Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Caver Diver at Little Brother Cenote at Chac Mool Mexico

Category — Chac Mool

Hitting the Wall.

Advanced Cave – Stage / Multi-Stage Course with Steve Bogaerts

In October, I wrote a story about the DPV course I completed; I brazenly stated that the course was less stressful and difficult then previous courses. I felt great when I wrote that story, all that was going to change in the next two days. I had elected to do the DPV and Stage courses back to back in 5 consecutive days.

In the past, I had never made it past three days of training with Steve. By the third day I was exhausted and had absorbed all my body and brain could. On two occasions we had 4 or 5 days scheduled, and I bagged the extra days. Since I live in Mexico it was never a big deal. We would just reschedule those days in the future and Steve would enjoy his time off. Each time we ended training, I was at a natural stopping point. Any further and I would reach the point of diminishing returns.

The Stage Course was surprisingly challenging. I had done a pretty good job handling the scooter and integrating it with my diving. On Thursday, we headed to Ponderosa for some open water skills with a single stage and then the stage and the scooter. I did pretty well and executed all the required skills. I did discover that my regulators were not optimally setup and that I must have a long torso. We drilled on attaching the stage to the crotch d-ring and towing it with the scooter behind us. My 40 inch hose just wasn’t long enough. We also performed a cavern dive and drilled staging the scooter and a single bottle. I had a little trouble remembering to stop breathing the stage when we hit the scooter 1/3rds. That definitely should have been a warning. The day ended early because I was worn out.

Thursday night I had spent some time re-arranging regulators and filching my wife’s Scuba Pro MK25/S600, I needed one more turret first stage. In return she got an Apeks ATX 200. I think it was a fair trade. A little more wrangling and I ended up with two sets of left and right delivery regulators on turret first stages. I was happy with the outcome. I had wanted to find this combination for a while.

Friday dawned and I met Steve at his place. We got the DPV’s together and headed to Chac Mool. I rigged my sidemount tanks and my two stage tanks. As I started walking all this gear to the water’s edge I felt apprehensive. When I was nearly done ferrying gear to the water, I said to myself, “I can’t believe this is a two day course, I can’t imagine how anyone could do this in two days.” I was subconsciously aware that I was emotionally, physically and intellectually fatigued. In retrospect it is clear that was my gut talking and I wasn’t really listening, if I were I would have been able to prevent the coming mistakes.

The plan for Friday was to make two cavern dives and a long cave dive. The first cavern dive would drill handling one stage and the scooter. I needed to stage both and continue on. Then turn the dive and return in zero visibility and pick up them up. The drill started with us scootering. He signaled that I should drop my scooter. I staged the scooter and swam on. I believe I was still breathing the stage which was a protocol violation, however, I corrected quickly. I prepared to drop the stage. I decided to drop it at a 90degree turn in the line. I thought it would be easy to maintain orientation on my return. I dropped the stage on the wrong side of the line and continued. Steve called the dive and started the zero visibility drill. I reached the stage and immediately picked it up. I had to lift it over the line to the correct side of my body. While doing this, I actually got my body over the 90 bend and I had the line between me and the tank and in both arms. Right before I clipped the tank in, I realized the issue and corrected it. However, it wasn’t pretty and could have made things difficult if I hadn’t recognized the issue. I referenced the tie off twice more to confirm and then proceeded on. I picked up the DPV and called the drill.

In the debrief Steve pointed out some of my mistakes and how I could improve:

  1. I should have dropped the bottle on the right side of the line as I was entering. This way when I returned, I could immediately mount it on the left. I wouldn’t have to cross the line with it.
  2. When I reached the bottle, I should have picked it up and swam down the line a body length or so. This is for two reasons: A. so I wouldn’t be over the tie off and interfere with it or risk getting entangled in it like I did. B. By hovering over the tie off, I was preventing my dive buddy behind me from referencing it while I mounted the stage bottle.
  3. I need to stop breathing the stage as soon as I decided it is time to drop it or the DPV.

