5- A Pinch Of Salt

17 02 2018

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 ~

Today, we headed to Otoch Ha, with scooters and a stage. I have scootered parts of the upstream section a few times, but had never been on the downstream line.

We packed our little VW Gol (that’s right, Gol… not Golf), and I’m not sure we could have fit much else in it.

Two scooters, two stages, two sets of doubles, and two bins…

It took about 30 minutes to get down the Labna Ha road, since we were weighed down, a bit, and didn’t want to bottom the car out, or get a flat tire.

The bugs were in full force, when we arrived at the cenote. It’s further into the jungle, so we did come prepared (those Avon wipes are the best invention, ever).

We carried our gear down the path, and got ready for Diving Goodness.

With a view of the cave entrance…

We entered, T’d left, jumped right, and reached a crazy restriction. Steve went in, first. He got through. My turn… scooter, then me… oop… oop… oop… regroup… oop… I wasn’t sure that I was going to fit through, and was trying to figure out how the puzzle piece was going to fit. Regroup again, and try to squeeze a different way. I had watched how Steve went through, and thought that I was doing the same thing. Apparently, not. Ooh, ooh… there I go! I’m through! Not the easiest spot to navigate, when you’re half upside-down, and sideways.

We scootered for a bit longer, dropped stages, then scooters, and came up to some absolutely stunning and highly decorated cave. Oh. Em. Gee. Being stuck for 4 minutes was worth absolutely every second, for what we saw. We just hovered there, and couldn’t move. There were decorations from floor to ceiling, big stalactites, a bunch of tiny straw stalagmites, and just pure heaven. I didn’t want to leave! We eventually kept swimming, and went through some narrow, decorated passage. As the line continued, there was a small collapse in the floor, which dipped into the halocline. We had a quick peek, then turned around. Holy smokes, such beauty. Steve did take some video, and I will eventually post it, once it’s edited.

We turned, picked-up scooters, stages, then reached the restriction. I guess I figured out the puzzle, as I didn’t have any trouble, getting through, from the back side. w0000000t!!

We surfaced, and I was giggling like a school girl. I’m sure I had a shit-eating grin on my face, too!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

Max. Depth: 41′

Water Temp.: 77F

Avg. Depth: 32′

Once packed, we realized that we had so much gas left over, we could have done another swimming dive. I guess we were so happy with our dive, that it never even occurred to us. 🤓

Very silty entry…

We finished off our day with a presentation of the Hoyo Negro project, some food at The Pub, and a free shot of tequila. Such an exceptional day!





3- I Can’t Tell You…

15 02 2018

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 ~

Today’s dive was at a site that we had never been to before, and cannot really disclose info on. It was a good distance into the jungle, and not very well-known. The land owners were pretty friendly, and showed us the direction in. We parked, then went to look around, to find the entry, and brought our tanks down. The stairs weren’t bad, but there were a few steep steps that I knew that I would need an arm to climb up, with my tanks on!

We looked down another path, that another cenote was, but didn’t want to venture too far, wearing only flip flops and shorts. We tried to narrow our chances of getting invested with ticks.

Second path…

As we were prepping gear, another couple unloaded, to dive the other cenote.

Looking down, to the large cenote…

Steve went in without gear on, to locate the line, so we didn’t silt up the area, looking around, with gear on (very silty bottom). We did find it, so we got ready to dive!

What. An. Awesome. Cave. This place has just about everything: decorations, big passage, small passage, restrictions, up and down crevices, chocolate sauce decorations, and just freaking amazing. We will definitely go back to this place!

Gear: AL 80s ~ Back gas, only

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 11 minutes

Max. Depth: 44′

Water Temp.: 77F

Avg. Depth: 32′

After our dive, we met up with some other folks that were swimming in the cenote. One was a local, and the other two were from the US.

Definitely some happy cavezzzz faces!!!





2- Caracol

15 02 2018

Wednesday. February 14th, 2018 ~

Ale and Peter kept us out late, so we weren’t as quick to get up, this morning (of course, we had nothing to do with it – nope, not a bit – that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it). I say that, but the torrential downpour did wake me up, in the wee hours.

