It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Naharon: Some Passage

On Sunday we decided to go to Naharon. Lynne, Peter, and Kevin were diving there too. Since Rob is a salt-water slut, of course the goal of the dive was to find some good salt-water passages to photograph. He had some ideas of where to go (I think based on advice from Beto), but when we got to ZG, he asked Chris about it. Chris wasn't too sure about the sections that Rob was thinking of going to. He asked us if we were stage diving, and when Rob said we were double staging he was kind of like "oooh, in that case!" and drew us a map of a place to go to. I'm not sure what the passage we went to is called -- on the map that we have, it just shows up as a dotted line passage. So I guess you could say we were off the grid ;) Chris gave us a detailed map and description of all of the landmarks on the way to the tunnel. The path included the double domes and then a jump to the left into a "crack" of sorts, which he thought we would find quite good for photography. I was leading, and a bit worried, since the jump was not marked. But as you may know, I am an extreme visualizer, so Chris's detailed description was quite helpful.

The unfortunate side to this place was that it meant schlepping two stages the whole way (well, one and a half stages the whole way, or something). I've really been failing on my mission to only double-stage dives which include a "stage depot" along the way. We were delighted to find that the steps into the water were in good repair, so we got in that way (last time we didn't for some reason, I think because they were in bad shape, and instead took the very slippery route). I remember finding the whole Naharon experience to be quite slippery and treacherous seeming last time, but this time, possibly because of the last 90 days without rain, it didn't seem like this at all. We lined up our bottles on the platform by the stairs and get geared up. I managed to not drown in the basin with 3 bottles on (we brought O2 as well). (As a complete aside, I wonder if all of the 2 80s plus 1 40 dives in Mexico will translate to Monterey... I find that in Monterey, 1 80 and 2 40s is really my "comfort" limit though this mostly has to do with deploying into the water without being crushed under the weight of my gear. That's a lot easier in MX.) Okay, maybe that wasn't such an aside... since I hate carrying two 80s up front, I decided to try a little experiment and see what happens if you leash the second stage instead of the O2 bottle. This experiment was an epic fail. Pretty much all it accomplished was a trail of silt behind me for the first 30 feet or so, because the bottle actually fell down between my legs and ended up dragging beneath me. Anyhoo, we dropped our O2 bottles at the big stick thingy that was our secondary tie, and I moved the stage back up front (where it belongs :P). While we were there, Rob affixed the slave strobe to me (we remembered the bungee today, don't think we'll forget that again!).

And then we were off. We jumped to the Desconocido line (which I have heretofore been calling the "Descondido line" because I *swear* that's what Kevin calls it... but the map and Chris seem to be in agreement otherwise). We passed the jumps as described by Chris, there are a bunch to the right which are all in some way involved in the merry-go-round circuit. Then we came to the double domes, the first of which was at about 44 feet, and the second at 25 or so feet. We dropped our stages somewhere in-between the two domes. A large portion of the travel, and I think most of the travel between the domes is right around the halocline. But the passages are plenty big to avoid any halocline-induced blurry vision. The second dome is really neat. You go WAY up to get into it and then there are some formations in that room, and then its right back down to the other side. Once we were through that, I started thinking every little turn in the line was THE turn that Chris had described. But when I finally got to the passage, it was quite clear to me that this was it. I went to check that this really was the passage (that there was a line to jump to), and after confirming that there was in fact a line in there, we dropped our stages and I installed the jump. Once we got into the crack, I told Rob to go ahead of me, since it was narrow enough that it would be annoying for him to keep stopping me and turning me around to setup shots. It was also narrow enough (and possibly unvisited enough) that the slightest wiggle of the camera caused silt to be stirred up from the walls by the strobe arms (though it wasn't really that narrow). The crack is very attractive. Not in the usual beautiful disneyland-castle-like saltwater formations. It isn't very decorated in that sense. But it is like this very blue, very symmetrical (in some sense) passage that just goes and goes. I really like the symmetric tunnel aspect of this passage -- it's like how I like the "subway" tunnel in Twin Caves (on the Mill Pond) because of the symmetry. We spent a bit of time in there taking pictures, so we really didn't make it that far up, I don't think. Chris had mentioned a T, which we did not get to before turning on gas.

On the way out, we stopped in the second (shallower) dome for a brief photo shoot. For some reason we were having a serious breakdown in communication -- I swear Rob would tell me to pose here and then that wasn't at all were he wanted me to be! From there, the exit was pretty uneventful, until we hit the Southwest Sacbe jump, and decided to head up there for a bit. For some reason, Rob installed the jump, I guess because he was in the lead on the way out. We had a bit of a delay installing the jump, because Rob swam into the wrong passage, oops. We finally found the right one though, and headed up the line. Rob took a few pictures up there, though I don't think we really made it far enough to get to the nicest sections. Rob claims that because the passage is not completely below the halocline (and thus the ceiling is black), it isn't the best passage for photography. Hmph. So after going not too far up there, we headed out, and eventually found our way back to the cavern zone. As we swam toward it, I saw someone in a swimsuit, I thought free-diving. But as I got closer, I realized he was hanging in the water continuously, and actually breathing a stage bottle. It was Kevin, and he was kind enough to take our empty stage bottles once we got onto the O2. That was kind of funny to watch since, well, he had no means of buoyancy control, and those empty bottles are pretty buoyant! After doing way too much deco (the heuristic we were using for calculating deco was WAY over-conservative in the 60 foot range, I have since determined after studying profiles in DecoPlanner), we headed up.

As we were cleaning up gear, I noticed that I was missing my knife. I am guessing it got caught on the line and popped out or something. At first I was hoping it fell out when I was getting out of my gear and I would come upon it as we packed up our gear, but that never happened :( For some reason, we went back to Don Cafeto for lunch. I'm really not sure how that happened, but I think it involved my longing for one of their limonadas. Today I got a chile relleno, which was SUPER good. I think it was the best one I have ever had. The sauce was just super good. We then headed back to ZG, swapped tanks, and then went back to our place to hang out with Kevin. We eventually ended up going to the Pub to meet Don, Elissa, and Dennis. After quite a while there, we eventually wandered to Latitude 20, which is I guess a new place in PA. Since we'd had a mondo lunch, Rob and I split the paella, which we both liked (Don and Elissa split that too, and they too liked it).

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I learned the name of the passage as "Descondido", which isn't a word in the dictionary, but I assumed meant something like "hidden". But "Desconocido" is easy -- it means "Unknown".

I'm surprised Rob doesn't like SW SacBe for photography -- I would think the white floor, golden walls and black ceiling would make for some spectacular photographs. At least, it makes for some great snapshots in my memory.