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Ten days in Cozumel

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New Member
Jan 16, 2002
Ten days in Cozumel-
The wife and I made the annual trip to Coz this year 1/1-1/10. Ten days of perfect weather and underwater adventure. We stayed at the Villablance Garden beach hotel, which was right across from one of the best shallow reefs on the island. The hotel was okay, except the mattress was old and needed to be padded with blankets. We landed around 1:30 and were in the water by 2:30 for our first snorkel. It was a holiday so the water had few boats and was very calm. My wife is becoming braver every year and this time she did really well. We were in about 20 feet of water looking down at all the fantastic reef fish when I noticed a large triangular shape off in the distance moving in our direction. It was a medium sized spotted eagle ray! I stopped all motion and pointed it out to my wife. Not having seen one before and having heard too many horror stories made her immediately conclude that we were in grave danger of being attacked. I took my snorkel out of my mouth and explained that this was a timid and perfectly safe animal and try not to thrash around too much and scare it off. To be able to see an eagle ray on our first dive was certainly a fortuitous event. Finally she was able to see one of the creatures that that I have told her about for years. I was able to get quite close to the ray on my second dive. We did not see the ray again on the reef anytime after that day due to increased boat traffic and more people in the water.
The next day we took a snorkel trip with Blue Angel dive shop. Last year the shop allowed me to freedive with the scuba divers and this year I wanted to take the wife to some of the offshore snorkeling reefs. Things were going okay until there were to many boats over the small reef and she almost bumped into one.
Day three- I decided to do some scuba diving with the Papa Hogs crew and was very pleased. I partnered up with a guy from England and we hit it off really well. He was quite good in the water and we came across some great animals.
I ended up scuba diving six days for a number of reasons. Number one being the time under water is greatly increased vs. freediving. I have become fascinated by the macro life as well as the larger fish and concluded that being able to stay down for 60 minutes plus at 35-40 feet really afforded me the opportunity to really notice all the small details. I had a great partner who felt the same way and so we really maxed out our bottom times using his Uwatec computer. My Suunto is much more conservative and is probably overkill as far as bottom time. Number two was safety. I noticed a tremendous amount of boat traffic and saw the potential to be hit while freediving to be very high. I also noticed a strong taste of gas in the water whenever I was on the surface. In past years this did not bother me because I really wanted to freedive, but this year it did. Also, I did not have a partner to watch me from the surface and this also added to the danger factor. One of the most distressing feelings is to come up from a dive and hear the roar of engines overhead and not be sure where they are coming from.
My solution was to scuba with freediving fins. This was a great compromise. Whenever I saw something of interest it was easy to get quite close within a few strokes. On the edge of one wall as a very large eagle ray approached and then moved out to avoid us, I was able to stroke very hard and come within 5-10 feet as it tried to swim away. Some of them were so large that there were remoras on both wings! In addition to eagle rays we saw sting rays, some very large groupers, turtles, nurse sharks etc. Of course every afternoon (after a few hours of offgassing) I would hit the shore reef and explore that in great detail. I would say that I spent three plus hours in the water most days. Oh yeah, the food is great at the restaurants so do not go all-inclusive.
Jim's back!


Cool story, as usual. Were you using the WW#2s or the Beuchat's when you were scuba-ing?

Doug Raymond and I hit Dutch on Dec 31st (more or less separately) and it was 45' F. I just jumped in for a token dive -- not so bad in a 5 mil suit but it wasn't Coz, fer sure. At least I got to take the ww#4s for a spin and I'm even more certain now that mounting them "upside-down" was the right move.

Doug did the Polar Bear swim the next day at Willow Springs and stayed in the water (again, in the mid 40's) for the entire half-hour in just his speedo. No matter how tight it was when he went in, I'm sure that it was quite loose when he came out -- which makes me wonder what happens when you swim in really warm water.

Glad to hear your back. Maybe Doug can hook up that Camden aquarium swim that he was talking about so that the rest of us can get some "tropical" diving in.
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