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)! 🙂 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!

Mexican Cave Diving Goodness!

31 12 2012

Saturday, December 1st, 2012 ~

This trip to Mexico would be a rather busy one, seeing as we had friends from all over the world join us, for some Mayan Riviera Cave Diving Goodness!

With a couple of our crew staying over at our place, on Friday night, we made our way to the airport, nice ‘n’ early . We checked in pretty quickly, went through security, then over to Booster Juice, before boarding.

We were pretty tired, having gone to sleep late, the previous night. That leads to some nice sleep on the plane. 😛

I watched a couple of movies, and we were starting our descent into Cancun. We had some pretty rowdy ladies beside us, who had started their party early…

Once we picked up our luggage (it was all there, yay!), we got a shuttle to the car rental place, where they only had two out of three of our cars. CoRal agreed to take the slightly smaller hatchback, and we finally got things sorted. Off to the shop!

When we arrived, we started to put our gear together, so we were ready for the next morning’s diving!

Becki and Dan were there, too.. and Jason came by to say hello! Nice shirt, Jason!

There were a lot of tanks to fill!

We finally went to the resort to check in, and loved our room! Then, dinner at the buffet, with Becki, Dan, Frankie, and Kathryn. After having some food, we went over to one of the bars, where we met up with some of our Dutch friends, as well as Kelly, Dave, and Warren! Heleen and Sander arrived late, but we were able to say a quick hello, before we all headed for some sleep!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 ~

I woke up nice and early, thanks to the w00t birds ~ 5:30 am. Breakfast, then to the shop. Steve was going to do his instructor requalifications today, so I was going to Chan Hol with Karen, Frankie, and Dan!

After sorting out some gear issues, we were finally on our way through the entry. We made our way past the first T, then the second, and took a jump, which lead us to another jump that Karen knew about. We had one stage bottle each, and dropped them at the 2nd jump. There was some gorgeous cave back there, that I had not seen before! I saw a giant crawling shrimp, with a little tint of brown to him. I think he was the largest that I have seen in the caves, so far.  An excellent way to start off our dives! Thanks for guiding us to those jumps, Karen!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Max. Depth: 32′
Water Temp: 77F
Visibility: Gin clear!

On the way back, we stopped at Karen’s place, to pick up a motor, for one of our scooters, then back to the shop, where Steve was finishing up with his classroom stuff. Back to the resort for a quick slice of pizza, and we headed to Playa for the Ox Bel Ha Project meeting!

Chris and Fred gave the intros, then JP showed some video, and Ed also gave a presentation for us. Great meeting! There was also some talk of “Organic Matter.” 😀

Back to the resort for a night cap, then sleep!

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 ~

Not a great night’s sleep, but that’s ok… We’re going to cavezzz! We were quite a while at the shop in the morning, waiting for the project folks to pack up, before we got in the way. Once the way was clear, we loaded up!

Chris Le Maillot, helping to load the truck, to Yax Chen.

Chris Malinowski, getting ready…

Steve, working on one of our scooters, while we waited…

Today, La Boca! Love this dive! This would be the second time for Steve and I, and the others were in for a treat!

We had two teams of three ~ Boy Team: Steve, Frankie, Chris; and Girl Team: Karen, Kathryn, Chan.

We made our way through the cavern zone, ran our lines, took the short cut, and 6 jumps later, we reached the 40′ to 20′ ascent, through the “fresher” fresh water. w00t! We did a little happy dance, as we looked around at the highly decorated ceilings, and had big arsed grins on our faces!  We continued on until it got quite pinchy, then started our return trip. There were just a few moose ears, as we headed back.

We fooled around in the basin for a while, and as the Girl Team came through the cavern zone, I noticed a few bubbles, hiding behind a rock. I turned the corner, and saw Steve, waiting to surprise us! Caught ya! 😛 Frankie, too! We floated around for a bit, discussed our fantastic dive, then made our way back up the stairs.

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Max. Depth: 49′
Water Temp.: 77F

As we packed up, there was a neighbouring van nearby, blasting “U Can’t Touch This.” C-Mal was showing us his fantastic Hammertime dance moves!

Laurynn really enjoyed her La Boca dive, today…

Back to the shop, where we tended to gear, checked on the scooters, and chatted about our wonderful day of cavezzz!

