A busy season – Part one

I just come out of a pretty busy run full of teaching and exploring, tiring but fun and now as things slow down a little bit I can take the time to write about it.

When I had finished the basic sidemount course with Wayne I was off on three weeks vacation. First I had planed to travel to Dominican Republic and everything was set until my travel partner had to cancel due to work obligations. I was pretty bummed out about the whole situation but when Mauro asked me to join a project he and Alex where pursuing I forgot about the situation and was looking forward to go and explore with the two.
In the same period of time I also got the second draft version of a sidemount rig I help to design which instantly outdid all my expectations and gave me great motivation to go out and dive again daily. So besides exploring I also dedicated a good amount of time to testing the rig in various different diving environments as well as techniques ranging from wet to dry suit, stages and scooters in backmount and sidemount seized passages.

With Mauro I was exploring in Cenote Balan Ak where Alex had established the relationship with the landowner and out of Cenote Palomita to resurvey and push some lines. A great pleasure to hang out and dive with the two guys who are both so passionate about the exploration there.

After that it was back to work and I started my first course right away with Mark who came in to do a deep/advanced nitrox combo course. A cool start that gave me also the rare possibility to dive in the ocean. After one day in a Cenote for confined water training and another day in the sinkhole Angelita we lost a day to sickness. Having only one day of diving in the ocean left, we couldn’t finish the training but Mark has already booked his return in September where we will not only finish but also integrate the advanced recreational trimix course.

Before the next course I had the great opportunity to help Nadia a cave explorer that lives down in Tulum with her mapping project of Cenote Dos Pisos. It was a super experience, first of all since I had never attempted to produce a large scale cave map (besides stick maps of course) and second it was cool to hang out with her and talk about different projects she is pursuing with her husband Dave in the area as well as some of the history of  the Cenote and the Cave System.

After that I almost instantly went into a CCR cave course with two Germans, Dirk and Thomas who came equipped with an Inspiration and a Megalodon CCR. Dirk had already done his course in Thailand some time ago and already visited Florida and Mexico for cave diving but wanted to sit in and train with his buddy. Dirk was one of my really first advanced nitrox students back when I lived in Egypt and to see him now as a very skilled trimix/cave ccr diver puts a big smile on my face. Thomas being a very experienced trimix ccr instructor himself made for a great team and hard for me to challenge the two.

Thomas and Dirk back from a dive in B Tunnel

Thomas and Dirk back from a dive in B Tunnel

The first two days we spent in the open water working on buoyancy, trim and fining techniques as well as looking at the units and trimming them down to minimal seize. We also went through all of the ccr related exercises followed by zero visibility training and touch contact and touch and go procedures.
Third day had us in the cave ready to go and trying the first time all ccr skills while staying horizontal within arms reach of the guideline. We realized quickly that doing those skills in a dark place with limited space while staying perfectly trimed with neutral buoyancy is not a quiet easy thing to do =)
The next five days we were working on many different scenarios including hyper and hypoxia drills, boom scenarios, hypercapnia, long hose gas sharing of bail out, passing restrictions in zero viz, complex navigation, surfacing in zero visibility, solenoid stuck close and open during a cave dive, lost line and lost diver and many combinations of the above.
During the entire course we had lots of fun and a general relaxed atmosphere and shared many stories of diving the cold lakes in europe =)
Both of them came very open minded in the course and with a lot of experience which gave us many interesting topics and point of views to discuss, all in all a great time!

Dirk and Thomas tired but happy!!!

Dirk and Thomas tired but happy!!!

After that Dirk who had brought his own scooter enrolled in a three day basic cave dpv course. We were using Bonex(dirks), Silent Submerge as well as a Divex Cuda during the training to see different performances and characteristics of the models.
First day we were doing theory all morning discussing pros and cons, gas management, emergency procedures, conservation and other topics before driving to Cenote Ponderosa to do our initial training. We were practicing different towing techniques, how to keep neutral bouyancy while driving, touch contact, touch and go and runaway dpv failure which especially on the bonex is an easy scenario due to his master switch.
The next day we were in the cave all day long going through lots of complex exercises involving lost line and lost diver during a dpv dive, computing different RMVs and times which are essential to dive planing, zero visibility drills including picking up gear, dpv failures, time awareness and so forth. Dirk realized very fast that there is more to scootering in a cave then pulling a trigger =)
Last day we implemented all of the previous learned in complex dives in cenote Mayan Blue which turned out to be just amazing! The previous long days payed of and we could use our rebreathers and scooters effectively. We did long dives covering an amazing distance while relaxed sight seeing knowing that at all times even with two catastrophic failures we would still be able to safely exit the cave. Now Dirk must get some more experience using his new favourite tool so that next time we can bring out the long range dpvs and take it to the next level. =)

The next day I went straight over to a OC cave course with Yamil a local diving instructor who had started some time ago but couldn’t finish due to work obligations. Again we were not able to finish his training due to a bad cold that knocked him out after the first two days.
At least that gave me the opportunity to squeeze some days of exploring in and even a fun dive with friends from Utila (Frank and Andy). We were a big group consisting of Dirk, Thomas, Mauro, Frank, Andy and myself and were diving in separate teams in Cenote Muchachos. Dirk and Thomas on CCRs, Mauro sidemount and stage, the Utila gang after finishing their basic sidemount training with Nando in their new rigs and me CCR also and dpv. A great day with 3h+ dive time =)

The following day I welcomed Nick who came in to “upgrade”  from GUE Cave 1 to Technical Cave Diver. We had met before to discuss exactly the expectations that he had in the course and that I had from him as a student. Nick came in as a highly trained, skilled and experienced diver which made my job both very easy and difficult. Easy in a way that he learned extremely fast difficult in a way of bringing him close to the edge of his comfort zone to establish some limits. The main new information and skills we had to cover were navigation, restrictions, deco bottel and stage tank use in the overhead environment and reviewing the stuff he had already learned and all of that on a tight schedule which ment early mornings and late evenings, especially for me as Nick stayed in Puerto Aventuras…
Nick is an avid deep and wreck diver from Australia which made the lunch brakes very entertaining as he shared some insights on the local wreck and cave diving in the land down under. I really hope I will get the chance one day to visit him there and check it out!!!

So that was part one … part two will be up in some days … I hope you enjoy =)



1 deiv { 05.24.10 at 3:54 pm }

awesome! 🙂

2 Patrick { 05.29.10 at 2:09 pm }

Hey Deiv,

I am glad you enjoyed it…part two will be uploaded shortly…

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