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Incredible day of diving on the Vandenberg 10/17/09

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Wookie, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    We had an incredible day of diving on the Vandenberg on Saturday. Spree Expeditions, along with Captain Gary from Conch Republic Divers put together another Vandenberg double dipper for Saturday the 17th. Only 5 divers signed up, but seeing as they’d driven all the way from Canada, we didn’t want to disappoint them, so we went for a dive. We had 4 rebreathers (all inspo/evo’s) and 2 open circuit extended range divers, so they opted for one long run-time dive rather than 2 recreational length dives. We left the dock at about noon and headed out to the Vandenberg about 40 minutes out. As we crossed the reef line, I noticed the water was that incredible shade of blue that you don’t usually see in Key West. We arrived at the Vandenberg, and I kept thinking something was wrong with the wreck. I could clearly see the wreck, clearly see divers on it, and it looked like the bridge was going to break the surface at any minute. I couldn’t see bow to stern, but could easily see a couple hundred feet of wreck. Incredible. We tied up on Buoy number 3, and set current lines. Surface current was mild running from bow to stern, below 30 feet there was no current at all. We could see the squall line crossing Key West in the distance with 2 waterspouts touching down between us and Stock Island.

    The wind hit us as we were launching divers. 20-25 knots and seas blowing but less than 2 feet. The tops of the whitecaps were blowing off, but the mighty Spree was hardly rocking. The divers were able to cover the whole wreck in a single dive, although didn’t really take the time to explore much. I think this wreck is good for a long weekend of diving if you really want to see the whole thing. A single 2 hour dive is only kind of a teaser to me. All divers were back on deck by 3 PM, and we were back at the dock around 4 PM, gear washed and hanging to dry. 4 of the divers chose to stay on the Spree that night to see a bit of Key West and have a nice meal at Conch Republic.

    Capt Gary and I will do this again maybe in December. Call Conch Republic divers if you are interested in really getting a chance to see the Vandenberg.

    Capt Frank
    M/V Spree
    Stock Island, FL
     
  2. Capt Gary

    Capt Gary Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: Tavernier, Florida Keys
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    Let me say that this was one of the more memorable dives I've done in a long time. The visibility was around 100', no current, and we were the only ones on the wreck. As Wookie mentioned there was 6 of us...4 rebreathers and 2 OC doubles. We made our way all they way around the wreck seeing lots of fish live and the wreck has a mild covering of algae growth over the entire ship. There were a fair number of Pen Shell bivalve Mollusk on the radar dish and small Sea Urchin everywhere. Large Parrot Fish were busy cleaning the hull while large Angel Fish swam in large numbers in and out of the super structure. Simply put this wreck is alive with aquatic life.

    Taking our time we circled the wreck almost twice when the other divers decided they wanted to surface. Myself and buddy stayed and went down one forward elevator shaft to access some of the lower decks. They've done a good job opening this wreck up and most of the lower decks have visible light indicating an opening cut into the hull allowing access/egress. But there were a few that were dark and require strobes and reels for investigation....we did not visit those areas on this trip, but will save that for a later adventure.

    My run time on this wreck was 95 min with max depth of 135. We haven't even scratched the surface of investigating this magnificent artificial reef and look forward to many more dives on her.

    Frank and I are looking to do another trip around the first of December. We have to get 10 divers to make the trip this time, so if you're interested please let Frank or I know by PMing us. Of course we can do a wreck trek if interested. Doing double dives on the Spiegel, Duane, Bibb, and Eagle before we head down to do the Vandenberg. What better way to spend a long weekend by diving the best wrecks in the Florida Keys. And after diving the Vandenberg you get to spend the night in Key West aboard the M/V Spree.

    Look forward hearing from you so we can put another one of these great adventures together.

    I'm sure diverchris will post some pictures, but it might be when he gets back to Canada.....He drove down so it will be a few days.

    Good Diving,
     
  3. DennisW

    DennisW Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sebastian, FL
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    :worthless:

    Sounds like a nice time, especially with the viz at 100ft plus.
     
  4. Capt Gary

    Capt Gary Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: Tavernier, Florida Keys
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    FYI...Read last line of my PM....:D

    Good Diving,
     
  5. Dr. Eaver

    Dr. Eaver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ocala, Florida
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    Hey Gary - Im probably headed down to KW for FF the 28 thru the 31. I would like to get the Vandenburg under my proverbial dive belt! Probably going to be a crazy week and I would imagine everyone will be booked up - but I thought Id ask.
    Im a semi local - my Parents own and run the Key Largo Conch House. I rent tanks from you guys when Im down visting my brother - he lives across the street from your shop. I actually think I was your first "online booking system" guy (thats what the nice lady said when she was signing me up)! We dive off our own boat and we are always on the Eagle or the Duane and occasionally trek to the Spiegel- but I dont want to deal with towing down top Key West during FF. What do you think? Who would you recommend if you guys arent going?
     
  6. Jupiter31

    Jupiter31 Loggerhead Turtle

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    Sounds like you had a fantastic dive, w/ great conditions, although from reading the various posts and personal experience, its the exception vs the rule.

    We did the Vandenberg in June, and the viz was terrible (15 - 20 ft) although the current was not bad - I would love to dive it with conditions like you experienced. Thanks for posting!
     
  7. trtldvr

    trtldvr Instructor, Scuba

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    Capt. Gary,
    Had I known that was you on the Spree on Saturday I would have given you a shout. I was on the Dream. We showed up about the time you guys were climbing out. Saturday was my 2nd dive on the Vandy. My 1st was the clearance dive (I was the 10th diver on her), after which I hopped in my truck and moved to Texas. I can say the Vandy is everything I hoped she would be.

    Safe Dives
    trtldvr
    www.divealive.org
     

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