March 18, 1997 (Cozumel)

Manuel was our dive master again.

Devil's Throat, Punta Sur

This dive site was absolutely awesome. It is pretty far south so we left right at 8:00. Devil's Throat is a tunnel beginning in 70 ft of water and ending up as deep as 140 ft. The key is to get here before any other boat as the tunnels can silt up with moron divers bonking into the bottom. We raced down the coast at break neck speed. Getting close to the dive site Manuel told everyone to get ready before we got there. We arrived at the site all sitting on the edge ready to go in. Within 100 yds of the drop point we passed the Scuba Du, a big dive boat with over 20 divers. They had left extra early that morning for what was probably a 40 minute trip for them in an effort to beat all the other boats there. They lost. As we were reveling in our timely arrival we noticed we were right behind another Aldora boat, Memo's boat (sort of the head dive master). His group went in just as we got there. We both had GPS we knew where to go, but Scuba Du was still about 50 yds off target with a dive master in the water trying to guide the boat to the site. Memo's boat got out of the way and we pulled in to drop right where they had. Manuel got done helping some of our divers with their gear and quickly got in to check the location. This was an amazingly well timed and coordinated effort except he forgot to put on his fins. The captain above us couldn't stop laughing and just yelled, "Grande Dive Master!" We threw Manuel his fins and all went over. The whole fin fiasco took just enough time to give us good separation from Memo's group. As we went down the Scuba Du was still trying to figure out where to drop their divers.

Glassy sweepers

Glassy Sweepers

Manuel took us in a side entrance to the tunnels at around 100 ft, we then swam up a tunnel to a large cavern at the base of the "throat", the main entrance tunnel that is very wide and starts in about 70 ft of water. Here we were just a little further down than the entrance. The tunnels vary in slope from just about 10 degrees to almost 60. In this large entrance cavern were a big school of glassy sweepers. We then turned down another passage, a very well hidden passage at that, Mike almost lost us except he saw my fin mysteriously disappear into a wall and went to investigate. This passage descended and we came to two 7 ft circular openings after about 20 yds and exited from the second one in 128 ft of water. This spat us out into open water along a massive wall. It was a pretty spectacular site seeing the three divers behind me (there were only four of us and the dive master) come out of a small hole in this massive cliff covered in coral and sponges. We then followed the wall a little further to the north and went in another small entrance still around 125 ft. This was a steeply sloped passage and we came to a cavern with a low ceiling in 102 ft of water. All of these passages have red corals and sponges in them and this particular cavern has a sponge in the distinct shape of a cross on the wall earning it the name The Cathedral. It was here that I felt a little disturbed about being in a completely dark cavern except for our dive lights in a 102 ft of water. It was really not all that bad though, as you can see open water through small openings in most of the passages and are never more than 10 or so kicks from an exit at any time. Plus you have 4 people around you with more air. We continued up a passage and then down another exiting in about 90 ft of water. We never saw Memo's group and being a small group of experienced divers they didn't kick up any silt for us. Just out of the exit Manuel pointed up to the surface. There was Scuba Du's massive group of divers (well, three groups now all together) in their safety stop!!! They had finished their dive! Apparently just swimming down Devil's Throat and never stopping in the Cathedral. They went in after us and they were in their safety stop when we still had 40 minutes more diving to do! Anyway, the rest of the dive was much like the previous wall dives and there were a few more swim throughs and tunnels along the way. If you go to Cozumel be sure to do this dive and please learn to kick in tunnels! Don't scissor kick, this creates impinging vortices that impact the bottom and kick up silt even if your fin tips are 6 inches away from the bottom. Instead turn your fins 90 degrees and spread your legs and bring them together quickly. This sends vortices parallel to the bottom and they will strike the sides of the passage instead of the bottom. Very few divers seem to know this and it's damn annoying.

Cedral Pass

Grouper

Black Grouper

Spotted morray

Spotted Moray

Green morray

Green Moray

This was a shallower reef dive not too far from Playa del Sol. The major attraction here is the fish. They are very tame and used to being fed. Unfortunately it can be very crowded, as it was when we were there. Indeed the fish life was spectacular. There were a number of huge grouper, some so tame you could rub their noses. As we went through one swim through two spotted moray eels emerged and slinked around many members of our group in an attempt to sniff out food. This can be a slightly disconcerting experience since "sniffing" for an eel involves pumping water into its mouth which means they open and close their mouths full of razor sharp teeth over and over again in very close proximity to you. They never bite unless you stick your hand in their hole or intentionally make your finger look like food (by the way, you don't want to do this, they can easily sever a finger and even if they don't their mouths are very dirty and will give you a horrible infection). Nevertheless our dive master appeared quite intimidated when one took some interest in "sniffing" his groin area. After a rather humorous array of slaps, turns and twists the offending eels went and found other divers to harass. There were all sorts of tropicals about and lobster as well. I found a 6-foot green moray but was mobbed by another group of divers as I tried to attract the rest of my group. I hope it bit them.

If anything was more interesting and humorous than the sea life it was the rest of the divers. They were crawling everywhere on this site. Big groups of up to 8 + a dive master. At one point our group kneeled on the sandy bottom to assess that the four of us and our dive master were all there and pick our next destination when we discovered we had two other divers with us. About 80 feet away in the distance all of us could see a dive master waving his arms frantically to attract their attention but they had their backs turned to him and seemed fairly convinced we were their group even though we were a little smaller and all had different wet suits on. Manuel, our dive master, made a wide variety of fairly standard hand signals to the effect of "look behind you, you dumb smucks". The two of them simply stared blankly at him for a long time. Three killer whales could have been giving a pedicure to a mermaid right behind them and they never would have turned around to see. Manuel eventually had to swim over and physically turn one of them around to finally see their dive master now swimming over to grab his stray, and fairly stupid, sheep. Supposedly this can be a very good twilight dive as there are lots of fish feeding and less divers around.


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