Mexico 2010 ~ Part 3 of 3 ~ Cave 2

4 01 2011

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 ~

Well, here we go…  Cave 2. We have spent the last week in the caves, so at least we had done quite a few dives beforehand. That, and we do consistantly work on skills at home, so we weren’t worried about that part… much… 🙂 Both Steve and I have been thinking about doing the course, but didn’t realize how quickly we’d be doing it. We did get to meet Ryan a couple of times before the course, who would be our team mate. Tom Karch was also co-teaching with Chris Le Maillot, as his last internship, to become a C2 instructor. I am not going to give away all of the details on our failures though.. I can’t give everything away. 🙂

The day started out with some line drills, discussion on deco, jumps, and many other wonderful details. The first two dives would be at Taj Mahal.

Dive 1

Main line, taking first jump to the left. We almost made it to the “T,” which was the plan, but had to turn on gas before we got there. On the way out, we had multiple light failures, and realigned the team accordingly. We did our “deco,” then surfaced and debriefed.

Bottom Time ~ 61 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 44′ (Avg. 33′)
Water Temp. ~ 77
Ryan, Me, Steve

Dive 2
Main line to DCS Dome, then a jump to the right. We had to locate the line (thanks for the help, Steve). We had even more light failures on the way out, as well as post failures, and a no vis exit to our deco bottles. Wow.. we had crappy luck…lol.

Bottom Time ~ 85 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 42′ (Avg. 23′)
Me, Steve, Ryan

After ascending and debriefing, we ducked back under for valve drills and S drills (13 mins. @ 7′).

We then packed up our gear, and back to the shop for lectures. We discussed training limits, cave composition, navigation, circuits and traverses, and were given some homework on stage gas management.

Then.. home.. homework.. sleep.. zzzzzzz….

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 ~

Today, we went to Mayan Blue, where we did two dives.

Dive 1 ~ Death Arrow Passage (wicked dive)

We entered A Tunnel, did a jump to the right, which took us down through a crack, and a very cool narrow passage. We navigated through the halocline and a couple of restrictive areas. We brought deco bottles on this dive, that we left at 20′.

Bottom Time ~ 67 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 77′ (Avg. 47′)
Water Temp. ~ 78
Steve, Ryan, me

Once in the basin, we dropped down for more valve and S drills.

Dive 2 ~ Circuit Set Up

This dive was to set up a circuit, to complete on tomorrow’s dive day. We entered A Tunnel, taking a jump to the right. We had a team cookie that we made up, and dropped it at the spot where we turned the dive. We left all cookies in, as well as the jump spool, and reel, that we would use tomorrow.

Bottom Time ~ 82 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 72′ (Avg. 47′)
Water Temp. ~ 78
Ryan, Me, Steve

We then headed back to the shop for more lectures! I now realize why people dive this system. It is absolutely awesome, off of the main line!

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Back to Mayan Blue to complete our circuit. We dropped our deco bottles at 20′, at the A Tunnel entrance, then went over to B Tunnel. What a wicked section of cave. We arrived at our “Team Cookie,” confirmed that we were going to continue on through the circuit, then away we went. It took us 22 minutes to get to our cookie. We removed our jump spool, cookies, and reel on our way out. What a cool dive!

Dive 1 ~ Complete Circuit

Bottom Time ~ 92 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 74′ (Avg. 43′)
Water Temp. ~ 77
Me, Steve, Ryan

Dive 2 ~ Valve Drills and Air Shares in Basin

Bottom Time ~ 13 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 13′ (Avg. 10′)
Water Temp. ~ 7

Dive 3 ~ B-E-F Tunnel (almost) 😉

The plan for this dive, was to use a stage and deco bottles, and take B to E to F Tunnels. There were absolutely amazing formations in this system, and I think I could dive it over and over again, without getting tired of it.

We dropped our deco bottles at 20′, then our stage bottles just before our drop pressures, which was right ahead of our jump to E Tunnel. Absolutely stunning cave. Unfortunately, we reached our turn pressures just before we reached the jump to F Tunnel. Oh well.. We made our way back to the main line, where we retrieved our stage bottles.. Uh ohh.. failures failures failures! We handled our failures, and made our way to the deco bottles, where we did our planned deco, surfaced, and debriefed. I think we did well on this one. 😉

Bottom Time ~ 90 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 78′ (Avg. 54′)
Water Temp. ~ 78
Steve, Ryan, Me

Dive 4 ~ No Vis Air Shares In Basin

Bottom Time ~ 29 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 15′ (Avg. 10′)
Water Temp. 77

Tom and Chris, as we brought our bottles to the water…

After our dives, we were making good time, so Chris took us to a fancy bakery in Tulum. Ryan, Steve, and I gathered a few treats for the way back, and an extra couple for the next day. Then, back to the shop for lectures.

After our lectures, we went over to the Chaudri (new supermarket) in search for some dinner. Instead, we found Angelica and Fred! 😀

Friday, December 10th, 2010 ~

Today, we headed back towards Mayan Blue, but went across to Cristal/Naharon instead. We hadn’t done this system before, and were eager to check it out. It was much darker cave, and was very large. Very cool stuff!

Dive 1 ~ Survey Skills

Our objective of the first dive was to work on survey skills. I really enjoyed this dive, and look forward to using these skills more. We took turns doing the different tasks at each station. We were also using stage and deco bottles. It was very dark cave at first, and once we went below the halocline, it was much whiter. There were some very highly decorated areas in this cave. The halocline was a bit deeper than some of the other cave systems we’ve been in, as it is farther from the ocean.

