Cozumel Current and Contraband
It was a beautiful morning in Cozumel, with optimal diving conditions: winds were mild, sun was shining bright, and visibility was about 80 to 90 feet.
Our first destination of the day was Palancar Horseshoe, one of our favorite dives in Cozumel. Horseshoe is one of four Palancar dives sites, whose name comes from the shape of its large U-shaped coral amphitheater, which can be recognized from the surface. Palancar reef is composed of a vast canyon of dense coral growth which resembles an underwater mountain range.
Our particular dive group consisted of only five divers, including the divemaster, and we dropped down initially to about 35 feet where the sandy slope led to the edge of the reef wall at about 80 feet. As we approached the wall, it was breathtaking to peer out into the blue abyss, suspended in the deep while time seemed to stand still.
The current was strong and easily carried us northward towards a large labyrinth of swim-throughs to explore. We swam among fish galore: Trumpetfish, Blue Tangs, Squirrelfish, Horse-eye Jacks, French Angel Fish, and Sergeant Majors, to name but a few. Several Hawksbill Turtles also drifted by, and we leveled off at about 90 feet, with no bottom in site below us. I carefully monitored our time and depth, and we were able to keep our heart rate down, breathing easily, letting the drift carry us so we consumed less air.
We began our slow ascent, gliding gracefully with the current along the reef, investigating swim-throughs and crevices on our way to the surface. We conducted two safety stops, hanging with the Parrotfish as we completed our dive.
This was a perfect dive, one of the best drift dives we’ve ever experienced.
Our boat was waiting for us, and we all boarded easily, chatting about the critters we had seen and the swim-throughs we enjoyed. We expected a nice ride to the next dive site as we took off our gear and switched out our tanks.
All of a sudden, we saw two small military planes cruising about one building level above the water’s surface, headed right for us! They were so loud and so close to us that we could easily distinguish the Mexican Air Force insignia and two pilots in the cockpit! The planes circled around us a couple of times and made several passes along the edge of the reef.
Our divemaster and boat captain started speaking to each other in Spanish, and our divemaster told us the planes were on patrol, seeking out contraband which had been seen floating on the water after the recent boat crash of a Mexican drug cartel. We were quickly instructed not to pick up ANYTHING from the water’s surface, that we would all be arrested immediately if we were found to have retrieved any bundles from the sea!
Our boat continued onto the next dive site, where we moored for about an hour, had lunch and prepared for the following dive.
Just another day of diving in paradise, maneuvering in the current, steering clear of floating contraband. One just never knows what adventures await when diving in Cozumel.