Oren just happened to be in the area, so he was joining us on a dive to Caracol. We had been given directions to some pretty parts of the cave, so we were looking forward to seeing it!

On the jungle road, leading to the cenote, we drove past more wildlife than I remember seeing, in the past.

We saw a bunch of lizards…

A couple of vultures, that appeared to be waiting for us…

We also saw a little fox, that took off, once he noticed us. He didn’t stick around long enough, for us to ask him what it is that he really says…

We also saw a couple of mini road runners (ok, that’s not what they are really called, but that’s what they looked like). They ran across so fast, that one of them wiped out, when he hit the brakes. It was almost like he was skidding on ice. They were too fast, to get a picture of. We did learn that they are called, “agoutis.”

Ok, back to diving! They charge 250 pesos, per person, and if you pay an extra 100 pesos, the guys that work there, will bring your tanks to and from the benches, above the stairs. They don’t take them down, but will help to ease the load. Those steps are so friggin’ steep, and when you’re as vertically challenged as I am, you wish for the tank fairy to bring them up and down, for you. They are so steep, that when I take each step down, the butt end of my tanks hit the stair behind me. That’s a little unnerving, when you have about 120 lbs on your back. Nice and slow… nice and slow… Thank goodness they have decent hand rails, along the way.

Photo from a few years ago. At least they have better traction on the stairs now, than they did in this photo!

Caracol is a lovely, shallow dive. We realized that bringing a stage was probably overkill, but we were unsure of the distance that we were traveling, so we opted to bring one, just in case.

There were a bus-load of snorkelers jumping in, as we were entering the water. They seemed to be having a lot of fun. The cenote people didn’t turn on the lights for them, as we were hoping they would. It’s gorgeous, when they do!

Photo, from a few years ago, taken with an iPhone…

Oren led, Steve was #2, and I was #3. It seems that the main line has been cut back a bit, closer to the STOP sign, which was probably a good idea. We took the line behind the staircase (upstream), jumped, swam to the end, tied into another line, swam past another cenote, and as we passed the second cenote, dropped our stages. Holy smokes, that was a long swim. We swam some more, got to the end, tied into another line, and got to some slightly more narrow passage, with many decorations. There were even a couple of rooms with highly decorated “chocolate sauce” formations. We were not yet at our turn pressures, but we had been swimming for an hour and sixteen minutes, and still had to swim all the way back. Team consensus was to turn back. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” I kept singing to myself, along with wishing I had my scooter. Ah, well… get some exercise, right? Something has to take place of the farm work, this week!

I was happy to see the STOP sign, even though it really was a nice dive. Day 2 of cavezzzz, and we already put in a good workout. After surfacing, I hadn’t even reached my back gas turn pressure.

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 16 mins.

Max. Depth: 28′

Water Temp.: 77F

Avg. Depth: 17′

Now, to climb back up those stairs…

It was fun to dive with Oren, too! Or… half of what we remember of Oren, when we last saw him, in September! Looking good, Dr. O!





Cavezzzzzzz… and Sthcooterthzzzzzz….

10 04 2012

Friday, March 30th, 2012 ~ 

Steve and I hopped a plane to the Mayan Riviera! This whole “Direct Flight” thing is the absolute best! From the airlines that we have used, West Jet is the best, so far. One extra baggage fee is way better than $12/kg over 50 lbs. We also had the best flight attendant that I have ever had. She was absolutely hilarious. During the mandatory emergency demonstrations, “If your life vest does not inflate, you are… SOL! Just kidding… ” 😛

We arrived in Cancun, got a “green light,” through security, then met our rental car fellow. We hopped into the van, where there was a nice, young couple from Mexico City, that were here for the weekend. As we pulled out, they pointed out to us that Robert Gomez (a movie star, in Mexico) was there (we saw him talking to a bunch of cameras), and was surrounded by Police security.

