2011 – A Year Of Friends and Adventure!

1 01 2012

This year has been another wonderful adventure, and we were blessed with some really amazing new and existing friendships.

We usually do a New Year’s Day dive, which we did, but it ended up being on the 2nd, instead of the 1st. There was not much snow on the ground, and the quarry was still open!

It did not take long for the quarry to freeze, and Ice Diving Goodness Season was upon us. I was very fortunate, to be able to test the DUI Heated Undergarment, too!

Then there was the release of the movie, Sanctum. A group of us went to see it, on its second night of showing, and decided to do a parody of it, the following day. We had quite a bit of fun, filming Sanked ‘Em. There were so many tears of laughter had, and thoughts of a sequel. Thanks to Chris Phinney, for his handy dandy camera work, and editing while being a passenger, on the way back home!

Then… Jacob came to visit, and try this ice diving thing! He was just in time, as this was the last weekend of an ice-covered quarry!

We were even able to take him down to the river, for some Scootering Goodness!

John Bailey got a bad ass tattoo!

We also hosted a GUE Meet ‘N’ Greet, which brought some new faces, and shared some information about GUE.

Andy and I, at the quarry!

Fred and Angelica came to town, too. It was really great to be able to share some of our dive sites with Fred, and to spend some time with both of them!

Raphael, Denis, Mick, and Mark came up for a visit too, and we went out for some St. Lawrence River diving!

We spent some more time doing some exploring, in the St. Lawrence River. We did some nice three hour dives, with our scooters.

Becky and I had threatened on many occasions to go diving together, and did not seem to be able to coordinate. Then the stars aligned, and Becky came up to dive with us! We had a blast!

I could have sworn that I saw David on one of the dives…

Becky took some shots of us, too (Below pics by Becky Kagan Schott)…

We then had the 2011 Brockville Canadian Invasion. This was the biggest group to date (50 people), and everyone was just absolutely wonderful. Thanks to all for being so wonderful!

I was also very fortunate to get one of the first Light Monkey wings, in which I started diving at the Invasion. This is a really nice wing, in which I have tried a few different tank combinations with.

*Thumbs up!* Thank  you, Light Monkey!

Forest Rothchild did a write-up of his thoughts on the Invasion. Thank you, Forest!

Forest’s Write-Up

More pics from the Brockville Invasion…

Then came the Kingston Invasion, which was smaller this year, but still much fun!

After the Invasions, we were finally able to meet Heleen and Sander, who came to visit us from Holland. They had been to Alberta for a week, before seeing us, then we took them out for some dives, and to see the infamous plane! We had been looking forward to meeting them for a few years, and the time finally came! w00t!!!

Here are Heleen’s videos, from the Quarry, Kinghorn and the Back Mine!

http://www.wethorse.nl/movies/Canada_quarry_kinghorn.html

http://www.wethorse.nl/movies/Canada_Backmine.html

I then took a trip to Seattle, while Steve left for his RB80 training, where I met some of the coolest kids on the block, and the “AGGAST” sisters were born! Leg Number One of the AGGAST (All Girls GUE All Star Team) sisters world adventures. This was the first time I had been in salt water, since before I had any GUE training. That is, apart from below the halocline… 😛 What an amazing place to dive, and a really fantastic GUE community. I can see why people love diving here! There are octos and wolf eels, and so much life! Anyone hiring in Seattle?

We even witnessed an octopus riding a wolf eel!

Laurynn’s video of the underwater rodeo!

My videos of Keystone Jetty (GUE day) and the Day Island Wall…

When Steve got back from his RB80 training, he hit the water with Blake and Steve S.

I ventured out with some other friends, too.

At the end of October, a group of us headed down to Mexico, for two weeks of Cave Diving Goodness. A few were taking Cave 1, a few taking Cave 2, and a few of us just going diving! We did some absolutely amazing dives, and each day, the dives seemed to be even more amazing, topping it off with a dive at Ox Bel Ha, on our last day.

One of our favourites was going to the Boa Restriction, in Grand Cenote/Sac Actun. Gorgeous cave and a lot of fun! Another highlight was Tux Ka Paxa, where we saw Mastadon bones. Just an absolutely incredible trip! That is, when we finally got there, and finally got our rental car. 😉 We even saw a Puma cross a jungle road, but still no “Tadantulas.” Well.. at least Steve and I didn’t see one. It seems everyone else did!

