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Cozumel Day 7: Palancar Caves March 16, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Now February 17th, 2009 and the Blue XT Sea Diving boat Shamu arrived with Pedro at the dock to pick me up and motor off to Palancar Caves. The weather was hot, with clear skies except for some scattered cumulus, an east wind and the wave height less than 6 inches.

I was 40 feet or so down when I noticed my computer was in Gauge mode – I’m not sure why but the sequence of button pushes is pretty simple so I could have hit it accidentally. Against the recommendations of just about every thing you might read about diving, I continued on, resolving to keep my depth above the rest of the divers and make an extra long 7 minute safety stop. My maximum depth was 95 feet on this 45 minute dive although most of the dive was much shallower.

I’d been to Palancar Caves with Arturo a few days earlier but Pedro promised me a different experience and he delivered, taking us through passageways that I hadn’t seen before. One reason I know this, aside from the difference in the coral formations, is that we passed a different underwater memorial, this one to Maureen Matous (the others I passed were for Manolo Salsas and Martin, the latter who operated “Dive with Martin”).


As for sea life, we saw a bit. Crabs, including an Arrow Crab, and the usual varieties of fish. The quantity of fish inside the swim throughs is much lower than on the outside of the reef, and the darkness makes photography more difficult (especially with my cheapo camera).



1. Jerry Eichhorst - April 14, 2009

Hey Deepstop,

Just a quick question for you. I was the one that left the memorial for Maureen Matous. Well, left it is an understatement… the brick fell out of my BCD pocket before we had a chance to place it somewhere appropriate. Once I realized that it had fallen out it was too late so we never knew where it was or how it had landed. Any details about location, position etc. would be appreciated.


2. deepstop - April 14, 2009


Great story, and I’m glad if I’m able to help in any way. I’ve uploaded a not-very-good picture I took of it as I drifted by.

Like other divers there, I suppose, I follow the guide around without taking bearings of my position. I can tell you that we emerged from a series of swim throughs like the one pictured above about 14 minutes into the dive (comparing the time of the photograph with my dive computer). We crossed a short (50-100′) steeply sloped area with a sandy bottom and I was a little bit above the other divers (note what happened to my computer in the description of the dive) when I saw it.

The beginning of the dive was at around 60′ and just after the photograph was taken (as far as I can tell) we headed down to our maximum depth of 95′. So I’d say the depth was probably 55-60 feet. This jives pretty well with my memory as I remember heading down the sandy slope to some more coral formations. I don’t think there were any swim-throughs after that.

Pedro from Blue XT Sea Diving led this dive, and perhaps they would be able to provide you with a better fix on the location. This picture of Pedro may help as it was taken just 1 minute before I encountered the memorial.

I hope this is enough. Please let me know how it works out.



3. Jerry Eichhorst - April 14, 2009


Thanks for the details. We actually dove Belize last year and Cancun this year so perhaps we need to head back to Cozumel and look up Pedro and the dive site. Unfortunately the images are linking to a file not found error on your blog and I’m unable to see them. In August we dove Rangiroa and I’ve got some cool photos on Flickr that you may be interested to see. http://www.flickr.com/photos/83614303@N00/sets/72157607293166603/




deepstop - April 14, 2009

I’ll email them to you. Strange though, I can click through to them no problem. Nice photos of BelizeRangiroa. I’ll have to go there some time.



4. Maureen - April 15, 2009

Hi Chris,

Thank you for sharing the picture of my mother’s memorial. It is really amazing that you were able to see the brick after nearly two years!?! She’s been gone for seven years and you were able to brighten my families day with the picture.

Thanks again,

Maureen Matous (junior)


deepstop - April 16, 2009

Hi Maureen,
I’m glad I was able to help.
All the best,


5. Stephanie Eichhorst - April 16, 2009

Hi Chris,

I just wanted to let you know how great that picture of my mother’s memorial was. I wonder about it all the time. It is something I will cherish until I get to go and see it myself! Thank you for brightening my week!

Stephanie Eichhorst (Matous)


6. Christi - April 16, 2009

Hello Chris and the family of Maureen!

I am the owner of the dive shop that Chris dives with in Cozumel.

