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One of those days

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C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,067
803
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Well, Scott, Bryon and I, DBers all, decided to go diving last Saturday and visit a wonderful spot we call the "Magic Mud Puddle." It is a truly fantastic dive, very deep, with unlimited vis most of the time, but it is in the middle of a serious swamp, complete with alligators, big poisonous snakes, and lots of biters: mosquitoes, yellow flies, you name it. There are some wild stories about this place. We have always gone there in the winter when the wildlife is sleeping, the swamp is mostly dry and the biters are at a reasonable level. Yeah its August, but what the heck, lets try it anyway.

We drive up, park the cars and begin to walk down the path into the swamp. Plenty of mosquitoes, but the repellent is keeping them away. This is looking good. The path ends and water begins where there didn’t used to be water. Scott strikes out with the GPS in the direction of the Puddle and immediately goes down as he sinks in deep mud. Hmmm, this is going to be interesting. So, we proceed single file through the knee deep water, the lead guy falling in the mud every now and then, but letting the rest of us know where the bad mud is. No snakes, but the mosquitoes are pretty wild. Big, slow flying, swamp biters, squadrons of them. As Scott passes through a patch of sunlight, I can see a cloud of what looks like thousands of them following close on his back.

Ah, destination in sight. Now we have to stop and put on the rest of our gear, wetsuits, etc. Just the opportunity the biters need as they mob us. Insect repellent? Well, lets just say that given enough mosquitoes, repellent isn’t worth much. We are hurrying so fast nobody really looks at the water.

Ok, suited up and its a rush to get in, not so much to get away from the biters, as to cool off. A 3 mil wetsuit is boiling hot in 90 degree weather when you are already hot as heck before you put it on. As we enter the water it is instantly obvious that today’s dive is going to be different from the past. The water always looks black, because the bottom is black , the over hanging trees are thick, and most of the Puddle is shallow. Normally it is very clear, but not today. I can’t see my hand. Even the dive light at the end of my arm is a dim ember. Well, its probably just a thin layer of swamp water and will be clear beneath. We start trying to get ready to dive. As I watch Scott inhale, 3 or 4 mosquitoes disappear into his snorkel, followed by a fit of violent coughing. The things are so thick around our heads that I can see about 50 sitting on his hood, pumping like crazy, trying to get through the rubber. I swim out to where the shaft goes deep into an under water cavern and start to dive. Instant BLACK. At 2 feet deep the vis goes to zero, at three feet there is absolutely no light from the surface. Its the kind of blackness you find in abandoned coal mines. I’ve never seen anything like this in the water. You could get disoriented an lose track of which way is up. Wierd and dangerous, too. Diving in this stuff is going to require a line. Maybe we will get lucky and it will clear up 10 or 20 feet down. OK, I got a line. We rig my short weighted line, 30 feet, to a tree trunk over the main hole. Scott goes down, comes up, looks at his D3 and laughs. "Yep, deep dive, all of 10 feet." Bryon goes down, comes up, laughs and says something like "This is not for me." Couple of dives later, hanging on to the rope all the way, I’m at the rope end. I can feel where the shaft opens out into the cavern. Vis has improved to maybe 3 feet. I can actually see a rock in my light (dimly). Somehow, I don’t think this is going to work.

Out of the swamp we go, fast, to stay ahead of the biters. Food is next on the agenda. Now, this place is pretty far outside the bounds of civilization. Normally we go a lot of miles north to a place that has great food, but this time we are in a hurry to try and make another spring. We see a little place, advertises shrimp and burgers, must be ok, but there are no cars in front. In we go. It’s a bar, kind of rough looking, but nobody else is there, it’s open. and we are hungry. Food’s pretty good and I’m starting to get comfortable when the next set of customers comes in. . . . . You would not want to meet these guys in a dark alley. Then another set and another. Very Rough! We are about as out of place as three chickens in an alley cat convention. We look at them, they look at us, and I am very glad its early and the beer has not yet started flowing. Time to leave while things are still peaceful.

So, what’s next? A few miles down the road is a commercial attraction, Wecki Watchee Springs, which has a beautiful, gin clear, 70 ft bowl of a spring. Great place to dive, but they want to charge you $20 to enter the park, plus $20 more to the lifequard to let you dive, that’s per person! 45 minute limit. Needless to say, they don’t have many freediver customers. Our first plan is to talk’em down to 20 bucks. No luck. Plan B, sneak in across the back lot, swim up the river into the park and then pay the life guard $20 apiece. Well, the other two guys look pretty normal, having cases to put their gear in and decent cloths on, but I’m carrying mine in plain sight and wearing a bathing suit. Scott gives me a set of his shorts (way large for me) to try and disguise some of the gear (more on this later). In we go and run right into a supervisor. Scott has his story prepared, We are looking for a lost spring on the river and its just over there. The super doesn’t buy it. Plan C, sneak through the woods behind the back lot. Run into a grumpy, security type. He doesn’t buy our story either. Oh well, what can we try next?

Scott knows of another small spring, not very far away. After a brief consultation, we decide to go there, Scott and Bryon leading and me following in my truck through the thickening traffic. I’m not paying real good attention and just follow Scott’s car for a couple of miles. Eventually he turns into some posted, no trespassing, unfriendly looking private area, then goes down a long dirt road, passing lots of broken cars, half repaired swamp buggies, general junk and vicious looking dogs. Scott’s car stops and a long haired, heavily tattooed, not over clean, ugly guy, who definitely is not Scott, gets out and looks at me with a very strange expression on his face. I'm sure he was seeing the same thing on mine. At that point, it dawned on me that I’d been following the wrong car and it is time to leave, right now.

In baseball, they say "three strikes and you’re out" Its a pretty good rule for diving trips as well. This was definitely at least three strikes and I decide to call it a day, driving two hours non-stop back to Sarasota and home, just hoping nothing else is going to go wrong. As I come in the door, my wife looks at me funny and asks, " And just what are you doing wearing some other man’s pants????"


Just one of those days that make the good ones even better.

Connor
 
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JPPLAY

JPPLAY

Student Spearfisherman
Apr 7, 2005
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Now that is a fun story. Too bad it wasn't complete with pictures but your writing created the images in my mind.
 
SanderP

SanderP

Dive bum
Feb 10, 2006
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Haha, great one Connor! That was definitely one of the funniest and best written stories I've read in a long long while!

Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. rofl
 
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S

scott

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2001
259
9
123
Hey...

...I resemble these statements.

Thanks Connor!

P.S. When is our next trip? How about Devil's Sink (black water) or trying to crash Silver Springs (I definitely can get you in there...).
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,067
803
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Thanks, guys, I enjoyed writing it. Doing it was kind of fun too.

Scott, there is absolutely no chance, none what-so-ever, of you getting me into any more "black water," but I might be up for Silver Springs, after I contact my lawyer. How about somewhere nice and clear, Like Cayman, this week?

By the way, I need to get your pants back to you. Pm me your address.

Connor
 
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fjohnson

fjohnson

The land of ice and snow
Sep 5, 2001
373
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very entertaining read there Connor!
Fred
 
MKDVR

MKDVR

New Member
May 1, 2005
266
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Good one guys. Thanks for the invite though.:t

Scott. Let me know next time you get an itch for Devil's sink. I live down the road from there now. There have been some changes including access. I gave up diving there a long time ago. I wouldn't dive it without a down line and even then would prefer a buddy. The drunken locals run the place.:martial
 
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