Morning came very early for the team weary from travel. Our dive plan changed a little bit as did the teams as part of expedition diving. The first day always brings a bit of slight confusion as people do last minute gathering prior to departure. “Wheels up” was at 9am, a little later than planned. Today the weather was beautifully cloudy at times and breezy which helped a lot during the hike. Thirty two tanks plus gear for 6 divers was humped into the jungle. Thankfully 6 muchachos came to help us with the load. Without our muchachos this expedition would be much more difficult if not impossible. Gracias muchachos!
The drive out to the site was interesting. All along highway 307 there are new hotels, resorts, communication towers and other additions. The Coba road is a third wider which makes finding familiar landmarks slightly more challenging. Once at the site a line was formed and the equipment unloaded. Everybody made 2-3 trips in and out of the jungle in order to collect all of the gear. After 2 hours of hiking and hauling gear we settled in to rig. It took us a few moments of dividing gear and getting things ready, getting regulators on tanks, making sure o-rings were sealed (unfortunately not all of them), stringing rope for hanging gear off the ground to dry later, squeezing into wetsuits – a real challenge after hiking in the Mexican sun. We headed for the water, slipping more easily into our suits and BC’s. We clipped on sidemounts and stages, reviewed our plans and headed into the gorgeous Cenote Camilo. All of the divers are using a sidemount configuration. Instead of wearing the tanks on the back they are worn closely to the sides. Stage tanks are worn in addition to the main 2 tanks in order to provide additional gas supply. Kris was a great help handing us gear and assisting with our repeated requests for assistance. As part of Kris’s educational experience, he is learning to analyze the oxygen percentage for each diver’s cylinders. He records this information on an expedition dive log form as well as time in, time out, psi in, psi out, planned depth, planned time and maximum depth allowable for diving air for example. He also waits on the surface with the muchachos for the divers’ return.
Mike and Sandra headed up the Halocline Room to the Loft, surveying side passages on our return. We began with a passage heading off the main line almost due east and surveyed about 290 feet before turning to head back. During the return trip, we stopped to survey a loop off the Halocline Room. This loop passage creates a noticeable ripple in the halocline, truly lovely against the white of the limestone in the lower half of the passage. We saw a small number, maybe 8, large amphipods throughout the system and one remipede in one of the new surveyed passages. We hope the little basin fish, who rode in on our lights feasting on the little bugs as we passed, didn’t eat everything living in the cave! The dive was comfortable and a great start for the week – reorienting us with the system and reinvigorating to our bodies after hiking gear through the jungle (again, muchas gracias to the muchachos).
Renee and Bob took their sweet time gearing up. Sometimes equipment problems multiply at the most inopportune moments. O rings were bubbling and hoses not snugged so there was a bit of fiddling with those issues before submerging. Kris learned to change an O ring on a tank and how to properly place the first stage back onto the tank. Finally all was set. We headed downstream to re-evaluate the passage to the Time Line. We found a couple of lines in odd places that will need another look on another day. The dive was uneventful and was a good opportunity to swim that section again before working it further.
The plan for Andy and Rhiannon was to go upstream from Camilo to re-survey the cave between Camilo and the exploration area that was started last year. They began their survey at The Falcon’s Nest and re-surveyed the line back out as far as the start of the Halocline Room. They also investigated a potential bypass around the restriction at the end of The Loft and identified some potential leads along those lines.
Once the dives were completed and surface deco obligations were met, lunch was served with cold beverage. The hike out commenced. We noted on the hike in today that a large area has been cleared apparently for construction of a new home. Tulum is expanding and we saw evidence today. Another survey trail in the area has been cleared further. Upon return to Villas DeRosa’s we debriefed and prepared tanks and a dive plan for tomorrow.
Questions and Comments For The Trilobite: