It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 25, 2010


We swung by ZG to settle our tabs (which was pleasantly small), and then headed to Nohoch, which is near White River but only 10 minutes into the jungle. It was raining off and on and very overcast. But while we got geared up, it was at most sprinkling -- it was actually really comfortable. Nohoch has great facilities (including my favorite, flush toilets), so while it is a bit of a walk to get tanks to the water, it is all on a nice gravel path then down a nice set of wooden stairs with a hand rope. There was a snorkel tour there when we got in. Their guide told them how "lucky" they were to get to see real live cave divers there that day -- sorry guys, no autographs.

For our first dive, we went up the mainline. I realized right after the car was closed and locked that my beanie was still in the car. So I went without it. I quickly realized how annoying it is to dive doubles without any hair covering... my hair kept getting tangled on my isolator and then when I tried to move my head it would pull on it, until I reached back and untangled it. Needless to say, it was a bad hair dive. The cave was very decorated and very white. And very shallow, so we ended up calling it on time (at 45 minutes). But we were ambling very slowly, and Rob was taking pictures, so it was only about 20 minutes out. Don had told us that we would probably recognize some formations that everyone takes pictures of, and he was right. We ascended way back in the cave, which was slightly creepy. After some chit-chatting (and a shared goo I think), I reappropriated Rob's hood since I was quite chilly.

We headed back up the Charlie Parker line. This line is smaller (but not small) tunnel with skinny stalagtites all over the ceiling. But there aren't a lot of big decorations. We came to a T and turned left (around 20 minutes). This line is super shallow -- I think I averaged about 13 feet. I eventually turned the dive because my foot was sore (I need to get looser spring straps before we go back). If I waited to turn on gas, I think we'd still be in the cave :) When we got out, it was so cool out that we punted our planned swim after the dive and packed up and left -- it was a good choice, since it started pouring raining about a minute after we started driving. We headed to Tulum for lunch at La Nave, a little shopping and gelato, of course.

Friday, September 24, 2010

White River

We got a slightly late start because we stopped by ZG in the morning and ran into the Tahoe crew there. I also met Heleen, and aired my grievances about the She-P to her. She had satisfactory answers to most of them. When we finally got going, we headed to White River, which is about 15 minutes down the highway and then 30 very bumpy minutes into the jungle. I guess it used to be a lot worse though. Once we got there, though, there were really nice stone steps down to the water, and then either a wooden staircase or an elevated platform to enter the water from. The water in the basin in crystal clear. It was one of the nicest cenotes we went to, especially because it seems more authentic (though still has easy access for wimps like me). There were many interesting insects here too, including some pretty red dragonflys (among other dragonflys) and a beautiful blue-purple and brown butterfly. I also saw a black centipede, which I thought was gross. Then I thought about the cool orange centipedes I saw a Jailhouse and decided this guy was okay too.

We all got geared up and into the water, and at the last minute, we got Kevin on our team. We were heading downstream to Fenomeno. I was not very confident that we could make it there on our puny little 2/9s, but we just made it. The cave is very pretty, with tons of decorations, and rooms of various sizes, some quite large. There was a big pot too, which unfortunately has a few chunks missing from it. But it was still really cool. The cave is quite shallow, probably averaging less than 30 feet. We passed another cavern along the way (about 9 minutes from White River), and an air pocket not too far before Fenomeno. This was one of my favorite caves; it has a little of everything -- tons of decorations, big rooms, but a cool (short) tunnely area too; and a pot! The only thing missing is a salt water passage, though I hear there is one of those too if you do a jump. We ascended at Fenomeno and hung out there for a little while. A couple minutes later, Don and Elissa appeared. Rob and I shared a goo and after a little break, we headed back in (upstream, blah). We were all really hungry when we got back so we got right out and ate our lunch sitting on the steps into the water.

