Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
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Wreck of the Stolt Dagali

Every once in a while I get nostalgic for wreck diving.  I have been trying to organize a trip to the Puerto Morelos wreck for weeks and no one wants to go with me.

I learned to technical dive by diving the wrecks off of New Jersey.   If you haven’t dove the North East, by which I mean Long Island and New Jersey, you are really missing out.  Let me describe some of the finer facets of wreck diving in the North East:

  • Get up at 3:30AM to drive 1.5-2 hours to the boat followed by a 1.5-2 hour boat ride to the wreck.  50% of the time I find out the trip is called at the dock, 25% of the time divert to tug or the Mohawk in 50ft of water, 25% get to the planned dive site.
  • Heavy seas make me sea sick.  I am chronically sea sick.  I have been since I was a mate on my Dad’s offshore boat.  One summer, I went to Gloucester, Mass to chase giant tuna.  All I was able to chase for a month was my ass to the gunnel.   Now, I take Dramamine and live with medicine head.  I have  a pretty good solution, one the night before and half of one in the morning.  Controls the sickness and the medicine head.
  •  Pull on drysuit with enough under-garments for a two hour dive in 54’F water while sitting in the 90’F summer sun.  Forget to attach the pee valve correctly.  Bath in my own sweat before I get off the boat.
  • Roll off the boat into a heaving sea.  Drag myself down the anchor and only realize I am on the wreck when my hand touches it.  Navigate like a blind guy in the muck for 2 hours looking for 2 lobsters I don’t eat.  Bag em and give em away.
  • On the ride home help Rob Infante shell a couple of dozen scallops.  Sleep for a while.  Start to plan next week’s expition.
  • Upon arrival, drive 2 hours in the hot traffic home.  Rise my Meg in a 33 gallon garbage pail.  Dry the gear on the lawn and in the yard.  Spend the next two days recovering.
  • Calculate the cost for the weekend:  $50 Car Fuel, $125 Boat, $20 Tip, $10Food, Plus Rebreather Costs.
  • Schedule it again for the next weekend.

And just for comparison, typical day of cave diving:

  • Stop working at 2PM and assemble/pack Meglodon or side-mount gear.
  • Dive 25-40 minutes to  dive site.
  • Pay $8.00 USD to land manager.
  • Pull on wet suit and pee in it.
  • Dive for 2-3 hours.
  • Drive to Puerto Aventarous and buy a Magna Classic ice cream bar.  They have the best chocolate shell.
  • Arrive home and dump scrubber, clean loop, and deposit dive gear in the living room to dry.  It all lives in a laundry basket from Walmart.
  • Calculate costs: $10USD Fuel, $8USD Entrance, $1USD Icecream, plus rebreath costs.
  • Schedule it again for the next day.

Even with all the insanity of wreck diving, I still love it.  And if I lived in NJ, I would be going almost every weekend year round!  I am one of those crazy guys who goes out in Decemeber, January and February.

My favorite wreck is the USS San Diego.  I can spend hours inside that wreck.  I think my second favorite is the USS Algol and third might be the Northern Pacific.  Unfortunately, I only got on the Northern once, but it looks like it offers tons of opportunities.  I know this is a cave diving blog, however, I think most of us have a soft spot for some challenging wreck diving.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.  My friend Brandon recently got a new camera and published a very nice dive report of a dive on the Stolt Dagali.   A very cool wreck that is just a couple of miles from the USS Algol.  His photos really fired my nostalgia.   And from my recount, I am sure you can see why I misss it!

Your turn:

  • Do you wreck dive?
  • What is it like for you?
  • What is your favorite wreck?
  • What boat do you dive from?
  • Know any wrecks here in the Yucatan I can go dive?  Must be something out there!

7 comments

1 John K { 07.12.08 at 6:35 am }

Hans

Your killing me. It so much easier diving there then the 3 1/2 drive to NJ from PA. I do also like the NJ wrecks but have been spreading my wings lately.

I had a fantastic dive on the Doc Demilie a wreck in 160ft off the coast of Key Largo, FL. Does not get visited much because its much further boat trip the the normal wrecks. We saw more big stuff on that wreck in one dive then most people see in a life time. Goliath Grouper heard, swarming Eagle Rays, Bull Shark, Sailfish.

I also decided to take the Meg up to Canada on one of my visits to family and did a couple of dives in lake Erie. Dove on a wooden ship that sunk in 1891 and now lie at 100 ft fully perserved. Next trip I plan to do some more in Erie and Lake Ontario.

John

2 Hans { 07.13.08 at 8:11 am }

John,

Joysey is definitely closer to the water and the dive sites then PA. I guess life is all about choices and values. 😉 Some people choose and value living a long way away from their passion. Thus is life. (Just pick’n)

Wow, that sounds like some dive in the keys. Did you do the FL dives on the KISS? Are you amped for your Trimix training?

My Trimix class got canceled this week on account of my back blowing out while snorkeling with whale sharks last week. Neither Steve nor I thought it would be a good idea to do mix gas diving with an inflamed lower back. So, now I am in rest and recuperation mode. I saw a physician the other day and tomorrow I will see the acupuncturist and chiro. It is a huge bummer, but I have all the time in the world. Maybe the universe decided it was time for me to slow down a little. Who knows…

Talk to you soon!
Hans

3 Anna { 07.13.08 at 6:08 pm }

Get ready to have a new wreck diving buddy in Mexico:)

4 Hans { 07.13.08 at 6:21 pm }

Anna,

As luck would have it you were the topic of conversation today as we drove back from Sian Ka’an reserve. Allie, Sol, myself and the dogs, Chico and Jake, went looking for some place to swim in fresh water. Unfortunately, when we went looking for the lagoon, we were swarmed with mosquitoes. So we were forced to sit on a deserted beach and swim with the dogs in the ocean. What a difficult life.

In any event, we are looking forward to your arrival. It will be nice to have another dive buddy and someone to pal around with. We are planning our travel back to Joysey around your arrival. And that was why we were talking about you.

See you soon!
Hans

5 MOM { 07.17.08 at 10:21 am }

Does that mean you want to come home for a summer visit???? Love Ya

6 Hans { 07.17.08 at 10:30 am }

We will be home soon enough. Anyway, the late summer/fall is the best time to dive in the North East. There is a little more chance of blowouts, however, the weather cools down a little and the water is still warm. Sort of warm. Warm compared to May in NJ, not really warm compared to Mexico.

Hans

7 rob infante { 07.18.08 at 12:09 pm }

thanks for the shout-out. you can clean my scallops any day!