Me, in Dos Ojos…

Back to Canada, we went, where the water was significantly chillier than in the Mexico cavezzz… We still managed over an hour on the triggers!

Throughout the year, we made a couple more attempts at finding that darn truck, including the beginning of December.

We still haven’t found that thing, which brings us to the end of four years of looking for it. I think the other people that have seen it are photoshopping it into their pictures. Either that, or they move it, every time we go looking for it! 😀 Maybe next year! At least I got my new Santi undergarments in time for winter diving!

That brings us full circle, preparing for our season of winter ice diving. We recently went out to the quarry, to put in some “permanent lines,” for easier ice diving reference!

In between all of these adventures were also Fundamentals classes, in which Steve was teaching, and I was helping. Allan came up to intern, too!

I also had two photos chosen by National Geographic, in their Daily Dozen. At least one of them was supposed to have made it into the magazine, but I have no idea which issue. Two of them were made into Nat Geo wallpaper downloads. Thank you, Nat Geo! w00t!

A Year In Video…

If Steve and I have half of the adventures in 2012, that we had in 2011, we will be very lucky! *Cheers* to happy and safe Diving Goodness in 2012! Let the planning begin!!





Running Winter Lines

15 12 2011

Saturday, December 10th, 2011 ~

Today, we had decided that we would run a few permanent lines in the Quarry, in preparation for Ice Diving Season.

Of course, Eric was modeling some fashionable glasses, from St-Laurent…

Dominic joined us, too…

We got our gear together, and although it was a little bit cloudy, the air temperatures were not too bad.

The quarry..

We had an old reel with some fancy Orange line on it, so we decided to use that for the “Plane Line.” Steve had the line, then Eric, Dominic, and myself, with the camera.

Swimming out…

Eric ties a line arrow into the main Plane Line…

Steve ran the line from ahead of the “Deco Rock,” past the plane, boat, and around to the “Deco Habitat.” (Sanked ‘Em reference). 😀

As we went by the plane, we saw a live fish!

Steve tied off the end of the line, and we made our way back in.

Bottom Time: 29 mins.
Max. Depth: 64′
Water Temp.: 46F
Visibility: Not horrible, but usually better, this time of year. Still “floaties” in the water.

Steve, using his RB80…

Dominic, with a duck-under…

Eric, ditching his stage…

We got out, doffed our gear on the tables, and replaced the line on the reel. We had some fancy green line for the line down to the sub. Even Evelyn gave us a hand with unknotting the line.

We got back in, and Eric took a turn at running the line, as we headed down to the sub. After tying off the line, we hovered for a little bit, then made our way back up.

Heading down…

Heading back up…

Dominic, chillin’…

Eric and Steve, practicing OOG drills…

Bottom Time: 38 mins.
Max. Depth: 59′
Water Temp.: 46F

We finished up, got out, packed up, and headed to The Works for some after-dive nosh. We will still have to run a thrid line to the shark.. another day.

A good day of Diving Goodness, and meeting new friends!

Me, being goofy…





Another Attempt…

6 12 2011

Sunday, December 4th, 2011 ~

So.. we decided to have another look for that darn truck… The one that people must be photoshopping into pics, as we still can’t find that stoOpid thing…lol. We have been searching for that thing on and off, for about 4 years.

Steve, Eric, Cory, Raluca, and myself went on the hunt. Although, today’s hunt would be shorter than other attempts, as the water was getting colder. We decided to go to the Gaskin first, then head south, and drift…

Gearing up…

Guess what??? Yeah.. we didn’t find it. We did have a fun dive though, and I was trying my new Santi undies, which were extremely warm. They would have been even warmer, if my suit didn’t flood, I’m sure. I was pretty much soaked, from head to toe, and it seems that I did not have enough weight with my new undies. At the end of the dive, I was extremely floaty. I guess a couple of extra pounds are needed with these babies!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 3 mins.
Max. Depth: 101′
Water Temp.: 44F
Visibility: Not great, at all

Steve and Eric, with a hand action shot!

I guess I moved a bit too quickly on this one, and caused a bit of blur.. Doh…Cory and Raluca were tough, seeing as they only just got back from the warm cavez of Mexico. Congrats on your course, guys!