At the car rental office, we learned that the word for “Hatchback,” in Spanish, is… Hatchback…

We finally arrived at our condo, unloaded a few things, then went to meet Kathy, for dinner. Ahhhhh… Fajitas and a Daquiri Fresa!

Saturday, March 31st, 2012 ~

We made our way to the shop, grabbed some gear, and went to Fenom, with Kathy. We took the path to some Mastadon bones, which was extremely cool to see! We tied in to another line, which turned into “swiss cheese.” Very neat cave.

We had a nice, relaxing dive, and even saw a medium-sized brown crayfish inside the cave. He must have taken a wrong turn. We played around in the basin a little, and saw a couple of other lines, which looked very “sidemount-like.” There was another that may have been the downstream line.

Bottom Time:  1 hour, 27 mins.
Max Depth: 57′
Water Temp: 77F
Vis.: Gin clear!

We also saw a funky looking tree, along the way…

When we got back to the shop, Laurynn and Kathryn were just pulling in! How about that timing?? We followed them back to Akumal for some dinner, picked up a few groceries, then back home, to sleep!

Sunday, April 1st, 2o12 ~

We met Laurynn and Kathryn at the shop, and packed our stuff. Today, we were heading to Minotauro. We opted to stay on the main line, since today’s objective was PICTURES! Kathryn brought her camera along, and Steve and I were models for the day! We were rigged up with slave strobes, which would light up the cave behind us, when Kathryn took the shots. What an amazing experience!! Such a beautiful cave, too!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 37 mins.
Max Depth: 48′
Water Temp: 77F

One of Kathryn’s amazing shots, taken at Minotauro! Steve and I…

Dinner was back in Akumal, then Steve and I headed back to the condo, hung up our gear, relaxed a bit, and readied for our next day…. Scooters!

Monday, April 2nd, 2012 ~ 

8:30 at the shop, and we got all of our stuff together. We gathered ’round the scooters, where we went through some maintenance, usage, charging, cleaning, silicone greasing, and putting them together. They were a little different from our Gavins, and we were both looking forward to trying out the Suexes!

We had some classroom time first, then loaded Danny’s truck, and made our way to Eden. Once there, we adjusted our tow cords, had a bit more instruction, then headed to the water, for skills! We practiced many different things, including stop/go, pulling/pushing, pulling with elbow, towing a second scooter, towing a buddy, OOG towing, checking buoyancy, and turning at different angles. We headed into the cavern zone, running the reel, and towing the second scooter. I learned just how negative the Halcyon scooter is, when weighted for salt water, while we were in fresh water.

I brought the reel in, and.. well… I didn’t really have any issues, but let’s just say that the line on the reel, wasn’t exactly even…lol.

Danny’s favourite expression: Pure. Mickey. Mouse! 😛

Total Bottom Time: 2 Hours, 45 mins.
Max Depth: 38′
Water Temp: 77F

Back to the shop, unloaded, checked scooter voltage, plugged them in, then off to the grocery store, for some groceries! We then made our way to Latitude 20, for some Quesadillas con Pollo, y dos Cocas!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 ~ 

We had a break from our course today, as Danny had made an obligation for the day, so we headed to Jailhouse, with Laurynn and Kathryn! The entry was absolutey zero visibility, but once we made our way in, we saw some beautiful cave. Laurynn had her video camera with her, too!

We saw some animal bones, took a jump, and saw some really stunning cave. I can’t wait to see the video!!

Total Bottom Time: 1 Hour, 43 mins.
Max Depth: 76′
Water Temp: 77F

 

After our most excellent dive, we headed back to Tulum, for some delicious backroad feasting! Back to shop, unload gear, back to condo, rest, then back to Latitude 20!

Pic taken by Laurynn Evans…

Oh… and… Do NOT act out scenes of Platoon with Charlie Sheen…

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 ~ 

Back to scooter school! Today was Gas Planning and Burn Time planning! Today’s dives were at Chac Mool, with two stages each. Steve got to take a third stage bottle, and I had a second scooter.

Holy halocline, Batman! This was our first time in Chac Mool, and most of our dive was in the halocline. We saw, “The Monster,” which is the biggest formation in any of the Mexico caves, on the downstream line. Danny scooted over beside it, to give us a perspective on how big that thing really was!

