Mayan Paradise ~ Part 3 ~ After The Course

22 11 2008

Saturday, November 8th – Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 ~

Since we had all done well on our courses, we wanted to go put our new skills to work. We figured we would start out with a system that we had already done, so that we had a bit of familiarity on our first time out (without a guide). We rented a big arsed van, in which we loaded up with 5 people’s gear and 10 sets of doubles.

We decided to go to Taj Mahal for a couple of dives. We did both the Upstream and the Downstream lines. Oren, Jen, and I were a team of three, and Steve and Francois were a team of two. Everything seemed a bit different this time out, as we actually got to see it on the way out (no multiple, expected gear failures this time around).

Dive 1 ~ Upstream
Bottom Time ~ 33 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 43′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 2 ~ Downstream
Bottom Time ~ 35 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 41′
Water Temp. ~ 77

We saw Alessandra there again, with a class she was teaching.

Here are a few pics of us in between dives…

Oren and Francois…


Steve and I…

After the dives, we were packing up, and met another couple of divers from Ontario Diving, that we had known of from the board. They recommended some great locations for us to dive as well.

What a small world.

Sunday, we went to the Jungle Fill Station, exchanged a few tanks, and headed over to El Eden again. We did 3 dives here ~ Counterclockwise, Clockwise, then a fun play around in the basin!

Dive 1 ~ Counterclockwise
Bottom Time ~ 39 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 50′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 2 ~ Clockwise
Bottom Time ~ 37 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 47′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 3 ~ Basin
Bottom Time ~ 24 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 13′
Water Temp. ~ 77 – 80

During our basin dive, we did numerous dances (including the Heleen dance), played with the fish, did valve drills, saw an eel with funky eyes (he actually looked prehistoric), and just generally had a blast!

Oh yes, and we saw Alessandra yet again!

Monday, we headed over to Zero Gravity, where we returned a few items for Jen and Robert (they were flying out today), paid the bills (oh my…), and got directions to a couple of places to dive. Today, we were going to dive something we hadn’t done before. w00 h00!

We had our hearts set on Nohoch Nah Chich, and started out on the road. We had the mile marker number, and did remember to reset the tachometer when we left. We were also given a couple of landmarks to look for, that would mark the road through the jungle.

Well… we stopped at the mile marker, but did not see the sign that was supposed to be there. We pulled into a driveway, spoke to a very nice farmer, who pointed out that it was down the road. Down the road we went…

We stopped at another place, where we saw someone cutting tree branches. I walked up to him and said, “Hola! Donde este Nahoch Nah Chich?”

His reply….. “No hablo Anglaise.”

(Didn’t I ask in Spanish?) Ah well…

We went back on the road and decided that we’d try something else. We also had the directions for Mayan Blue. Let’s go diving!!

We found the signs for the place that we needed to get the key from, and the young fellow crossed the street to let us in. We drove down the jungle road, and came up alongside another couple of people that we’d seen along the way (Nando and his student, and Steve Gerrard and friend… and doggy).

We were told that this place was very different from the other caves, that it was much darker, a bit deeper, and a deeper halocline. There is a tannic layer of water, about 10′ deep, and.. of course the entrance to Tunnel A is at about 15′, and that tannic layer is pretty hard to see through. We were happy that we came upon it easily enough (thanks Nando!). There were these little pirahna fish there… ok.. very distant relation, but a relative none-the-less! They attached themselves to our fingers, and scared the living crap out of me, at first.

We dropped into the opening, found the main line, tied off on it, and in we went. This was indeed different than the other caves we had seen so far. It was quite a bit darker, a bit deeper, and even had blackish stalactites. The halocline was at about 50′. Very interesting to see. We decided to do two dives in this same tunnel, instead of going to Tunnel B (although we did find the opening to it ~ Thanks again, Nando)! When we were debriefing, I had one mini shark attach its great teeth into my finger, which caused me to jump out of my skin (ok, it was a Tetra, but it seemed like a monster at the time…). While on the surface, I inflated my suit, so that my hands would stick out of the water. We then discovered that if you spit in the water, they would jump out at it. We amused ourselves with this for a while, then finally got out and packed up.

Dive 1
Bottom Time ~ 33 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 57′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Dive 2
Bottom Time ~ 33 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 56′
Water Temp. ~ 77

Entrance to Mayan Blue…

The basin…

Nando and his student had left a bit before we did, and we bid our goodbyes. What we hadn’t planned on, was meeting him again at the gate. Apparently, our gate saviour with the key, was not across the street, at his post. I’m not sure how long we waited, but we hung out at the gate for a bit, chatted, and honked some more (the signal to get out).

Our friend finally came to rescue us, and we were on our merry way. We returned back to the shop, where we dropped off our weights, and headed back to the resort.

It was sad that our honeymoon/course/vacation in the jungle had to come to an end. We learned alot, were joined by wonderful friends (Leigh, we still missed you!), met some new ones, and couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful group of people to learn from.

Many thanks to Chris, Fred, Anjelica, Marcos, Jesus, Alessandra, Carlos, and Dennis (Danny, we’re sorry we didn’t get to see you).

As Fred says, “Let the adventure begin.”

Pic by Carmen…

Mayan Paradise ~ Part 2 ~ Cave 1

18 11 2008

Monday, November 3rd – Friday, November 7th, 2008 ~

It was finally time for us to start Cave 1. Steve, Oren, and I were taking the course with Fred. Francois, Jen, and Robert were taking it with Chris. We packed lunches and gear, and waited for our pick up.

