Tourist for a Day

BY BRITT TODD

One of the perks of living in Florida is that there is always something to do, somewhere. The question is: are you willing to take the drive to find an adventure?

It’s 8 a.m. on Oct 1 and the weather is perfect: 82 degrees, partly cloudy, with a slight, warm breeze. These are ideal conditions for a snorkeling adventure in the Keys.

Brigette Todd and her boyfriend Marcel Voumard moved to Port St Lucie just over a year ago. In the three-and-a-half-hour drive to Key Largo, they talk about wanting to experience all that Florida has to offer.

After a little confusion with directions, they make their way to Keys Diver & Snorkel Center, a small white building with a huge, yellow snorkel on the side. A man with a tan, smiling face introduces himself as the owner, Capt. Rob Mitchell. An avid diver since 1973 and captain since 1990, he tells about the shop as he checks them in.

“I took over Keys Diver five years ago, and at the time we were strictly a snorkel company and had one boat, the Keys Diver,” said Mitchell. “Since then, we bought another boat, Keys Diver II. We offer scuba certification and take certified divers out.

Keys Diver

“We are the only crew that goes to the Christ of the Abyss Statue every day, weather permitting, and for the same rates everyone else is charging we take guests out to three different reef spots with over two hours of snorkel time.”

Once checked in, a quick drive across the street took the couple to the docks and from there a short walk to the boat. Promptly at 12:15 p.m., the Keys Diver headed out and about 50 minutes later arrived at the first reef. The instructor warned that while beautiful and fun, reefs can be dangerous. Due to weather conditions, the boat did not visit the Christ of the Abyss statue, but the crew assured guests they would still have over two hours of snorkel time.

After the second location, the crew asked the guests what they saw; one couple says they saw a stingray; a few people said they saw the “Dory, the fish from Finding Nemo,” and almost everyone saw the purple moon jellyfish that the instructor warned them about.

Brigette and Marcel saw all of those and a barracuda. Before anyone realized how late it is, the boat is headed back to land. At 4:30 p.m., the boat arrived at the dock and the captain and crew thanked their guests.

On the ride home that evening, Brigette and Marcel talked about their favorite parts of the trip.

“I loved seeing all the different types of fish and how clear the water was. You could see anything,” Marcel said.

“My favorite part was definitely seeing the barracuda, he was huge!” Brigette said. “But it was also kind of scary because, in their world, I’m the prey not the other way around, and they’re known to attack humans.”

“The only suggestion I really have is play the music loud enough for the whole boat, and have more of a food and drink selection,” Brigette said.

“Next time, I think we would definitely make it a longer trip and get a room so we can do more and not worry about the drive home,” Marcel said.

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