Scuba Diving

Grand Cayman Islands

CMU explorers who went: Josephine Palencia

We stayed at the Morritt's Tortuga Resort (nice). I dove with the very professional Ocean Frontier's dive shop while Neda got certified with Red Sail.

Dives done: Did a total of 20 dives (josephin), 6 dives (neda) in over a week.

Grand Cayman east diving is mostly ~100 ft great wall dives on one side
(shoulder) then plunges into the abyss on your other side/shoulder.

Neda got certified and did 4 check-out dives, the Kittiwake wreck, and the
Stingray City dive. All of my dives start at 100ft or so followed by
60-80ft dives. I dove each one for over an hour so averaged about 4-5
hours of diving/day.

We rented a small car for ~ $200/week.
A great diving vacation. Would love to return there again.

Below are the dives. (*favorites)

Dive - Depth - Duration
1. Babylon Gardens - 100ft - 1hr
2. Club Hole - 67ft - 1hr 10m
3. Pat's Wall - 100ft - 1hr
4. Maggies Maze - 60ft - 1hr
5. Scuba Bowl - 100ft - 45m
6. Light House on the Prairie - 65ft - 1hr 10m
7. Eeny, Meeny, Miny Mo - 100ft - 1hr 5m
8. Frand Sound Gardens - 41ft - 1hr 10m
9. Turtle Pass - 100ft - 45m
10. Cinderella's Castle - 65ft - 1hr 5m
11. High Rock Drop-Off - 100ft - 1hr
12. Ironshore Gardens - 65ft - 1hr 10m
13. Andy's Wall - 100ft - 1hr
14. Eagle Ray pass - saw 2 eagle rays (mate) going towards the abyss - 100ft - 1hr
15. Kathleens' Reef - 82ft - 1hr 10m
16. Split Rock - 80ft - 1hr
17. Sunset Reef - night dive: cool with UV lights - 21ft - 1hr
18. Stingray City - 12ft - 50m
19. 3 Sisters - 100ft - 1hr
20. The Arch - 70ft - 1hr 10m
21. Kitiwake wreck - 60ft - 45m

-J. Palencia

Summersville Lake, WV

CMU members who went:  Josephine Palencia, Felix Duvalet, Erica Karapandi 

Only 1 shore dive (no Pontoon boat).

Where: Battle Creek endmost section beyond the dock
           Summersville Lake, WV

Depth: 30feet for submerged white boat

Lessons learned:

* Assemble & inspect your gear early so you're ready on the getgo.

* A well-planned dive with a designed lead makes for a safer dive. Impromptu assignment of a dive leader is not a good idea. You always have an option to back out of a dive if safety is an issue.

* Never bepressured to leada dive you are not comfortable leading.

* For shore diving, inspect the entry route that would be easier for divers to enter. For Battle Creek dock endmost beyond the gate, left side of the dock has less rocks and uneven surface.

* To learn navigation on freshwater dive, stay close to the surface. That way you can easily check your position/direction without difficulty. When you master relying only on your instrument for depth/direction, go below and work on your bouyancy. 

* For the dive flag rope, have a looping mechanism to prevent tangling.

-J. Palencia

Cozumel, Mexico

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Flew from Pittsburgh directly to Cozumel, Mexico and stayed at Suites Bahia. It is a popular hotel for divers- affordable and right in the middle of downtown Cozumel. My companions stayed at the all inclusive Wyndham. This time there were just 7 of us scuba divers (several dive masters, rescue divers, Advanced OW) We dove for 6 days doing from 2 to 4 dives/day going with Prodive shop located inside Allegro Cozumel resort.

Below are the (popular, beautiful) dive sites we went to (with comments/highlights): lots of lobsters, crabs, moray eels, school fishes.

Palancar Gardens (85ft, 55min):
- Face to face with a 2-meter barracuda 1 ft away
- Several 8ft nurse sharks 20ft away

Palancar bricks (85ft, 56min)
- Love this site, beautiful large coral structure; many dive throughs, large turtles, eels, lobsters.

Palancar Caves (100ft, 55min)
- I previously dove this site in 6.20.2009 where the colors were in full bloom and spectacular. During this time, there was lots of bleaching and white sand covering the corals. Must be the time of the year or previous storms?

Santa Rosa wall (100ft to Abyssal depths, 55ft)
- This was one my favorites dive during the trip. Wall-diving. Abyss on the right and a wall on the left. Beautiful with a lot of large barracudas, huge fishes swarming about.

Puntar Sur (120ft, 55min)
- A very deep dive, a favorite also; nurse sharks, large spotted stingrays, moray eels, lots of lobsters, barracudas

San Francisco Wall (60ft, 45min)

Yucab (80ft, 55min)

Cedral Wall (80ft, 55ft)

Cedral Reef (60ft, 50min)
- Lots of fishes here, saw 2 nurse sharks

Washington (65ft, 49min)
- Fun dive, lots of fishes, giant green eel, 3 nurse sharks

I dove with nitrox-enhanced air (36%) starting Wednesday all the way to Friday. And in between diving, basically just strolled around downtown Cozumel buying $3-4 cozumel tshirts, drove around the little island with a tiny, stick-shift car that didn't give me a problem :) A great vacation away from everything. Definitely going back there.

-J. Palencia

Youghiogheny River, PA

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Dove a portion of the Yough River this last Sunday. I went with 3 other dive veterans (3 dive masters) from a local scuba club and and we entered the water at 10:30am and got out around 12:30pm. As the current was relatively strong, the current carried us at different speeds down the lake.

It was basically a drift dive and all 4 divers didn't get to see other till the end of the dive. The day was perfect for lake diving with about 6ft vis. I drifted down the lake pushing against any rock I encountered. We used 7-5-3mm suit (no hood, no gloves).

There were a lot of 1-2ft fishes (bass, catfishes) following us around (they get really curious and come as close as 5inches from your dive mask looking at you face to face and opening their mouths wide to show territorial instinct.

I dove close to 2 hours using 2500psi air (I don't breathe :). It was pretty shallow with max depth of 20ft. I overshot the landing area by about 200ft so had to swim the lake upstream against the current. Final departure site was Hazelbakers on Layton road.

All in all, a nice dive to practice buoyancy, presence of mind (essentially you're on your own) and navigational skills.

-J. Palencia

Calaguas, Philippines

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Scouted 3 dive sites (50ft), saw a 1.5meter long sea snake (Sea snakes are the most poisonous snakes.. they belong to the cobra family). The snake was colored blue with black stripes. They can last 5 hours underwater and just come up the surface to breath. Other cited organisms were huge lion fishes, family of clown fish, cauliflower corals as big as 2meters, huge fish schools, (flying fish, sardines), stingrays, tanguigue (King Mackerels). Stayed on the safer side of the islands. The place is swarming with tiger sharks and sea snakes fortunately those can be found at deeper depths (i.e. the tiger sharks).

-J. Palencia