I was even a bit blurred with my self portrait.. sheesh…

At least I got a decent shot of the entry, as the sun was going down, behind the clouds…

Today’s dinner = Santa Fe!

It seems I will be reporting from the quarry, for our next dives! St. Lawrence, we’ll see you in the spring!





Chillin’ & Driftin’…

25 11 2011

Sunday, November 20th, 2011 ~

Steve and I headed down to the St. Lawrence River, to meet Blake and Eric. We know there aren’t going to be many St. Lawrence dives left in the season, so we want to make the most of our time, before the deep freeze. We met at Teapot Island Bay (it has many names; this just happens to be what I’ve known it as), and planned on scootering over to the Rockport Wall, drifting for a while, then scootering over to the wreck of the Kinghorn, then in at Rockport. We placed cars at each location, to make life easier.

Entry…

We took our gear into the water, changed, then went to drop a vehicle off in Rockport. As we got into the water, there was so much mud, that it made putting fins on a bit of a challenge. We very slowly made our way into slightly deeper water to do our predive briefings and gear checks. The mud was so bad, that we had to go right up into each others’ face to verify our stage bottles and do bubble checks.

We surface scootered over to the bowl to avoid mud, weeds, and bad vis. Once we got there, we went four across, until we got to the wall. We made our way down to 100′, where it was quite a bit darker, and enjoyed both scootering and drifting across the wall. We saw a few big fish, and directed ourselves toward where we thought the line to the Kinghorn would be. Voila… we found it, and continued on to the wreck. We played around a little, and once inside, Eric asked me if I was cold (since I usually get cold). I signaled that I was good to go! Then.. I guess I had it in my head, and I began to feel chilled.. Bahh! *Signal*… er.. Eric? I think I might be a little chilly, now…

So.. we turned and headed for shore in Rockport, with Steve and Blake coming along shortly after. Eric and I did notice that we had to dial back a bit on our scooters, as Steve and Blake’s RB80s did seem to cause a bit more drag in the water. Interesting note!

We definitely had a really fun dive! I did get some video, but it was quite dark…

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 8 mins.
Max. Depth: 106′
Water Temp.: 48F

Exit…

I sat with the gear, while the fellas went for the vehicles…

 

Of course, there was just enough time for some silliness…

Once everyone came back, we loaded up and went to Boston Pizza for some grub! Let’s hope we can get back to the river next week! Winter is coming!





Mexico Part 4 of 4 ~ Our Last Week…

10 11 2011

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 ~

Breakfast, shop, then off to  Chan Hol! Another cave that we hadn’t been to!

We were following Mike and Jen along the highway, and wondered if we had gone too far, until we pulled up to a nice fellow’s house. He obviously takes very good care of his property… including the large stone wall that was put up around one side of the cave entrance.

Frankie, Steve, and I were a team, and Mike and Jen were a team. The three of us brought two stages with us, which was a bit of overkill, but we weren’t sure what to expect, so we were prepared. The entry was basically blind. The line starts in open water, and you need to hold on to it, as you go in. Once in, the visibility clears right up, and you get to a T. We were going to follow the line to the left on the first dive, for 45 minutes, then turn it, drop our bottles, and do a second dive to the right of the first T. I was #1, Steve was #2, and Frankie was #3.

So.. in we went, and sure enough, after the blind entry down a slope, and a few gentle kicks through, the visibility turned from chocolate milk to crystal clear water. We reached the first T, dropped our cookies, and continued to the left. We made another left at the second T, dropped our first stage bottles, and after 45 minutes, we made our way back. We didn’t even touch the second stage bottles.

Bottom Time ~ 1 hour, 30 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 38′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Now, to the right! We just used back gas for this one, and as we followed the line to the right, it bent around, and we saw lights ahead.. Er.. huh? It seems that the line to the right wraps around to the line on the left, and is part of the 2nd T that we had reached on Dive 1. Fancy that… so.. we decided to turn around, and jump a little. We followed one jump line that came to an end, so we decided to come back to the main line and take another one. This one kept going, and squeezed into a narrow calcite bedding plane, where we turned around. Very neat cave.

