Our NOLS Wilderness Medicine First Aid Class Experience Thru REI Co-op

With all of our diving, cycling, sailing, and being far from medical assistance, it seems prudent to take a NOLS Wilderness Medicine First Aid class. So, we did! The class was unbelievably useful. Unbelievably. I cannot tell you how comprehensive it is, how in depth it is. I feel confident that I can walk up to a patient, assist them, and administer far more than first aid on the spot.

Scuba Diving With Stuart Cove’s // Second Time Around // Lessons Learned // Dive Operator Review

A NAS Jax Skin and Scuba Dive Club member friend of ours says he won’t dive with Stuart Cove’s anymore. He said boat dive trip experiences are like eating at a restaurant. We might go to the same restaurant, we might even get the same waiter. The waiter might spill water on me, but not you. And so, he says dives with the same operator may be a completely different experience. Well, we’ve dove with Stuart Cove’s twice, and both times had the same experience times four with empty tanks, half-filled tanks, and O-ring failures. A lot of the dive experience centers around those simple items.

Demolition Project: Two 1920’s Wood Houses // 100 Years of History Flattened

We found a shotgun, a busted up safe, and plenty of 1920’s bottles while performing a demolition on two 1920 wood houses in downtown Palatka, Florida. I’ve heard two different histories of these two 1920’s houses. One is they were built to house school teachers, the other for mill workers. All the interior walls are bead board, the floors wood, and the joists and stringers heart pine. They were simple, with a few charming architectural details here and there.

Schedule for Scuba Diving for Eight Days in Cuba

If you’ve wondered what the itinerary for a Scuba Diving trip to Cuba would include, here’s a sample schedule. Our trip this year is postponed, however, last year’s trip was an incredible experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to go back and see all our new lifelong friends. Into each 18-hour day, we packed at least five miles of walking, 1,000 photos, at least three glorious meals, a brilliant sunrise, a colorful sunset, and best of all; such positive interactions with Cubans everywhere we went. Oh – yeah – and some of the best scuba diving on Earth. Pristine water, fully-developed reefs, tons of tropical fish. This is a quick day-by-day guide.

Week-Long Dive Trip in Key West // Scuba Itinerary

After six weeks home, I’m finally ready to start some planning for future dive trips. We cancelled our Spring Break week to Key West. Until now, I hadn’t wanted to even think about what we missed. It just seemed too selfish to even contemplate pining for a trip that didn’t happen. We’re pretty good about being realistic. When we made the decision to cancel the afternoon we were supposed to leave, and we never looked back. No regrets, no self-pity. It was a far better choice to not jeopardize the lives of health care workers by traveling. Instead, we concentrated on bettering ourselves; reading more, working out more, and taking online Scuba safety classes. Now I’m ready to think about planning a week-long trip for Scuba diving in the Florida Keys! Here’s our plan!

Cypress Swamp Tree Removal // Climbing Tree Chainsaw Drop // Deep Water Happy

Tony Vestal, owner of Timber Falls Tree Service shimmied up a dead tree in our cypress swamp. We’d seen him remove trees from our house with a crane after a hurricane, but never while carrying a running chainsaw and climbing the tree.

We caught on to the rhythm of the system; he used climbers with spikes and was harnessed to the tree. He carried two lines; one for himself and one to lower offcuts so that they swung and fell at the base of the tree instead of on our home.

Big Cat Rescue // Tampa Florida // Exotic Animal Sanctuary

For years, I’ve wanted to visit the non-profit Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I must have made a donation years ago, because I’ve received their newsletter for about a decade. It’s full of success stories of exotic cats rescued from abusive situations, as well as news of medical care given to the big cats and the passing of long-term rescue resident cats. When I visited recently, I had no idea there would be a television show about BCR. Hopefully the Netflix show will make more people aware of the abuses of exotic animals including inappropriate cub petting practices. Currently, they are closed to the public due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Best Dive Towel // Light Compact Fast-Drying // Deep Water Happy

On a trip last weekend to the Bahamas, we realized we really needed compact, efficient towels.

