April 17

Team planning daily dives

Anna exploring Sistema Camilo on her birthday

First exploration of Cenote Calavera

Andy and George checking out Carri’s Loft.

Project Participants and Sponsors

Aquatech/Villas De Rosa
Sartek Industries
Dive Rite Inc.

“One Team Splits Into Three!”

Wednesday, April 17, 2002 –
Today marked a landmark event in the story of Sistema Camillo exploration. Due to differing data needs we had six different divers in three different teams diving three different sites!

Anna and Cliff made up team 1. They entered Cenote Camillo upstream. Their mission was to familiarize Anna with the cave system. This was particularly important, since this was Anna’s first visit to Akumal. She read about Mexican caves, she saw pictures, yet she was totally awestruck when she saw it with her own eyes. Nothing in the pre-dive activities indicated the kind of treat she was in for. A short van ride, followed by a half-mile trek through the jungle (with all her dive gear on the back) and they arrived at the opening. A machete was used to clear an area for Anna’s tarp (Cliff’s was already in place). Friendly muchachos delivered tanks, which had been filled, analyzed and rigged up for sidemount the night before. Cliff and Anna entered the cave through a small and somewhat silty basin and a spacious cavern. Right from the start, the cave opened up with magnificent formations all around them. Stalactites and stalagmites abound wherever you look. Soda straws extending from the ceiling everywhere. Back in Florida, it’s relatively safe to stay high when you want to be sure not to stir up the silt. Here, you better not, or you may incidentally damage the precious ceiling decorations. You try to kick as little as possible, not to disturb the environment. As they followed a thin exploration line in awe, Cliff was on the lookout for possible side tunnels to be explored later on. For them, this was just a beginning.

Team 2, Terrence, Andy and Renee decided to explore Cenote Calavera. A team of divers had placed some line prior to our visit. Due to the fact that the line was not knotted it is impossible that it could have been surveyed. Therefore the line was removed and replaced with the properly knotted exploratory line necessary for survey. The entrance was very, very low with zero visibility. Once through the fog of white clay the visibility cleared into a large area with some large formations on the ceiling and a silty slope below. After heading down the line they chose a direction on a “T”. What was ahead was completely unexpected. The cave at that point was fabulous. The beautiful, white formations reminded them of ancient Greece. Thus, the team named the passage “The Road to Athens”. The highly decorated passage continued on for about 38 minutes up to the Cenote Muchachos. The team exited there and hiked to Cenote Mud which was explored 2 years prior. Hopefully, Cenote Muchachos and Cenote Mud will connect underwater to expand Sistema Camillo. After re-entering the cenote, the team then headed back to Cenote Calavera surveying the new 1150 feet of line placed that dive.

Team 3 (George and Mike) operated out of Cenote “Carri’s Loft” and headed upstream from the Cenote for the purpose of exploring new passage. With 4 bottles each and exploration reels fitted with knotted line, George and Mike added 600 feet of line to the upstream tunnel and surveyed it back out to the mainline before ending their 177 minute dive. During their hour or so of decompression, George and Mike were able to get a very good look at the cavern area below Carri’s Loft Cenote.

Expedition Team:
Anna Olecka
George McCulley
Terrence Tysall
Mike St. Germain
Andy Henderson
Thecia Taylor
Renee Power
Cliff Sifton

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