The second dive went better. This was my first dive with two stages and the DPV. My job was to scooter the line until I was instructed to stage. At that point I staged the scooter, and the two tanks. The drill went pretty well. We turned the dive and I picked up all my gear with visibility and we surfaced. The debrief wasn’t remarkable.

I was completely exhausted emotionally and intellectually by this time. However, I decided to go on and didn’t say anything to Steve. We ate some lunch and returned to the water. I started to put on all my tanks and I was really struggling with them. Steve could see I was stressed. I went though my pre-dive check and only gave Steve my stage turn pressures. Actually, I gave Steve the amount of gas I could use out of each stage. When I told him I was done, he asked me what my turn pressures were for my sidemount tanks. I looked the gauges and rattled off 700psi each. And this is where things really went down hill. I was over tired and worn out. I had 4 tanks with 4 different starting pressures. And I was using 2 different amounts out of each set of tanks. I only said and processed how much I could use out of each tank. I decided I could remember the starting pressures. I never processed the turn pressure. I didn’t write anything down and Steve allowed me to start the dive. I was already a train wreck. Some lessons are best taught by a big blunder.

We started to scooter up stream. I was only supposed to breathe 1/6 from of my stages and burn the scooter for 20 minutes. Within 15 minutes I had already over breathed my first stage by a couple of hundred PSI, to be honest I am not sure how much I over breathed it. Steve knew there was a problem, he knows my SAC rate and he knew how much gas I had. He let me continue the dive. When I realized I had overshot the mark, I switched to my second stage. I figured I could recover by breathing the second stage short. However, I wasn’t sure how much I should short it and a seed of uncertainty and doubt started to creep in. I wasn’t sure of my gas situation. I knew I had plenty of gas with nearly full sidemount tanks. But I wasn’t rock solid sure. I staged my tank and continued scootering.

Within 5-6 minutes, I hit 20 minutes on the scooter. It was time to stage the scooter and then the second stage tank. I dropped both and placed a cookie on the line at an arrow pointing into the cave confirming my exit. We started to swim up stream on the sidemount tanks. Like a complete moron, I didn’t check my starting pressures for the sidemount tanks and so I had no idea when to turn! The further I swam, the more intense the sense of impending doom grew! Finally, after 20 minutes I had had enough and I called the dive. I was sufficiently freaked out about my uncertainty around my gas volumes. I was in 50ft of water and 2800ft from the entrance. We swam for 5 minutes or less and Steve called lights out. I got on the line and extinguished my light.

At this point the anxiety grew big ugly horns and was breathing fire! I felt doomed. I know the reality is that I had enough gas in my cylinders to get back, however we had departed from reality and had entered the realm of guessing and uncertainty. The longer we swam in the dark the worse the feeling got. I started to slowly unwind in the dark, but I still made good progress.

When I finally reached my stage bottle an overwhelming sense of relief flooded me. It is like popping out of a nasty silty restriction back into clear water, I felt like I could make it home. I struggled to clip the stage on in the dark on the line. I had chosen a really ugly spot to drop the bottle. I finally got it on and we proceed. I decided to breathe from the stage. I reckoned that I could breathe the tank dry and ditch it if I needed. That would provide some reference as to how far I had traveled and give me some definitely information about my gas volumes.

Five minutes later, I think, we came to the scooter, mind you this is all in the dark, and I clipped the scooter to my crotch D-ring and started to make headway. I held the scooter out in front of me and dropped in to a nice steady pace. I came upon my cookie and started to remove it from the line. Half way through the process, I decided to leave it. I thought, if I get turned around in the dark, this cookie will point me to the right way out.

After what seemed like an interminably long time, we reached my first dropped stage. I really struggled putting it back on. Two stages and a scooter in the dark on the line were tremendously difficult for me. I am not sure if it was the rigging or all the gear. I nearly lost the line a couple of times and I definitely stressed the line. Finally, I got sorted and started swimming.

