The weather is better and the water is calmer today so our dives are farther afield, today we learn why Cozumel is famous for drift diving.
The first dive is at Palancar Gardens. The current is not too strong but it is a current and we drift nicely along. I have the camera today and it is easy to stop for a shot. Kicking lightly into the current I can hold my place and take several photos of the same subject hoping to get a good one. We float along letting the ‘movie’ entertain and see what we can pick out on the way by.
The terrain is quite spectacular, the wall is not high, maybe 50 ft or so, but there is lots of deviation and it is covered in coral. We cruise through a couple of swim-throughs which makes for an interesting dive. We have a couple of critter highlights, early in the dive the dive master points out a crab that would make dinner for four, a big fella but not something for the record books. Near the end of our dive, when there were only B, Debbie and me left, Debbie starts to wave like crazy and scream into her reg. She obviously sees something worth looking at. She points around the corner of a coral outcropping and heads me in that direction. There sitting up inside a shallow cave is a lobster the size of which I have never seen. I am not exaggerating at all when I say it is Debbie size. She is 5’1” tall and this lobster is at least as long as she is tall. I could not get her to move beside it so I could get a comparison picture so the pictures I have do not have anything in them that shows the lobster’s relative size. I still cannot believe how big it is, it looked like something from a sci-fi film. All in all a nice dive and if you are in Cozumel try to get out to the Palancar area.
The second dive of the day turns out to be a ripper. Pumba, the dive master, says ‘the current could be a bit faster here so beware.’ We are not going deep because it is dive 2 and we need to be a bit more conservative, 65 ft is our planned depth. We’ll swim along the top of the wall and see what we see. The current is so fast we feel like we are flying. R, who was worried that drift diving would be difficult, has a smile that can be made out even though he has reg in his mouth.
WE ARE MOVING! If you miss something, you miss it. The amount of air and effort needed to get back up stream would not be worth missing a good portion of the end of the dive. I try to take pics and it is “decide now and click the shutter” because I do not get a second chance. Digital imaging is a blessing. You can always erase a mistake or two but if I was shooting film I would want to take more time because every exposure costs.
The current slows every once in a while and life becomes more leisurely. Then it picks up again and the amusement park ride begins anew. On the dive briefing Pumba says at the end of the dive he will try to point out a couple of sea horses and to his word he finds 2. I don’t know what is in the water here but both the sea horses are of the big variety. The other sea horses I have seen have been 6 cm max. both of these guys are 12 to 15 cm. Everyone has a good dive. R says it is the best dive he has had, it is amazing what a day or two and a dive or two will do for the confidence and level of skill acquired.
The last dive is what drift diving is about. We felt like the turtle in the movie Nemo that catches the ‘stream’ off Australia and rides it as if he is flying through space. Man it is fun and the divers here in Cozumel have learned to go with it and not put up a fight, so in fact the diving is easier here than other places where the dive route requires that you fight your way back to the boat rather than the boat following the divers’ bubbles and picking us up upstream.
Oh boy! Debbie and I go again in the morning!