We were doing calculations as we went on with our dive, of our scooter burn times. I had a hard time remembering the numbers at first, but did eventually get the hang of it. Going in, I was using the Suex, with the Halcyon scooter towing behind, and on the way back, switched it up, to see how I would be with the larger scooter towing behind. That went well, although, I think I needed a bit of a shorter tow leash on the bigger scooter.

Dive 1 – Downstream Line:

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 9 mins.
Max Depth: 42′
Water Temp: 77F

On our second dive, we went on the Upstream line. I ran the line for this one, took a third bottle, and Steve had the extra scooter. I found myself very relaxed on this dive. We tried the scooter override on this dive, too. What an excellent day!

Dive 2 – Upstream Line:

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 14 mins.
Max Depth: 51′
Water Temp: 77F

We went back to the shop, unloaded, tended to scooters, did some DPV 1 presenting, then to Subway, and back to the condo! We definitely slept well!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012 ~ 

Today was Dos Ojos. I had two bottles and two scooters, while Steve had three bottles. I led this dive. We followed the cavern line, ran a spool off to the main line. We took a jump, and after continuing for a bit, dropped our first stage bottles, then scooters, swam for a bit, then dropped our second stage bottles. There was some really neat cave, here!

We reached our turn pressure, and headed back. Once we returned to the basin, we played “games.” Danny set up a line for us, and we were picking up stage bottles, on the fly. We would be driving one scooter, towing two, carrying two bottles, and picking up a third. How fun was that? Although, I cut the pachoosies out of my fingers, trying to clip that third one! I needed practice on clipping that third bottle on.

Still a most excellent day!

Bottom Time: 3 hours, 31 mins.
Max Depth: 49′
Water Temp: 77F

We went back to the shop, unloaded, checked voltage, plugged scooters in, loaded up for Thursday, then did more DPV 1 presentations.  We then went over to meet Danny’s twins! So adorable!

It was getting late, so we ended up back at Subway, and as we neared the condo, we saw Marina. Steve went back to work on his DPV 1 stuff, and I went to shoot the breeze with Marina!

Friday, April 6th, 2012 ~

Shop, scooters, Nahoch!

Lowering down scooters and stages…

Today, we had two scooters and two bottles each. Main line, a jump to the right, drop 1st stages, continue on, drop 2nd stages and scooters, and went for a swim! When I was getting close to my turn pressure, I noticed Steve reaching for his markers, to mark the next intersection. We have a very similar SAC rate, so instead of pulling out the markers, I just signaled to Steve, and turned the dive.

As we made our way back to our bottles and scooters, I was given quite a scenario, as I listened to Steve giggling in the background. Let’s just say that clipping on three bottles (I got to take Danny’s extra bottle) and two scooters while in zero visibility was fun! 😛

On the way back, Steve signals me… “Missing something?” It seems that my third bottle had unclipped, and I had not felt it (duhhh…). As I was clipping it back on, a couple of cookies that I had in my compass bungees came out, so I quickly picked them up, and carried on. We got going again, and I get another signal… “Missing something else??” My knife had come out of its pouch, which has never happened in my entire history of diving… It is also in a velcro pouch, so I was really beginning to think that Danny was having a field day with me! Me = Dork… Carry on!

When we surfaced, I asked if Danny had been picking on me, and it turned out that he hadn’t.. well… not the stuff that had escaped from me.. As for the zero visibility, there was no denial! 😀 Still such an amazing dive, and definitely a wonderful learning experience!

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 58  mins.
Max Depth: 31′
Water Temp: 77F
Vis.: Stunning… most of the time!

Packed up, headed back to the shop to switch out tanks and charge scooters, then Steve gave his DPV 1 Presentations!

We then headed for dinner with “The Gang!” We went out to The Pub, with myself, Steve, Fred, Angelica, Laurynn, Kathryn, Kathy, Jason, Ali, Cameron, Evan, Alessandra, and Peter. We had just a few laughs!

