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Scuba Diving in St. Petersburg, Florida October 11, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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Only (!) 6 months passed until my next holiday and next dive. For some reason we decided to drive to St. Petersburg at the beginning of summer, when the weather was steaming hot. Aside from trips to Universal Studios (once was plenty for me, although the Back to the Future ride was a blast), and Cape Canaveral (first of two visits, and I would definitely go at least one more time, especially if I could see a launch), I found a nearby shop and secured a boat ride to do some diving.

So on June 27, 1991, a couple of days after the collapse of Yugoslavia, and in 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32C) weather we headed far out into smooth waters of the Gulf of Mexico for my 44th and 45th lifetime dives. Even 15 miles (24km) from the shore the depth was only 55 feet, and buddy Randy (who I’d met on the boat) and I dove on a wreck the captain called the “Cable Barge”. There was an abundance of fish life on the wreck, which I in typical fashion didn’t bother to note in my log book. We had a nice long dive of 50 minutes before returning to the boat. On the boat we noticed a waterspout (what a tornado is called over water) about 8 miles distant, which we kept a careful eye on until it was out of sight. The water was almost as warm as the air at 86F (30C) and very humid.

After a one hour surface interval including a short boat ride, we descended on the “Mystery Wreck” for a similar experience, with schools of large fish including Barracuda, some curious Mantas, minnows and starfish. I was finally writing something useful in my log book although I’m sure there were many more species represented down there than I noted.

We stayed in a large condominium hotel at Redington Beach, and in the depressed early nineties the unit in which we were staying was for sale for about $45K. I wish I’d bought it as it was right on the beach, and beautifully done up with a large balcony, but I was already tied up in some property at the time and didn’t want to take the risk. I was told recently that non-resident property taxes in Florida are really exorbitant so maybe it was for the best.

I hope I can visit the Gulf again sometime to do some more diving as it far exceeded my expectations at the time, although still lacking much warm water experience at the time it might disappoint me now.

One of the great things about the sport of diving is that you can find a place to dive just about anywhere you travel. Even the most unlikely places like Prince George in the interior of Northern British Columbia or the landlocked mid-western states will have a dive shop that uses a local lake or quarry and find something interesting to do there. I take every opportunity I can now to include some diving with every trip I take, although sadly I don’t get as many interesting business trips as I once did.

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