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Trip Report: Gulf Rig Dive

Discussion in 'Texas' started by Lefty Writer, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. Lefty Writer

    Lefty Writer Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: League City, Texas, United States
    169
    61
    28
    This past weekend my dive club Bay Area Divers booked a three tank dive trip to a couple of offshore rigs out of Freeport. We had enough participants to actually book three dive boats, allowing about 18 of us to enjoy the day diving with friends. I was on the Sea Cat of Captain Beard Charters, with Captain Garnett Beard. The other two boats were the Old School of Bourne Fishing Charters, captained by Joey Barnett and Bottom Time of Gulf Sport Adventures under Captain Michael.

    Happily, all of us had a fun and safe trip, and while my comments directly reflect my time on the Sea Cat, from talking with the other participants, we all had pretty much the same experience.

    Those of us on the Sea Cat and Old School met at Bridge Bait in Surfside at 0630 on Saturday, while the divers on Bottom Time met the boat at a different location. The plan was for Bottom Time to meet up with us near Bridge Bait and we would then head to the first rig in a convoy. Having been on trips with just a single dive boat, it was fun watching the other two boats follow us out.

    Our pre-departure brief was professional and informative, and Captain Beard clearly knows his business. He described all of his emergency equipment and pointed out where it was stored. We got underway shortly after that and made ourselves comfortable for the 90 minute boat ride to the first rig.

    Our first two dives would be on rig GA-424-C. Since we had three dive boats, the captains and divemasters conferred and decided to have the largest boat, Bottom Time, tie off to the rig, and then Old School would tie to them, with us securing our line to Old School.

    There was little to no current on the first dive, so after a thorough and professional pre-dive briefing, we were ready to go. After a short surface swim we descended and started exploring the rig. I was amazed at the huge schools of spadefish. There were so many that I could barely see through them all. We saw several barracuda and ling as well. Water temperature, even at 80 feet, stayed around 85[SUP]◦[/SUP]. Visibility was good, around 40 feet or so. Since the boats were tied up so closely, divers would ascend to the boat when their gas supply was approaching a pre-determined pressure, and their buddy would then pair up with another team to maximize everyone’s bottom time.

    During our surface interval, the current picked up somewhat, which caused a few divers to struggle getting to the descent point. Once we descended past about 15 feet, the current diminished and it was easy to explore the rig with minimal effort. The second dive was special for our boat, as two of our club members got engaged! Jim arranged with a few of us ahead of time to help him propose to his girlfriend. Three of us had a weighted t-shirt, and once he distracted Doreen, we quickly unfurled them. I had a shirt that said “Will,” while two others had a “you” and “marry” that they displayed. Jim then pointed us out to Doreen, and when she read that, she looked back at Jim, who then had his “me” shirt out. A vigorous nod from her let us all know we now had an engaged couple!

    :cool3:

    Once everyone was safely back aboard their respective boats, we spent about half an hour having a snack and something to drink then we got underway to the next rig. We had about a 30 minute boat ride to the next rig, and once we got tied off to the rig and ready to dive, everyone had a nice, long surface interval.

    Our third and final dive was on rig GA-393-B. Once again, there was minimal surface current, so it was easy to get to the descent point. This rig also had plenty of spadefish, barracuda and ling. We found a few large lionfish hanging out under one of the cross supports. Visibility here seemed to be even better, approaching 50 feet or more.

    After such a fun dive, it was hard to get back on the boat knowing our day was done. This type of diving makes me miss the Caribbean. We soon got underway and in just under an hour we were back at the dock. One of the nicest aspects of this dive was how everyone helped unload the boats and take care of each other’s gear. We all pitched in to carry tanks and gear to the parking area.

    Overall, this was a fantastic trip. I would happily dive with any of these charters again. In fact, these rig dives have become so popular with our club that we may start doing more than one per year.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
    KWS likes this.
  2. Bill Parker

    Bill Parker Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Hurst, TX
    378
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    That's amazing y'all got a group together big enough to need three boats.
     
  3. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    Lefty, I wonder if any of the true old timers are left at Bay Area Divers. At one time, you would fill the Fling and the Spree for the BAD Flower Gardens weekend, that was 68 divers on the 2 boats. Y'all held a spearfishing contest that brought spearos from all over the Gulf coast and as far away as Colorado and New Mexico. The Bay Area Divers Scuba Flea Market was one of the largest outside of the Long Island Dive Association one, and almost 1,000 divers were dues paying members, with at least 3 other active clubs in the same area, and 8 or 10 in the Houston area. Amazing how times change.

    If Captain Randy is still around, ask him some of the old timer stories. He certainly predates me.
     
    Lefty Writer likes this.
  4. Lefty Writer

    Lefty Writer Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: League City, Texas, United States
    169
    61
    28
    Wookie,

    Captain Randy is still around, and always has an interesting story to tell. Pee Wee is also still a part of the club, and like Randy, can be counted on to regale us with tales from the past. He mentioned the spear fishing contests. I wish I would've been around for that kind of fun.

    Jim and Linda Delane are here on occasion, when they're not sailing somewhere.
     

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