My thoughts Diving the Cocos Island (Isla del Coco)... very long! Pt 2

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lsorenson

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Cont from Pt 1 http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/central-america/395328-my-thoughts-diving-cocos-island-isla-del-coco-very-long-pt-1-a.html#post6036334

Third dive, Manuelita Outside. This was a very good dive as we dropped down to 80’ to the sand and positioned ourselves behind a rock. I was way down on the far end taking a picture or three of some Hammers that were getting quite close. Then I had a magic moment, I saw a large shark which I thought was a Galapagos shark at first but as it came closer much closer I saw the stripes down the back side from top to bottom and knew it was a Tiger shark…! At one point it was coming straight at me and I was wondering do I shove this camera at him or let out a blast of air…? I ended up doing neither as he then kicked off to the right at the last moment and none too soon as I was getting a bit nervous. It came within three feet of me and was a true “moment” that will stay with me for some time… Funny, I believe I said the same thing a couple of days ago; I will have to reread to see if I did…! I was able to get three pictures with only one coming out somewhat well enough to brag about but we will have to see how it looks on a proper computer! All and all, a very good dive as the Hammers were busy in the cleaning stations, White Tips were plentiful, and of course the Tiger…!

Forth dive, Manuelita Coral (Night dive). Not something I would chose to do each and every night but was a rare experience for me and others involved for the first time. Much like the films that have been seen, White Tips are very active at night but it all starts with the Black Jacks. The Black Jacks make the initial kill of whatever is found and the White Tips move in for whatever is remaining… I heard there were more White Tips a few years back but all I know is there were plenty scurrying around the sand and rocks and as I drifted some 4-5’ above. Tthoughts were “what if”… as in what if I run into that Tiger shark I saw earlier just some 500’ away from where we were at, besides we started off this dive seeing a Hammer Head and a Galapagos shark…! This was another once in a lifetime experience and on this trip, I am racking up many “once in a life time” moments…! Now, If I can only see a Manta Ray we can call it a trip and head back to the house but only if its time cause I may just see that Whale shark or Tiger again and let the magic continue!

Day ended with partly cloudy skies and the stars were looking nice from what could be seen in the breaks… awhile later the clouds did open up and it was a very nice showing of stars…!

Day six, well, we moved back over by the Ranger station, it only takes 20-30 minutes to move but it get us closer to where we will dive for the day. Today, many are grumbling due to past experiences at these two sites (Dos Amigos and Don’t remember) but if the seas are rough then plan B will come into play and Dirty Rock and Punta Maria will be chosen. Many on the boat want to continue to dive only Manuelita but this site of 4 dive sites is shared with other boats. Currently we have a total of three boats on the island and when a boat arrives “they” have the rights to Manuelita. I was speaking to one of the DM last night and asked him “during a normal weeks’ worth of dives, how many are Manuelita?” He replied with “four” so we are so much ahead of the game as we will still get another 4-5 dives on Manuelita.

First dive. I called this dive as my right ear has been giving me trouble over the past 2-3 dives. Having difficulty with clearing it. I have taken Benadryl and though I can breathe better, I am still a bit stoved up. Not sure as of yet if I am taking the entire day off or just one dive… Funny, as you watch everyone get into the skiff how much easier it becomes to clear the ears!

Second dive. Don’t know as I slept through it!

Third dive. Since I had already missed two dives, I decided to miss this one as well. I could clear my ears better but I would rather dive all of the dives the next three days than just a couple so I think this was a wise decision.

Instead, I asked the guys if they could drop me off at the ranger station where I knew I would have internet access… Read up on current affairs, sports, and such but the best… Calling my wife via Skype! Surprise…! As she had no idea I would have access nor was expecting to hear from me for another 5 days! It was nice… very, very nice!!! The guys kept busting my balls about leaving me so call me silly but I became a little concerned when later I noticed the “Undersea Hunter” missing from the bay. I knew they were close and figured they moved back over towards Manuelita Isla and sure enough, radio crackled they the skiff was on its way to pick me up… One can only hope and I had picked out a nice cozy room at the ranger station!!! Tomorrow my plan is to start diving again and I hope for the best!