We eventually got geared up for a second dive, but while doing gear checks, Kevin had some sort of gear problem, so he stayed behind to fix that and joined Don and Elissa on their dive. So it was just the two of us. Rob had left his camera just in the cave, so the plan was to not to go too far and just doodle around and get some pics. That cave drops percolation like crazy, so I was trying not to breathe too much -- now i know why they make us do a breath hold in GUE classes. But since we were headed downstream, the percolation was following us. So eventually we decided to swim in and get pics on the way out. We went probably about 2/3 of the way to Fenomeno and then turned it to have plenty of time for pictures on the way out.

We surfaced and decided to head upstream. On the way in, Rob had ear problems and couldn't get below 30' (which was shocking -- that never happens to him!), so we headed out shallower and then back in and it was fine. Because of this, we really didn't make it very far in. It was not that decorated with mostly big boulders in medium-sized passages. Eventually we came to a fairly big empty seeming room where the line turns 90 degrees right, then quickly turns left again and becomes a bit more tunnelly, and more interesting, I think. Just a little bit down the tunnel, we could see the other team's lights in the distance. Since it was a convenient spot to turn around, we decided to just turn there to avoid having to wait for them to pass. When we all got to the basin, Don asked me if I wanted to try out his sidemount rig in the basin, so I said sure, but only if I could wear the helmet :) If I ever go sidemount, I'm going to do all of my swimming on my side -- it's just so comfy! Then Rob couldn't resist trying it too (of course I got this all on video). Don's rig was just a little small for Rob; he's been talking in a higher pitch ever since.

It was pretty late by the time we were all packed up. We didn't expect to be able to swap tanks at ZG, but Fernando was there, so we stopped by. We decided to just take a set each for the next day. We were having dinner in Playa with Steve, but Rob was withering, so we swung by the Pub for some snacks. We had the ceviche, which was super tasty (why did it take us so long to try it!?!) and mojitoes of course. Then we went to an Argentinian place in Playa, whose name I did not catch. Steve was a friendly chap who was interesting to talk to. And he's not at all scary or intimidating ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We went to Jailhouse on Thursday. In order to get in, we stopped at a house in Tulum on Wednesday afternoon to pick up the key. Once you use this key to open the gate, there is a bit of a bumpy ride through the jungle, then it opens up so it looks like you are trespassing on someone's farm. Then you get to the cenote, which has a few very nice benches for gearing up. We saw a couple of really pretty fluorescent orange centipedes (or something) near the benches. There are some nice stone steps down to water level, but then getting into the water is a less civilized affair, since there is basically a huge step down into the water (and the viz on the surface is crap, so you can't see where your foot is going). But Rob helped me down and it was fine. The viz on the surface was maybe 2 feet; not as bad as Del Mar, but very bad. But the line comes all the way to the surface, so you can follow it down and then the viz opens up outside of the mouth of the cave. So we followed the line down in touch contact, but there was space for us to huddle and regroup before heading in.

The entry is a little tight but then immediately opens up. But the bottom is covered in "mung" which I think is just cave diver speak for mulchy organic material. Seriously, that stuff would look great in my yard. If you don't come down the slope at the proper angle it is easy to silt it out, or so they say. Right at the bottom of this slope, like 2 minutes from the surface, is a T. We first went left at that T. This site has a lot of Ts (at least to the left), so I guess it is not the best C1 dive. But I thought it was neat because there are a variety of different kinds of areas; and I gather there would be even more if we weren't baby cave divers. Up to the second T, the cave is dark with patches of icicles, similar to Naharon. I am told that once you get further in, there are bigger totem poley structures and eventually there is a saltwater passage below the halocline.

For the second dive, we ran the reel to a different line to the right of the first T, which goes down below the halocline. Basically about 4 minutes from the surface, you can get below the halocline. That passage was awesome, and we ended up going back for two more dives in the afternoon. After a short, not very decorated passage when you first get to the line, the tunnel turns left and gets really decorated. The whole passage is really pretty and wide open, but with some great nooks for photographing divers surrounded by decorations. But the passage was also very delicate, with lots of percolation raining down on us (not so good for photos). Eventually I got the hang on holding my breath while Rob got a few shots off. On one of the afternoon dives, when we made it further up the line, Kevin pointed out a firepit with some little bones in it, next to an INAH pyramid. I saw another one of those pyramids but did not know what it was marking. There supposedly used to be some human remains in there, but they have apparently been removed by INAH. This was one of my favorite passages of the trip. It's too bad my exit from the water couldn't be a bit more graceful. In addition to the beautiful decorations, I was excited to see a couple of remipedes on the dive, near the halocline.

