While Florida’s eastern coast certainly offers countless popular wreck dives, the Panhandle is an often-overlooked gem. The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail provides an enjoyable mechanism for divers to experience the history and heritage the Gulf of Mexico has to offer within the realm of wreck diving.
My relationship to the Middle East is like a long-running but complicated love affair. I keep being attracted to it and keep coming back. Each time I step out of the airplane when I arrive there, I am embraced by a pleasant, complex, and—dare I say—almost sensual scent so full of notes, most of which I have never been able to identify.
One of the problems with the proverbial bucket list is that whenever you tick a dive trip off the list, it seems that you add at least three more destinations to it. This is exactly what happened to me. I had never considered North Carolina as a dive destination, much less one of the top wreck diving locations in the world.
For the local diving community, it is hard to imagine a full year has already passed since the sinking of the HMCS Annapolis in Halkett Bay, off Gambier Island in British Columbia, Canada. It only seemed like yesterday when crowds of onlookers gathered to watch the sinking on 4 April 2015. In little over two minutes, the ship was on the bottom, and Howe Sound had its first substantial wreck at 371ft (113m) in length!
Before they were sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, the jets were gutted and attached to concrete anchors. Both jets were slowly lifted from the barge and briefly floated on top of the Gulf before they headed toward the ocean floor.
The two planes are now about 74 feet underwater and about 3 nautical miles from the M.B. Miller county pier. Divers expect fish to start coming to check it out any day.
Miles of white sandy beaches, family vacation destinations, infamous spring break festivities and outstanding state parks attract millions of visitors to Florida annually from around the world. But there is so much more to see—especially for those who like to take their sightseeing down below the ocean and gulf waters—like the beauty and magic of thousands of artificial reefs that lie beneath the surface along Florida’s coastlines.