Category — DPV

A busy season – Part two

… The very next day I was back in the water with Yamil and this time we couldn’t finish again as I had another course already booked but we could get another two days done.

Then Ritch came in who I had taught previously during his cave diver course to do some training in deep diving and expand his horizon in cave diving with a basic Sidemount class. As Ritch was already a cave diver his basic skills just needed a little brush up but we were ready to go and introduce new information and skills such as SMB deployment, gas switches, team formation in open water, ascent protocols, and so forth. We did a deep diver and advanced Nitrox combination and so the theory was focused on gear selection, dive planning in regards to decompression, gas volumes, oxygen exposure, emergency procedures and plenty of real life examples. During our dives we saw different environments as we used a Cenote for confined water, a sinkhole for our first dives and then moved over to dives in the ocean. During our dives in the ocean we went down to Xpu-Ha and then drove down a bit south to the deep reefs. After arriving on the bottom I have to admit I was surprised how cool the reef was. Anybody that knows me, knows I am not super keen on ocean diving, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the dives there as it was full of life and colour.

Right after that we were back in the caves (juhu) and our first objective was to built a rig that Ritch would feel comfortable in. Being that Ritch is a bit larger then life it wasn’t quiet that easy but not that hard either, and I think at the end we came to a total price on his rig of like 100usd or smth =) The next two days we were training first in open water to get familiar with the equipment and to understand 3 dimensional diving, fine tuning here and there and working on gas management and emergency procedures the basic game. After that we started with cave diving in passages that he could have passed in backmount but only with serious effort but now in sidemount were manageable with ease. It was cool to see Ritches smile after the dives because he felt so comfortable and free under water as never before with a set of doubles especially since the normal backplate simply doesn’t fit on his back. We even had a day to spare and go for a fun cave dive down in Chan Hol which we both really enjoyed!!!

Ritch in a basic harness with a modified BCD

The days after that we could finally finish Yamils cave training with two last spectacular days in Taj Maha and Xunnan Ha. It was kind of funny since I went from the biggest person I have ever trained (Ritch) right to the smallest one (Yamil). The same way I like to challenge my students during training I like to be challenged myself, and so it was really cool to look for ways to make the two comfortable in the water although they had slight disadvantages due to their seize. At the end of the day the two of them really came around during the course and I was more then happy to sign their certification!!!

Right after that it was my time to be student again, Yipi!!! I had enrolled in a GUE fundamentals class with Fred who I know and respect for some years now. I am constantly trying to evolve as a diver and as a diving instructor and part of that is to take classes myself not only to see again how it feels to be watched and critiqued but also to see how the instructor teaches and relates information. All in all it was a great experience and lots of fun and I am looking forward to do further courses with Fred an hopefully also with Danny and Chris!

At the same time my dear friend and dive partner Hans (with family) was is town and so of course we had to seize the opportunity to go cave diving. He had spent the last couple of days exploring with Mauro while I was teaching and now that I was free the three of us went to Cenote 307 adding some 600ft of line in small unstable but awesome cave!!! The day after that we went down to Dos Pisos for a three hour swim around since neither of the two had been there before. There is really hardly anything better for me then going cave diving with a couple of friends and just enjoy a day out in the nature!

Little Hans

The day after that I was back teaching, finishing Anneleens course that she had started with Nando. We had only the last three days left to go from intro to full cave. Anneleen is a local diving instructor who finally after living here for more than a year gave in and started cave diving. It was fun to watch because she instantly was so fascinated and stunned by the caves that she was still smiling hours after ascending =)))))

Finally the last couple of days I had the great pleasure to dive with Dr. Mel Clark and show her around a little bit which was great. Of course it is always cool to dive with another CCR cave diver especially one that is in the hall of fame!!! We did some really amazing dives and finished with an insane trip from Cenote Dos Palmas to The Pit and back. Some 4h of non stop scootering…I don’t know what was better the dive or finally getting out of the water releasing the pressure in certain areas =)

Mel with a 42 … without batteries in it though =)

After that I got another two former cave students in, Jojo and Chris from the french part of Swiss. We started of doing a stage, multistage course which was really super fun, since I had to teach in french which always kind of makes me look like a stand up comedian. In the evenings my brain was so much in knots that I started to mix all sorts of languages and simply was not able to communicate anymore. Moments like this always make me think of my polish chemistry teacher in high school, being that chemistry isn’t the easiest subject in the first place, only being able to understand every third word of the teacher doesn’t really help either ūüėČ But they both assured me that I was doing great and that they really understand what I am talking about (yeah right…)! Thanks god hand signals are international!!!

Jojo and Chris still suited up to avoid the bloodsuckers ūüėČ

After that Jojo continued with a Normoxic Trimix class which brought me back again to dive in the ocean. After the confined water session in a cenote we dove out of Xpu-Ha, mostly hanging out at the drop off =) Jojo really enjoyed the training especially the ratio deco which was a new concept to him and as he told me changed completely the way he looks at dive planning now! I am always happy and glad to get such a reaction from a student!

So I hope this little report shows why I didn’t post too much in the last 2 months but I was simply too busy living the dream and going diving every day, hahahah!¬†I hope you enjoyed the post nearly as much as I enjoyed the dives!!!

cheers Patrick

June 9, 2010   1 Comment

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 =)


May 24, 2010   2 Comments