Scuba Diving the Florida Shipwrecks
Some of the most enjoyable diving you may ever do is wreck scuba diving. Because travel by ship was the main way of going from continent to continent prior to development of air travel, and because the technology used on ships and in weather forecasting was not advanced at all, many ships sank in waters around the world providing dives that are interesting and fun. There are so many wrecks that only the Florida wreck diving will be covered in this article.
In fact, there are so many Florida wreck scuba diving spots available, you’ll have plenty of difficulty choosing which ones to dive. Hurricanes, coral reefs, shoals and pirates all help sink the ships that are often quite near the shores.
During the Spanish colonial period, the Florida Straits were the most frequently used passage for ships to access the Gulf Stream to get the boost of these fast-flowing currents for their trip home across the Atlantic Ocean. Some of these ships were never to return safely home but were trapped into one of the many tragedies that happened to the then ill-equipped vessel when challenging Mother Nature. Many of these unfortunate victims of the sea have been excavated and are awaiting your arrival.
One great wreck scuba diving destination is Pensacola in the Panhandle of Florida. There are lots of ships within a small area. In Pensacola Bay, eleven ships were to become victims of a hurricane during 1500. The colonists that were becoming settles on the shore at what is now known as Pensacola Bay were unloading vessels when the massive storm overtook them. Of course, there were no storm warnings like we have today and they were taken unaware. The result of the loss of the eleven ships was to soon become the demise of the colony which only lasted 60 years.
The Trinite is another great wreck scuba diving spot. This French wreck lies off St. Augustine and went down during a storm in 1565 while the Frenchmen were preparing to attack the Spaniards who had colonized this section of the northeast Florida coastline. After the vessel sank, the attack did not occur. Today you can not only scuba dive the wreck at St. Augustine but you can also see other sights like the nation’s oldest school house and oldest drug store, tour the fort as well as get in some fun in the sun.
You can do some wreck scuba diving at the resting place of the Tierra Firme fleet. Two ships from the fleet of 27 vessels, the Atocha and the Santa Margarita, went to their watery graves along with 380 sailors during a hurricane in 1622. The fleet had more than $250 million in cargo among them and the Atocha proved to be quite a profitable salvage job once it was located and now you can see it for yourself along with her sister ship in the Florida Keys.
In 1700 the Henneta Marie, a slave trade vessel that had unloaded slaves in Jamaica and was in the Key West to load sugar from the plantations sank. Today you can visit Key West during your wreck scuba diving vacation and see the oldest know wreck of a slave trading vessel that has been identified by name.
While you are in the Florida Keys for wreck scuba diving, go see the San Pedro which was one of the last vessels from the New Spain fleet to cross to what is now the United States. In 1733, this ship was taken victim by a hurricane along with several other ships traveling with her. There are wrecks covering over 80 miles of the Florida Keys oceanscape from this storm. The Spanish salvaged this ship only to find that she had been burned to the waterline so that pirates could not loot her.
In 1713 a vessel named Urca de Lima owned by the Spanish ran aground on a shoal off Florida’s Atlantic coast during a hurricane. There were nine other ships lost during this hurricane but because the Urca de Lima was grounded and did not sink like the others, she was used as a supply ship to provide for the survivors of the other shipwrecks as well as the one remaining French vessel that had been accompanying the Urca de Lima. Over 1,000 men lost their lives in this tragic hurricane.
You can find still dive and find shipwrecks under the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Florida’s eastern coast as well as some in the calmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico which run along the western shore of Florida and the southern edge of the Florida Panhandle.
Florida is a great place to go wreck scuba diving and you will find the waters warm enough to dive even in the winter. In fact, the winter is the peak season in this southern state. You can obtain discount rates if you choose to travel to Florida during the off-season which is May through November. You’ll also enjoy less crowded areas and beaches with fewer visitors.
As you plan your wreck scuba diving in Florida, be sure to have all your dive equipment checked by a professional so that you won’t experience any problems while visiting a wreck. If you do not want to take your own dive gear, there are many dive shops located along the coastlines of Florida ready to provide for your every need.
If you want to ensure that finding the wrecks, scuba diving with a charter boat that specialized in wreck diving is practical. These captains know exactly where to visit quickly and easily locate the wrecks you want to visit. These locals can also point out other places of interest to see and things to do in the area during your holiday.
While wreck scuba diving, remember that safety must always come first when in the water. Don’t take unnecessary chances. Be sure to stay with your dive party and your trip will be a great success.