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Xmas in cozumel

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New Member
Jan 16, 2002
I was lucky enough to spend Xmas diving in Cozumel, here is a report-
My wife and left for Cozumel on 12/23- 6am flight out of Phila.. Packed all the gear as well as found a suitcase in the thrift shop large enough to fit the monofin, so that went too. Arrived in Coz at 12 in the afternoon and took a cab to our hotel- The Lorena. What a gem this hotel is. Right on the beach, every room has an ocean view, pool, great shop next door, only 22 rooms, and a sweet reef right off the hotel beach. All this for only 85 USD/night. I was in the water within ten minutes of unpacking. Few things compare to sliding into 82 degree, 30 meter viz water teaming with life.
After a great dinner at Casa Dennis, we headed over to Deeper Blue dive shop to check in and see what the intinerary looked like. The owner, Matt, knows I freedive and took me to meet a local expatriot who is a very good hunter named Scott. Scott said sure he would like to get wet the next day and come by at 12.
12/24- I met Scott and we suited up and his girlfriend drove us to our launch site- the beach at the airport intersection. Scott has two scooters so we took those out about 2k to where the wall starts. Scooters make life so much easier. We blew up a bag and tied them off and then drifted. Scott and I took turns going down and checking things out. Being able to watch your partner drop down 30 meters and still be in plain sight was awesome. As we drifted north the currrent was minimal which was atypical for Cozumel. Pretty soon the fun started. Scott pointed down and there in the distance I could see the triangular shadows gliding along the top of the wall- a squadron of huge spotted eagle rays! I did not have time for a huge breathe up but took in a nice lung full and finned down. I had to descend quickly in order to come close as they swam by. Just as I got down, they passed under me, magnificent. Six or seven just cruised beneath me like stealth fighters. As I surfaced, my grin stretched ear to ear. Scott told me to get a good breathe-up because we were in the perfect spot for them. A few minutes later, I saw another group way in the distance. This time I swam farther ahead of their path and then descended. Everything clicked. As I dropped down to 25 meters, I intercepted them perfectly. The largest ones had 5 ft wingspans and there were about ten in this group. Just gliding through the water with these magnificent creatures was pure zen. One of the reasons I freedive is to be able to interact with the aquatic life and for the short time I swam with them in their formation nothing else mattered. They are so large and so docile.
As Scott and I drifted further, the current really started to pick up. It actually felt like being inside a fire hose. We came into a shallow area and Scott speared a large red snapper. As soon as he surfaced, he said we have to get out of here, now. I said why, sharks? He said, no, current. Oh, I said relieved.
By the time we made it to shore, we had drifted over 2 miles from our start point. We decided to catch a cab back to Scott's place and had to lug all our gear, including a 2 ft fish through the lobby of a nice hotel in order to get to the road.....
to be continued...
82 degree, 30m viz?... that's 27-28oC!
that sounds awesome. i would love to dive somewhere like that. for now, i have to make do with 5-6oC and 10m viz.
:( :waterwork
look forward to hearing more... :)

Quarry diving


We've tried to lure JimGlynn out to the local quarry for a winter swim in conditions that are nearly identical to those you you describe, but for some odd reason he favored Cozumel ... go figure.

