While staying in Marathon, we’ve been asking around about diving in the area, but somehow we didn’t ask the right people, or we didn’t ask the right questions. NOBODY TOLD US HOW EASY THIS WOULD BE!!!
On Friday, we decided to take the boat out of the harbor and head for Sombrero Key, which is about 5 miles south of Boot Key Harbor. The weather was beautiful. Seas were calm, with waves one foot or less, and winds were light. Dolphins, ever the good luck charm, greeted us as we headed south for the reef.
|Leaving Boot Key Harbor|
|Passing the Seven Mile Bridge|
We had read that there were mooring buoys on the south side of the lighthouse. Yes! At least 11 of them. We found a free one easily and tied Summer Wind to it. The water was very clear. And shallow. So there was no need for dive gear, we’d snorkel. We grabbed fins, masks, snorkels. I insisted that we wear t-shirts over our bathing suits so we wouldn’t get sunburned. The sun was very strong, and it was hot.
|Approaching Sombrero Key, on a beautiful clear day|
|Sombrero Key Light|
|It's a party!|
|Other boats on moorings|
|Professional dive boats|
|Up closer, you can see that the lighthouse is red|
We both hopped into the blue water, which felt refreshing. We made our way toward the lighthouse and slowed down to examine the coral reefs below. Chuck filmed video with his knock-off Go Pro. (Some day we will figure out how to post the video.) I didn’t bring my underwater camera on this trip, which is unfortunate for the blog, but was great for me. It’s nice to be just present in the experience, without worrying about trying to document the experience at same time.
We saw many types of coral – brain coral, barrel corals, purple fan corals, and many broken pieces of what looked like white staghorn coral. We saw many schooling fish – Sargent Majors, Grunts and others. We saw familiar reef fish, such as Parrot Fish, Damsel Fish and Barracuda. And we saw Grouper and Scrawled Filefish. I was trying to get Chuck’s attention to point out the Nurse Shark that I saw, when I realized he was busy filming a green Moray Eel that was completely out of his hole.
We stayed in the water for about an hour, and went back to the boat, chilled, thirsty and hungry. After snacks and water, we went in for a second dive. The moorings were filled, and a small boat with a young family (with 5 kids!) anchored on the reef. We swam over to tell them that was not permitted, and they might get fined. They were very nice, and grateful for the info. We offered to let them raft with us, but fortunately another boat was leaving and they were able to take the freed-up mooring for a short while until their small kids had enough.
We enjoyed the blue world again, and swam until we started to get chilly. On our way back, we passed one of the commercial dive boats, and tried to listen to their briefing. I heard the dive master tell the patrons that this was the best water visibility that he’d seen in nearly a year. We’ve heard that diving is best here in the summer, when the weather is calm and the water is clear.
Oh, and the t-shirts did a good job of preventing sunburn on our backs. The back of our upper thighs, however, are a different matter. We both got sunburned through that beautifully clear water. Ouch!