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Scuba Diving in Cozumel, 2006 Day 3 December 25, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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My third day of diving on my first trip to Cozumel didn’t go as planned. I had booked to go diving every day but the “Norte” was blowing hard and the harbour was closed. So instead of my next dive happening on November 20th, it was delayed until the 22nd. The harbour was still closed at this time, but Christi had arranged for us to go out on a fishing boat on the southern end of the island, where the winds and waves were much calmer as the waters were sheltered by land.

The Calm Waters of the Island's Southeast side

The Calm Waters of the Island's Southeast side

Early in the afternoon, one of the other divers picked me up in a Volkswagen convertible he’d rented on the cheap, and we drove southward then around the bottom of the island to find our boat. The dive shop staff were very helpful in moving our gear into the relatively tiny fishing boat and we headed out into waters not usually frequented by divers.

The first dive started at 2:30 in the afternoon and I logged 55 minutes of bottom time at a maximum depth of 77 feet. They called the location “Pedro’s reef”, but it was just some spot in the ocean as Pedro was one of our divemasters.  The dive was long enough that my computer told me to do 4 minutes of deco before the safety stop. The damage from Wilma a year before was very much in evidence on this part of the island.  We did, however, have visibility of at least 60 feet and it was a decent, though not spectacular dive. After a two day layoff though, we were all glad for anything we could get.

Divers crammed into fishing boat - Pedro at upper left

Divers crammed into fishing boat - Pedro at upper left

On the second dive I had a problem. After my backroll into the water I noticed my air was off. These days I’d just reach back and turn it on myself as I do flexibility exercises to make sure I can reach my valves, and at least in a wet suit I can do it easily. My dry suit is more constricting and I have to loosen some straps to get at them. One of the boat jumped in the water and turned on the valve, and I started the dive to “Arturo’s Reef”.

About 20 minutes into the dive I noticed increased breathing resistance at the end of each inhalation. I checked my gauge and it showed plenty of air at around 2000 PSI. It was only a very slight problem but small problems can be the start of big ones so I was not about to ignore it. I tried my alternate second stage and it was doing exactly the same thing, and then started to thing about how expensive and inconvenient a first stage  fault might be. I started to contemplate aborting the dive.

I took a another look at my gauge and as I inhaled, the needle dropped to zero, then recovered immediately after I stopped breathing in. The reason for the problem then just popped into my head, and I swam over to Arturo who was leading the dive and signalled him to open my tank valve all the way. As soon as he’d done the problem went away and I continued on for a nice 50 minute dive at a maximum of 54 feet with 5 minutes of decompression. Lesson Learned: Don’t trust non-divers to adjust your equipment – even better, don’t trust anyone but yourself.

Electric Ray

Electric Ray

Just as I was starting to have the problem, we noticed this Electric Ray sitting on the bottom. I had no idea what it was at the time but the whitish colour and the zig-zag tail were something different. Despite the problem I managed to squeeze off a few photographs.

We were out of the water at about 5:20 and sped off back to the beach. The sun was setting and the air temperature started to drop a bit. Poor Arturo was getting really cold and shivering but we  hardy northerners took it in stride.

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1. Cozumel 2011 Day 6 – Palancar Caves « Chronicle of an older diver - March 8, 2011

[…] Her boat was parked in the same spot as ours so I went over and said hello. I also found out that Arturo had gone free-lance, and have seen references to him working with Blanca on their web […]

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