Heleen, me, Sander.

Then to the resort for dinner (yes, there is a pattern growing, here), and some of us had a night cap, while the resort had a fire show going on! Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 ~

Breakfast, then to the shop for our Sensor Retrieval meeting! There were a number of us who would be collecting the CINDAQ sensors from different cave systems, bringing them back to the shop, where we would download the information on a temperamental laptop, note the time, date, system, etc., then leave them for the next group to bring them back to their locations in the cavezz. Our meeting explained what to do, and we assigned teams to different systems.

Steve, Frankie, Chris M., and I went to Mayan Blue, to do two dives. One, in the B Tunnel, and the second, to retrieve one of two sets of sensors. Joakim, Ali, and Johannes were retrieving another set of sensors, nearby. Dave L. and Ian M. also joined us in B Tunnel. We were to lead the way to E Tunnel… *cough*

Ali, Dave, Johannes…

Bad ass! Jo and Johannes…

Ian and Dave, getting ready to gear up…

Our team: Frankie, C-Mal, Steve…

Our team went in with two stages, to do B-E-F. When we reached what we thought was the jump to E Tunnel, our leader thought it was farther in, so we kept going. We ended up taking another jump, instead. It was not the jump to E Tunnel, but it was still a very cool dive… and we really didn’t care, anyway… except for the fact that the other two were going to follow our route. Oops! The cave started to get very much darker, and was nothing like the white and blue colours of E Tunnel. Hmm… I wonder if we are on our way to Naharon? Another jump and some swim time later, we jumped onto the end of another gold line, with the label, “Naharon.” Yep… we went to Naharon. How cool is that? We swam through some giant, dark, very decorated cave.

We made our way back, did a couple of stops as we came up, and chilled in the basin for a while. We ditched our stages, took turns clipping them all off on each other, and there was definitely Shenaniganry.

Us, chillin’ in the basin. Taken by Ali Fikree.
Clockwise, from top left: Frankie, Steve, Chris M., Me…

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 40 mins.
Max. Depth: 74′
Water Temp.: 77F

We surfaced, hung out for a little while, then discussed our plan to go into A Tunnel. We had pretty good directions, and thanks to Jo, for lifting the chain a bit, for us. We were able to find them pretty quickly. I jotted down which one was where, in my wetnotes, and Steve cut the sensors free. Very fun!

Bottom Time: 30 minutes
Max. Depth: 53′
Water Temp.: 77F

Back to the shop, drop tanks, socialize for a bit, then back to the resort! We headed to the bar, to meet friends, then had dinner at the Seaside Grill (really good – the spinach & cheese empenadas were incredible), then to sleep!

Chris, attempting to upload the sensors, on the temperamental laptop!

Man… Jorge and Eduardo worked around the clock, to keep everyone’s tanks filled! Thanks, guys!!!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 ~ 

Steve was headed for Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha, to do a scooter dive, with the project. I was going to Xtabay, with Heleen, Chris M., and Frankie!

Steve and Sander, getting their gear together…

We checked on our sensors that we tried to download, and they still would not cooperate (thanks to Chris Phinney, for getting them to work). We loaded up, and headed out! Heleen was going to take some video of the halocline!

Some of our friends at the shop, in the morning!

Jason, Constança, and Samhi, heading for a cavern tour. Photobomb courtesy of C-Mal… 😀

Team Temple Of Doom! Dave, Kelly, Johannes, Chris, Warren…

CoRal, after getting their tanks loaded…

Fred and Chris!

Heleen jumped into my car, and we were on our way! When we arrived, Danny happened to be there, with his C1 fellows! Ali was tagging along, too!

Mike R., Kees, Danny, Heleen…

Heleen and Frankie were matching!

We geared up and got in. The goal of our first dive, was for Heleen to get some footage of the halocline. We were going to swim very slowly on the main line, and turn the dive on our stage drop pressure, instead of using our back gas. As we got ready,  I noticed that Steve had taken all of our stage regs, leaving me with… zero. Oopsie. Thanks to Chris, for loaning me one!


