Islamorada After-Trip Report

Since we didn’t get to go on a trip in 2015 because we chose to renovate our kitchen, and we were too close to our passport expiration dates to be confident we’d get them back in time to go elsewhere, we decided to make our 2016 dive vacation another trip to the Florida Keys.  Quite honestly, there’s just nothing like the Keys if you’re on a budget and prefer tropical waters — which is pretty much us.  We’ve stayed on Key Largo a couple of times now, and decided to stay further out in the Keys this time.  So, after a bit of research, we decided Islamorada was our spot.

Our 7-day stay was at the Chesapeake Resort and we were very happy with the accommodations.  The rooms were nice, comfortable, well-maintained. Since you don’t get a lot of natural beaches in the Keys (being largely mangrove-lined), the beach at the resort was welcome.  There were plenty of wonderful restaurants in the area, as well.

We dove with Key Dives, www.keydives.com, and couldn’t be more pleased.  Mike & Marcia Goldberg absolutely took great care of us and made sure we had the best dive experience possible–and all at reasonable prices.  They have a nice special negotiated with Chesapeake Resort, too!  I will say that I feel we had more lush coral around Key Largo, and one of the dives really suffered because of weather and current bringing down the visibility significantly.  But it was still a great trip with plenty to see.  One thing I’m a huge fan of is wrecks, and there really aren’t many around Islamorada, so you have to hope the seas and time allow for the trip out to them.  As it was, we again hit the Vandenberg, which we had dove on before, only one month after it was sunk as an artificial reef.  Still a beautiful dive–although this time the current was a bit stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been to Key Largo a number of times and want a little change of pace, some great diving, and a little quicker access to Key West without paying the higher cost, Islamorada is an excellent choice!  Enjoy the video highlights of the trip!

Floriday Keys 2016

Latest Conditions at Amistad Lake

Mar 2017: I absolutely cannot wait until we get some really warm weather.  We get the odd day here and there, as is typical for Del Rio, but Amistad Lake is huge, so it takes weeks of hot weather to really warm up the lake.  It didn’t get quite as cold this year as it normally does, but cold enough for the lake to get down to its regular 50 degrees in Feb.  It’s beginning to warm up slowly now, temps at depth at about 60–you’ll still want a dry suit or a 7mm full with hood, gloves and boots.  Visibility never really improved over winter because we’ve had a lot of days of high winds (churns up the turbidity) and a lot of precipitation still rolling in every few days (runoff plus turbidity).

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If you are a diver in the local area we would like to get to know you!  We don’t have a dive shop in town anymore (although that may be about to change) and we are challenged by the very fluid population in Del Rio of likely divers.  Getting together, however, is a way to get to know other divers, their experiences and share diving opportunities here.  We have Lake Amistad and San Felipe Creek for local diving, but depending on your willingness to drive, there are other places worth checking out, too: Chalk Bluff, Frio River, Balmorhea State Park, just to name a few.  Although very informal, the Del Rio Dive Club meetings serve as a chance for divers and non-divers alike to gather, share, ask questions and enjoy a bite to eat.  Meet us at Rudy’s Restaurant for some great barbecue 7pm on the third Thursday of each month.  Help us plan more activities and do more DIVING!  You don’t have to be a diver to come out and have a good time.  Maybe you’ll even get the bug for it just by hanging around us!  Don’t forget to like our Facebook page so you can keep up with what’s going on.  We hope to see you there.

Scuba Class

Although not official a part of the Del Rio Dive Club, scuba diving certification is available locally.  Robert Wade is a certified instructor with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), #234370, and has been teaching classes including Basic Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Divemaster since 2008.  An avid diver since 1985, Robert (aka ScubaDog) has consistently maintained the high standards of the PADI curriculum while keeping the classes fun and interesting.  His primary motivation for teaching scuba diving has always been to share wonder and excitement of the sport with anyone willing to try.  Classes are structured to give students plenty of self-study time and then maximizing value with the in-class and in-water portions.

The Basic Open Water course schedule for 2017 is as follows:

Apr 27-30 (Sign-up NLT 7 Apr); May 25-28 (Sign-up NLT 5 May); Jun 22-25 (Sign-up NLT 2 Jun); Jul 27-30 (Sign-up NLT 7 Jul); Aug 24-27 (Sign-up NLT 4 Aug); Sep 28-Oct 1 (Sign-up NLT 8 Aug). It is highly recommended you sign up sooner than the NLT-date because there may be delays in shipping of student materials, compressing the amount of time you will have to complete the workbook.

Basic Open Water classes are $325 per person or $425 for private instruction.  If you have completed the PADI eLearning portion and bring your documentation to complete the in-water portion of the course, the cost is $225.  This price includes the student self-study workbook, dive tables (aka Recreational Dive Planner), logbook, instructional DVD, the formal instruction and use of a BC (buoyancy compensator), pressure gauge & dive computer console, tanks and weights.  Students must supply their own personal gear: wetsuit, boots, mask, fins, snorkel and submersible watch.  Students must also be able to swim 200 meters (any style or styles, not in a wetsuit) or 300 meters with mask and fins and tread water for 10 minutes.  After successfully completing all required course objectives students will be given a signed temporary certification card with their permanent card to arrive typically 2-3 weeks later.  Newly-certified divers are encouraged to dive as often as possible after getting certified in order to build more confidence in the fresh dive skills.

Prior to considering taking the course you should download the following documents: http://www.delriodiveclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/THINGSTOKNOW.pdf andhttp://www.delriodiveclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/10063_MedStmt_v201.pdf.  The first document provides more depth and detail to the requirements of the course, format of the instruction and my personal notes.  The second document is a Medical Statement that you’ll need to fill out.  In some cases you may find that a physician is needed to evaluate your specific condition and make a determination if it is safe for you to dive.  As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Note for April/May class: The water temps are typically still quite chilly–70 at the surface, upper 50’s at depth.  You will need, at a minimum, a 5mm full wetsuit.