Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Cains Australia

Minotauro: The other upstream. And video of the Nomad and Razor Sidemount Harnesses

Thursday brought the return to more normal diving for me.  I met up with Alain, a swiss tech instructor, helped him through some issues with his Nomad Sidemount rig and drove down to Minotauro for a leisurely cave dive.  Minotauro is nestled in the jungle near the Zero Gravity Dive shop.  The landowners are super nice people and there is always a laugh when we meet with them.

Alain getting ready for sidemount cave dive at minotauro

Which brings me to another related topic.  There is a rumored connection between Minotauro and Taj Ma Hal.  I haven’t found it if there is.  Maybe it is like the swimming pool at my grammar school.  You know, the one in the basement.   Every once in a while we get the feeling like we should go looking for it.  The entrance to Taj Ma Hal and Minotauro are less then 2000 apart.  I need to make a general survey of each system and see if they trend toward each other and how far apart they might be.  Could be an interesting project if I were bored.  If you have any information on this rumor, let me know?  Might save me some heartache.

Back to the dive!  Alain and I suited up in our side mount rigs and got in the water.  Alian asked me to look at his rig and check it out.  It looked pretty good, there are some danglely issues like his pressure gauge, his crotch ring and his regulator.

If you are wondering what sidemounting looks like, here is a little video.  The first part of the video is Alian in his Nomad Side Mount rig.  The second part of the video is me in my Steve Bogaerts’ Razor Sidemount Harness.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

The primary complaint with the Nomad is that it is a recreational side mount harness.  It is very general purpose.  It takes a lot of work to get the configuration correct and in the end you may not ever get it.   This complaint is handled completely with the Razor.  The Razor harness is a custom side mount/no mount harness worn under an open water bcd.  I was fitted for my harness when I took my basic side mount class with Steve Bogearts.

Taking the class and getting a custom harness provides two huge benefits.  First, the harness and the bcd fit me perfectly and put me in very good trim and my gear in the right places.   I made two adjustments after I left class.  The first was to add more give in the bcd for more lift.  The second was to add more weight when I got a 9MM suite.

Second, Steve very closely analyzed my configuration and diving for a couple of days providing constant feed back including video.  This feedback accelerated my adjustment to sidemount by 10-15x.  In 5 dives, I was more comfortable then many people I know with 50-100 sidemount dives.  Side mounting just takes a lot of tweaking, and people would rather dive then spend time in open water analyzing and tweaking.  Taking the class enforces a little discipline and starts you off on the right vector.

Ok, back to the dive now.   The entrance to the ‘other upstream’ is at the back of the cenote under a duck under.  I have dove about 60% of this section in backmount, however, it is tight and hard to not have some impact in that configuration. In sidemount it is much more enjoyable.  This dive includes a very cool carousel formation.  The line passes around the carousel and up into a highly decorated air dome.  After the carousel, it is easy diving until you pass the second T.  The two T’s are actually of two circuits of the main line, sort of.  If you go left at each T and then swim to the end of the line, you end up a the second T.  Just prior to getting back to the main line there is a jump to the left.  That is the end of the line from the first T.  it all sounds very confusing and the first time I was up there it was a little confusing.  But now I have a pretty good mental picture of the area.

I should warn you that after the second T it becomes sidemount sized passage and the chance for zero or no visibility, if you are careless, is pretty high.  Please tread lightly and stop when you hit your limit.

I do have one question, there is a mystery arrow at the back of the loop of the main line.  Alian and I searched for the jump for a couple of minutes and couldn’t find it.  If you know where to look, email me at:

When we reached the cenote again, we had plenty of gas remaining.  This dive has a max depth of 20feet (6 meters).  So, we decided to recalculate and extend the dive again.  Near the duck under there is a line arrow, the jump is 50-60feet and hidden.  That line leads to a very silty side mount section.  This isn’t the down stream section.   The line and its branches are pretty short but a lot of fun.  When we arrived the line was in bad shape.  It was loose and the rock it was tied to was broken in lots of places.  Someone trashed the line and left it.  I guess they were a little freaked out.  It goes to zero visibility pretty fast.  In any event, we took some time and restored the line.  It was a good exercise to work on the line in reduced visibility.

The dive was 110 minutes long and we had a great time.  Minotauro is still one of my favorite places to dive!


1 Anna { 08.04.08 at 7:20 pm }

Side mount looks hot. Pleased you talked me into the Razor.

2 Hans { 08.04.08 at 8:27 pm }

Glad you think it is ‘hot’. I think it is a rock solid way to dive. Of course it doesn’t have the corner on the market, just one good approach.

Believe it or not, I when I created the video I was thinking about you and my mom. I figured you would both want to see what the systems look like.

I think your going to be very happy.


3 Anna { 08.06.08 at 7:26 pm }

I figured you might be thinking of me and I was dying to see what the Nomad looked like in comparison to the Razor – I know my limits though – I can only aspire to the helmet:) Seriously your stories make me more determined to take baby steps. I plan to be drill crazy. Excited for September!