It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cenote Regina

We finally had our Kevin-puss back today, so we let (made) him pick where to go diving.  He picked Cenote Regina, which Chris had suggested to us (me and Rob) earlier in the week, and Kevin had been to before.  Chris drew us a little map to get to a deep section (100') that he said was really nice.  And he gave us driving directions -- it's near Naharon.  The cenote is really close to the road, which is nice, since you don't have to drive down some long bumpy road to get there.  You basically pull through the gate and you can see the water, and just have to pull forward a few car lengths to park, and you are really close to the water.  There are some tables to set gear up on.  It isn't super shady around the water, so it's good that it was just a short walk to the water.  Chris had described the cenote as kind of like Jailhous but not as gross, and that's pretty accurate.  I wouldn't really be tempted to go for a swim there, but I didn't look at it and say "ick".  The best place for entry/exit wasn't obvious.  The rock on the sides sort of slopes down, but it's covered in slipperyness.  There was a big, not very reliable-looking ladder laying at a very shallow angle (along the slope, I imagine).  Kevin got into the water in his suit to scope out the line, and see if there was a deep spot we could jump into.  But he couldn't find a good deep spot (that didn't require jumping over a big tree root, and I haven't quite perfected the jazz leap-in-doubles maneuver).  So I decided to float my gear out into the water and get in and wrestle with my rig until it fell into place.  Kevin and Rob got in in their gear.  I missed Kevin's entry (I was busy with the wrestling), but according to Kevin it wasn't too graceful.  Then Rob walked over and found the perfect spot along the edge where there were some tall step-sized rocks that he just turned around and climbed down.  Hmph.

We weren't sure where the entrance to the cave was, but Kevin knew the general vicinity of where to find the line and had found it while he was in the water without gear.  The entrance is a bit Jailhouse-like in the sense that you follow a line from the surface in pretty bad viz and then you find yourself on a mung-covered slope into the cave.  However, the viz cleared up before we were in the cave.  And the entrance is bigger (though not huge) than Jailhouse.  So it's an easier entrance, but still reminded me of Jailhouse.  Based on Chris's map, we expected a couple of domes on the mainline and then a T about 45 minutes in.  The rooms on the mainline were quite large, and I say "rooms" because the tunnel would pinch down now and then (e.g. in the domes).  We crossed through the halocline after not too terribly long, maybe 15 minutes.  Once through the halocline, I counted three "domes" or at least three areas where we had to pop back up above the halocline, before making it to the T.  The mainline isn't super decorated, at least not compared to some of the other caves we've been to.  We eventually hit the T, about 40 minutes in.  We were back up in the freshwater at this point.

We went right at the T, and were back through the halocline lickety-split.  From there, we planned to jump left into the deep passage.  The jump is not far from the T at all, maybe 2 minutes ahead, but before we got to that point, we passed a very nicely decorated area off to the right.  I suggested Rob take some pictures (of me, of course) of that spot, which turned out quite well.  There was a lot of percolation after he got a few shots though.  So, we got to the jump and jumped down, to a passage in the 80 foot range.  You end up in a very tunnel-y tunnel, it's pretty round and small enough to completely light up, without actually being small.  It meanders for a bit and then the passage becomes taller (and less round).  The tunnel slowly gets deeper until eventually you get to 100'.  Chris told us there would be a 90 degree turn to the left, with a jump at the turn, and then you go through a restriction that you might not be sure you can get through, but then it opens up again.  So I was a bit nervous about what this seemingly-impassible restriction might look like.  Turns out it was not terribly restrictive... Rob went through ahead of me, with a stage and his camera.  And while that took some care, after watching that, I was pretty sure I could make it through with no stages :)  The low section was really more like a couple of low restrictions broken up by a small room which is also low.  In there I noticed that there were really tall travertine dam formations on the floor.  The floor of the deep passage is pretty interesting overall.  After the passage opened up again, I noticed that the floor had a bumpy texture like it was covered with little upside-down raspberries.

Once the passage opened up, it was quite unique.  The passage is surprisingly colorful.  First, there was a dark streak along the wall about halfway up the room.  Second, there were these craggly-shaped giant chunks of rock on the bottom which were a dark reddish color.  It kind of reminded me of coral.  It was a really cool passage, well worth the swim and squishing through the restriction (and wrestling gear on the surface, though I suppose that's not strictly necessary for the dive, at least if you are Rob).  We eventually made it to a T and quite arbitrarily (I think) went right.  I think we got about 5 minutes past the T when I turned it on gas.  We headed back out, and on the way through the shallower deep section (after we were back through the restriction), I video'd some of the round tunnel.  Kevin was ahead of me, and he had his video reflector on, so we lit up the tunnel very nicely.  After we cleaned up the jump, without really any discussion of continuing up the line we were on, we headed out, back to the T.

