Sorry gang, my underwater camera is only rated to 180 feet deep so no photos from this dive. However, you can check out photo and video from this site at:
The Queen of Nassau is an incredible wreck. Sitting at a maximum depth of 230 FSW it`s not for everyone. However, those with the training should surely make arrangements to see it when they visit Key Largo. We did the Queen with Dan Dawson at Horizon Divers. In the reconfigured Key Largo dive shop scene Dan has the only shop with staff that are capable and the resources and willingness to make this dive happen. We used the Oceanna - Horizon`s six-pack boat. Troy was our Captain and Dan made the dive with us. We were a technical team of 3.
The wreck is breath-taking as your approach it. Built in 1904 and sunk in 1926 the Queen is a small Naval Cruiser. At 200 feet long she is not a large wreck to dive but with the pronounced turn of the century lines and design the ship is a classic. Few people get the chance to dive on the Queen because of the depth, lack of operators in the area able to do this dive and weather fluctuations. We were extremely lucky in that the wind was light and the current was very mild. It was an incredible day to dive the Keys.
We dropped in with doubles and stages on a grapple hook line mid-ship. Going around the outside in a counter-clockwise rotation with no penetration since this was our first time on the wreck we were amazed at how intact this ship looks. Using a special blend of Trimix with multiple deco cylinders we toured the wreck for just shy of half an hour and really wished we had more time on this stunning jewel.
Dan at Horizon has decided after today that with three seasoned wreck divers all being completely ecstatic with the wreck, the conditions and the dive in general he is going to offer this one probably once or twice a quarter. Due to the length of the boat ride, (an hour) and the time it takes to grapple and set once we arrive on the wreck, it is slated as an all day affair. We hooked into a mooring ball in the shallows so we could watch the turtle and the birds while we had lunch then after our extended surface interval we changed out our doubles for a new set and dropped in on the wreck of the Eagle. The Eagle is within recreational limits so an hour long dive with minimal deco from the residual gas in our systems made for the perfect cap to our day. Horizon has Helium on-site so custom blends are available provided you show up the day before with your doubles to fill. It is a partial pressure system but a haskel pump is available for a moderate boost if you have residual gas in your tanks.
I`ve done a lot of wrecks and some have been very disappointing once you get on it after all the hype. I`ve been waiting for a slot on a Queen of Nassau trip for 2 years due to schedule conflicts and those hurricane things. I can honestly say I was not disappointed.
The other wrecks in the area include the Northern Light (Technical Dive that is OK but not on par with this dive) the Speigel Grove (always a pleasure to dive but I honestly think for the time being the Queen will be my first choice) The Bibb and the Duane (Sister Ship Treasury Class Coast Guard Cutters that have till today been my favorite wrecks here) The Eagle (always a fun one if I`m teaching) and the Benwood (the shallow wreck).
Marine life on the wreck was abundant. However, the bottom temperature of 66*F at 225 FSW was a tad chilly so dry suit and hood is recommended by me. This temperature difference and depth has led to there being less encrustation on the wreck than other wrecks in the area. Goliath Groupers were around and quite large. A curious Black tip Shark hung out near our ascent line and swam around us for a few minutes while we hung in deco. During lunch an area turtle hung out off the bow and since we weren`t here to molest him he stayed nearby.
I can`t gush enough about this dive and I look forward to scheduling it once again sometime in the next 5 weeks. If you are interested in joining me and a few others on this dive (maximum of 6 passengers for this technical trip) let me know and we`ll schedule it as a request. Trimix Certification is required or you must be in active training status with a Trimix Instructor.
Sorry for the gap in the educational blogs but I`ve been in travel mode for a few classes and will return to that next week. In the meantime I just had to gush about this dive to those who wish to read. Sorry for the lack of photos but until I step up to a camera that will go deeper than my current one with a 180 FSW rating we`ll have to rely on others. The link above will give you some photos and some video so that you too can be awed by the wreck. After that come visit the Keys and be awed in person. I highly recommend this dive.