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!!





Mexico Part 3 ~ Adventure In The Jungle…

1 11 2011

Friday, October 7th, 2011 ~

Once again, breakfast, shop, load up tanks… We met up with David C Ruiz and Richard Wilde, who were heading out to Tux Ka Paxa. They gave us directions, in case we wanted to join them, and check out this cave. They were still doing exploration in this one, and had found mastadon bones in it. Most of them had been removed by INAH (Archaeological team), but there were still some left, apparently.

We decided to give it a go.. Steve and I were in one vehicle, and Oren was in another. Once we made the turn-off from the highway, the directions were a little bit of guess work. Go past the baseball camp (which we did see), to a T, follow nasty jungle road until you are near the end, and turn left, follow to a bump in the road… you know what I mean… Kind of like, “Turn left at the red barn,” kind of directions. 🙂

We made our way through some insane jungle road, and actually got to a part that we weren’t sure was even road. We even saw a Puma crossing the road! We were about an hour or so into the jungle, which was a little unnerving.. especially when we saw a couple of people on bicycles, on dirt roads, with shot guns on the handle bars.

The road where we saw the Puma…

Road that wasn’t road anymore…

Clearly, this was not the way. We headed back, and had decided that we were going to thumb the jungle.. until Oren decided to make a turn. Er.. Ok.. I guess we’re going, too. When we caught up to him, we also caught up with David and Richard…

Hmm.. think it will fit?

Well.. we gave it a go.. Steve and I sat on the tail gate, and it was just enough to get under.. *Phew!* Oren, then Steve and I followed.

Ahh.. our destination.. Tux Ka Paxa…

There was a bit of a restrictive entrance, which led into some absolutely huge cave. There were absolutely massive rooms. Some were very highly decorated, and some had stubby stalagmites. We swam for quite a ways, before reaching a T, where we headed to the left, to get to the mastadon bones. I was in the front, Oren was #2, and Steve was #3. We came up to the INAH cones, which were where the bones were. We saw some small ones, and one really large one. This was pretty amazing!! We actually had to change direction to see the larger one, and some of the smaller ones, that were labeled, below one of the shelves.

From here, we made our way back, and in.  What an incredible experience…

Bottom Time ~ 1 hour, 41 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 39′
Water Temp. ~ 77 (but felt a bit chillier in spots, for some reason)

When we got out, there was quite a bit of rain, and we were smack dab in the middle of the jungle. Since we were sheltered in the basin, we decided to hang out there for a while, and chit-chatted. The downpour did not seem to be letting up, so we decided to get out anyway. We doffed our gear, changed under a palapa (thank goodness for that), and got on our way. David and Richard were going back in.

Back to the shop, dropped tanks, hotel…. nap…

After my nap, I decided to head to the buffet, and grab our dinner table. There was a fellow there, who said he would only seat our group if we were all there, at that moment. We had been getting a big table all week, and it had not been a problem.. until now. It wasn’t like it was busy, either. The fellow said he would seat me, and I could eat on my own.. Um.. yeah… no thank you… So I left. I went to go back to the room, and my card wouldn’t work, so I went to the front desk. Since I was there anyway, I asked the girl if there was a problem with seating large groups at the buffet. She looked at me like I was nuts. I told her that I had gone to get a table for our group, and she then looked at me like I was giving her the gears. She immediately called the buffet, and asked the fellow what was going on. I guess they had a little chat, and she told me to go back, and I would get the table. “Thank you very much, wonderful lady.”

Steve came with me, and when I came in, they called the same fellow over, and he brought us to our table. Everyone else trickled in, and that was that. Sheesh…

Saturday, October 8th, 2011 ~

Today, Oren, Rasa, Michel, and Kim were heading home. It was Frankie, Richard, and Jen’s exam day for C2, so we decided to wait, to go for our dive. We hung out at the shop, checked e-mails (internet was unreliable at the resort.. it didn’t work if it was raining), and harassed Angelica. Exam time was over! Congratulations! w00t!

Steve, Frankie, and I headed next door, to Minotauro. None of us had been there, so Chris drew up a map for us. It was back gas only today.

There was a nice staircase down to the water, leading to a rather swampy area, and then to a really nice basin.

As we went down to get in  the water, we saw Mike and Sayed, coming in from a sidemount dive. Fancy meeting you here! We were planning on the upstream line, instead of the downstream sm stuff.

There was a slightly narrow entry and passage going in, and then into some cool cave (aren’t they all?:p). The halocline was in about 40′, and there were a few places where it was a bit messy to pass through, but it wasn’t too bad.

We took the third jump to the left, and there were many jumps in this cave. There was also what seemed to be survey line everywhere. We swam through some narrow passage, and through an area where you are swimming just above the halocline, making it look like a river below us. Just wicked!

There were spots on the main line, where it seemed like the stalactites and stalagmites had been dipped in chocolate sauce. That’s what came to mind for me, anyway.

We turned the dive before our turn pressures, as we were close enough to them, and we were going to be getting into some really tight spots. We did not know if there would be a place to turn around or not, so we opted to turn. Such cool cave!!!

Bottom Time ~ 1 hour, 22 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 48′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Same routine.. back to shop, resort, and nap… After dinner, myself, Steve, Frankie, Mike, and Jen walked over to The Pub, for a drink with Richard. He was leaving in the morning, so we had to have a congratulatory drink! Oh.. and dessert! We had quite a few laughs, then made our way back, and.. zzzzzzzzz….

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 ~

Breakfast, shop…

Today, Steve and Frankie headed over to Grand Cenote, so that Steve could show him the Boa Restriction. Eric, Andy, and I decided to take a trip over to Chichen Itza. Neither of us had been there, and we decided to be tourists for a day!

Between the three of us, we split the cost of a tour guide, so that we would get a bit of a clue as to what we were looking at. Alfredo was our man!  He gave us some really great information, and I think I probably took close to 200 pictures. I will narrow it down to two.

The main pyramid: The Mayan Calendar…

The Observatory…

There were so many cool buildings and structures, and all three of us were really interested in the history behind them.

Thank you, Alfredo! You da man!

I must also add that when walking through the vendors area, we watched as a wasp attacked a very funky and beefy looking spider. The wasp killed it within seconds! It was a very bizarre thing to see!

We did purchase a few souvenirs, which were, “almost free!” :p

Another myth that was put to bed was that the world was going to end in December 2012. It is just the end of the 52 year calendar cycle, and the beginning of a new cycle.

On the way back, we were stopped by the Federales. They actually asked to see Eric’s license and car rental agreement. It was a little odd, but they sent us on our way. *Phew.* We made it back to the resort, met our “peeps,” had dinner, and told the day’s stories!

Monday, October 10th, 2011 ~

Steve’s ear was bugging him a bit, so he and I decided to have a beach day. We slept in a little, then walked over to PA, for some ear drops. We noticed that there were some other creatures in one side of the dolphin area. They had a nurse shark, and some sting rays.

We walked back to the resort, where we hung out on the beach, and had a couple of girly drinks. Just a really lazy day, which was nice.

After dinner, we all watched a fellow paint pictures with just spray paint and a flame. His work was absolutely amazing, and a couple of us bought one. He was really fun to watch! We then went up for some crepes, then to Frankie’s room, to watch some of his footage! A great way to cap off the day!

Our last week of Cave Diving Goodness coming right up, in Part 4 of 4! Stay tuned! 🙂