Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Trawler wreck off the beach in Bonaire

Dive 377 – Cenote Cristalino, SISTEMA PONDEROSA

Patrick Power SnorklingTo start with, I need to make a correction. I have made an egregious mistake on the name of the cave system to which Cristalino and Ponderosa belong. It is Sistema Ponderosa not X’Tabay. When I looked at the map I saw X’Tabay in the upper left corner and never looked further. Actually, X’Tabay is the system on the other side of Chickin Ha. Patrick pointed it out to me today when we were in the car. The water flows from X’Tabay to Ponderosa, but there is no way to swim between the two. So now I have cleared the air. With any luck, I will refer to the systems with thier correct names from here on out.

Today, Patrick and I snuck out at lunch time to do a side mount dive at Cristanlino. Patrick hadn’t been to Cristalino yet and I had only been there once, so we were both excited about exploring another part of the Ponderosa system. I LOVE going to new places. I love to look for the end of the line. For me is all exploring. I know it won’t get me into the Explorer’s Club in NY, but it sure makes me happy. Showing up to a cenote with no direction except that there is line somewhere, makes my heart run. I just can’t wait to get in search. The moment I find the line, I am overcome with a sense of discovery and accomplishment. I think there is something very noble about going to new sites and learning them from scratch.

Our general plan was to tend north and east starting from the line in the easterly most cenote. Patrick started the day with a little power snorkling (See the photo above.) to locate the lines and make sure there was actually a line for us to tie into. He found two lines. On the map both lines look very short. We chose to take the line to the west and south and then jump onto a longer line. This took less then 10 minutes total. We were not really sure where we were headed. I was team leader and Pratick was the passenger. His job was to accurately document all the jumps and lines weHans at Cristalino found. We followed the main line to its end. On our way we passed one T, an air dome and some marked jumps. It is very beautiful cave with a lot of up and down. No big depth changes, just a lot of them. There is A LOT of water moving through parts of this cave. Near the air dome we could see a lot of water moving off into a big room with no marked jumps. At about 35 minutes we got to the end of the line. About 15 feet away was another line running perpendicular. We jumped over and made a left following the double arrows. About 50 feet later we were in Cenote Kantun Chi. I know I was surprised to have ended up at the cenote. I thought we were headed more north then we actually did. I was even paying attention to my compass. I had expected us to stay in cave for the entire dive. We explored the cenote for a while and found the other lines that lead into it. Patrick had been here twice previsously using two alternate route from Cenote Ponderosa. At 50 minutes we called the dive; Patrick needed to get back to work.

The swim back to Cristalina was uneventful. When we got back to the cenote, I was doing some drills and stumbled on the second line Patrick had found. I didn’t even realize it was there. I was compelled to remount my tank and take a short swim up the line. Patrick is SkinnyThis line looks way fun. The passage is much smaller then the others here and there is a lot of black sediment. I only went 20-30 feet before I turned. I knew I was supposed to be doing a safety stop and my little adventure was going to put us behind schedule and make us late.

Well, we cleaned up and I drove like a MAD MAN back to Playa. We pulled up in front of Protech at 4PM. Wow… that was close.

I think we have another 5-10 dives at Cristalino before we are satisfied we have that section of the system pretty well in hand.

2 comments

1 Hammerhead { 04.03.08 at 10:44 am }

Tell Patrick I said hello. Ask him if his truck is still dead by the side of the road where me and Nando left him with it?

2 Hans { 04.03.08 at 11:04 am }

Patrick got a new truck! It is a beautiful Ford Ranger with the crew cab.

Ironic as it may be, Nando called the shop last night while I was there. He was stuck on the side of the road. His truck was dead.