Orange Grove Sink Dive Plan
By Bob Rosell
Orange Grove is located in Peacock Springs State Park.
386-776-2194 (Administration Office located in Live Oak)
Peacock Springs State Park is open from 8:00 am to dark, 7:00 pm in the summer, 365 days a year. Diving hours are from 8am to 5pm. You MUST be in the water and starting your last dive of the day by 4pm, and OUT of the water by 5pm.
Driving directions from Dayo Scuba Dive Center:
Peacock Springs State Park is Approximately 2.7 hours drive time from Dayo Scuba Dive Center.
ˇ Leave the dive center and turn left (south) on Executive Dr toward Gay Rd right onto Lee Road
ˇ Turn left at Gay Rd, and then right onto N Orlando Ave/US-17/US-92
ˇ Turn right at W Fairbanks Ave/FL-424A/FL-426, and continue to towards I-4, make a left to merge onto I-4 W
ˇ Take exit 82A to merge onto FL-408 W Toll road
ˇ Take the exit (you actually merge) onto FL-91/Florida's Turnpike toward Ocala, heading north.
ˇ The turnpike merges with I-75 North in Wildwood, follow this until you get off on exit 399 in Alachua, which is after Gainesville.
ˇ Go right (west) towards High Springs. In High Springs take a left at the stoplight with the Hardees on the right corner.
ˇ About two blocks take a right at the stoplight onto Rt 27 west.
ˇ Go west on rt 27 until you get to Mayo, Florida. Rt 27 goes through Ft White, then Branford where it crosses the Suwanee River. You pass by a sign for Troy Springs even.
ˇ When you get to Mayo, at a stoplight, take a right onto Rt 51 east towards Live Oak and Luraville.
ˇ After crossing the bridge over the Suwanee River, you are in Luraville, Florida. Not much there except two dive shops, Cave Excursions and the Dive Outpost, and a country store.
ˇ In Luraville, take a right onto 180th. There is a flashing yellow light there and the Luraville country store there also. Follow 180th down to the park which is two miles down on the right.
Dive fees are $4 per car as at March 2011. There is an iron ranger-honor system in place. Stop just inside the park gate, remove a blue envelope, put the appropriate fee inside (cash/cheque only), remove the detachable portion to display on your windscreen, and put the envelope into the iron ranger. If you wish to purchase a yearly pass (best value, can be used at ALL state parks), see the park ranger. This costs $60.00 + tax (cash/cheque/credit card).
Place your certification card face up your blue ticket/state park pass on the windscreen where it will be visible to the park rangers.
After passing the iron ranger, Orange Grove is the first spring you come to 50 yards straight ahead, you may park to the left or the right. Please park together if possible.
Amenities available at Orange Grove:
ˇ Gear benches, racks and a changing room
ˇ Picnic tables, a grill and a pavailion
ˇ Restrooms (port-a-john) on site
ˇ Electricity and running water are not available.
Diving Orange Grove Sink:
* All divers must show proof of certification before diving (or be under the supervision of a diving instructor). Dive within your certification level.
* There are six sinkholes within Peacock Springs State Park, open water diving is permitted in Orange Grove spring ONLY.
* Dive within your depth limitations, i.e. open water divers are restricted to a depth limit of 60 feet.
* It is the policy of the Florida Park Service (FPS) to prohibit open water divers from carrying lights in Orange Grove, or entering into the cave system.
* Solo diving not permitted in Peacock Springs State Park, if you do not have a buddy, you may not dive there.
* Other rules at Peacock Springs State Park: No scooters (DPV's), no ATV's and no fishing.
Divers should gear up at the gear benches. Take only the gear needed on the dive down to the spring itself. Lock all other gear and items in you car, as the park is not responsible for anything lost or stolen. All buddy teams will do a pre-dive check before entering the water and buddy checks before descending. Entry is via the steps, or by giant stride at the left of the steps. Water level can vary, watch for underlying rocks!
Orange Grove sink is quite large, it drops off from a depth 25 feet around the end of the steps to 50-60 feet, after which you are in a cavern zone. DO NOT ENTER THE CAVERN UNLESS YOU ARE CERTIFIED TO DO SO. There are a bunch of fallen trees at the deeper section of the sink, which are cool to swim around, and there is a ledge cut into the wall at the 20 foot range which is pretty nice to check out. The bottom is a mix of rubble, sand and clay.
View out through the trees at Orange Grove
Wildlife you can expect to see when diving here are sunfish, catfish, small turtles and crayfish. PLEASE RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT AND WILD LIFE.
Maintain visual contact with your buddy or instructor, and maintain proper buoyancy and to avoid silting the area. Flow from the spring is extremely low, so anything silted up will remain in the water column for a long time. Always give right of way to exiting cavern and cave divers. Perform a safety stop at 15ft/3M after all dives.
Be aware of divers on deco in the area. Do NOT touch any bottles that hanging from the lines on the steps, or at the entrance of the cavern. These are not treasure!, they are vitally important to exiting divers to complete their decompression.
Do NOT enter the cavern unless certified to do so.
Water temperature and condition:
Water temperature in Orange Grove is generally 72F year round. A 3mm wetsuit with hooded vest or thicker is recommended.
The sink is usually covered over in a thin layer of duckweed. This is completely harmless to divers, and is good for water quality!
Duckweed stops algae from growing underneath in the water which would deteriorate water quality. However over the summer, water temperature in the basin can increase dramatically (low 80’s), causing a large algae blooms and decreased visibility. Visibility ranges from 30 feet in Summer to 80+ ft during the colder months.
If anyone becomes low on air, signal your buddy with the appropriate hand signal and begin your ascent. In the rare and unusual case of an out of air situation, signal your buddy and commence sharing air. Maintain buoyancy and ascend slowly, remembering to breathe continuously.
In the event that you are separated from your buddy follow standard procedure: search for one min (remember to look up and around, and for bubbles also). If you are unable to find your buddy ascend and meet up on the surface. Your buddy should also be following these procedures.
If your buddy is not on the surface within three minutes, contact others in your group to find out if he or she has been seen/already exited the water. Air supply allowing, search the area where last seen. If the diver is not found, activate EMS.
Emergency Contact Information:
911 - This will activate EMS in the Luraville Area
DAN – 1-919-684-4326
Always call DAN after 911 in the case of a dive emergency which may require medical attention. DAN will refer you to the closest available Hyperbaric Chamber.
In case of a Diving emergency:
The closest Hyperbaric Chamber to Orange Grove is at:
Shands Hospital at the University of Florida Hospital,
Gainesville, Florida 32610
DAN should be called in the case of ANY diving emergency!
Have a safe and enjoyable dive!