March 07 2013
The 1st of March is usually when we dig out our dive gear , wetsuits , snorkels, and masks. Our dive kit has been hanging in the shed since December and it’s time to see what works and what doesn’t. Although it seems like a tedious chore , I personally love the tradition. I love the bags holding the gear, I love the hardware that we use for diving, I love the scent of the ocean still on the gear from the last dive.
This year we brought our gear in to the living room and laid it all out, checked for dry rot and things that didn’t fit well anymore. This was the 2nd year of 'gear checking’ for my 8 year old boy, Jake, and he took on his task with a sense of seriousness.
Sophia On Deck!
My 7 year old daughter, Sophia, was not so enthusiastic. She seemed to expect Dad to check the gear for her. Her brother
was not happy about his sisters lack of effort. After the ceremonial review of dive/snorkel gear, we loaded it in the boat for the next morning’s excursion. We discussed how we would wake up before the sunrise and have a big breakfast , put on our warm clothes and catch the calm early water at high tide and have a quick test dive. I envisioned driving my boat with a steaming cup of coffee and my children peering over the bow, anxiously searching for the perfect reef. Followed by a hardy lunch at the Raw Bar, while laughing and reminiscing about how wonderful Dad is for taking them diving.
Naturally, no one was ready until 10 am, I think everyone was angry at me and I am pretty sure someone was put in time out before we got out the door. We left the dock so late , I was sure the tide would change and our visibility would be shot.
We buzzed out to a wonderful hidden gem about a half mile off Sunrise Blvd off Ft. Lauderdale Beach. It is an unmarked reef in about 6 to 8 feet of water called ‘Sunrise Key’. It can usually be found by stalking the Glass-bottom tourist boats, but I had local knowledge!
On this day, the water temp was 72 degrees (burrrr), but we had wetsuits! The seas were calm, and the tide was not going out yet! Amazingly the wet suits work, after the initial breath taking body shock, everyone warmed up to a very comfortable temperature.
Then it happened, it was amazing, the clarity of the water was unbelievable, and thousands, (and I do mean thousands) of fish surrounded our boat. They used the shadow of the boat to hide under. The fish were so thick, you could stick your hand under the boat and they would make a perfect circle around your hand. What was supposed to be a short test dive, turned in to a four hour exploration of a shallow patch reef.
We drank and ate everything on board, even the ‘emergency’ granola bars that I shoved under the helm a year ago. Several times , I asked everyone if we should leave, and no one wanted to go, it was just too amazing. We saw two grouper, one shark and every fish from the movie ‘Finding Nemo’!
All of this just happened upon us a half mile away from a metropolis of 1.7 Million people, and we had it all to ourselves.