Cavezzz, It Shall Be – Part Six – Labna Ha-Ha and Back To The Animal Kingdom!

16 12 2013

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 ~

Breakie with Becki, Dan, Stretch, and Forest (my BGs were leaving, today), then to the shop! I didn’t have any dive plans for today, since Steve and Sander were going to go on a scooter/RB dive, together. Since Heleen and the gang were going to head to Nohoch, Dan and I joined in with them! Steve and Sander had also decided on Nohoch, so we had quite the crew! We brought two sets of doubles each, so that we were just using back gas, for two dives.

There was a lot of gear to lower down.
Heleen must have taken this picture, since I’m in it… πŸ™‚

Sander was on the receiving end…

Team work!

We wore our initial doubles down, instead of torturing the fellas.
Once it was all down…

It was an extremely hot day, so after getting our drysuits on, we jumped into the cenote, to cool off.

We finally got our gear on, and off we went. The purpose of today’s dive, was for Heleen to take some video footage, so we were on the main line for the entire dive.Β  We kept a nice and slow pace, with Dan in front, with a 100w LED, to light the way. Such an amazing and relaxing dive!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 44 mins.
Max. Depth: 25′
Water Temp.: 77F

Heleen’s video!

We got out, switched our tanks over, and got ready for the second dive. The boys left to do a longer dive on the Parker Line, and Heleen and I got ready to do a shorter one (if we felt like doing a shorter one). Ahhh… such a beautiful and relaxing dive. I had forgotten how beautiful this line was (aren’t they all?). As we got close to the entry (and already in open water), we shut our lights off, and used the ambient light. We had a little fun in the basin, with a lot of laughter.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 1 min.
Max. Depth: 19′
Water Temp.: 77F

Heleen, after our dives!

Me, taken by Heleen…

Erik, Heleen, and Jan K. …

Jan K. and Dan…

There was definitely no monkey business or shenaniganry going on, here…

The other fellas finally returned from their dive, and we were on our merry way!

Poor Dan had a bit of a leak (or 7) in his suit…

Back at the shop, Steve and I finally got to meet Panos, in the flesh, which was a nice surprise!

Then, to the resort! We had dinner with Becki and Dan, a drink with Laurynn and Kathryn, then back to our room, to tend with some gear. We tried to go to sleep early, but had a bit of an interesting phone call… I’ll just leave it at that…

Monday, December 16th, 2014 ~

Today, we headed back to Pet Cemetery. We had a few different teams: Steve and I; Sander, Heleen, Eric; Jan, Jan, Dan. Steve and I tried to go to the Dark Side Of The Moon again, but ended up in a different place. We made a couple of jumps, then left at an intersection, and came to some of the most beautiful cave that we have ever seen in our lives. We are thinking that this is what Ali may have been referring to as the “Spectacular” room, since that was such an extreme understatement! Steve just happened to have the camera with him, and he took some video. As stunning as it looks on video, it still does not do it the slightest bit of justice. Neither of us could stop saying, “Holy shit! Holy shit!” That’s how beautiful this passage was. Past the room, there was a little shelf that we could have squished under, but there were just so many fine decorations, and it appeared to pinch right down. I didn’t want to chance breaking anything, so I turned us around.

We picked up our stages, and made our way back to the Ihop line. We recalculated our gas, and followed it through some very different passage. There was a narrow’ish swim-through, into some really big, dark cave. It was huge! We jumped off into another little hole, which was really neat. It started to pinch right down into either no mount passage, or a spot where someone threw a spool through the tiny little hole. We turned back, and continued on the Ihop line, until we got to a spot that had a sharp slope upward. I opted not to go further, since one of my ears had been acting up a bit, and we still had a lot of diving left to do!

Along the cavern line, there was an air pocket, where we surfaced. That proved to be a less than smart idea for my ear. I just could not clear again, on the way back out. I stayed as high as I could, over the line, until we got back to the basin, still trying to clear that darn ear. Le sheesh. Ah, well… It was my new favourite dive, in my new favourite cave!

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 22 mins.
Max. Depth: 37′
Water Temp.: 77F

Dan, chillin’!

Becki joined us, today!

Steve – Are you STILL taking pictures??

Packing up…

…and a blurry selfie…

As usual, back to the shop, drop gear, to the resort, and we checked out Steve’s footage, on Becki’s laptop!

A peek of the footage, taken with my iPhone, in the lobby…

We had dinner with the gang, then back to the room for a movie!