I think this a good time to talk about the dark, real dark. The kind you find 2000 feet back in a cave. It is the loneliest and most baffling experience I have ever been through. In the dark time seems to follow a completely different pace. If you eyes are open your brain starts filling in the gaps to try and stay sane. It is hard to keep it focused, there is no reference. To be honest, I have no idea how long any of the stuff I am describing took. All I knew was that I had to keep hacking at it and make progress. This dive was the longest I had been in the dark to date and it seemed like a long time.

Imagine me lumbering down the line with all this gear. I didn’t know the cave very well and I had no idea where I was or how far I had traveled. After some time, my scooter got stuck in the wall. I thought it was strange. I could feel the wall on my right shoulder. I was holding the line with my left hand. I pulled the scooter back towards me and away from the way. It was pretty stuck. The line was in my palm with no real pressure. I started to struggle with the scooter. I finally yanked on it and it came free. I decided to change the line from left to right hand and swap the scooter. I put my right hand under my left and I cupped the line. The scooter was floating free. I left go of the line with my left and the line pulled through my right hand and disappeared. I gasp deeply. Fuck! I am off the line, in the dark, with 2 stages and a scooter in a cave I don’t really know. This is really bad!

Steve had felt the line being pulled up behind him and turned around. He saw my gauges on the ceiling of the cave. He told me he knew something bad was about to happen. He heard my gasp and then the line went slack in his hand returning to its normal position. He saw I was off the line and could hear my breathing had quickened. He thought about the fact that I was in a large bore cave with a DPV, lots of gear, 2000ft from the entrance, in 50ft of water and lost off the line. He feared I might trigger the scooter in my struggle and really make things worse. This had the makings of a bad situation. He expected me to turn on my lights and call the drill.

I quickly thought about the situation and blindly swept my arms below me looking for the line. I didn’t find it. I considered turning on my lights and then decided that in real life I wouldn’t have that option. I had to stay with it. I was momentarily overcome with fear.

I regained a little composure, thought again and decided the line had to be below me. I hadn’t felt any tension before it snapped free. I put my right hand on the wall, stretched my arms out and descended. I figured I would land on the line. A few moments later, I found the line. I hovered motionless with it in my hand feeling relieved. I spent some time breathing. I needed to get that under control. I regained composure and I was relieved I had found the line. The thought of a lost line search with a DPV was no fun.

I swam up the line and met Steve. We continued in the dark for a short time and then turned the lighting on. He signaled his DPV was broken and I towed him to the entrance.

On the surface we debriefed the dive. It was an intense experience. I had hit the wall in so many ways. I discovered that I can’t track 4 different tank volumes and turn pressures in my head. I also learned that I need to call dives earlier, especially on the surface if I am in over my head, which I was. In the end, I didn’t pass the course. I was sent away with instructions to practice with one stage and a scooter or two stages and no scooter. I was unable to safely conduct a multi-stage DPV cave dive. Whether it was because I was over tired or too task loaded, I made some bad decisions on the surface and really suffered during the dive.

I don’t believe I was ever in mortal danger on the dive. I do believe that I learned a huge amount about myself and my capabilities. Since the DPV course I have gotten an N-19. I have been hesitating to use it. The multi-stage portion of the course really made me trigger shy. I had sunk into some sort of compliancy around gas management and the course really rattled me. I have been much more diligent with my gas management, including writing down my turn pressures. Lately, I have been using a single stage regularly and I find it useful to process the turn pressures by writing them down and saying them. I have also incorporated a 5 minute meditation on the surface before starting the dive. I completely kit up including pre-dive check. Then I float on the surface for 5 minutes taking deep breathes. The idea is to center myself and visualize the dive. I want to lower my heart rate and dissipate the anxiety that is built up as I struggle to kit up.

