Box Chen, Sac Actun

20 April 2002

©Marike Jasper

The plan was to dive Box Chen another cenote, part from systema Sac Actun. Herve called in the morning that he could dive with me. Herve is from France and is living down here for a couple of years, Recently he became a full cave instructor ( and he is a very good one). In time he became a good friend of mine and we have done a chunk of cavedives and some exploration together.

Herve picked me up at my house, we talked for a while and loaded up the truck. We took doubles and a stage, all alu 80's. I wanted to try my oldie Poseidon Cyclon (35 years old and all new revised thanks to Roel & Thalassa from Holland) since I had never used it, I took another spare reg with me just to be prepared.

Sac Actun or Grand Cenote is a system that contains 56.034 feet / 17.084 meters of surveyed caveline. Explored by many famous cavedivers. Sac Actun means white cave in Maya and thats what it is...........beautiful white bright decorations. Cave photographers can't get enough of this cave, we neither. This site is visited by a lot of snorkelers, caverndivers (the cavern is just breathtaking) and ofcourse the happy few....cavedivers !!!!

One of the guys was very helpful to bring my doubles down, to get into the water you need to walk about 50 meters/150 feet, then down a ladder 10m/30feet, then along a path covered with poles for another 20meters/50feet. Onto the dock its easy to jump into the beautiful blue water.

When I lowered the stage tank in the water, the first stage was leaking so I went upstairs to change the reg, will have that checked later. So in the water I clipped my stage on and waited for Herve, he came down all happy and in the vacation mode....he is flying to France after tomorrow and this was his : "I go on vacation and will not see a beautiful cave for at least a month dive". He got into the water and when he turned on the valve from his stagetank something went wrong with his first stage and it was leaking between the yoke. Nothing else to do than undress, go upstairs again and see if we could fix this on site. Herve is always prepared ! He had the good wrench and fixing was easy, we both carry a toolbox with a million o-ringz just in case, so he could fix the thing in a minute.

All back in the water we did our checks and discussed the plan. He would lead in and tie off onto the main line. There is a lot of little cyclids( fish) swimming around in the cenote and they learned to swim with the divers, follow their lights and eat all the little blind cavecritters........to prevent them from doing that, we swim in blind, it takes a little practice to find the mainline blind, but its easy. Then we follow the line all blind until we are far enough in, so that they not see us anymore and follow us. Unfortunately not everybody follows this procedure, there are very little animalitos in the mainly dived areas. For us its just superfun and always a good exercise. I love to do it.

We jumped onto the Paso Lagarto line and another jump onto the Box Chen line, dropped the stages along the line. There the cave changed, it became smaller, more up and down and heavily decorated, and so gorgeous, so many colors, greyish, transparent yellow, honey and cognac colors, brown, white, white spots, like if somebody swept a brush with white paint on honey stalagmites, 'baconstrip' I don't know the geological name for them, but if you light those up from behind they have yellow and yellow till red and brown colored vertical stripes (like a strip of bacon). I lit up a big one for Herve and he was all in heaven ! At the cenote we where with our belly onto the calcite dunes, we surfaced and we where both silent.........a little hole in the ground with sunrays, a dome maybe 30 feet across and 15 feet high. Under the hole mud and some roots, bats flying around and some fantastic big blue butterflies........we enjoyed that site very much. We chatted a couple of minutes, absorbed the beauty and turned the dive.

Back through all those decorations....sodastraws, up and down, stalagmites. columns and stalagtites, mother nature did a terrific job on this one ! In the cavern area we did a safety stop and played with our stages and pestered eachother. We always have a ball togheter and I hope Herve and I will have some more good dives ahead togheter.

Our dive took 148 minutes bottom time! Thanks to the sponsored wetsuit (Mero) from Holdive from Holland, I wasn't cold at all. Deepest depth only 46 feet, average depth around 35 feet.

Thanks to everybody who helps me to make it possible to keep on diving in these super caves in Quintana Roo Mexico........

Marike Jasper
cave diver in Mexico