Vanno's Dive Log
Blue Springs State Park on 1/16/2005
Jan 16, 2005, 12:00 AM
Dove this on 1/16/05. It was raining and air temp was a cold 46 degrees, so it was almost 30 degrees warmer in the water than in the air. Stephen Armstrong's review below is very accurate, so I won't repeat it here. Although I don't think it's 1/4 mile from the car park to the entry ladder. (I would have said an 1/8th mile, but why split hairs?) The flow out of the spring is strong, but easy enough to overcome. We dove weighted for the ocean, and we could pull ourselves down by hand, or fin down when we went head first. There were over 70 manatees in the run today, so the head spring was the only part we could dive. But there were manatees at the vent, and they were very playful. It was a challenge to keep our hands to ourselves. They were just begging to be scratched. But the rangers ARE WATCHING!! Best to leave them completely alone. Fee was $10.50 per diver. Limit 40 divers a day, so get there early. By 8:30am, there were probably 15 others there already, and the park opens at 8am! Lots of fun for a single tank, morning dive.
Venice Beach on 11/12/2004
Nov 12, 2004, 12:00 AM
We did this dive looking for shark's teeth on 11/11/04. We dove straight off the public beach. Parking was great early in the day, but got crowded by 10am or so. There are benches right on the beach, which make it great to gear up. The Gulf was mirror flat and there was absolutely no current. The bottom was way, way too silty. Visibility was about 5 at the best of times and a solid 0 at others. Usually, it was in the area of 1-2 feet. My girlfriend and I held hands most of the dive, to avoid becoming separated, and even then, we got lost once. Stirring the bottom was a disaster... The bottom was so bad, that we didn't find ANY teeth while diving. However, the trip was not lost, we found about 20 teeth in the surf line, during our surface interval. Most between 1/2 and 1 inch. If your looking for Sand Dollars, it's great! We gathered about 40 of them, and saw at least that many more. At one point, right at 10 feet, the entire bottom was covered with them as far as we could see, but they were all alive, so we didn't grab them... There must have been 50 of them all within a 10 foot circle!! Some fish, including a Leopard Searobin. Minimal plants. Would be really nice on a high viz day. But the local dive shop says that late in the year like this, the bottom is always like this. He says check it out in the spring and early summer, and I'd have a much different opinion. The teeth we did find were very cool though, and made the trip from Cocoa Beach worth it.
Devil's Den on 11/8/2004
Neat place. Be there when the park opens! For us it opened at 9, and we had the entire cavern to ourselves for about 45 minutes. Then visibility dropped quickly. It's a POPULAR training site for OW certs, and 40 or 50 divers kicking around made it worse and worse as the day wore on. (We did 2 full tanks, since we'd driven about 2 hours for the dive.) The catfish were huge and if you sit quietly, will school around pretty densely. Hovering under the surface opening and looking up or laying on your back at the surface, it is a gorgeous view of the oak trees and moss hanging into the opening. Bring a camera. The entry stairs are one diver at a time ONLY. They are made of wood, and sway pretty crazily with only a single equipped diver going down or up. Divers coming up have the right of way, so there got to be a LONG line of divers waiting to go down into the cavern. I think the should open it up a bit and rebuild the stairs with something a bit more substantial!! But again…. If you're early, there isn't a problem. The rest of the park was nice and relaxing, and the staff was great. T-shirt selection was very limited. One pattern, black or grey, medium or XL, you choose...The fossils in the walls were pretty good, but don't bring a knife into the cavern. They see a knife, and you're drying off for the day. It's a great place to get a "cave dive" feeling without actually risking your neck in a cave. :-)
Epcot Dive Quest on 11/8/2004
I agree with the other posts that this is a REALLY, REALLY fun dive, so I'll ignore most of that and point out some of the details that stand out in my mind. We had a exactly 45 minutes in the water. For hospitality, friendliness and easy living, this is Disney all the way! You won't find a dive resort anywhere, that "takes care of you" like these people will. Leave EVERYTHING but your mask, and cert card at home. For cleanliness reasons, you can't bring anything into the tank. Don't even bother with a towel. It's all provided. A personal camera would have been great, but since you can't bring one, they video tape the dive and you can preview the video before you pay the $35 to buy one. It's more of a commercial than anything, which is strange, since you just did the dive, and don't need to be sold on the idea. I was a bit disappointed in the amount of video that was actually of OUR dive. (I bought one anyway…) We were WAY overweighted!! Even before you go in the park, they take your sizes for suit, fins, BC, and boots. It'll all be ready for you, when the time comes, but they never ask about weight, and they just load you down!! You'll sink like a rock. :-) They just added two 8-foot sand tiger sharks to the tank less than 10 days before we went. They were IMPRESSIVE!! I didn't think it'd be any fun to play with the people behind the windows, but I ended up spending 1/2 the dive playing with small children. Their faces light up when you point and wave at them, and they just loved it. As I did. :-) You'll be in LOTS of personal vacation photos!! The animals may not be as varied as on an offshore reef, but they make up for it in quality. The Goliath Grouper is over 550 pounds. The sharks are large and very docile, the eagle rays are amazing. Some of the largest tarpon I've ever seen. The list is impressive enough to keep you looking, and healthy enough to make you smile at yourself. The reef and plants are all made of dental plaster. They even tell you, "if you break it, we'll just make more". Looks great from a distance, looks fake when your on it. If that's your thing, you won't like this dive. Leave your jewelry and expensive camera in the car. They made us take off EVERYTHING. You have a locker to keep all your street clothes and stuff in, but they have the keys the entire time your diving. Probably you'd never, EVER have a problem, since this is Disney, and most people are good, but the divemasters are almost all instructors/divemasters working part-time in the evenings, and people are strange. The t-shirts were nice, but our night, they didn't have my size, so I'm stuffed into a smaller size. The DIVE QUEST stamp in my log book is a nice touch. No currents. No waves. EXCEPTIONALLY easy entry and exit. 23-27 feet of depth depending on the "tide". 210 feet of visibility. A MUST dive for a novice. A great dive for an intermediate. A relaxing dive for an advanced.