Chris just shared this with me and I knew exactly what he was talking about when he told me. I first discovered/saw the memorial in September of last year and remember immediately thinking how beautiful it was and wondering how long it had been there. I took a picture as well…but am not sure how to include it here. I sent it to Chris and told him to feel free to share it with you!

This particular section of Palancar is a special section and not part of the standard Palancar Caves tour that most DM’s and ops take you on. It’s very quiet, not much traffic through this part and very beautiful!

I’ll be happy to take a photo of your Memorial each time I dive this site and I’ll keep it “clean” for you if you’d like.

You can be happy knowing that Maureen’s memorial is resting in a beautiful and peaceful place in the Caribbean – this is actually one of my favorite spots to dive here because it is so peaceful and majestic.

Take care!


7. deepstop - April 16, 2009

I took the liberty of emailing Christi Courtney, owner of Blue XT Sea Diving in Cozumel, with this information. Here’s her reply…

WOW! I know the brick exactly and I know exactly where it is! It’s in a
swim-through just as you turn a “corner.” I actually have a photo of it
see attached. It’s actually my very favorite dive and that particular
swim-through is not very “popular” due to it’s location “between” typical
drop-off and pick-up points for most DM’s.

Feel free to share this photo with the family if you think it’s appropriate.
I’ll also be happy to take a better photo of it next time I’m on that dive
if they would like. Let them know that her memorial brick is resting in a
really beautiful and peaceful spot!

I’m glad you had a great time and we’ll look forward to having you back as


If you can’t open the picture let me know and I’ll email it to you.



8. The Lost Memorial « Chronicle of an older diver - April 16, 2009

[…] Matous, Outdoors, Palancar Caves, SCUBA, Scuba Diving, Sport trackback Some time ago I described a dive through Palancar Caves at Cozumel last February where I had floated past a memorial. It turns out that the diver who put there had dropped it […]


9. Katie Magnuson - April 18, 2009

This is the most beautiful and touching story. I am Maureen’s niece, (cousins with her daughters who have posted and cousin-in-law to Jerry who started the post). My heart is so touched that this brick was lost, then found, then located to the exact spot — I am sure it is no coincidence and perhaps even more perfect this way. It’s the most amazing reminder that she’s smiling down on us to this day. What a wonderful blessing this Easter season! Thank you so much for sharing.

Katie Magnuson (Matous)


10. Sid Pecoraro - April 19, 2009

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I was one of Maureen’s Garden Club Buddies. She so loved to make things beautiful in her garden. What a fitting place for a memorial to our dear friend.


11. Charlene Johnson - April 21, 2009

Hi Deepstop & Chris,

What an amazing thing this is, Maureen was my best bud. She loved gardening and as Sid said making things beautiful. Moe as we lovingly called her has been so missed by us all.

Just a couple of days ago I was looking at the picture of Moe that sits next to my computer and thinking how nice it would be to see her and tell her how much I miss her.

After 7 years she is still in so many of my thoughts daily. I know that this is not a coincidence but it is definitely a hello from our dear friend, Mother, Sister, Aunt and family member.

Thank you so much for sharing all that you have and cleaning the brick up.

Who said God doesn’t hear the smallest of our prayers and know our every thought?

Charlene Johnson


deepstop - April 22, 2009

Maureen must have had tons of friends judging by the number of people looking at the story and the pictures. I’m honoured to be part of it.



12. Andrea - December 27, 2009

I saw this memorial a few weeks ago in Cozumel Dec 2009 and I had to look it up! Such a neat story and it’s in a truly beautiful spot. It made me wonder if she died while diving or just loved to dive. Here’s some photos I took:




13. Jerry Eichhorst - December 31, 2009

Hi Andrea, Thanks for uploading the the photos. Maureen was my wife’s mother. She loved the sun and sand but never dove. Because we love diving in Cozumel we wanted to leave something behind for her there and it seems like it’s become a real dive destination now. Thanks again for your addition to this story and for the photos. Jerry


14. Maureen. Jr. - January 4, 2010


I truly feel that your entry was a way of my mother saying “Happy new Year” to all of us. You made my day.

Thanks for sharing,


15. Andrea - January 5, 2010

You’re welcome! Beautiful way to remember a loved one!


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