Scuba Radio Invades Key West (Part 1)

It's taken me a few days to get around to this, but after the great adventures I had with Greg the Divemaster & Single Scott down in Key West (or Key Weird as the Upper Keys locals call it), I was in definite need of recovery time!

The adventure started on Sunday night, when it seemed as though everything that could go wrong was going wrong in regards to my getting out of town.  I FINALLY pulled up to the gates of the marina we were staying at around 10pm.  I was greeted with hugs and a can of Red Bull.  (A very much needed can of Red Bull.)  We immediately called a cab and headed for Duval Street for Single Scott's very first Duval Crawl.  Oh boy.

Now as a side note, I must mention that I had just been in Key West to visit friends fishing in the World Sailfish Tournament the previous day.  I left Key Weird at 5am Saturday morning, worked the afternoon at the dive shop in Key Largo, stayed out late (bad idea), worked all day Sunday only to drive BACK to Key West that night.  I had already been on Duval Street a few nights that week and did some serious scoping out of the good places to go.  Not that it mattered though.  We went everywhere.  And there may have been some jager bombs involved. Good times were had by all!!  I do believe this is where the word “awesome” began to take over my vocabulary.

Fast forward to the next day, Monday.  We definitely were in need of food, so our adventure took us to one of America's best restaurants –  Denny's.  I'm not kidding… I really do think it's one of the best places in the world.  Apparently we all looked a little rough around the edges, but it was nothing some Moons Over My Hammy couldn't cure.  (That's a lie – I actually ordered an omelet.  And ate it all.)  After that, we were set and ready for our day!

At around 2pm Capt. Marlin Scott showed up with his son, Seth, and we headed out to the Vandenberg.  Now for anyone who has dove the Vandy (or the V-Berg), or who has heard about it, there is typically a moderate to strong current on the wreck, and the viz level usually leaves you wondering what large creature might be 30 ft. behind you.  However, with Single Scott's amazing luck at our side, we pulled up and the mooring balls showed a sign of ZERO current. WHAT?  Impossible!  Not only that, we could see the wreck while still standing on the boat!  Now I was really getting excited.  I dove it 6 days after it went down and I was way past due for another visit.

So we all hopped in with Greg being last.  His mask broke and the pin drifted to the bottom – 140 ft. below us.  However, being the always prepared dive instructor I am, I had a spare mask in my bag to save his dive.  The best part?  It was PINK!  (Sorry, Greg!  I couldn't leave that part out!)At least it wasn't pink and sparkly like his Force Fins.  😉  So we swim over to the wreck on the surface and descend.  Freely.  No lines.  It was one of those perfect moments in diving where you feel like you're skydiving – free falling into the amazing blue.  I really can't put in words how I felt at that moment other than being at one with the water and feeling that everything was right in the world.

Enough sappy stuff.  😉  So we drop down mid-ship and casually cruise around.  Did I mention there was NO current?  I used my froggie kick the entire time and barely had to kick at all.  There were parrot fish, a huge moray eel, barracudas, schooling minnows that would gather all around you, Greg the Lobster Slayer actually found a lobster… it was simply amazing.  We dove the ENTIRE wreck.  That's unheard of! Unfortunately, we had to eventually come back.  We had a 32 minute dive time on the Vandenberg.  (I'll brag that coming up wasn't due to me as I still had 1,667 psi upon surfacing!  Mermaids don't really need air anyway, right? haha!)  We did a free ascent, hung for our safety stop, and drifted our way back to the boat.  I do believe this is where the word “AWESOME” was said repeatedly yet again.

After drying off, it was time for a little feeeshing.  Now I haven't fished since I was 8 years old and I lived on a canal.  So I was scared and excited.  Single Scott got to go first with a monster fish on line.  He reeled and reeled and fought and fought.  Finally, he gave in and I got my whack at it.  WOW.  There is a LOT of power in those fish!  The only thing I could think was “don't lose the rod, don't lose the rod, ouch my arms hurt, don't lose the rod, pull up, reel down, pull up, reel down.”  Yup.  That was about all that was going through my head.  I wasn't even thinking of food… and I'm always thinking of food.  At the same time I've got everyone trying to get me to stop focusing and take a picture.  Yeah, I think it's actually grimmacing in pain rather than smiling.  But I FINALLY got the fish in!  30 lb AmberJack! YEAH!  After that I got my chance to pull my own fish in completely!  A 35lb AmberJack!!!  (Not to mention I caught the biggest fish of the day!)  I once again couldn't stop saying the word “awesome.”  Greg claims he caught 3 fish since the one he fought for a good 10 minutes was eaten by a shark.  So I guess that means he caught a shark too.  😉  The last adventure for the trip was on Scott's AmberJack that was de-tailed by a barracuda.  We left it on the surface for awhile to watch the carnage.  It's incredible to watch nature sometimes.  It was definitely an Animal Planet moment!  The best comment made at that point was Scott yelling at the barracudas “This meal is courtesy of Single Scott!!”  haha!

After an amazing day of diving and fishing, we headed back to the marina to clean up and head for dinner.  Seeing as the Amber Jack had already been “bled” out thanks to the ‘cudas, Seth cleaned it up for us and we took it to the Hurricane Hole to have them “cook our catch.”  It was probably one of the best meals I've had and I normally don't even like AJ.  But, Capt. Marlin Scott told us how to have it cooked, and he was dead on.  AMAZING!  (And the onion rings weren't too bad either!)

With the first day of diving and fishing AWESOMENESS behind us, it was time for SLEEEEEEEEP!  And what an incredible sleep it was!

Well, that's about it for now… stay tuned for part 2 which will be about the amazing dives on the Atocha.  (Can you say AWESOME!?)  hahah!
(See some of the pictures from this adventure here!)