Enjoying a beer as we wait to board the plane

Not to be confused with Fort Lauderdale, best know for hosting thousands of inebriated college students for the annual rite of Spring Break, this overly hyphenated town lays claim as the Beach Diving Capital of South Florida.  Tim’s father Jonathan had recently moved down to escape the cold winters of Virginia and had been describing the diving possibilities to Tim.  And Jonathan was also having computer problems.  Problems too difficult to solve over the phone.  Obviously we had to get that computer fixed, so we had no choice but to pack up the dive gear, hop on a plane, and head south to help.

The beach access parking was filled with divers on Saturday


They certainly made it easy to go diving here.  Lauderdale-By-The-Sea had several beach access parking lots which gave you an easy place to unload and set up your gear.  Although weekend access was trickier as the lots filled up with diver’s cars early.  Our hotel was close enough to the beach though that when we couldn’t get into the city parking, we simply suited up next to the hotel parking lot and walked in from there.  We found a dive shop just a couple of blocks off the beach to rent gear and get air tanks.  During our prior shore diving adventure in Bonair, we had to study the shoreline to find

Geared up and ready to go!

the best entry points through the rocky shallows.  Here we simply walked across the sandy beach.  Our wetsuits and gear provide a sharp contrast to the bikini clad beach goers who lay about on towels soaking up the sunshine.  A gentle incline led us into the ocean where we put on our fins as we bobbed about in the waves.

The bottom was mostly sand but a short swim out took us to a couple of long narrow reefs that paralleled the shore.  There was supposed to be a drop-off further out but we never managed to find it.  So we kept with the reefs we could find and did several long shallow dives.  These were easily the longest dives I have ever been on.  The short dive

Juvenile queen angelfish

of the trip was 62 minutes.  The long dive was an exhausting 1 hour and 40 minutes long.  We were able to manage these long dives because we never got deeper than 20 feet.

Bruce fine tunes his underwater fishing technique using a rod found on the ocean floor.

The reefs were a little beat up, not surprising considering how shallow they were, but we did find a nice variety of sea life.  We also found a variety of fishing gear.  Lures, sinkers, lots and lots of line, and even a complete fishing rod.  There was a fishing pier that we needed to stay away from.  You couldn’t see where the pier was when you were underwater, but you could tell you were getting closer to it as the amount fishing related trash increased on the ocean floor.  Despite our best effort, we didn’t manage to stay far enough away from the pier and one of the fisherman caught a little more than he bargained when he hooked our dive flag.  Fortunately, no harm to us, and Tim managed to unhook the flag as the unhappy fisherman yelled to us from the pier “Don’t cut my line!”

So the trip was a success.  Mostly at least.  We got in 5 dives and had an amazing encounter with an octopus (see video below).  Unfortunately we never managed to solve Jonathan’s computer problems.  Guess we’ll have to go back and try again.  Darn!

More pictures here.

Oh… one more thing… don’t ever stay at Florida Beach Hotels.  The place is a real dump.  And it has a stupid name.  Go ahead and try to Google it… “Florida Beach Hotels”… yeah that stands out.  Sorry… rant over…

Enjoy the fish video. Octopus at 1:12.

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