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Breaking the Habit


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#1 laz217

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 02:33 PM

March 15th, 2003

The American Heritage dictionary defines habit as a
recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through
frequent repetition
. As human beings, this pattern of behavior can
be found in many things we do. From the type of drink we choose at a bar
(Tequila, Señor!) to even the way we dress. Habitual patterns are
often present many times during our daily life.

So what does this have to do with diving, you ask? While I may call my
weekly outings a ‘new adventure’, deep down inside there is
a pattern to the places I go and the things I do. While I can not control
things like the weather conditions, going to many of the same reefs I
have visited before, there is a certain assurance as to what I will see
and experience. Breaking this habit is not an easy thing!

Sometimes, though, the benefits of breaking this pattern far exceed the
assurance of this weekly habit. So was the case for March 15th, 2003.
Having written this date down on my calendar a couple of months in advance,
I was awaiting this day with some anticipation. Whether it was to be good
or bad was the question yet to remain—for any trip that begins with
the words of Papa saying, “Lock up the girls and hide the booze.
I’m coming to town!” has got to strike some fear in me. Just
in case though, I assured him that I’d be waiting…

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With the day upon me, I awoke up before the break of dawn as I do every
weekend and packed my things in my Jeep and headed south towards the Keys.
The peaceful drive along US1 during these early morning hours is always
a welcome treat. With some thoughts (and a particular girl) roaming my
mind and some Garth Brooks playing on the radio the drive down to the
Keys was the start of a wonderful day. Of course, the gray skies and thundershower
I was going through would have anyone thinking differently but I was in
my happy place with a positive outlook on the day to come.

Passing Quiescence (my weekly dive hangout) was the first sign of a breaking
habit. Continuing south along US1, approximately 20 minutes later (you
can’t speed in Key Largo unless you want a ticket) I arrived at
Conch Republic—a cozy little dive shop hidden alongside one of the
hundreds of bridges in the Florida Keys. Once inside, I was welcomed by
the friendly folks who operate this very nice dive shop. There were a
couple of people roaming around the dive shop observing the beautiful
reef tank, the numerous underwater photographs hanging on the wall or
doing a little scuba shopping (the worse of all addictions!). While I
was filling out some of the usual scuba paperwork, I overheard the gentleman
behind the counter call out a name I had heard before—Ms. Suzuki.
As I turned to see who she was, there stood a young lady with a smile
and charismatic personality that perfectly matched her apparent personality
on the Diver2Diver (www.scubadiving.com) message forum. As I turned to
her and said, “Spritely Mermaid?” she smiled and said, “Yes.”
I introduced myself and thus began “…the beginning of a beautiful
friendship—Casablanca.”

Back at the boat, as I was setting up my gear, I heard from a far the
words, “Who’s Laz?” Pondering for a moment whether I should respond in fear of losing my women and my booze, it quickly became
apparent to me that it was safe to respond—for I had neither women
nor booze to be taken. I raised my hand as I walked towards a very gleeful-looking
gentleman who responded with, “I’m Papa!” Who was to
think this is the same Papa that on the message boards was causing me
such dire straits (all in good fun)?

After our brief introduction and a long-awaited smile between each other,
he set about introducing me to some of the folks on the dive boat. As
it turns out, I was surrounded by fellow D2Ders and some fellow digital
photoGs (Karl Dietz and his lovely wife)—what a treat!

As the boat left the dock and was on its way to places unknown (to me),
we finally agreed on our first destination—The Eagle. Ironically
enough, with my many years of diving in the Keys, I have never dived this
wreck before. Excitement stirred in the air as we prepared to enter the
water to see what was awaiting us below. With thoughts of fish and coral-life
aplenty, we descended down the buoy line attached to the bow of the wreck.
With her hull resting in ~110 ft of water, on our way down, the far from
perfect visibility (~40ft) soon gave way to the sight of an awe inspiring
vision. There she laid on the sand on her side, adorned in corals in all
the colors of the rainbow with the fish life to match.

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Looking around I noticed fellow D2Ders diving to different areas of the
wreck, some dropped down to the sand, other headed towards the center
of the wreck in hopes of seeing the elusive Goliath Groupers that made
this wreck their home. Karl, his wife, and I settled on cruising a small
piece of the port side of the boat with our cameras on hand. As we drifted
towards the center of the boat, we swam out to one of the coral encrusted
towers to view and photograph this area. Awed by its healthy coral diversity,
I took a couple of photographs. The first thing that came to my mind was
the thought of making this wreck one of the chosen areas for a reef clean-up
after seeing quite a bit of fishing line tangled around it—what
a shame!

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As I continued to explore this area, all of a sudden a school of sardines
raced by as they were chased by some large jacks that were hoping to make
of a free lunch.

