The first of November brought a double whammy of cold fronts within just 12 hours of each other. The winds were clocking so fast it would make most captains dizzy. While cold fronts bringing high winds are normal for fall/winter here in the Florida Keys, they typically come once per week on average leaving a few days of good dive weather in between. Halloween day brought mid-summer like conditions with the exception of visibility. We had no breeze, no current, a very humid 86 degree air temp, flat calm seas with visibility of less than 20 feet. I explained to our divers that we placed an order for the low visibility just for Halloween. I’m not sure they liked the idea but no one complained after that.
The very next day, November 1st, we were slammed with 25 knot, rapidly shifting winds, those double cold fronts, and seas that would turn most people green, and I don’t mean with envy...
Despite the weather, we spotted a slew of different critters on both the ride out and on our dive sites. The list: one manta ray, five sharks (two lemons, two blacktips and a hammerhead), Atlantic spadefish tailing the surface, and up to 30 juvenile loggerhead turtles. I had to check out what was causing the water to “boil”, or splash as when fish are feeding, when we were leaving one of our reef dive sites. When we got a little closer we witnessed a large school of spadefish hitting the surface in some bizarre action, maybe a mating session but that’s something I’d have to see in the water to know for sure.
The water temps are still dropping and should continue until early to mid February. As I write this, we’re hovering around 79 degrees on the reefs and down to 100’ on the wrecks. This rapid cooling is a blessing for the coral. We experienced a big coral bleaching event at the end of August when our reef water temperatures hit 94 degrees. The current, more stable and average temperatures we are experiencing now should allow much of the coral to recover over the next few months.
The conditions we’re seeing are typical for the Florida Keys; windy then nice, then windy again. This creates dramatic and rapidly changing conditions underwater. The absolute best ways to find out what the conditions are underwater is to check the Captain’s Corner Dive Center Facebook page or the FishMonster Facebook page. I post conditions during each trip, once in the morning then again in the afternoon. I also try to post updates if we have obvious bad weather blowing in but for that you should do as the captains do. Check wind and sea conditions at NOAA’s web site at http://www.noaa.gov/.
If all else fails, call us to book a trip. Be sure to ask what the weather is expected to be like on your dive day. Obviously, predicting weather for more than two days out is utterly impossible, that’s left to the weather forecasters and sorcerers or maybe even former President Bush. I’m not totally sure about the last one, he refuses to take my calls so I can ask for calm seas and 200 feet of visibility....
And lastly, I want to thank our friends and career savers, at Key West Marine Hardware, Inc. at 818 Caroline St, Key West, FL.
They have helped us get fixed and running again more times than I can count. I’m sure I’ll see them again soon, as the saying goes, “Nothing is certain except taxes, death and broken boats”, or something like that. Stay safe and happy diving. We’ll see you on the water.
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