Any scuba divers here?

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I just got back from a much needed 10 day Florida vacation, which was great! I've been going down to the same area (Panama City/Mexico Beach/Port St.Joe) ever since I was a teenager and I've always loved it. This year though, I tried something new...diving...and I friggin LOVED it!

My daughters and I took a one-day "Discover Scubs Diving" course. One day, two dives. The first dive is in fairly shallow water...roughly 7'...and is just for training purposes. Learning how to clear your mask underwater, respirator purging, hand signals, etc. Then the second dive was around 4 miles offshore for wreckage exploration (SS Vamar).

It can be a little intimidating rolling backwards into the predator-filled ocean 4 miles from land but my girls were absolutely fearless, which gave me one of those 'proud papa moments'. Once we were down to the ocean floor and swimming around, it became an incredible experience. At one point we were swimming alongside a 300-350lb grouper, close enough to reach over and touch him. And we were constantly swimming through droves of various fish...angel fish, trigger fish, etc. We also found a stingray camouflaged under the sand on the ocean floor. All you could see were his eyes and tail. The instructor stirred him up by messing with the sand on his wing and the stingray came up out of the sand and swam right between Briana and I, which was really cool.

The only bad part was my youngest got utterly seasick on the way out to the second dive and couldn't do it because she was afraid of throwing up in her respirator. I'll be sure to dope her up on dramamine next time...haha.

We weren't back in PA more than an hour or so before I was on the phone with a friend of mine getting prices on finishing up our certifications (and likely higher certs after that). If you enjoy the water and have never tried it, this should most definitely be on your bucket list. The price for the trip was very reasonable, imo at $140/person. According to the instructor that's a pretty common price. Some places with more competition (more "commercial" beaches) are even lower. So if you're headed to the beach, keep it in mind as an option.

The instruction had an underwater go-pro and took quite a few pics but he hasn't uploaded them yet. I only have a couple that I snapped on my phone before I hit the water. I'll add the underwater pics (if he got some decent ones) when he uploads them,









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I went scuba diving in Hawaii, that was fun. I wish I could do it more, but I have a busted ear drum and after about 30 feet it was seriously starting to hurt. It was novel being able to blow bubbles out of my ear though.
Yeah, that would be brutal. I've never had any ear problems beyond the common infection as a kid and I had a little trouble getting equalized on the way down. I bet it's really nasty with a busted eardrum.
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06-30-2014 01:19 PM StaffPremium
I used to dive quite a bit, before children... You need to come a little further down in Florida... A lot of a great stuff in the Keys. Looe Key off of Big Pine is probably one of the best tropical dives you're going to find in continental US.

Predator filled waters???

Best when you have a bunch of barracuda watching you...
Ok, so "predator filled waters" is a bit overly-dramatic I do, however, routinely pull hammerheads, bonnet heads and sand sharks from those waters...and a LOT closer to shore.

We've been thinking about taking our spring trip a little further south. During the summer the panhandle is beautiful but when we head down around Feb/Mar it's still pretty damn chilly. You're down around Tampa/St.Pete, right? Key West is another 7 hours of driving beyond Tampa....I'll pick you up on the way through. We'll recreate The Hangover while substituting the Keys for Vegas

I'm sure Patty & Michelle would be thrilled about that
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06-30-2014 02:36 PM StaffPremium
Ok, so "predator filled waters" is a bit overly-dramatic I do, however, routinely pull hammerheads, bonnet heads and sand sharks from those waters...and a LOT closer to shore.

