Friday, December 26, 2014

John Pennekamp - Beach Snorkelng

Note: snorkel practice did not yield any useful pictures!

After spending money on some good goggles to go with our new snorkel tubes, we decided we had better use them!  I'm not sure where we would use them, once we leave the Keys.  Craig says "South Padre Island", but what I see on the web varies a lot in opinions as to the clarity of the water there. We'll see. It does look like we could snorkel in Southern California if we have good wet suits.  I wonder if we can rent them.  But I might be scared of sharks!  Lots of seals and sea lions lure sharks.

Anyway, on Sunday we went over to the beach in Pennekamp, and gave it another try. Although we didn't see very many fish or other beautiful things, we both gained a lot of confidence. Neither of us used flippers, since the waters were so shallow and rocky it would have been difficult to walk on the bottom with them.  I found wearing a thin, stretchy long sleeve shirt that I had bought at Old Navy last year was enough, and it wasn't cold enough to need a wet suit. It is a bit like a "skin" in fabric. Craig wore a long sleeve tight t-shirt and he was OK too.

We practiced some more on Tuesday. We got out to a "simulated Spanish galleon" which turned out to be a bunch of old cannons and an anchor in 10 feet or so of water. Not spectacular, but good for our experience and confidence.

On Friday we went to Sombrero Beach in Marathon.

It was a nice beach for swimming, but terrible for snorkel practice because it was very sandy and the water was murky with sand and bubbles.

We came back to Pennekamp and tried the other beach from the one we'd used before. The water was clear, and we practiced over sea grass beds.  Not many fish at all. 

But, at one point I saw something very big in my side view.  It was a very large tail. I did not see the rest of this fish because it swam away so fast!  It may have been a tarpon.  

My overall feeling is that Hawaii will be a good idea in the future!

We are talking about coming back to the Keys in two years time. If we do, I would plan on doing a private, guided reef snorkel trip. I might be able to swim off into the sea a reasonably long distance, if I had a guide to help me if I got into trouble. By myself, off a well-populated boat, I'm not so sure!

I did try flippers at the Sombrero beach in Marathon, but as soon as I went face down with my legs extended, my legs both cramped up something terrible.  I was only in four feet of water, but I had to fight to get upright.  I would be afraid if I was in the open sea without a guide.

Saturday we will be puttering around the rig getting it ready for its first drive in a month.  You know, tire pressure, battery check, and possibly running the generator for a bit.  Sunday we'll be leaving the Keys and heading north to Jupiter, Florida.  

Sadness at leaving paradise, but anticipation of new adventures!


  1. Glad you got a chance to so a little more snorkeling. Did you buy a mask, or goggles? Goggles are more for swimming than snorkeling.

    The reefs have spots with water depths of 1-2 feet up to 100 feet deep or more. Next time, maybe you could look for a snorkel trip that went to the shallower reefs. I prefer shallower anyway because you get more color at those depths.

    One of the best beach snorkels we've ever done was off Jupiter beach. I'm thinking the beach was Coral Lagoon or something like that. Good snorkeling there really depends on the seas and the winds. If it's calm and the wind is blowing from the west you can get some flat calm seas with great visibility. Most of the time you get some pretty good seas. The gulf stream comes closer to land in the West Palm beach area than anywhere else....and it brings good vis and lots of marine life. If you get lucky, you might get one of those rare perfect days. If you get a chance, drive over to Palm Beach. It's quite a town with lots of millionaires and huge mansions. We used to roller blade along the "lake". It's quite a place. I;m glad you enjoyed the Keys. I wasn't sure you would.

  2. You're having fun and learning new things, and that's always good. Wonder what the fish think when they see you guys swimming around? Do they point and giggle, or just dart away? That was a nice fish you saw the tail of, Merikay. You should get a speargun and practice with it, too. You might be able to bring home your dinner that way! Heard there was a blizzard warning for Hawaii, so you might wait on that one. (I'm not kidding you, honest. It was on the internet so you know it's gotta be true.)

  3. It looks as if you are having a lot of fun. That is the best news ever.

  4. Love your header picture. Ahh the life!

  5. we have our snorkel gear and have used them all the way up to the middle part of Florida and near La Jolla to swim with the seals... lots of fun once you get the hang of it...

  6. I wonder if there is a course or tips online about using flippers? There must be a way to go from horizontal to upright in a less frantic way - maybe you have to tip them one way or another for a smooth transition.

    Of course it is easy for me to suggest as I sit here in frozen Canada and having no experience with flippers since I was a teen!

    Have a safe journey to your next home :-)


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