After we decided to go to Florida for the INXS concert, it was only reasonable that we take the opportunity to do little diving. The place where we stayed had no internet access (I nearly died), so we printed some information on several places that did manatee snorkel tours and/or dive tours. As we called several shops, we found that the manatee tours were fully booked. We decided to do a couple of freshwater dives at Crystal River Springs.
It’s been four years since my last dive, so I was pretty nervous. I practiced some movements and mask-clearing the day before the dive. Mask-clearing really unsettles me; I have to keep my eyes closed so I don’t lose my contacts. Being blind, almost deaf, and breathing from a regulator is sensory underload.
The springs flow into a river. I saw a HUGE gar and was so interested I was almost carried off by the Crystal River current! The main attraction of the springs is the caves. I’m not cave certified and have no intention of becoming so. Our first dive was into the mouth of the first cave. It was pitch black in the interior and the cave opening was quite large. As my eyes became accustomed to the darkness ahead, I crept closer to the cave. My buoyancy compensations was terrible, so I kept crashing into boulders, afraid some huge catfish was going to snap at me. I looked back to make sure I could still see the water surface. The last thing I want to do is die from stupidity.
Our second dive was a crevice dive with a max depth of 45 feet. The walls were about 3-10 feet apart, so I had to make sure my reg hose didn’t catch on an outcrop. At the bottom of the crevice was another cave entrance; this one did not have the sloped entrance of the first cave, so it couldn’t be explored at all without moving inside.
I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not cave diving. I enjoy being underwater a lot, but it can be unsettling. I don’t think I could relax if I couldn’t see the water’s surface. Other divers were carrying nitrox, double tanks, and drysuits to cave dive. The left mini-tanks at the cave’s entrance so that they could have extra air for their decompression stop. I wouldn’t want to be in a spot so far from the surface that I need an emergency tank!!!
That said, Crystal River isn’t a fantastic dive for us non-cavers. I’m really glad I went so I could be in the habit of diving again, but I don’t think I’ll dive there again.