Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Peacock at the Zoo in Syndey

Category — Sac Aktun

Scootering and Side-mounting…..

I came across some videos of Steve scootering and side-mounting while I was working on my daily cyber diving fix.  If you ever wondered why you might want a DPV, watch the first video below.  It is seriously like flying an X-Wing fighter through the Death Star!   The videos including scootering, surveying and side-mounting.

Mom & Dad, if you are reading this or watching these, they will give you a good idea of what is going on underground.

A Day in the Life of a Cave Diver: Part 1

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A Day in the Life of a Cave Diver: Part 2

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A Day in the Life of a Cave Diver: Part 3

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July 10, 2008   Comments Off on Scootering and Side-mounting…..

Cave Diving at the Blue Abyss… The Joy is in the Journey!

Blue Abyss, Sistema Sac Aktun – Nohoch Na Chich Section

The Blue Abyss had become a little bit of an obsession for me.  I know that the joy is in the journey, however when I went by Protech and met Ron and found out he found it on the first try, I started to get a little frustrated.  Why could he find it and not me?  Well, the first reason was he had directions and I didn’t.  The second reason was, I was looking in the wrong part of the system for it.  It ends up that the Nohoch map has NOTHING to do with the way the cave is actually laid out.  Well, maybe “nothing” is a little over the top. The cave does trend in the direction that the map illustrates, however the passages don’t junction like the map illustrates.  I knew this was true, but I couldn’t believe it was as inaccurate as we found it to be.  I shouldn’t be all that surprised.

When I inquired about the map and the survey, the following was explained to me:

  • The survey data of Nohoch was collected by a multitude of teams over a number of expeditions, trips and years.
  • Some of the survey teams were inexperienced and used poor technique.
  • The objectives of some parts of the survey projects were driven more by the profitability of the venture then the accuracy of the venture.

The consequence of these factors is a wildly inaccurate map that adorns the walls of many shops and incorrectly informs the decisions of divers.  Now to be completely clear, none of the information about the actual survey is first hand to me, it is all second hand and I can not vouch for it.  I am just passing on what I heard.

What is first hand to me is the inaccuracy of the map.  The clearest example I can thing of is the fact that the map has the X Line terminating south of the jump to the Blue Abyss.  Which would mean, I should have made a right and headed north to the jump.  My experience is that it terminates to the north of it and you have to Jump onto the Diaz Line and make a left going south.

In any event, I am happy to report that Ross and I found the Blue Abyss with a little direction from Robbie Schmittner from Xibalba Dive Center.  We ran into Robbie on our way out to Pet Cemetery for another attempt.  In trade for a little information about how to find the Blue Abyss, I loaned him a regulator for the day.  I thought it was a worthwhile trade.  Ross and I took the Diaz Line through the King Pong restriction down to Blue Abyss.  It involved a total of three jumps and was a relatively easy dive to execute in side mount.  The passage from the Diaz Line to the Blue Abyss is tight, however it is negotiable in back mount.  When we arrived at Blue Abyss we had plenty of gas, so we took a little swim into the hole.  Let me tell you, “It is BLUE!”  I couldn’t believe it.  The color is breath taking.  Since that trip with Ross, I have been back 2 times.  One more dive with Ross, who has moved to Africa to run a dive resort and one dive there with Patrick and Katie.

In total it took me 4 dives to find Blue Abyss.  The first dive was with Allie and we were just scoping out the lines in and around Pet Cemetery, we traversed to I-Hop.  On the second dive, I was solo and I was less then 10 minutes from it.  I had swum to the end of the X Line and turned my dive believing I was somewhere other then I was.  The third dive was checking out a line off the X Line that went west, where I thought the Blue Abyss might be.  This was the dive that the guide line was cut on.  The fourth dive Ross and I found it based on Robbie’s directions.  The fifth dive, we confirmed the route via the X Line.  The sixth dive, I took Patrick and Katie to the Blue Abyss.

Here are some of my observations about cave diving to the Blue Abyss.

  • The Diaz Line route is easier to negotiate in back mount, the passage is larger, the passage is more beautiful and it takes about 10 minutes longer then the X Line.
  • The X Line route is a challenge to negotiate in back mount if not impossible.  I think this depends on your girth.  If you are a fat bastard, you might want to leave yourself and extra dive to confirm you can pass the restrictions.  There is more then one.  The first one is the gnarliest.  To pass it going in is easier then exiting.  Katie was the diver in back mount and she is really skinny, like 105lbs and 5’3”.  I haven’t tried passing it, however, I am going to drag the Meg out there and try it.  The route is about 10 minutes shorter in side-mount then Diaz Line.  In back mount that saving might be wiped out by a delay at the Tanks on Tanks Off restriction.
  • Pet Cemetery is EXPENSIVE to dive at.  200 Pesos per diver.
  • Pet Cemetary is a 15-20 minute drive into the jungle and Blue Abyss is 40 minutes from the Cenote.  If something goes wrong, you are a long way away from help.
  • You must check-in and pay at Ruben’s dive shop.  It is on the right hand side at the entrance.  They need to know you are out there.

Finding the Blue Abyss in the Nohoch Na Chich section of Sac Aktun has been a lot of fun.  And I am looking forward to exploring the hole a little more.  I wonder where that line arrow jumps to?  In July, I will take my Hypoxic CCR class.  I am looking forward to some Trimix dives out there.  Thanks to all of you for tolerating my obsession and driving out into the jungle with me.

June 29, 2008   2 Comments