Weather in Cozumel that week was kind of iffy. I think the harbor was actually closed to small boats for two days due to high north winds. Usually the waterway is filled with small boats ferrying divers out to the reefs and can be quite dangerous to swimmers venturing out past the buoys set up by each hotel. When the harbor is closed however, boat traffic is gone and freediving right from one's hotel beach is wonderful.
Now that Scott trusted me as a dive partner, he said that we should scuba Barracuda reef in the north. Supposedly there would be an abundance of larger animals, but the currents can be really fast and sometimes dangerous. I had not scuba'd in the ocean since my last visit to Coz a year ago so I decided that maybe I should go out on one of the scuba boats to get back into the technique, weight properly, etc. I went out with Blue Angel dive shop to the San Francisco wall. As we suited up and I put on my scuba fins I looked over at the DM and he was putting on Cressi Hd longblades. I knew I should have brought my Beuchats. I have scuba'd in the quarry with them and really hated going back to scuba fins. I have to say it was really nice to be able to stay down longer than two minutes and really SEE everything in fine detail. I have spent so much time in a quarry with very little color and diversity that now I really appreciate the abundance of life in the Caribbean. In past years I was a heavy breather and usually surfaced before the computer said I had to. Now because of so much freediving my air consumption has plummeted and I only surfaced when my no deco time was up, with plenty of air left. That was really cool. I still wish I had the longfins though, the scuba fins felt like mush.
I really wanted to take out the monofin and get some depth and Scott never really seemed too motivated so on my last day I went out on a snorkel boat again with Blue Angel. They had seen me freediving every day at the hotel and said that for 25 bucks (including lunch) the boat would go to three nice spots, the first being the wall. The owner told the DMs to let me freedive and not bother me. What an excellent day. We went to Palancar and I freedove with the scuba divers. This was the first time I had the mono in the open ocean and it felt pretty good. Current was really strong below 30 meters so I stayed mostly around 25. Not having a spotter, coupled with the noise of the boats is pretty unnerving. Eventhough I surfaced very carefully and boats were never that close, just knowing I could get run over kept the anxiety level high. I ended up switching back to the bifins as soon as my feet cramped. I need a lot more time with the mono until it feels as good as the bifins.
The next spot was Chancanab shallow. I felt a little cold so I put on my my 5 mil hooded vest (I also was wearing a 2.5 mil full suit) and I am really glad I did. This dive was amazing. It was like being inside a tropical fish tank. Everywher you looked were coral heads and swarms of neon colored fish. Parrot fish are one of my favorite and they were everywhere. I dropped to the bottom (3 meters) and glided right underneath a school and and watched them eat. Each bite sounds like chunk, chunk, chunk, on the coral. They started to move away and so I followed, upside down underneath them. They moved faster, I moved faster. Pretty soon I was going almost full speed totally lost in the moment, then reality hit. My head slammed into something so hard I thought I got hit by a boat. I tuned and I had slammed into a @%! coral mound! Unbelievably stupid! I could hear the fish laughing hysterically as I surfaced. I peeld back the hood to assess the damage and my hand came away bloody. Damn! I just plowed head first into a coral head in a country where you do not want to have to seek medical attention. This was my last vacation day and now I had done it. I checked again, still bleeding, though less. What to do? I pulled my hood down a little lower and continued diving. When I got back on the boat and the other divers saw the lacerations, I am sure that now they really thought I was a freak. First the monofin, now this. Luckily a doctor stepped forward and looked me over. I am bald so it was easy to see the damage. She kept saying you need to clean these cuts really well ,maybe a stitch. Oh my God she said it, the dreaded "S" word. I asked her if it would be really harmful if I did the last dive of the day and then cleaned it well after that. She said it should be okay but wasn't I in too much pain? I said the only thing that really hurts is my ego.
The last dive was fantastic! The bleeding had stopped and I got to swim with a large grouper and TWO eagle rays. I also saw a spotted drum fish almost a foot long. When I got back to the hotel I told my wife I was bitten by a barracuda and she screamed when she saw my head. Luckily she had the antibiotic cream and my skin heals quickly. If I had not been wearing the hood (5 mil.) , I am sure I would have needed serious medical attention. The hood took the brunt of the collision and the worst laceration was a small slice right above the brow line where the hood did not reach.
All in all a great trip, hoping to travel to Holbox Island in July to dive with the whalesharks and the manta rays. Cozumel is great for sea life and visibilty, though the currents make freediving below 30 meters very dicey, at least it was where I was diving. Thanks for reading.
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Cozumel is great!

Great story Jim. We made it to Cozumel twice last year. This winter, don't know if I can swing it money-wise, but your story reminds me just how wonderful it is. Makes me want to stick another trip on the old MasterCard. For us, Cozumel has always priced out a lot cheaper than any other Carribean destination. And we've never been disappointed in the diving, both freediving and scuba.

I've wondered what freediving with scooters would be like -- sounds like it works pretty well.
I wonder if you realize how fortunate you were to be able to freedive off the scuba boat. I'm taking notes of the people and dive shop you mention and may see if they will work with me in the future. I have usually had nothing but bad luck even mentioning freediving along with the scuba divers. You were very fortunate.

Fred- this boat was a mix of scuba and snorkelers. I was fortunate because the shop was next to my hotel and they watched me freedive daily from the hotel beach. Then when they saw that I was friends with Scott they approached me. Blue Angel is a great outfit and I hope to dive with them in July near Holbox Island.
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