Monday, June 06, 2005

Weekend Getaway

Anyone that lives in New England knows that we had an unseasonably cold May.

Very cold. .............Very, very cold........and wet......grey skies, windy, spitting rain... the whole package.

Beej and I are both solar powered and the batteries were getting a little low. So, after a couple of weeks of this, Beej and I decided that it might be time to get out the diving gear and head somewhere warm. So, it was off to Tampa Florida for a little adventure diving on some M50 Sherman Tanks that form an artificial reef 13 miles off the coast of Tarpon Springs.

We joined the good folks from Narcosis Scuba (www.narcosisscuba.com). We would highly recommend them to anyone interrested in diving near Tampa. Their people were knowlegable, helpful, and just plain fun ! They took us out Saturday and Sunday on their boat. Each day consisted of two dives.

The first day, was spent diving a ledge that runs along the coastline. The ledge is actually where the shoreline was a long, long, long time ago.

The ride out was nice. After being stuck in the cold for a month this was the first time that we had seen blue skies and warm air in quite a while.



The first couple of dives were nice. As it was our first dive of the year, Beej and I took it slow and got re-aquainted with our gear. We saw a lot of nice angel fish on that first day.



The second day found us comforable again with our equipment and ready for the main event. We had traveled to Florida intending to find some army tanks. The tanks make up an artificial reef system and are home to lots of different fish.

Finding the tanks wasn't too easy. The exact coordinates are not posted so it's up to the divers to bring bottom profiling equipment in order to find them. After a couple hours of searching, and a false start or two with piles of culvert that had been dumped on the bottom, we found them.

Diving the tanks is one of the best dives I have ever done. I am only sorry that they images didn't come out better. Although you can't tell from the pictures, the water was remarkably clear and the tank was totally unobstructed.

This picture is of the tanks primary gun. The tank was resting upright on the bottom as if it had been driven out there. As you can see the gun is even slightly elevated and gives the tank a "ready for battle" appearance.



This image is a little hazier, but was taken farther away to get a better perspective.



This, of course, is me leaning on the barrel of a Sherman Tank in 50' of water. As you can see, I wasn't wearing any gloves and I was only wearing a 1mm wetsuit. The water temp at 50' was 77 degrees !! Florida diving spoils you :)



These last two pictures are of the tanks rear treadguard and one of the interior ( I was able to get the camera into the gunners hatch). The interior shot captured the breach loader for the cannon where the gunner would load it.






After a half hour of me swimming around the tank photographing it, I looked over at Beej who was clearly ready to get going... she wanted to explore the area around the tank.



Eventually, Beej ran low on air and had to head topside. Left to my own devices, I was able to get some great shots of a school of fish that just wouldn't leave me alone.







This Jewfish was almost six feet long and probably weighed in at 225lbs +.



Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. We headed back tired, but very excited about the days diving. A fantastic sunset topped off a great trip.






We are looking forward to another trip to Florida in the fall. This time, I have my eye on diving a 500' WW2 battleship that was sunk near the southern tip of Fl.

In any case, I expect to get a lot of mileage from this trip when it's cold and raining at home !!! :)

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