Bottom Time ~111 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 45′ (Avg. 36′)
Water Temp. ~ 77
Steve, Ryan, Me


Dive 2 ~ Lost Line Drills

This dive was a 2 jump dive, using back gas and a deco bottle. On our way back, we had the usual failures.. valves, lights, gas sharing etc. Once we reached the beginning of the main line, we dropped our stages, and were taken off the line for lost line drills, with blind folds on. Steve and Ryan found the line, and I could hear people giggling at me, as I felt my way up and around a rocky area. Bah… tap on the head.. drill over.. pft.. They told me afterwards, that I was about 6 inches away from the line, when I climbed up the rock. Apparently, I was not going far enough with my spool.. It did feel like it, but I guess your perception of “far enough” is a bit different when you’re blindfolded. Lol.

Bottom Time ~ 96 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 72′ (Avg. 36′)
Ryan, Me, Steve

Back to the shop again, where we had more discussions and lectures!

From there, we headed back to PA, where we joined Ryan, Liam, and Jesper for some spaghetti.

Saturday, December 11th, 2o1o ~

Well, today was the final day of the course. The three of us were definitely a bit tired, but were determined and ready for our  day’s dives at Car Wash.

Fred and Danny. Fred was working the fill station, as Jorge was taking a well-deserved day off…

When we arrived at Mayan Blue, we started off with the swim and breath hold tests. My fitness level was the only thing I was concerned about, when signing up for the course. My injuries had not been kind to me, over the last year, and my fitness level is lacking. Thank goodness I was able to get them in.. just… *Phew* Steve and Ryan were superstars.

Ryan, at the Car Wash basin…

Dive 1 ~ Satan’s Silthole ~ Downstream Line

I ran the reel on this one, Steve was 2, and Ryan was 3. This was a difficult line to find, but Tom gave us a bit of help in the right direction. When Tom moved aside, we still couldn’t see the line, but I do remember Chris saying to look up, so I did have my eyes peeled upward. Bingo! The line was covered in silt, which made me think that either this road hasn’t been traveled recently, or may be quite silty. This section of cave was slightly restrictive, and there were areas where you had to stay very low to the bottom of the cave, in order not to touch the ceilings. There was definitely alot of modified fluttering going on. Our limits on this dive were either on gas, or when we reached the 4th “T.” We ended up having to turn it at the 4th “T.” After turning the dive, we once again had failure after failure. I was on Steve’s long hose, then Ryan’s long hose, as well as light failures galore. We were extra relaxed in handling all of our failures today, after Chris and Tom’s demo the night before.. The Slow-Mo failure demo was very effective.. Thanks, Chris! 😉 We got to our deco bottles, where we did our deco and ascended. Extremely cool dive.

Bottom Time ~ 71 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 68′ (Avg. 53′)
Me, Steve, Ryan

Dive 2 ~ Rescues in the basin

We took turns carrying each other back and forth, across a line that Chris laid out for us, in the Basin. We managed to save each other. 🙂

Bottom Time ~ 27 mins.
Max. Depth ~17 ‘ (Avg. 11’)
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 3 ~ Upstream ~ Room Of Tears (almost)

Steve tied into the main line. There were alot of depth fluctuations in this system. We went past Luke’s Hope, where we took a jump to the left, down a slope, into a restriction. There were two other jump lines in as well. We made our way down, and there was definitely alot of silt here. The jump spool that we had turned out to be a bit short for the jump we were making, and in the process of attaching another one to it, and checking gas consumption, we made the decision that it wasn’t worth it to continue with the jump, and we turned the dive. Once we got back to an open area, Chris took me aside, and I was able to do the lost line drill again.

Woo Hoo! I found it! Thanks to my team mates for cheering me on.. You guys ROCK!

Bottom Time ~ 75 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 62′ (Avg. 31′)
Steve, Ryan, Me

Truck, following a runner, for Our Lady Of Guadalupe. We didn’t envy the people sitting on the back of that truck…

We returned to the shop once again, had another lecture, then.. exam time! We spent a couple of hours in the classroom, reviewed, and then… bah-bah-bah (drum roll)…. the three of us were congratulated with succeeding as Cave 2 divers.

This course was absolutely brilliant. I love how we had to always think outside of the box, and how much amazing cave was opened up to us. I really enjoyed refining my skills even more, and learning so much. Chris is an absolutely stellar instructor, and I really enjoyed learning from Tom as well. After our course, Tom was also signed off as a Cave 2 instructor. Way to go, Tom! You “done” good!

We headed back to PA, where we headed down to The Pub, for some Daquiri Fresas and some dinner. Jacob joined us for a drink as well. From there, we went back to the condo and packed… *sniff.*

We definitely had a fun-filled couple of weeks, seeing so many people that we haven’t seen in a while, as well as putting faces to names. We worked extremely hard  during our second week, but it paid off.

I must give an extra couple of high-fives to Angelica and Jorge. They run a tight ship at the shop, and even with so many people visiting and diving, all of our tanks were always filled and ready for us, all accounts were kept track of, and they always greeted us with smiles. Angelica is also a master card-maker! Thank you both so much!! xoxo We can’t wait to come back and see you!

Angelica, striking a pose…


Another thanks to the entire GUE crew, who made the Conference possible, and go off without a hitch. I bet it wasn’t easy to do, when it’s not on “home turf.” Thanks everyone!! 🙂

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 ~ Time to go…

We left the condo at 6:30 on the dot, and away we drove, to the airport. I will leave out the details on our police encounter, but we learned where we are not allowed to turn…

Our flight was amazing. I think I am now spoiled on the whole “direct flight” thing.

I am thankful that we did miss a bout of deep freeze and a snow storm at home, but we did come home to this…

Thank you Chris, Fred, Danny, Tom, Angelica, and Jorge! Thanks also to the entire GUE team, that made the Conference a success! See you soon!! :o)

Video to follow…