The scuba adventure in January of 2011 was a very special mission for it involved all of the 5 divers. Myself, Johnny D, Johnny F, Nick and Renato. We all find our way to Fort Lauderdale, meet with Nick and drive down to Key West. We board our first charter with a local dive shop and while heading through the causeway we can’t help being mesmerized with the gorgeous homes and chalk-white yachts lined up along the sides.
The first dives were set to acclimate us for the real dive adventure. The USS Vandenberg, a former military troop transport and missile-tracking ship that lay at a depth of 140 feet. We book yet another local dive charter and while we walk the marina grounds to locate the ship, we come across a huge manatee that was drinking from a hose alongside the boardwalk. If that was any indication of what to expect, we were definitely excited to head to the sunken ship.
We locate our charter and board the Emily Anne. A husband and wife duo who caters to both fishermen and scuba divers. This particular voyage would be to transport our scuba team to explore the Vandenberg Sunken Wreck.
After quite some time on the diesel odour infested ride, we anchor above the wreck, gear up and long-stride into the ocean. All five signal the go ahead and the controlled decent starts. With moderate visibility and gliding along side each other, we come across a huge silhouette of a sunken ship. The massive structure sends a jolt down your spin and one can relate to the true size of this mega wonder. We weave in and out of certain cabins, hang on to several railings and decent into large turbine columns. All displaying great buoyancy to glide along the different depths. It truly seemed like a delta formation high intensity rescue mission.
As our air depleted at a much quicker pace as the depth increased, we had to plan for our controlled ascend including our safety stop. We all are gathered together in a circular form and remained at 15 feet to complete our decompression stop.
We all take our turn to climb back onboard and with memories that will last forever, we continuously reminisce the whole way back to shore. The only distraction was that for some reason, the engine experienced some faults leaving us swaying with the waves in the middle of the ocean. Thankfully Nick, not only being a certified scuba diver, is a certified technician by trade, and was able to temporarily repair the engine.
We try to add adventure to our scuba trips by visiting local areas and dining out at their known eateries. That particular weekend, Key West was host to some motorcycle gathering and our walk through downtown area was very entertaining. From motorcycle displays to lively interactions, we had a great time.
As I enjoy the aviation industry and its history, our random walk lead to this one road that upon looking at its front signage, I was shocked in reading the billboard. I’ve come across the first office of Pan Am. A company that was acquired by Delta Air Lines in November 1991. The airline that has given me the opportunity in traveling the world.
Early the next morning, we packed all our gear and drove back to Fort Lauderdale. With different flight reservations, we salute and conclude our successful Vandenberg mission.