Due to the late arrival yesterday the team decided to sleep in and relax a bit prior to jungle departure. Nonetheless, despite sleeping in we were rigged and ready for a 4 bottle warm-up run and hit the road about 11:45 AM. Cordial and warm as always, Don Raphael greeted us enthusiastically when we arrived at his ranch. After spending time saying “hello,” we bumped and lurched our way back to Cenote Muchachos.
Gearing up, we glided into the cave. The first thing we noticed was . . . all our gear worked! This is unprecedented for the first dive of an expedition. Usually we spend 30 minutes or so trouble shooting despite the fact that everything worked before we left the U.S.
Besides being a warm-up dive and an equipment shake down, this dive was Andrew’s first dive in the system, making it an important orientation for him. Along the way, Karl, Renee and Terrence pointed out key jumps like the Black Forrest Line and other side areas worth checking out.
We worked our way along the main line from Muchachos (Cindy’s Passage) to the main north-south line (Low Silt) heading toward the most remote, northern area called Dark Side of Moon. Along the way, Karl impressed everyone with his ability to burn through more air than most people, much as he burns through more calories than most people (he insists that the phenomena are related).
Renee and Karl turned the dive just pass a line called Off Ramp, which Karl and Grant Graves put in on the last dive of the 2004 expedition. Terrence and Andrew went just a bit farther before turning and following close behind. Swimming back at a leisurely pace, the team noted that is time to tidy up a lot of the northern area by turning some of the Ts into jumps, putting in cookies with line names, and taking out all of Grant’s line arrows (just kidding, Grant). Renee and Karl will work on this tomorrow, while Terrence and Andrew poke their heads into some promising areas off the Dark Side of the Moon.
After about 25 minutes hang time, we came up two hours, 12 minutes after descent. Terrence then surprised us by announcing that we had just teamed with him on his 3000th cave dive. That earned him handshakes and high-fives, and we all felt privileged to have shared this landmark dive with him.
The dive team will be participating in the Divers Alert Network’s program Project Dive Exploration. During our expedition dives each team member will be wearing a Sensus Pro data collector. This device is supplied by DAN and will gather dive data during the dives. The data collected is a resource for diving safety research including the study of dive styles, decompression practices, and the effects of individual characteristics. The ultimate goal of the PDE program is to make all of our dives safer, more pleasant, and as efficient as possible. Thank you DAN for allowing us to participate in this worthwhile program.
We headed back to Villa de Rosa’s happy with a successful first dive. Back in the room, however, we found our equipment euphoria dampened by leakage in Andrew’s battery canister, though he easily remedied his problem.
Thecia spent her day reading and watching for pirates.
Tomorrow we plan to depart at our usual time.
- Andrew Pitkin
- Renee Power
- Karl Shreeves
- Thecia Taylor
- Terrence Tysall