I think I am going to schedule another day with Steve in January or February 2009 to finish the course. Hopefully, by then I will have a handful of single stage DPV cave dives under my belt. I already have a handful of single stage cave dives and they are becoming easier to execute.

December 23, 2008   6 Comments

Cave DPV with Steve Bogaerts

Editor’s Note: I want to apologize to my readers.  I posted this story in the middle of the night with some errors.  Particularly, I got my sac rate calculations wrong.  I checked my notes today and discovered I used more gas then I first thought and I checked my X1 average depth and realized I was using a deeper depth then it recorded.  — Hans

When I arrived in Mexico last winter, Steve Bogaerts and I developed a rough plan for my training. The training would include: Basic Sidemount, Advanced Sidemount, Cave Survey, Cave DPV, Stage/Multi-stage and CCR Hypoxic Trimix.  As of today, the only class I have left is stage/multi-stage.

We planned to spread the training over the course of a year and to pace it based on my progress.  My progress would be reflective of the number of dives I complete and the focus I put on practicing.  I am glad that I am a little ahead of schedule.  Today, I finished my 12th training day with Steve and we completed Cave DPV.

The Cave DPV course was a lot of fun.  I wasn’t as difficult or as stressful as some of the other courses, such as Advanced Sidemount.  Riding a scooter is like flying.  It is super cool to zip through the cave.

The DPV course took three days. The first day started with three hours of lecture.  We discussed:

  • Why to use a scooter
  • Safety issues
  • Gas planning
  • Emergency procedures
  • Team dive execution
  • Staging the scooter
  • Choosing a scooter
  • Batteries
  • Charging
  • Conservation
  • And a host of other topics.

After the lecture, we broken down Steve’s Silent Submersion UV-18 DPV and prepped it for diving.  The prep went something like this:

  1. Check the voltage of each battery. (13+ volts)
  2. Check the voltage of the combined batteries. (26 volts)
  3. Inspect and clean the o-ring and sealing surfaces on the motor end of the scooter.
  4. Inspect the motor compartment through the window.
  5. Ensure the cap is secure on the motor compartment.
  6. Attach the battery.
  7. Check to make sure the propeller is clear and the trigger is locked.
  8. Plug in the main connection.
  9. Plug in the secondary connection.
  10. Test the motor for less then three seconds.
  11. Attach the body of the scooter.
  12. Remove the nose cone, inspect and clean the o-ring and sealing surfaces.
  13. Disconnect the secondary plug for transport.
  14. Install the nose cone.

After a couple attempts, this ritual it becomes second nature.  I found it was best to work from the bottom of the scooter up.  If the scooter isn’t on a flat surface, like in the jungle, make sure to flip it over on the nose cone before testing the motor.

We also discussed predive check and break down of the scooters.  I am not going to give you all the procedures, because you will learn them when you take the course with Steve.  About noon, we got the gear loaded in his truck and we headed towards Tulum.  In Tulum, we stopped at Xibalba Dive Shop and picked up another UV-18.  I repeated the prep procedure and loaded the DPV in the truck.

Our first dive was at Cenote Car Wash.  When we arrived the water was tea colored.  I guess with all the rain we have been having, the swamps are unloading tanic water into the Cenote.   The first thing I needed to do was to get my scooter trimmed and weighted properly.  Steve walked me through the process and provided some helpful tips.  He recommended that DPV should be slightly positive with the nose slightly up.  If I was going to spend a lot time below the halocline then I should set it up a little negative at the surface with the same trim.

I was doubtful due to the limited visibility; however as soon as we descended we broke into clear water.  It was like coming out of the clouds.  The tannic ceiling provided a virtual roof and looked exceptionally cool.