Fred came to get us, and we headed to Zero Gravity, where we got our gear together in crates. We then went into the classroom, for some discussion on guidelines, limits for Cave 1 and 2, hazards, and command signals. We then packed up and went to El Eden, where we did a cavern dive, where our lights seemed to start failing upon exiting, then a dive in the basin, doing valve drills, mask removal, and no vis. line drills.

Tuesday, we were at El Eden once again, for another cavern dive, with more light failures, and some valve failures. We then did more no vis., touch contact line drills, then into the cave. We did River Run counter clockwise and clockwise, where it seems our lights and valves were still faulty on our exits. It’s amazing how crappy our gear is… hehe.

Wednesday, we went to Taj Mahal, where we had more light and valve failures, were out of gas, lost the line, and had a no vis., touch contact exit from the cave, over 4 dives.

We also had classroom time, and learned about the formation of caves, the Vadose zone, the Phreatic zone, and many other features of caves.

Thursday, we were in the classroom, learning about Solution, Elements in the caves, Contamination, and gas management in searching for a lost diver.

We then went to Xtabay (said Shta-buy), for three more dives. On these dives, we lost Steve three times, Oren once, and had to find them. We had more gas failures and an out of gas emergency.

On Friday, the final day, we discussed different cave environments, problems in cave diving, then headed out for our last 3 dives.

On the last few dives, we had a no vis. OOG exit, post failures, light failures, more OOG, and rescures.

The final dive was an exciting one…. We were going along our merry way, when Steve had a valve failure. Oren was quick to his aid as we thumbed the dive. As we exited, I was in the lead, Steve in the middle with one working reg, and Oren in the back. I was just waiting for that flashing light, to say that Oren was out of gas, and I would have to fly back to help him. There it was… saw the light flashing. I quickly hauled arse back to him, with reg ready to donate. Of course, I looked stupid, as it was Steve’s other post that had gone, and he had turned to flash Oren. The thought going through my head, was that I was Oren’s only source of gas, should he need it, and if I were to see a light flashing, I’d be there for him. I guess I’d rather look stupid than have my buddy need gas and not get it.  Oren gave Steve his long hose, and we kept going to the exit. When we reached our deco stop, which happened to be where the reel was tied off, I had to hand over my mask. I have to say that I was very relaxed here, and didn’t reach for my back up, as I figured it was a drill, and just went with the flow. I hovered there for a minute or so, when lo and behold, my buddy handed me my back up (thanks Steve)! W00 H00! We ascended up to our 10′ stop, where Steve switched to my long hose, and gave Oren a rest. Yes, we were almost at the surface, but at least we kept it in mind. Upon surfacing, the three of us felt pretty good about the dive. We had worked together as a team, and worked through our scenarios.

We debriefed, discussed, and packed up. It was now time to go back to the classroom for the exam.

I have to say that Fred was an amazing instructor, and I found it very easy to learn from him. There is alot of information to process in this course, and he just seemed to help everything make sense. I really enjoyed spending the 12 hour days learning from him.

I want to thank my team members, Steve and Oren, as well. We were dealt alot of cards, and worked well together to sort them out. We were always there for each other.

I am happy to say that we all came out with a pass, and couldn’t wait to put our new skills to work the following day. Oh yeah, and I heard the other group did well too!  😀

We were all a bit pooped, but had to go celebrate with some food and a Margarita…. and a Daquiri… and a Khaparina… and…….

To be continued in Part 3… After The Course…

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…


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…

Thanksgiving Weekend Skills

29 10 2008

We decided to head up to Morrison’s Quarry to work on some skills, on this fantastic holiday Monday! We decided to gett into gear for our nearing Cave 1 course, and planned on running some line, attaching cookies and line arrows, and work on skills.


We brought along all three scooters, to check out the new little fella as well. Steve and I each ran our reels, doing many wraps and placements, then securing the reel. We then each followed our lines, practicing putting the cookies and line arrows down, taking the pigtails out of our pockets, then retrieving them. It was kind of fun, as our lines would often cross each others’. Apparently, I didn’t have the reattaching skill right off the bat, as Steve would pick up a couple of my markers behind me…lol.. He showed me where I missed, and it seemed that my first method wasn’t very effective. Ah well… Once I figured it out, it wasn’t so bad.


A great day and alot of fun with skills!


Bottom Time ~ 60 mins.

Max. Depth ~ 28′

Water Temp. ~ 60

Vis. ~ 30′

Another Day At The Park ~

1 10 2008

Sunday, September 28th, 2008 ~

We slept in a bit, then headed out for some fills. We then headed down to Mallorytown to pick up a few things, and headed over to Centeen Park for our favourite exploration dive.

Since we took our time all day, we were now headed out for an evening/night scooter dive.

We dropped down and headed out. There were a bunch of giant carps that greeted us on our way out. We also discovered a small boat on the line to the Gaskin, that wasn’t there the week before. It was obvious by the zebra mussels and weeds that it had been in the water for a while, but it definitely wasn’t in that spot! There were no drag marks that we could see (in the dark), and it had a big arsed motor attached to it. The only thing we could think of was that someone tried to recover it, lost control of it, and it sank. It’s just kind of a coincidence that it’s right beside the line to the Gaskin!

Ah well, something else to see on the way out!

We scootered out into the channel, saw a whole bunch of old bottles, wreckage, and even found a piece of gear that had probably been lost earlier that day (it was pretty brand new).

We drifted back onto the Gaskin, where we did a tour through it, and headed back.

An excellent dive!

Bottom Time ~ 57 mins.
Max. Depth ~ 96′
Water Temp. ~ 66
Vis. ~ A bit milky; cleared up in the channel!

After our dive, we met up with a little black cat, that has been greeting us the last few dives. He didn’t jump in our van this time…Lol…