After swinging by Mayan Blue and Chan Hol to look around, we headed to the empanada place. It was supposed to be appetizers and drinks, but since the boys can't control themselves, it ended up being an early dinner followed by gelato.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Del Mar

On Wednesday we went to Del Mar to do some sensor maintenance for the sensors that BAUE (and Kevin) sponsored with CINDAQ. Del Mar is (or at least on this day was) the closest thing to a mud hole that I have ever dived. It was also rather buggy, but that could be because it was raining intermittently that morning. We parked right on the side of the road there, which was convenient. I think there is a parking lot across the street that you are supposed to park in, but we stopped there to unload gear and check out the site, and since no one seemed to mind our car there, we decided to just leave it there. It really didn't seem very likely that anyone else was going to appear to dive the mud hole. From the car, it was a short walk to their sketchy tables and less sketchy deck/walkway to the water. The walk was over some not very slippery rock, which was great, but right next to the path I was walking on, there was a fence with barbed wire about chest high. So I just kept thinking, if I slip, I know I'm going to put my hand down on that wire without thinking. (And on the way out, I was thinking if I slip, I know I'm going to slice my drysuit open, but neither came to pass.) While getting changed next to the driver's seat (so I was hidden from traffic), I suddenly felt pin pricks all over my foot and ankle and looked down to see a couple dozen ants grazing on my foot. I started squealing and yelling incomprehensible things about my foot and ants, and Kevin said in passing "oh yea, there are ants over there". Thanks for the warning!

Rob hopped in to place his camera and found a spot deep enough for us to baby stride into -- you know, it's like a giant stride, but you curl your legs up in case you are going to hit bottom. With (literally) zero viz from the top, there was really no way to tell if Rob was accurate in his report that it would be deep enough to jump; so of course I what anyone would do, and let Kevin go first. In addition to looking like poo water, the water smelled like rotten eggs. Once we dropped down, the water was quite clear from about 5 feet down (the basin is only like 6 or 7 feet deep, so that isn't as impressive as it sounds). The water was also much cooler below the muck, which was refreshing. We found the line, which comes to open water, and in we went. The cave is silty and crumbly. And dark. It reminds me a bit of Hole in the Wall (the cave in FL, not the reef at Point Lobos), because of the crumbliness, but darker and smaller in much of it. There is also a bit of flow; nothing raging, but enough that Kevin's suggestion that we could poke around downstream quickly did not appeal to me at all. We had been given scavenger hunt-like directions to find the sensors, and in the end we each found one, but it took about 15 minutes. Once we had all three, we headed out. Rob dropped his camera on the line in preparation to take pictures on the next dive.

Rob and I waited in the water while Kevin got out to dump the sensor data. He returned with a video camera (borrowed from Don, who was off with Elissa at her class today). We headed back in, and Kevin got some video on the way in, before our bubbles disturbed the cave (because it is crumbly, it does not take long before it is raining down on you). Then we placed the sensors, and continued up the line. Rob wanted to get pictures of the sensors, but figured it would be best to wait until the dust settled, so to speak, so we left some time for that on the way out. The cave is not the prettiest cave we saw this week, but it was interesting. It reminded me a lot of Florida, with big boulders in a lot of spots, but then occasionally there were be spots that were extensively decorated with icicle stalagtites. All told, we passed about 4 jumps, one of which went to another opening and we could see daylight (very green daylight) from the mainline. That jump line is ridiculously close to the mainline; I don't understand why some lines are like 3 millimeters from the mainline (well, perhaps a small exaggeration) and others are like 100 feet away. Anyhoo, Rob thumbed the dive just as I was starting down a sort of chute-looking passage heading down, which I thought was pretty cool looking. So I was a little bummed when he thumbed it (especially because it wasn't on gas; Rob doesn't breathe, so he never calls a dive on gas). But only minutes before I had been thinking that given how shallow this dive is (maybe 25 feet average), we might be doing a LONG dive if no one called it sooner on boredom or whatever.

