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Diving with the Abernethy's


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#1 laz217

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Posted 01 February 2003 - 09:49 PM

Today we (Fritz, Nancy and I) had the pleasure to dive the Palm Beach area (approx. 90 miles north of South Miami) with a terrific dive operations -- Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures. I contacted them earlier in the week in hopes of joining in on their 3-tank dive trip. After speaking to Anna Abernethy on the phone, it was obvious through her enthusiasm and well-planned dives that we would be diving with a group of people who truly enjoy what they do. It came as no surprise that as soon as we arrived this morning we would be greeted by a friendly smile but what we weren't expecting was all the extra attention we received. They made it very easy for a newcomer to feel right at home.

I had the pleasure to meet Jim Abernethy down at the dock and, after swapping some friendly greetings, he gave me a tour of their great live-aboard vessel -- the Shear Water. We would be using this boat to do our 3-tank dives later in the day (they sometimes use their other boats for this trip). As if being impressed by the boat and its accomodations weren't enough, so were the number of photographs that were hung all around the boat. Amazing photographs of hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, an incredible photograph with a tiger shark and hammerhead (all in one shot), manatees and more. All of them taken in their diving adventures. He began to speak to me about the diving and it is was very apparent by his enthusiasm that he enjoys sharing his passion for the ocean with others.

After meeting some of the nice folks who would be sharing in the day's adventure, the live-aboard boat was soon on its way out to the reefs. Amazingly enough, we didn't have to go very far to get to the wonderful reefs. Approximately 20-30 minutes passed and we were soon suiting up for our first drift dive on Juno Ledge. In our group we had a number of divers ("the hunters") who would be going for lobster and a few us who would be diving the reefs (guess which group I was in). Because our diving styles would probably interfere, they had preplanned to have two groups dropped separately--each one with a dive master. This turned out great in that everyone enjoyed the dives which ever way they pleased.

Our first dive on Juno Ledges was very impressive. The amount of fish life and coral diversity was astounding. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the reefs to be as good as those in the Keys but boy was I wrong. Some of the ledges that were ~20ft. (if not more) in height were covered in corals.

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What intrigued me the most were the number of abundant corals that I found here that were rare (or nonexistant to me) down in the Florida Keys. Long spiraling whip corals, tunnicates in all the colors of the rainbow, different varieties of vase sponges and more could be found throughout the reefs.

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Needless to say I was thrilled by the first dive and could have gone home happy after that, but since we had two more dives planned I wasn't about to complain. :)

After picking up the two groups out of the water, which they accomplished flawlessly. It was obvious they were keeping a good watch on both drifting bouys and were quick to pick up any diver on the surface safely. Up on deck we were treated to hot chocolate, hot tea, some great Publix cookies and a bunch of other goodies--all in all the perfect combination after a chilly (for Florida!) 68-70 degrees dive. With approx. an hour interval we were all willing and ready to jump back in.

Our next dive -- Jolly Jacks. This reef, like the first, had an abundance of fish and coral life. We began our dive as all good dives should begin... With a turtle swim-along:

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This fella swam right in the middle of where all the divers were drifting. Look out! Turtle coming through...

I must add -- if you're looking to dive a place with the chance to see all sorts of turtles then this is definitely the spot. We saw numerous turtles on our dives and, considering that Palm Beach is one of the largest turtle nesting site in the world, it's obvious to see why turtles are so easily spotted here.

There were also schools of strange looking grunts that I had not seen before. They looked like normal grunts but had what appeared to be a skunk-like stripe across the top of their bodies.

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I also some very docile file fish who allowed for a close approach without them fleeing for their life and leaving me with nothing more than a tail shot.

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But they weren't the only ones.. Angel fish, Rock Beauties and even a Triggerfish came in for a close look at the wierd-looking, bubble-producing creature.

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After a long and pleasurable second dive we were back up on the boat. Surrounded by smiling faces and great scuba chit-chatter, what better way to make a great day of diving even better than by serving a terrific lunch. A baby-green's salad that still has me yearning for more and enough lasagna to feed an army. For those who have never experienced the pampering and lifestyle of being on a live-aboard for a week (or ten), this is as close as it gets to that. And imagine--this was only a one-day dive excursion.

After a delicious lunch and plenty of time to warm up we were ready for our third dive of the day. This time at a reef called Double Ledges. What can I say that hasn't already been said about the other two reefs. Same abundance of fish and corals... oh yeah... and a 7ft BULLSHARK!! Holy moly! We jump in the water and this amazing creature swims right by me on my left about 15ft away. Without showing any aggression towards us he (or was it she?) cruises right in front of us while keeping his distance and makes sure everyone gets a good glance at him. Everyone is giving thumbs-up signals underwater and trickles of water are entering everyone's mask from the big smile on their faces.

