Nick and Mid Ferris return to Cozumel after 24 years
by Nick Ferris, 10 Feb. 2007
Mid and I returned to Cozumel last week, after a 24 year absence. We had some equipment to check out before we did any expensive diving on the other side of the world. Yes, we had to give up snow shoveling. There’s a drawback to everything. We went via Frontier Airlines, direct 3 hours, Apple Vacations. Mark Stephenson at Rocky Mountain Diving made the arrangements. We stayed at the 3 Star Casa del Mar. Not at all bad – good service, excellent meals. Lots of divers, wet suits draped over railings and bushes. And across the street past some hurricane wreckage is a dock where the dive boat picked us up. That avoided cab rides with heaps of wet stuff.
Diving was with Alison Dennis of Alison@scubawithalison.com. No cattleboat, her 25 (or so) foot open boat, the Enigma, with two outboard motors zips right along to wherever the six (or fewer) divers want to go. We mostly stayed away from the major wall dive locations. Our three dive days were all different because of changing weather, from crummy to excellent. Current is always there, sometimes a bit too much for housed camera photography. But the big, beautiful queen angelfish, (and gray, and French), and filefish, grunts, snappers, and barracuda are present regardless. A hawksbill turtle was close enough to touch, we got next to a barracuda being cleaned, and saw our first big nurse shark.
Meanwhile, the patch reefs on a sloping sand base still have some sand on the coral and sponges, but are gradually “coming back”. Small gorgonians are sprouting up. Water temperature was 79 to 80 degrees.
Surfacing was a new experience. All the dives are drift dives – no anchorages or mooring buoys. Theoretically, the dive boat drifts along above the divers. But maybe not, for a variety of reasons. So Alison takes divers low on air (700 psi) up to 15 feet and inflates a yellow tube on a string. The tube shows the boat operator where the divers are preparing to surface. After 3 minutes the divers surface, Alison goes down after more divers, and the boat arrives. This seems overly protective, but it contrasts with the indifferent practices of 25 years ago which lost 50 to 80 divers a year. If seas are running the boat lays to and rolls, making climbing the ladder a strenuous adventure. Still, I’d like to go back. (Ed. This article has also been added to the Dive Trip Reports section)