Rob got some pictures of the sensors on the way out, while I waited on the line. I was getting super cold waiting for him, which was funny since earlier, when we were kicking against the flow a bit, I was getting hot. Rob finally finished and we headed out (or rode the flow out is more like it). When we were about to climb out of the water, Kevin mentioned something about the ladder being slightly tricky to climb. Rob suggested a "better" way to climb it, which resulted in one of the rungs breaking while Kevin was climbing it. So climbing out in gear wasn't going to work. Instead we all took our rigs off and once Kevin was out, we passed it up to him and climbed what was left of the ladder sans gear.

We had originally been planning to relocate for a second dive, but decided to just take the afternoon off. We headed to Super Carne (HC de Monterrey) for lunch, where we each got an enormous plate of meat with a baked potato, half of an avocado, tortillas and some other accessories for not much money. And cool beer, hehe. Then we drove by Temple of Doom just to take a look. I am no longer scared of the jump; now that I understand the geometry, I realize it isn't possible to hit the side on the way in. And even better, they now have a very civilized ladder in there. But it is a bit of a walk to get there (I know, whine whine whine). On the plus side, they had a little pen with some bunnies in it there, and they were exceptionally cute bunnies. After that we headed home for a swim and eventually headed to the Pub (again) for dinner.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Tuesday we went to Carwash, which has a nice short walk to the water and a giant stride entry (or you can climb up and jump off of a platform, but I am too cowardly for that). The basin is big and was pretty green from algae. For the first dive, we went upstream. There is another cenote (that was dredged, so is it really a cenote?) about 15 minutes up the line, so the plan was to do "one dive" to that cenote, and then re-calculate gas for a second dive from there. There was a bunch of talk about how the mainline is 350' back so if you aren't careful, you will run out of reel.

This turned out not to be the case, because I guess the line had been moved. Kevin and Don had gone in ahead anyway, so we could look where their line was to figure out where to go. I ran the line and was relieved to not run out of reel. We got to Luke's Hope right around 15 minutes and decided to go 500 psi from there. We got to Adrianna's Room, which was obvious when we got there (as Don assured us -- he said we would know it when we were there because it's really pretty) and very pretty -- it is very white and decorated. It was definitely one of the nicest rooms/passages we saw all week. We stopped there for about 10 minutes and then continued on. It got much less decorated when we got past that room, then got small and chute-like, which was sort of fun (and reminded me of FL). That dropped us into a tunnel that was short but pretty wide, which was very nicely decorated. We came to a doorway restriction that was really pretty. I looked through it, saw it was small as far as I could see, and decided to turn early, since I figured it would be more annoying to turn around in there. I think that doorway would make a nice shot with a diver coming through it, but I didn't feel like backing myself into it once Rob pulled his camera out. We got back to Adrianna's room and agreed to hang out there a bit longer (part of my motivation for turning early). We we were finished there, we headed out and passed Kevin and Don shortly after. We ascended at Luke's Hope (which is crystal clear and has palapas with "cerveza" signs) and Rob took some over-unders. Then we headed back out to Carwash, and met Don and Kevin in the cavern zone. Rob and Don took some pictures and I experimented with one-finned swimming (my tight fin straps were really starting to bother my ankles by this point in the trip). Eventually we were tired of this and headed up.

