Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Diving in a spring in Florida, Summer or Winter, I get cold. Shivering cold. I decided to put aside my 3mm Excel wetsuit that is perfect in slightly warmer water, and invest in a 5mm wetsuit. I wanted something snazzy as well as warm, so I went with a Ralf Tech Power Line Storm suit. Man, oh man, I look like a lion fish in it! It’s a semi-dry suit, with double seals at wrist, ankle, and neck. For the first time ever, I was warm and comfortable all the way through a 45 minute dive in a Florida spring!

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

But the spring – wow – Devil’s Den is near Williston, Florida. It is a “karst window.” I had to read about that! That means it was a subterranean river, the roof collapsed, so now there’s access to an underground area. We checked in, picked up our rental tanks, had a detailed dive briefing, and headed to assemble our gear.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

We gathered at Pavilion #1, reserved in advance for our NASJAX Skin and Scuba Club Earth Day / Birthday event. Four divers, six snorkelers, a case of burgers and hot dogs, and a birthday cheesecake.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Our first dive of about 45 minutes took us through an overhead environment beneath enormous boulders. At all times, we could look up and see the blue water and sunlight at the top of the spring. We came across several grates with ominous grim reaper signs warning about the dangers of proceeding. Apparently, there are several offshoot tunnels, and silting could result in diver disorientation. Beyond the grates, we could see enormous catfish, even an albino one.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

The shape of the dive site is like an inverted martini glass; the prehistoric rock formations surround an opening shaped like a funnel; anywhere you can imagine the glass or funnel, you can dive, so you proceed either clockwise or counterclockwise, descending as you go. The maximum depth we found was 54 feet, and we were told the base of the “funnel” is 120 feet across.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Access to the dive site is down stairs cut into the rock, then an aluminum staircase, then a large aluminum platform about two feet underwater. Below that platform are a couple submerged platforms for SCUBA instruction, buddy checks, and wildlife observation.

We saw plenty of fresh water fish – stocked by the site’s owners – and one of the four turtles.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Two of our group worked on some photography and video with GoPro cameras, and one of our group used a highly technical underwater photography rig with a Nikon camera and Aquatica camera housing, complete with arms with lights on the ends. It looked like something that should land and crawl around on the moon! It had a pump like the ones to remove air from wine bottles; that was to test the watertight seals and ensure it was secure from water intrusion.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Between dives, our dive club members grilled burgers and dogs, compared gear, and swapped stories.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

Another piece of gear I was testing was a Zeagle Utility Pouch. I wanted to be able to walk up and down the rock stairs at Devil’s Den hands-free, with only my fins straps over my wrist. Into the pocket went my spare flashlight, gloves, and mask. It worked great, and gave me the additional space I might occasionally need on my very streamlined Zeagle Zena BCD.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

What We Learned:

Devil’s Den never felt crowded, and visibility was good. Getting together with friends to dive is rewarding and important, and gives you some relaxed time to look at other divers’ gear setups and learn some tips and techniques. We also learned that bringing a cart to haul gear saves your back! We learned that diving the same smallish space twice, we saw new things by going clockwise one dive, counterclockwise the next. I learned that I don’t like to get into a cold, wet wetsuit for the second dive, and having two on hand was a luxury.

, Testing Ralf Tech Wetsuit at Devil’s Den

What do you think about spring dives? Seen it once, seen it all?

Details:

Aquatica underwater camera housing
Excel
wetsuit
SJAX Skin and Scuba Club
Ralf Tech Power Line Storm wetsuit
Zeagle Utility Pouch
Zeagle Zena BCD

Also pictured but not mentioned in the article:

Aquatica Camera Housing
Garden Cart

What to read next: Akona Adventure Dive Bag Review

 

About

Leave a Comment

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com