We started off by doing figure eights and driving around.  Immediately I noticed how easy it was to manage this scooter.  I had driven a bunch of scooters including UV-18s and always felt awkward and hated it.  I felt like I was fighting the DPVs and I would be exhausted before we finished the dive.  This DPV was different.  It was balanced and I didn’t really have to hold the handle.  I could set the trigger lock and finger it.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had arrived.  It made scootering so much easier.  I just didn’t know it should feel this way, I figured you always had to fight them.

After I got over my euphoria, we moved onto staging drills, lights out touch contact and team communication.  After a couple of hours in the water we headed back to Steve’s place to break down the DPVs and charge them.

The second day we went to Ponderosa.  We made two cave dives.  We practiced installing/removing the primary reel, staging the scooters, team communication, low on air (tank swaps), exit on secondary light, zero visibility touch contact and other skills.  The first dive I wasn’t all that confident and kept stopping to wait for Steve to catch up.  This repeatedly broke rhythm and I blundered the scooter stage procedure.  I had forgotten the hand signals and couldn’t figure out what he was asking me to do.  After a minute or two of watching him do them louder, it came to me and we carried on.  The debriefing was insightful and to the point.  After diving we went back to Steve’s place, broke down the scooters and burn tested mine.  I had 7 minutes of burn time left.

Today, we went to Chac Mool.  Chac Mool is a big power cave with the largest known underwater stalactite.  It is about 90ft tall.  It is a 30 minute (1500ft) swim from the entrance.  I normally use about 42cuft of gas to reach it.  It is about the perfect scooter training dive because it provides an excellent benchmark to test again.  On the scooters pitched at 5 we reached the Monster in 14 minutes.  This included me bumbling with the reel and getting the tow strap entangled around my sidemount tank.

My swimming sac rate, in sidemount gear, is a .7 cuft/min.  I ran some calculations for my swimming dives to the monster and came up with .66.  Tonight, I calculated my sac on the scooter and was surprised to learn that my first dive was a 1.5 and my second was a .97.    Both of those are pretty hideous and leave huge room for improvement.  I think the task loading with the scooter during the installation of the primary reel really afected my sac rate.   I am definitely going to go and make some practice runs with the scooter to try and improve those figures.

A great example of the differences in our sac rates was our gas consumption at Ponderosa.  We scootered the River Run to the change in direction in the line arrows.  It took us just shy of 20 minutes.  In that time I used 450psi out of each tank and Steve used less then 200psi out of each tank.  I was shocked when he handed me his tank and he had used 200psi, I couldn’t believe it.

Besides keeping close track of our trigger time and gas consumption, we towed and towed some more.  Which is good because towing efficiently is harder then it looks.  Being towed is challenging because you have to stay out of the wake, control the scooter between your legs, maintain orientation to the guideline and not annoy your buddy.  Towing is challenging because you are like a semi truck moving through the cave. A semi truck with a failing tail that is apt to hit things if you are not careful.   It is like dragging a plow though the water. This is another skill that could use practice.

At the end of the day we headed back to Steve’s house to break down the scooters and burn test mine.  The burn test went 17 minutes and the Watts Up Meter showed we had 4ah remaining.  This correlated nicely, because the UV-18 has 16ah batteries and I had recorded about 60 minutes of trigger time.  That means we had about ¼ of the battery remaining and the total burn time would have been 77 minutes, which is in the middle of the 45-90 minute range.

Overall the course was a blast.  I really enjoy working with Steve.  He does a lot of this diving and spends a lot time thinking about the procedures.  Luckily, they are born of direct experience and you can feel that as you put them to use.  They just work.

I am glad to be qualified to use scooters now.  They will be an invaluable tool at The Pit.  I already have some other dives in mind.

Tomorrow, I start the stage/multi-stage course.  Since I dive in sidemount, we will do it in sidemount.  Hopefully, on Friday I will have something entertaining to report [Read more →]

October 8, 2008   7 Comments

Photos from Chac Mool Cavern and Casa Cenote…

Chac Mool Cenote

Allie and I went for a tune up dive at Chac Mool on the Megalodon and she decided to bring the camera.   Which was sorely needed, becuase a cave diving blog with few photos of actual diving is pretty sad.  Now I have a bunch of new header images for you to enjoy!

