Jupiter Dive Center / Labor Day 2021 Report

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edoralive

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I am wrapping up a trip to Jupiter, and linked up with Jupiter Dive Center, at the recommendation of others here on this board. I completed four trips (8 dives) from September 4-5. Prices are reasonable. There are two boats, and my boats were all full, with 11-12 divers each trip. JDC also has a dive shop on site. Nitrox analysis is done in front of you, but by store staff. You can see the analyzer if you'd like.

The operation is pretty slick - you book online, and can add on things there (like nitrox, steel tanks, etc). Nitrox is optional on most dives, but you should absolutely be using nitrox. Air divers are time limited to 25 minutes. Nitrox is limited to 45 minutes or 800-1000 PSI. I ended dives due to gas limits on two of the 8 dives, one likely due to depth and one due to the ass kicking current and trying to keep up with a turtle. Dive nitrox.

I wore a lycra top with a 1mm chest panel and swim trunks for all dives. Others had said that everyone dives wetsuit, but I'd say that was overblown. Lots of wetsuits, for sure, but probably equal in numbers to folks wearing rash guards and trunks. It was totally fine for all of my dives, except for the final dive, when we really hit a thermocline and experienced a drop from 83 to 74 degrees. Brrr.

When I was here, currents were unpredictable. We dove the MD-111 wreck three times and had no current, a very strong northerly current and a strong southerly current. Wild.

I did see lots of divers dragging equipment across the reefs, whacking into wrecks, etc. I watched one photographer set his rig on the reef and try to pet a grouper.

Pros:

  • Efficient booking system
  • Snacks (cookies, pretzels, soda, water) on board and no-additional charge
  • Good crews with strong pre-dive briefs
  • I thought the reefs were excellent, not only in terms of their fauna, but also in terms of interesting architecture. Lots of nooks, caves and crannies to peer into.
  • This may be a con to come, and a pro to others (a little of both to me), but there's zero emphasis on buddying up on dives. I surfaced alone on 4 out of 8 dives, including the night dive.
  • Night dives are two tanks.
Cons:
  • No COVID precautions, if that is important to you. No one was prohibited from masking, but no one worte a mask.
  • Repetitive dive sites. We dove the MG-111 three times over the course of 8 drops. This, I hope, is because of the grouper aggregation that happens to love that site. It wasn't terrible - it's not a huge wreck, but it's pretty sublime to chill with the groupers.
  • This may be a con to come, and a pro to others (a little of both to me), but there's zero emphasis on buddying up on dives. I surfaced alone on 4 out of 8 dives, including the night dive.

September 4, 2021, morning dive

Dive 1: Wreck Treck: Solid dive across three wrecks of varying size and condition. The third wreck is quite nice, with a small swim through and spots for fauna to hide. Nice to have a guide, as you swim across two open expanses between the wrecks; it would be easy to miss one or all.

Dive 2: Tunnels: I thought this trip was divine. Really nice reef with a mild current, and several swim throughs made for a compelling time. Spotted two very large nurse sharks.

September 4, 2021, night dive

1st dive: MD-111: Dip one on MG-111. Twilight dive. This was the best of the three MG-111 dips. Good Grouper congregations, light current. Saw a grouper with a big weight attached to his gill in the wreck, but couldn’t get in to see about cutting it loose.

2nd dive: Scarface: We were surprised by the direction of the current, expecting a northerly current and finding a southerly current. I swam with an air diver until he went up at 25 minutes and was alone, on the bottom, in the dark, for another 20 minutes. That was pretty intense, but also pretty incredible. Lots of crab and lobster, and I found a turtle buddy under a rock who came out to swim with me for 5-10 minutes, an arm’s length away. Solid current, and ascending in open water alone in the dark was pretty exciting.

September 5, 2021 morning dive

1st dive: MG-111: Second dip on MG-111. Nothing much to report. Grouper were chillin’. Strong northerly current.

2nd dive: Lighthouse: Mostly a snoozer in terms of what we ran into, but we saw a rock fish, some lobster and some big ol’ hermits, and a moray. A lazy, pleasant dive, but not particularly memorable. My dive buddy was happy to have left her giant camera rig on deck.

