Florida in March with Junior OWD?

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gajahduduk

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My 10-year-old (soon to turn 11) got certified in Maui last summer. We did 5 post-cert dives and he dove like he'd done >50. (Proud dad…)

In mid to late March we're considering a trip to Florida with my octogenarian parents – where between Miami and Orlando is negotiable.

Considering Junior OWD are limited to 40 feet (technically – I'd be fine taking him a bit past that), is Blue Heron Bridge the only viable option? If not, what else could we consider? Either way, are the crowds and the fisherfolk at BHB really a concern? Also FWIW we're both into muck diving.

Also, what do you all suit up in at that time of the year? I'm used to either tropical diving (with anything from a lavacore skin to a 3mm shortie) or cold water (California, Puget Sound) in 7mm or dry suits. But Florida in March seems somewhat in between? 5mm wet suits? hoodies or gloves?

My apologies for asking y'all before doing thorough research. But I've done enough to know that Jupiter will be too deep and the Keys probably too green and murky and what I said about BHB… Just want to know if the idea of diving in Florida in March is worth pursuing further.
 

tursiops

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BHB sounds perfect; long gives, very muck-diving-like. Go on a weekday, no big problem with crowds. Tricky to plan...need to look at the tide tables. High tide +- 1 hour is the diving window.
Connect up with PuraVidaDivers, they'll take good care of you.

Temps are likely to be mid-to-upper 70s. I'd be in a 5mm + hooded vest.
 

ScubaBunga

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Took my boy out of tarpon springs when he was that age. Dive was just bridge parts but was only 30’ and decent vis. Was a bit cold that time of year. Saw some Goliath groupers that were bigger than he was. It was a good first ocean dive for him.
 

Knockneed Man

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Key Largo isn’t much further down from Miami if you can keep that an option. I took my 12 year old Jr water there a few weeks ago and dove with both Quiesence and Capt Slates creature feature and it was a blast. Shallow, calm, good vis, and fun wildlife
 

Sue J

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FREE-SHAFT

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I took my 10 year old on a charter in WPB (Narcosis) in January, around 60' max. Great experience, great crew and captain. I dove a 3mm my son dove a 5mm. We were both comfortable water temp was mid 70s.
 

PBcatfish

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BHB is about the easiest dive in Palm Beach County if you hit it at the right tide. The right tide is getting into the water about half an hour before high & out about a half hour after high. Start your dive at the east end of the beach, but not too close to the little bridge to the east of the beach. If the current is pulling you towards the little bridge, you are too close.

At high tide, the water is much cleaner than it is at other times. The difference is significant. Incoming tide will push you west across the beach & outgoing tide will push you back the other way. In an hour, you can usually get all the way across the trail & then back across it again going the other way & get back out about the same spot where you got in. You can also bail out early any time you want & just head for the beach. Diving more than an hour off of high tide gets you stronger currents as well as murky water.

Expect a max depth of 20-25 feet. Don't go very much south past the trail of artificial reefs. You want to stay out of the boat channel.

Parking is free, but you want to get there more than an hour before high tide, if you want a decent parking space.

There are showers at the edge of the parking lot. You can rinse off yourself & your gear there.

The two dive shops in the area are Pura Vita & Force E. If you want to rent gear, get info, fill tanks, or hire a guide, one of them should be able to help you out.

There are other shore entry places you can dive, but none that I know are as easy for access as BHB & none of the others that I have been to have better things to see. But then again, I don't shore dive that much so I don't know all the places.

If you want to spear fish, then BHB is not a good choice. BHB is a no take zone. You can't even bring a spear with you there.

My logs indicate water temperatures between 74-78F that time of year in that area. I would opt for a 3mm full suit at that temperature for that kind of dive, but that's just me. Different people have different tolerances for cold.

If you want to do a boat dive, then you will need to call around & find out who will allow a kid that young. I don't know the policies for the different boats. I have a soft spot in my heart for a boat called Narcosis, because a couple of years ago, they picked me up & got me out of a jam after an equipment failure when I was diving from a different boat. That was quite kind of them.

This thread discusses some other options in FL that I have not tried - Florida State Parks that allow Diving (List)
 

tursiops

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BHB is about the easiest dive around if you hit it at the right tide. The right tide is getting into the water about half an hour before high & out about a half hour after high. Start your dive at the east end of the beach, but not too close to the little bridge to the east of the beach. If the current is pulling you towards the little bridge, you are too close.

At high tide, the water is much cleaner than it is at other times. The difference is significant. Incoming tide will push you west across the beach & outgoing tide will push you back the other way. In an hour, you can usually get all the way across the trail & then back across it again going the other way & get back out about the same spot. You can also bail out early any time you want & just head for the beach.

Expect a max depth of 20-25 feet. Don't go very much south past the trail of artificial reefs. You want to stay out of the boat channel.

Parking is free, but you want to get there more than an hour before high tide, if you want a decent parking space.

There are showers at the edge of the parking lot. You can rinse off yourself & your gear there.

The two dive shops in the area are Pura Vita & Force E. If you want to rent gear, get info, fill tanks, or hire a guide, one of them should be able to help you out.

There are other shore entry places you can dive, but none that I know are as easy for access as BHB & none of the others that I have been to have better things to see. If you want to spear fish, that's a different story. BHB is a no take zone. You can't even bring a spear with you there.

My logs indicate water temperatures between 74-78F that time of year in that area. I would opt for a 3mm full suit at that temperature for that kind of dive, but that's just me. Different people have different tolerances for cold.

If you want to do a boat dive, then you will need to call around & find out who will allow a kid that young. I don't know the policies for the different boats. I have a soft spot in my heart for a boat called Narcosis, because a couple of years ago, they picked me up & got me out of a jam after an equipment failure when I was diving from a different boat. That was quite kind of them.

This thread discusses other options in FL - Florida State Parks that allow Diving (List)
^^^Good info here.^^^
You can check the tide schedule and other info at Blue Heron Bridge Diving and Tides | Force-E Scuba Centers,
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/swift/
https://xf2.scubaboard.com/community/forums/cave-diving.45/

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