Patrick, Katie, & Allie at Casa Cenote
Casa Cenote
Hans & Allie at Chac Mool on the surface
Hans & Allie at Chac Mool below the surface
Silhoutte of Hans in his Megat Chac Mool 1
Silhoutte of Hans in his Meg at Chac Mool 2
Silhoette of Allie at Chac Mool

Hopefully, next week I will be able to publish some photos of Whale Sharks.  We are heading to Holbox for some snorkeling this week!

Little Brother Cenote at Chac Mool.

July 1, 2008   Comments Off on Photos from Chac Mool Cavern and Casa Cenote…

The Monster, Cuzan Ha, The Halocline Room and more: Dives 386 – 394

On Friday morning our friend Paul flew into town to do some cave diving! It was his first trip after finishing full cave with Protech in November. We planned to do 2 dives a day Friday through Monday. However, the airlines had other plans and his flight was late on Friday, so we were limited to a warm up dive on Friday. First thing we did was to go over to Chac Mool and do a quick gear review. Paul had just gotten a beautiful new Halcyon harness and donut wing. We revised his hose routing a little and tweaked some other minor things. Those minor improvements really made a difference.

The crew was Allie, Paul and myself. Paul and Allie were in backmount and I was in side mount. We got in the water, did our S drill and dropped down. The dive was called immediately on account of Allie not being able to equalize. Unfortunately, she had been suffering a minor cold. There were tears all around and then Paul and I elected to continue the dive. We did a quick S drill and started the dive. Paul did a nice job of running the reel. We made the 30 minute swim down to The Monster. The Monster is the world’s largest underwater stalagetite. It measures 45feet tall and it hangs into a pit that is 90feet deep. It is really stunning the first time you see it. I always want to swim over to it and put my arms around it. We chose to dive Chac Mool becuase it is a realatively easy dive and there is only one T to contend with and that leads to a air doom that is breathable. Most of this dive is pretty ho hum, as you get to The Monster the rooms become more decorated and enjoyable. The return trip was uneventful. When we got back to Playa we decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants, La Cueva Del Chango.

Saturday brought fabulous weather and we headed down to Tulum for some diving. Allie wanted to give her head another day to clear, so Paul and I were on our own. We decided to go to Grand Cenote and do two dives. The first dive was down to the Cuzan Ha Loop. We elected to make this dive a little more complex, so we took the short cut jumping to the left on the first arrow. At the end of the line we jumped back onto the main line and turned left. We gapped at Cenote Ho Tul. The dive was going fantastic. We were making good time and I could tell Paul was in complete sensory overload. When we got to to the jump for the circuit a little miscommunication/confusion occurred. I went to set the spool to close the loop and Paul followed me. When I realized he was behind me, I sent him back and then finished up. We I returned to the main line, we continued the dive. We made it about 3/4 of the way around the circuit and had to turn on thirds. As we exited we cleaned up our gear and took our time. This is a beautiful dive and it is fun. The restriction after Cenote Ho Tul is good fun and I particularly enjoy it.

The second dive was towards Lithium Sunset. Last time I tried to find the jump off the mainline, I just couldn’t figure out where it was. I guess I wasn’t persistent enough. The picture I had in my mind’s eye was short jump, the reality was it is about 50 feet or so. Maybe less if you make it a straight shot. So we made the jump, went to the second arrow and made the short jump to the left. This is another beautiful dive although it is a little less challenging. If there is a no brainer, this is one of them. Just set the cruise control and enjoy the scenery. Some dives are just easier/less engaging then others. Paul was over joyed at the end of the dive. I was super relaxed and really enjoyed the dive. Grand Cenote is really a wonderful place to dive. The cave is bright white almost blue-ish and is highly decorated.

