I posted this on the Captain's Blog on www.tortugacharters.net at http://tortugacharters.net/content/?p=916
Here is a cut and paste of the blog post.
Yesterday, the Captain had the opportunity to go back to his roots a bit and fun dive from a 21′ single engine outboard boat. I had a great day, did 3 dives and shot a couple of grouper for the table. That was lucky, because at first, it appeared that my hunting was over for the day.
We ran 30+ miles south to Pete’s secret ledge, which I think was probably 210 rock since I could see the Olympus dive boat anchored on the U-352 about a mile or so to the east. Nevertheless, Pete has some good marks and put us on a beautiful ledge in 100′ of water. It was 3 of us, and the plan was to stagger solo diving so to always have one on the boat and 2 in the water. Pete went first, and I was to follow second. But after talking to the other fellow, Jim, my divemaster training kicked in and I realized he was a bit uncomfortable diving that depth alone, so I offered to wait until Pete got back and buddy dive with him.
We descended quickly down the anchor line against a mild side to side current. The entire way down, my console with the SPG and depth gauge was not attached to the D ring on my BC and it was bugging me. When I got to the bottom, I checked the anchor and found it was wedged in the top of the ledge in a crack, and 10 feet above the sand. It was a beautiful ledge, and I was excited to explore it, but first I needed to secure my console. I placed my speargun on the top of the ledge beside me and turn to the left to snap in my console. When I turned back to the right to pick up my gun, it was gone. I quickly scanned the bottom around me with no results. I turned to Jim, who had been on the anchor line behind and above and signalled to him to see if he saw the gun. He just looked at me in bewilderment.
This gun was a gift from a good friend and his wife. It is a 60′ JBL and Stephanie engraved a Turtle and the word Tortuga on one side, and The Notorious Captain James on the other side. It is a special gun, and I spent the first 14 minutes of my dive looking for it before deciding that it was lost forever. I just figured it was swept away by the current, bouncing along the bottom to destinations unknown. The nitrogen induced thoughts about the gun during the dive were bizarre, the most prominant being how I was going to tell Frederick and Stephanie that I had lost my prize gun.
After conceding that it was gone forever, I finished my dive exploring the ledge. At the very end, Jim point off into the sand at a school of 5 big cobia swimming along with a southern stingray. All I could do was watch them.
30 minutes after losing my gun, we climbed back in the boat. I was heartbroken as I told Pete about it. “It must have floated away” he kept repeating, but I refused to believe it would float all the way to the surface. The stock of the gun is wood, and it floats, but the weight on the steel shaft makes the gun sink, or so I thought. Normally I attach the steel fish stringer to the handle, but on this dive, I had forgotten it. Many times I have placed the gun on the bottom with the stringer to attend to another task, and it always stayed put. Now I know it floats without the stringer.
Pete started the boat and motored slowly, keeping a sharp lookout. I was not hopeful, and less astute in scanning the surface. Even if it did float away, it had been more than 30 minutes. Much to my surprise, Pete spotted the gun bobbing on the surface, about 6 inches of the butt of the gun above the water. I was so elated that I jumped in and swam over to retrieve it.
It was a miracle!