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  #11  
Old 12-05-2009, 06:26 PM
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I used to go out with Norine's operation as a teen on the Mispah. That was before the rained down tons of wrecks all over the place. It was worth the drive up from the three or so wrecks off Ft. Lauderdale at the time. I last dove were her on the Hole In The Wall with a boatload of 60 plus year old divers in about 1992. I was on air, dove a conservative profile, did a conservative safety stop and still got a niggle hit. A carry over from trimix diving in those days. She was a unique lady.

I started my Basic Naui course with Chuck at Divers Haven in 1971 and finished it at Underseas Sports south of the tunnel when he set up the first shop. There were a lot of real interesting personalities in the business in those days to be sure. I remember Bryan and Mary, did they take over Surf Sun and Fun on the beach just south of Sunrise before buying Chuck out?

Slate and I went through the YMCA ITC together. It was a real long course, seems like 12 weekends at FAU. I commuted from USF, it was a good excuse to head back home to the SE. Intense intriguing course though, learned a lot. I was surprised to see how much the content had been dumbed down many years later. Have we lost the capacity, mass marketing pressures overwhelmed things or what? I guess the same could be said about normal academia in some cases too. Not a great trend.

I used to carry my tank rigged up in a dive bag, walked down the beach between lifeguard stands when they we're looking, sank the bag fast and walked out into deeper water. When I was at neck level, ducked under and walked out to the first reef to gear up. The beach patrol didn't allow solo divers, they were quite strict about it too. Couldn't always find a buddy when conditions were right. Would reverse the process on the way in. Once I am fairly certain the legendary Capt. Gene Bergman of the FLBP chased me out free style on the surface. Fortunately, I out ran him on the bottom. Had an ongoing disagreement of sorts going with him for years over diving access. They would make up rules, I would comply, then they would make up new rules when I was ready to go and on. Thought about release nurse sharks near the beach from a cage, digging a lion trap for the jeeps, dumb stuff kids think up. He wasn't that bad, then again, he never caught me either. The good old days?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DebbyDiver View Post
Norine Rouse attended part of my NAUI ITC back in the day. Grand old lady.

I wasn't at UnderSeas Sports when Chuck started it, but I worked for the second owners for most of the time that they owned it. Who remembers Bryan and Mary Brooks and their kids? Most people thought I was one of their kids as well. Great memories.

I was also one of Slate's first customers, bought some stuff from him back in '78 when he first opened.

OK now I feel old!!!
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Last edited by RickI; 12-06-2009 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:40 PM
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It was 1974 and my good friend Heinz Richter had brought over about 130 fellow country men from Germany to vacation in Ft. Lauderdale. Ossie Pulyer was a German diving instructor leading a group of SCUBA divers on the tour. I took about four divers out to Cuda Reef off Dania Beach, FL along with Ossie and a student. I had rented SCUBA gear for the lot at Surf Sun And Fun on A1A just south of Sunrise the day before. The dive went well, with everyone on board except for Ossie and his student. The seas were running about 2 to 4 ft. swells with ok visibility, it was October after all.

I went up on the bow to checkout the anchor and the last two in the water. Both divers were on the surface. the student's eyes were large as saucers and growing by the second. Oh boy, he's panicking, no obvious reason why either but what the hell. So I dove in the water went around behind the guy and popped his harness buckles. I was pulling his tank away when it stopped, What?! I rented the damn thing as was responsible for returning it. Ossie was hanging on to one of the straps, as that realization started to sink in, along came another. An intense burning pain starting at the base of my left leg, working higher. I yelled at Ossie to let go, he didn't but it was about too late at that point anyway, had waited too long to move. Pretty soon it was over my back, hurt like a mother! Let go of the strap and hauled into the boat myself. Most of my left leg and all over my back had been hit by Portuguese Man-O-War tentacles. Must have had a nice sized float too, long, thick tentacles. Had some heavy 1/4 inch welts developing and lots of livid Portuguese marks.


From: http://nationalgeographic.com/

Shortly convulsions, severe cramping set in along real intense pain, confusion and shock. Went below looking for something to ease the sensation panicking a bit myself, couldn't find much, poured a beer on it. Well it least it didn't smell too good after, Bud and it did feel better for about 20 seconds. Didn't know about peeing on it and didn't think to bring Adolphs Meat Tenderizer either.

Everyone was onboard, I was more than ready to head in. I was the only one that knew how to run the boat, whoops. So driving hard at full speed I would steer through torrents of boat traffic running out of the Port on a busy Sunday afternoon.


