18,000 Foot Tandem Skydive from Skydive Space Center @ Titusville, Florida

This Saturday morning, a good buddy had drove us out to Titusville, Florida to go on 18,000 Foot Tandem Skydive at Dunn Airpark. Now, this idea had floated around in my head for few months; however, I had remained non-committal to the adventure until another set of travel plan fell through last minute. Buying the skydive Groupon on a Thursday, my focus initially was just on making the roaster for Saturday jumps.

Upon arriving at Skydive Space Center at 7:15 AM on this Saturday morning, I hadn’t realized the gravity of jumping out of a “perfectly good working plane.” Yet, my buddy was extremely anxious. His anxiety had culminated in sweating profusely while filling out waiver paperwork. Amazingly, this plane ride was his third flight lifetime. After getting checked-in, some of the instructors had sized us up with  harnesses. They then had pulled us aside in groups providing instructions for body positioning for the actual jump. The tipping point for my fear of heights had precipitated with the first propeller engine roaring on. This was eclipsed by learning I was going to be the the first customer out the cabin door. After final strap check and round of instructions, the videographer, Derek, had positioned himself first out the door. Then quick moment after, my skydiving guide, Mark, had propelled us across the threshold into the open air.

In freefall, I was treated to an awesome view of the Titusville, Florida coastline. It had looked lush and pristine from above.  After about a minute, the free fall had shifted to controlled decent with the parachute deployment. I was provided an opportunity to steer the parachute. In difference to steering a hang glider, the parachute was intuitive and mirrored your arm movements naturally. After this exercise, my skydiving guide had provided final guidance on landing. The landing itself was remarkable for the small amount of real estate being targeted. The landing though quick, was firm and controlled. After standing up, I had looked back to see my buddy cruise down out of the air with huge smile. It was remarkable  turnabout. Despite the nerves earlier, it was definitely half the fun of selecting this travel outing.

Some things to consider, if you had wanted to go try out this experience. One, consider wearing glasses instead of contacts was a thought. My left contact was dislodged by the air pressure into my goggles. Two, expect a nasal drain after landing, think my sinuses had drained for good 30 minutes afterwards. This was also true for my friend. Three, as far as Skydive Space Center, private GoPro usage was prohibited leaving you with minimum $100 purchase for event media (i.e. video and pictures). Lastily, I had suggested gym shorts for comfort in the harness. All in all, the experience was one of a kind, simply phenomenal. I had recommended this to anyone with a sense of adventure.

Read More:
Skydive Space Center (www.skydivespacecenter.com)

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Unexso Shark Dive at Shark Junction, Saturday, June 28th 2014 @ Freeport, Grand Bahamas

For my 26th dive overall, I had selected a trip out to Shark Junction with Freeport’s Unexso dive shop. For traveling across the Atlantic from Port Everglades, my buddy and I had picked up a day cruise from Balearia Bahamas Express from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahamas for $120 US. Summary on the commute, it was about seven hours total working through customs. In retrospect, I had wished making this kind of effort for a multi-day visit.

After arriving in Freeport, the next major step was the 30 minute taxi ride to Unexso. For reference, the location of the shop was in the market place next to the Pelican hotel. As far as equipment rentals, we had asked for the $40 upgrade to rent BCDs, fins, regulators, weights, and a mask; however, we had opted to bring our own masks and dive computers. The push on the dive computers, the shop had skipped on wanting to attach our wireless transmitters to their regulators. After a brief meal and rain storm, the boat had headed out to sea. Getting to Shark Junction had took about 10 minutes. During this time, Jarvis, our shark feeder, had provided a rundown of the forthcoming action under the water. One reservation about this excursion was sitting statically on the sea floor. The reason for sitting in a single file profile for the divers was reducing any room or motion for open jaws. Apparently, the grey reef sharks had a disposition to key off sudden movements when hunting prey. The dive instructions on hands was keep them close to your body and avoid moving them out into the open water.

Descending at Shark Junction, all the visiting divers were placed in a row along the front of a downed boat. From here, we had prepared for the underwater show starting with a hungry stray grouper. Unfortunately for the grouper, he was shushed away but not before becoming irate, changing colors from dark brown to a white pattern and back. After few moments, the dive master had started working from right to left in front of his audience doling out food to the hoarding sharks. The sharks had behaved very similar to hungry dogs waiting for a treat. On the flip side, the several grouper in the area were fairly head strong constantly trying to sneak in for a bite. This underwater adventure had lasted for about 30 minutes before shifting to an ascent.

On the returning cruise ship, a passenger had asked me about my fear of sharks on the dive. The response was simple “My only fear was running out of air.” After watching sharks feed in close proximity, it was extremely obvious the focus of their attention, fish. If you had wanted to personally challenge your phobia of sharks, suggest a similar dive. The only question for myself that remains was,”What kind of sharks to see next?”

Read More:
Balearia Bahamas Express (ferryexpress.com)
Unexso Grand Bahama Island (www.enexso.com)
Grey Reef Shark (Wikipedia)
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