Trip Report Navarre and Pensacola shore dives

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soduh

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Hey, I would love for this forum to get more active again. I debated posting this report for a while but I thought it could be useful to people who are getting into SCUBA diving and are still renting equipment like I am currently.

A few weekends ago the ladyfriend and I drove to Pensacola camped out at Big Lagoon State Park. The next morning we rented gear from MBT Divers. The shop was well stocked but there was only one person working up front while 3 guys were all trying on different sizes of dive boots. Once she got our paperwork started she got to tracking down gear for us to use. The gear we got was all well worn (more so than any other gear I have rented) but good brands so I didn't think much of it. She couldn't find a pressure gauge so she had us check our tanks with the SPGs from the reg sets which I found odd. All of the tanks were slightly underfilled at between 2500-2800 psi. She finally called someone else from the back to look at tanks for us. (I don't know why he wasn't helping in the first place as she had been helping 5 people at the same time.) He had a gauge and reported that our SPGs were just reading low, that all the tanks were at 2800. I still found that a little low but whatever, we were just shore diving anyway, we wouldn't be burning through air at a large depth or anything.

We couldn't catch the tide at Ft. Pickens so we decided to head to Navarre where we had heard good things. We got a spot, set up and carried all our gear down to the beach. Upon pressurizing we found that my BCD was auto-inflating. I disconnected it and as we got in the water both sets of regs started free flowing. Once we finally got everything under control we made the long swim out to the reef to see, well, not much of anything. Viz was low, wave surge was kicking us around, we lasted about 20 minutes before thumbing it and going back to our beach spot to drink some beers and regroup for the next day. There were some small reef fish hanging out and I am sure when the conditions were right that it could be a rewarding dive. This was not that time however.

On the way back to Pensacola we stopped by Bay Breeze Dive Shop where the owners were very helpful and got us re-energized on trying Ft. Pickens the next day.
Ft. Pickens was more of the dive we both were looking for. Deep enough drop off that it felt worth it to haul everything out again and we were under the waves. Old enough to have more interesting life living on the jetties. We dodged the jellyfish as well as we could and enjoyed ourselves. Gear problems still plagued us though. My second rented cylinder was cranked closed so hard it was almost impossible to open it up. Also on this dive I noticed both of our SPGs had a pinhole of bubbles coming out of them. (Maybe why they were reading low).

Upon dropping the gear off at MBT we told them about all of our issues where we received an "oh, ok." from the girl at the counter. We had used the gear so I wasn't expecting a refund or anything but someone saying, "we're really sorry, we'll make it right in the future." would have gone a long way. We also were required to wash the rental gear on return which is probably why all of these issues happened and something I have never been asked to do when renting gear. I'm so glad we were shore diving because if we had this many issues with gear on a boat dive I wouldn't have been comfortable getting in the water. It would have made us miss our trip.

Anyway, sorry this is so long but I thought it might prove to be helpful for those of us with the shallower pockets.
jetty jelly.jpg
 

Nemrod

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Cool picture. Looks like you had decent viz too. The only three reliable shore dives that I am aware of are the St Andrews Jetty, the Destin East Finger Jetty and the Fort Pickens Jetty. I have done a pseudo shore dive to the Tug Louise east of the Destin Pass out of Henderson Beach Park. You really need a kayak or a SUP for this dive. You can also reach The Tanks just west of the Destin Jetty from shore but there can be a lot of boats and this area seems frequented by bull sharks as well.

As long as you rent gear you will be plagued with issues. It goes with the territory. I know it is common advice to newbie divers to rent first but I would rather look at the gear my compadres use or other experienced local divers and emulate them and buy my own basic gear.

N
 
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soduh

soduh

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We are slowly accumulating gear when sizes work out for decent used stuff. Hopefully we won't have to play rental roulette for too much longer. It has been useful to know what set ups work best for us but I am pretty close to over it.

Thanks for the info on the other spots, will have to check out Destin next time we are in the area.
 
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Hey, I would love for this forum to get more active again. I debated posting this report for a while but I thought it could be useful to people who are getting into SCUBA diving and are still renting equipment like I am currently.

A few weekends ago the ladyfriend and I drove to Pensacola camped out at Big Lagoon State Park. The next morning we rented gear from MBT Divers. The shop was well stocked but there was only one person working up front while 3 guys were all trying on different sizes of dive boots. Once she got our paperwork started she got to tracking down gear for us to use. The gear we got was all well worn (more so than any other gear I have rented) but good brands so I didn't think much of it. She couldn't find a pressure gauge so she had us check our tanks with the SPGs from the reg sets which I found odd. All of the tanks were slightly underfilled at between 2500-2800 psi. She finally called someone else from the back to look at tanks for us. (I don't know why he wasn't helping in the first place as she had been helping 5 people at the same time.) He had a gauge and reported that our SPGs were just reading low, that all the tanks were at 2800. I still found that a little low but whatever, we were just shore diving anyway, we wouldn't be burning through air at a large depth or anything.

We couldn't catch the tide at Ft. Pickens so we decided to head to Navarre where we had heard good things. We got a spot, set up and carried all our gear down to the beach. Upon pressurizing we found that my BCD was auto-inflating. I disconnected it and as we got in the water both sets of regs started free flowing. Once we finally got everything under control we made the long swim out to the reef to see, well, not much of anything. Viz was low, wave surge was kicking us around, we lasted about 20 minutes before thumbing it and going back to our beach spot to drink some beers and regroup for the next day. There were some small reef fish hanging out and I am sure when the conditions were right that it could be a rewarding dive. This was not that time however.

On the way back to Pensacola we stopped by Bay Breeze Dive Shop where the owners were very helpful and got us re-energized on trying Ft. Pickens the next day.
Ft. Pickens was more of the dive we both were looking for. Deep enough drop off that it felt worth it to haul everything out again and we were under the waves. Old enough to have more interesting life living on the jetties. We dodged the jellyfish as well as we could and enjoyed ourselves. Gear problems still plagued us though. My second rented cylinder was cranked closed so hard it was almost impossible to open it up. Also on this dive I noticed both of our SPGs had a pinhole of bubbles coming out of them. (Maybe why they were reading low).

Upon dropping the gear off at MBT we told them about all of our issues where we received an "oh, ok." from the girl at the counter. We had used the gear so I wasn't expecting a refund or anything but someone saying, "we're really sorry, we'll make it right in the future." would have gone a long way. We also were required to wash the rental gear on return which is probably why all of these issues happened and something I have never been asked to do when renting gear. I'm so glad we were shore diving because if we had this many issues with gear on a boat dive I wouldn't have been comfortable getting in the water. It would have made us miss our trip.

Anyway, sorry this is so long but I thought it might prove to be helpful for those of us with the shallower pockets. View attachment 745726
The mistake was renting from MBT. The best shop in Pensacola is Dive Pros on Hwy 98. That is where I received my OW cert and they have been awarded Best of the Bay for the past at least the past 5-6 years in a row and even back when I certified. Top notch quality instruction, gear and shop.

Also, I’m getting back into diving after a long hiatus (when I was living up north), so if you ever need a dive buddy, let me know. I’m also renting gear until I’m on a more consistent diving schedule.
 
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soduh

soduh

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I don't end up in Pensacola that often but next time I do I will hit you up!
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/swift/

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