Friday, May 13, 2011

Útila - Day 6

Ah, the last day of diving!

Today started a little later than usual so I got an extra 15 mins of much needed sleep. After breakfast we loaded up the Miss U and headed to our first dive site called "Halliburton" which was an old cargo ship that was sunk in 1995. The wreck was in about 100 feet of water which meant we would only have about 30 mins of bottom time. Unfortunately there were already two other dive boats there which meant it was going to be crowded. We descended as a group and reached the wheel house at about 80 feet. We were greeted with a good sized lion fish guarding the door. We then headed to the captains quarters directly below the wheel house where we saw a huge snapper. We took the staircase down into the cargo hold which by now was full of silt kicked up by the close to 30 other divers in the water. After that we took a trip around the outside of the boat and found a huge moray eel under the starboard bow. By this then it was time to head back to the surface.

Since we were so close to town we headed to the dock and took a walk up the street to a place called the Jade Seahorse. What we found was something unbelievable. The "backyard" of this place was FULL of pathways, bridges and sculptures created with recycled material. Everything you can think of. Glass bottles, wine bottles, shells, driftwood, tile, glass, was amazing. And of course I didn't have my camera. a couple of the other folks in our group had cameras and I'm hoping to be able to share some of their images. We spent about 45 mins walking around the grounds and then headed back to the boat.

Once on board we headed to our final dive spot called "Ted's Point". There were other boats on the mooring so we had to use another buoy a little ways away. We geared up and jumped into the 85 degree water and headed for our submerged destination for the last time.

The initial part of the dive had me wondering if this was how it would end. There were some fish and coral, but it was the same old stuff we had seen all week. I really wanted to see the elusive spotted eagle ray and this was my last chance. It wasn't looking good. After a long kick we finally reached and area where things started to pick up. We spotted a file fish (which looks kind of like a halibut), a barracuda and another large tarpon. But I had a problem. Because it took us so long to get there I only had about 500 psi of air left in my tank. Normally at that point I would head to the surface. Through hand signals I let my guy Reuben know that I was low on air. He was kind enough to offer his extra regulator to me to extend the dive and allow me to still have some emergency air. And good thing he did. After about 5 mins we heard someone banging on their tank. Sound travels very well underwater so the 30 or so divers all headed toward one of our group that was kicking pretty hard toward the deep.

At first I didn't see anything, then there they were. Three spotted eagle rays had graced us with their presence. The divers all lined up and and jockeyed for position to see the show. I tried to get a video but divers underneath me were sending bubbles in front of my camera. Then I noticed one of the rays was doing a fly by in front of the crowd, I quickly took off in the same direction behind the crowd. My hope was that once she passed the grandstand she would hang a right back toward the reef. I was right. She came in right underneath me and I held the shutter lever on the camera down. The best of the few images I got is below. After chasing down the ray I took glance at my gauge and saw a whopping 200 psi of precious air remaining. I quickly headed back the boat extremely happy with the dive that started out so poorly.

We climbed aboard the Miss U for the last time and headed back toward Utopia for a well deserved beer and a delicious lunch of fish tacos. As we've done every day we are hanging out in the Dive Bar and sharing stories and pictures of the day. Tonight is party night, however I have a feeling that most of the group will be in bed before 9:30. We get to sleep in tomorrow till 8, woohoo! A bittersweet end to diving but by the end of tomorrow I will be very ready to get home, sleep in my own bed and be with those I love.

The Miss U

The lion fish guarding the wheel house

Huge snapper

The wreck

My gauge at 95 feet

5-6 foot moray surrounded by kicked up sand from the cluster of divers

File fish

Spotted eagle ray

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