Cantil Dive in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya

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Dean Turner couldn’t wait to do a deco dive. Though decompression certified, Dean hasn’t been able to go deep for years, because of hockey related shoulder stress — he’s Canadian, eh! — and subsequent surgeries.

He simply couldn’t lift his arms to reach the gages. Now after seven years of keeping it recreational, he was good to go.

Dean has been a friend of the abyss dive center and its owner, Dave Tomlinson, for years, so he dogged Dave and the staff to dive the cantil.

The cantil is part of the continental shelf that spans the Riviera Maya and beyond. It starts at 30 to 35 metres, and gradually slopes off into the abyss (couldn’t help it), meaning it’s beyond the limits of recreational diving. Which also means it’s not a regularly scheduled dive for the shop. Special arrangements and considerations have to be made.

For advanced or Padi deep divers, the cantil beckons. It’s full of life, large sponges, soft corals, sea fans, large ocean going fish, including bull sharks. Not to mention the big blue.

Not only did Dave make the dive happen, he decided to make it a staff dive and include the abyss dive slave, now certified dive master, Johnny Faulds, another canuck! A sort of graduation gift to mark Johnny’s new certification. Dave would man the shop. The schedule that day also allowed for the dive.

Ok, Johnny Faulds…. A walking advertisement for his tattoo shop, urge 2 tattoo, in Edmonton. There are a lot of stories in that ink. His personality, enthusiasm and smile light up the shop, especially when the sun hits his gold tooth. Everyone loves him.

How often does the entire staff of a busy dive shop in playa del Carmen get to do a dive? Hardly ever. The abyss staff couldn’t believe it! It was like a holiday on the job, they were thrilled. Johnny told me he didn’t want to be too sappy, but he was honoured to be included. Dean had made the initial request, now it was a dive group beyond his expectations.

“It’s a dive” Dean says, “that I wouldn’t do with people I didn’t know, trust or dive with before.” As much as this was to be a staff event to enjoy, Dean says it was 100 per cent professionally handled. “the vibe was relaxed and happy and very professional”. Dean hunter.

Dive day. This is the first opportunity for abyss staff members, Sebastian, Katy and Ross to dive together. Not only are they colleagues, they are also good friends.

Sebastian Peña has logged well over 100 dives on the cantil, but this was unique. “I liked my dive buddies the best” he says.

Katy Djelia has been diving since she was a child and is no stranger to deep diving. But “this was like a little present” she says “it makes the job all that more fun”

On dive day, the group meets; Ross has come in on his day off. They silently gear up, double tanks for everyone, Ross and Sebastian are side mounting, Katy’s second cylinder is oxygen. Dean and Johnny are getting whatever assistance or gear they need. Everyone knows this is a special dive.

“Tech diving is always fun, because some people are quiet, some joke, but it’s a serious dive, everyone looking after their own equipment, checking, double checking” Ross Anderson. “we have a very high safety margin, the motto…plan the dive, dive the plan. We also know the boat crew is trained and on stand by, and Dave, the owner, is waiting in the shop.”

To be continued…

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