After lunch (more of the same), we geared up for another dive. I dove with Don. After perusing his sidemount setup and asking a few questions, we did our gear checks and got going. I made him run the reel, since there was much complicated discussion of finding various lines from the cavern. We planned to do Satan's silthole (roughly in the center of the various lines) first but we didn't give Rob and Kevin enough of a head start, so they were still tying in as we approached. So we backed off and went left (not sure what the line is called). It is a relatively short line -- get to the end of it with plenty of time/gas. The line is really pretty though -- it is totem poley at the beginning and eventually gets really decorated with more delicate decorations. Don is a good buddy for me. He swims at a leisurely pace, and when we get to a cool room, he turns to me to comment that it is cool -- chatty like me, and not diving like he was on a mission, like some people I know.

When we got back to the reel, we relocated to the silt hole. The name is not very flattering, but I only thought it was fitting right at the entry. There is a sort of narrow passage where it is relatively annoying to run the line (because it really seems to want to run above you), and it is silty there. Beyond that, it's a cool dive, even though it isn't super decorated. For a while we were in a pretty flat rectangular tunnel right along the halocline, with doorway restrictions here and there. It looks like there is a line etched along the sides of the passage, but it's actually just the halocline. Pretty neat. When we got back to the reel, we headed right to look for the Chamber of the Ancients (where there is allegedly a fire pit) but we couldn't find it so we gave up. We passed Rob and Kevin leaving as we went in -- apparently they found it. We headed out and ran into the Tahoe crew when we got out of the water. They had told us a while ago when we ran into them at Lobos that they were going to be in MX the same week, but I had completely forgotten! After a bit of chit-chat, we headed home.

But we decided to stop for snacks and drinks on the beach in Tulum first. I must say, the beach wasn't very inviting for swimming -- it was pretty windy. But perfectly inviting for some guacamole and a pina colada. For dinner we headed to Playa (after a late afternoon swim back at the house). It was not as crazy with tourists as I expected, but I guess it's the low season. We ate at an Argentinian place called Taco Tango. Rob and I had the mixed grill which I was pleased to find had lots of veggies on it (I felt very veggie-deprived for most of the trip). For dessert we had gelato at Gelato Factory.

Monday, September 20, 2010


On Monday, Elissa's sidemount class started, so Don was diving with us. Naharon is a bigger cenote than the other two had been, but it is not as scenic, I think because the land around it is flat. However, the basin had tons of little fish, which I liked. It was totally empty when we got there, and eventually another team showed up. The area where you park is very close to the water, and there is a retaining wall that you can setup gear on. There is a nice big gazebo sort of thing which was convenient for changing and eating lunch. There are also some bathrooms which I would categorize as "uncivilized". After using them, I decided I prefer peeing in the jungle, where at least you can see what critters are crawling around you. Getting into the water seemed a bit treacherous due to slick rocks and algae-covered steps. Rob and I donned gear in the water for dive 1, and though neither of us drowned, it wasn't totally graceful.

The two of us dove together and dove the mainline first. It was so dark on the way in, it was totally creepy -- I briefly considered thumbing the dive. The water seemed a bit milky too on the way to the main line. It reminded me of our first dive at Peacock where the viz was bad (although now that I look back on it, it reminds me more of a creepy dive at 40 Fathoms). It was not very decorated on the mainline -- overall, we weren't big fans of the mainline. It had the fabled darkness of Naharon, but the structures just weren't very exciting to me. For dive 2, we moved the reel to the Descondido line, very shortly (maybe 2 minutes) up the mainline. This line was more interesting. Eventually it became very decorated with black icicles on the ceiling; earlier on it had big chunky stalagtites, which aren't as cool looking and look like it would hurt it you rammed your head into one.

For lunch, we had more of the same from the grocery store, and then we headed back up the Descondido line. Since the morning gear-up was not very graceful, I decided to sit my gear on the top of the steps and get into it there, then inch down the steps. That worked well. We did one dive as a team of 4, and then after depositing Don and Kevin back in the cavern, we headed back in for another short dive. Rob told me after the morning dive that if you go up to the very top of the cave on the way out (or in, but before you get to the mainline), that it is really tall and very decorated at the top. I hadn't gone up there because it was so far from the line (though Rob tells me it's because I am a "bottom-dweller"). So on the way out as a team of four, I decided to check it out. Rob was behind me (#4), and decided it would be a good time, while behind and above me, to cover his light. As I was flapping around trying to figure out where he had gotten to, I rammed my head into one of those big chunky stalagtites. Ouch.

