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Trip Report 7/6-7/16

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by Saxonjd, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. Saxonjd

    Saxonjd Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    53
    54
    18
    Had originally planned to go in early April with a group of friends who we come down with 1-2x per year, but that obviously got cancelled. Plan B was to come this summer as usual, but with all the uncertainties leading up to coming in July both Covid related back home and in Mexico, and issues with flight cancellations, I was a bit hesitant to book. Had booked in May with points r/t on AA out of SEA with layovers both ways in DFW as I could cancel without penalty if I decided not to go last minute. Long story short, flight changes on return flight made that option a no-go, so about a week prior to departure I pulled the trigger and changed my reservation. Ended up coming down on AA, and back home on Sun Country and Alaska as I didn't want to overnight in DFW on the way home or do the bag drag.

    Travel down and back was fine. SEA was a bit busier than I expected and AA flights down were about 60% full including full in first class. As an aside, I would probably avoid first for the time being as there were no real amenities to differentiate from coach and with upgrades it was packed on all my flights. Travel right now is about getting from Point A to Point B without much frill in between. DFW was a ghost town on way down, though a bit busier coming back. At one point I counted probably 40 people when I looked about 100m down the terminal. Coming back my Sun Country flight had about 20 people on it and my Alaska flight was about 50% full.

    MY STAY
    Stayed with friends up north in their condo and it was great. Really quiet and relaxing. They had a manned checkpoint heading up north right by the airfield that early on was checking in on cars, but as the week progressed that just changed to a wave (or nothing). Sometimes they had the rope out (speed bump), others not out. Kind of perplexing. Always had someone at the shack though!

    DINING AND THE TOWN
    Was very quiet around town when we'd drive through to the marina or go into town for dinner. Not a lot of shops open, though as the week progressed more people were wandering and a few more shops were open. Was sad to see and sad to think about the financial impact for the people. For breakfast and lunch we ate at the condo, so just dinners out.

    We ate at Soy Gardel, Azul Madera (formerly Sal Del Mar), New Especias, Rolandi's, La Cocay, K'ooben Laab, La Perlita, and El Pique. Overall, great food like usual, though my lion fish kebob at La Perlita wasn't as good as it had been in the past. A bit overcooked and dry. Also, got the vodka sauce with shrimp at Rolandi's and not good at all. My favorites wee K'ooben Laab (always delightful and so cheap), New Especias and El Pique (under $8 including generous tip for 4 tacos, 1/2 order of beans and 2 beers!). Disappointed that Cielito Lindo and Le Chef were closed and no drinks at Wet Wendy's (though they are open now). Besides the diving, love the food options and quality in Cozumel!

    COVID PRECAUTIONS
    At all the restaurants they had hand sanitizer and most of the places did temperature checks. Only a few had the mats to step into with the disinfectant. Staff always wore masks and lots of social distancing with tables. At Mega and Chedraui same with the precautions. My friends went to Chedraui and they only let one in to shop. Didn't happen the day we went though. Driving around town you could see generally good compliance with wearing masks, and lots of municipal police, a fair amount of national guard, and even some motorcycle cops. Heavier than normal police presence for sure.

    DIVING
    We dove with ScubaTony, who we've been diving with for a few years. As everyone says with their favorite dive shop, they are awesome. As we've gotten to know the staff more, it's always good to come back and see them and catch up. This trip was no exception. Since we had a big enough group, the days we dove we had the boat to ourselves, which was great on a lot of levels. Crew always wore masks and used hand sanitizer frequently, especially before touching any equipment. As usual they kept our gear except regulators (new), wetsuits and masks (our choice).

    Generally dive conditions were good. I dove six days and the first three were better than the last three. Those first three days had good (not great) visibility and mellow current, which allowed for some lingering when we found something we wanted to look at more. The middle two days the current was really ripping, and one dive on Santa Rosa/Cedral was the most extreme. Fast current that was really pushing you and messed up visibility. Probably 30-40 ft max visibility. DM had flashlight out so we could see him better. It was almost like an old Western movie with all the tumbleweeds blowing on the range as you watched all the sargassum and other items flying by you. Current was mostly south to north though a couple dives it was north to south so we had to reposition the boat before entry. Talking to the DM, he said around this time for the next month or two is when currents get going and are more unpredictable.

    Dive sites we went to were Palancar Bricks and Gardens, La Francesa, Delilah, Cedral, San Clemente, San Francisco, Columbia Deep and Shallows, and Yucab (or as the DM Israel joked, Bacuy the day my friends when there and drifted the opposite direction, lol). Some dives we hit more than one reef because of the current. One dive was on part of Santa Rosa and Cedral and another was San Clemente and San Francisco.

    Plenty to see though which was great. The usual nurse sharks (though not as many as normal), stingrays a few turtles each day including a couple really big Hawkbill and a loggerhead, lots of spotted eels and a handful of morays including a couple swimming in the open. A few really big parrot fish and grouper too. Like really big! Yucab we saw a lot of splendid toadfish as well. Highlight for me was we saw an Eagle Ray on Palancar, which I love to see! Also we saw on La Francesa what we thought was a baby/juvenile reef shark, but when my friend compared the pictures he took to the ID books, looks like it was a small bull shark, especially when you looked at the notch in the tail. Didn't see as much of the white brain coral which was good. Overall, the wildlife numbers seem down from past years and the DM, when I mentioned it to him, said he sees that now compared to the past as well. Not that it's the primary reason, but he mentioned there's been continued problems with people fishing in the park and lots of illegal lobster harvesting out of season. Lots of pressure on the marine life, even without the cruise ships and throngs of divers.

    Overall, had a fantastic trip and thanks for reading through my long trip report. Looking forward to going back down again in December (doubtful but would be fun) or more likely next spring (hopefully!).
     
