"Akumal Mexico.  March 1999"

Leaving Alaska, it was -19 at the airport. Arriving in Cancun it must be 85 degrees and about 60% humidity. Wow what a difference.  Driving down the Coastal highway on the Yucatan in the dark is a trip in itself. When we get in the area of Akumal, we find there are no signs due to the road construction. We have a hell of a time finding Akumal, but eventually do, and find my brother Michael, and his companion Leslie at a local restaurant, sipping on margaritas and munching on garlic shrimp. We check in at the dive shop on Sunday, and the wife Lori signs up for an open water class starting Monday, Michael signs in for his referral from Tennessee, and Leslie, and I sign up for an advanced open water class, might as well be learning while the others are busy too.  We take Sunday off to goof off and check out the area. Akumal is between Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum on the Coastal highway.  A nice little vacation getaway spot close enough for day trips to Cozumel, Tulum, Coba, and many tourist destinations, and some out of the way sites. Our Condo, two bedroom, two bath, tile throughout, big balcony overlooking the Caribbean, with two hammocks and a table with four chairs. The view from the living room is the Caribbean, and Half Moon Bay, you can just feel the pressure, and stress of life in the states at work peeling off like layers of an onion. The excitement level is very high amongst us all.  Every one is so charged we all slink into our own little spot and study the books for a while. Adrian, my AOW instructor, told my our first dive would be a deep dive at 9:00 AM in the morning. It was hard to get to sleep at first, very excited about my first warm water dive and a little apprehensive about dropping to 100’, I had only been to 32’ in Valdez.  Monday Morning 7:00 AM Lori and I are up early, but Michael is already drinking coffee, and heading out in search of coffee cake. We head to the dive shop at around 8:45, and arrive early, where Adrian is already getting cylinders, and gear together. He tells us to get the gear together, and we will waste no time. In the Panga boat it is very rough with about 12 to 16 knot winds( I am not very good at estimating yet) and 3 to 5 foot swells, it just intensifies my apprehension, about the dive. Adrian says it is close to the limit but we can handle it. I am ready, it feels good even with the blow, it just feels right.  We only have to travel about five minutes, from the dive center to the reef, must be nice to have one of the biggest reefs in the world in your front yard. We have dive master Jose, in the boat with Ann, and Terry and another fellow named Tom, diving with him, the Adrian will take his students, Leslie and I down, until I run out of air, then Leslie will stay down with Jose's group to run her air out, and I will surface with Adrian. Jose, gives us instructions, the says put your masks on, and regulators in your mouth, when I point at you off you go, swim to the back of the boat and we will descend. Next thing I know I am in the Caribbean sea, AWESOME, HOW BLUE IT IS. and warm, no dry suit here, the gear does not feel cumbersome, and awkward it feels a part of, or an extension of my body. We meet at the back of the boat, and all give the ok sign. Then Jose gives us the thumbs down, I start my first decent into the warm Caribbean, I cant get over the rich blue color, and it seems all the anxiety, or apprehension has vanished, I suddenly realize why I am here, and why I will love being a diver. the simple serenity of it all, and the amazing array of color, the richness of life, and the dynamic drama that take place under the big blue, survival of the fittest. The awesome vastness that we know as divers, which most humans never get to see, is why I am there, I guess why I love it. I look down and see the bottom coming up, I look up and see three Wahoo swimming by. We get to the hover, and Adrian has us write our names on his dive slate backwards while timing us. Then off we go to our tour, fourteen short minutes later I signal him I need to start up, he acknowledges me and we do a 15/5 then on the Panga, the toughest part of the whole dive was getting back in the boat in heavy seas. I will never forget that dive, saw my first sea turtle, and the Wahoo, along with all the tropical fish.
the dive profile was LOC=AKUMAL REEF, 9:50-10:04, ADT=14, D=97, VIS=90-100’, SURGE=0, SWELLS=3-5’, WAT TEMP=80 I wont even mention Air consumption rates. After an hour and 41 minute surface interval where we worked on our compass skills we were again in the panga boat headed out with just Adrian, Leslie and My self this time. Now we are diving to 45’ to measure a 100’ swim by kick cycles, and time. then demonstrate a reciprocal, course, and plot and perform a 100’ square. We drop off the boat by a buoy to 45’ and the visibility is now only about 50 to 70’ as we are much nearer shore. We complete all our work in about 14 minutes and have more time to tour around, which we do. after 28 minutes I am out of air again, I am such a hog, we have to surface. the profile is LOC=AKUMAL REEF, PG=I SI=1:41 PG=B 11:45---12:13 ADT=28,
 D=45’, PG=M ,VIS=50-70’, SURGE=2’, SWELLS=3-5’, WAT TEMP= 80. Had trouble with my safety stop, had to swim to stay down, with the empty tank.  After the dive Adrian calls off our last dive of the day to concentrate on his open water referrals.