Cavezzzz, It Shall Be – Part Five – A King’s Passage – Tux Required

14 12 2013

Friday, December 13th, 2013 ~

Today’s plans had been altered, a little. Steve, Sander, and I went to Pet Cemetery. We hadn’t been here before, and our project plans were changed, so this was an excellent alternative. We loaded up our gear, and were on our way!

On the road in, we saw a couple of little Grey Foxes, playing…

I think this is the best road into a cenote, that we have ever been on. We brought our gear down the steep staircase and apparently, to the wrong end of the dock. The line was closer to the stairs, than we thought! We realized our mistake, and moved the gear to where it was “supposed” to go.

Blurry pic, halfway down the stairs.

Steve, going back to get some of the gear! It was pretty slippery.

We had two stages each, and planned on dropping one along the way, for our second dive (all calculations were made, and we would make sure they were correct, at our re-entry point). We found the cavern line, and followed it until the jump to the main line. We made a second jump, and dropped our 2nd stage bottles (the ones for our second dive). We made a jump to the Blue Abyss line, and eventually reached the King Pong restriction. On the way in, I didn’t need to “Superman” my stage bottle, but did have to on the way back out. What a beautiful cave!!! As we made our way through the gorgeous passage, the bottom just fell right out from under us, and there was a massive, blue pit. The Blue Abyss! We descended to around 100′, hovered for a bit, then ascended back up and out. What an amazing place to see!

We made our way back to our first jump line, exchanged our stage bottles, and confirmed our calculations. We had planned on going to The Dark Side Of The Moon, but it appears that some of the lines were different than the ones on our maps. The jump we ended up taking, DID take us to some really cool cave, so we were not at all disappointed. We found a pretty gnarly restriction, too.

Bottom Time: 3 hours, 26 mins.
Max. Depth: 106′
Water Temp.: 77F

Steve’s video, from our most awesome dive. I think this is my new favourite cave…

Back to the shop, unloaded, to resort, tacos with Peter and Manu, then back over to The Pub, for the MCEP gathering!

Pics are a little dark…

We all dispersed, and a bunch of us headed back to the resort, where we figured that we would check out the “Adult” side – In the times that we had been here, we had never ventured over to the “other side!” There seemed to be less going on, but we stayed and had some fun chats!

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 ~

We missed breakfast this morning, since we were a little late in getting our butts in gear. We jumped out of bed, got our stuff together, and ran out the door. Sander had waited for Steve. *Phew* πŸ™‚

I decided to donate my scooter to the boys for the day, so Steve, Sander, Jan M. were going to scooter in Tux Kapaxa. I figured I would tag along with Stretch and Forest, and show them where the bones were!

We had quite a convoy, heading over…

We parked, then headed down to have a look.

Forest (who shall be known as Bodyguard #1) was awesome, and carried my stage down! Thank you, BG#1!
Thanks to BG#2, for bringing it back up!

We each had a stage, and took a bit of a short cut to the bones, instead of swimming to the T.

As we swam out, the other fellas passed us. We waved, as they went by. Once we reached the bones, we stopped so that Forest could take some footage of them… Or, at least he tried. His camera picked that moment to decide that it was tired. D’oh!

We carried on for a little while, then made our way back. We did have a lot of fun!

Thank you BG#1 and BG#2! You guys are the bee’s knees! πŸ˜›

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 55 mins.
Max. Depth: 41′
Water Temp.: 77F

After our dive, I waited for the other fellas to finish, while Forest and Stretch went to check out the well… (we all had a look, after)…

Other entry…

Back to the shop, unload, then to the buffet, with Kathryn and Laurynn!

We then met with Becki, Dan, Forest, and Stretch for a couple of bevvies!

Thanks to Santiago – AKA Jr. Cruise – for making our yummy drinks! He showed us his mad skillz, too!

Back to the room, where it was movie time! It seems that there was a Batman movie on, that we hadn’t seen before! To the Bat Cave!

Cavezzz, It Shall Be – Part Four – Rabbit Holes and Haloclines

12 12 2013

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 ~

The usual: Breakfast, then onward, to the shop!

I wonder who these guys are, in front of us? πŸ˜›

Everyone gathered and loaded up various vehicles, for the day’s projects.

Today, Kata and I had a few tasks to complete at Xtabay. We loaded up, and away we went. The roads were slick, thanks to the ongoing rain, but we made it safe and sound. There had been a few very scary-looking accidents, with the rain.

We each brought a stage with us, to use for the first dive, and then would use just our back gas for our second dive.

In our first 6 minutes, Kata had run the reel, we located the sensor spot, replaced the first sensor, and began to make our way to the second task point.

