Pompano Beach, Florida

February 2008


February 1, 2008 - The Team Arrives

After a pretty uneventful flight, the advance team of the Divers Two 2008 Pompano Beach Expedition Dive Squad and Tactical Wind Ensemble arrived at the hotel. We reported to our rooms and assembled, checked, and inspected our state-of- the-art equipment for the following day.

As we headed out to dinner, I suggested a nice Thai/Sushi place nearby. My two companions grimaced and shook their heads. Instead we found an acceptable Florida version of an Irish pub that at least had draft Guinness.

Note to self: Must be more discriminating in team selection. Doubt that these two could survive on raw sea cucumbers and urchins if the mission demands it.


February 2, 2008 - First Dives

I awake to partly cloudy skies, mild breezes, and air temperatures in the mid 70’s. The television weather forecast predicts 5 days of mostly calm seas, sunshine, and air temperatures in the mid 80’s. Thanks to our superior conditioning and training this should prove little hindrance to our crack squad of dive commandos.

We head over to the boat – the Coral Princess, one of South Florida Dive Headquarters dive boats and find it crawling with divers. It’s the first nice Saturday after a stretch of bad weather, and it seems like everybody in Florida wants to dive (but why on this boat??). Our Ninja-like techniques enable us to secure choice spots on the boat and before long we are heading out to sea.

Luckily, we won’t all be in the same patch of ocean; some of the divers will be dropped off on a local reef while the rest of us will dive the Capt Dan – a nice intact ship sitting in 100+ feet of water. Our squad consists of 4 AOW and Wreck Diver students: Bob, Dominic, Gary and Kevin, two almost divemasters: George and Rich, and instructor-in-training Rick, who will assist me on the dives.

After we moor to the wreck, I jump into the warm, blue waters and swim over to the ball to await the others. Once everyone is assembled on the line we start down, but difficulties arise – one diver heads back to the boat for more weight. Then another has problems with a new mask that leaks. Rick goes down with the rest of the group while we get a spare mask.

Descending the Mooring Line


The phrase “like herding cats” comes to mind.

Finally assembled on the bottom we tour the wreck. The visibility is around 40 feet, the water temperature is around 73 degrees and there’s little or no current.

A little different from my last dive in NJ with 46 degree water and about 8 feet of viz. I think I‘ll be able to adapt to these strange, new conditions though.

I love these Florida wrecks - easy diving and lots of colorful fish. Some of our group later report seeing a big green moray eel holed up on the deck. I missed him probably because I spent most of my time watching my..... err "herd".

It'sa Moray!


Our second dive is a drift dive along the outer reefs in 40-80 feet of water. It’s a good opportunity to relax and practice buoyancy control. Rick carries the flag, but I have the compass so there’s some confusion about who to follow since I like to explore little nooks and coral formations that I spot along the way and often veer away from the main group.

I have to confess that I find the drift dives off Pompano kind of boring. There’s usually not much current so you have to work to cover ground. (OK – call me lazy.) The reefs are not very colorful with little relief. They have the usual assortment of tropical fishies – Parrotfish, Angelfish, and many others that I don’t know the name of. But after a while it all looks the same. I duck into the occasional shallow canyon in the reef and poke my head under outcrops hoping to spot a lobster or crab, or something a little unusual, but mostly come up empty.

George - Just Hanging Out


After about 40 minutes we all slowly ascend and do a drifting safety stop. Everyone displays admirable buoyancy control.

At the surface, I spin around looking for the dive boat.

“Where’s the dive boat!”
“We’re lost at sea!”
“Gather into a circle and watch for sharks!”
“We’re all gonna die!”
“Have you seen the movie ‘Open Water’?”

Just kidding. After a short time, Capt. Dick comes to our rescue and we get back on board.

Back on shore, I locate my KISS rebreather and bailout bottles that I’ve shipped down from New Jersey. Everything seems to have arrived safely. I spend a good part of the afternoon screwing the valves back on the tanks, filling them, lugging everything to my hotel room and assembling and checking the rebreather before tomorrow’s adventures.

But before that we have a:

Night Dive!

This will be Bob and Gary’s AOW Night Dive and Dominic and Kevin decide to come along for the adventure.The wreck we’ll be diving is the Ancient Mariner which sits in about 70 feet of water. It’s a nice, relatively small, intact wreck and good for a night dive, but any night dive can be a little spooky, especially if you’re not familiar with the site. In my briefing, I stress staying with your buddy, staying with the group, and carefully watching air pressure.