We tried to go to a bar on the beach in Akumal, but it was closed. And since it was intermittently raining in torrential downpours, we decided to just head home and hit the pub.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gran Cenote

On Sunday we went to Gran Cenote. We picked up tanks at ZG and then headed to Tulum. On the way, we stopped at San Francisco supermarket to procure lunch (some stewy chicken and beef and tortillas). Then we headed to Gran Cenote, which was much more developed and commercial feeling (they do have a web site, after all). However, I have no complaints about that, since that means they have a flush toilet and some pretty nice wooden stairs down to the water. We got into the water and I realized my light lacked a battery, hmph. After going back up to get it, and wrestling my gear back on (in the water), we headed in. There was a snorkeling tour there; I can see why they bring snorkelers; it is a nice place to swim and the water goes back under the overhang a bit.

I led the first dive, diving with Rob and Kevin (Don and Elissa arrived as we were about to get in the water, but they were doing their own thing today). Apparently, I put too many ties (but there are just so many nice places to tie!) and I swim too slowly. Even before we got to the main line, as we paralleled the cavern line, it was quite decorated. And the walls were much more white than they were yesterday. In the first room where we tied into the main line, it was really nicely decorated, but alas, we were on a mission. It got a bit silty when we passed under Cenote Ho-Tul, but otherwise, it was light, white, and pretty wide open for the most part. It seemed like we dropped a lot of cookies. I gather there are differing view points on dropping cookies at all opposing arrows, and since I wasn't sure what everyone's opinion was, I erred on the side of being cookie happy. Plus as Rob always likes to point out, I love dropping cookies. And we ran our first gap spool; okay, Kevin ran it. We made it just to the big heap of cave flakes (what are those called?), whcih Kevin had told us we might make it to, when Kevin (#2) thumbed it. Rob was in a twisty passage just then and didn't actually get to see the pile; poor Rob. For dive 2, we went back in just past the Paso de la Guarta jump and Rob took a bunch of pictures in a nice archway near there. We planned to go back up there in the afternoon, so Rob stashed his camera before the end of the dive.

Lunch was quite tasty, much better than sandwiches; I liked the carrots in the beef stew. After lunch, we switched tanks and headed back in (this time with a charged light battery). We headed back up to around the Paso de la Guarta jump and Rob took a bunch more pictures on this dive. I noticed the flow a bit more on the way out on this dive (where the line turns at that jump), not that it was much of anything. For the last dive, we did the cavern line. I feel like it is lame to go to a site with a cavern line and not dive the cavern line. There are some nice areas on the line, but I think the best we had already passed on the way into the cave. Afterward, the five of us went to the empanada place (Buenos Aires) for dinner. Mmm, I love empanadas. Then we walked down the street to the gelato place (Panna e Cioccolato).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Taj Mahal

We decided to try to get to Zero Gravity at 8:30, and of course we were running late. We showed up a bit before 9, and a few minutes later, Fred arrived (good thing we were running late). After loading (overloading?) the car with two sets of doubles each, we headed to Taj Mahal, like a minute up the road from ZG. But once you turn off of the road, there is a bit of a drive. Since this was the first day, we hadn't really figured out the best way to pack all of the tanks into the car, and the long bumpy ride through the jungle ended with me under a set of doubles. I had heard some stories about "interesting" entries and exits from caves in Mexico, so I was relieved to see a set of stone steps down to almost water level. The steps were fairly uneven, and a bit slippery from the rain, but all in all it was pretty civilized (plus there was a railing or rope to hold onto the whole way down). Once at the bottom, it was a few steps across a deck and then a little climb down into the water, which was much easier than expected due to the rope tied to a tree that you could hold onto. Once we were in the water, I thought the view up from the cenote was pretty cool, but a bit fake. I felt like I was on a "tropical" movie set with a glorious clear pool of water looking up at a little path through the trees, birds skittering around under the overhang, and the rainwater dripping down from the overhang. Pepper would have liked the birds.

