The Miami Technical Diving Scene
I heard something curious on a dive boat this past week. My student and I were kitting up to dive Key Largo’s Spiegel Grove wreck, when a diver on the boat noticed our logo on a dry box. ‘Miami Technical Diving?! Is there technical diving in Miami?!’
For color, this was an experienced Tec diver who lives in Miami and travels the 45 minutes down the turnpike/US 1 to spend his weekends diving the wrecks of Key Largo. Granted, this diver is not a Florida native. But then, neither am I.
One of the first purchases I made upon moving to Miami was the Top Spot Map No. N211 which covers the Miami area for fishing spots and dive sites, from Hollywood in the north to Biscayne Bay in the south, to 5 miles off shore and references 48 wrecks in that area in the depth range of 130-300ft (40m-100m) - Advanced Nitrox to Advanced Trimix range. There are said to be more than that.
So Miami has the sites. But how to get to them?
At time of writing, there are two commercial dive charter boats operating out of Miami: Paradise Divers and Deco Divers.
I approached the son of the owner of Paradise Divers to see if they’d be interested in running Tec trips. ‘Well, we don’t have much interest for the deeper dives’ was the reply I received. If you build it, they will come, I said. I meet technical divers all the time in Pompano and Key Largo who live in Miami but leave the city to get their desired depths. However, a majority of their time and focus is dedicated to UM’s various oceanographical research projects.
I have discussed technical dive charters with the Captain at Deco Divers on a couple of occasions. Understandably, and with such a large boat to fill, they would need a crowd of dedicated Techies to make the trip worth their while. They are not afraid of running deep wrecks… Deep Freeze (135’/41m;) Lakeland (140’/45m;) and Etoile de Mer (135’41m) all feature on their August schedule, but never as double dips, meaning they have a second site to move on to. So that’s a ‘No’ from the Tec community there and a stalemate all round.
In addition to this, you need a charter op who are used to dealing with us Tec Divers. We need safe storage for our stages, more space than a single-tank diver and Dive Masters who can assist with clipping stages on and understand the importance of which stage goes where and which way the clip should face… the list goes on. We’re a needy bunch.
So how do we get out to Miami’s deeper wreck sites?
Working with private clients and diving from their boats has given me the opportunity to explore these lesser-dived wrecks. A couple of weeks ago, two Trimix students and I dropped onto the Water Tower at 172’/53m. The huge bowl of the reservoir was easily penetrable and we had fun exploring the crumpled struts and piping that made up the structure. The curious nature of the grouper (yes, curious grouper!) hinted that this dive site hadn’t been dived in a very long time. (Please comment below if I’m wrong about this.) It was a fantastic dive. We have also done Tacoma, Etoile De Mer, Jupiter Star and a few more wrecks in the past months, with more to come. Big, deep, historical wrecks!
Can I muster the support of the Miami Technical Diving commuinty to convince the boat operators that there is great Tec diving in Miami and divers to support it, work with their crew to train technical diving needs, charter the boat and fill it, overcome their objections and run a Miami Technical day (Once a week? Month?)
…Or do I need to buy a boat?!