We swam through the Wizard’s Den (which is one of my absolute favourite rooms), through the Halocline Room, and then to our second destination. We still had stage gas left, but since we still had work to do on the surface, we decided to turn the dive.

Bottom Time: 46 mins.
Max. Depth: 46′
Water Temp.: 77F

We had brought “field equipment” with us, and worked on our “secret mission.” Ok, it wasn’t a secret, but it adds a little more fun to the story. πŸ˜€

Once we were finished, we had lunch, some laughs (speedo!), then went back down for our second dive.

As we were gearing up, it appeared that Agent Kata had an issue with her spg. Basically, it was pooched. Luckily, Kata had a backup, and I had a Sea Spanner, so all was well with the world, again. Away, we went.

We returned to the furthest point of our first dive, completed our mission, and carried on into the cave. We reached the end of the main line, so made our way back, playing in the halocline.

When we surfaced, there was quite a bit of rain. We were thankful for the palapa that provided us with shelter, while we got changed.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 25 mins.
Max. Depth: 47′
Water Temp.:Β  77F

Thanks for being my partner in crime, Kata!

Back to the shop, where we waited around for the truck to come back, to help with the unloading.

Then, to the resort, where Forest, Stretch, Steve, myself, Manu, and Peter went to the Grill restaurant – Awesome Empanadas (I think that’s what they were called)! The lemon dessert was one of few that I had on the entire trip, and it was absolutely incredible. πŸ™‚

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 ~

After breakfast, we had to change some Canadian cashola into pesos, which took a little more time than we had figured. We finally made it to the shop, and myself, Steve, Kata, and Joakim were going to Temple Of Doom, today! We had some sensor business to attend to, and then some pics!

At breakfast – A juice rainbow!

We finally arrived at Cenote Calavera (meaning: Skull – named for three circular openings in the cenote), and as we went to check out the entry, I was surprised to see this rather large fellow, chilling in the sun. He was wary, but he didn’t run away. I think we both caught each other by surprise.

The walk to the water…

The opening…

There is a bit of a drop to get in, and since Steve and I hadn’t been to this spot before, I was a little nervous, on the drive. Once we arrived, and I saw it, it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal (which it wasn’t – it was pretty fun).

The ladder, to climb out…

They also had a couple of parrots, in the parking lot. One of them was very friendly, and the other was a little shy… at first.

Mr. Friendly…

The shy one was shy… until we were all gathered around him. Then, he was whistling and flirting with us. The owner said that he whistles when girls get changed… which we found to be true!

There were also a couple of bunnies…

…and a friendly dog (it was really hot out)…

We worked together, to put our stage bottles and Jo’s camera in the water, and finally geared up!

Kata ran the reel, and then Joe went in first, to film and take shots (although, Jo was in a few different spots, working his camera magic). There was quite a stretch of going through halocline, and since I was in the back end, I got to see quite a lot of “gasoline.” We reached the spot where the sensor was supposed to be, and Jo and I held our positions on the line, while Steve and Kata located it. Once all was completed, we carried on, and reached the end of the line. Jo took some shots and video on the way back, too!

Kata, running the reel, through the halocline. Steve, second; myself, third.
Photo by Joakim Hjelm.

Another view of the halocline. Kata, Steve, me…
Photo by Joakim Hjelm.

Bottom Time: 41 mins.
Max. Depth: 53′
Water Temp.: 77F
Vis.: A little tannic in the basin, but cleared up, inside – apart from the gasoline halocline. πŸ™‚

Another shot, through the thick halocline. Kata, Steve, and myself in the back (in front of Jo).
Photo by Joakim Hjelm.

We surfaced, tied off our stages (which we still had usable gas in), and went over to the other line. I had a 100w LED light mounted to the back of my tanks, Steve had the Go Pro (with dual 24s), and Jo had his camera. Kata was in the front, then Steve, then me (lighting up the back), and then Jo (who moved around, a little). It was a lot of fun!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 3 mins.
Max. Depth: 58′
Water Temp.: 77F

We still had some gas to burn, so Steve, Jo, and I went back in to take some pics, near the Madonna stalagmite. Jo took the LED light from the back of my tanks, and I was hand-holding it, so I was able to move it around, a little. This was a reallyΒ  neat learning experience, for lighting, for me. Having taken all of my shots with ambient light, I have a lot of lighting learning to do!

Bottom Time: 26 mins.
Max. Depth: 61′
Water Temp.: 78F

A video, done by Steve…

*NOTE* There are many more photos from this shoot, to come! I will make another post, when they are available! *END OF NOTE* πŸ™‚

You can see more of Jo’s shots, here (you need to enter your e-mail addy, which is not a giant deal): or on Facebook:

Some of our gear!