We head out to a beautiful sunset. By the time we are ready to jump in, it’s daaark!

Lights on, right hand on mask and regulator, big step forward, plunge under, pop up, and then swim for the mooring line. Everybody assembles at the line and we descend together slowly. Lights and glow sticks stand out on the descent line like fireflies on a summer night.

Buddy teams get a little confused on the way down. We assemble on the deck of the Ancient Mariner and I do a head count: Dominic – OK, Bob- OK, Kevin- OK, Gary -????. Where’s Gary? I shine my light up at the tie-in point and spot some new Slingshot fins attached to a pair of legs. I signal the others to stay put while I swim up to Gary, yank his leg and motion for him to follow me down.

After we’re all together, Gary shows me his flooded primary light and his tiny back up light. I guess he decided it was better to remain at the safety of the anchor line or join another group. I pass him a brighter backup light and we’re ready to roll.

Although I’ve been on this wreck before, I can’t remember much about it. I make a mental note of the tie-in point – high up on the wheel house with a glow stick attached to the line - and we begin the dive navigating the wreck by keeping the sand on one side and a side of the wreck on the other.

Off the starboard side of the ship, my light shines on something unusual lying in the down in the sand. It looks like a partly covered piece of debris. We slowly descend toward it and it’s a big sting ray nestled in the sand. If this was the Belmar Back Bay and this was a cute little skate, I’d be tempted to play with him. But with thoughts of the unfortunate Steve Irwin, I inhale deeply and float well above him. After the dive, others in the group echo similar thoughts.

Lots of critters are out tonight. Kevin points out a crab with a sea cucumber grafted on to its shell and a 6” bristleworm that practically screams out “Don’t touch”.

Eventually it’s time to ascend. My head pops the surface to a starry night and the remains of a brilliant sunset over the shore skyline. It’s been a very good day.

February 3, 2008 - No More Bubbles!

There is apparently some big sporting event scheduled for today. This causes undue excitement in some team members and a concern about finding a proper venue for the evening’s meal. Leave me out, I’ll be happily cleaning and reassembling my rebreather.

As fate would have it, our first dive is a return to the Capt. Dan. It’s no real problem since we can explore areas we missed the day before. On the boat I go over my rebreather predive checks mindful of the admonition on the top of the KISS: “THIS DEVICE IS CAPABLE OF KILLING YOU WITHOUT WARNING”. As we descend, I alternate between checking my O2 levels, adjusting buoyancy, checking computers, and clearing my ears. Everything seems just fine as we arrive on the bottom and I enjoy the peaceful silence of the rebreather.

No More Bubbles!


Today we head all the way to the sand at 106’ and begin the dive touring the perimeter of the wreck. Heading back on the port side, another diver motions us to follow him and he leads us to the resident Green Moray Eel holed up on the stern deck. We gather around him as Dominic catches up to the group and almost steps on the eel. We linger a while longer before it’s time to head up.

Our second dive is another drift dive. Gary recalls seeing the same bottle from the day before....snore.

Rick - Checking on Everybody


We’re all pretty pooped in the afternoon. I spend some time filling tanks for the next day, disassembling the rebreather and giving it a quick cleaning and drying out. Dinner is outside at the hotel bar basking in the warm humid sea breezes. Most of the patrons are focused on the game on TV. Back in my room it’s time to put the rebreather back together and run through pressure tests. I flip on the TV and the Giants are losing 10 – 7 in the 3rd quarter. What a boring game!

February 4, 2008 - Beware of Floating Blue Bottles!

There’s a lot of excitement on the TV this morning. Seems like the New Jersey Giants won the Super Bowl. Way to go from your number 1 fan! I knew you could do it; so much that I didn’t even have to watch the game.

Our first dive of the day is the Rodeo, one of my favorite wrecks down here. It’s a little deeper than most, sitting in about 125’ of water. An intact wreck, it lies at a slight tilt and has numerous possibilities for swim-throughs. Rick is more familiar than I am with the wreck, so he offers to lead the group.

Gary Examining the Situtation


We’re getting comfortable with the diving in contrast to the first day when everyone was a little uncertain. We jump in like trained commandos one after another, swim to the mooring ball and head down. I bring up the rear which gives me plenty of time to check all my rebreather stuff - gauges, computers, and O2 monitors on the descent. On the deck of the Rodeo, Rick asks everyone to check their air supply and we begin our tour. At the stern we drop to the sand. For some of the group this is their deepest dive. I lay my wrist in the sand and the computer records a depth of 124’. Woo Hoo! (If this sort of thing is important to you.)