We've been thinking about taking our spring trip a little further south. During the summer the panhandle is beautiful but when we head down around Feb/Mar it's still pretty damn chilly. You're down around Tampa/St.Pete, right? Key West is another 7 hours of driving beyond Tampa....I'll pick you up on the way through. We'll recreate The Hangover while substituting the Keys for Vegas

I'm sure Patty & Michelle would be thrilled about that
Originally Posted by SG Steelhead
Ha, my body can't take that kind of abuse... Fortunately, sharks aren't interested in actually trying to eat people. As long as they can see you and why would you dive in water you can't see in... Unless of course you want to be bitten by sharks. Having dead/wounded fish attached to your body is a bad idea too...
Ha, my body can't take that kind of abuse... Fortunately, sharks aren't interested in actually trying to eat people. As long as they can see you and why would you dive in water you can't see in... Unless of course you want to be bitten by sharks. Having dead/wounded fish attached to your body is a bad idea too...
Originally Posted by Fshguy
Don't worry, you aren't alone. My hangover days are pretty far behind me as well. I only drink in excess on special occasions these days..one of my kids graduating or something like that. I can't handle the day after anymore.

The water was very pretty clear...great visibility.
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I thought we were doing "The Hangover: Terre Haute" in a couple of weeks....
06-30-2014 03:41 PM StaffPremium
I thought we were doing "The Hangover: Terre Haute" in a couple of weeks....
Originally Posted by futiles
Patty and Michelle won't be happy about that either.
I thought we were doing "The Hangover: Terre Haute" in a couple of weeks....
Originally Posted by futiles
Patty and Michelle won't be happy about that either.
Originally Posted by Fshguy


No, they probably won't be.
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06-30-2014 04:23 PM StaffPremium


No, they probably won't be.
Originally Posted by SG Steelhead
You coming without her this time? Can't imagine Terre Haute is that exciting for the family.
You coming without her this time? Can't imagine Terre Haute is that exciting for the family.
Originally Posted by Fshguy
Nope, she's coming with me. She enjoys herself no matter where we go, as long as we're on the go. She's good at finding things to occupy her time. She'll cruise the mall, spend some time in the hotel gym, etc.
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Lived in HI for 4 years and never once scuba dived, My brother is not only SF but also a SF combat dive instructor... and I still have no wanting to go..maybe I've seen Jaws too many times..
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Finally uploaded dive pics: Full set






Last edited 07-30-2014 at 08:05 PM by SG Steelhead.
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I finally got us set up to finish our open water diver certifications. My two daughters and I start classes on the 12th of August. Can't wait! There's no way I'll stop at that level. I'll continue training all the way through master diver as long as I can keep up with the required funding. I'd love to eventually get my diving trainer certification. That'd be the absolute perfect part time job for me when I retire to Florida in a few years. After 20+ years of spending 70 hours per week being miserable, I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a job that I love and look forward to. Always sounded like a dream before, now it sounds like something that's actually possible.
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07-30-2014 10:14 PM StaffPremium
That sounds awesome Steelhead... I'll come dive with you...
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The wife and I are heading back to Vegas in March, so I was searching for dive sites and found something awesome. There's a Lake Mead dive down to an old batch plant/agg washing station that was used for concrete when they built the Hoover Dam. Only 90' down and looks awesome. Definitely doing that one, without question.

I may wait until the following trip though. The wife and I are going alone in March but we're going back again in Oct/November and taking the kids. Both of my girls have October birthdays...my youngest will be 18 and my oldest will be turning the big two-one, so I'm taking them to Vegas for the ultimate 21st birthday celebration. Under my supervision, obviously...haha
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Four OW dives in one day tomorrow @ Mt.Storm, WV. They're calling for shitty weather (60 and rain) but the lake is more or less "heated" and stays right around 93 (above the thermocline) most of the time. There's a power plant on the lake and it cycles the water through it's cooling towers, keeping it nice and cozy. I heard vis sucks but I'm taking my GoPro anyway. I'll post vids if I get any footage worth posting...we'll see.
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09-12-2014 03:38 PM StaffPremium
Four OW dives in one day tomorrow @ Mt.Storm, WV. They're calling for shitty weather (60 and rain) but the lake is more or less "heated" and stays right around 93 (above the thermocline) most of the time. There's a power plant on the lake and it cycles the water through it's cooling towers, keeping it nice and cozy. I heard vis sucks but I'm taking my GoPro anyway. I'll post vids if I get any footage worth posting...we'll see.
Originally Posted by SG Steelhead
93? Somebody needs to put some gators in there to liven things up! Have fun.
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