Sunday Allie decided to join us. We planned to go down past Tulum to Cenote Cristal aka Naharon. I wanted to give Paul the experience of the caves north of Tulum, in Tulum and south of Tulum. My experience is that they offer very distinct dives. And let me tell you, Naharon is no slouch! Naharon is feed by swampy lands to the north and west. Therefore the water in the system is tanic and stains everything. Naharon is about the darkest place I have ever dived and Allie and I find it to be a very psychologically challenging. It literally eats HID light. The darkness makes it very tight and unforgiving. This challenge makes the dive some much more rewarding! Once your field of view starts to open up, you discover the the black silk floors and the black stained formations are amazing. It is really like diving into the belly of a beast. On the main line there is a portal in the rock that looks like the jaws of a shark. As I pass through the formation, I imagine being swallowed by the beast. I guess the Halocline room is the belly.

Naharon is a little deeper then most of the other caves we dive. We plan for a depth of about 70feet and to stay out of deco we use 32% EAN. The plan was to head up to the Halocline Room; which is about a 25 minute swim up the main line. The most striking feature of the Halocline Room is the demarcation on the walls between the fresh water and salter water. The wall below the saltwater is perfectly white. The wall above is tanic stained black. My understanding is that the saltwater eats the black stain. It is really stunning and a worthwhile dive. I really want to get down to Naharon with my CCR or a couple of stages. I can only imagine what treasures hide in the inky blackness.

Dive over, it was time for food! We headed into Tulum for some Chicken! I love the chicken in Tulum. Our favorite place to eat is Pollo Bronco. It is an orange building on a corner on the north bound side of the road. Chicken can be had in the following sizes: quarter, half and whole. There are not really any other options. I think you can get pasta instead of rice. But, I never do.

Lunch over, it was time for diving. We drove over to Car Wash for a little dive. Car Wash is a cenote where the taxi drivers used to wash their cars. The land owner has really made some improvements to this site since that time. There are rest rooms, changing rooms and tables to setup on. They have built a reception area at the Luke’s Hope cenote. It is really nice.

This time of year there is a cloudy layer for the first 10 feet in the cenote then visibility opens up. It is really awesome to drop down through the cloud into clear water and to watch a friend do the same. The visibility reminds me of wreck diving in NJ.

This time it was Paul’s job to run the primary. We setup our primary tie in on a tree a couple of feet from another team’s, then we proceeded in. What we found was an unbelievable spider web of line. The team ahead of us had literally criss crossed the cave at different depths at least three times. Paul was confused and I was livid! Message to all you Muppets out there, “CAVE DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU!” There are other teams in the world, have some common decency. We spent an unreasonable amount of time negotiating the other team’s line. In the end we had two choices: call the dive or install our gear woven through theirs. We choose to install our gear. I helped Paul to take the most respectful path possible. Then we hit another snag, Paul’s primary reel was too short. I loaned him a spare Spool and we gapped to the main line. The lesson here is; confirm how much line you have on your primary reel. Don’t take the manufactures word for it. Unfortunately, the cavern debacle cut our penetration short. I think we made it 15 minutes past Luke’s Hope and Paul turned us on thirds.

When we got back to open water, we recalculated thirds and went for a little exploratory dive down stream. Again we ran into the other team. Again they had taken the entire cave to themselves with their handy reel work. What a headache. Please learn to use your reel!

Monday was going to be a short day for Paul and I. Since he hadn’t been to Minotauro, we went over and did the circuit in two dives. I blundered in my briefing, but nothing severe enough to call the dive. I actually realized it as soon as we submerged on the first dive. We setup the circiut and returned. The second dive we completed the circuit. The only thing notable was that I did the in about 1000PSI. I guess all this working out and concentrating on finning technique is paying off.

Paul’s trip was fantastic and we had a great time. Hopefully he will come back soon and we can do some more diving. There are just too many beautiful places to see!

April 17, 2008   4 Comments