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My first freediving experience

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DHodges34

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Jun 26, 2003
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I'm from Orlando, FL and the waves at the beach where I usually surf have been really small lately. That translates to clearer water than normal. Saturday we loaded up the longboards and, not expecting much in the way of surf, threw some masks, snorkels, and fins in the truck too. We headed to the south end of Patrick Air Force Base, just south of Cocoa Beach.

We arrived and the surf was dismal to say the least so we donned the snorkeling gear and paddled outside the surf where the water was clearer, and let me tell you, it was A LOT clearer. I've been surfing for about 8 years but am just getting into freediving so I'd never been outside the breakers before. I could not believe what a difference there was in the clarity of the water.

At first we were about 100 yards outside the breakers in about 12 feet of water and once you got deeper than about 3 feet it became very very clear. I would say visibility was about 20 to 25 feet. I know that's nothing compared to some other places but it was amazing for me, normally the water is so churned up you can barely see your feet while sitting on your board! After hanging around there for awhile and seeing what we could see we decided to paddle out even further, about 1/4 mile offshore. We were in search of some rock reef formations that start in the shallow water off the coast just south of Patrick Air Force Base and continue down to West Palm. We were in about 20 feet of water and the visibility was top to bottom, it was awesome. The water was much colder once you got about 5 feet below the surface, I was really shivering after a few minutes, and I'm usually very tolerant of cold water (cold for florida ;)).

We didn't really see any rock formations or anything like that, mostly sand bottom, but we saw our share of fish. Saw a few schools of mullet, a really cool wall of minhaden that you couldn't even see through, and various other fish just cruising along.

We saw a few big Sea Turtles, even got a glimpse of one underwater, but mostly just when they would pop their head up to see what we were. The coolest thing though, had to be this huge tarpon. It was rolling all over the place right under my friend, splashing around and whatnot. We actually thought it might be a shark at first. After the splashing stopped my buddy stuck his head underwater and there was half a fish floating about 2 feet below his board! That was definitely a cool experience. We saw the tarpon as it was swimming away, there was about 3 feet between its dorsal fin and its tail....HUGE!

The diving went pretty well, like I said I am just getting into freediving but I was satisfied for my first trip, I didn't want to push it. I had no problems equalizing and had a few decent dives of about a minute fifteen seconds. Next time I want to practice slowing down my breathing and really filling up my lungs the right way. I was just taking a few deep breaths and diving this weekend. I felt very comfortable and can't wait to get in some deeper water with something to actually look at! :D

I can't wait to get back out there, next time I think I'll see about renting a Kayak or something so we can go out further faster. Also would like to find some rock reef areas, maybe we'll try somewhere down near Vero Beach or even West Palm soon.

- Daniel
 
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