Ft. Lauderdale Lobster Diving Vacation 2007
This summer I decided to take a week long vacation down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL at the start of lobster season. Two days prior to the opening of the season I packed all my bags and scuba gear (tanks and all) in the car and headed south 9 hours. When I arrived at Ft. Lauderdale I met my parents, sister and brother in-law. We reserved a hotel suite just 2 blocks from the beach.
Most of my family is scuba qualified. Everyone except for my mother. The first dive that we did was just my father and I the day before the lobster season opened to go scout out the reef and check out the "hunting grounds". This was also the first time I had put my underwater scooters to the test. They worked like a champ! Overall, it wasn`t a bad dive but I had expected more from the inner reefs. The inner reefs were mostly flat and not that impressive. But we figured it was probably just that part of the beach. As the days went on we talked with several locals to try and get information as to the best beach diving sites. We got some good information and on the third day we caught our first lobster. Granted it was the only one we saw during the whole dive but hey, it`s one in the pot! We tried a few more spots and got little to no luck in the lobstering realm. So we decided to make a beach night dive. After all, lobsters are night creatures. They come out at night to feed and can be seen freely walking the reefs. During the day they hide in tiny holes. So we figured our best bet was to go at night. Unfortunately still no lobster but we did manage to scare up a 10 foot nurse shark.
Seeing how the beach diving was not working out like we had hoped we decided to sign up for a few charter boat dives. My sister was really not into lobstering like my dad and I. She was more into doing some wreck dives. And my brother in-law doesn`t like deep water. So I, my dad and my sister scheduled a 2 tank dive with the first dive being on a wreck and the second being on a reef. We get the best of both worlds! In the mean time my mother and brother in-law snorkeled the reefs off the beach. On the charter boat we get out to the wreck site and we find that we have a good 5-6 mph current (extremely strong). With that kind of current the wreck dive was aborted and we did two reef drift dives. Talk about challenging! So our plan was that I would do the hunting, my father would be the spotter, and my sister would carry the dive flag. As we descended down to the reef the strength of the current was truly felt. We were flying over the reef! This made spotting lobsters difficult. And even if we did spot one, we would have to grab a hold of the reef (not live coral) to stop ourselves as the current tries to rip your mask and regulator off your face. Not to mention pull your arms out of your sockets (not really but that is what it felt like). During the first dive we did not spot a single lobster. Plus my sister was fighting the current the entire time instead of going with it so she was sucking down her air. She didn`t realize that in that strong of current you can kick as hard as you can and still go backwards. So during or surface interval before the second dive we came up with a good game plan. We gave my sister some pointers on how to deal with the current and conserve her air while carrying the dive flag. My dad would hold the catch bag and I would be the hunter. And seeing how I had the only signaling device, when I spotted a lobster I would signal to everyone and they would grab a hold of the reef to stop themselves while I caught the lobster. Once caught I would bring it over to my dad and stick it in the catch bag and then push off and try to find another. This method worked pretty well and landed us a monster of a lobster.
After that charter we decided to sign up for a night boat dive. Unfortunately the charter business required four divers to take the boat out and we only had three. So we signed up for two different days in hope that a fourth diver would sign up. So on the day that we were supposed to do the night dive we just hit the beach and did some snorkeling with the scooters. That was pretty fun because we ended up swimming with a small hawksbill sea turtle. Later that evening we found out nobody else had signed up for the night dive so the charter was cancelled for that night. However we were still hoping to gain a fourth diver for the next night. But after thinking it over we decided to cancel the second night dive. Instead of wasting another whole day in hopes of a fourth, we changed our night dive to a day wreck/reef dive as well as sign up for the day after wreck/reef dive.
On the next boat dive it was only my dad and I. My sister had decided to snorkel with my brother in-law instead. As on the previous charter we tried to tie up to the wreck but the current was too strong so it turned into a double reef drift dive again. It really didn`t bother us because it gave us more time for lobstering. Plus the visibility was 100 feet. That type of visibility was rare for Ft. Lauderdale where the average visibility is about 40-50 feet. But now that we were down one diver my dad had to carry the flag and I devised a system of tying the catch bag to my side. That dive was such a dynamic dive because we could see so much of the reef and the current was moving so fast it was like flying through mountains. Very cool! That dive produced only one lobster but the second dive gave us three more for a total of four lobsters. Not bad but I`m sure it would have been more if the current had just slacked up a bit. Needless to say we had quite the lobster dinner that night!
The next day we tried again for a wreck dive and were successful. This was our last day of diving before our vacation was over so my sister came with us in hopes the current had slacked and we were able to get on. Her wishes came true with 80 feet of visibility. This wreck was called the Sea Emperor and had several resident creatures living there. The first was a HUGE goliath grouper almost 5 feet in length and 400 lbs. The fish was so use to divers that it would allow you to come within two feet of it. The second resident was a BIG southern stingray that had a 5 foot wingspan buried in the sand. Next to the wreck was a big rock pile which was home to a resident green moray eel. Which of course was more then happy to come out and say hello. On our return to the anchor line we decided to penetrate the wreck and swim the entire inside length of the ship. Exiting right where the anchor line was at. No lobster but still an excellent dive!
The second dive (and last dive of the vacation) turned out to be very fruitful. From the moment we descended we were right on the lobster. Excellent hunting grounds! Unfortunately there was still a bit of current to contend with but nothing like what we had been facing for the past several days. I was able to spot and catch six lobsters but only four of them were keepers because two were females with eggs and had to be let go. So at the end of the week we had five lobsters left over to freeze and take home. Yummy!!!
That night we went out for our last dinner to a Polynesian restaurant. Needless to say "two barrels of rum" later and the festivities were on! :) Excellent end to an excellent vacation!!!