|Posted by Rick Thomas on July 21, 2012 at 6:45 PM|
The Incredible Dive that Almost Didn't Happen.
July 21, 2012
The morning air was calm in Plantation this morning; my wind chimes were silent. These chimes are my first indication of the potential sea conditions. When they are ringing there's an east wind strong enough to make things miserable in the ocean off Ft. Lauderdale and make me question the viability of a dive. Upon reaching the dock, Jody established that he was 'out', was going to do the second shallow dive but didn't want to push it with his shoulder still healing and the seas potentially rough. What's that? Rough seas? Yeah, the wind is out of the south and that was going to make the day interesting. Henry was to do the shallow dive with Jody, and when Jody opted out this morning, he elected to pass on the deep dive; and missed one of the best dives David and I have ever experienced!! We left the dock with a manifest of four; Jody, Carlos as topside crew, David and I doing the deep dive. Our goal was to dive the wreck of the M/V Sir Scott, a Spanish-built 250-ft freighter built in 1957 and scuttled as an artificial reef in 230-feet of water in February 1985. Miami Wreck hadn't gotten on this wreck yet as she's deep and in a part of the ocean notorious for strong current. Once out in Biscayne Bay we realized the seas were going to challenge us today as there was already a light chop in water usually mill-pond flat. We passed through historic Stilt City and headed out towards Fowey Light, and quickly found ourselves in 4-6-foot seas. We stopped to discuss the plan, and the consensus was to continue the :25 minute run to the dive site and assess the conditions once there. Just after 9am we arrived on-site and found deep azure-blue seas, fantastic surface visibility and less than a knot of current. Seas were still 4 - 6 feet with the occasional 8-foot roller. Carlos later told David and I we were just two 8-foot rollers away from not going into the water! Nonetheless, we decided to dive.
Suited up, we dropped a shot-line at the wreck and the float ball confirmed that there was very little current. David and I splashed in and was immediately greeted with warm tropical 88-degree water, and 100-foot-plus visibility with clear view of the shot-line. We descended towards the bottom at 230-feet and immediately I noticed the abundance of marine life in the area; ahead of me and directly behind David I watched a large caudal-fin pushing a 5-foot long barracuda, following David down towards the bottom. On the bottom we found the anchor hung in a lobster-pot line, the little bit of current had drug it away from the wreck. Water temperature was a cool 74-degrees. I handed David a bag and David rigged the anchor with the bag, carefully putting a little gas in the bag by-mouth, ensuring neither of us would be fouled, and sent it back up to the surface. Looking to the south I noticed a patch of white sand in front of a dark shadow about 100-feet away from us. We scootered over and slowly the stern area of the wreck of the M/V Sir Scott started to emerge from the gloom of the water. My first impression was simply "wow!"; she looked incredible from 230-feet deep looking up at her hull-sides, canoe-stern, single rudder and prop-shaft strut. She sits upright on her keel, with her bow facing south. Upon reaching her stern we observed five exceptionally large Hog-Fish and three large Lion Fish. None of which seemed at all concerned we were there. We swam around the stern and realized that we were already :09 minutes into our planned :20 minute bottom time. We headed down the starboard side of the wreck and swam up onto the main deck. Immediately greeted by a large (40"+) Amberjack swimming directly towards us as if to check us out. We continued forward along the deck and noticed that about two-thirds of the way forward the hull is broken with a large collapsed section and openings into the vessel. We dropped down into a cargo hold forward of the collapsed area and observed a stack of large I-beams against the starboard side. Lots of Crevele Jacks, a couple large Queen Angel fish and dozens of Lion Fish populated the wreck, and again none of then seemed concerned about our presence. Its pretty obvious this wreck is rarely dived. Swimming up onto the bow we saw more schools of small juvenile fish as well as more Lion Fish. Two large 5-foot to 6-foot long barracuda were hovering about twenty feet above us. We swam aft, around the fore-mast that has collapsed across the port-bow of the ship. Deck winches are still in place with hawser-lines across the deck. Here I saw a 20" Black Grouper. We swam aft towards the superstructure and hit time at :19 minutes. Allowing the light current to take us away from the wreck we started our ascent and I shot my 78" Yellow Halcyon SMB. As if to remind us how special this dive was, we watched an Eagle Ray gliding effortlessly above the wreck as we drifted away. Beautiful! David ran the decompression.
The ascent was uneventful, were at our planned first gas switch right on time at :31 minutes run time. Moving past our 60-foot stop towards the 50-foot stop we both noticed two large Remora swimming towards us. At first we didn't give them a second thought; they were just checking us out. Then we realized we had them as company in our decompression. For the remainder of our decompression, almost 40-minutes, all the way to the boat's ladder these two fish swam with us. I mean, the SWAM WITH us! They seemed to like David best, probably because of his long hair and all the parasites on him. These fish would bump up against his regulators, move down along his body, swim up along his bottles, roll themselves around his arms and across his hands. Yes, they allowed us both to touch and stroke them. Soft smooth skin, no scales, even the serrated section on top of their heads is a soft rubbery texture. They seemed to enjoy the tactile contact and touch we were offering them. They would swim with David for a few minutes, then swim about 20 yards away only to come right back to me, and then swim around me, then go back to David. Switching to our second deco gas was almost a distraction because by this time these fish were very entertaining. Needless to say, 50-minutes of decompression went by amazingly fast! We left the water with an incredible experience, and amazing dive. Feeling clean after a good relaxing decompression.