We float back up to the deck and do a wide swim through the remains of the pilot house. An air check shows some are getting a little low on air - at this depth single tank open circuit air supplies don’t last very long, so we thumb the dive and head back to the ascent line. It’s been a short dive, but the wreck will still be here when we return some other time.

I’ve prevailed on the powers that be that our second dive be another wreck instead of a reef dive. As part of the South Florida artificial reef system, a series of tug boats were sunk known as the Quallman tugs. I dove them last year and found them a lot more enjoyable than the reef dives.

The tugs are not that deep so we do a “hot drop” on them. Capt Dick maneuvers the boat a bit up current and we jump in like paratroopers. Without lingering on the surface, then we drift down hoping to spy the wrecks and not end up on featureless sand. Everything works as planned and 20 or 30 feet off the bottom, I make out some dark features ahead of me and swim over to one of the tugs. Don’t try this in New Jersey, boys and girls.

Say Hi! to Rich


I really enjoy this dive. There are a series of tugs and other small ships arrayed in a line. They’re pretty busted up- more like a typical Jersey wreck- and in the many holes and debris fields lots of critters have made their homes. Under a section of hull plate, I spot a pretty good sized spiny lobster well back under the plate. The rest of the group is motoring along so I don’t linger to play with him.

Eventually we run out of wrecks in the direction we were heading. Dan Crowell takes a group of his yellow backed rebreather students westward in the direction of the reef, while the rest of us turn around and head back in the direction we came from.

I spot the section of wreck where my lobster friend was hiding and signal the others to come and take a look. Rick, a veteran New England bug hunter, sees the lobster and shoots his arm in trying to grab it. The lobster scrambles towards me, and my hunting instincts take over. I go to grab it and it heads back towards Rick. This goes on back and forth several more times before I run out of patience. I reach our far into the hole and grab ... an antenna. This makes the poor lobster rather unhappy, he jerks around quite a bit, and eventually the antenna snaps off in my hand.

I’m immediately remorseful about this bit of animal abuse. One more thing to answer for when I appear before the Pearly Gates.

Soon after this sorry event, some of our crew are nearing their NDLs and it’s time to end the dive. As planned ahead of time, I’m to shoot a lift bag partly to demonstrate the technique for our Wreck Diver students.

With what seems like all eyes on me, I pull my lift bag out from the bottom of my back plate, unfurl it and shoot a little gas from my bailout bottle into the bottom of the bag. I hook my arm through the loop on the bottom of the bag and it floats gently above me, as I unclip my wreck reel. After freeing the line on the reel, I clip it off to the bag and check for tangles. (This is where I sometimes screw up.) Everything looks go and I blast air into the bottom of the bag. It soon overcomes the friction on the reel and rockets to the surface.

Success! I can see the awe, admiration and silent applause in the eyes of my onlookers. Thank you! Thank you, very much. It’s all in day’s work for a scuba god…....ah, instructor.

Another drifting ascent, after which the boat soon picks us up, and we motor back to the dock. Some of us – Dominic, Bob, Kevin and I – are heading out for a couple of afternoon dives in order to complete Bob’s AOW course and Dominic and Kevin’s Wreck Diver certs. I’ve asked to go someplace shallow, so we’ll be heading to the Copenhagen wreck and a shallow reef system the locals call the Nursery.

After a quick lunch on the boat and some tank swaps, we’re once again underway. The Coral Princess anchors close to shore and we hop into about 15 feet of water. A short swim eastward drops us over the reef ledge and on to the busted up remains of the Copenhagen sitting at about 30 ft.

It’s a very cool wreck and I wish we had more time to explore it, but these guys have work to do! Dominic and Kevin take turns running and following a wreck reel, while Bob does his UW Navigation dive. He completes his measured fin kick and timed 100 ft. swim, his out and back navigation, and his square pattern without difficulty. I suspect the 40-50 ft visibility makes this a little less challenging than it would be in the Back Bay, but he clearly knows his stuff.

In the meantime, Kevin and Dominic have finished running their wreck reels. Now they get to practice with their lift bags. I wanted to do this in shallow water, so they could each try it a few times. My job is to ascend, dump the air from the bags, and send them back down to them so they can shoot them again.

