Sunday, February 12, 2012

Horror on the High Seas

Continuing the February 2012 Cozumel Saga...

THURSDAY: We were up early to eat breakfast and get ready to dive. We were on the boat with a couple from Louisiana, one man from Wisconsin, and a father and his two daughters from Brazil. The girls appeared to be in their teens. 

I realized about halfway to our first dive site that I had forgotten to get fins from the dive shop. So the boat pulled up to the nearest dock and the dive shop sent some fins over via scooter delivery. We were once again on our way. Our first dive site was Palancar Tunich. We all got ready to go and dove into the water (this takes place by falling backwards off the boat. Sounds scary, but it's not). 

Upon entering the water, my Dad sucked in a bunch of salt water, realizing that a piece was missing from his regulator. He used his secondary air source (called an octopus or octo) and all was well.

As I entered the water, I was having some trouble breathing. This was before we descended into the water. Once we descended, I had a tough time getting my air straight and keeping water out of my mask. Finally, I got it all settled and was able to enjoy an amazing dive.

We descended to about 70 feet and I saw that up ahead of me, the dive master had taken hold of one of the Brazil girls. I thought he was training her. When you are completing scuba diving certification, the dive master will have you perform various tasks in the water. My dad and I descended to 100 feet and waited for the dive master to complete whatever it was he was doing with the girl. I had never been to 100 feet before and it was kind of exciting for me. The dive master signaled for us to follow him and we did so. It was a beautiful dive, so much to see and beautiful coral everywhere!

When we finished the dive and I was back on the boat, I saw the girl from Brazil in the water holding on to the boat's ladder. Her father and sister were with her and her father was telling her to breath slowly. She had been hyperventilating apparently.

Later, at our interval stop before the second dive, I found out what happened. When the dive master had taken hold of her in the water, it wasn't training he was doing. She had signaled to him that she had no air. He checked her air gauge and signaled that it was fine. She managed to get him to understand that her regulator was not producing any air. Both her regulator and her octo (secondary breathing source) were malfunctioning and causing her to suck in salt water each time she had to take a breath. So, the dive master gave her his octo and finished the dive. The poor girl understandably had a panic attack when she could not breath.

There is always an interval stop before second dives when you have gone to a deep depth so we stopped at Paradise Beach and got out of the boat to use the bathroom and walk around a bit. Once we were ready for the second dive, we realized one of the divers on board had lost the strap to his fin. Thankfully, another diver had an extra and was able to fix it. The second dive site was Palancar Caves. No one had any issues there, which we were all grateful for. I was getting ready to rename the boat "Titanic." Even in this tropical environment, I was fairly certain a huge iceberg was going to crop up out of nowhere and/or that the boat captain would turn out to be Francesco Schettino!

Thankfully, Palancar Caves was a beautiful site and we saw some great coral and marine life.

We took a short nap and then ate at the hotel restaurant before returning to the boat for our first night dive. About halfway to our dive site, my Dad realized he did not have his mask. He is very meticulous about keeping his dive equipment properly stored, so we had no idea what happened to it. He thought he might have left it in his room. In any case, there was an extra mask on board so he used that.

We readied for the dive and sank into the water. The dive site was Paradise Reef and it was amazing! We had flashlights with us and glow lights on our BCD vests so we could be seen and stay with our group. I saw crabs, an octopus, a huge grouper fish, and an eel. The dive master sent my Dad and me up to the surface early though and neither of us could figure out why. 

I descended again and stayed under about 15 more minutes. My Dad was happy to surface since he had been having trouble clearing his mask (it was filling with water and he couldn't get it clear) since it was not the mask he normally uses. The dive master told us that my Dad did not have enough air left in his tank (they send you to the surface when you have 500 or less, sometimes 700 or less pounds of air per the gauge). I had to surface with him because we are paired as dive buddies. The thing is, my Dad had 1200 pounds of air in his tank so plenty to continue on. 

We got back to the hotel, which I was more than happy to do at this point considering the whole day had just been weird. I took a hot bath and had a good night's sleep, which was much needed.

Recap of Friday and Saturday coming soon so stay tuned!

1 comment:

Karen Peterson said...

It almost sounds like that trip was jinxed or something. But I'm glad everyone was okay.