As we came back to the first T, there was a note from Jen, making sure that we looked up onto the shelf, to see some pots, bones, and a monkey skull. How cool was that? Very.. We came back up the slope, through the zero vis, and back into the pool! Great dives!

Bottom Time ~ 1 hour, 4 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 38′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Back to the shop, hotel, and Asian themed dinner. Then.. sleep…

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 ~

After breakfast, we were extremely lazy. We decided to have our nap first, then go to the shop. These long swimming dives were tiring (hehe). We finally got out the door at 10:30am, and went over to the shop. Today, we were going to Dos Ojos. Steve and I had only ever done cavern dives here. Steve, Frankie, and I were Team C2, and Eric and Andy were Team C1. We also noticed that Danny’s truck was there, so we figured we would run into him, with Kirill and Maxim, on their scooter workshop at some point.

Since we had not been to the main line here, we knew that there were a few lines for the cavern, but weren’t sure which one to take, to get to the main line. We all did our gear checks, and as we were about to descend, we saw the scooter fellas come in. We waited for them to surface, and Danny gave us some instructions. Thank you, Danny!

We followed the cavern line past the alligator and Barbie, then jumped over to the main line. There was a jump at the alligator and Barbie, but we decided to take the second one. Eric and Andy had started their line in Open Water, and tied into the main line.

Some very cool cave back here. There were many decorations, and some of them “dipped in chocolate sauce.” I think I like that phrase. :p There were even giant chocolate chandeliers. It seemed that there was more silt on the floor in this system, and we spent quite a lot of our dive at 18′. We reached the end of the line, then jumped on to.. gold line? Yes.. we actually jumped on to gold line, from twisted line. We followed this line into about 2′ of water, where we surfaced into a dome. We did not see any openings, but there were some bats flying around, so we figured there had to be a little one, somewhere.

We had been swimming for over an hour, so we decided to turn around. I really liked the decorations here. It was a very interesting cave to see. Frankie had his camera with him, and filmed on the way in.

As we got back to the cavern line, we saw a fellow with a camera, who took a few pics of us.

Frankie in front, me in tow. Steve was behind me…

Me, with Steve behind…

Steve…

Frankie, Me, Steve…

Bottom Time ~ 2 hours, 7 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 25′
Water Temp. ~ 77

After our dive, we chatted with Danny for a while, and waited for Eric and Andy to finish their dives. Friday, we were going to join them at Ox Bel Ha. Yes, please!!

We made our way back to the shop, hotel, then to dinner! Tonight was Mexican night! w00 h00!

We made it an early night, and it seemed that I had the beginnings of an ear infection… *sniff*

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 ~

Since I had been up most of the night , and my ear was bugging me a little, I decided not to dive today. I still got up early, to meet everyone for breakfast, and although I really did want to dive, I really wanted to go to Ox Bel Ha the following day, and decided I would rather do that, than risk making my ear worse, today. It was also raining like crazy.

It seems that whenever it rains, the internet doesn’t work, here. It made for a bit of a boring day. I couldn’t even go to the beach or pool, with the amount of rain that was coming down, so the TV was the only entertainment that I had.

When the rain finally let up, I went out to the pool. Jen and Mike were out there, so I finally had some company! There were a bunch of people beside us, that had a neat looking drink. We asked them what it was, and so began a new drink.. The Banana Mama. It was extremely tasty! As everyone came back from their dives, they all trickled into the pool, where we had some fun. We had no-fin backfinning and heli turn contests… Yes, we are geeks…

For dinner, we headed down to Latitude 20º, where we met Fred, Angelica, and Chris for dinner. The food was quite yummy, and they had some seriously decadent cheesecake!

We walked back to the resort, and… sleeeeeeeep.

Friday, October 14th, 2011 ~

Today would be our last day of diving, before heading home tomorrow. Steve, Frankie, and I got up early, got our stuff ready, and had a quick breakfast at 7am, getting to the shop around 7:30am. We loaded up the cars with gear, and followed Danny to Yax Chen.

On the way over, the rain was holding off, but the sky was extremely dark. When we passed by the ocean, we noticed that the waves were huge, and seemed angry. The picture does not do the ocean and waves justice. That, and it was taken in a moving car…

When we arrived at the property, we were able to bring our gear down to the water before the rain came, and then it started to really come down.