We thought of the courtesy towels by Shark that we used in Cozumel with Blue XtSea Diving, could not find those offered on Amazon, so Bill found what Kara and Nate recommended.

Pack Towl is the brand, and we ordered the beach towel size. They come in four sizes; face, hand, bath and beach. We wanted to be able to use these in a variety of situations, so we ordered the largest; beach.

They come in a variety of sizes and patterns; different colors are different prices! https://amzn.to/2WiBmiX

Exercise During Covid-19 // Healthy Distancing // Deep Water Happy

After three weeks of successful self-quarantine, we’ve been itching to get some miles under our tires. Should we exercise outdoors during Covid-19? We weighed the calculated risks.

While we want to stay strong and healthy, we also don’t want to suffer an injury that would put us in a hospital and take doctors away from serious virus cases. Also, we have been so careful, that we don’t want to chance any exposures ourselves. We decided to go, and were so glad we did. But, we’re waiting before going again.

Biodegradable Spray Hand Sanitizer // No Microplastics // Green Hygiene for Covid 19

Until I ordered some Stream2Sea Spray Hand Sanitizer, I did not know that the reason many hand sanitizers are thick and viscous is because they contain microplastics. Plastics! I decided to do some research on unsafe ingredients found in our newest must-have item for protecting ourselves from sickness and viruses; hand sanitizers, aka antiseptic rubs.

Big Cat Rescue // Exotic Animal Rescue & Retirement Sanctuary // Deep Water Happy

I’ve been to wildlife rescue facilities from Florida to South Africa. I’ve wanted to visit Big Cat Rescue for years, and finally did. Big Cat Rescue sends a magazine regularly; I think I’ve been receiving it for over a decade. Over the years, I’ve followed the successful care of abused, abandoned, orphaned, retired, and surrendered big cats by this non-profit accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Sometimes I even receive emails asking me to help with petitioning lawmakers to end the private possession and trade of exotic cats. Always, I do my part and write and call.

Ecoconscious Biodegradable Hand Sanitizer // Stream2Sea // Eucalyptus and Camphor // DeepWaterHappy

Our favorite reef safe sunscreen company saves the day and their employees by introducing hand sanitizer to their product line. Stream2Sea is a small Florida-based, woman-owned company. When orders for reef safe shampoo and conditioners for the cruise ship industry plummeted, the owner, Autumn Blum, realized she could ensure her employee’s jobs while meeting a dire need for hand sanitizer. The result is a hand sanitizer of completely safe, biodegradable ingredients; no synthetic fragrances or preservatives.

Abandoned Houseboat on the St. Johns River // Derelict Vessel Woes // It Sunk at Our Dock

A houseboat has dragged anchor and landed next to our dock. It’s sunk, abandoned, and we can’t get rid of it. Formerly, it was someone’s home; their whole life encapsulated on the water. Romanticism aside, if we get another hurricane, it will damage our dock. Or, if it caught on fire, it could spread to our neighborhood. We’ve spent two years trying to get it removed.

Derelict Houseboat Story // Seems We’re Stuck With It // Deep Water Happy

A houseboat has landed next to our dock. It’s sunk, abandoned, and we can’t get rid of it. Over the last two years, we have contacted the county commissioners dozens of times, attended county commission meetings, and sought to have this derelict vessel removed from our property. While it looks kind of cute, it’s actually in pretty bad shape. It’s been ransacked, and it is full of plastic waste and rotten wood. Tarps have been disintegrating and falling in the St. Johns River, along with other plastic debris. It was moored out on an anchor that dragged more than once. Previously, it had broken loose of its mooring and damaged a neighbor’s dock.

Why You Should Join a Dive Club // Dive Club Benefits // Safety in Numbers

Why people would want to join a dive club came up in conversation over dinner with our NAS JAX Skin and Scuba Dive Club president this weekend. Our dive club welcomes new members enthusiastically, and we need their fresh perspective, enthusiasm for diving, and . We think the dive club is great, so I decided to examine just all the ways a dive club is beneficial to its members. We pondered if Gen X, Y, and Z don’t join service or even social clubs, and why an in-person, live event is more valuable than an online social group.

