When Coach Calls Me Out
3 days ago
I started a blog to chronicle my adventures through ice skating. Then I started rowing. Then I started scuba. So basically I use this blog for sporty endeavors.
Okay, so this review is going to be really long... I'll start with the dives and then post about the trip in general, since I'm sure you mostly want to hear about the dives.
For those who don't want to read the whole thing, here is a quick recap: Scuba with Alison was AMAZING, Cozumel diving was AMAZING, I didn't suck nearly as much as I thought I would, I didn't get legionnaires staying at the Sabor and the hotel was actually fairly nice.
Dive Op: Scuba with Alison. This was a FABULOUS choice. I can't imagine anything better. I had a lot of pre-trip contact with Alison (I tried to keep it down, but I think it was like 8 emails...) and she was extremely accommodating, knowing that I was a beginner, and a very nervous beginner. She promised me that the first day we would stay at depths that were my comfort level (and she kept the promise). We used her rental BCs and regs and they were excellent quality. She also provides a computer with all rentals, and we noticed others who used rental fins, masks, and shorties- so she's full service. The use of rental gear was included in our quoted price. We brought our own SMBs (and my husband uses an air transmitter) and we left them attached to the BC (/reg) all week- so we used the same gear everyday. We also left our fins onboard which meant we didn't have to carry stuff around everyday.
We got picked up every morning on the dock at the Sabor (which no longer charges!) by the Maximus. Okay, so in Cozumel, from my observations it appears there are slow boats, fast boats, and then the Maximus. When Carlos put the boat to speed we FLEW by the other boats that were already flying. My commute was short, but if we were coming from the Caleta, I would be happy to be on the Maximus. It was a very comfortable boat as well: nice shaded area, padded seats, plenty of room for 8 divers and Alison and Carlos. You can giant stride or roll off the Maximus, and are assigned to a position and group for your entry. I mostly did giant stride but had to roll one day.
Alison runs her dives by letting each person dive their own tank/computer. She gives each buddy pair the pre-determined choice of going up together or the better air consumption buddy pairing up with another team and staying down longer. She accompanies each diver on their safety stop, and watches them surface AND get picked up before rejoining the group waiting below her (though she does a good job of watching that group too- quite the multi-tasker. She is very safety concious, going to the extreme of actually checking her new diver's gauges for them! I noticed she did that day 1, asked me a lot about my air on day 2, and by day 3 she left it to me to tell her, knowing that I paid good attention. She stayed with the more shallow divers and let the better divers go deeper with their buddy (or pony).
Carlos was an excellent Captain and I don't think I ever waited more than 2 minutes to get picked up after surfacing. And that "long" wait, Alison actually popped up out of the water to yell at him, to make sure he saw us. The first day we watched two divers float for over half an hour- we could see their boat, but Carlos couldn't get them on the radio. Those divers were in no danger, with like 20 boats around and pretty calm seas, but man, I'm sure that was a long float. That's when I learned it is important to know your boat's radio channel, in addition to its name
Alison also went out of her way to pick up some sea sick meds for my husband, since we were not staying in town. It was a 'going the extra mile' thing we really appreciated.
Dives: Day 1
On the pier the first day I was ready to run away. I seriously had no idea what I was thinking. Why the hell did I want to do this? Once on the boat, I was clearly showing my nervousness, because halfway through the briefing Alison actually stopped and asked me if I was okay. I told her I'd be fine once I was in the water (I was) but I'm sure I didn't instill much confidence in her, or those who would be diving with me.
Before choosing sites, she asked me if I wanted to go to 20 ft, 40 ft, or 60 ft. I told her 60 would be fine, and she said okay, maybe a bit lower, don't go beyond 70, and we headed to Palancar Gardens.
Max depth: 67 ft, Average Depth: 47 ft
Temperature 82 degrees (it was this everywhere all week, so I'm not going to include it anymore)
Dive time: 42 minutes
This was a great first dive. There was basically no current, so it was easy. I was one of two people who got to giant stride off the boat, and the giant stride from the boat is a million times easier than giant striding from a dock at the quarry (I usually freak out after jumping in, I didn't) I mostly held onto Kevin's hand (Alison had actually offered on the boat to hold onto mine...but I told her I'd let my buddy deal with me.) I had trouble descending and got a reminder to exhale. I think I was having trouble exhaling, because I didn't put ANY air in my BC the entire dive.
The coral here was absolutely beautiful as were the large variety of fish. We saw a nurse shark, a green moray eel, and a jawfish. I had no problems at all during the dive, so it was a good start! We agreed ahead of time my husband would come up when I ran out of air, and he told me today after looking at the graphs he did his safety stop with 1000 psi. Sorry honey! However, as nervous as I was, going up on my own would not have been acceptable!
Max depth: 30 ft, Average Depth: 23 ft
Dive time: 76 minutes
I wasn't at all surprised to go to this dive site as research here showed it was an easy one I'd be at for sure. I was surprised how long my dive was! (I think the longest dive in our group was 2 hours!) I noted that the coral here was less colorful than at Palancar gardens but there was a lot of life. We saw schools of fish, a spotted eel, sting rays, nurse shark, a scorpion fish.
Because I hadn't used any air in my BC the previous dive, Alison added 2 pounds of weight to my belt (putting me at 16 pounds), but she took it out when I was having trouble holding the safety stop. Turns out 14 pounds was right (at the end of the week, I think I could have gone to 12), and I was just holding a lot of air in my lungs.
This was one of two dives shallow enough to take our camera on (husband manned the camera, not me- though I have dove with a camera before. It's a little point and shoot, so it doesn't really take much from the dive.)