Carnegie Mellon Explorers Club

Home | Activities | Officers | Policies | Forms/Files | Links | Photos | Storeroom | JOIN EXPLORERS!

Scuba Diving Home | Certification | Pittsburgh Aquarium | Trip Reports

Scubadiving 9-10 to 9-17-11

September 10th - 17th, 2011

Grand Cayman Islands

CMU explorers who went: Josephine Palencia

We stayed at the Morritt's Tortuga Resort (nice). I dove with the very professional Ocean Frontier's dive shop while Neda got certified with Red Sail.

Dives done: Did a total of 20 dives (josephin), 6 dives (neda) in over a week.

Grand Cayman east diving is mostly ~100 ft great wall dives on one side
(shoulder) then plunges into the abyss on your other side/shoulder.

Neda got certified and did 4 check-out dives, the Kittiwake wreck, and the
Stingray City dive. All of my dives start at 100ft or so followed by
60-80ft dives. I dove each one for over an hour so averaged about 4-5
hours of diving/day.

We rented a small car for ~ $200/week.
A great diving vacation. Would love to return there again.

Below are the dives. (*favorites)

Dive Depth Duration
1. Babylon Gardens 100ft 1hr
2. Club Hole 67ft 1hr 10m
3. Pat's Wall 100ft 1hr
4. Maggies Maze 60ft 1hr
5. Scuba Bowl 100ft 45m
6. Light House on the Prairie 65ft 1hr 10m
7. Eeny, Meeny, Miny Mo 100ft 1hr 5m
8. Frand Sound Gardens 41ft 1hr 10m
9. Turtle Pass 100ft 45m
10. Cinderella's Castle 65ft 1hr 5m
11. High Rock Drop-Off 100ft 1hr
12. Ironshore Gardens 65ft 1hr 10m
13. Andy's Wall 100ft 1hr
14. Eagle Ray pass
- saw 2 eagle rays (mate) going towards the abyss
100ft 1hr
15. Kathleens' Reef 82ft 1hr 10m
16. Split Rock 80ft 1hr
17. Sunset Reef
- night dive: cool with UV lights
21ft 1hr
18. Stingray City 12ft 50m
19. 3 Sisters 100ft 1hr
20. The Arch 70ft 1hr 10m
21. Kitiwake wreck 60ft 45m

-J. Palencia


July 22nd - 24th, 2011

Summersville, WV

CMU members who went:  Josephine Palencia, Felix Duvalet, Erica Karapandi 

Only 1 shore dive (no Pontoon boat).

Where: Battle Creek endmost section beyond the dock
           Summersville Lake, WV

Depth: 30feet for submerged white boat

Lessons learned:

* Assemble & inspect your gear early so you're ready on the getgo.

* A well-planned dive with a designed lead makes for a safer dive. Impromptu assignment of a dive leader is not a good idea. You always have an option to back out of a dive if safety is an issue.

* Never be  pressured to lead  a dive you are not comfortable leading.

* For shore diving, inspect the entry route that would be easier for divers to enter. For Battle Creek dock endmost beyond the gate, left side of the dock has less rocks and uneven surface.

* To learn navigation on freshwater dive, stay close to the surface. That way you can easily check your position/direction without difficulty. When you master relying only on your instrument for depth/direction, go below and work on your bouyancy. 

* For the dive flag rope, have a looping mechanism to prevent tangling.

-J. Palencia

Scubadiving 10-3 to 10-6-10

October 3rd - 10th, 2010

Cozumel, Mexico

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Flew from Pittsburgh directly to Cozumel, Mexico and stayed at Suites Bahia. It is a popular hotel for divers- affordable and right in the middle of downtown Cozumel. My companions stayed at the all inclusive Wyndham. This time there were just 7 of us scuba divers (several dive masters, rescue divers, Advanced OW) We dove for 6 days doing from 2 to 4 dives/day going with Prodive shop located inside Allegro Cozumel resort.

Below are the (popular, beautiful) dive sites we went to (with comments/highlights): lots of lobsters, crabs, moray eels, school fishes.

Palancar Gardens (85ft, 55min):
- Face to face with a 2-meter barracuda 1 ft away
- Several 8ft nurse sharks 20ft away

Palancar bricks (85ft, 56min)
- Love this site, beautiful large coral structure; many dive throughs, large turtles, eels, lobsters.

Palancar Caves (100ft, 55min)
- I previously dove this site in 6.20.2009 where the colors were in full bloom and spectacular. During this time, there was lots of bleaching and white sand covering the corals. Must be the time of the year or previous storms?

Santa Rosa wall (100ft to Abyssal depths, 55ft)
- This was one my favorites dive during the trip. Wall-diving. Abyss on the right and a wall on the left. Beautiful with a lot of large barracudas, huge fishes swarming about.

Puntar Sur (120ft, 55min)
- A very deep dive, a favorite also; nurse sharks, large spotted stingrays, moray eels, lots of lobsters, barracudas

San Francisco Wall (60ft, 45min)

Yucab (80ft, 55min)

Cedral Wall (80ft, 55ft)

Cedral Reef (60ft, 50min)
- Lots of fishes here, saw 2 nurse sharks

Washington (65ft, 49min)
- Fun dive, lots of fishes, giant green eel, 3 nurse sharks

I dove with nitrox-enhanced air (36%) starting Wednesday all the way to Friday. And in between diving, basically just strolled around downtown Cozumel buying $3-4 cozumel tshirts, drove around the little island with a tiny, stick-shift car that didn't give me a problem :) A great vacation away from everything. Definitely going back there.