I ran the reel in, tied to the main line, and away we went. We waited for Danny’s team to go in, and we gave them a few minutes before making our way down. When we did go in, we watched them have an OOG drill, and steered clear of them, so that we wouldn’t be in their way. We went through the Wizard’s Den, which is one of my favourite rooms, here. I could spend ages in there, looking at everything. We got back to the reel, and Danny signaled to me, to bring in their reel. We were leaving ours in, so as we made our way to the other reel, I didn’t recognize the name on it, so I did not want to touch it. It made sense that it was theirs, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I figured we could surface, ask, and go back in for it. So.. yep… it was theirs. Frankie and I had quite a bit of gas left in our stages, so we went back in to get it.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 29 mins.
Max. Depth: 45′
Water Temp.: 77F

My buddy! Heleen and I!

We got out for a “spot” of lunch, then back in! We were just using back gas for this one, and no camera. It was play time!

As we went back down, I couldn’t find my fins. Then, some snorkeler in the cenote starts to hand them up to me! Um.. Really??? You just took my fins???? I was a little “irked,” so say the least, but I was at least thankful that he gave them back. Thank you.. um.. strange fin stealing guy. Pftt…

Ok.. back to business, and away we went… Sort of… Heleen had some issues with her primary light, so had to sit this one out. Frankie, Chris, and I went back in. We took a jump to the left, and ended up at a place called Rainbow Cenote. We surfaced in a very small dome, and could see a very small opening, with light coming through. Very cool! We ran a spool over to where we surfaced, as it was extremely silty, and we had to gently kneel, in order to pop our heads out. It was very shallow. We headed back down, and since Heleen was waiting for us, we decided to make our way back in, instead of keep going. I tried to tell Heleen that the dive was really crappy, but.. well… I knew she wouldn’t believe me. It really was a wicked dive!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 11 mins.
Max. Depth: 47′
Water Temp.: 75F

When we got out, we met a photographer that takes shots of the tourists there. He had a new Canon MKiii camera, with Sea & Sea housing. Really nice set-up, and gorgeous shots!

My team! I had just said something very silly.
Frankie, Heleen, Chris…

…and back at the shop, Frankie, Dave, and Ian…

…and photobomb from Heleen!

Steve, Frankie, Kathryn, and I went over to Danny and Libby’s for some extremely yummy Mexican soup! I actually tried to make it at home, and was slightly successful. 🙂 It was really cool to see the twins, too!! Thanks Danny and Libby!!!
(I really should have taken pictures)

Back to the resort, where we met some of our peeps, had a bevvie, then to sleep!

Thursday, December 6th, 2012 ~ 

Dos Pisos!!! Steve and I have been wanting to come here for a very long time, and this would be our first time here! It was myself, Steve, Sander, Heleen, Kathryn, and Karen. Kathryn was taking photos, and Heleen was taking video, so we split up into a group of four and a group of two.

Heleen and Steve, at the entry…

The cenote is smaller than some of the others, and never mind all of the guano (bat shite) on the surface of the water… Do not drink this stuff.

The line starts in OW here, and the beginning passage is pretty restrictive, but very cool. Once you get through the first 100 meters (approximately), the cave opens up… and is stunning. The cave is very white, and absolutely full of decorations. We took a left at the T, and went through some absolutely gorgeous passage. Steve was in front, then me, Heleen, then Sander. When Steve would see that there was some neat passages to get on film, we would stop, signal Heleen, and she would move ahead. She would then signal when she was ready for us to start moving, and we would swim very slowly, through. Very cool experience in a stunning cave!

Bottom Time: 2 hours, 35 mins.
Max. Depth: 27′
Water Temp.: 77F

Here is Heleen’s video of us, in Dos Pisos!

Such fun, together!
Sander, Karen, Steve,
Kathryn, Heleen, Me!

…and that is definitely a sexy skirt….

Back to the shop!

Getting some updates on the sensors…

The GUE Ontario sensor, from Xtabay!

We finally got to go to the Mexican restaurant, on the resort. We had a little fun with Laurynn.

Chris and Laurynn…

Warren and Laurynn…

Steve and Laurynn…

Jorge and Laurynn…

Cas and Laurynn – Photobomb by C-Mal…

There was a LOT of this going on, throughout the week!

I headed back up to our room early. I think the Mexican place gave me a bit of a bloated tummy.. even though it did taste yummy! I was greeted with the resort’s “Rock Show,” out of our back door. They covered everything from the Stones to Michael Jackson, White Stripes, and Guns ‘N’ Roses. It was definitely.. rockin’!

