This morning we arrived at Don Raphael’s ranch at 9 am as promised. Don Raphael is the owner of this property and has graciously given us unlimited access. He greeted us as always with a warm smile and handshake. Communication is limited with our broken Spanish, but the conversation seems to be effective. Don Raphael bid us adieu and off we went to the cenotes. A new feature has been added to the site, Don Raphael has placed signs indicating where the cenotes are which has proven to be helpful for other divers that may visit the site due to the overgrowth of the jungle.
We established two teams today to accomplish the tasks we determined. Karl and Renee planned a 4 tank dive. They went to tidy up the lines in the northern section of the cave with prepared line arrows and non-directional markers to complete the mission. Several “T’s” (an intersection of 2 or more lines) were cut back to jumps. These jumps were marked with the names of the passages on non-directional markers as well as arrows pointing out. Taking the time to do this will make diving in this system safer by marking the passages more clearly and making the main line easier to follow. Karl and Renee cleaned up these areas, then did some additional survey work upon exit in the main passage. After 1 hour and 25 minutes they arrived back at Cenote Muchacho with 31 minutes of decompression time. The decompression time spent at 15 feet helps eliminate excess nitrogen from the body and helps avoid decompression sickness.
Terrence and Andrew went in first to have a look at the far reaches of the system. Having converted another T to a jump they continued on to the end of several lines in the far northern part of the system. None of these lines ended in going cave and no obvious clear prospects were seen nearby. They arrived back at the entrance with over an hour of decompression obligation. There are still several leads closer to the entrance to check out for further exploration over the next few days, but it is clear that extending this system any more will take a bit of effort.
Once back at Villas DeRosa lunch was served. Shortly thereafter, Terrence, Renee, Andrew and Thecia departed for Aktun Chen Ecological Park. Next week students from the Fuqua School in Virginia will be joining us conducting their own analog project. Like last year they will be learning survey work and putting it to use in a remote dry cave located on the Aktun Chen property. Wanting to maintain good relations, it was necessary to visit the owner Lorenzo prior to arrival of the students. He was pleased to see the return of the group as well as the preliminary map we presented him.
The Cambrian Foundation must also give a tremendous thank you to Dive Rite for its continuing sponsorship of all our expeditions. Dive Rite supports the project by supplying much of the necessary equipment for proper cave exploration and survey.
Again, Thecia spent her day relaxing on the beach with a good book. No pirates spotted.
- Andrew Pitkin
- Renee Power
- Karl Shreeves
- Thecia Taylor
- Terrence Tysall