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Scenes from The Blue Planet played in my head as I hoped to see a mob
of swordfish or sharks encircling this baitball. A few seconds and a thousand-plus
fish later, I spotted someone in the background that looked very familiar.
Capturing some of the scene and a super model (that would be me) with
his “I don’t need no stinkin’ film” video camera,
Papa came in for a closer look.

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I turned to take a quick snapshot or two…

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..and Papa was gone. At the most inopportune moment too as I had just
found a tiny octopus roaming along the top of the wreck. I quickly waved
over Karl and his wife so that they can see and photograph the little
guy and, as I watched them do their magic, I noticed from a far two divers
laughing their butts off after a friendly game of rock, scissors, paper
and bomb(?).

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Who else would be doing such a thing at about 90ft. of water? No one other
than the famous Ms. Spritely Mermaid and her partner-in-crime brother!
I wave them down and when I show them the octopus, all of a sudden I begin
to hear a loud, cute, squeaky laugh in surround-sound. I begin looking
for the excess bubbles and notice that it’s no other than Spritely
giggling herself out of a full tank of air at the sight of what she thought
was an armless little octopus. Little did she know that, like the rest
of us divers, we were using all the arms we had available to cover our
ears from this underwater, high-pitched giggling. After seeing that smile
on her face, the idea was inevitable—I must get of photo of the
octopus and Spritely together—and she kindly accepted the proposal.

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I have pointed out the octopus for those who can’t see it.

Yes, it’s a real octopus—unlike the turtle in my last trip report. LOL!

On our way up, we stopped at fifteen feet for our safety stop and celebrated
the Dietz’s 100th dive. WOOOHOOO!! Congrats, you guys!

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Of course, I was the last to get back on the boat after spending more
than 3 minutes at the safety stop observing all the plankton life drifting
by. I just love this stuff!

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Lazaro Ruda
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#2 laz217

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 02:33 PM

Our next destination, a reef that has always aroused some interest because
of its name—Hens and Chickens. This shallow, close to shore reef
has some of the healthiest gorgonians and hard corals I have seen in the
Keys. With a max depth of around 20ft, this was the perfect reef to do
a little macro hunting (with a camera, of course).

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As it is almost a curse, the angels followed me (closely) at this reef
too so there were a number of times I had to switch over to fish-portrait
mode (or was that macro) on my camera in order to get a few shots…

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Along the way, I found an area of turtle grass with some small patches
of reef scattered in the distance. In hopes of finding that elusive frog
fish (I know they exist in the Keys) or a seahorse or twenty, I swam to
one of these little oases in hopes of finding something. Instead, I was
greeted by this cute little juvenile blue angel who darted in and out
of the reef…

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What didn’t become apparent to me at first as I looked through the
LCD was what was lurking in the background—that was, until I noticed
the background moving—a spotted eel! After swimming around the small
little reef I never did find the head of this fella and not wanting to
bother the guy I decided to not poke him as I’ve seen other divers
do in order to get their attention. A couple of extra snapshots of the
little blue angel and I high-tailed it back to the boat as my hour was
almost done.

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What would have normally been the end of a terrific day of diving for
me was only the first half. Like I said, it’s all about breaking
those old habits! Back at port, I made a quick run to McDonalds to grab
something to eat as I was to embarrassed to take up Spritely’s offer
to eat one of her sandwiches (Or was that a survival instinct on my behalf?
LOL!). A quick lunch and a quick swap of the batteries in my camera and
we were back onboard for another set of dives.

With the skies finally clearing up a bit, the boat motored through the
idle zone while we decided on our next dive destination. After someone
(guess who?) suggested the next dive site, a couple of comments were inevitable.
Our next stop—Triple X!

As we arrived at the site, we broke up into groups in order to do this
40-50ft drift dive. Partnering up with some of the gang and Spritely kindly
caring the dive flag, we headed towards the bottom and began our slow
drift to nowhere. Wearing my 2.5mil suit the semi-cold water temperature
was bearable as long as I did not enter the bottom five feet of water
where a cold thermocline drifted by. Making a couple of daring dives into
that thermocline to get a photograph or two, I quickly ascended a few
feet where everyone else hovered to stay in the warmer water.

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With a name like Triple X, there was little action going on around us.
After a while of drifting around, one thing became apparent, we were now
all drifting at around 20-25ft on a 45-50ft reef. As our body core temperature
dropped, our drift dive turned into an hour long, verrrry sloooow ascent.
Every once in a while I would dip down into the cold thermocline and pop
back up so that the upper cold water would feel warm again (it’s
all psychological!).

Glad to be back on the boat, I quickly warmed up in the Florida sun to
get ready for our next dive at the Snapper Ledges. Once in the water,
one thing became apparent on this shallow reef—this should have
been called Grunt Ledges…

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Swimming through the hundreds of grunts (and the occasional snapper) was
lots of fun and while combing the edge of the reef I came upon this happy
little eel who also broke from its habitual characteristics of scaring
the divers away and instead offered me this real close-up (macro even)
smile.