Spring Foward Womans Sailing Race 2020 // St. Augustine Sailing Sisters // St. Augustine, Florida

This year, we had one of our best-ever Spring Foward Womens Sailing Races on the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Augustine, Florida. Chilly weather and high winds made it a fast, exciting race. Boats tore sails, ran aground, dropped out, or reefed and kept sailing. Crew wore gloves, pfd’s and even thermal underwear for this Springtime sailing race.

2020 Spring Foward Race // St. Augustine Sailing Sisters

FEATURED in this video is our day of racing on a 36 foot Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, “Rendezvous With Destiny” from St. Augustine Sailing. The race was hosted by the St. Augustine Sailing Sisters.

There were two classes; ALL-Female and Mixed Crew. We raced in the All-Female category. The course was set on the Intracoastal Waterway in St. Augustine, North of the Fred and Mary Usina Vilano Beach Bridge.

How To Ruin A Scuba Dive // Subtly Stacking The Deck Against a Fun Dive // Analysis

This past weekend, we dove in the Bahamas on a “cruise ship dive trip.” We set out from the port with a fairly healthy new dive partner, and by the end of the day, her dive was ruined. There were no accidents. But slowly, subtly, the deck became stacked against her enjoying a clean dive. Here’s my version of “20/20 Hindsight” on how she got to the point of not having any fun at all.

Making Money By Renting Your Dock to Boaters // Airbnb Your Dock // Passive Income Wins

If you have a dock, and you’re not using it – you can rent it out with PierShare to bring in a bit of income. It’s already there, and besides, you get to look at a pretty boat and have someone watching your property for you. What could be better? The best innovation ever for boaters and waterfront homeowners is here; the ability to search for privately-owned dockage worldwide using an online system similar to Airbnb for finding a slip for your boat. It’s called PierShare, and the benefits and the advantage this provides for boaters is immense. In fact, it’s even better than the benefits of home sharing. If you have a dock – you can get started earning an income from it immediately!

Jacksonville Waterfront Airbnb

Wacky Waterfront Airbnb // Jacksonville, Florida // Deep Water Happy

One of the most unique, eclectic, fab Airbnb’s we have seen! And waterfront! The only Airbnb for miles around, this St. Johns River waterfront cabin was part fish camp, part pure Floridiana. The cabin was only steps from the water and a dock. There’s even a small beach or sandy kayak launch. It’s difficult to find affordable, unique, fun waterfront lodging in Jacksonville. So, this was a great find.

Mini Review of Mariner of the Seas // Royal Caribbean Cruise Line // Three Night Bahamas Cruise

Several times a year, we plan dive cruises – that is, we cruise, and wherever we go, we scuba dive! This time, we cruised on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas on a three night cruise to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, Florida. We’ve been cruising on the smaller ships like Rhapsody, Enchantment, and Jewel, and we like the layouts and smaller passenger to crew ratios. We stepped on Mariner, and within an hour or two, we were in love with the layout, the organization, and the many small private areas scattered around the ship.

Unusual Jacksonville Waterfront Airbnb // St. Johns River Florida // Review

When booking an Airbnb, sometimes you just already know you have hit the jackpot of unusual and fab. The photos are quirky, the location is insane, and the description sounds like your favorite crazy aunt is renting out the secret family hideaway. That’s what happened to us this time. Our waterfront Airbnb in Jacksonville, Florida was situated exactly across the street from the Broward House, where we were taking a NOLS Wilderness Medicine class. There were no other Airbnb’s for miles around. Not only was the location perfect for the class, but also, it was on the water. That’s one of one of my main criteria for Airbnb’s wherever we go.