The first time they send them up without anchoring to any object on the bottom, like we did on the drift dives. They make it look easy. I head up, dump the air from Kevin’s bag and send it back down to him. Dominic’s bag (really a safety sausage) is a short distance away and I swim over to it, seeing, but ignoring, a floating blue bottle or plastic bag floating nearby.

I begin dumping the air from Dominic’s bag, when suddenly pain erupts from the small patches of exposed skin on my wrists between my gloves and the ends of my suit sleeves. Now I notice the “blue bottle”.

“Oh (multiple expletives deleted), it’s a Portuguese Man of War!”

I try to shove it away, probably further tangling myself in its tentacles. The boat hears my yelling and screaming, and I signal I’m OK, while doing my best to ignore the serious pain in my wrists. It’s like bunch of concentrated bee stings.

I succeed in deflating most of the air from the lift bag and begin swimming down with it towards Dominic. First I show Kevin how to send up a bag while using a piece of the wreck as a friction brake for the line. He sends it up slowly and under control. Then I do the same for Dominic, but I notice long purple strands with white bumps on them floating around me. I try to carefully remove them while motioning for Dominic to keep away. Soon another lift bag heads up and I motion for all of us to ascend.

Back on the boat, my wrists are still screaming, and Dominic hasn’t escaped either. He has big welts on his neck and says his neck feels like it’s swollen to twice its normal size. I tell everybody what happened to me on the surface. My ears have taken a beating with all the up and down diving and when I grab my nose with my gloved hand to clear them, my nose starts burning. There must be left over nematocysts on my gloves.

I suspect Capt. Dick and Ed, the divemaster, think we’re big babies. I mentally log the experience as another anecdote for my future open water students on why it’s a good idea to always wear a full wetsuit, even in the tropics.

The ride to the next site is so short I don’t even get out of my equipment. We tie into one of a series of mooring balls lined up parallel to the shore. This is the “Pompano Drop” on the Nursery. Ed drops a crate with fish chunks over the side and calls us over the glass bottom section of the boat. A big Nurse Shark has appeared for its feeding. We can make out a big gray shape underneath the boat and I begin to forget about my still burning wrists.

It'sa Nurse Shark!


We jump in and linger under the boat. The Nurse Shark reappears and swims around the bait crate. Dominic and Bob get some pictures and after some time we swim over towards the reef. I turn around for a head count and “Where’s Bob? Oh, I guess we left him with the shark.”

In a little while he shows up and we swim a short distance eastward and drop over the edge of the reef. The drop is about 15 ft and this reef has some nice relief. There are lots of ledges and hidey holes for the fish and I find it much more interesting than the outer reefs we’ve been on earlier. Bob leads us on a short “natural navigation” course and after that it’s strictly a fun dive – the kind I could spend hours on. At some point a large Green Moray Eel swims along side and passes me. It’s clearly used to divers.

All too soon our planned 45 minutes of bottom time are up and we surface. On the boat my wrists are still hurting and Dominic is still complaining about his neck. Ed gives us some ointment for our injuries and Capt Dick opines that a real Portuguese Man of War sting would leave a much bigger welt. It’s also clear that Dominic and I have different versions of the story. So in the interests of truth and justice and historical accuracy here they are:

Dominic’s Version:

“So I shoot a liftbag, pretty nicely even if I do say so myself, and Carl goes up to send it back down. He stupidly swims into a Portuguese Man of War, tangles the bag and the line into its tentacles and then sends it back down right on top of me. I see these purple threads all over the place and wonder where they’re coming from. Pretty soon my neck explodes with pain and I see Carl picking off the tentacles and motioning me to stay away- much too late.”

Carl’s Version (The Truth):

“Dominic sends his liftbag up right into a Portuguese Man of War. Crippled by pain, I have no choice but to ignore it and get back to my students waiting for me on the bottom. I try to keep Dominic away from the tentacles, but he thinks they’re pretty purple threads and plays with them. Afterwards he complains about it, when I’m clearly the injured party. But it’s all in a days work for a scuba god…... ah instructor.”

All in all, though, it’s been a great day of diving filled with memories for the future.

Later, I phone my wife,Linda:

“How was your day?”

C: “Pretty good. We did a bunch of good dives. I’m pretty tired though. How was yours?”

L: “Well, I bought a new washer and dryer. The old dryer was making a lot of noise and I figured it was time. They’ll deliver it and install it. Will you be home a week from Thursday? I can reschedule the delivery if you’ll be working.”