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After a whole day of diving with new friends in new dive sites, the day’s
lesson was apparent.

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Breaking from the day-to-day habit can usually turn up to be a day filled
with true adventure, plenty of laughs, good whole-hearted fun and the
chance to meet new friends. Take a risk for as Garth Brook’s lyrics
say, “Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you’re
standing outside the fire.” Experience something outside the norm—dive
that place you’ve always passed up a million times. Who knows? You
might enjoy it or at worst—you’ll just end up losing your
women and your booze

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Till the next the adventure!
Lazaro Ruda
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#3 james

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 02:56 PM

Hey Laz, Excellent as we have all come to expect...:-)

What is the guy handing down into the water in this photo:

Posted Image

Cheers
James
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#4 laz217

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 04:21 PM

Sheesh! :rolleyes: :D

Like you don't know a pair of Ikelite DS-125s when you see them! The gentleman with the camera is the captain of the boat and he had just picked up Karl Dietz's Ikelite Nikon Coolpix 5000 with dual DS-125s as we were returning to the boat. Karl's setup is very neat indeed and I especially like the magnifier on the back of his Ikelite case that projects the image on the LCD to almost IMAX size.
Lazaro Ruda
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#5 james

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 08:50 PM

;-) Thought so! That is a trick setup.

Cheers
James
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#6 markh

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 11:46 PM

I especially like the magnifier on the back of his Ikelite case that projects the image on the LCD to almost IMAX size.

I've wondered whether such a gizmo was available. Sounds darn useful. Do you know of any retailers and can they be used/adapted for any other make of camera?

Mark
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#7 yahsemtough

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 07:04 AM

I too am curious on how good this magnifier worked.

If Karl is out there post up a couple of pics fo your set-up and any comments as to how effective you have found it would be appreciated.

Laz, great report as usually. You obviously are not married and, do not have kids! I truly enjoy your little trips. Good job.
Todd Mintz
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all photographs posted © Todd C Mintz

#8 markh

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 07:56 AM

You obviously are not married and, do not have kids! I truly enjoy your little trips. Good job.

Do I detect a hint of jealousy there Todd?
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#9 yahsemtough

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 08:10 AM

Damn right!!

No, I'm just kidding. As Mark knows I think my wife and son are the best thing ever.

To be honest, I love taking the pictures but I am just too busy/lazy or untalented to write such detailed reports.

As I said keep it up as I do enjoy reading them. Maybe one day I'll take a stab at it.
Todd Mintz
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all photographs posted © Todd C Mintz

#10 markh

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 08:11 AM

I try to imagine how many trips I could be doing/year if I never had kids. :freak:

Be nearly as many as Bob. I wonder if he'll slow down with his 2nd about to drop.
Dirk Pitt taught me everything!!!!
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#11 kdietz

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 05:52 AM

I'll try to get a couple of views of the magnifier online this weekend. I bought this housing from Marc Furth. He made the magnifier, so I don't really know how it was done. It does work well!

It appears to be several layers of acrylic bonded together, polished, painted black around the perimeter and then permanently bonded to the back of the housing. I expect the length of the lens and the radius of the curved polished top is critical. Not to be tried at home................
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#12 Reefkeep

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 03:33 AM

You bought it from who? =)

#13 kdietz

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 11:36 AM

Sorry about that Chris.........I should have said it that Marc made it and I bought it from you..........my bad!

Karl
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#14 yahsemtough

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 11:47 AM

Any luck with the pictures or where Chris got the parts? I still am very interested in seeing this.

Thanks Whomever. LOL
Todd Mintz
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#15 TedJ

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 01:37 PM

I have contacted Phil Williams of PhotoSolve about this type of gizmo. He makes them for cameras with LCD screens. He sent me one before I went to Grand Cayman but the depth of field of the unit is very shallow and it did not focus through the housing. He's thinking about it and I will post a note if he decides to manufacture one for underwater housing applications.

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#16 yahsemtough

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 09:52 AM

Is it just me or is that only part of the picture showing on my computer.
Todd Mintz
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#17 TedJ

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 10:03 AM

It's not just you. I can only see about two vertical inches.

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#18 kdietz

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 10:34 AM

Sorry guys...........my bad............I'll try again
Karl Dietz...Nikon D200...Ikelite iTTL housing...10.5mm...15mm FE...12-24mm...17-35mm...60mm micro...105mm micro...dual DS-200's
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#19 kdietz

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 11:02 AM

if this doesn't work, I need help
Karl Dietz...Nikon D200...Ikelite iTTL housing...10.5mm...15mm FE...12-24mm...17-35mm...60mm micro...105mm micro...dual DS-200's
www.kdietz.com

#20 kdietz

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Posted 26 March 2003 - 11:42 AM

first of three
Karl Dietz...Nikon D200...Ikelite iTTL housing...10.5mm...15mm FE...12-24mm...17-35mm...60mm micro...105mm micro...dual DS-200's
www.kdietz.com