We dove on two lines -- one was the main line, and the other's name I'm not sure of, but it's the line that goes to Cenote Sacrado. We dove the main line first, which goes off to the left from the cavern. There is an airpocket about 15 or so minutes in there, which Kevin referred to as "DCS dome" because it goes fairly abruptly from 30' to 10'. I think this is a rather strange name, though, since I don't typically worry about getting DCS when ascending from 30' to 10' (but what do I know about deco?). The water got really eerie and tannic when we got to the shallows there. And very warm! We briefly ascended in the air dome and then continued on. Beyond there we came to some big, well-decorated rooms. In hindsight there were some fairly well decorated areas before the dome, but on the first dive on the way in, I don't think I really noticed them. However, I was sort of disappointed that it wasn't all decorated all the time; not that that's bad, just not what I was expecting, since I guess the pictures usually only show decorated passages. I was told that we made it to about the "constrictor" on this dive, which means nothing to me except there is a little mark on the map that Kevin sent me that says "the constrictor". At the end of the first dive, we pulled the reel back to the sign and left it for the next dive.

For the second dive, we went to the right. I ran the reel and did not exactly distinguish myself. My impression of this line was that there were more frequent decorations, but they were not as impressive. Somewhere along this line, Rob signaled that there was an air pocket, and he wanted to go up and check it out. So he and I went up to check it out while Kevin stayed on the line. I basically broke the surface, decided it was a creepy little hole, and immediately descended. Eventually we made it to the end of the line (which sort of confused me at first, because I knew we were going to get to another cenote, but it didn't take as long as I expected to get there). We surfaced there and there were some bats.

After the dive, we had some sandwiches and then headed back in with fresh tanks. We did two more dives up the main line in the afternoon. One on of those dives, I saw a white cave shrimp carrying a sack of eggs. I had seen some of the shrimp earlier in the day, but I thought the eggs were pretty cool -- see, there are critters in the cave :) After these two dives, we had some gas left and decided to check out the cavern line. Along that, we ascended in an air dome with a little hole letting light in; I get the impression it would have been more impressive if it hadn't been so late in the afternoon. There were a ton of bats in the air dome. I soon realized the walls were moving, and just tried not to look directly at them. Then Rob pointed out that one of the bats was grooming and that this was cat-like, so I decided the bats weren't that bad. On the way out of the air dome, my light died, so we headed out.

We got back to ZG and chatted with Fred about their sensor project (BAUE is sponsoring some sensors, so we had some data dumping to do later in the week). Then we headed to the house, where Don and Elissa soon arrived. We went to "The Pub" for dinner. I had heard frequent references to this place, and now I experienced it for myself. They have excellent mojitos.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mexico 2010

I strong-armed Rob into a trip to Mexico for my birthday, and Kevin, Don, and Elissa joined us. After the hellish heat in Florida, we were hopeful that it would be a tiny bit better in Mexico, and it definitely was. It was actually pretty tolerable overall, with periodic rain to keep things cool. And the swimming pool in the backyard (of the totally sweet house that we rented) didn't hurt. We were there for 8 days of diving, with Don and Elissa arriving one day later and leaving one day earlier. Elissa was in class for 4 days of the trip (lame, right?) in case you miss her from the pictures and video.

