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ASF EXP 1 A
ASF EXP 1 B
ASF EXP 1 C
Cocoa Beach
121 Scrub #1
121 Scrub #2
STS-121
ASF EXP 2 A
ASF EXP 2 B
ASF EXP 2 C
ASF EXP 2 D
ASF EXP 2 E
STS-116

ASF Expedition 1

Exploring Pickles Reef
These photographs document ASF Expedition 2.
Photo Credits: Les, Mary, and mine
It was a giant sride for me
It was a giant stride for me too
Splashdown
Splashdown
Lexie prepares for egress
Lexie prepares for egress
Lexie steps out for the giant stride
Lexie steps out for the giant stride
Lexie takes a giant stride off of Scuba-Do
The same giant stride from Les's perspective
An underwater group photo of the expedition divers
The expedition divers pose for an underwater group photo
Linn exhibits perfect underwater form
Linn exhibits the form of a natural
Lexie, Me, Al, and John swim along Pickles Reef
Lexie, me, Al, and John explore Pickles Reef
With my dive buddy Lexie
Me with Lexie, my dive buddy at my side
John demonstrates an underwater handstand
John demonstrates an underwater handstand
A school of fish and a large brain coral
Fish school around an underwater brain coral
Linn and Lexie in an underwater paradise
Linn and Lexie suspend in an underwater paradise
Lexie does an underwater dance
Lexie does an underwater dance
Lexie climbs back on to Scuba-Do
Lexie climbs back on to Scuba-Do
Saturday we had two more dives scheduled.  Our first dive of the day would be at a site called Pickles Reef.  Lexie and I had been at this reef before.  This was our first dive in the ocean on the day that we were certified back in April.

As we were riding out to the dive site, Les indicated that he needed to go to the rest room really bad.  It didn't matter that there was a head below deck.   Les could not wait until he was in the water to relieve himself.  As soon as the captain started slowing the boat down at the dive site, Les jumped overboard.

Our captain was furious.  Les had just committed a major breach of etiquette.  Les relieved himself, but got reamed out when he climbed back aboard.  The captain told him in no uncertain terms to never ever do that on board his boat ever again.

I was surprised when we started getting ready for the dive.  Lexie said that she wanted to dive today.  I thought after the previous day's experience that Lexie would rather snorkel.  It made me feel good to know that she was going to give it another try.

Linn, John, and Al did the giant stride into the water.  As usual, I was one of the last.  I was glad that the more giant strides I did, the less apprehensive I was.  My form still needed improving, but I was sure that would come over time.

Lexie was also in the water at this point.  She had another mask issue that Les was working with her.  Al asked me if I was ready to descend.  I said that I wanted to make sure that Lexie was Okay first.  Al started going down.  I then realized that Lexie was in Les's control so I followed Al down.

The first order of business on this dive was an organized group photo.  We found a clear sandy spot and knelt down for the photo.  I have always felt that these posed photos are the most difficult part of diving.  I find myself floating away.  We held each other hand in hand and managed to keep everybody down.  This was a much better group photo than we had achieved the day before.

After the photo we headed out over the reef exploring.  Once again I found myself floating to the top.  I was really frustrated.  Nothing that I seemed to do would bring me back down to the bottom.  Les finally noticed my predicament and gave me a couple of pounds of extra weights.  This allowed me to rejoin the group on the bottom.

The grade of the bottom seemed to go up from where we started.  Linn was leading the way and went farther and farther.  I wished that we could have proceeded a little more slowly.  I found an overhang of coral.  Underneath this overhang were tons of fish seeking refuge from the currents and waves.  It was an amazing feeling to be part of this.  I noticed a trumpet fish was underneath there.  I wanted to linger and just breath in the site.   My diving companions were moving on though, so I had to move on.

We found another sandy bottom.  Linn motioned to Lexie to go inverted.  Lexie and Linn posed for Les's video standing upside down.  I would have like to have joined them, but knew that there was no way that I had enough coordination to pull off the stunt.  John, who had tons of diving experience, then showed us how it was really done.  Effortlessly he did a one arm hand stand.

We explored more and Al asked me to do a pressure check.  I check my gauge and I had already reached the 800 PSI limit.  Technically Lexie was my dive buddy, but I saw that she was paired up with Lexie exploring.  Al indicated that we should go up.  I felt bad switching off from Lexie, but I knew that Linn would take care of her.

Al and I got back to the surface.  I scanned the surface and found the boat.  It was a fair way off, but I knew that it was easily within reach if we swam just below the surface.  Al and I got back to the boat.  He made sure that I got back on board safely.  He took such good care of me.  I climbed back up the ladder.  Al decided that he would explore a little more just under the boat.  I felt bad that he had to come back just for me when he had plenty of air left.

On the boat, it was just me, the Captain, and his deck hand.  All the other people, Dee, Marilyn, and Mary were off snorkeling.  I was happy that Mary finally reached enough of a comfort level that she could snorkel.

One by one, our adventurers returned.  I was relieved when Lexie came back on board.   Al came back.  Mary came back.  Finally Linn, John and Les came back.

There were still two people missing off of the boat.  Dee and Marilyn were snorkeling off in the distance.  The captain grew anxious over our delinquent snorkelers.  He started up the boat and headed over to meet them.  The problem was that where they were snorkeling was starting to get too shallow for a boat.  Dee and Marilyn furiously finned back to the boat.  The climbed on board and our miffed Captain, expressed a sigh of relief.

The expedition continues with the final dive on Saturday.  For my account of this dive follow the ASF EXP 2 E link.

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UPDATED : June 11, 2008
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