Saturday, April 7th, 2012 ~ 

Last day of Cave Scooter School! Today’s dive was in Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha! We loaded up, and were ready to go!

Partially loaded…

When we arrived, we were happy to have the wheel barrel, to bring gear to the water!

When we arrived, there was a bit of a photo shoot going on. It was incredibly hot and humid, so after bringing gear to the water, we decided to have a bit of lunch, before getting into the water.

Today’s dive was planned as a two stage, two scooter dive, carrying an extra bottle each, for kicks. I was leading this dive, and it was definitely different to scooter it, than to swim it. It is quite a different cave from the other Mexico caves, being dark, and of different formation. Those tarpin in one of the passing cenotes are extremely cool.

We were on the Halcyon scooters for the first while, and then switched to the Suex. It was right around our first stage drop, so we did that, too. Then came our second and third stage bottle drops (along with scooters), and we carried on, swimming. We reached our back gas turn pressure, then started to head back. As we picked up our goodies along the way, Steve was handed a fourth bottle, as well as my towed scooter. He had four bottles and three scooters on him. I ended up with three bottles and one scooter…. for a little while…

Then, it was my turn… I couldn’t expect to get away with that, could I?? 😛 Then I was given an extra bottle, plus the other two towed scooters.. Four bottles, three scooters… Yippppppieee! It went very well, except that I need to pay a little bit closer attention to how much gas I dump from my wing, when carrying this amount of gear, with depth changes. I think I can handle that. 🙂

I have to say, that this was a most excellent workshop, and I love how we were both challenged. It is pretty amazing how Danny seemed to know when to challenge my comfort level, and make me realize that I am capable of more than I imagined. I can say that I can apply what I learned from this workshop to every aspect of my diving.

I feel very lucky to have taken training from Fred, Chris, and Danny. It is really fantastic to be able to share in some of each of their knowledge. I would also like to thank Kathy Dicker, for giving me compliments that I never imagined receiving. They really mean a lot!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012 ~ Happy Easter!

Today, we were meeting Kathy and Lamont at ZG, then off to Grand Cenote! That is, after stopping for some ice cream…

Steve and I each had a stage, and were heading to “La Boca.” We were told that this was some absolutely beautiful cave, and were excited to see it! We would have to do 5 jumps to get to it, so were happy to have a map in my wet notes. We did check it a couple of times.

There was some restrictive passage along the way, and some gorgeous decorations. When we reached the 5th jump, we ascended into a room that seriously moved me. I cannot even express how incredible this small room was. Beautiful cave is an understatment… Just.Freakin’.Stunning. This has to be one of my favourite dives, so far!!!

We went a little further, as we still had usable back gas. We approached a “Y,” in a very silty area, that seemed to pinch down into what looked like sidemount territory. We decided to turn around, and head back. Amazing dive!!!

After the 5th jump, we had passed through a layer of water, that appeared to be like a halocline. We were very confused, seeing as we were already in fresh water. When we asked Fred about it later, it turned out to be a layer of “fresher” fresh water, up in a dome, that came from rain water, creating yet another layer. Very cool!

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 55 mins.
Max Depth: 39′
Water Temp: 77F
Vis.: Spectacular!

We surfaced, and still had quite a bit of back gas, so we opted to go back in, to check out a small jump, off of the main line. It was a cool little spot, that was worth a look! We even passed Kathy and Lamont, along the way.

We headed back to PA, had a short nap, then dinner with Ali, Cameron, Kathy, Lamont, and Evan, at Latitude 20.

Very fun day!

Sunday, April 9th, 2012 ~

Today, we had planned on going for a dive with Fred, but Steve had a pretty nasty ear infection. As we left to meet Fred at the shop, we were slowed by a “friend,” blocking the path…

He was more than two feet long, and would not budge. We tried to encourage him to move over, but he got a bit aggressive, so we had to wait until he decided it was time to move. *Shudder*

Once we made it past, we headed out!

We met Fred, and instead of leaving Steve behind, to go diving, we decided to go for a walk along the beach.

