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November 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Shore Diving in Intracoastal Tidal Waters

from the November, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

To plan your dives, you'll need local tide tables. The Blue Heron Bridge is part of the Lake Worth Inlet, or Riviera Beach. Complimentary tables are available at local dive shops or online at www.tides.info/?command=view&location=Palm+Beach,+Lake+Worth,+Florida . Tides progress about 50 minutes each day so that during the week, a high tide starting around 8a.m. on Monday can swing to after 12 p.m. by Friday. To maximize bottom time, I entered the water about an hour before and after the tides turned. During the dive, the main thing is to reach your exit point before the current gets too strong.

It helps to have a tool to hold your position, and enough weight to keep on the sandy bottom. I don't recommend a reef hook, as there are no reefs with dead coral to hook onto. I started off by using a lobe on my line holder to stab into the bottom, but the sand was too densely packed for this to work well. I didn't want to dull my dive knife, so I bought an inexpensive, 16-inchlong, blunt, stainless steel rod called "The Tank Ticklin' Stick" that I saw the locals using. It has a stainless steel ring at one end that clipped into my buoy line holder. I could detach and slip it through my fingers any time. It also works as a tank banger.

In these waters, divers must stay within 50 feet of a dive flag or risk being fined. The catch is that sooner or later, its line hangs up on the many pilings and piers. Locals solve this problem in two ways. One is by hanging weights off a buoy line holder and leaving it nearby on the bottom, but that means having to buy or rent extra weight, and it can be carried off by the current. The preferred method is to wrap the line around something that won't be damaged, then clip it back into the line holder. Locals also use a cave or wreck reel on which they clip a small, blunt, grappling-style reef hook to use when drift diving. The free end still goes up to a dive flag, but it eliminates the need for a separate reef hook and line.

- - S.P.

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