by Jody Steele
Some of the best entertainment anywhere is about a six mile cruise out of the main channel at Ocean Reef Club. Carysfort Reef is a magnificent four mile long reef of amazing coral, shallow waters, and a multitude of fish that you definitely should visit. Summer is a great time to venture out on the reef. The water is comfortably warm and the sun glistens to give good visibility for snorkeling or scuba diving. It is also an opportunity to see the incredible coral restoration up close.
A Bit of History
Carysfort Lighthouse was constructed in 1852 after many ships were wrecked on the reef. Major General George G. Meade was the civil engineer that led the construction of several lighthouses on the coast, including Carysfort. He is also known as the Union leader that defeated General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. The Lighthouse was first outfitted with 18 lamps set in reflectors, but just three years later a Fresnel lens was installed. Bob Broton, member, diver, and photographer shared that two large tanks were used in the early days to store whale oil for fuel. Bob explained that the tanks are now discarded about 200’ east of the lighthouse. So along with spotting fish and coral, you might want to gaze at these parts of Carysfort history.
A Trip to the Reef
Ocean Reef boaters can get out to this protected site in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary in less than a half hour. Mooring buoys surround the Lighthouse and each one is a great dive spot. In fact, we have hooked up to quite a few of the buoys and feel that each area is a different experience. Over the 4th of July weekend, we traveled out to the Lighthouse and all of the buoys were occupied. It was easy to move on to South Carysfort Reef (half mile away) that also has mooring balls and is equally as fascinating. For those who do not have a boat at hand, The Dive Shop at the Reef, in the Fishing Village does it all. Twice a day, at 9 AM and 1 PM, they take trips out to Carysfort. Private charters and sunset cruises can also be arranged with Jesus Gudino, Manager to fit your needs (305 367 3051). An assortment of diving gear is available to buy or rent along with cool bathing suits made out of recycled plastic bottles and Italian sunglasses. The Dive Shop is also part of Goal Clean Seas and has collected 5000 lbs. of ocean debris in the last two years.
Good for Your Health
Snorkeling improves breathing, gives an all body workout, and burns about 300 calories an hour. The experience also lifts your spirit as it connects you with this beautiful reef environment. Take some pictures to share, hopefully a few underwater, and show your friends how marvelous it is to social distance on the Reef.