Punta Sur and Devil's Throat

Punta Sur and Devil's Throat

Post by Large Nassau Group » Sat, 15 Jun 1996 04:00:00


I dive in Cozumel so often that I don't write trip reports there
anymore, but only about unusual happenings or events.  This is one of
those -- more appropriately titled, "Three Devil's Throats in ONE Punta
Sur dive on a 3000-psi AL80 tank."

To appreciate the rarity of the event, some background info about Punta
Sur and Devil's Throat is in order.

"Punta Sur", which translates into "Point South", is one of the reefs
farthest south in Cozumel.  It's noted for its awesome c***formations
and deep wall.   Most operators charge $10 extra for a Punta Sur dive
and the reason given is DISTANCE.   But the real reason for the extra
charge is to deter some divers from asking to go there because the dive
is ALWAYS deep (90-130 fsw), sometimes with strong currents, and
occasionally less skilled divers run out of air for those reasons.  Most
operators also require a prior two-tank trip with them to make sure that
the diver has adequate buoyancy control and is not an air hog -- two
minimal prerequisites for any Punta Sur dive.

Ah yes, the Devil's Throat.    The outcrops in Punta Sur are full of
swim-through tunnels, most of which are not unlike those at shallower
sites.  However, there is ONE particular tunnel/route that derived its
name of Devil's Throat from a narrow winding passageway that goes
totally dark (without any ambient light) momentarily before exiting into
the deep blue near 130 fsw.   It was relative unknown a few years ago
until some articles in magazines described the thrill and adventure in
that dive.  NOW it has become such a well-known site that no self-
respecting diver would miss doing the Devil's Throat in a Cozumel trip
though a few of such divers DESERVE a little less self-respect. :-)

Therein lies the TRUTH about a Devil's Throat Dive.   It is a combination
of TOO MANY divers asking for the Throat, too few DMs KNOW EXACTLY where
the Throat is, and it's TOO EASY for a DM to lead divers through some
tunnels and SAY it was Devil's Throat -- that few divers EVER dove the
REAL Devil's Throat -- because MOST divers wouldn't know the REAL Throat
from a Fake One!   Here's one simple test -- if the MAX depth of your
dive was less than 115 fsw, you did NOT dive the Devil's Throat!

On June 1, I was the only one signed up to do a morning dive with Black
Shark.   Instead of taking me out by myself (which they have done in the
past), I was placed on a boat with a group (from the same club -- all
names and ids of said group are omitted here for reasons that will soon
become apparent) signed up to do the Devil's Throat with DM Jaime who
normally works for another dive shop.   Since I had already dove the
Devil's Throat at least 30 times, MOST of them the Fake Ones, I was
expecting the usual 2-3 minute tunnel swim-throughs to exit somewhere
between 110fsw and 130 fsw, all of which MAY or may NOT include the Real
Throat.  But any dive in Punta Sur is a good dive, Throat or no Throat.

As luck would have it, it was a memorable Devil's Throat dive for me
because Jaime not only went through the REAL ONE, but did two other
Fake Ones during the same dive!   Although Jaime gave a very detailed
briefing of the dive which included -- a planned short-deco dive (which
a SINGLE Devil's Throat could easily run into);  any diver could skip
any deep swim-through if low on air OR not wanting to incur any deco
obligation by watch bubbles above the c***heads;  AND no one should
enter any tunnel with less than 1,000 psi (all standard precautions) --
the Triple Throat event wasn't obvious until it was over, with an
Instructor and his buddy (another Instructor?)  BOTH completely out of
air on their deco/safety stop!   They should have paid closer attention
to the briefing OR exercised better judgment/basic-skills BEFORE they
were OOA!

Here's the approximate profile of the entire dive (from a downloaded
plot of time/depth every 5 sec.) :  We descended to 60 fsw to swim over
to a cavern entrance.  We entered a large cavern at 100 fsw, 6.5 minutes
into the dive.   On exit from that swim-through at the 8-minute mark, we
ascended to 70 fsw and swam at that depth (to conserve air and BT) over
a 110 fsw sand-bottom to the next outcrop.   There, 13 minutes into the
dive, we began the entrance to the Devil's Throat tunnels at 100 fsw.
We exited one Fake Throat at 115 fsw at the 16.5 minute mark -- which is
the termination point of MANY "Devil's Throat" dives.   But ours was
just BEGINNING!   We went back up a different tunnel to 75 fsw, and back
down to the REAL Devil's Throat exit at 127 fsw (my depth readings) at
the 20.5 minute mark.   My ORCA computer began to flash "GO UP",
signalling the beginning of deco-obligation.

