty. Sort of like coming out of hibernation.
When we got out of the water the wind was freezing. I was extremely cold until I got out of the wind. As long as I was the slightest bit damp I was cold when out in the open.
The second dive was at Tumbled Rocks. I added a couple of extra pounds of weight and that seemed to have stabilized my buoyancy. I still had the issue with the flooding mask but I think that was due to my hair. I saw a couple of green morays as well as a spotted moray. Also saw a swimming turtle, a couple of large crabs, and some lobsters. The visibility improved at this location.
Again after surfacing I was freezing but I was able to get out of my wet rash guard and into a rather dry tshirt.
When we got back to land I didn't head back to the hotel directly. I explored the area a little bit and came across a little Cuban restaurant called El Bohio. The food was amazing but I ate too much. I got back to the hotel and got cleaned up. I then made a quick Publix run to get some stuff for the potluck. I figured no one would have gotten desserts but I was wrong. The spread was decent anyway. We tried frantically to get the Derby's pre-show on the TVs in the lobby area where we had gathered but to no avail. We ended up huddling in someone's room in order to watch the race.
Sunday's first dive was at the Boynton Comb. The seas were even calmer than the day before and the wind was a little less biting. The visibility in the water was amazing and this reef was teeming with life.
The second dive was at Untiedt's. This dive site had a ton of wildlife including a very curious turtle and a decent sized nurse shark (videos). We also saw a swimming green moray eel which is always mesmerizing and a very large midnight blue parrotfish.
A great weekend of diving and I had to head back to Orlando. Here are some pictures from the dive.