+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

  1. #1
    RBW Member macado is an unknown quantity at this point macado's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Boston, MA
    SF2 eCCR

    rEvo II mini

    Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    As someone who just recently switched to a rebreather this year I had not had the opportunity to fly on a plane with mine yet although I've taken it on plenty of other trips that involved driving.

    Nevertheless I decided to bring my rebreather down to Cozumel for this trip to see how much of a pain it would be since I frequently visit Cozumel 4-5 times a year. I wanted to see if it is worth lugging down for most trips. This will be a long post so I apologize.

    The diver operator I normally use is Aldora Divers. I've been a regular customer of their operation for a while and highly recommend them. You can find many reviews and cheerleaders for them so I won't go into too many details. Needless to say they provide great service and have small fast boats that often can go places your typical Cozumel dive operator will not go due to fuel costs or advanced level of dive site. They provide steel HP100s and HP120s to their customers and I will typically average 70-85 minute dives with them using nitrox. I usually tend to run out of NDLs before I run out of gas on a HP120.

    In short, diving a rebreather with them with a good group of divers on air consumption allowed me a bit more bottom time than when compared to diving with a group of divers utilizing AL80s. Most of my dives averaged 70-75 minutes this trip due to a lot of them being deeper recreational dives so even on a rebreather I was hitting NDLs and didnít want to accumulate too much deco since I was only carrying an AL30 for bailout. I think I was running 50/85 on my Petrel and kept my set point at 1.3 Ė 1.4 for the majority of dives. I dive a mCCR so I did bump my O2 up a tiny bit on safety/deco just to drop down my TTS and test my O2 cells.

    I also used ScubaTony and Deep Exposure with my rebreather which Iíll also include in the review. Both are all great dive operators and had no issues with me being on a rebreather. The latter specifically specializes in rebreather diving in Cozumel and is able to offer O2 and diluent fills to 200 bar and sells Sofnolime to divers who are diving with them. I used Deep Exposure for the majority of my O2 fills and thankfully I was able to purchase a small supply of Sofnolime from them as opposed to schlepping it from the states or from Playa del Carmen. Please be sure to sort out sorb before coming to island since itís expensive. According to Protec in Playa they always have it in stock and Deep Exposure looks to have a very healthy supply but I think itís usually only available to their divers.

    Logistics Ė Getting there and back and traveling with rebreather.

    I dive a rEvo II Mini which has no trouble fitting on a plane as carry-on item. In fact that is exactly what I did. I carried my rebreather on the plane as a backpack and simply checked my other suitcase. The rEvo II Mini fits very nicely in the overhead compartment on a plane. I used a mini grill cover and stuck all the hoses and loop in the back of the unit to make it more streamlined for travel.

    I had absolutely no issues traveling on the plane with it although I did get a nice extra inspection by the TSA agents in Manchester, NH and the Mexican customs agents were a bit confused when I tried to explain to them what it was. (I imagine Cancun airport perhaps sees more rebreathers than Cozumel since a lot of people take them to Tulum for cave diving). I flew directly into Cozumel. There were no issues to say the least but they did ask me to open up the rebreather, asked me what it was for and how much it cost (I kind of made up a low number..Ēoh this thing, itís a really old one..not too expensive.Ē)

    Once I arrived in Cozumel I jumped on the shuttle bus and arrived in my hotel. The shuttle wasnít crowded so I kept the rebreather in the open seat next to me.
    I was staying at Suites Bahia which is across the street from the municipal pier that Aldora and many other dive operators pick up from downtown so I didnít have a very long walk. I did get lots of strange looks walking down the malecon with a rebreather on my back.

    Staying hydrated is very important in Mexico, especially after diving.

    At the end of each day of diving I would walk across the street with my rebreather to bring it back to my hotel room, clean the loop, counterlungs, and then let the cells dry out overnight. At 4pm everyday I would walk over to Deep Exposure with my AL13 (2L) bottles and drop them off for O2 fills and air diluent and I would pick them up at 7pm, analyze them and check tank pressures. No issues at all. Good fill pressures to 200bar/3000psi and accurate O2 fills.

    On the way home I was flying out of Cancun so I took ferry and ADO bus to airport. Since Iím still new to my rebreather, I still have separation anxiety but luckily the ferry was not crowded so I brought it aboard the ferry and was not forced or asked to check it. I would imagine during high season they may want to put it under or at least in back of boat. In my experience, Ultramar and Mexico Waterjets donít want to deal with expensive scuba gear so theyíll let you bring it on or put it in back of ferry away from other checked bags.

    On the ADO bus I kept it in front of my seat but I wouldnít really have too much of a problem putting it under the bus.

    Leaving out of Cancun airport was a breeze, I just motioned that it was a rebreather/scuba equipment and they didnít bother to do an extra inspection on it. Arriving back to the states in Atlanta, it raised a couple looks on the x-ray but it never bothered them enough to take it off the belt for further inspection.

    Rebreather Supplies Ė Rebreather bottles, bailout bottles, and O2 fills.

    Although Aldora Divers has rebreather bottles I could have used for the trip, they did not have any inline rebreather valves so I decided to bring my own set of AL13 (2L) bottles down to the island. It was no issue really; I just packed them in my checked bag with valves off and put a piece of clear packing tape over the bottles. I printed out TSA guides about traveling with scuba cylinders.