Rob took all of the underwater pics in these posts. I brought along the HeroHD video camera, which Rob just got as a backup camera for class. He got it with some sort of after-market housing that makes it suck less underwater. I had never used it before the trip, but Rob mounted it on a spare goodman handle, so it was quite convenient to use (and fits in my pocket when not in use). It was fun, but alas, only good for basin and topside video. But a good substitute on the blog for the days when Rob didn't bring his camera :)

Here are the day-by-day reports:
Taj Mahal
Gran Cenote
Del Mar
White River

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BAUE Rec Boat

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Saturday I went on the BAUE rec boat. I dove with Andrew and Kathy. We motored down to Yankee Point to check out Flintstones, but it was hellishly windy, basically as soon as we got past Lobos. We dropped anchor to see what the wind would do to the boat at anchor, and decided it wasn't diveable. So we headed back towards Lobos, thinking we could go to Honeymoon Rocks. We got there, and then suddenly turned around and headed back south. Turns out when we got to Honeymoon Rocks, someone (Clinton, I think?) had the idea to check out a site called "McDonald's" which was south of Lobos but close enough to shore to get some protection from the wind. This site is so named because there are two big arches there. I'd never been there before, and based on the description of the crew, I was just hoping I would find one of the arches.

It turned out not to be much of a problem, since as I followed the line down I realized the line was basically draped right over the top of one of the arches. So we were guaranteed to find at least one arch :) The viz was really good and the water was nice and blue. We swam under the arch, which was probably 15 or so feet high. We swam through the top of it, which was right around 80 feet. After we got through it, we headed to the right, since there was more pinnacle in that direction (the arch was pretty close to one end of the pinnacle). We meandered along at around 70 feet. The sand was probably at about 100 feet or so, which we could see very clearly. There were some other smaller structures off to the left, so we were actually swimming through channels between the main pinnacle and the other structures in a few spots. The were the usual assortment of sponges and nudibranchs and such, plus there was some hydrocoral, though not the big pretty bushes of it. Eventually, we got to a sort of barren area with some palm kelp. I headed up to the top of the pinnacle, planning to hop over to the other side. But when I got up there I saw that the palm kelp was covered in those hydroids that Eubranchus like to live on, and I saw tons of slug eggs all over the hydroids. After a little looking, I found a couple slugs, one of which was quite big (for a Eubranchus). I pointed it out to Andrew and Kathy, which was kind of funny since it was horrendously surgy at the top. I think it took a few fly-bys before they saw what I was pointing at.

After that, I decided to just head back the way we came. I ran into Clinton when we were almost back to where we started. He was gesticulating about something and I didn't see anything where he was pointing, but suspected he might be trying to show me a pinniped. But a moment later, a seal came swimming down the side of the pinnacle and past us. After a bit more ambling around, Sami came swimming back to the pinnacle, from out over the sand and told us that the other arch was over there. So we headed out in that direction and could see it pretty much immediately. This arch was a little bit shallower, it was maybe 70 to 75 feet at the top, and it was much longer, so it was kind of like swimming through a short tunnel. It also seemed to have a lot more stuff growing under the arch. After swimming through it, we headed back to the pinnacle and pretty much just killed time near the anchor for the last few minutes. I found more hydroids with Eubranchus eggs and one more slug near the anchor. When we came up from the dive, it was a bit more sporty than when we had started the dive, which I wasn't too surprised by given the conditions we had seen at Flintstones.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
When the topic turned to where to go for dive 2, Clinton mentioned Locals' Ledge, which I thought would be good since Kathy wanted to go someplace with hydrocoral. Locals' is my favor site for hydrocoral (well, other than Big Sur Banks). Unfortunately the water in Carmel was quite a bit more green. Fortunately, it was quite calm up there, which was nice after the sportiness south of Lobos. Andrew was leading the dive. I think we were anchored at a slightly different spot than usual, or maybe the poor viz just made me lose my bearings. In any case, we pretty much just circled the pinnacle three times, once at about 70', once at 50', and once at 20'. On the first time around, we saw some really nice big pieces of hydrocoral. But it definitely wasn't the best day for Locals', due to the viz (I have seen worse viz there, once). The third spin around the pinnacle was really surgy. When we got back to the anchor line, I thumbed it, since it seemed like we had pretty much seen what there was to see there. It was still calm when we got up from the dive, and we had an uneventful ride back to the dock.

Since I was diving sans photographer, I've included a couple of Clinton's pictures from the dive. All of the pictures are here.