Dive Fest 2014 – Recap from Days 1 & 2

It was that time of year again.  Dive Fest time.  An annual foray to indulge in warm, clear saltwater and good times with friends.

With sandals, shorts and t-shirts ready and dive gear packed we loaded up for the drive south to Key Largo.  Spencer arrived at the crack of 10AM.  I always envy his ‘white trash’ luggage (a.k.a. laundry basket), which makes for easy packing.  After some rearranging of the truck we were off to meet up with Carol & Mike to start the caravan.  Back for their second year, they’d been a great addition to the Dive Fest crew.

The drive to Key Largo is long, but before we knew it (who am I kidding, it took 6 hours) we arrived.  Joanne, David & Gayl beat us there by a few minutes.  As usual, Joanne found a great rental house.  On a canal with two stories, huge kitchen and living room area.  Unpacking proved that we were going to eat good again this year.  Joanne had her truck packed with the yummy culinary treats that make her the uncontested Dive Fest chef.  Once everyone claimed their rooms, it was time to catch up.  Soon the smell of baked ziti and meatballs filled the house.

The ladies usually sport pedicures to match the event, so the guys joined in and willingly(?) took one for the team.  I swear the adult beverages had NOTHING to do with it.

The sun then set on Day #1 and filled bellies turned in for the night.

Day #2 started with quick trip back north to meet up with our charter company, Rainbow Reef Dive Center.  We had chartered their 30 foot boat, but it was down for repairs, so they upgraded us to their 40 foot boat.  Their misfortune was our gain.  She’s certified to carry 26, so the eight of us had plenty of room (Jackpot!).  No cattle boat this trip.  Captain Jordan introduced us to the first mate Stephan and dive master Rachel.

For the morning dives, Molasses Reef was our destination.  The trip out greeted us with almost glassy water conditions.  A thumbs up from Mike confirm we were off to a good start.


Dive site #1 was Fire Coral Cave.  The visibility was great, but lots of moon jellies greeted us.  They’ll leave you with a nasty sting, but nothing too serious.  Vinegar alleviates the pain though.  Otherwise, it was a great dive, the usual suspects where present and even had a cooperative Hawksbill turtle hang out for some

Site #2 was Eagle Ray Alley.  Since it was a shallow site and the viz was clear, it was time to have some fun with the wide angle lens.  There’s something cool about seeing the boat you just jumped off floating overhead.  Karen being a willing model helps the picture as well.


No eagle rays this time, but we did see a nurse shark and barracuda cruising the alley.

For the afternoon dives we went to Snapper Ledge and Pickles Reef.  Both were busy with nurse sharks.  Karen spotted a sting ray on Snapper.  Notables on Pickle’s were a lobster and spotted moray eel.  I didn’t have any good pictures from the afternoon dives, so you’ll have to wait for the next recap for more.

Published by

Brian McGowan

Tampa Florida