The port inlet on a quieter day
http://www.cruisetimetables.com/

When the thicker parts passed, I would fall back in the seat and let someone else do the driving. It was hard to concentrate after all and short stints were about all that I could manage with the convulsions and cramping. Made it to Lauderdale Marina eventually, docked without smashing the hull in. Mike Driver, the dock master was a friend and helped me out with a quick trip to Holy Cross Hospital. Long story short, ten grains of morphine and all was right with the world again, more or less. My dad came over and took the boat back to the dock and I was released the next day. Been hit by Portuguese tons of times, most around here have, that was the worse dosing up to that point and since. Wouldn't like to have been on a beach free dive to the outer second reef when something like that happened. Long swim in and without flotation, might not make it.


Lauderdale Marina from around that time
From: http://www.lauderdalemarina.com/

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  #13  
Old 12-08-2009, 09:08 AM
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It took place in a land far away overseas and decades in the past. It happened to someone I know but who shall remain nameless. He had just been coasting along over a couple of miles of reef just looking around. He had no bugging gear with him as it happened. He came up on a tire on the sand in about 15 ft. of water. I think they call them "condos" these days but back then, just tires. The hubs were long gone but they were fairly sprouting with antennae.


Like the Bug Coop only deeper
From: http://flickr.com/

Not the easy broken chromed aluminum variety but those bound to Panulirus argus, Spiny Lobster. He thought, hmm maybe should bring some bugs home to dinner, uh, for dinner. Problem, he had no gloves and had experienced the slice and dicing that comes with barehanding bugs that don't want to be manhandled.

The ever inventive mind hatched a solution, take your bathing suit off, wrap it around your right hand and you're good to go. So, hand clothed and privates free to the deep blue sea he descended to address the bugs. Tires have the unique quality of making lobsters feel more secure and providing an infinite distance along which to travel, in circles at high speed inside the rim. Catching them is easier than shooting fish in a barrel, even without a gun. Just plop your hand in the inner recess of the tire and wait for the bugs playing Roller Derby to slam into your open fingers. As this was long ago and far away in a distant land, he tailed the bugs making it easier to hang on to them. Five lobster were gathered in this fashion sans bug bag and off to shore again.


Do these guys have attitude or what?
From: http://dive.scubadiving.com/members/divetips.php?s=682

The guy was uneasy about putting his burden down and covering up his privates lest a greedy triggerfish fly in and scarf up the bootie, the bugs that is. So, cupping the tails in both hands he swam in au naturale for a time. Doing the odd barrel role to look around he happened to notice a permit fish in tow. A BIG permit and an eager one at that with a strange look in his eye?


Permit on the hoof
From: http://antiguaisland.blogspot.com/20...7_archive.html

The diver was back peddling facing the permit hands in front along with everything else as it happened. It was a good sized one about the size of a Thanksgiving serving platter. The fish would rush in and then back off. This was starting to unnerve the guy more than a bit, considering a) he thought permits were midwater feeders, no crustacea or annelids in their diet b) despite the presence of bugs there was other potential fodder. There is a certain degree of irrationality that comes with certain types of threats to guys. This was one of those touchy situations and trophic analysis aside, Ockham's razor aside, it wasn't clear to the guy what was in the permits mind or on the menu. The damn fish kept charging in! The guy kicked it THREE TIMES and it still kept running in, dammmuh! He had kicked sharks only twice in the past and the toothy tiburons had fled. Not so our permit though. New problem, the water was getting shallower. He is envisioning running up on the beach holding the bug tails, flapping about with a permit dolphining in his wake to the general entertainment of the bathers on the beach. Understand in some cultures, having your right hand covered and nothing else ... means absolutely nothing?



The offending fish saying ahhhh. LOOK at the size of that mauw, gives me the willies!
From: http://captaintadburke.com/the_fishing.html

Coming down to the moment of truth and precious little water, he decided to throw the permit a bone, uh tail. It was the biggest one too, damn! The permit glided up, sniffed it and charged along after the diver AGAIN. In about two feet of water and shoaling at this point, kicked the fish one more time with feeling and it whipped around to gorge on the bug tail on the bottom. He was then able to drop the tails for a second, don his suit and walk out with what shreds of dignity the permit sneak attack allowed.