Taking the Mayport Ferry Across the St. Johns River at A1A // Deep Water Happy

A1A goes across the St. Johns River – and the only way across is by ferry! This weekend we took NOLS Wilderness Medicine class in Jacksonville at the Broward House. The fastest and shortest way to travel that area it to take the stretch of A1A that goes across the St. Johns River – by ferry!We loaded our car on the St. Johns Ferry named “Jean Ribault” that is operated by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. The ferry is named for Jean Ribault who was a naval officer, navigator, and colonizer from France. He played a big role in the colonization of Florida. He was commander of the French Huguenot colony of Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, and was massacred by the Spanish soldiers near St. Augustine.

How to Rent a Private Dock Anywhere // Airbnb For Boaters

The best innovation ever for boaters and waterfront homeowners is here; the ability to search for privately-owned dockage worldwide using an online system similar to Airbnb for finding a slip for your boat. It’s called PierShare, and can you even imagine the benefits and the advantage this provides for boaters. It’s even better than the benefits of home sharing.

SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Spectacular Shore Diving

First of all, diving in Cuba is accessible right from the shore, and the wall is stuffed full of incredible fish, eels, sponges, fans and every type of coral drops from 160 to 500 feet. We saw absolutely staggering staghorn coral growths that would make divers in the Florida Keys cry in their masks. Gatherings of huge conch mesmerized me with their size and abundance.

Come Boating With Me // Pride of Palatka Florida Riverboat Tours // Deep Water Happy

The Pride of Palatka operates from the City Dock in Palatka, Florida taking passengers on riverboat tours of the St. Johns River. The Pride of Palatka is a 45-foot pontoon boat US Coast Guard certified to carry up to 49 passengers. She operates on the St. Johns River, taking explorers north and south on the river to experience the natural beauty of this river that flows north.

Dive Trip From Havana // Diving the Reefs of Cuba’s North Shore

My article SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Pristine Reefs on the North Shore didn’t have enough room to show you much of the diving. So, here’s to more Cuba Diving! In the previous article, I told the whole story of the dive experience, from leaving the Malecon in Havana to our return and view of our point of origin from the fort across the historic harbor in that article. Now I want to show more of the sea life we encountered while scuba diving in Cuba.

SCUBA Diving in Cuba // Pristine Reefs on the North Shore

We weren’t really sure what to expect with Scuba diving in Cuba, except for probably pristine waters and lots of tropical fish, but we quickly caught on – no trash, no crowds, and absolute rivers of blue fish streaming past. For our first diving in Cuba, we took the elevator down five flights from our casa particulare flat with a view of the Prada, the Malecon, and two enormous Spanish Forts. We jumped into a big VW van with our dive gear.

Weekend in Ponte Vedra // Jacksonville Beach Florida // Deep Water Happy

A fun weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach // Jacksonville Beach // Robert Cray Concert at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, and a sleek Airbnb. Not every weekend is sailing, diving, or kayaking! This weekend we stayed on land and headed to a Robert Cray concert – the absolute master of the blues! The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is a great, intimate venue seating about 500 of you and your closest friends. Dinner at iNoodle was a wonderful change from our usual haunts, and we had a new Airbnb experience – one hosted by a management company instead of an individual homeowner.

Charming Jacksonville Beach 1BR Apt w/ Parking // Jacksonville Beach Florida // Airbnb Review

This was our first Airbnb experience that was completely managed by a reservations consolidator. We were in the area for a Robert Cray concert at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, so the Marsh Landing area was perfect for us. It was only a couple miles from the venue. With 28 listings in the Jacksonville area, I figured Frontdesk has a pretty established system for bookings, and they did. The apartment was self check in, which is very convenient. We even received a text that the apartment was ready early!

Diving Roatan Honduras // Dive Cruise // Wikkid Divers – Ecologic Adventures

First dive of the new year; this was the was the most-anticipated dive of a four-day-straight dive cruise. New Year’s Day dive from a catamaran; with just the six of us on board. None of us had dove Roatan, and we were absolutely amped with excitement to dive in this legendary location. We were not disappointed; Roatan and Wicked Divers exceeded even our very high expectations!

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