                                        Tuesday 3/9/99
At the dive shop again at 9:00 AM This time we are going to do a multi level dive using the
Wheel. We head out in the exact conditions we had the day before. I added 4# of weight to
keep me down at the safety stop. We dropped to 90’ and I blew it and went to 92, watching
the critters instead of my computer. We did a tour basically starting out at 92’ then up to
70’ then up to I cant remember, but the profile is 10:00--10:25, ADT=25, D=92, PG=N,
                             VIS=70, SURGE=0, WAT TEMP=80.

After an hour and 58 minutes of dry time we dropped again for our underwater naturalist
dive, very cool lots of fish, coral and sponge to look at. We took invertebrate, and
vertebrate ID cards with us and had to identify 5 spices of each, upon surfacing. The
dive profile is LOC=LOS RIEDES REEF,PG=N, SI=1:58, PG=C, 12:23--12:51, ADT=28 D=46’ VIS=70’, SURGE=2’, WAT TEMP=80 SWELLS=2-4.
Our last dive for the PADI AOW training, we get to do it with my brother Michael, his last
referral dive. Ours is peak performance dive, where we work with weight, air in the bc and
Adrian just shows us how to tune up our equipment basically, he would add some weight, then we have to hover in all positions, then take away some weight and hover again. But upon our decent we dropped to 52’ and there was this big turtle, she was checking us all out, and giving us the once over, when she started looking at me, she swam right up to my face, about 10” away, I had heard stories about them mistaking a mask for a jelly fish, and grabbing it, so I tried to back away, and she just followed so I just hovered there and hoped for the best and after about a full minute she decided I was not a jelly and moved on, but what an awesome experience. My second turtle was an in your face type of turtle I guess. The dive with my bro was definitely one of the high points of my life, and guess what, his air consumption is even worse than mine, now we are coming up because of someone else other than myself I feel like an old pro(he,he,he).
The dive profile is LOC= LOS RIEDES, PG=O, SI=2:18, PG=B, 3:09--3:34, ADT=25, D=52, VIS=30-40’, SURGE=3’, WAT TEMP=80, SWELLS =1-2’ .

We are all certified, or certifiable depends on your point of view I guess. Then next morning is free while Lori finishes up her open water, then we are off to Tankah to try the reef there.

                                     Wednesday 3/10/99
 Lori gets her certification about noon, after lunch we head for Tankah about 10 or 12 miles down the road, and the wind is even worse than before. We get to one of the local operators, and the mom is bragging on the son, her boat captain, he can get you out there, they have a small Boston whaler, and a few tanks. Dad is walking up to the hotel to get the dive master, and the son is telling mom its too rough, she apparently is interested in the money, but we all get a bad feeling about the same time, and graciously take a rain, or wind if you will check. We get back to Akumal to try to catch the 2:30 boats, and there was 6’ breakers coming through the reef, so I guess we just had to head to Tulum, and checkout the Markets and restaurants.

