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

Category — Xunaan Ha

Cenote Chemuyil Sur

I am back in Mexico again!  Allie, Griffin and I came down for a wedding and some much needed relaxation.  Luckily, I have the best wife in the world and I am going to get to do some diving as well!

For the first dive of the trip, Mauro Bordignon and I decided to check out Cenote Chemuyil Sur.  This is a beautiful cenote to the south east of Xunaan Ha.  It is also the cenote that spurred Alessandro Reato and Mauro to join me in surveying the exploring the 5th longest cave system in the world (more on this later).  I was resurveying the downstream section of Xunaan Ha to join up with some dry cave survey Jim Coke was doing.  When I reached the end of my lines, we determined that Chemuyil Sur was only 1000ft away and after discussing it with Alessandro, he decided to start trying to connect the two.  After a couple of months of work, Mauro and Alessandro connected the two systems!  This connection ended up being fairly significant because it is one of the few known connections that traverse the Plasticine Ridge.  Mauro and I wanted to visit the connection.

Mauro and I met at his place, got our kit together and headed to the cenote.  The dive started out uneventful.  The cave is manageable in side-mount.  However, as we progressed I started to get an uneasy feeling.  I was anticipating a restriction that we would soon reach and was feeling fearful.  Well, by the time we reached the restriction I wasn’t feeling super comfortable.  I wiggled into the chimney and determined I could most likely pass it.  However, I just didn’t want to do it today.  I stayed in the restriction for 3-5 minutes just meditating and trying to get to a “mind like water” place.  I was unable to get there, so I backed out.  I let Mauro pass the restriction and then he returned.

Mauro and I used the remaining gas to check a bunch of jumps and just have some fun.  The return trip for this dive was in reduced visibility or no visibility because of percolation and halocline mixing.

I am glad to be back in Mexico doing some cave diving.  A couple of things have changed since I left.

  1. I have decided to add a z-knife on my right shoulder where both hands can reach it.  Previously, I wore one just on my wrist and in my pocket.  I am now carrying three.  This change was the result of watching Patrick and Mauro dive and setup their kit.
  2. My level of confidence is way down from when I left.  And my skills/reflexes are off as well.  I am definitely a tourist again.  I am kind of bummed about this change, but to recognize it and obey it is satisfying.  Mauro, Alessandro and Patrick are all one percent-ers and I am glad they take the time to dive with me.  The work they are doing here is amazing and I am glad to call them my friends.

Beyond that, I am having fun diving again.  When I left Mexico, diving had lost some of the ‘fun’ factor for me.  Diving in NJ was a lot more work and I was overwhelmed by the rest of my life.  Now that Griffin is 6 months old and we seem to have things under control a little, diving has returned to being fun.  I am looking forward to a summer of diving in NJ!

May 3, 2010   4 Comments

Cenote Xunaan Ha (Water Goddess)

Today, Allie and I finally got out cave diving.  It had been 15 days since my last dive and I felt really wonky!  The original plan was for Patrick, Katie, Allie and I to go to the Cenote off the dirt road past Chemuyil.  Unfortunately, Patrick came down with a bacterial infection, so that left just Allie and I, which turned out to be a real blessing.  I love to dive with my wife and it is nice to go some place new with her.

The site is called Cenote Xunaan Ha, which the Cenote keeper translated to Water Goddess.  To find it, take the first right down the dirt road after Chemuyil. You will pass what looks like a nuclear test site housing development gone wrong on the left and a fork in the road.  The turn in will be on your left.  Drive down the nicely maintained road to the parking area.  Don’t worry there are plenty of signs advertising it on the highway and on the road.

The fee for entrance is 40 Pesos per diver.  The walk from the car to the water is about 150feet.  The Cenote is gorgeous.  One side is all rock and the opposite side is a peat swamp.  The water is clear and the people are super nice.

It took us longer then normal to gear up and once I was in the water, I found that my HID didn’t ignite.  I was bummed, but we had additional lights in the car.  I got another light and we finally got the dive going.  The upstream entrance is pretty obvious.  The main cave line is in the day light zone.  At first I looks like it is going to be a challenge to find the line, but after a minute it appears in the open, plain as day.

The striking thing about this dive is the beauty and the number of options.  There were lines and line arrows everywhere.  It is just right to backmount and Allie and I really enjoyed it.  Max depth was 30 feet; average was around 25.  We turned the dive after 900psi and about 40 minutes.  There was definitely some flow exiting the cave which sped things up a little on exit.

The cave is in good shape.  It is sort of like Minotauro upstream.  I am going to make a couple of more trips back.

When we got back to open water Allie exited and I stayed in to take a look at down stream.  Down stream looks like it is going to be a serious challenge.  It starts out as a cave through the peat swamp.  The bottom and right hand wall are lime stone.  The ceiling and left wall are mud/peat.  There are roots everywhere and it is silty! Kind of scary, I kept wondering when it was going to collapse on me.  The cave looked like it terminates, but there is A LOT of water moving through there.  On my second inspection, I saw that it doubles back on itself and then drops down through a very serious restriction.  It is a siphon so all the percolation and my lack of skills blew it out pretty quick.  I stuck my head in the hole a couple of times and it looks like it is going.  I heard that it is a no-mount restriction but do-able.    We will see.  Maybe I will send the super skinny Patrick ahead of me to inspect it.

Overall it is a lovely new site that is cheap and will require a handful of trips.  It offers plenty of side-mount and backmount opportunities.

July 18, 2008   7 Comments