The next day was cool, sunny and beautiful and I felt terrific. We gathered all of our dive and snorkel gear into the trunk of the caddy and drove to the Silent World part of the dock at Key Largo. Many other dive boats were docked there also. It brought to mind the California couple who were left behind last year in Key Largo and were stranded overnight, clinging to a steel light tower. Fortunately they both lived and were only suffering from exposure when found. Unfortunately they were both lawyers. Yeah, I guess if you were going to leave divers behind, lawyers would be my last choice. We got on the boat and were glad to see that the boat captain was doing a head count. Step one in not leaving anyone behind; know how many folks are on your boat when you start.
With all passengers aboard we launched and headed out of the marina. As we were heading out the dive plans were explained by our dive master. We were going to see Christ of the Abyss, the most famous dive site in all of the Keys. The statue was an exact replica of one that stands in the Mediterranean off Genoa and was placed in 1961. Also, we would not be able to moor very close to it because the water is quite shallow all around it with “dry rock” brain coral formations that are feeding grounds for an amazing variety of fish.
As we were motoring out, everyone was donning their wetsuits and so did I. It was the first time I had done so in public. But, I had my Speedo workout suit on and I am hardly shy so it was okay. My wetsuit is flattering. Besides, I certainly had the best body in the boat, except for some of the professional dive staff who were in the hunk category. There was this one blond in particular… oh, don’t want to get side tracked here now do we? It was kind of cool out, so I was glad to get my rubber covering on to warm me up. We moored and there weren’t too many boats there yet. Famous dive sites like this one can get crowded very quickly.
I entered the water and immediately I was cold. But, I knew I had to swim to stay warm and get to the statue. So I focused on where I was and what there was to see. I was surrounded by beautiful brain corals and I had to be careful not to get swept up onto them by the waves as I swam ahead. I swam between them, in the valleys, if you will. What fish I saw! Sean drew my attention to a passing turtle and we followed it for a while.
Again, I was mesmerized. I could spend my whole life snorkeling. The water softly rippling causing soft shawdos and the fish swimming slowly or darting quickly, but always with grace and all of the beautiful colors: I just love being underwater.
Finally we reached the statue. It was a bit deeper than I was willing to dive with my recent sinusitis, but awesome nonetheless.
On my way back to the boat I started to get cold again. I could feel the water coming into my wetsuit through the collar which tended to gape open a bit as I moved forward. By the time I got back onto the boat my teeth were chattering. I put my towel on my shoulders and there was some hot coffee and that helped warm me up a bit. Our next dive site was the elbow and a visit to the wreck of the City of Washington. I had no idea how I was going to get back into that cold water again. Oh well.
It was not far from where we were, and before we knew it we were there and catching our mooring. The divers were setting up to go in again. I was ready. So, I got in and all I could see of the wreck were the ribs of the boat. Pretty boring if you ask me.
Sean and I met up and decided to follow a lone barracuda to a nearby light tower to see if there would be more fish there. Off we swam together, enjoying each others’ company in our little adventure together. Hey look over there! It’s another barracuda! And another! I thought to myself. Suddenly we were in the middle of a huge school of them. They were circling the tower. I came to a dead stop and do did Sean. We were hugely out numbered and every fish was a monster bigger than me! There must have been thousands of them. I felt very small and prey like, just like an intruder in their world.
Sean and I surfaced and I said, “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” He nodded and off we swam. I grabbed onto him just so that our mass would seem bigger to any barracuda even thinking of coming in for a taste. (I know that barracuda are not known for attacking humans, but I was really scared and you would have been too.) We swam as quickly as possible for the dive boat which was pretty quick. I got out of the water; thank god it was for the last time today.
I squirmed out of my wetsuit and dried off, put on my dry clothes and fleece jacket. Oh to be warm again; what a great feeling. I was a bit distracted by the blond dive master stripping off his wetsuit. Thoughts of ‘take it all off’ came to mind. He had these really neat little reddish blond body hairs on his tanned chest, legs and arms. Yummy! I wanted to see much more. Okay, focus Sue, focus.
Why does it always seem like it takes so much longer to get back to the dock than it did to go out? Well eventually we got back, rinsed our gear in the fresh water troughs provided at the dock, and put it back in the trunk of the caddy. We were only out for two morning dives, but I felt as if I had been out for a whole day already I was so tired from being sick. Back we drove to the Hungry Pelican so I could report my successful dive to the owner. It’s nice to make someone proud and he was.
Next time – we go out in rough weather!