From here, we made our way back to the shop, dropped our tanks, to the resort, grabbed a quick bite to eat, then met some of the gang at The Pub, then back to meet some more of the gang, then to sleep!

That sure is a lot of tanks for those guys to fill! Jorge and Eduardo, you guys are awesome! Thank you!

Cavezzzz, It Shall Be – Part Three – MCEP Project – Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha

10 12 2013

Monday, December 9th, 2013 ~

Today was the beginning of the Mexico Cave Exploration Project (MCEP), at Yax Chen – Ox Bel Ha. Since the daylight only lasted until about 5pm, we needed to get an early start. Quick breakfast at 7am, and straight to the shop, for a 7:30am gear gathering, then load up!

Winding path to the water, at Yax Chen…

Steve and Sander were a team, using the RB80s and scooters. I was buddied up with Jan M., to do some sediment trap removal/replacement, using a stage and scooters. I had never done sediment traps, and although not hard, was really “cool” to be a part of. We also repaired a part of the line that had been broken, past the “L-Shaped” cenote. Thanks to Jan, for his expert line repairing demo. It’s been a while since I have done it.

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 4 mins.
Max. Depth: 42′
Water Temp.: 77F/78F
Vis.: A little murky, in the first two sections, but cleared up, as we went further into the cave.

I am very thankful that I did not see the crocs that were apparently in the water.Β  I have an issue with crocs, other than the plastic ones, on my feet.

Heleen and I!

Tim and I hung around to wait for Steve and Sander. They had a 4 1/2 hour run time.

As we packed up, it appeared that we had a flat tire. No doubt, from the jungle road at Fenom, yesterday. Thank goodness for the RB80 (my tanks had gone with the CINDAQ truck). πŸ™‚

We weren’t sure if it was a puncture, or if bouncing through the jungle, just made it flat. We kept calm, and carried on…

We returned to the shop, unloaded, and headed back to the resort. Dinner and cocktails! We were also able to meet a superhero, by the name of “Super Rafael.” He was telling us about the magic show that they were putting on.

Of course, the video had to be dark, so that we didn’t give away Super Rafael’s true identity…

What a blast!

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 ~

Breakfast, then to the shop… er… change the flat tire. Thanks to Forest and Stretch, who helped us to get to the spare tire out… which was flat. We hobbled to the gas station, put some air in the tire, and we were finally on our way. Thank goodness for zip ties, too. πŸ˜‰ We finally made it to the shop, loaded up, and an extra thank you to Manu and Peter, who organized my gear and scooters! We were finally on our way.

Today, we were back at Yax Chen. Jan M. and I were going a little further than the previous day’s dive, and had a few more stations to remove/replace sediment traps. We had developed a routine in doing them, so we were able to do it in less time. We also wouldn’t have line to repair (we didn’t think we would).

Steve and Sander were on RBs again, too. There were fewer of us at Yax Chen today, since there were other team members performing other tasks, in other systems.

We could really feel the flow at our sediment traps. It wasn’t bad, but more than in the beginning sections of the cave. We could easily hold our positions while working, with a couple of fin kicks. It was definitely not St. Lawrence River or Florida cave flow, but it was noticeable.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 46 mins.
Max. Depth: 38′
Water Temp.: 77F/78F
Vis.: Same as previous day. Clearer, the further back we went.

We loaded up all of the gear, then hung around to help out Steve and Sander to bring their gear back, and finish loading the CINDAQ truck. From there, we went to Tulum, where we got our tire repaired.Β  We gave the fellow extra, since he was so good, fast, and incredibly affordable!

Thanks to Constança, for being a great Shore Manager!

Steve and Sander, after their dive.

Once at the shop, we unloaded, and while Steve and Sander were cleaning their RBs, I went with Jo, to The Pub! There were about 20 of us, and Steve came by when he was finished at the shop.

Back at the resort, Steve, myself, Manu, Peter, Stretch, and Forest went over to watch the famous Fire Show! I remembered it from last year, and it was awesome!

We looked at Peter’s photos, then to sleep!

Twenty-Twelve….. What A Year!

31 12 2012

Well, what can I say? 2012 has been a year of adventure, and even took us to far away lands, that we never thought we would see!

Of course, we always start the year off in the confines of the icy cold quarry water.

Of course, it stays like this until the beginning of April…

In February, we had another AGGAST adventure! Laurynn, Kathryn, Karen, and Sonya came to the Great White North, for some of this Ice Diving stuff! Of course, we had a bunch of other friends join us, too!

There were even really neat cupcakes!

Our group shot!

