A group of students and staff are heading to Mexico to enjoy an unforgettable underwater experience. The area around Cancun offers some of the best diving experiences in the world, with a wealth of attractive reefs and interesting marine life.
Updates from the trip leader, Mr Steve Gorman, will be posted below. To view more images of the trip, visit the photo gallery page:
Planes trains and automobiles... A long flight followed by a transfer to Cozumel from the mainland saw us eventually arrive at the Occidental Hotel, our home for the week. Although long, the journey all went without a hitch. Once checked in we made full use of the all inclusive food on offer before settling in for the night.
Sun, sea, sand and diving, how could it get any better? Breakfast was not particularly early as we all had a lie in to help us recover the day before. The buffet style service was ideal, as it allowed us to choose what and how much we ate. We had a briefing from the dive school and checked that the hired kit fitted everyone before the group was split between the two dive boats. Those that had not yet qualified were put on one boat whilst the old sea dogs set sail on another. The visibility was amazing with everyone seeing lobsters, turtles and rays. Even the sudden downpour did not manage to dampen people's spirits.
Today was some of the best diving I think I have been fortunate enough to have experienced. Turtles, rays, lobsters, lion fish, crabs, moray eels, groupers, box fish and SHARKS!!!! It was amazing. The sharks swam quite close to us and I even managed to get some reasonable pictures to prove it. Porsche, Kevin and Giles all completed their final open water dives and so became qualified divers. Aaron just needs to complete one more dive and then he will also be a certified diver. Starting at 7.20am meant that everyone was shattered by 10.00pm and we all headed for bed to dreams of sharks, etc.
Very little in the way of rain today, which was nice enabling us all to top up the all important suntan. With three dives to look forward to and some great dive sights planned, we knew it would make for a great day's diving. During the first dive Aaron completed his final open water qualification. Ruby, Natasha, Ben and Kevin also enhanced their diving skills and moved up from the junior to the advanced adventure diver level by completing the deep diver speciality course.
Again the sea life was amazing with sharks (one sleeping between some rocks), turtles, rays, etc. It's starting to feel like we will see sharks on every dive. The sleeping shark was wedged into a crevis between large rocks. It certainly looked very relaxed even with 15 divers scrambling to take its picture. The final dive of the day had a number of swim throughs, that are like tunnels through the reef, and they were full of life including crabs, lobsters, eels and numerous fish. One or two were quite tight and a few of the parents decided that discretion was the better part of valour, choosing to miss them out and swim over the top!
Most of the team headed in to the town for a break from the hotel and to take part in that other great British pastime, shopping.
They do say 'let sleeping dogs lie', I think that applies to sharks or if not it should do. The theme continued during the night dive with the usual suspects spotted. We also saw an octopus and it was fantastic to see it change colour as it moved through the gaps in the coral.
During the two dives today, James completed his Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) speciality course and Kevin, Ben and Natasha earned their advanced diver certification, so it has been a very successful week's diving.
The night dive was spectacular. The intrepid few set off at 5.45pm, hitting the water 6.15pm and spent 50 minutes flying over the sea bed searching for marine life. Starting the dive before it was fully dark meant we could settle in to the dive and get used to the sensation. Only being able to see the life illuminated by your torch meant that you had to concentrate and move the beam slowly so you didn't miss anything . Observing the turtles sleeping was impressive, as they tucked themselves into tight corners of the reef so that they were safe.
Those who snorkelled earlier in the afternoon also had a good trip and saw turtles, sharks as well as hundreds of star fish.
Today started VERY early with everyone meeting at 6am in the lobby to get taxis to the ferry. The Cenotes are a highlight of the trip and well worth the effort involved in getting there. We certainly didn't see the usual shark, turtle or ray on today's dives but the rock architecture in the caves and their crystal clear fresh water more than made up for it.
It was also Tracey's birthday and I can't think of a better way to celebrate such a significant one, and nor could she! Once we had been given a tour of the dive site and introduced to our instructors it was time to kit up. Some of the group seemed very apprehensive but had soon been reassured by their instructors and were looking forward to the experience. The caverns ran into the hillside from an open pool, for quite some way and had no clear way to the surface other than forwards or back the way we had come. Safety checks complete and 3-4 of us to one instructor, we set off with only torches lighting the way. It was similar to diving at night but without any obvious signs of life. It was very atmospheric, the lights of the other divers adding to the feeling of adventure.
With the first dive over several people opted to have a go at the zip lines instead of doing a second dive, which they enjoyed. The non divers explored the cave opening and seemed to enjoy diving down whilst the divers passed close by under them or spotting small turtles. The second dive was even better than the first with a few tighter squeezes and small passages to go through. I think everyone enjoyed the experience and it will certainly give them something to talk about when they get home.
Heading back to Cozumel, a band on the ferry (strange but true) played a Mexican version of happy birthday. Even before we had returned to the hotel pupils were talking about where they would like to dive next year with Cuba, Maldives, Honduras top of their list! The diving phase of the trip has now been successfully completed with many of the team, adults and pupils having gained new skills, which they can use anywhere in the world. Sight seeing, shopping and sunbathing are the order of the day tomorrow for most although a small group are off to explore Chichen Itza.
Last night was one of the heaviest rain storms yet. Thunder and lightening accompanied by sheet rain left a few rooms flooded and a restaurant closed. Several members of the team left early to travel to the mainland to visit the ancient ruins of Chichenitza. The site is one of the seven wonders of the world and a must see if you are in the area.
Some of the students went into the local town to buy presents and others toured the island, whilst the remainder relaxed by the pool soaking up the sunshine. Aaron and Porche enthusiastically joined in all the games and activities that were put on by the hotel, which included volleyball, water polo, water aerobics, chess, table tennis, etc.
We leave tomorrow and flight timings remain the same so we should land around 10.20am at Gatwick before travelling back to school for around 3pm-ish. The trip has been every bit as successful as previous diving trips, which is no small part due to the behaviour and enthusiasm of pupils and parents who got along with each other extremely well. Thanks again to Dive Rutland for helping with the pre-trip training, AliG for her continuing support and Oakham School for its holistic approach to education which extends way beyond the classroom. Plans are already being made for next year's trip and if it is as good as this year, I can't wait!