And so we went up, but only very temporarily :-)   through still another
tunnel, to 80 fsw at the 23.5 minute mark, and from there we descended a
THIRD (Fake one) Throat to exit at 125 fsw at the 25th minute mark.  We
were back to 20 fsw, 30 minutes into the dive.   My deco was cleared at
the 32nd minute, and I continued at 15 fsw with the group and surfaced
at 39 minutes with 800 psi, when three others were probably still doing
their deco on deeper profiles or much more conservative computers.

So, except for the Instructor and his buddy, both inexcusably OOA,  the
entire dive went as planned, according to Dm Jaime's briefing.   It was
a memorable DEVIL'S THROAT.  It was THREE Devil's Throats in one!

-- Bob.

P.S.  On June 11, Dm Jaime and I did another Punta Sur dive -- this time
without going through ANY swim-through -- but entirely on the spectacular
Punta Sur (deep) wall which is seldom dived purely as a wall dive
because of its depth.   Other than Jaime being the DM, my wife, daughter
and I were the only divers on the boat that day.   So, the dive plan was
that *I* would lead the multi-level deep (but NO DECO obligation)
portion of the dive while Jaime followed :-)  (and Sue and Liz watched
bubbles around 120 fsw).   This time Jaime didn't follow the plan!   I
thought I was doing him a favor by planning to go no deeper than 150 fsw
(which was agreed upon on the boat), but then when he continued to go
deeper, I went along but finally stopped at 178 fsw while he went on to
about 200.  I stayed CLOSER to the plan.  ;-)    I had already done 4
deeper (planned) ones on this trip earlier.  This was the FIRST time I
did the Punta Sur wall, the vertical drops of which rate every bit as
spectacular as the Maracaibo wall in the 150-200 fsw range.

 
 
 

Punta Sur and Devil's Throat

Post by l.. » Tue, 18 Jun 1996 04:00:00


Quote:

>Ah yes, the Devil's Throat.    The outcrops in Punta Sur are full of
>swim-through tunnels, most of which are not unlike those at shallower
>sites.  However, there is ONE particular tunnel/route that derived its
>name of Devil's Throat from a narrow winding passageway that goes
>totally dark (without any ambient light) momentarily before exiting into
>the deep blue near 130 fsw.   It was relative unknown a few years ago
>until some articles in magazines described the thrill and adventure in
>that dive.  NOW it has become such a well-known site that no self-
>respecting diver would miss doing the Devil's Throat in a Cozumel trip
>though a few of such divers DESERVE a little less self-respect. :-)

Did you see that c***cross in the second tunnel ?  it was fantastic
wasn't it ?  

 
 
 

Punta Sur and Devil's Throat

Post by Large Nassau Group » Sat, 22 Jun 1996 04:00:00

This is my belated reply to Michael Levy's detailed comments to my
one-and-only posting (ever) in rec.scuba.locations, because I use a
read-only newsreader (most of the time), and had to ask Michael to email
me his posting before I could reply via an email gateway.   Aaarrrgh!

Quote:
>>Therein lies the TRUTH about a Devil's Throat Dive.   It is a combination
>>of TOO MANY divers asking for the Throat, too few DMs KNOW EXACTLY where
>>the Throat is, and it's TOO EASY for a DM to lead divers through some
>>tunnels and SAY it was Devil's Throat -- that few divers EVER dove the
>>REAL Devil's Throat -- because MOST divers wouldn't know the REAL Throat
>>from a Fake One!   Here's one simple test -- if the MAX depth of your
>>dive was less than 115 fsw, you did NOT dive the Devil's Throat!
>                    ^^^ I would say 123 fsw!