  2. bhalah

    bhalah Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Ontario
    966
    7
    18
    Thanks for your informative report.
     
  3. Cozdreamer

    Cozdreamer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NC
    481
    129
    43
    thanks for taking the time to share your experience down to the island I love and miss.
     
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    8,209
    5,662
    113
    Checking for what, I wonder?

    Good report! Scuba Tony gets consistent very good reviews on the forum from what I've seen. How many dives/day did you have the option to do? What time did you meet him in the morning, and what time did you get back to the dock or your home base? Knowing can help people plan their day. Glad to hear from people starting to venture out to dive destinations despite the pandemic, to those places that will let them.
     
  5. Saxonjd

    Saxonjd Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    53
    54
    18
    Thanks for the feedback! From what I was told, they were checking that folks lived up there or had business up there to keep people off the beaches. The two times we were stopped we told them we were staying there.

    Scuba Tony does 2 tank AM and PM dives. We ended up doing a mix of both because of the capacity changes with reopening, so some of our AM dives were moved to PM. AM diving the boat leaves at 7:30 (have to be at Caleta at 7:150 and you're back around 12ish. PM dives leave at 1:00 (be at dock at 12:45) and we got back around 5-5:30. They do night dives, but right now they aren't. I've mostly dove AM dives and that is my preference as I can have the afternoon to do other things. Really like their fast boats as we get out to the dive sites pretty early and aren't many divers out yet.

    Surface intervals we did a mix of tying up to some docks/piers to spending some time at Cielo, which was cool as I hadn't been there before. One day we did the SI at a beach right by Punta Sur and you could look into the lagoon, which was cool. No crocodile visitors, so that was good!

    One thing I forgot to mention in the review was on our way home from a PM dive we ended up helping a stranded father and 2 kids near Fiesta Americana. We pulled up to a drifting Sea-Doo that had a dad and 12 YO girl on it and a similar age boy in the water holding onto a Sea Bob (which was super cool btw with a camera and screen to look underwater). Sea-Doo had stopped working and the Sea Bob battery had died I think. They were drifting south and out a bit and the girl was really scared (boy was too, but not as bad as the girl).

    We got the kids in the boat, along with the Sea Bob, and hooked the Sea-Doo up to a tow rope and dad stayed on that. Kids calmed down pretty quickly once in the boat and dad was SUPER grateful we had stopped. He said one boat just cruised by even though they had seen them waving their arms, which is crappy. Scary as it was close to 6 as we dove way south that day and not many boats still out and they were far enough out that I don't think the kids could have swum to shore. BTW no life jackets.......ugh.....

    Anyways....highest marks for the captain and DM who handled it all perfectly. Super competent in everything and communicated well with all involved. We dropped the kids off at El Presidente as mom was picking them up there. We towed dad to Caleta as that's where his boat was. Pulled up to some 60-70ft yacht with crew and they took it from there. Dad was super appreciative and kept thanking us profusely for stopping. Glad we were able to help as this could have turned out pretty badly for them.
     
    Redfoot, drrich2, cozcharlie and 3 others like this.
  6. Cozdreamer

    Cozdreamer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NC
    481
    129
    43
    Saxonjd, You will forever remember that incident being on board the boat that helped the dad and 2 kids! They on the other hand will forever be thankful for the true sharing of love and compassion for others that the ScubaTony boat captain, DM, and crew showed so unselfishly! We all need to hear a little more of that now days! I am so glad to have read your follow up to this thread and saw a happy ending unfold for that blessed family!
     
  7. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    10,436
    3,720
    113
    I grew up in a boating family; if you spend a lot of time out on the water you'll experience this kind of thing from time to time. Sometimes you will be the rescuer and sometimes you'll be the rescuee; boating people are particularly quick to jump to the aid of someone in need of assistance and I could tell you many stories from my own experience. I don't mean to diminish in any way the assistance the Scuba Tony gave that guy and his kids, but it is no way surprising or unusual. It's what we expect from one another when we are out there on the water even if it is our own dumbassery that got us in trouble.
     
    drrich2 and Cozdreamer like this.
  8. Cozdreamer

    Cozdreamer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NC
    481
    129
    43
    ggunn, that boaters' assistance you describe to one another is why we have grown to appreciate the RV community too while traveling. RV'ers also tend to help one another out in times of crisis. Some call it karma some call it being humble enough to realize it might be you who needs help next time. Anyway, I wish ALL people realized how to be KIND!
    I prefer to read and hear about GOOD NEWS and appreciated that the ScubaTony boat stopped to offer help when the other boat did not. Good story to always remind me why I love to dive in Cozumel since the early 90's and look forward to returning!
     
  9. Saxonjd

    Saxonjd Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    53
    54
    18
    ggunn, for sure this was not surprising. Living in the PNW and spending a decent amount of time on the water this is definitely expected. Disappointed to hear that the other boat didn't stop (though I'd like to think they didn't see them waving their arms), and also the fact that no one, especially the kids didn't have a life vest on. That last part was the most disappointing.
     
  10. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    10,436
    3,720
    113
    We were once out fishing on Calcasieu Lake (aka locally as Big Lake) on my dad's single engine inboard cruiser when the prop threw a blade. The departing blade chopped a hole in the bottom of the boat and the spinning off balance prop destroyed the through hull shaft bearing seal before we could get the engine shut down. We were dead in the water, leaking, and there was a thunderstorm bearing down on us. We saw a boat coming that would pass a hundred or two yards away from us, so I climbed up on the roof of the cabin, took off my white Tshirt, tied it to the end of a 6' boathook, and waved it over my head while my dad watched the other boat through binoculars. They waved back and kept going.

    An hour or so later another boat came by and towed us in.
     

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