Day Seven. Day started out with sunshine! Have not seen it too often as many times we are heading out to the dive site in drizzle. Still smiling about calling home…

Dive one, Manuelita Channel. Nothing more to add from previous dives at this point. Viz was OK but not the usual number of Hammers at the cleaning station. Saw some really nice, very nice Yellowtail Tuna; very big, graceful, and fast with little to no movement at all…

Dive two, Manuelita outside. Saw a few Hammers, Jacks, White Tips, Grouper, Puffers of all sorts, Triggers, Parrots, and many others. Good stiff current and drifted like most dives. Only two dive sites with guide lines, Alcyon and Punta Marie. Good dive as all have been good to very good if not spectacular dives… Problem is; if they were all spectacular would they still be spectacular or does spectacular become just a good dive?

Dive three, Manuelita Channel. Dropped down to the cleaning station. Viz was OK at best and few Hammer Heads. Had an Eagle Ray sighting but is has been a while since I saw one…! A Tiger Shark was seen for a brief moment by a couple of divers who had not seen it previously… Even though I missed it, I was very happy for them…!

Day Eight. Morning looked promising as the sun looks to be out even if it’s just a moment, it’s good to see her!

First dive, Dirty Rock. Bit of a rough ride out but if only all rough rides were only 15 minutes I might dive the North Carolina coast more… Had a few Hammers as the viz was not so good. Thermocline was on top of the cleaning station @ 132’ but was enjoying the dive after all, beats the hell out of missing one and sitting on the boat! Good current but nothing overwhelming or stiff as before on other dives here.

Second dive, Alcyon. To me, this dive is living up to its reputation and expectations with or without the massive amount of Hammer Heads above… So many things going on between the Octopus, Marble Rays, Moray Eels, White Tip Sharks, and abundant of aquatic life… On a sad note, saw one White Tip with a hook and line coming from its mouth. We wanted to remove the hook so badly but we and the shark were much safer leaving it alone. If nothing else, I would have at least liked to have cut the 15’ or so of line trailing from the hook…! As always, this was a good dive and even though we bash Lobster Rock on being a poor dive; beats any quarry dive I ever made!

Third dive, Manuelita Channel. Unfortunately we had some miscommunication during this dive… My understanding was we were going to head down and take positions near one of the cleaning stations and afterwards, we would drift around the right hand side of the Island. I had taken up position deep down at the cleaning station, right off the sand behind a rock, a spot I was familiar with and had taken a couple of good Hammer Head shots… I was probably 30 or so feet away which was not much out of the ordinary. As I waited for the show to begin I took inventory; Camera on, check; strobes on, check; popcorn buttered, check; get stuck by some type of spinney critter, check…! This was a good spot cause as the team drifted by; I would just gently kick up and join in with the drift.

As I was trying to figure out just what the heck had poked me, green starfish covered with spikes type critter I noticed the other team dropping down on me and they were giving me the “what the hell are you doing here and where is your team?” Well I knew photo opportunities were going to be little to none with 8 other divers behind me so I did my best soft shoe impersonation and headed back around the corner and stopped some 20’ above and maybe 10’ behind my team as it was a pretty shear wall we were up against! A little aggravated that another team came in on top of me I pretty much called the dive but stayed @ 45’ until the drift began.

Ok, so to shorten this up, once back on the boat I received a lecture from one of the divers on the other skiff about buddy diving and such… Following this I found both of the dive masters, one from each team and was pretty honest with them… I said to my DM, “look, I know I fall under your responsibility out here and I truly don’t give a rats a$$ what anyone else thinks but if I jammed you up in any way; then I want to apologize to you!!!” He let me know that I was fine with him and he had no problem with me what so ever and both DM expressed their appreciation…! I don’t believe I was in the wrong and this was pretty much the way I have been diving the entire trip; we meet down around 45-50’, spread out, and wait for the action. If no action, we pick up and go but if the action is good, we stay. Other than a mistake on my part on day three, these guys have always known my intentions and we (with both DM’s and with my team) have communicated well during this entire trip…!

Three more dives and this trip will be a wrap…

Dreaded day nine. We awoke to the sun and our last 3 dives of the trip… Not sure you could ask for a better day than this and I much prefer a sunny day for the last day than a cloudy drizzly one!

