Mike's Dive Center Sales, Service, Rentals, Trips, Air Mon, 26 Dec 2016 21:44:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.24 Flower Gardens – September 11-12, 2010 /2010/09/trip-report-september-11-12-2010/ /2010/09/trip-report-september-11-12-2010/#comments Sun, 12 Sep 2010 22:25:21 +0000 http://dive.unbrandedstudio.com/?p=237 Continue reading]]> We've just returned from our only trip to the Flower Gardens for the 2010 diving season. We had others scheduled but all were cancelled when our chartered boat, the M/V Fling, left to assist with the BP oil spill cleanup.  Fortunately, we had a trip scheduled aboard the M/V Spree and the owners decided to honor their committment to their dive guests and to conduct trips as scheduled.

The trip was as near-perfect as could be expected when you're about 130 miles offshore and sea conditions can change in the blink of an eye.  We dove all parts of the Flower Gardens Sanctuary…East Bank, West Bank and Stetson Banks.  We tried to dive one of the oil platforms within the sanctuary but surface currents and fluctuating surface breezes made that unsafe so we abandoned the attempt.  Water conditions varied with temps around 86 degres at the bottom, seas running one to three feet with little or no currents and visibilities from 60 to 110 feet.  Diving conditions just couldn't have been better.

We noted some coral bleaching but it wasn't excessive and the polyps were alive and well as evidenced by their activity during the night dive.  Since this was our only trip this year, we don't know if the condition has been present all summer or if it was a recent occurrance.

Wildlife was present in abundance but it seemed to me to be less than in years past. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to look at. Stetson, as usual, takes the cake when it comes to critter presence.  Stuff is everywhere with no place to hide.  Morays are swimming around looking for hiding places with Graysby's following their every move.  I didn't see the lobsters and conchs we normally find but I understand the poachers may have had a hand in the population decline.  It's a shame but being so far from land, it's hard to enforce the laws so these things happen.

We saw absolutely no evidence of oil pollution from the BP oil spill a few hundred miles to the east.  Hopefully the spill won't have any impact on the sanctuary in the coming months.

For another trip report on this outing, visit the M/V Spree's website, http://www.spreeexpeditions.com/ and click on their "Trip Reports". We were on the September 11-12 trip.

We'll schedule more Flower Gardens trip in the coming year but there are no schedules available yet so we'll just have to wait and see what develops. We'll have a schedule posted on the "TRIPS" page as soon as we get one. Plan to join us and see what everyone is talking about!!

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CoCo View Resort – July 31-August 7, 2010 /2010/08/trip-report-july-31-august-7-2010/ /2010/08/trip-report-july-31-august-7-2010/#comments Sat, 07 Aug 2010 22:23:01 +0000 http://dive.unbrandedstudio.com/?p=235 Continue reading]]> We have just returned from our eighth annual trip to CoCo View Resort on the island of Roatan in the Western Caribbean.  As usual, it was a fantastic trip and everyone had a terrific time.  So much so that they were insisting that I schedule another trip for the coming year, 2011.  So, that's already been done and we'll ge going back June 11-18, 2011 and right now, there's room for YOU!!

The resort has fully recovered from the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck shortly before our arrival last year and it's difficult to see the damage caused to the reef system by the shaking.  Everything is back to normal.

The diving conditions were near perfect with seas running about one to three feet, visibilities in the 75 foot range, no currents and both water and air temperatures in the mid 80's.

As usual, we were assigned our own 50 foot dive boat with a captain and divemaster and were free to explore the various dive sites around the island.  We made two 2-tank boat dives each day and also enjoyed unlimited shore diving.  For shore dives, just grab a tank and hit the water anytime you felt like it.  Things to explore during the shore dives included the 165 foot freighter, Prince Albert, sunk in 65 feet of water, a DC-3 airplane near the freighter, two 400 foot high coral walls, shallow coral reefs, grass flats and a large sand flat populated by garden eels, flounder, huge hermit crabs sporting conch shells, sea cucumbers, yellow headed jawfish, hog fish, mantis shrimp and a plethora of other critters.

Things to see included the characters mentioned above along with various rays, occasional sharks, turtles, grouper, octopus, squid, lobsters, crabs, sea horses, morays, angel fish, snapper, pipefish and the list goes on and on.

Of particular interest is the invasion of the Lionfish.  We saw several on every dive and the divemasters aggressively spear any encountered in a effort to control the swelling population.  It won't stop them, of course, but it feels good to at least try.  Reportedly, they make good table fare but we've yet to try them out.

We were all sad to leave after a week but we departed knowing that we'll be back next year to revive old acquaintances and to seek new adventures.  Why not plan to join us?

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Dive at USS Oriskany – May 3, 2009 /2009/03/trip-report-may-3-2009/ /2009/03/trip-report-may-3-2009/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2009 22:18:16 +0000 http://dive.unbrandedstudio.com/?p=233 Continue reading]]> A group of intrepid divers set off for Pensacola on Friday morning with the intent of diving the aircraft carrier, Oriskany, and some of the other Pensacola area dive sites.  As it turned out, the seas were running about 4 feet on saturday and increasing to around 6 feet on sunday. Because of this, the diving was limited to saturday only.  Jim Burton took his private boat, a 25 foot Grady White, and the group used the boat as a base of operations for the trip.

We made arrangements to tie the boat up at night to a private dock with power and water so this trip was definitely for the more adventurous among us.  Some of the group slept on the boat and others used sleeping bags and slept on the dock.  It worked out very well.  Clear weather and a gentle breeze across the dock made for fine sleeping conditions with no bugs and nobody had any complaints.  This was an exploratory trip so accommodations were "rustic" to say the least.  In the future, we'll make arrangements for room accommodations so you won't have to sleep under the stars.

Diving the Oriskany was an unforgettable experience and all agreed that it warrants a return trip.  The rough seas made it difficult for the guys to make the 23 mile journey to the ship without tossing their cookies but once in the water, all that was forgotten.  Visibility was reduced to about 30 feet, probably due to rough seas for the past few weeks, but once on the wreck, it didn't matter too much.  The size of this ship defies the imagination and several dives will be required just to see it all.  Even the bridge, which extends up to within 70 feet of the surface, seems like a small mountain and can keep a diver occupied for several dives.

Marine growth is just getting started (the ship has only been down for a couple of years) and fish life is still a bit sparse but it's growing steadily and should be a bustling community in a few more years.  Larger pelagics are starting to move in and it won't be long before you may have to share some of the passageways with man-sized groupers.

Unfortunately, building seas prevented return trips on sunday so the group decided to pack up and return to Lake Charles on sunday morning.  This is definitely a trip to be repeated so if you're interested, give me a call.

For information on any of our dive trips, please contact the shop.  We'd love to have you join us!

Mike Giles

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