Car Wash

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Car Wash Cave Dive

I had overheard my instructor telling the staff at ProTec that I was, “OK to dive anywhere”, and found that Bernie (my Cave Guide) agreed, so today I was in for a special treat.  We were heading to Car Wash, and I was just thrilled.  I had once done my lost line drills for my Cavern Class in carwash, and had always heard many stories about how incredibly beautiful the “room of tears” was here.  We arrived and found a pair of Cave Students there on their first day of training.  It was fun to watch the students fumbling in their gear, and when Bernie and I dropped down in the Cenote to do our S-drills, I noticed both students dragging their long hoses through the pond-weed on the bottom. They had a long ways to go yet!

Bernie ran the primary reel in, and it’s a long, long way from the cenote to the upstream Cave Line, which is well hidden near the “chamber of horrors”.  The Cave here is dark, brooding, and drops much deeper than the other systems I had been in so far.  As we neared Luke’s hope cenote, I spotted several delicate and beautiful blind fish, that reminded me of white nudibranchs swimming by.  Passing through the cenote, we dropped back down and eventually spotted the two columns that signified we were near our jump. Bernie took out my bright orange jump reel, attached it to the line, and I was looking all around, thinking, “where the heck are we going”.  Then she descended through this little tiny hole in the floor, and squeezed into this small room in the basement.  I followed her until I was about half in and half out of the restriction (there wasn’t room for two of us in there) and she tied off and then ducked under the back wall and disappeared.  Very cool!  I followed the line and crawled under the back wall and then straight up into a series of narrow, winding restrictions.  These were quite challenging for a new Cave Diver, but I was having a great time, even though I was concentrating very hard on not kicking or damaging anything in the cave.

Many times you had to pull yourself through the tight spots, as there just wasn’t room to kick, so you had to very carefully finger-walk through the solid parts and not touch the delicate parts.  We passed the jump going off to the Crystal Palace, and I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to see any space big enough to relax in and turn around, when all of the sudden the room opened up to my right.  The “room of tears” was so named when the explorer that discovered it burst into tears at the stunning beauty she witnessed.  Wow!  I had to concur.  I was stunned at the millions of fine and delicate decorations covering every inch of the room.  I floated in space for several minutes, trying to let my mind digest the incredible beauty it was witnessing.  I felt truly privileged to get to visit and witness this amazingly beautiful work of Mother Nature, but I have to tell you that the first person that decided to crawl back here must have been CRAZY!  (see map)

The upstream entrance to Car Wash CenoteOK, back to reality.  I remember to check my gas supply, and we’re still good to continue, so we head down through some even tighter restrictions, eventually dropping down to a T.  We turn right at the T, and head off into the Lotus rooms.  The formations here are marvelous, but I’m getting close to hitting thirds, and my penetration time has exceeded my No Decompression Limit by several minutes now (even with the advantage of the Nitrox we were breathing), which is not a good thing as we really hadn't planned on any deco.  I call the dive, and we begin to work our way out through the restrictions we had just passed through.  Once we were back in the “room of tears”, I just had to stop and gawk once more.  Wow.  My mind (of course) was busy trying to figure out how on earth I’m going to get my camera back in here, and how I could ever hope to even capture a fraction of its beauty.  Wow!

After lots of up and down, twisting and turning, we eventually make it back past Luke’s hope, and to our Primary Reel.  Our original plan had been to only do one dive here, but Bernie had made the mistake of picking up both sets of doubles, so I quickly scribbled on my Wet Notes that we should leave the Primary Reel in place, because I wanted to do another dive here.  Bernie agreed and we swam off to the Cenote to off gas for a bit.  We surfaced into a nice warm cenote, and I’ll quote from the notes I wrote down after the dive.  “Room of Tears, is THE most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Absolutely Stunning!”  Fair enough!      (View a graph of dive to the Room of Tears)

During our surface interval, we had an entertaining discussion about planning our decompression obligations as we were already way off of Bernie’s tables and she couldn’t figure out how to plan the second dive.  I helped her figure out our “average depth” so she could use her tables, and showed her that both of my computers showed we would have a good 60 minutes at our average depth, so we settled on 30 minutes of penetration and reserved an extra 200 psi from our thirds to address any decompression obligations we might run into.  We then headed upstream again, but his time went past the jump to the “room of tears” and continued up stream until we couldn’t go any more.

The cave became very, very tight, as the ceiling came down to meet the floor.  Adrianna’s room was decorated in much the same way as the room of tears, and was very beautiful.  When we reached the “cell block”, I was amazed.  The room was probably 30’ around, and surrounded by 6” think pillars that looked just like a jail cell.  One pillar was broken out, allowing access if you turned at 45 degrees, you could just squeeze through.  Did I mention the floor and ceiling were less than three feet apart by now, and progress was becoming very slow and very challenging.  The Yellow line gave way to white line, and eventually we found an old cloths pin that marked the beginning of Side Mount territory, so we had to turn and start heading back out.

Bernie had never been to this part of the cave before, and it was truly as beautiful as it was challenging.  Both of my computers had cleared deco by the time we got back to the entrance, but we hung at 15’ for a while just to be safe.   We arrived back in town very late that day, and Tani and I had a great steak dinner at HC Beef, but I think he was getting sick of hearing me talk about how beautiful the room of tears was, and I know he was tired of looking at the silly grin on my face!       (View a graph of dive to the Cell Block)

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