Lynda Tiefel of Tallahassee has two passions. She loves to geocache and adores scuba diving.
Last month, she combined her two favorite activities when she hid a new geocache entitled “You are going to need a bigger boat.”
For those not in the know, geocaching, which combines the terms "geographical" and "cache," is an outdoor adventure that sends seekers on a treasure hunt for containers of trinkets and prizes. Participants use a Global Positioning System receiver (GPSr) to hide and seek containers called "geocaches" or "caches." A typical cache is a waterproof container containing a logbook and pen, but caches can be as simple as a strip of magnetic plastic with a sheet of paper attached or a small roll of paper in a tiny waterproof tube.
Searchers frequently choose geocaches to hunt by typing a zip code into a search engine provided by Groundspeak, the organization that coordinates deployment of geocaches worldwide. They then use a handheld GPSr or cell phone app to locate the actual cache and sign the log. After hunting a cache, they report on the adventure online at the Groundspeak website.
Tiefel, whose geocaching name is DiverRN, has hidden a plastic slate on an artificial reef 10 miles south of Dog Island in 60-feet of water at N 29° 39.161 W 084° 30.008. Divers who locate the slate will sign it using an ordinary pencil.
The cache was hidden with the blessing of the Organization for Artificial Reefs (OAR), which placed the concrete reef unit on the sea floor. Tiefel sits on the board of OAR and is currently president of the Tallahassee Area Geocachers (TAG).
The reef where the geocache is hidden was deployed in June in memory of Dixon Camp. It has three "super reefs" each 15 feet high with a regular-sized artificial reef module inside.
In her posting on the internet announcing the new geocache, Tiefel wrote, “(The reef) already had fish on it a week after it was deployed.”
In her online directions to the new geocache, Tiefel wrote, “Once you find the super reef, the 15-foot pyramid, swim 38 feet west on the 270-degree radial, to the tip of the triangle. The geocache slate is tethered and floating on the top of the closest smaller pyramid. Don’t forget to bring a pencil, it wouldn't be good to go into decompression mode if you forget one and have to go back to the boat.”
According to Groundspeak, only about 20 underwater caches exist, which makes Franklin County pretty special. Veteran diver Tiefel said she has found other diving caches and this is the second one she has hidden. Her first is in Morrison Springs State Park. She appears to be the only owner of two deep water geocaches at this time.
So far, nobody has found the new geocache.
The county was already a vacation destination for geocaching enthusiasts. Currently, there are about 150 geocaches in Franklin County and 2345 within 100 miles of Eastpoint. In 2011, Franklin County became one of the first localities in the nation to have a geocaching contest or challenge with a prize. The Franklin County Tourist Development Council provided funds to buy collectable geocoins inscribed with Eastpoint’s zip code as a prize for cachers who complete the challenge and to promote caching in the county. To claim the prize, visiting cachers had to find a group of geocaches with partial coordinates to a final cache spot that contained tickets that could be traded for the coin. The Salty Geocoin Challenge is still in operation, and more than 140 of the coins have been claimed.
Founded in 1985, OAR serves the recreational saltwater fishing industry of Florida's Big Bend Gulf Coast by promoting the professional development of public artificial reefs. Since 1987, OAR has created or enhanced over 30 named reefs in the Big Bend Gulf.
OAR collaborates with cities and counties as well as state and federal governments to create and maintain artificial reefs. OAR also collaborates with marine research agencies, other artificial reef groups, and the academic community.