We walked along the beach to this wonderful spot…

Pic taken by Fred Devos…

There was definitely water flowing out of this spot, so we threw our fins on, and went in. Wow! That was some chilly fresh water, coming out of that spot! We could really feel the temperature difference, from the salt water, to the fresh water. There was even a misty halocline, along the surface. We had a fun swim in the ocean, with fins and snorkels. What an amazing way to end our trip! Thank you, Fred!

We have made some pretty great friends in this neck of the woods, and we cannot wait to get back!!! Thank you, friends at Zero Gravity!!!





Mayan Paradise ~ Part 1

15 11 2008

Monday, October 27th – Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 ~

Steve and I had tied the knot on October 25th (yes, two days ago), and had decided to head down to Mexico for our honeymoon. What better way to celebrate, than a Cave 1 course? I won’t go in to all the wedding details, but I will post a picture of the cake. The lady that made this cake is one of the most creative and talented people I’ve ever met. We brought her pictures, colours, and a general idea, and she came up with the result…

Cake picture taken by Carmen Cheung…

We arrived at the Cancun airport at about 11:30 am, where we managed to get all of our luggage pretty quickly, then Steve got to press the “Magic Luggage Search” button, and we passed GO! We met Juan Luna, who brought us the 80 km to our condo. We met with Chris that evening, and arranged a cavern dive for Wednesday.

Juan Luna…

Walkway to the condo…

Tuesday, we rented a car, and confirmed plans for Wednesday. We couldn’t resist picking up T shirts from the dive shop either.

We met Alex at Zero Gravity on Wednesday morning, where we also met some fellow divers from Korea, taking a course with Fred. We went to the jungle fill station, picked up our tanks, and headed over to Dos Ojos. One word came to mind… “wow.” I’ve heard that caves are addictive, but seriously… what a friggin’ awesome couple of dives. Even in the cavern zone, we were amazed.

We headed out from Cenote 1, surfaced in the Bat Cave, then returned to Cenote 1. The Bat Cave lived up to its name, as we saw a few bats hanging from their roosts in the ceiling. We had a bit of lunch, then went back in. We would often cover our lights, let our eyes adjust to the darkness, and just take everything in around us. There was so much to see.

Dive 1 ~
Bottom Time ~ 44 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 25′
Water Temp. ~ 77 (the water temp. is always 77…)
Vis. ~ Endless ~ “Gin clear”

Dive 2
Bottom Time ~ 36 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 31′

Francois arrived on Wednesday evening.

Thursday, the three of us went over to the shop, to grab weights for Frankie, then to the jungle fill station for tanks, then headed to El Eden for some skills. What a nice place for a skills dive, in the basin.

Again, clear water, fish surrounding us, and just a nice place to be. We did S drills, valve drills, removed/replaced masks, wrote in wet notes, used spools, cookies, arrows, and practiced our finning techniques. It would be really easy to get used to doing skills in this place!

Dive 3
Bottom Time ~ 75 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 20′

Dive 4
Bottom Time ~ 35 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 20′

We dropped our tanks off to the fill station and headed for some grub.

Friday, we visited Tulum, to see some of the ruins, and Saturday, our other friends were to arrive. We picked up some weights for them as well.

It was also Halloween! We saw some great costumes at one place…

Saturday, we met with the entire gang, and went for dinner and cocktails!

Sunday, the whole group headed for another tour at Dos Ojos, with Aquanauts. Steve, Oren, and I went out with Carlos, and Francois, Jen, and Robert went out with Alessandra. Once again, absolutely amazing dives. There are many decorations to see in this cavern, and it was nice to recognize some of the features from our previous dives there.

Carlos, me, Steve…

A bit blurry, but Alessandra and Frankie…

Here are a few pics, taken by Oren L….

My butt…

Steve…

Dive 5
Bottom Time ~ 40 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 20′

Dive 6
Bottom Time ~ 35 mins.
Max. Depth 30′

What an excellent introduction to the caves in Mexico. We couldn’t wait for our course to start, the following day!

To be continued in Part 2…