I was just making a conservative BOUND.    The 123 fsw is closer to the
mark, but TOO pseudo-precise because it depends on where your depth
gauge (or computer) is, and the exit point from the Throat.   But I'll
make it a point to check on THAT next month.   I use FOUR depth measuring
devices on any regular dive (one HyperAqualand watch, one SPG, two dive
computers) -- which one would you like me to read?   :)

    < ... my description of the "triple throat" profile snipped ... >

Quote:
> This description of linked tunnels does not sound like the Devil's Throat
> that I know. Let me describe my experiences and see if they match this dive
> of yours.

 < ... michael's description of "The Devil's Throat tunnel" snipped also ... >

The description is definitely correct for ONE of the routes!

Quote:
> last vertical drop is the characteristic that gives the tunnel it's name of
> the Devil's Throat. Any other tunnel lacking this characteristic vertical
> swim down the throat is a fake Devil!

Correct again!   That's the "critical" portion of the REAL Throat.  Michael
described a few key features of the REAL Throat vividly, but he missed
the fact that there is an immediate curved BYPASS (which is not vertical
and much wider) that one can go through to MEET the divers coming out of
the vertical drop of the REAL Throat.  Been there, done it (several
times) when the REAL Throat became boring.  :^)   That's one reason I
said, you could EXIT at the same depth (and SAME exit tunnel for that
matter) without having gone through the "Real Throat" part.

Quote:
> That is the Devil's Throat that I know, as shown to me by Ventura, Germann,
> Nestor and Victor ...Divemasters from Dive Paradise on their EDP trips to
> Punta Sur. Looking back at my logbook I see that my profile last time was
> 125 fsw for 45 mins, no deco on my Suunto.

Michael, no question those DMs took you to the REAL Throat.   BUT, the
"sponge cross" is just a Dive Paradise spiel.   Not played up by DMs from
other shops who know exactly where the Throat is.

A sidebar to this is that I RARELY dive with Dive Paradise's EDP since a
DM for them failed to locate the Chun Cha Kab wall altogether.  (That
was 8/22/89).  But I did dive the Throat with Paradise EDP on 12/27/95,
but the ONLY reason I did it was to do one dive with Chris Pflaum (don't
know if Chris reads this group, but he was busy bashing UNDERCURRENT in
rec.scuba :-)).   At any rate, I had to pay $20 extra (plus a cab ride
to Barracuda) compared to the shop *I* use to do the SAME DIVE, and ...
only because Apple knew me and waived the "checkout 2-tank" (standard
requirement prior to a Punta Sur dive with EDP) -- it would have cost me
$40 to do that one schtinkin' Throat with Chris otherwise.  :-)

Quote:
> I am interested in hearing if the tunnel you described as the Devil's
> Throat has this characteristic vertical drop?

Do bears sh*t in the woods?    Even the one I did with Chris (with
EDP) found that drop.  :^)   But not a triple-throat on that one though.


P.S.  If anyone wants me to reply to any public follow-up to this, please


 
 
 

Punta Sur and Devil's Throat

Post by Tim J. Patters » Sat, 22 Jun 1996 04:00:00


   >
   >Ah yes, the Devil's Throat.    The outcrops in Punta Sur are full of
   >swim-through tunnels, most of which are not unlike those at shallower
   >sites.  However, there is ONE particular tunnel/route that derived its
   >name of Devil's Throat from a narrow winding passageway that goes
   >totally dark (without any ambient light) momentarily before exiting into
   >the deep blue near 130 fsw.   It was relative unknown a few years ago
   >until some articles in magazines described the thrill and adventure in
   >that dive.  NOW it has become such a well-known site that no self-
   >respecting diver would miss doing the Devil's Throat in a Cozumel trip
   >though a few of such divers DESERVE a little less self-respect. :-)
   >

On our trip to devil's throat, we had along a couple divers who should
not have done that dive. Both had trouble in the down current coming
off the island when we first entered the water and droped to around
150' before managing to turn around and come back up. One blew out
somehthing in her nose trying to equalize while in the tunnel and
filled her mask with *** (kind of hard to realize what it was when
that deep with no red light). After exiting the tunnel and heading for
the surface, both were going to go straight up with no stop -
fortunately, the DM grabbed both by the waist and wouldn't allow them
to surface until after about 10 minutes at 15 feet.

On the whole not a dive I would recommend to most divers because based
on my sample of the "average" diver, it is over their heads.

Tim

--
Tim J. Patterson Ph.D.
Senior Associate
Booz Allen & Hamilton
Sunnyvale CA