First dive, Alcyon. We were hoping to find the White Tip with the hook and line so we could cut loose the line but unfortunately, we could not locate the shark. This is always a nice dive as it has so much to offer whether it’s Eels, Rays, Hammers, Octopus, White Tips, Puffers of all types, and a large number of jacks… Viz was not the best but the dive was excellent just the same. Current was ok but manageable besides we always had the down line. Sun was still out and the Hammers put on a nice show…

Second Dive, Manuelita Channel. Just a fabulous dive!!! Hammers stole the show as usual. I was sitting pretty much where I was yesterday. Hammers were coming by just nicely and after a while we started to move. As I left my position I saw a school of Eagle Rays… I started to take off for them but the group did not see them but the DM pointed to me to go ahead and catch them… I started but at this point it would have taken a lot of effort to catch them so I pulled off. Finding myself in the middle of the cleaning station was not so much alarming but as I looked up, a large wall of Hammers descended on me like nothing I have ever seen… There were so many, so close, so fricken large, that I did not even take a picture as I was caught up in the moment!!! I would have liked to have a picture of me in this swarm of Hammer Heads but I am not sure anyone caught a picture… The DM was laughing at me and knew I was having a blast! As we continued our accent into the blue, saw a few Hammers out with us and a Devil Ray… Just before the dive ended a Dolphin joined in with our group and entertained us for the last five minutes… Just a great dive and could have ended on this one but… we still have one more!

Third and last dive of the trip... Manuelita Channel. Hopes were for this dive to be as exciting as the previous but as in life, nothing is as good the second time around… Still a good dive none the less! I was hoping to get one more dive in with the battery I had in the camera but it died with @ 20 minutes remaining… So if I tell you about the Great White Shark we saw without the pictures to prove it, I hope you will understand…!!! :)

Personally, I cannot say enough good things about the boat, crew, DM’s, cook, weather, marine life, and team members…! 14 of us from all parts of the world with a Costa Rican crew getting along (for the most part) and I look forward to returning again with my wife someday…! Much love to her as she not only approved this trip but encouraged me to take it as well…!

Sad note on what is to come… We were no further than some 5 miles away when we spotted 5 fishing boats out and about… These illegal fishermen will fish these waters dry if something more is not done to protect what the Island has… Do we really have to destroy everything?

The trip back is somewhat somber… The seas are not as subtle as they were on the way out pushing maybe 5’ but that is just a guess on my part with cloudy skies. We have started doing the initial packing and settling up our bills and very little communication is taking place. We understand that we will arrive at the docks around 1:00AM and departing around 8:00AM when we will all head back to our lives that we have taken a short break from…!

There are several that stood out in the crew for me;

Pepe, our skiff operator. He had a couple of stainless steel hooks that were recovered from illegal fishing lines. He wound turn these hooks into a pendent to be used as a necklace or keychain. I was touched by his generosity and in return, I gave him my Megalodon tooth I had made into a necklace… I believe we were both happy with what we gave and what we received…!

Both Dive Masters as we had Edwar (Eddie) for half the trip and Ronald (Chipopa) for the other half. These guys can make or break a dive trip and for me; I honestly don’t believe there is a better pair to be found. Not only did I enjoy diving with these two but I also enjoyed the conversations we had. Both willing to share information regarding marine life but what really impressed was they would share photography settings and thoughts on catching better shots with you… I could not say enough good things about either of you two and thank you for making this such a memorable trip for me…!

Tiger… We interfaced a lot with Tiger as he was the assistant cook but I really believe he was the assistant to everyone; gopher if you care. Always with a smile and at a drop of a dime… I hope he climbs the ranks quickly as I could see the good in this kid and I hope the best for him.

So many behind the scenes people supporting this boat and our stay, hats off to all of you and you all played such a big part in this truly life changing experience for me…

Thanks again to all involved and be safe…!

Sincerely, Lee Sorenson
 

bittdiver

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Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience.
You helped me a lot, as I am looking for plentiful descriptions of the Cocos trip as I can find.
And yours was by far the most complete one that I have ever found!
 

deeper thoughts

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thnx for sharing
 

Coral-Reefer

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Enjoyed reading about your trip. I leave to dive Coco's from the MV Argo in about a month. I am sorry you had to deal with those divers chastising you. I hate when other divers do that. I guess it makes them feel superior, or maybe they are making up for shortages in other areas. People like that can ruin a trip and it sounds like you handled it more gracefully than I.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and post it!

Chris Bertolini
Newland, NC
 

lsorenson

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Well, I just saw your post C-R and wonder if you have returned as of yet... No, those two women did not damper my trip at all, fact is, I poked fun at em' the rest of the time! Anyway, the trip is still fresh in my mind and I will look to see if you have posted the results from your trip! lee
 

Coral-Reefer

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lsorenson, I just returned from the Coco's trip and had a great time, smooth seas the entire way. I will post a report about it soon. right now I am digging out from the work that accumulated while I was gone!

Chris
 
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