-J. Palencia


June 27th, 2010

Youghiogheny River, PA

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Dove a portion of the Yough River this last Sunday. I went with 3 other dive veterans (3 dive masters) from a local scuba club and and we entered the water at 10:30am and got out around 12:30pm. As the current was relatively strong, the current carried us at different speeds down the lake.

It was basically a drift dive and all 4 divers didn't get to see other till the end of the dive. The day was perfect for lake diving with about 6ft vis. I drifted down the lake pushing against any rock I encountered. We used 7-5-3mm suit (no hood, no gloves).

There were a lot of 1-2ft fishes (bass, catfishes) following us around (they get really curious and come as close as 5inches from your dive mask looking at you face to face and opening their mouths wide to show territorial instinct.

I dove close to 2 hours using 2500psi air (I don't breathe :). It was pretty shallow with max depth of 20ft. I overshot the landing area by about 200ft so had to swim the lake upstream against the current. Final departure site was Hazelbakers on Layton road.

All in all, a nice dive to practice buoyancy, presence of mind (essentially you're on your own) and navigational skills.

-J. Palencia

Scubadiving 8-17 to 8-19-09

August 17th - 18th, 2009

Calaguas, Philippines

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Scouted 3 dive sites (50ft), saw a 1.5meter long sea snake (Sea snakes are the most poisonous snakes.. they belong to the cobra family). The snake was colored blue with black stripes. They can last 5 hours underwater and just come up the surface to breath. Other cited organisms were huge lion fishes, family of clown fish, cauliflower corals as big as 2meters, huge fish schools, (flying fish, sardines), stingrays, tanguigue (King Mackerels). Stayed on the safer side of the islands. The place is swarming with tiger sharks and sea snakes fortunately those can be found at deeper depths (i.e. the tiger sharks).

-J. Palencia

Scubadiving 7-10 to 7-12-09

July 10th - 12th, 2009

Summersville, WV

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia, Carla Costa

Left for Summersville Camp late Friday and arrived 4 hours later. Set up out tent, dive gear (loaded compressed air). Dove at wreck with 2 platforms (60ft), the wall (50ft), near shore (40ft) and did my first lead dive with Carla (40ft) from the dock. Also experience buddy breathing for an entire dive :) (er.. ran out of air). We rented 2 pontoon boats and dove for 2 days. Weather cooperated.

-J. Palencia

Scubadiving 6-14 to 6-21-09

June 14th - 21st, 2009

Cancun/Cozumel, Mexico

Explorers members who went: Josephine Palencia

Flew from Pittsburgh to Cancun, Mexico and stayed at Blue Bay club ( There were 22 of us, 15 total divers.

We dove for 4 days doing 2 dives/day going with with

In Cancun, we dove Black tip (Punta Negra)-60ft), Garampin (50ft), C-58 (80ft), Santo Remegio (night dive0-saw the most beautiful 2ft octopus, lots of bluefishes, 1meter wide turtles (caught a ride), lots of lobster, stingrays.

Then went to Cenote to do cave/rn diving at Chac-Mool. I did 2 dives with Nitrox (enhanced air). Proceeded to Cozumel (one of the top dive spots in Mexico/world for coral wall diving) and had spectacular dives of Palancar caves (90-100ft). Probably one of the best dive sites I've seen. Definitely going back to Cozumel. Then proceeded to dive last at Chankanah (50ft).

Too bad I didn't have a camera to take photos during cave/rn scuba diving so adding one that would give an idea of Cenote's chacmool.

-J. Palencia



Scubadiving 6-16-08


June 16th - 18th, 2008

Summersville Lake, WV

Explorers members who went: Mahin and Josephine

We drove down to Summersville Lake, WV to join about a dozen scuba divers do night diving, 2 days of boat diving (cool Pontoon boats). We had barbecue, slept in camping tents and trailers. Freshwater scuba diving is harder to do than saltwater diving. Good place to do navigational and peak-bouyancy dives. So if you can dive freshwater, you can dive anything.

-J. Palencia



Scubadiving 3-10-08


March 10th - 17th, 2008

Pompano Beach, FL

Explorers members who went: Josephine

There were 14 of us divers: (12 men, 2 women). We mostly dove wrecks and drift dives. I did about 4 dives/day (2 morning dives, 2 afternoon dives) for the span of 6-7days.

Highlights of the florida dive:

3 sharks (10 ft, 6 ft, 6 ft) hammerhead, nurse shark, and another hammerhead. 2 giant turtles (around 150-years old) - 4 ft diameter, 3 ft diameter. I swam/hitched a ride with the 2 ft diameter turtle. 2 giant eels (cute photos eh?). 2 huge barracudas (1.5 m and 2.5 m long). The dive master said it's the biggest barracuda he's seen in his 20 years of diving. The huge barracuda occupied the entire hull length of the ship wreck. 2 giant jude fishes as big as bookcases (5 ft x 3 ft) swimming with with 5 ft diameter eel. The boat dive master put some fish bait so there was a meeting of the big creatures on the wreck.

-J. Palencia

(c) 2015 CMU Explorers Club - Last Updated 09/02/2015 - Contact