Path to the water…

The entrance…

You have to love the Emergency Blow Whistle…

Thank goodness for the little covered tent that the owners had up, that we hung out under, as we went through our dive plan, and Danny gave us directions.

The water on the surface was a rusty red colour, for about 4′, then cleared up a little, below it. Danny ran a line for us, to get to the cave entrance. It was a good swim in open water, before we would reach it. We got to the main line, and calculated our thirds, as well as our gas turn pressures, with our two stages each.

There were tetras in this system that had evolved to be able to survive in this environment, and did not require oxygen in the water. They would actually come to the surface to get their 02. They are unique to this system.

Into the cave… This one was very different from other Mexico caves that we had been in. It was very dark, silty, and had a bit of flow. The line was white and very thin, but was covered in algae and silt. There are styrofoam balls marking each 1000′ into the cave, and sample stations throughout. There were even little patches of white on the floor of the cave, that looked like little patches of snow. When I asked about them later, I was told that it was bacteria. There were also many crab bones.

We swam through three different cenotes on the way through, seeing huge mangrove roots, and very large tarpin. It was extremely cool to look up and see the red/orange tannic layer. We passed through the “L-Shaped” Cenote, and made it through to the Hydrogen Sulphide layer. Because of the rain, it wasn’t as distinct of a layer, sitting on top of the halocline, but you could still clearly see that it was the H2S layer. It was pretty cool to descend through it and the halocline simultaneously.

We were close to our 2nd stage drop, and I signaled to Steve and Frankie… “Drop stages, or swim back?” We had already been swimming for 90’ish minutes, and still had to swim out. We opted to turn it.

Seeing some of the small openings in the cave were pretty amazing, with ambient light coming through. I am sure that it would have been much more dramatic, had it not been pouring rain, but it was still a pretty incredible experience.

As we came out of the cave, I picked up the reel, and started to reel in. That was one honkin’ big reel! Steve asked me a couple of times if I wanted him to take over, but I waved him off… until I had been reeling in for about 10 minutes. I then asked him if he wanted to take over. He did, and after a bit, handed it off to Frankie. As we came closer to the dock, I saw Danny’s scooter from the corner of my eye, then I went for a ride! I was giggling my fool head off, as Danny had grabbed me by the manifold, and given me a lift! Thanks, Danny! Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  

Bottom Time ~ 2 hours, 48 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 40′
Water Temp. ~ 78F (a little cooler on the surface)
Visibility ~ Not as clear as the other Mx caves, but still very good. Our lights were swallowed in certain sections.

As we got out, the rain was still coming down, which didn’t make for decent pictures, but I did get a couple.

Dark sky…

As we doffed our gear, Steve had the hatch to change under, and since we were kind of up against a palm tree, I moved a couple of branches over the rear passenger door, to shelter me. It was actually quite effective.

What an amazing day, and a privilege to be able to dive here. It was something that I will never forget, and hope to do again.  This was a pretty epic way to cap off our diving.

We headed back to the shop to drop off our tanks, strip our gear, pay our bills, and say our goodbyes (*sniff*). We also ran into Robert and Ward, from the Netherlands!

Thanks so much to everyone at Zero Gravity, for making our trip extra wonderful. Chris, Fred, Danny, Angelica, Jorge, Rosa… You all ROCK! Thank you!!!

We headed back to the resort, where the fellow met us to pick up our rental car. We took all of our gear out, handed over the keys, and went back to our room to hang everything up. I don’t think our drysuit underwear dried once, during the entire trip!

Dinner… sleep…

Saturday, October 15th, 2011 ~

Rain rain rain rain rain……. We went for breakfast, packed some, relaxed a bit, then checked out. The rain was coming down like crazy, and umbrellas were a  hot commodity. We all met in the lobby, loaded our cases near the bus, and climbed aboard. Next stop, Cancun airport…

Wow.. I think all of us came close to getting sick on the bus. The driver was putting his foot on the pedal, off of the pedal, on the pedal, off of the pedal.. ooh boy.. We did all make it, without losing our lunch.. barely. :p

We checked in, and went to TGIFriday’s, where we got to listen to Erasure tracks, and have some grub, before taking off.

Dear Mexico… We will be back. Thank you for the cavezzzzz!!