                                       Thursday 3/11/99
One dive in Akumal, the wind is very strong, we head to Punto Langosta, to check out the
reef, about a ten minute boat ride. Divemaster is Chepo, who shows us lobster, and lots of
tropical fish, it was very nice, but the reef was smaller than we were used to at this point.
My dive buddy is now Lori, my wife, and we are digging it she has caught the bug. Is this the
same person that had me book he class, then cancel it 4 times before I learned that we
would just book there if she wanted to take it. She went from I don’t know, Im afraid, to
where are we going next in a damn hurry. And her air consumption is much better than mine
of course. The profile was only one dive so, 10:45--11:13, ADT=28, D=50, PG=H, VIS=40’,
 WAT TEMP=80, SURGE=3-4’, SWELLS=5-6’.

                                        Friday 3/12/99
                                     ;  COZUMEL YEAH,
7:00Am we are headed out, stop and get some breakfast, catch the ferry to Cozumel, and
arrive at Dive with Martin about 5 minutes after the 11:00 boats left, we have to wait for an
hour and a half. We manage to get a boat and head out to pick up another party at a nearby
hotel, with 8 of us on the boat our divemaster Jesus, asks us where we want to go first, of
course the answer was Santa Rosa Wall, we head out, after a short boat ride we are on site,
geared up and Jesus is giving the order to drop. We descend on the wall to no deeper than
70’, and I end up going to 80’. It was one of the coolest things I had ever done, all our fears
of wall diving dissipated very quickly. The current was great, we drifted along at what must
have been about a mile and a half an hour. I came around a bend and there was a Moray eel
arguing with a Nassau grouper over a piece of fish or something, needless to say the Moray
won the argument. I had agreed to come up with Michael and Let Leslie stay down with Lori
to get a longer dive. After a very short 26 minutes Michael was tugging on my fins, giving me
the up signal, bummer. 1:30--1:56 ADT=26, D=80, VIS=90-100, WAT TEMP=81, SWELLS=1’, CURR=1.5MPH,  Cozumel is great, after a surface interval at San Francisco beach we head to Yucob reef, where I spend my entire dive with Lori as my buddy, and Michael and Leslie come up together. We get 45 minutes of dive time drifting over Yucob, looking at barracuda, dolphin, a myriad of tropical fish, and a fantastic reef. There is nothing like drifting over a reef hand in hand with your honey. SI 1:24, 2:26--3:13, ADT=50, D=46’, VIS=90-100’, SWELLS=1’, WAT TEMP=81,  CURR=1.5MPH,

                                       Saturday 3/13/99
I head to the dive shop to do a cenote dive on the Grand Cenote.  Chepo is the dive master,
he rigs me up with a huge tank, remembering my air consumption rate. We head off to the
jungle, on the highway to Coba, the cenote is about twenty feet below the surface, and there
is a rope there to lower gear with. We head into the pit, and suit up and Chepo takes us under in groups of three. It is a wonderful tour of the big chambers, we tour into sub chambers, but never leaving the light or making penetration. A lot of cool stalactites and stalagmites, and some cool little freshwater fish. The rock formations are pretty neat, but I will take the ocean
over this, I am sure if I were cave trained and had the ability to do some penetration it
would have been a lot cooler. ADT=25, D=36’, WAT TEMP=77, VIS=70 OR MORE.
We went to Cozumel on our last dive day, and the ports were closed, so we opted to go and
check out Cancun. I looked at the reef and I did not see the evidence of it dying I though I
would see, maybe I just don’t know what I am looking at, but I saw very little white reef, or
dead. I thought the overall trip to Akumal was fantastic, with great restaurants, a lot of
shopping in the area, easy access to Cozumel, and other areas of interest. I would give it an
A++++ and highly recommend to my friends. Hope you didn't get too bored.
                                       Bob G=Latitude 64.

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