Flower Gardens Trip Report August 9, 1996
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Picture of Lloyd
Lloyd at the Helm

Bottle Nose Dolpins - leading the way
We pick up guides
90 miles out.

The boat - Compadre
The Compadre
at the Flower Gardens

This trip was arranged by my buddy, both in and out of the water, Lloyd Cheatham. He and his father are often on his dad's boat, the "Compadre", a 51' Hattaras that their family enjoys taking fishing for an occasional weekend. Both his mother and his dad usually go on these trips, but his mom thought this trip was a significant commitment to a few days of possible heavy seas. We missed her.

Our trip actually began in May as a typical day trip to the oil rigs off the coast of Freefort, Texas. The port engine had been overheated before Mr. Cheatham purchased the boat, and had required maintenance occasionally due to valve train failures during the last 5 years. On this day, significant engine components exchanged places, and a major overhaul was in order. And....our first rig trip of the season was ended. After an interesting sequence of technical events that resulted in the installation of a new engine that promises to be a good performer, our gear was stowed, with six tanks apiece. Mr. Cheatham wanted to express his appreciation for Lloyd's help in the engine replacement, and invited us to the Flower Gardens. We accepted.

The Flower Gardens is a relatively under-rated dive site in the Gulf of Mexico. It is located at 27 degrees, 54.62 minutes lattitute, and 93 degrees 36.00 minutes longitude, or about 110 nautical miles (203 km) southeast of Freeport, Texas. Since it is protected as a marine sancuary, several mooring bouys are installed to accommodate visitors. We estimated the visibility to be at least 80 to 100 feet. The boat was clearly visible at 75 feet, but that was vertical. On this day, there was no detectable current.

Seas can often be uncomfortably high in the spring and fall, but in August, we enjoyed a relatively flat surface of 1 or 2 foot wave height. It was great for sleeping. We left the marina about 7:30 AM and added 500 gallons of fuel for the trip. We left the Freeport jetties at 11:00 AM with a 12 hour cruise ahead of us. About 90 miles out we were joined by at least 8 bottle-nose dolphins who led us for about 20 minutes, much longer than usual. The depth slowly increased to 360 feet until we approached the Flower Gardens, where it gradually rose to a depth 75 feet.

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Copyright © 1996 Randall C. Allen - All rights reserved
Comments to: rallen@searover.com
visitor # 10437 since 6/10/97