Walker Underwater

New adventures, last quarter of "09"

I recently returned from Mexico's Yucatan Penninsula. My buddy's and I were on a cave diving adventure that took us to several cave systems with names like Ox-Bel_Ha, Yax Chen, Dos Ojos and Chan Hol. We had been to several of these systems before. But what was unique about this trip for Scott Brooks, Kendall Raine and myself was the fact that our close friend Bil Phillips had shown us some very new sections of these caves.

In the larger and less fragile systems, we chose to ride our diver propulsion vehicles or DPV's. The beauty of these is that they allow us to travel so much further into the earth than if were to swim, kicking our fins. At the least, three times faster. And the conservation of our breathing gases is substantial since work load is decreased.
Kendall Scooters

As most know, airline travel has become a real pain in the butt. Particularly for divers. Years ago I would travel on a dive trip with two 70# bags, a small back pack full of camera equipment and a small carry on bag. Back then, there were no luggage fees for all of this. Today, we commonly have to pay $15.00 for the first bag and $25.00 for the second. These checked bags are limited to 50# and if over that, there will be another fee. Carry on bags have also reduced in size and weight. This make it very difficult to bring all the items you need for a successful trip like this.

I have to thank Kendall Raine for loaning me on of his three dpv's that he keeps at our friend Bil's house in Tulum Mexico. This made the choice between me bringing the underwater video system or a scooter. And we really wanted some video of all these new places. Bil Phillips is a great host. He owns a full service diver facility called "Speleotech". And he has lodging available for several traveling divers.

When diving in the fragile more delecate caves, we chose leave the dpv's behind and swim. And cave system Chan Hol (small hole in the Yucatech Maya language) is just one of those caves. This is a unique system that contains prehistoric skeletons, including human and animals, as well as old mayan pottery. Its unique speleothems (cave decorations) are beautiful and abundant. These are calcium carbonate formations which started there creation approximently 65 million years ago when a large meteor hit the Yucatan area. This meteor churned together the earth and the rich vibrant coral reefs that was thriving here. Yes, the Yucatan was underwater then. Much of this calcium rich corals and earth eventually transformed into limestone. Limestone which later dissolved at the ends of ice ages and made conduits in the earth we now call caves.
Chan Hol Bil Phillips
Bil Phillips swimming in cave system "Cha Hol"

Chan Hol Pots
Mayan pottery, fossils and bones that Robbie Schmittner placed out of the way so divers would not be damage them.

We returned back to California and got right back on that horse. What I mean by that is we got back in the cold water. Well, cold for us. December 12th 2009 was a rock'n day on the ocean out here in Southern California. Before our trip to Mexico, Kendall and I were told about a potential underwater target at San Clemente Island that Capt. Ray Arntz wanted us to check out. We headed out early that Saturday morning and the weather wasn't looking good.

Once we arrived and geared up over the target, Kendall and I descended 260' down. Right away we looked at one another with that "FnA" look. This was a war ship. We took our time swimming aft from between the two smoke stacks. Immediately we recognized a large torpedo launcher. Just aft of that was a turret, housing a 5" gun. On the rear deck we could see a large round plate that apparently covered what use to be another gun. After poking our heads in and out of this massive wreck, we swam to the stern. There we could see the depth charge racks. Over the side was one huge propeller.

Kendall by 5 inch Gun
Kendall examining one of the 5" guns

torpedo launcher
Side veiw of one of the torpedo launchers.

5 inch gun barrel
The business end of a barrel

Upon later review of the video, we figure that this is a Flecther Class destroyer that was samk as a target by our own navy. We do have a good idea what her name is but will reframe from guessing. Once positively identified, we will share this vessels name. It sounds a little easier that it is.

Well thats about all I have to report on for now, so until next time, keep buckled up.