September 5, 2021 afternoon dive

1st dive: MD-111: My third dip on MG-111. This time we dropped at the southern edge, expecting a northerly current, but were surprised by a southerly current. We struggled to get to the wreck and ascended to the boat to drop again on the north side of the wreck. Lots of great grouper action, if that's your thing. I let the mob go off to the south and chilled with the groupers at the pillars. Tried to cut a fishing weight off of one, but he was on to me and I couldn't catch up.

2nd dive: Bonnie's: The dive brief was honest: we're gonna drop down and see which way we go. We ended up going North and were hammered by both a thermocline (from 88 to 74) and an ambitious current from east to west, to the point where I was swimming perpendicular to the reef and still heading parallel. Wild. I really loved this reef - great craggy architecture with lots of spots for critters to hide. Spotted a nurse shark, a rock fish, a couple lion fish and chilled with a turtle for a bit. The thermocline was maybe 10 feet off the bottom, which made visibility a little wonky.

edited to correct the MG-111 name that I couldn't get right after diving it three times in two days...
 

Manatee Diver

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Repetitive dive sites. We dove the MD-111 three times over the course of 8 drops. This, I hope, is because of the grouper aggregation that happens to love that site. It wasn't terrible - it's not a huge wreck, but it's pretty sublime to chill with the groupers.

MG-111

But yes that is because of the Grouper dives. Other wise there are enough sites that they can vary things.
 

scubadada

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@edoralive

Welcome to south Florida, you never know what to expect, part of the excitement. It would be pretty boring if everything was predictable, don't you think? I have nearly 1,200 dives in Boynton Beach, Jupiter, and West Palm, I'll be back in just over a week :)
 

Divin'Papaw

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I believe what was said about wetsuits is that most locals wear full suits or skins all year. Being Labor Day weekend I’m sure you had mostly traveling divers. Most traveling divers don’t wear full wetsuits in the summer.

Most of us locals (1) like to be comfortable, (2) have seen first hand all the things that sting, bite and puncture divers, (3) have seen first hand a 10+ degree thermocline appear out of nowhere. Those were the reasons for the advice given.

I’m glad you had good dives. As you found out, conditions can often change markedly dive to dive. That’s South FL for you!
 

CosbySweater

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Glad you had a good trip. JDC is a good operation. Nitrox is an absolute must with the profiles off Jupiter. Most of the time you don’t need a wetsuit around here to keep warm but when there’s a thermocline you’ll wish you had one. I found 74 degree water below 40’ at Breakers (off palm beach) on Friday. It’s hard to be too warm underwater but it can be really easy to be too cold.

You’ll find that most operators in PBC don’t enforce the buddy rule. It’s up to you to plan your own dive and execute it safely with or without a buddy.
 

Johnoly

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..When I was here, currents were unpredictable. .....
Yaa, Jupiter is some WILD and Hardcore advanced diving. Really glad you got to visit and see the Goliaths and a few sharks.
Also I wanted to say Thank You for the extensive report. I know how many hours they take to writeup and your quality writing shows the effort!!
 

edoralive

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@edoralive

Welcome to south Florida, you never know what to expect, part of the excitement. It would be pretty boring if everything was predictable, don't you think? I have nearly 1,200 dives in Boynton Beach, Jupiter, and West Palm, I'll be back in just over a week :)

Totally! Sort of a blast to have the divemaster say "I have no idea what we're going to encounter down there. Stay close!"
 

edoralive

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I believe what was said about wetsuits is that most locals wear full suits or skins all year.

Fair point! Maybe a counterpoint is the DMs themselves largely eschewed wetsuits. Totally spot on about traveling divers; most of us seemed to be from faraway lands like MN and CA, with some NC, cave country and panhandle thrown in to the mix.

Everyone warned about the thermocline, and I was all set to make a snarky post about how it was 80+ all the way down, and then the last dip we hit that thermocline. Brr!

You’ll find that most operators in PBC don’t enforce the buddy rule. It’s up to you to plan your own dive and execute it safely with or without a buddy.

Good to know! It was a great experience all around.
 
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