Our Best Dives Ever: Hammerhead in Jupiter, FL
In this series of posts, each member of the crew recalls some of their best dives they've ever experienced.
This particular story comes from Rick Ratliff, Owner of Jupiter Scuba Diving. Enjoy!
I’ve only been diving in Jupiter 11 years. Shari (my wife) and I moved here 11 years ago for the incredible location and the beach. We did not know at that time how the diving in Jupiter was so amazing. It was so great that we decided to buy our favorite dive business, Captain Slater Charters.
Getting on to the dive...through the transition we needed a new, experienced boat captain. Our search took us to St. Croix, where Captain Steve Medford he had worked with our very own dive goddess Anne Hill. So we’re in training with him showing the different conditions: current, tides, winds, big seas, etc. The Jupiter inlet was ridiculous that day, and if we had guests we would not have gone out. But with Captain Tim Daley on board training Captain Steve we felt confident we could perform some training exercises safely. So we head out, crew only. Anne, Joe Smith, and yours truly along with the two captains. As we are headed out to a reef in big seas (6-8 feet), we are talking among ourselves saying all we wanted to see was a great hammerhead shark. I had never swam with one. Anne had, but I don’t think Joe had either. Our goal was to do a twenty minute dive, have our new captain drive the boat through the inlet, and calculate wind and current and safely be positioned just on the north side of us as we surfaced and then perform a safe pickup in those 6 foot seas.
I remember wanting to get in quickly as the boat was being rocked dramatically by the sea. As I hit my giant stride, I could see through the waves all the way to the bottom--80 feet down. The sunbeams cutting through the water can only be described as mystical. As we descend, we interrupted two beautiful green turtles in a conjugal position as they separated and swam to the surface with the sunbeams casting a light show behind them. I was captivated by the beauty of the moment, and was only 40 seconds into our 20 minute dive. Anne was out over the sand I was on top of the reef, drifting north and taking it all in. Seven minutes into our dive I see a large shadow out of the corner of my eye! It was Anne, gliding along beside a beautiful Great Hammerhead shark! No words can begin to describe how beautiful this 12 foot fish was, with a three foot dorsal fin and a mine sweeper for a head (which pointed directly at me for a moment). We surface 13 minutes later and Captain Steve, Captain Tim, and that beautiful red boat was there to pick us up.
Truly a dive I'll never forget!