Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fuh-rozen

May 2 - sunny, light breeze, 76F in the water with unlimited viz.
May 12 - blustery, sand flying around everywhere, 47F in the water with about 10ft viz, pretty murky even at Lone Metridium.


D'Or and I managed a few drills before our extremities became unresponsive. It was, uh, interesting in the surge.
His wife made lemon cake which was amazeballs.
-> 69min, 72ft, 47F

It's good to be back home.

 - U

Sunday, May 6, 2018

TDI Intro to Cave

Cave diving.

Under water. Under ground. Hundreds of feet from the nearest opening to breathable air. Absolute and complete darkness outside of the lights my dive buddies and I bring in. And a length of glorified twine that I'm relying on to help me navigate in and out of a spiderweb of tunnels that go for hundreds of miles.

Begs the question - why?

It's mind-blowingly beautiful. Beyond anything words can truly describe.

It's not the easiest diving and you need to know what you're doing but it's oh-so-worth-it. I asked Natalie Gibb of Under the Jungle to teach me how.

Here's how that went.

Day 0 - The Hook
Day 1 - The Line
Day 2 - The Reel
Day 3 - The Circuit
Day 4 - The Back of the Sign
Day 5 - The Scrabble
Day 6 - The Payoff

 - U

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Payoff

"Wow."

Nohoch Nah Chich.


This was it. The cave that made me think of cave diving in the first place. There's no way I'd have had my graduation dives be anywhere else. To say that I had unrealistic fantasyland expectations for this place would be an understatement. I'm pretty sure I was bouncing up and down in my seat as we were driving there.

On top of this, Nat brought along an impressive camera rig and promised a few photo ops. I was already chomping at the bit but this just thrilled me to bits. I had not at all anticipated having a chance to get photos in a cave this early on in my cave diving career, much less with equipment as nice as this.

We kept the dives simple. We did the mainline upstream both times - the first time going past Heaven's Gate and through Disneyland before turning on time, rather than gas. The mainline is so insanely gorgeous, I can't really do it any justice trying to put it into words. It's jaw-dropping to the point that I had to consciously remember to maintain line discipline. It's also really shallow, you can easily go an hour in before turning if you were to follow the gas limits. We basically repeated the same dive the second time and turned at Heaven's Gate to start taking photos. They turned out OK :)
-> 56min and 74 min, 24ft, 76F


 - U

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Scrabble

"Arm up. Big loop up and around. Back down in front of me. Nope, nothing. Scootch forward a bit. Man, I can FEEL the silt I'm stirring up. Arm up. Big loop around. Ow. Did the back of my hand just hit something? Frick, those scalloped rocks are sharp. Wait, how did I hit it on the upward movement? There's no way I'm near the ceiling. Did she drop me below the shelf the line's on? She did, didn't she?"

Mayan Blue.


I was nervous for this one.
The lost line drill.

As far as things that are realistically likely to go wrong on a cave dive, this one freaks me out the most. The thought of being lost, even temporarily, in an underground-underwater labyrinth that goes for hundreds of miles gives me the chills even as I type this out.

Also, the entire area around the cenote has a whole bunch of Chechem trees. Why is this important? They're far, far more virulent than poison oak, ivy, sumac, et al. Word is that the reaction to touching any part of the tree sometimes looks like a chemical burn. This is the one site where we avoid the shade even in the sweltering heat.

Terrific.

The first dive was at the "A" Tunnel of Mayan Blue. This is a really good spot to do the lost line drill because it's silty and really dark. I mean all caves are dark but the formations here are actually dark even in the light. Overall, it felt completely different from any of the other lines I'd been on and, honestly, was a little creepy. The drill itself went fine both times we did it - I found the line in both attempts and had the correct exit direction but the execution had plenty of room for improvement.
I spoke to Marcelin about this dive later in the evening and he mentioned it got a lot nicer farther in. I'll take his word on that for now.
-> 61min, 58ft, 76F

At this point, we only had the lost diver drill left. For this, we went to the "B" Tunnel and Nat promptly abandoned me when I was running the reel, ignoring every light signal I was flashing at her. In the time it took for me to complete the direction referencing steps on the line, she had gotten herself neatly into a little cubby on the floor and roiled up enough silt that I could barely see her light. Good job. After that was settled, I got to see why Mayan Blue is called that. The water in it is blue. Not the kind of blue you see in the ocean but a bright cerulean blue that made the beam from my primary light look even more like a lightsaber than it usually does. The formations on this line were also super dramatic - lots of enormous boulders and slabs.
-> 36min, 68ft, 75F

Oh dear me, I think I'm certified now.

 - U