Moral: Five bugs in the hand are good, but four and safely covered privates are better if permit'ed!?
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  #14  
Old 12-16-2009, 10:21 PM
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Here's a good one, from 1972. I had hooked up with Don Bartlett through the Underseas Sports Diving Club in Ft. Lauderdale. We were running down to Key Largo via US 1 through south Miami in his VW van (the Turnpike Extension was years in the future). Don was a fireman and a hell of a nice guy. I was a sophomore in High School. It was my first trip to dive Pennekamp. The Keys were a lot quieter and less developed in those days. Lots of mom and pop small places from the 1950's with the larger flashy stuff well off in the future. We were on our way to Carl Gage's Key Largo Diving Headquarters, (now occupied by Quiescent). Made it to the shop, checked in and hung around the dock. I can recall just how clear the water of Florida Bay was, a bit green but a lot clearer than what I have seen in recent times. We loaded up Carl's cattle boat and headed out and through the cut to the ocean. The water was blue, well at least that hasn't changed particularly outside Hawks Channel. Still, like Florida Bay it was CLEAR, really clear. We were only heading out to Molasses Reef if memory serves, over the Florida Reef Tract and not in deep water. In those days there weren't large, well known wrecks in deep water like the Speigel or Duane, those were still well off in the future. Most of the action was over the Reef Tract and to a lesser degree in the patch reefs of the Channel.

We get out, anchor in sand, no mooring balls yet. You could look over the side and all over there was this peculiar but beautiful blue water with these abundant patches of golden brown all over the place. The brown was patches of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmatta). We gear up in our single steel 72's with thin diving vests in some but not all cases and jump in. It was a calm day adding to the visibility which was on the order of 100 ft.. Viz. in this range was fairly common both in the warm months of summer and in particular in the cooler months of the year when plankton populations eased. There were the spur and grove features, tall mounds of coral pointing offshore, crowned with dense, continuous stands of healthy elkhorn. There were thick patches of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in various areas. There were massive corals as well, star coral (Montastrea annularis and cavernosa), brain coral (Diploria clivosa), electric stands of vertical fingers of fire coral (Millipora) and a great deal more. The corals were brilliantly and uniformly colored, free of blotches, blemishes, spots or bleaching. Even reef building crustose algae like Halimeda was a rich green with white carbonate flecks going to town.

There was a "normal" diversity and abundance of fin fish over the reef. In particular some LARGE grouper and hogfish. I can recall regularly seeing a four footer on Molasses in a similar area for sometime afterward. This was before domestic fishermen were kicked out of the Bahamas and redoubled efforts to further deplete domestic stocks. Large grouper had yet to be taken by poachers from this Federal Park in subsequent years. It was so clear, I left the tank onboard for the second dive and just jumped in with a mask. Free diving was so easy in all that clear, warm and fairly shallow water.

Today, visibility is consistently less, elkhorn coral is largely gone, staghorn too. Massive corals are still there although so are common blotches, discolored areas and bleaching. Algae covers a lot more bottom that was previously viable coral growth. There are lots of mooring balls today. Large grouper are still not that common to my knowledge although jewfish may be coming back. Not sure where the effects of climate change stop and development impact begin. At any rate, the intensely lush and vibrant reefs from all those years ago are gone. Perhaps someday, they'll come back, we can hope so. I was shown an area of young elkhorn just north of Key Largo a couple of months ago. The colonies covered a couple of acres perhaps more and seemed to date after the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Hope they come back in full.

In the meantime, the reefs of the Keys are still well worth visiting and striving to protect as best we can. I still run down there many times each year, there's nothing like the Keys even today, certainly not in the rest of the USA. Best enjoy what they have to offer, it still both special and unique.

I tried to find some photos online of some of the reef features from that time without success. I have my own slides from the early '70's and collect photo books of that vintage. So, I'll see if I can upload some to this story.
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Last edited by RickI; 12-17-2009 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:58 PM
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I once found and recovered an 8 ft. long side scan sonar fish a professor had lost when I was in college. It was tee boned into a ledge on the third reef. It originally cost $1,000,000.00 and was developed for mine detection and identification. It operated at a relatively high frequency for improved resolution, had bottom following depth sounder, circuitry and automatic machine-flown wing, rudder/stabilizer assemblies to maintain proper beam focus. It was comprised of five compartments including a section with explosively deployed pingers for marking targets. Pretty advanced stuff for "analog" technology. Digital versions were only starting to come online a few years prior to my finding the fish. I had about 1/2 mile length of shoreline it was supposed to be off of. That and the story of how it was lost. I assumed it came up on a relative steep ledge the bottom following depth finder would miss and slammed home. With that info I was able to find and recover it with three tanks in part of a day on the third reef in 90 ft. of water. That sucker was HEAVY though, bent a davit at Lauderdale Marina pulling it out of the water where I had it suspended by plastic 55 gallon drums. As the prof didn't throw the analog control console after it, it made one hell of a paper weight!



I am surprised to have found a photo of the unit from http://web.mit.edu/museum/exhibition...can-sonar.html It was surplus tech before I found it, hence its donation to the FAU Ocean Engineering Department. The writeup says it was a top secret device for 25 years prior to that time? The professor pulled up the wing and umbilical, I recovered the balance from the third reef.



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