early seventies I began collecting information about places to dive in
Florida. At first it was just compass bearings and ranges to sites found
depth recorders, but in the late
seventies Loran C hit the market and finally sites well offshore could be
accurately relocated... if you knew what you were looking for, and had the accurate "numbers."
Captains began keeping secret books with their favorite numbers, and as their books grew fat the need to organize the nameless lists and bits of paper stuffed everywhere became evident. My solution was a notebook composed of a series of chart sections with plotted numbers and a lettered section guide to reference them. At the front of each section, next to the chart was a coordinate table, and following it came the pages of log entries with detailed information on the sites and their stories of exploration. Someday I was going to write a book and call it... "The Wild West Coast of Florida."
Computer navigators and plotters came out in the eighties and coordinates were auto-assigned waypoint numbers to help make sense of it all. Captains changed them to letter abbreviations to reference their sites. In the late nineties differential or DGPS became the most accurate equipment and just after 2000 the government shut off selective availability, so even inexpensive hand-held GPS devices could put you right on any site... but again, you had to know what you were looking for and have accurate numbers.
The west coast of
Florida is unlike many popular diving areas in the state. Many
authors of books and magazine articles about Florida diving never actually
came here to dive,
yet they gave out false information about dive sites and incorrect
coordinates. Some famous authors are still selling these publications and
often quoted as experts. (There are some authors, like Mike Barnette of the
AUE and Curt Bowen of ADM, that actually dive here, and these guys and a few
others know a lot about wrecks and sinks.)
Books by fishermen, charts and finally computer programs all arrived with many thousands of unverified and often mislabeled numbers copied from each other, anybody and everybody... so accurate numbers got buried in ten times as much rubbish! GPS devices today even come preloaded with many artificial reef waypoints, but usually these are coordinates of markers originally placed on the reef area (and usually long gone), and rarely right on the wrecks or reef material.
So frequently boats are seen circling an area, frantically watching bottom recorders, while not finding large wrecks a short distance away. If only they knew what wreck it is, how much relief it has, and it's alignment on the bottom... and the correct numbers!
Well, I never got around to publishing that book and probably never will... the World Wide Web came along and changed everything, so instead I've constructed a website version, with interactive links to newspaper and magazine articles. A cool advantage is being able to make changes because of storms or when new sites become available. The Wild West Coast of Florida is not a website full of top secret numbers, but the quality of the sites might surprise you. It is a very thorough and accurate base of information and contains some of the best dives in the state on wrecks, natural reefs, ledges & sinkholes. I believe it is as relevant and useful today as it has been for me since the seventies... probably more so, and it's totally free for your personal enjoyment!
You can call me at
727-423-7775 or e-mail me at
email@example.com if you have any
questions or comments.
I'd love to hear from you.
"I have personally dove every site included in the Wild West Coast! Good luck and enjoy exploring."
... Capt Chad Carney
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