Learning Survey, Chopping Trails, Pushing Leads

Survey class on the beach

Mike Poucher gearing up at Cenote Muchachos

Trail maintenance

Terrence and Breann mark GPS waypoint

Andrew, Karl, and Renee at water level

Cara assists Andrew with his tank

Since Bob was dealing with delayed baggage in Cancun, today the dive team split into Michael and Sandra, and Andrew, Karl and Renee. Both teams headed north, with Michael and Sandra exploring a line in some going passage they started yesterday. Their passage ended up connecting the Grand Canyon Line to the Hass Line. They took a look into some leads on the way back to Cenote Muchachos, surfacing after about two and a half hours, which included about 30 minutes of decompression.

At the same time, Andrew, Karl and Renee went up the Dark Side of the Moon Line, the most northern and remote parts of the cave. They looked for leads in the deeper waters below the halocline, but found no significant new leads despite running the reel into a couple of promising openings. Turning the dive, they trimmed the Look Down Line connection back to a jump and made some other line marking adjustments as they headed home. Coming back through Cindy’s Passage, Andrew and Renee resurveyed the area from a formation called The Gate to the cave entrance. The team also took care of installing back-to-back line arrows in the short Cindy Side Loop. The trio returned to the surface after three hours, five minutes, which included about 45 minutes of decompression.

Mike and Sandy returned via the Grand Canyon to the new line, discovering an arrow at the labeled Hass Line. They surveyed up the Hass line and returned to Grand Canyon to survey Renee’s line. It was a wonderful surrealistic experience, reading instruments in a halocline. A halocline is the interface between heavier salt water from the ocean and lighter freshwater from the aquifer. The water looks clear with no discernable change, until a diver swims through or near the interface. The mixture of these densities causes the most unusual visual effect imaginable – wavy and bubbly and similar to looking through old glass, only moving and swirling. While it settles quickly, there is still a moment of disorientation – you cannot see through the halocline once it is disturbed. They removed the jump to the Grand Canyon line to leave a clean main line. Michael noticed two beautiful cave fish and Sandra saw a remipede gracefully swimming through the water column. At the end of the day, the ancient rusty van, Brown Stripe, was hot and tired after a long day waiting for the divers and was eased home by the guiding hand of Andrew and to the great relief of the divers.

The students blazed a trail 0.6 mi through the jungle with machetes, a lot of work. After helping the divers out of the water, we went back to the hotel, had a meeting and ate dinner. After dinner we gave the guests at Villas DeRosa an interesting show. After strewing the beach with guidelines we, wearing red plastic hard hats, measured distance, azimuth, declination, sidewall information, and made interesting comments from one survey station to another. We retired to our common room and watched our last PowerPoint presentation, a lovely 35 slides by Amy about speleogenesis, or how a cave is formed.

Tomorrow the dive team plans to dive out of Cenote Camilo, which is the original opening through which Sistema Camilo exploration began. Sandra and Michael will head into the upstream section below Allison’s Room to check for southerly leads. Renee and Andrew will head for the Carri’s Loft area in the upstream section and push eastward. At the same time, Bob and Karl will go downstream to the Time Line, which is headed generally westward and try to push in that direction. Diving out of Camilo expands the opportunity for the much sought upstream/downstream connection, but it is logistically complicated because the closest road is .6 miles away. The students’ support will be paramount in effecting these promising dives, because without them, it would be far more difficult to haul the required equipment to the dive site.

Team Members

  • Bethany Barton
  • John Boswell
  • Breanne Bryant
  • Doug Chapman
  • KO Donkor
  • Woody Dunkum
  • Taryn Eggleston
  • Amy Giannotti
  • Bob Giguere
  • Jessica Langlois
  • Hope Morton
  • Mr. Shane Newcombe
  • Josh Owen
  • Andrew Pitkin
  • Renee Power
  • Michael Poucher
  • Sandra Poucher
  • Cara Robertson
  • Catesby Saunders
  • Karl Shreeves
  • Thecia Taylor
  • Ms. Stephanie Trovato
  • Terrence Tysall
  • Linda Wooddell
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