Everglades USA Exped – Day 14

Windy afternoon in Key West and a Midnight sail to the Dry Tortugas

The day began with a lovely slow start as we rolled out of bed, stretching and yawning, unlike the previous day when Dan woke us up abruptly with some Rebecca Black at seven in the morning. Today (Saturday) we set sail at mid morning to Key West where we were to dive what is considered one of the best shipwrecks on earth. Unfortunately, upon arrival the winds were gusting close to 25 knots causing conditions so unfavorable that we were unable to attach the line from Pangaea to the buoy marking the dive spot line. On each of our several attempts, once the crew managed to hook the buoy (a challenge in and of itself in the blustery/choppy conditions) the rope would snap from the force of the wind and the heft of Pangea.

Eventually, we decided to adapt our plans and change our course for the day but we will, however, be returning back through Key West in the next couple days to try again to get a glimpse at the Russian vessel and explore this incredible underwater vista which Mike calls a, “must-dive.”

There were a few moments of rest today when we weren’t on watch, helping in the kitchen, or cleaning the conference room, these were the times I wished I had my iPod to kick my feet up and chill. My iPod broke two days ago when there were dolphins playing next to the Pangaea, gliding under the waves, dancing in the Listerine blue sea. I got so extremely excited to see these magical creatures in their natural environment that I put my music device into the back pocket of my shorts. What I didn’t remember is that I had already placed a shell in there, collected during our Everglades kayak expedition that I planned to make into a necklace someday. But when I sat down, my iPod’s screen ended up being smushed by the shell.

There was plenty to do on this sunny Saturday. In the late afternoon, Luke, one of the Mike Horn team members, announced that we had the opportunity for some stand-up paddle boarding! The bright yellow boards are kept at the bow of the boat strapped to the rails and we had all been eyeing them curiously for the last week, so we quickly got changed into our swim suits and eagerly jumped into the water. It turned out to be much more difficult than I made it out to be. Surely, we all contributed to the ‘Moose Cut’ expedition outtakes video with all of our hilarious wipeouts. There was quite a strong current that pushed us away from the boat which made it all the more tough, however, all-in-all, it was a breeze compared to the kayaking we did in the Everglades. Dan compared the experience to riding a bike. The more time you spend practising the better you get and by the end of the paddle we all more or less had the hang of it.

At dinnertime we sat in the conference room and did our first live talk show. We young explorers were invited in one by one, and were interviewed by Mike and his oldest daughter, Annika. A tad bit nerve-racking at first, but we all relaxed once we got used to the flow. A discussion of diving, our feelings, and future plans occurred and it would be fair to say it was a great success.

After dinner, Mike announced that we would be hoisting the sails and shoving off at midnight tonight on a 70-mile journey west to the Dry Tortugas. I also cannot be more enthused for what will be in store for us when we get there tomorrow. I am also looking forward to two celebrating two staff birthdays tomorrow. Our talented photographer with the craziest stories, Dmitry “Dima” Sharomov, and Fred, the funny Swiss guide with the contagious laugh each share a birthday on the 27th. There’s always plenty to celebrate here on Pangaea!

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