A few minutes later the big fella ( Mr. B ) makes a second apperance. Of course, being the clumsy, macro-shooting fool that I am, I wasn't ready with my camera (both times) to get a shot. Or maybe I was just in awe so much that I forgot to get a shot of him. Ahh.. the story of my life. At least this time I saw the shark! :)

I enjoyed the rest of the 3rd dive and along the way I was even bid farewell by one of the local friendly inhabitants of the area--a huge green moray that was friendly enough to let me get in close for a good portrait.

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What else can be said that I haven't already. The trip was fantastic, the Abernethy's and their crew went beyond the call of duty to make sure we all enjoyed ourselves 150% and spending it with the 'bestest' dive buddies could only make for a terrific day of diving. Needless to say, I loved it so much that I'll be out next weekend for a 3-day live-aboard trip to the Bahamas with the Abernethy's.. WOOOHOOOO!! I can't wait.

Till next time, stay tuned for the adventures of....

Muppets in Space!

errr.. I mean...

Laz in Neoprene!
Lazaro Ruda
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#2 wetpixel

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 02:03 AM

Laz! Glad you had a good time with Jim and Anna. They ARE awesome, huh? :) I'm going to be out there from Feb 10th until Feb 28th, hanging out with them and their parrot. I'll be updating a website somewhere from over there -- that is, until the live-aboard leaves a week after I arrive. :)

By the way, I love your trip reports. They rock!!

Wait a minute -- will we overlap, or will you be gone by Monday? :(
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#3 yahsemtough

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 05:57 AM

No shock there Laz, that is how they operate always. I did two shark expeditions with them last year and head out in July for two weeks with them this year.

That parrot is not always as happy to see people on the other hand.

Eric, you have got it figured out! Coral Sea, Abernethy's in Feb. Abernethy's in July. Hold it, I go to Roatan in 5 days, then Abernethy's in July followed by Port Hardy in August...never mind.

I'll be calling Anna when we get back to confirm whether Michaele's joining us on the trip or not. Cheers!
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#4 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 07:06 AM

If there is a spare place on the July trip I am hoping to be in it!

#5 laz217

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 07:54 AM

Yup, both Jim and Anna Abernethy as very nice people and their dive operation is definitely something out of the ordinary. I'm trying to convince my dive buddies to come along on one of their dolphin encounter / diving trip sometime mid-year. If they don't, I will still (hopefully) be doing the trip.

Now if I can only sneak in a couple more vacation weeks at work for a Galapagos trip sometime this year in between my St. Vincent and the Grenadines trip... hmmm.. Any such thing as a month flu? :)
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#6 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 08:26 AM

Laz,

Are you going on the Peter Hughes boat to Grenadines?

If so; what dates are you going?

Don't forget a bad case of digizoomoids to cover the Cuba trip too!

#7 laz217

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 08:50 AM

Laz,

Are you going on the Peter Hughes boat to Grenadines?

If so; what dates are you going?

Don't forget a bad case of digizoomoids to cover the Cuba trip too!

Haha!! Digizoomoids! That'll work. :)

I will be doing a 10-day landbased trip in St. Vincent with Deb Fugitt and a couple of the folks from SFUPS. This trip will take place between August 7th through the 17th. I can't wait! This place is macro heaven! Kind'a like a poor man's (that would be me) version of PNG. :)

Have you settled on a date for the Cuba trip? If your group pays for my trip, I'll be your translator, tour guide and Cuban-cuisine cook. It'll be Frijoles Negros, Bistec, Chicharitas, Yuca, Flan and all the other yummy Cuban food that'll put on so many pounds that you'll have to bring a wetsuit in 5 sizes larger.
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#8 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 09:12 AM

I should know by tomorrow about the Cuba trips practicality & date slots available.

#9 yahsemtough

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 10:13 AM

Three weeks with you within 1 months time...humm

I sent you an email on that. You are welcome at our house in-between if needed. Not near water but if it helps it is available to you.
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#10 wetpixel

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 12:18 PM

Cuba!

that sounds amazing. I guess I would have to go through Mexico, though. That would be a bit inconvenient!
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#11 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 01:16 PM

Eric,

The connecting flight is less than two hours, and you can book the luggage straight through to Havana.

Ideally, Camaguey (Camaway) is the most convenient airport, but there are early morning flights to Camaguey from Havana. Then it's a couple of hours by road via lunch to Jacaro (It's a big country). Then a high-speed launch to JDR. It may sound ardious but it's a great education and very interesting.

On the return leg we stay in 'Moron' (I was there when Princess Di' died) before flying back to Havana from Camaguey.

#12 yahsemtough

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 02:02 PM

From Canada is that the same itenerary?
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#13 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 02 February 2003 - 06:50 PM

I am not sure but I would assume that all scheduled flights arrive in Havana with the hop next morning.

I shall confirm this later today when Europe gets out of bed.

I'm off Whaleshark spotting as the sea has dropped a bit!

#14 yahsemtough

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 05:59 AM

If you have to work, you have to work.
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