Le Princessi was out to play, as well.

We did have a blast, and we even ended up being DUI Dogs!

Here is a video of our weekend!

In March, the free divers came back! They are such a great group of people, and the fact that they free dive under the ice, just blows me away!

Steve and I then went down to Mexico, and did the DPV Cave Workshop, with Danny. What an amazing week!

We had a couple of days off in between, and went diving with Laurynn and Kathryn. Kathryn took some wicked shots of us, in Minotauro!

Lowering scooters down at Nohoch, was pretty crazy, too…

On our last day, Fred took us to a spot along the ocean that had some flow coming out of it. It was a most awesome day, in the ocean!

Pic taken by Fred Devos…

We had many fun dives in the St. Lawrence River, with new friends and already made friends.

Then, the trip of a lifetime… We were invited onto Elena’s boat, and took a trip around the world (40 hours of travel), to Truk Lagoon. I don’t think I have enough words to describe how incredible this trip was. We met some great friends, were treated like royalty, and did some absolutely amazing dives.

I saw my first sea turtle, got dive-bombed by some big fish (which made me shriek), played with “Nemos,” and saw some of the most amazing wrecks, that I could ever imagine!

Below pics taken by Kevin Davidson…

Pic taken by Leigh Cunningham…

Once we returned, and got back into the River, our 5 year search finally resulted in the finding of that darn truck. Many others have seen it before us, but we just couldn’t seem to find it… until July, 2012. I guess we had to go to Truk, before finding the Truck? Wah wah wah…

Pic taken by Eric’s camera, on a timer…

Steve taught some Fundamentals and DPV 1 courses, as well as did some Rec to Tech upgrades.

Ken and Debbie came for a visit, too!
Mike, Ken, Debbie, Me…

We made it to Kingston, for a long weekend BBQ, just like old times!

Eric and I joined in on a charter with Bottom Time Diving, to help with the SOS Eastcliffe Hall mooring buoy. Luc, Frank, and Sandy had most of it covered, so Eric and I tidied up some of the line. Some crazy surface currents, there!

Then it was time for the 5th Annual Brockville Canadian Invasion! People came from far and wide, and a good time was had by all (I hope)! πŸ™‚ Fred Devos joined us, and gave us a presentation on the Mexico Cave Exploration Project (MCEP), with updates from Ox Bel Ha.

Jenni M was certified this year, and we went to the SOS BBQ, and a dive on the Connie! What a fun day!

The visibility has not been great in the River, this year. I wonder if it has something to do with how warm it got, so quickly. There is also a shortage of zebra mussles, these past couple of years. They are invasive, and cover absolutely everything, but they also give us better vis.

We did quite a few longer scooter dives, this year… and did some investigating in parts that we hadn’t been to before.

Our good friends at DUI made a trip to Alexandria Bay, and since it wasn’t too far, we went to visit! We also did a couple of dives (of course)!

Eric V., Susan L., Me, Steve, Frankie Boy!

Blake, Steve…

Andy, doin’ it Gangnam Style…

I even tried an RB80 on, for size…

We finally scootered out to the Eastcliffe Hall from shore, which was a lot of fun… Even though I came close to thumbing the dive, due to the 2″ visibility, which eventually turned into really nice vis.

…and even more dives, in different parts of the River!

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Eric, Raluca, John, Corey, James, Steve…

Eric, CoRal, Steve…

We also had more friends come to visit, from the US! Eric P. and Tim F. spent their US Thanksgiving weekend with us. We spent a couple of days at the quarry, and a day at the River! We did have other friends join us, too!

Kevin L., Tim F., Me, Eric P. …

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Eric P., Bob S., Tim F., John B., Oren L., Steve…

We then had a small army travel down to Mexico, for some cavezzzzzzz! There were over 30 in our group, and there were even more that we joined in with! Our group had different tasks, to help out with the Mexican Cave Exploration Project (MCEP), retrieving sensors from different systems, as well as helping out at Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha. Thanks so much to Fred, Chris, Danny, Angelica, Jorge, and Eduardo for handling such a giant group, and helping everything to run so smoothly!

We visited many different systems, and were once again mesmerized by the Mexico CAVEZZZZZZ!

Me, coming out of Mayan Blue: B Tunnel. Pic taken by Ali Fikree!

Messing around in the basin of Mayan Blue. Pic taken by Ali Fikree!

Heleen also took some video of us, in Dos Pisos. What a stunning cave!

…and Xtabay/Chac Mool…

There are a few missing from the group shot, but most of us are here!

With such an event-filled year, it is hard to believe that we could beat this one!

*Cheers* to 2013!