Dive #105 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
© Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

PREVIOUS 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 HOME INDEX Next

Bottom Time to Date:


Dive Info:

Dive Start:

Bottom Time:
54 minutes

Maximum Depth:
58 feet

Safety Stop:
3 minutes

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
900 psi

Weather Conditions:

Surface Conditions:

Surface Water Temperature:

Bottom Water Temperature:

100+ feet
* * * *½
March 19,
Michael (divemaster), Janel (buddy)
Looking for the green flash
Videograph by Rich Torkington in TCI 2002 
Dive Journal: We had originally planned to do a night dive earlier in the week, but the schedule did not work out. I believe the preference for each Salt Cay Divers boat is to offer the three daily dive slots (described in Dive #088), but omit the afternoon dive if a night dive is scheduled. Tonight is the night, however.

Linda has been fairly consistently cold at the end of each dive. Since night dives seem even colder (whether or not this is true), she elects not to do this one, also stating no particular preference to do a night dive anyway. Janel, on the other hand, has been looking forward to this. She has experienced only one other night dive, off Oahu, at dusk, with a grumpy divemaster who was no fun, during her advanced certification.

Unfortunately, as a new Open Water diver, John is not quite ready to go on this dive yet, and happily stays home with Mom.

Janel and I board the boat with Michael. Having just the three of us onboard is immediately special. We motor out to the mooring buoy at Three Pillars, tie off, and sit to watch the sun go down. The sun sets and we watch for the green flash. Michael proclaims to see it pretty well today, but I’m still not seeing it. [The best will always be that green flash off Waikiki Beach, when everyone applauded.]

We wait for quite a while, 30 or 40 minutes at least, for darkness to develop. Janel and I really enjoy talking to Michael a little bit, and we trade stories about places we’ve visited. Michael is a true diver’s diver, having scuba’d all sorts of missions in all sorts of conditions, including north Atlantic wreck dives and sheriff’s search-and-rescue diving for dead bodies. Also intriguing is that Michael arrived at Salt Cay by sailing a small boat all the way from New Orleans by himself. An extra dose of salt is in Michael’s veins.

We slowly begin to ready gear for the dive. Janel and I have brought along new dive lights this time, “PrincetonTec Shockwave IIs”, to replace the smallish primary lights we’ve used in the past Michael ties two flashing strobe beacons from the safety bar and hangs it 15 feet beneath the stern. He also powers up a little string of lights along the edge of the canopy, in case we surface and need to find the boat topside. The Christmasy feel of the lights, the warm breezes and calm conditions are great – I am liking this dive a lot already.

We descend into the blackness, and Janel and I find our new dive lights provide an excellent powerful beam, much better than the old ones. As we edge over the reef wall, Michael immediately finds a Spanish lobster out foraging. This is a very cool find. A member of the slipper lobster family, this guy definitely look prehistoric – less like a crawfish, maybe more like a trilobite or pill bug. The lobster stays right out in the open for us and does not back away, allowing us a wonderful close look.

I am impressed with all the great colors to be seen at night, mostly due to the localized unfiltered light of the dive lights. The reds, purples, blues, and oranges are just great. One of the items Michael has told us to look for is a space-age ball with little orange ends, actually called an orange ball corallimorph. I spy one mid-way down the wall – fabulous. Theses are pretty uncommon to see. Janel also enjoys the site of quite a few jellyfish in her dive light over the wall.

We all spend a few simultaneous minutes blocking or turning off our lights to examine the pitch black of the environment. It’s a memorable experience. I especially like the slow sporadic winking from luminescent critters in the reef wall. Mystifying.

Michael has briefed us to try shining our dive lights onto the coral heads with polyps extended. When we try this, hundreds of short worm-like things dart in, attracted by the bright reflected light. They inadvertantly swim into the polyps, which almost immediately paralyzes them as the polyps curl inward, devouring the worms and feeding the coral. Both fascinating and fun to watch.

We turn around and ascend to the top of the reef wall. There is a nice spotted moray, who, after we pay him some attention, decides to take off swimming freely. On the swim back, we encounter a stunning juvenile hogfish lying horizontal on the sand, apparently asleep. Michael has instructed us not to blast our light directly on sleeping fish because it startles them so when they wake up, so we’re careful here. The rust-orange colors of the juvenile hogfish are gorgeous at night.

We finally arrive under the boat again, and start our safety stop. During our ascent, at about 6 feet depth, Janel runs into this way-cool streaming worm probably 2 or 3 feet long. The worm flies through the water in curly-cues, swimming around in a chasing fashion in our dive lights. Almost scary! Like we’re under attack!. But way-cool just the same. Janel loves it.

We surface to a black sky and warm slow breezes. Night dives are just great!

“Welcome to Salt Cay!”

Mares Avanti Quattro
U S Divers Matrix
80 ft3 Al
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Dive Type:
Body of Water:
Caribbean Sea
U S Divers
3mm full wetsuit
Spectrum XR2
plus Oceanic
Slimline octopus
12 lb
Water Type:
Video Equipment:
Sony DCR-TRV11 digital handycam in Top Dawg housing