I actually woke up in the wee hours of the morning, really not feeling too great. I feared that I wasn’t going to be able to dive the next day…

Friday, December 7th, 2012 ~ 

Well, I was feeling ok, went down for breakfast, and after eating something, started to feel a bit yucky, again. I loaded up anyway, as I really wanted to do this dive!!!

Cas, with his Mickey Mouse pancakes!

We went to the shop, and we all met to do the group photo! What a fantastic and giant group, from all over the world!

James, Eric, and Cory…

Amazing! Everyone was out diving. The place was pretty empty, but there were still a couple of sets left!

Steve was going back to Yax Chen/Ox Bel Ha, and I was going for a two stage, scooter dive at Camilo, with Karen and John! Chris, Frankie, and Kathryn were coming, too!


When we arrived at the farm, the land owner was there to greet us, with one of his horses…

It was nice to see that all of his horses looked to be in really good health. They even had their names above their stalls.

We made our way back to the cenote, and it was gorgeous! Apparently, they had done quite a bit of work to this spot. The entry used to be smaller than the pot hole at Chan Hol, and was now a giant castle moat!

Looking to one side…

The entry, with some really giant steps…

The other side…

Kathryn, Chris, and Frankie went in first. Karen, John, and I waited for a bit in the basin, then followed. They headed toward the Dark Side Of The Moon, and we headed to the Black Forest Line. The entry is quite “organic.” 😉 John had given me some warning about a restriction that we had to go through, which was a small crack, going upwards. I was to basically put my scooter on my head, and not look up. Yeah… I guess I wasn’t tucked in enough, and it did take me a minute to get through it. I should have also let a little bit more gas out of my wing. I didn’t fin too much, as I didn’t want to silt John out. *Dork* Coming back, I got through with no problem at all.

What was really cool about this cave, is that it is so different in so many places. It was a fairly dark cave, with highly decorated ceilings in some places, and really neat formations in others. There was so much to look at, and so many different kinds of passages. I really loved it. Thanks John and Karen, for taking me here!!! It was such an awesome experience!
*Wants to go back there!*

John, Karen, Me!

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 44 mins.
Max. Depth: 65′
Water Temp.: 77F

We were out before the other three, and I started to pull my gear apart, to dry (last dive of our trip.. *sniff*).

When they came out, I took a few pics of them…

Kathryn, Chris, Frankie…

What an absolutely incredible dive to finish up the trip with!!!

My scooter, buckled in…

We made our way back to the shop, where we brought back tanks, weights, and ditched batteries etc.

Since there were so many of us, planning a group dinner would have been a nightmare, so we decided to meet for some bevvies at The Pub, after dinner. Dinner was at the buffet for us (with a whole bunch of friends), and it was Carribean night! Very yummy food!

Then, to The Pub, where we had an absolute blast!!!

There are about 50 pictures of Laurynn, with many different friends. She even had her party hat on! I decided to post a bunch of them, so that I could also post pics of the folks that came!

Chris and Marina…

Fred and Angelica…

Sander, Arno, Karen, Jan…

Onno and Shawn…

Ali and Cameron…

Jo, Samhi, Jason…

Kees and Kathryn…

James and Frankie…

Kelly, Dave, Karen…

Peter and Ale!

Becki, Sander, Dan…



Ricardo and Constança…


Sheila and Romano…

Cory and Raluca, with Frankie in the background… Awww….


Ian and Jason…

Dylan & Dave. The conversation around this picture was freakin’ hilarious!

Brian, Chris, Jo, JP…

Steve and Heleen…


Karen and John…

…and the best for last. Welcome to the…. GUN SHOW!!!

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 ~

Well.. we went down for breakfast, bid our goodbyes and see ya next times, and drove back to return our cars. We had a three car convoy, and when we arrived, we were taken right to the airport. We checked in, went through security, had some lunch, and boarded. Our flight was good, and although we had a hard landing, we were back home, safe… to winter.

*Cheers* to everyone at ZG, for being so wonderful, helpful, and accommodating to our giant group. We had a TON of fun, and it was really great to meet new people, and to be in the Mexico cavezzz, with our friends! Until the next trip!

Buenos Dias!