April 26

Allison’s line

We pass through halls of unimaginable beauty

The ceiling seems to be a waterfall frozen in time

Rimstone dams contain hundreds of Cave Pearls

Mike, George, and Terrence

Mark and Andy push more unexplored upstream

The Dive ! ! !

Thursday, April 26, 2001 –
When team 1 (Terrence, George, and Mike) left for their dive this morning, Mike and George had no idea that Terrence had a huge surprise waiting in the wings. The team headed up-stream towards Allison’s room for a video shoot and to look for new passage. Just prior to their arrival in Allison’s room, the team dropped their stage bottles at the “T” intersection located at the back of the room and started their journey into some of the the most spectacular cave in the entire system!

Team 1 spent 20 minutes (time that will forever be etched into the memory of the explorers) to video and enjoy what has to be some of the most beautiful and decorated passage in all of Mexico! The line leading from Allison’s room is of course now named the Allison Line. Terrence commented: “it is as beautiful a section of cave as any I have seen anywhere in the world, and the privilege of being a member of the first team to ever behold it grandeur is beyond my ability to articulate. I took the liberty of reminding my colleagues the significances of the moment. When the dive was turned and we had not yet begun our survey I took both Mike and George by the arm shook their hands and reminded them to remember and hold this moment in their hearts always, for moments like the one we shared may never happen again, but even more important is that nothing can ever take it away. The reason I chose to name the line the Allison Line is because the other times in my life that I am absolutely overwhelmed with the sheer joy of living as I was in this passage today is when I am sharing some other incredible natural wonder like the Grand Canyon with my wife Allison.”

As you enter Allison’s room, the dive team is overwhelmed by so many different and unique formations. The room is a veritable catalog of speleon development; stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, drip stone, flowstone, bacon, draperies, rimstone, dams, calcite rafting, and even a hint of halocline. And if that wasn’t enough, a pair of troglobitic shrimp-like creatures dancing in the beams or our lights!

As you swim through Allison’s room suspended in weightlessness, your heart races with excitement and you notice your breathing rate increasing as you witness the surreal beauty of this alien environment. Team members are precise with their caving techniques to prevent damage to any of this very pristine and fragile environment.

After 20 minutes of filming, the team was lead by Terrence to the NW corner of Allison’s room where they tied off an exploration reel to investigate a previously unknown passage (this was Terrence’s big surprise). Terrence’s instincts proved to be right on target once again, as the team proceeded into the uncharted tunnel they quickly realized that they had entered a very significant conduit with luminescent cobalt blue water. With George and Terrence scouting ahead and Mike running the reel, the team encountered one of the most significant formations yet discovered (a huge column in the middle of a large room that would remind you of a waxen obelisk that over the millennium has had rivulets of molten calcite cascading down it’s entire length!) The team continued to explore and survey ongoing passage until they reached their predetermined turnaround time. The last vision the team had before turning was the beckoning of ongoing passage (over 600′ of new line was laid and surveyed).

Team Two consisting of Mark and Andy also explored upstream. They began on the right side, at the end of the Lemley room. They spotted a promising corridor. Mark scouted the first 140 feet or so. Andy later commented on the dive: “It’s a little eerie, watching your dive partner’s light fade from sight. You hover in mid water, patiently awaiting the welcome sight of a distant glow; he’s coming back. Mark signaled the okay, tied-off a fresh reel of survey line, and off we went into the unknown. The tunnel went steeply up, then back down and we found ourselves in vertical corridor bisected by the thickest halocline we’ve encountered yet. It was like a bowl of mirage soup. We named the passage, “The Mirage Line” after its mesmerizing illusion of being enshrouded inside a mirage. Three hundred feet later, the tunnel began closing down and taking gentle turns to the north east. After 500 feet, the passage closed down even tighter and we were forced to turn due to Speleothems blocking further progress. It was decided at this point to start our survey because the team was close to thirds on breathing gas.” Dives are turned on thirds due to a fundamental safety issue. One third of your gas going in, one third coming out, and one third for emergency reserve. It’s a mathematical tenet of cave diving. If a diver at maximum penetration somehow loses all of his gas, the other other diver has one third for himself, and one third for his partner so they can still make it out. That’s why properly trained cave divers NEVER violate the rule of thirds and use this as an absolute minimum turn around pressure. The Mirage Line had many promising side wall passages that have yet to be explored, so maybe we can link it into Angel’s Halo that would complete a 1500 foot circuit through the nebulous halocline.

As the team takes time during their decompression stop to reflect back on the dive, Mike throws his hands up in the air to
signify a “touchdown”…..nothing more needs to be said!

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

Send questions or comments to the trilobite.

Questions and answers to the Trilobite

We’ve been reading the updates, The Pictures are great, we all wish we were there. Linda wants to carry your Tanks. We”ll keep in touch proud of Ya. Watch out for the local Raccoons (Coati-Mundi’s)…we’re Watching
Emergency Recovery

To ER and OA,
I appreciate the interest and I’m glad to here from ya’ll! The Expedition is Going great and we had our most successful day today (Thursday)….check Out the pictures! See ya next week and say hi to everyone.

Hey Boys and Girls
I’m definitely missing out on a “butt-kickin” expedition. Nicely Done. I really wish I could be there. Take care and dive safe.
Timmer G

We wish you were here with us, but you would probably not enjoy the diving….……NOT! Were having a blast, laying a lots of new line, and enjoying some beautiful passage.
See ya soon!
Mike and the boys

Hello from the Monitor team to the CF Akumal team! While you’re enjoying warm weather and clear water, Jeff, Tane and I are getting ready to board the USS Grapple for more fun at the Monitor. This time we ALL have to sit on the deck while the Navy has all the fun. However, they’ll be fitted with cameras and lights, so it’ll be like having live ROVs! (“Go left. No! Other left.”) Have a great expedition – see you again in July.
John and the Monitor team

Great to hear from you….we apologize for the delayed response, but the email service in the Yucatan is suspect at best. Enjoy the show on the USS Grapple and we wish you tons of success…..we’ll see you and the others this summer for Phase III.
Mike and the CF Dive Team

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