We went out a few days ago with New York’s THE DAILY production team to catch a glimpse of the action at Aquarius undersea station, where NASA astronauts were doing their training. Flakey’s own “King Neptune” (Joe) was guiding the film team and could not help to bring back some shots he did himself. Truly amazing, an encounter one of a kind – THANKS JOE! Sadly though the future of Aquarius undersea station is in question due to cuts in federal funding.
Florida Keys Dive Center recently celebrated 29 years in business on May 10th!
A special thank you goes out to everyone who wished us a happy birthday and to everyone who has helped us and been there for us in these 29 years.
We never could have made it this far and become such a success if it wasn’t for the support of our friends, family, and fellow divers and snorkelers.
Thanks again from Tom, Pam, and the staff of Flakeys(:
On April 18th the US Coast Guard Marine Inspector Roger Fisk was at Florida Keys Dive Center measuring and doing calculations for a stability test on our two charter boats.
Why the need for a stability test? A recent census showed that the average person weighs about 185lbs. The Orion and Big Dipper’s original stability tests were based on the average person weighing 160lbs. The good news is both boats passed with flying colors! We even used 195lbs. as the weight per passenger. Therefore both boats are now licensed to carry 49 passengers and 6 crew members.
Our 46′ Newton dive boats are some of the most stable dive vessels in the Keys(:
Among several thousand divers who visit the Keys annually to dive the destination’s shipwreck trail, 10 winners were randomly selected as part of the Florida Keys ‘Wreck Trek Passport Program’ that concluded in January 2012.
More than 100 divers completed a series of nine wreck dives to be eligible to win one of several dive and lodging packages and sets of dive equipment.
Rocky Welch, a diving instructor from Pinellas Park, Fla., was the program’s first grand prize winner, receiving a state-of-the-art scuba system from Aqua Lung, including a Zuma bouyancy compensator (BC) device, Mikron regulator, Airsource 3 second stage with power inflator and a Suunto ZOOP 2 guage dive computer.
Welch, who accompanied numerous diving groups to the Keys for customized weeklong trips to complete the Wreck Trek dive challenge, said, “It’s the overall adventure of [the shipwreck trail] that divers love. There’s no other place you can do that,” said Welch, who thrives on introducing divers to new experiences.
“On three different Wreck Trek trips, I never saw the same thing twice,” Welch added. “My countless trips to the Keys are some of the best dive trips I’ve had.”
Nine other selected recipients were Paul Adams, Jr. and Patrick Hellman of Fairborn, and Tipp City, Ohio; Sarasota, Fla. resident Eric Lyons; Olexander Myronov of Palm Harbor, Fla.; University Park’s Mike Lesh; Tracy Matthews and Tabitha Dimas of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Clearwater, Fla. resident Sebastian Majewski; and Shari Vang from Baypoint, Calif.
Among the prizes awarded these individuals were a SCUBAPRO MK17/A700 Black Tech regulator, Sherwood Profile dive computer, Sherwood Gemini integrated power inflator Fusion dive fins, as well as two-night/three-dive stays for two at Keys lodging properties, including Doubletree by Hilton Grand Key Resort in Key West, Marathon’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites and Keys Largo’s Amoray Dive Resort and Ocean Pointe Suites.
Because of the dive program’s popularity, plans are underway for a “Wreck Trek 2.0” dive challenge, expected to continue through January 2014. Details are to be announced soon.
Last week we were fortunate to host Astronaut Frederick Gregory, his wife, Annette, Steve Wirth, Jill Dagnostino, Linn Leblanc, and Nicole Russ, courtesy of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The astronaut scholarship foundation was originally started as the Mercury Seven Foundation by the 6 surviving astronauts of the Mercury Seven. The idea behind the foundation’s creation was to encourage world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships to bright, motivated, and creative students in the Science and Engineering fields to advance their education. The foundation started with $1,000 scholarships awarded to 7 individuals in 1986. Since then, the original 6 astronauts have been joined by astronauts from the Gemini, Skylab, Apollo, and space Shuttle Programs, and it has become the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To this day, they have given over $3 million in scholarships to prospective students throughout the nation (http://www.astronautscholarship.org/aboutus.html).
Fred came from a heavy flight background, beginning in the Air Force with helicopters and then changing over to fixed wing flight where he later became a research test pilot at NASA’s Langley research Center. He was then selected for astronaut training shortly thereafter. He became the first African American to command a spaceship when he guided Discover into orbit in November 1989. Frederick Gregory also piloted one shuttle mission with 6 other astronauts along with a handful of rats and monkeys used to study their behavior in Zero G. Afterward, he went on to command 2 defense department flights and later went into management and served as NASA’s Deputy administrator from 2002-2005. He was inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2004 (http://www.astronautscholarship.org/gregory.html ).
Steve Wirth and Jill Dagnostino were the blessed individuals who were awarded the privilege of learning how to dive with Fred and his wife, Annette. Every year, the foundation has auctions where participants can win a chance to do an activity with an astronaut. Fred, Annette, Jill, and Steve spent 2 days with Florida Keys Dive Center completing their open water certification where they pretty much had as much fun as possible while avoiding moon jellyfish swarms (which have been the worst this year in recent memory). We enjoyed their visit immensely, and are looking forward to seeing them in the future when they come back to complete their advanced open water certifications! A big huge THANKS to Linn Leblanc and Nicole Russ for coordinating this whole event and making it happen!
We have missed you! Call today to reserve your spots!UPDATE FOR FLORIDA KEYS VISITORS, per county officials:
Monroe County plans to reopen to visitors Monday, June 1, by suspending the checkpoints on U.S. 1 and State Road 905 and allowing lodging establishments to take guests at 50 percent occupancy.
Monroe County lodging establishments, like hotels, campgrounds, vacation rentals, and other transient-licensed establishments will be required to implement sanitation procedures and follow the American Hotel and Lodging Association COVID-19 guidelines for enhanced cleaning practices (ahla.com). The timeline for removing the 50 percent capacity restriction for lodging will be determined at a later date.
Per Governor Executive Order 20-123, the County Administrator will submit a written request and safety plan to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary to seek approval for the operation of vacation rentals.
Airport screenings and bus restrictions will also be lifted on June 1.
This is subject to revision based on data regarding the prevalence of the virus within Monroe County, increased testing and contact tracing protocols, and the efforts in the adjacent counties to continue to control the transmission of the virus. All other requirements are not lifted. Should the Florida Keys experience an increase in cases and under the advisement of the Florida Department of Health, restrictions may be heightened, and/or amenities may again be closed.
More information on COVID-19 efforts in Monroe County can be found at www.monroecountyem.com/covid19. Tourism-related information can be found at fla-keys.com.
The Florida Keys have been closed to visitors since March 22 to minimize the spread of COVID-19.