(Long discussion of washers and dryers)

L: “So you had a good day of diving?”

C: “Yeah, until I got stung by a Portuguese Man of War.”

L: “What!!???”

(Long discussion of day’s events)

Linda recommends I take some Benadryl. I don’t have any, but that evening discover that beer, taken internally, does wonders for Portuguese Man of War stings.

February 5, 2008 - Graduation Day

Our string of lucky days with the weather seems to be running out. Today’s marine forecast calls for stiffer east winds and 2-4 ft seas. (They lie.) We head out and it’s pretty bumpy. Most of the rollers seem to be in the 4 ft range with the occasional 5 or 6 footer.

Enthusiasm remains high though and none of our hardy band shows any sign of sea sickness. Our first destination is the Sea Emperor, which Capt Dick sometimes refers to as the “Aqua Zoo” from the time when dive boats used to feed the marine life on the wreck.

Today Bob, Dominic and Kevin will do their own thing. They’re confident in what they’ve learned the past few days and are looking forward to diving on their own, i.e. without me. George and Rich have pretty much done their own thing the past few days, and Gary and I will buddy up.

Say Hi to Bob!


Jumping in from the rolling deck isn’t too difficult (although climbing back up the ladder will prove more challenging). Divemaster Ed steadies us on the edge of the deck and times the waves. When the boat dips into a trough between waves, he yells “Go” and we jump in. There’s a strong incentive to quickly swim to the mooring ball and get underwater to avoid getting beat up on the surface, so Gary and I waste no time in descending.

We get settled on the deck of the wreck and then do a quick inspection of one of the open cargo holes inside the wreck. There’s nothing much interesting in there, but this is a new experience for Gary. We then float back up to the deck and begin heading towards the many large concrete sewer pipes lying off to the side in the sand. As we drop over the side, my heart and breathing pick up speed. There are two huge Goliath Groupers circling the wreck in the distance. I motion for Gary to follow and swim towards them as I’m passed by a large Green Moray. I could swear the eel looks back at me and smiles. (Residual nitrogen narcosis, perhaps?)

The reason this wreck is called the Aqua Zoon is apparent. We swim over to the groupers, who seem to be doing lazy circles around the wreck. It may be the underwater magnification, but they appear to be 8 ft long at least. Overall size wise, this is the largest marine life I’ve encountered. With my bubble-less rebreather, one lets me approach within several feet. I expect he’s hoping for a hand out, but he projects indifference to my presence and a total lack of fear.

Eventually the grouper swims off and Gary and I make our way through the maze of concrete culverts which are home to many small colorful fish.

In the washout at one end of the wreck, I see two other divers looking at something. They’re both tucked in pretty far in under the wreck and obviously excited about what’s under there. I wait my turn until they swim out. One of them gives me the signal for “shark” and then another unmistakable sign for sleeping. I creep into the washout and flip my light on. There’s a large, motionless Nurse Shark oblivious to all the divers interested in him. I leave my light on the shark as Gary comes up along side me for a look.

Look At All Those Bubbles


Since this is a shallow wreck, we’re getting some serious bottom time. We rise up to the top and slowly make our way back towards the anchor line. The Sea Emperor was a barge that sank upside down, so we’re cruising along the bottom of the hull which has many large openings in it revealing the different cargo compartments. As we arrive back close to the anchor line, a large sting ray swims up to say hello. Off in the distance I see the two groupers continuing their circuit of the wreck.

Finally, Gary gets down to around 1000 psi. and heads up the anchor line. As we agreed, I stay down to take advantage of the seemingly endless bottom time the rebreather gives me. I’ve been down for over a half hour and have used up only a few hundred psi. of oxygen and diluent. My dive computer gives me over a hundred minutes of remaining NDL time. I resist the urge to pee in my wetsuit.

I drop into one of the open cargo compartments and swim inside the length of the wreck. There are convenient openings in the bulkheads separating the compartments, so it’s easy to explore the entire interior of the wreck. As I get back towards the end of it, I begin to wonder about just where that Nurse Shark is hanging out and maybe he was inside the wreck after all. But I don’t see any thing large inside. Instead there are some schools of small bait fish probably hiding out from the big guys outside. After reaching the end of the Sea Emperor’s interior, I swim back out to the top and along the hull back to the anchor line.