When we got to the T, we dropped some gear and headed up the other (left) side.  Chris had told us that the left and right side met up again in another T, and then the line continued on, and he described what that would look like.  After a few minutes, including a short dip below the halocline, we came to another T, which we assumed was meeting back up with the right side.  So we went left, which put us onto a line with arrows pointing in the other direction, so evidently there is another entrance somewhere.  After swimming for a bit, this line was not looking at all like what Chris described... it was not deep enough and instead of ending and then continuing shallower across a gap, we found ourselves on a huge, very nicely decorated slope, which just went up and up.  (We later confirmed with Fred that this must be a new T where there was previously a jump, and that if we had gone right at the T, we would have eventually closed the loop from the first T.)  I got up to about 20 feet, and it kept going, and then I signaled to Kevin that I wanted to turn there, since I didn't feel like subjecting my ears to going any shallower, since I knew there were still a few more ups and downs on the way out.  Kevin did go up to the top of the room and looked to see what happened next, and he said it headed back down.  So we loitered in this big room for a while, and Rob took some pictures.  It was a really cool room.  After we were finished with pictures, we headed out.  Just as we were finishing up, another team of two appeared and swam past us.

We headed straight out from there.  Apparently this other team was on our tail the whole way out, though I didn't noticed because I wasn't in the back.  As we swam out, I was counting the dips below the halocline, longing to get to the last stretch of freshwater, because those two floaty stages were driving me crazy in the saltwater!  However, the freshwater felt pretty chilly to me.  My gauge says it's only one degree different between the salt and fresh, but oh man can I feel a difference!  We finally made it back to the first room, where we had dropped our O2 bottles.  The other team was right on our heels, so I scooted ahead, wanting to find a spot where we could tuck ourselves off to the side, out of their way.  I poked around off to the right, where there's a little nook, but Kevin and Rob passed me and found another nook off to the left so I went and joined them there.  Rob was in the middle, and while I could see both Rob and Kevin, Kevin couldn't really see me, so Rob mediated the deco negotiations.  We quickly settled on 25 minutes and began to wile away the time.  We were all sort of crunched up, pinned to the ceiling, since the mung bottom is easy to stir up.  The team behind us puttered around for a few minutes and then exited.  A couple minutes later, another team (I'm not sure if it was one or two divers) passed by us too.  The viz got a bit worse with every diver that swam by.  Off to the left above Kevin, we could see bits of mung rolling/sliding down the slope.

Anyway, I was pretty much in a zen deco state when all of a sudden I got a fast signal and I looked up at a diver swimming at me.  I was about to stick a reg in his face when I saw that he was spooling out line, and holding the mainline, and wanted me to hold the mainline.  When he handed it to me, I could feel that it was limp, and he told me that the line had been cut.  So he was repairing it.  I helped him repair it, and by the time it was done, the viz right around where he had tied in the new line to the existing line was a bit deteriorated.  But it cleared back up after a couple more minutes.  Eventually deco was over, and we headed up to the surface, where we found 3 divers cleaning up gear.  The team of two that had been behind us on the way out had apparently traversed from some other cenote "across the road".  I guess that is where the opposing arrow was pointing.  I didn't get a name or any details about this other cenote except that it is "sidemount but will probably be backmount in a couple more weeks" :)  Upon surfacing, we found a pole in the rock, next to the ladder, which was not previously there.  I guess there is a hole in the rock that the pole is stuck into, and you can use it to get out of the water.  Rob climbed out along the same set of ledges that he climbed in on, right next to the pole.  After watching him, I decided it was pretty doable, so I did the same thing and with the help of the pole and Rob's hand, it was not so bad.  I think that with the pole, it would be doable to get in there as well.

We cleaned up and headed to La Nave for lunch.  We suggested another round of empanadas, but Kevin was afraid of them, since he ate them the day before he got sick.  I hope he eventually gets over that :)  I do feel a little lame going for pizza in Mexico, though one thing I like about it is that it is easy to actually get some vegetables to eat, which I always find pretty challenging when we are in Mexico.  We headed back to ZG and chatted with Fred for a while, and formulated a plan for the next day.  Then we eventually headed to happy hour at the Buena Vida in Akumal.

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