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Cozumel technical boat dive trip with deep exposure

Discussion in 'Tech Trip Reports' started by divezonescuba, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. divezonescuba

    divezonescuba ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, Texas
    I have previously posted various disjointed aspects of my attempt to do technical diving in Cozumel. This post is intended to summarize what we learned in those posts into one coherent archival post.

    We had only previously done technical diving in Bonaire, Florida, Cayman Brac, and Egypt and did not know what to expect, since Cozumel is just not known as a technical diving destination.

    We were in Cozumel for a week trip in late July / early August 2019. We stayed at scuba club Cozumel because the AI food is edible, actually it is very good. One of the other benefits of that facility is the free and easy shore diving in the afternoon.

    On the trip, I needed to finish one students dives 3 and 4 of the PADI TEC 40 course. Since I had never done any technical diving on Cozumel, this presented and interesting opportunity to learn how technical diving is done there. Here is what we learned from this experience.

    There are no AL40s available to rent from either Meridano 87 nor the new fill station run by Stathis across from the Casa Mission restaurant. Both of these locations will fill privately owned tanks, but require them to be left for an hour or two. Apparently, they do not bank any mixes of nitrox. If you are going to go all the way out to either of these places, Meridano 87 fills tanks much cheaper than the newer place. I am not sure why anyone would use a less established, equally inconvenient, but more expensive facility than a more established, equally inconvenient, much cheaper facility. How about somebody starting a more convenient, cheaper, and better equipped facility?

    At it turns out, the only place that we could find that had AL40s was the Deep Exposure Dive shop which is not too far from the water. Deep Exposure has a good quantity of AL40s as well as rebreather tanks. Deep exposure does partial pressure blending and has a couple of booster pumps. However, since my AL40 that I brought with me was not o2 clean, I ended up having it filled at Scuba Club Cozumel instead.

    During our visit, I had the pleasure to talk with Don L., the owner at great length.

    We arranged with Deep Expose to go out to do two technical dives. Since their two boats also runs daily with recreational divers, I was not sure how that was going to work. I was also a little bit concerned with the fact that we were going to be picked up at the hotel Cozumel dock with our 8 primary AL80 tanks and another AL40 deco tank on board the boat. It was nothing to be worried about.

    When we were picked up, we ended up being the only technical divers on board for that trip. There were some experienced divers and an open water class. We were assigned an area in the cockpit. The bench was quite wide with tank storage against the hull. On this trip, we were diving sidemount. It turned out to be quite easy to don our tanks on the bench and then exit the transom. We received our deco bottles in the water.

    One dive guide was assigned to the two of us and a couple of the more experienced divers. Our first dive was Palancar Caves. We temporarily separated from the group to achieve our dive depth while they were in one of the swim thrus. Once done with our depth and skill requirements we met up again with the group. Our dive times were the same as the recreational divers as we were just practicing decompression stops and notox switches at the end of the dive.

    During the surface interval, we were served a wonderful lunch with among other things, tuna fish salad. The length of the surface interval was sufficient to do a second deco dive, if the first deco dive did not have a serious obligation. This means that the way Deep Exposure runs the boat, it would be compatible with most lower and mid range technical courses.

    We went to Cedral for the second dive. Here we actually went down the wall to achieve our depth requirement while the others stayed shallower. Because of the swifter current down on the wall, we ended up in front of the main group. As this dive had an actual decompression obligation, we finished father down current than the rest of the group. On surfacing we had to wait a few minutes while the boat finished picking up the recreational divers and headed over to us, further down current.

    The drift deco stops were way more interesting than in Florida. Rather than nothing but blue, we were able to observe the sea life to some extent.

    The ladder system on the boat was well suited to the additional requirements of technical diving. There are large posts on other side of the ladder mounts which made it the easiest boat to get back on with technical gear that I have ever been on. The crew is well versed on recovering deco and sidemount bottles. I actually climbed back on board with both of mine still on and did not have any trouble navigating back to the bench.

    There was one small issue with a couple of din inserts, but the crew had an entire box of din adapters to solve that problem. We had our own adapters, but is was comforting to know that they were prepared for problems like that.

    In summary, technical diving / training in Cozumel is quite feasible, if and only if, you dive with Deep Exposure.
    mcpowell, scrane and Johnoly like this.

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