April 24

Sidemount cylinders ready for daily exploration

Taking time to cleanup

Spectacular beauty witnessed for the first time!

Speloethems of every kind stand a silent vigil

Spider Monkeys at Cenote Coati-mundi

“Chattering Monkeys”

Connection Day !!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2001 –
Most of dive team members use a technique known as “Sidemount caving” as opposed wearing the traditional back mounted double cylinders. With the sidemount methodology, cylinders are carried individually under the arms and tight against the body to allow for a lower profile and more streamline configuration. Even with two cylinders staged under each arm, expedition members are able to survey through small cave passages without damaging the system.

Dive team members took some today while carrying equipment to and from the Cenote to clean-up some trash that was left by land surveyors (we try very hard to make sure that we take out everything that is carried into the jungle so it remains as it was prior to our arrival). It took two members lowering Terrence by his feet into this 3 foot wide solution tube (a small sinkhole type formation) to reach a dropped bottle 5 feet below. Both Terrence and the bottle were recovered successfully.

Team 1 consisting of Mike, Andy, and Terrence headed downstream to check out a lead off of the “blind fish” cave line. After the team took time to reposition the jump off of the “blind fish” line to a more suitable location and drop their stage bottles, they journeyed out to the end of the line. Andy tied on a fresh reel of survey line and the team was on its way. They followed a trail of breakdown (areas where huge chunks of ceiling have collapsed naturally) up into a room with spectacular decorations. Andy Peterson described the dive: “It was beyond beautiful.” You would have to see it to truly appreciate it. From floor to ceiling, the huge flowstone on the right was tiered into hundreds of tiny steps no taller than a quarter inch in height. Larger rimstone dams, the size of fine china plates ringed the bottom half of the formation. On the left, hundreds, perhaps thousands of tiny stalactites clung to ceiling like tears. It just happened, I thought about my wife and and where I was, 1000 feet back into unexplored cave, and the name, “Carla’s Tears” just came to me. It’s perfect for the mood I experienced swimming through that incredible place. I’ll never forget the awe I felt and may never feel again.

At the crest of “Carla’s Tears”, Terry and Mike pushed through a very tight restriction and tied the line into the previous downstream mainline (more than 350′ of new passage was surveyed during this 95 minute dive)…

George and Mark made up Team 2. Their mission was to connect the downstream tunnel leading to Cenote of the Coati-mundi to a tunnel surveyed earlier this expedition. If our plotting of the survey data was accurate then this connection would be a short cut to Cindy’s Passage and the Death Star thereby saving at least 35 minutes of swimming one way. This opens up a whole area to explore using less resources and less strain on the divers. It turns out the data was accurate and the connection was made. As if this wasn’t a successful dive already, a beautiful room was also explored and found to extend to less than 3 feet from the surface. Another Cenote? Maybe. Stay tuned…

When the team arrived at the Coati-mundi Cenote yesterday they were pleasantly surprised to find themselves followed in the trees by a group of Spider Monkeys. Today we were able to get a picture of the newest “team members”. The name spider monkey is derived from their incredibly long arms, legs, and prehensile tail that they use to propel themselves through the tree canopy at incredible speeds. With the “all arms and legs” appearance they have a spidery look about them.

Caver Divers don’t like to hear the “chattering monkeys”. In cave diving, the phrase “chattering monkeys” is used to describe the little voice (real or perceived) in the back of your mind that says you’re in too deep and it’s time to turn back. The “chattering monkeys” have also been known to comment on leaky o-rings, light failures, silt-outs, multi-direction T’s in the line, decompression liability, and forgetting to call your “significant other” during an expedition!

Dive Team:
George McCulley
Mark Corkery
Andy Peterson
Mike St. Germain
Renee Power
Terrence Tysall

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