March 22

The team says ‘good bye’ to Nan.

Renee in her custom Atlan wetsuit..

George & Renee – today’s dive from Cenote Mud.

Leticha (top), Shirley and Javier.

Mike prepares gear for tomorrows video shoot.

Half way point of this years mission.

Saturday, 22 March 2003
This morning we had a short order kitchen. The variety included fried ham, toast/jelly and french toast. We had to bid a sad farewell to Nan who had to depart this morning. Week two won’t be the same without her smiling face. After driving Nan to the airport, Theresa and Thecia enjoyed their time slowly making their way back to Villas De Rosas. They visited some beaches and jewelry shops…of course! Mike decided to take one more day off from diving to let his ear infection heal. During the course of the day, Mike was able to complete the shot list for tomorrow’s film day, combed the beach for equipment that may have floated ashore from yesterday’s boating accident, and rigged all of the camera equipment and lights.

Team 1, Nat and Andy, headed down Cindy’s line again today and closed the jump to the Low Silt Line. Our mission was three fold. We needed to collect survey data on a line that was laid last year by George, Renee, and Andy. The tunnel is small and in the halocline, the salt water reacts with the limestone and causes it to be soft and “chalky”. As you swim past, the water movement washes the “chalk” into the water making the visibility like looking through a glass of milk, making survey a challenge. We completed that mission and moved on to our next job. Just north of the Grand Canyon area there is a line that is on the map but no notation was made regarding why it does not continue. As we swam to the end of it we found that the tunnel simply loops back into the Grand Canyon room. We can now add a notation to the map data so that no other explorers need to waist precious air trying to “push” the tunnel further. Our final mission was to collect a water sample from the halocline and another from the salt water below the halocline. With our mission list completed we began our 35-minute swim to the cavern at Cenote Mud to began our decompression. Upon exit we collected Cortisol samples for the stress study and packed up for the hike to the truck.

Team 2, George and Renee, ventured into the inky blackness yet again. The first mission was to deploy the current meter about 200 feet down the Black Forest Line to collect more data during the dive’s duration. Their other mission was to go back to a passage that Mike and Renee partially explored yesterday. The passage wound around in the halocline, through a restriction and eventually looped around to a line that “T’s” off of the northern most section of the Low Silt Line. (This line is not yet on the map for viewing). The exit proved to be very challenging. Surveying in halocline through a zero visibility restriction and then picking up a stage bottle was interesting indeed! It sounds a little worse than it was, but it still made for a fun portion of the dive! Once back on the Low Silt Line, Renee and George headed back to the Black Forest Line to retrieve the current meter, loaned to us by Nortek.

During the journey to the outside, George spotted another potential passage. It appeared to keep going, but it was time to exit so it will be explored another day. The team approached the deco tanks, after the 40/30 foot stops, at 20 feet with 70 minutes of air decompression time. Switching to oxygen and using the gas-switchable computers, the time was reduced to 22 minutes plus the 5 minutes of padding on air. Renee (the human ice cube), wearing a suit donated by Atlan (see sponsor page), was most grateful for the shortened time. “I really love this 6.5mm custom one-piece suit by Atlan. The 3mm hooded vest is an added bonus. It’s very unusual for me not to be cold during deco in a wetsuit. The neoprene is very pliable and comfortable. Thank you Atlan!!!”

After leaving the property of Don Raphael, Renee and Nat took Willie and delivered a photo of the late Don Camilo to his wife. She was not home, but her daughter-in-law and grandchildren were. They were most pleased to have the photo. Local outreach is something that is important to the Cambrian Foundation. Providing the photo to this family was a very special experience.

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

Mike and Team:
Thom here contacting you from an alternate site. Have finally caught up on all your dive day reports. Seems like things are going well. I appreciate your attending to the STPI and cortisol samples. Try to get as much spit into the vials as you can muster up. Are you having any difficulty post dive getting your saliva going? How is the routine sampling going? I know how difficult it is to remember all the tasks you have in addition to the science.

I will keep abreast of your progress now that I have caught up to my tail. Take care of yourselves. I have also noted that the VR3 seems to be a nice option for your task. Will communicate soon. Look forward to your reports.

Things are going great. It’s funny, there are times when it is more difficult than others to muster up a good spit sample (sometimes you just get a lot of froth:):) The Cortisol samples are definately part of the daily routine and we already have a lot of usable data (I don’t think that we have missed a sample). Thanks for the hello and I look forward to seeing you upon our return.

Thom, I have noticed that my post dive spit is much more frothy than at other times. I wondered about that myself!! Renee

AWK…….OK, Nat, were you in the boat that capsized??? We mother’s hate stuff like that!!! I swear even if it isn’t underground, it is underwater!! Sun is out finally on the coast of SC, and so are the tourists. Hope the ear is better, Mike.
Nat’s Mom

Hi Mom. No, I was not on the boat. It was in the ocean, I was in the jungle diving in a cave!  Only Nan and Theresa from our group were on the boat. Divers found Theresa’s camera today, Nan’s gear (about $2000.00 worth) is still missing and the dive operator is not taking responsibility for loosing it… More to come on this! Glad that you got the sun back. Mike is doing much better and is returning to diving tomorrow.
Love Nat 🙂

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