Randy’s Dive Shop started the dive season certifying our winter classes in the Florida Springs. Specifically Ginnie Springs and Blue Grotto. The Florida Springs is a great domestic destination. No passports, no currency exchanges and you can drive there if you want. The water is crystal clear and consistently 72 degrees.
Late May we made our way to two “local” dive destinations; Blue Hole Quarry near Williamsburg, Pa and Gilboa Quarry , Ottawa, Ohio.
Blue Hole Quarry is often utilized in the summer months for certification dives, though there are those hearty divers who dive there all year round. Our shop also uses Blue Hole for practice dives and some advanced courses. The quarry is private property and not open to the public. To find more information on the quarry, access www.laureldivers.com/quarry.
Gilboa Quarry, our second “local” dive destination is uniquely tailored to the diver. It is a commercial dive destination and charges a daily fee to dive there. The fee that is charged is reasonable considering the amenities the quarry offers.
The owners have built dive decks along the edge of the quarry and steps to enter the water. Airfills and snacks are available at the office. Showers and restroom facilities as well as camping are available on the property.
There are two sides to the quarry. One side of the quarry is accessible to the student and the open water diver. This side of the quarry is much shallower (30 to 40 feet before sloping off to the deep end). The owner has placed a number of items in the quarry for the entertainment of the divers. The other side of the quarry is much deeper (to 130 feet). To dive the deeper side of the quarry requires advanced certification, cold water appropriate equipment and a dive plan filed at the office and approved by the owner.
Gilboa is also home to a number of fresh water fish including the elusive Paddle fish. More information on Gilboa Quarry can be found at www.divegilboa.com.
In addition to our local diving, 20 of our patrons enjoyed the beautiful Caribbean reefs with Blackbeard’s Cruises. Randy’s has lost count of the number of trips we have done with Blackbeard’s –at least a dozen starting back in the mid 1980’s.
The best description of Blackbeard’s operation is “very casual”—-like camping on the water. Basic needs are met—a bunk with a privacy curtain, shared heads and showers, good food served family style and the opportunity to do at least 20 dives including night and shark dives. All these dives are done from the 65 foot sailboat on the beautiful reefs of the Bahama’s.
July we continued diving Gilboa and Blue Hole quarries. Josh Poole and T.J. Lloyd were wrapping up the Master /Diver courses. The master diver students enjoyed a number of different dive environments to broaden their dive experiences and their knowledge earning them the certification of NAUI Master Diver.
Summersville Lake in August is absolutely gorgeous! It is formed from the Gauley River and is surrounded by sandstone cliffs. In August the water is very warm and reasonably clear making it an enjoyable “local” dive destination. Summersville is located approximately 3.5 hours from Irwin, Pa.
Sarge’s is a dock side floating dive shop that has pontoon boats to provide transportation to various dive locations on the lake. Underwater visuals include lots of fresh water fish, boat wreck, dive platform and lots of lost items from boats on the lake including a “like new” aluminum boat ladder for entering and exiting the water.
Summersville the town has many hotel accommodations, restaurants and shopping. The surrounding area is a nature lover’s dream. Campgrounds are located in the surrounding hillsides. The New River Gorge Bridge, famous for its height and base jumping can give you a nose bleed. Summerville is a beautiful local dive destination on so many levels.
Key Largo located in the Florida Keys was our September destination. Randy’s dive group were hosted by Rainbow Reef Dive Center. All were very happy with the prices and service of Rainbow Reef Dive Center. Six dives (3 days of two tank diving) were planned but were able to dive only two days (four dives) due to wind and choppy water conditions. As an alternative, 3 divers took off for Key West, the rest went snorkeling in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Once again the beauty of the Florida Keys is, if you elect to, driveable, within the United States, no passport and no currency exchange.
In January we begin our 35th year of serving Western Pennsylvania. Please stop by the shop, or visit our online store at www.randysdiveshop.com. We look forward to working with you!