Slowly heading up the line for my safety stop, I think back on all the sights I’ve seen and how absolutely peaceful and relaxing it was. Things are very different on the surface, though. The seas are as rough as ever and getting on the ladder requires careful timing as the boat rocks up and down. Back on board, some poor soul seems to be doing his best to turn his insides out. The more fortunate are all talking about what a great dive they had.

Our final dive of the day is back on the Ancient Mariner. It looks a lot different and less spooky during the day. Gary and I do some more swim throughs on the deck house and other open structures. I see Bob, Dominic, and Kevin are doing the same and appear to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. This is another relatively shallow wreck, so we get long bottom times. After giving the wreck itself a full inspection, Gary and I swim out into the sand to explore some debris fields. There’s some small fish hanging around, but not much else.

Gary once again heads up the line leaving me to do a more complete tour of the Mariner’s interior. It’s a pretty easy wreck to penetrate with lots of openings for exit points, and, again, nothing very exciting is hiding inside. It’s still fun and just a little thrilling to be down here all by my lonesome.

Rebreather Boy


I’m the last one up the line and as I climb the ladder it sounds like someone is barking out my name. I listen more carefully and it’s the poor nameless soul still trying cough up his stomach and the rest of his insides. I’m very grateful to be seemingly immune to seasickness (so far anyway).

That evening we end up in a nice Italian restaurant that some how has managed to run out of Chianti. So we settle for substitutes. The service is incredibly slow, but the food is good. We reminisce about the dives. Bob, Dominic, and Kevin are due to fly out tomorrow and the some of the conversation is tinged with regret that the trip is at an end.

Waiter! I’ll have another glass of that red stuff.

February 6, 2008 - Mother Nature Gets Ornery

My cell phone makes a strange tinkling noise at 6:00 AM. Apparently, this is the sound that a text message has arrived (I am text messaging deficient). It’s from Rich. The marine forecast is calling for 3-5 ft seas, and, as he was planning on doing photography, it’s a little rough for handling a big camera. So he’s not diving.

On my hotel room balcony, there’s a really stiff east wind blowing. The lovely young lady on the television weather says the marine forecast is for small craft warnings and 4-6ft seas. Hmm.

I guess we’ll be down to the hard core divers today.

At the dock everyone appears a little doubtful about the weather. Capt Dick takes me aside and warns me that it’ll be rougher out there than the previous day. But our planned destination is the RSB 1, a really great wreck, so I’m ready to give it a shot.

Large breakers greet us at the junction of ocean and inlet. Dick times them carefully and steers the Coral Princess through. As we head south into the wind towards the RSB 1, big waves occasionally crash over the bow and the boat is taking a real pounding. Some of these have to be larger than 6 feet. Gary, George, and I plan our dive, but I’m beginning to have doubts about being able to climb back up the ladder. The boat engines struggle to make headway and then Dick calls me and another instructor over. It’s really not a day to be out here and the captain always has the final say. I’m relieved when we head back to the dock.

OK, so the last day is a bust. This gives me plenty of time to sort out the bill with South Florida Diving and settle up with the dive shop for the confusing collection of tank rentals and fills. Then I can dump the gas from my tanks, remove the valves, cart them, my rebreather, and other soggy equipment back to my room and get it all ready to ship back to NJ.

I have to admit that not everything about a dive trip is fun and excitement.

That afternoon, Rich takes me over to Fedex and I see my rebreather crate and tanks begin their journey back north. I keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make it undamaged.

That night only Gary and I are left for dinner. He’s already looking forward to his next trip.

February 7, 2008 - Victorious Return!

Heading through the TSA security check - shoes off and beltless, I empty my pockets into the plastic bin – change, keys, cell phone….. S**t, my trusty Swiss Army pocket knife is there. I explain to the sympathetic young lady how I’ve had it for over 30 years, isn’t there someway of mailing to myself or keeping it? She shakes her head and directs me to the “weapons” disposal box.

Later, sitting in my cramped plane seat, I reflect on the highlights and accomplishments of the trip:

11 mostly great dives.

Logged my 553rd dive.

8 more rebreather dives (54 now on the KISS) without incident.

4 happy students introduced to Florida wreck diving.

6 days of warm tropical weather and lush humid sea breezes (in February!).

Not peeing in my wetsuit despite strong urges from my middle-aged bladder.

Let’s do this again next year!

Old Fat Guy On Dive Boat


Photographs courtesy Richard Goldman, Dominic Annunziata, and Robert Socha

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Copyright 2008 Carl Muhlhausen