March 21

Are you supposed to put that stuff in your mask?

Renee and Senora Camilo.

Not recommended for a boat dive trip…

Andy & Nan visit Aktun Chen

George in his DiveRite sidemount rig.

Diving Continues…

Friday, 21 March 2003
Nat prepared a delicious breakfast of high speed French toast to start the day out right. The troops mustered down at the truck around 7:45 am for a gear checklist and departed early at 7:50 am. As the team left for today’s dives, Mike decided to take the day off to recover from a nagging ear infection.

Team 1, Nat and George, did an easy dive today carrying only two AL80 tanks. Their mission was to obtain the tie in data for the Soda Shop Line, located on the west side of the Black Forest Line. This is about 2,200 feet into the system from Cenote Mud. A secondary mission was to validate some tie in data for a parallel passage on the north side of Cindy’s Line. After a quick swim in and a bit of surveying, the remainder of the dive time was spent exploring the Death Star Room for passage going south. Several possible leads were marked for exploration on future dives. On the way out, the current meter was retrieved from its first over night recording of flow data and hauled to the exit. During the exit, team one actually met team 2 on their way out, quite an odd thing in this system to see other divers.

Team 2, Renee and Andy, made a short dive with only two tanks. This made the journey through the “hole of muck” much easier. Our protocol is to clip the line just inside the cavern on a set of about 6 line arrows placed by the 2000 team. This way we can see who has exited the cave. Our mission de jour was to survey a line off of Cindy’s Line. It is just past the Black Forrest Line and prior to the Low Silt Line jump. The line dips down into a much narrower passage that is highly decorated in places. The formations are dark much like those on the Black Forrest Line. This line curves around to the left and joins to the Low Silt Line further north. We surveyed the passage and collected usable data for the map. Once completed and back on the main line, we proceeded out since we both had hit thirds on gas. However, another part of our mission was to check out a lead that Mike and Renee had found the day before. Packed reels were prepared to spin, but after about 200 feet, the passage looped back to the Flack Forrest Line. (As they were making their final approach to the Cenote, team 1 jumped out of the darkness to try and scare Renee. It was no use…she was in her “zen” mode and gas consumption was good. Sorry guys…maybe next time!) Upon reaching the oxygen tanks, we had a decompression obligation of a mere 8 minutes. After switching to oxygen it was reduced to 3. It is protocol to pad the decompression stop with 5 minutes to increase safety. The trip up to the cenote is interesting. We have found it’s best to keep looking up at the orange/red glow, which is the color of the cenote from below due to the debris. The rocks and things are silhouetted and easy to see. However, if you’re the last one out it’s pretty much by feel! After a dive to 69 feet for 90 minutes total time we began our surface decompression time in the cenote comparing computer data. Mission accomplished!!!

On the way back to Villas De Rosa’s we had a surface mission to find the wife of the late Don Camilo who owned the property where Cenote Camilo is located. We needed to get permission from her to dive on their property again. Nat and Renee, escorted by muchachos Willie and Ernesto, found Senora Camilo quickly. She had a lovely little home (la casa) in Tulum where she allowed us to take her photo. We promised her a picture of her late husband (see 2001 update) that will be delivered to her tomorrow. It was a pleasure meeting Senora Camilo. Leaving Tulum we saw some children having a kite flying competition. We stopped for a few photos and then proceeded to Villas De Rosa.

Because Nan is flying home late Saturday, Therese and Nan did one last reef dive this morning. On the way back in from the reef, we had an unexpected chance to free dive—our boat capsized. All nine people aboard were picked up by fishing boats, but several of the divers lost equipment. We were pleased just to be safe with no one seriously injured. Several team members spent the afternoon at Aktun Chen, a nearby nature park which features tropical jungle and exotic wildlife. In the Aktun Chen caves (in Mayan, “the cave with cenote inside”) we saw glorious formations very similar to what the dive team encounters, except we stayed dry. The Mayans believed that there were three worlds. The underground, caves, was where many of the ceremonies were performed to the god of the underworld (death) and the god of water. They often brought food and other items to the gods in the caves to keep them pleased. The Mayans believed that the column formations in the caves were holding up the second level of their world, the ground. The trees were considered sacred since they traversed all three worlds; the underground, the ground and the air. We also had fun playing with a baby spider monkey—very, very cute.

Again, Thecia spent her day watching for pirates. She thought she had some spotted approaching the shore, but it was only a boat full of unsuspecting scuba divers…

A big thank you to DiveRite, one of our 2003 Akumal project sponsors. DiveRite donated green oxygen sleeves, line arrows, executive slates and line to assist us with the project. We all are very pleased with our gear from Dive Rite as well as the excellent customer service. THANKS!!

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

Send questions or comments to the Trilobite.

Questions and Comments To the Trilobite

I just wanted to let you guys know that I am following the progress with interest. Let Mike know I’ll have a cold beer waiting when he gets back.
Bob Bolton

Thanks for keeping an eye on our progress…I look forward to the rendezvous when I return. I’m fighting an ear problem right now but should be back in the water tomorrow or Sunday. Take care and I’ll see ya soon!

Hey guys!
Why don’t Mike and Renee shave their heads? You know, why don’t they join the team and come in for the big win? There is no “I” in “team”. Come on! Just think how much more streamlined you would become! The trip is looking great. Can’t wait to see the cave photos (hint hint). Be safe and have a great time!
Patrick Studer

Hi Patrick! My mother made me promise not to shave my head. Maybe there will be a surprise later in the expedition!

Patrick, I think Renee would look great on NatGeo Today with a shaved head:):)

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