March 20

Team Cue-ball & the water sample.

Mike and Renee in Mud.

Don Rafael house, and our access to the system.

George does some “surface deco” after his dive.

Sartek Light and canister ready for action.

Diving Continues…

Thursday, 20 March 2003
Team 1, entering the Cenote with 5 tanks each, Nat, George and Andy, returned to the northern portion of the cave again today. It was hoped the line laid yesterday had other passages leading from it that would continue to extend the system toward the north. When we arrived at our destination we still had 2 full tanks each so we were excited about the opportunity to map a considerable section of cave. As we tied a reel to the existing line and started off, we were disappointed to find that we were unable to find any significant passage beyond what had been mapped yesterday. In an attempt to salvage the tremendous effort made to get to the far reaches, we took the opportunity to re-survey the previous day’s line to improve accuracy, as we probed every nook and cranny in search of unexplored cave. With our survey data collected and no further passage in the area to explore, we began the long swim back to Cenote Mud, picking up the tanks we had staged along the way. Making one’s way out of Cenote Mud with 5 tanks is like crawling through an opening smaller than a refrigerator door with 5 tanks.

Today team 2, Renee and Mike, headed back to the same area off of the Low Silt Line to finish gathering survey data. Along the way up Cindy’s line, we deployed the current meter. It was placed about 500 feet from Mud Cenote in a fairly level area. The area was nearly free of formations and had a floor mostly of calcite rafting. The current meter will be left for 24 hours to collect additional data. After the deployment, we kept heading towards the area where we had previously laid line and hoped that both lines would be mysteriously not walled off, but of course, that didn’t happen! A second Remipede was spotted in this area. (During lunch team 1 wanted proof by asking if it was spotted in fresh or salt water! What do you think the answer is?????) After surveying the last passage, Renee and I investigated some areas marked for potential going passage from the previous day. One area seemed very promising after an initial peek.

The passage, left off of the surveyed line, dropped slightly and curved around to the left. We left the passage (turned on thirds) in an interesting area. It seemed to develop into a fissure giving options for exploring. Some of the rocks had a green “moss” type covering. Further investigation of this area is in the near future of the team (we left approximately 200 feet of line in this area). Once back on Cindy’s Line, another passage was beckoning but will have to be explored another day. For safety’s sake, we did a decompression stop at both 40 and 30 feet for 2 minutes. Once at 15 feet we had a 91 minute decompression obligation. Thanks to the gas-switchable computer and breathing oxygen the time was reduced to 22 minutes!! Thermal issues are forever present on “deco” so the reduced time was welcomed.

Nan and Therese enjoyed an amazing day in the local cenotes. Nan dove and Therese snorkled, and we both were awed by the beauty of The Taj Mahal and Grande Cenote. The halocline in The Taj Mahal was particularly cool to swim through. The crystal clear water and glorious rock formations are another tribute to why the dive team does what they do! It is mind-boggling to think how many millions of years it has taken to form the stalactites and stalagmites After a beautiful lunch (almost too pretty to eat!), we spent the afternoon on a whirlwind tour of the ruins of Tulum. What a gorgeous place!!

Every day Don Raphael is gracious enough to leave his gate open for us if he has left for work. Today as we were about to lock the gate, his dog “Cujo”, decided to reach out and “touch” Mike’s hand with his teeth prominently displayed! Mike, quick to respond, retracted the fleshly target from harms way. “Cujo” (The rest of the team calls him Benji since he only appears to dislike Mike!) returned to his calm state and we were fortunate to get his photo. Mike, realizing the near fate of his appendage, quickly entered the van and we left the property. Upon reaching Villas De Rosa, both teams enjoyed a fabulous lunch and began preparing for the next day.

Again today, Thecia spent her time on the beach watching for pirates under her paragua (umbrella).

Expedition Team:
Andy Henderson
Nan Henderson
George McCulley
Therese McCulley
Renee Power
Nat Robb
Michael St.Germain
Thecia Taylor

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