    In the future, I will likely just bring my own valves down to island and use a set of tanks from Aldora. I hate checking bags.

    I also borrowed an AL30 for a bailout bottle for the trip from Aldora and just kept it filled with airÖ I brought my own bailout regulator and stage rigging down with me.
    Deep Exposure also had a large supply of 2L, 3L and bailout bottles for rent but I believe you need to be diving with them to take advantage of that. I didnít ask about rental prices since I already had my set of bottles with me. If you are diving with them it would easy to rent or borrow bottles. I brought my own since I had a free checked bag on Delta.

    Originally I had planned on having Aldora provide me O2 fills via Meridiano but unfortunately Meridiano does not pump O2 to 200bar from my understanding. I donít believe theyíll boost it so I was only able to get about 135bar fills from them. This normally wouldnít have been an issue if I had my 3L tanks but on my AL13s (2L) it was barely enough for 2 long dives. I was coming back up from 2 dives on fumes for O2. Not enough for 3 or 4 dives. If youíre going to use Meridiano, I would highly recommend using 3L instead of 2L rebreather bottles since youíre not going to get much above 2000psi/135bar.

    Thankfully, Deep Exposure is fully equipped to pump O2 and trimix to 200bar since they have a booster. I used them for the rest of my O2 and diluent fills for the week. They charge flat rate of $25 to fill a set of O2 and air diluent bottles.

    I was averaging 3 dives off my AL13s (2L) bottles with max depths of 100-160í and runtimes of 70-80 minutes. If I did 3 dives a day, I usually had about 30-50bar of O2 left. Actually this was the first time Iíve ever used more diluent than O2 because the rEvo was extremely negative so I had to always pump the wing full of air. I was wearing a full 5mm but I will likely bring my full 7mm in the winter months not necessarily for extra warm but to offset a little of negative weight of the rEvo.

    In future I will probably bring 3L bottles since I should be able to theoretically get 4-5 recreational dives off them.

    For sorb, I was going to bring it down with me but I didnít end up doing this because I planned to buy a keg of Sofnolime at Protec Playa for $250 and have heard stories about sorb not being let into country by Mexican customs so I didnít want to chance it.

    When I got to Cozumel I also didnít realize the Protec in Playa was closed on Sundays (at least they were when I called). So I didnít want to chance taking ferry over there on a Sunday afternoon for nothing since they were not answering their phones. I had reached out to them via email earlier and was told they had plenty of sorb in stock and it would be no problem.

    I had planned on going over there on Monday but luckily I reached out to Deep Exposure first about buying sorb from them. I had previously spoken to Don, the owner via e-mail about the possibility of buying sorb from them but he stated that they usually only supply it If youíre diving with them but to give them a call if I ran into any trouble.

    Unfortunately Don was off the island so I never got the opportunity to meet him but thankfully his wife Lupita (who is awesome) saved me. They agreed to sell me sorb in 10lb increments for $75. Not super cheap but way easier than not having any or taking the ferry back and forth to Playa.

    Overall, I did 15 dives on the rebreather (about 17 hours total) and used ~20lbs of sorb. The rEvo is very efficient with scrubber usage since it had dual scrubbers. I have 3 canisters so I was able to rotate in my extra canister.

    Dive Operator Experiences with Rebreather
    I did the majority of my dives on this trip with Aldora since I have been diving with them for a long time and have many friends there. They provide steel HP120s and HP100s to all their divers; I felt I was much better matched and was still able to get some longer dives and deep dives in.

    While Aldora doesnít specialize in rebreathers, they were still extremely helpful. They are used to divers doing longer 70-90 minute dives. They are also used to dealing with people who dive sidemount and with stage bottles. I was able to hand them up my stage bottle and zookeeper and ask for help if I needed it.

    The majority of my diving this week was deeper lionfish hunting in the north outside the marine park at Barracuda or exploring sides far north of Barracuda. Even on a rebreather I was still pushing NDLs and going into a 2-5 minutes of deco; I didnít want to push deco obligation or depths since I was only using an AL30 for bailout and it only had air in it :-( Depth ranges from 90-160í and a majority of the dives were spent at 80-90ft hunting lionfish. We also dove El Islote, Maracaibo and Punta Sur Sur.

    Deep Exposure
    Since I was getting fills and sorb from Deep Exposure, I wanted the opportunity to try them out so I booked one day of diving with them. They have a very nice and comfortable large boat. They are setup to deal with divers using doubles and rebreathers and their crew is familiar with stage and deco bottles. The only small complaint I would have is the boat is SLOW. They leave at 9am and I donít think we got back into town until 3:30pm. Perhaps theyíre just running it a bit slower to save on fuel. I will say that I prefer 7:30am departures.

    Either way, it was a good experience. We had a mix of divers on board. Mostly all recreational although one other person was diving doubles and another person was diving with a stage bottle. They split us into smaller groups which was nice and the boat was not overcrowded at all. We dove Santa Rosa and Sanfrancisco.

    I think my dive times were a bit shorter, 50 and 60 minutes but honestly it wasnít an issue. Mario, the divermaster offered to stay down longer with me but I didnít want to keep the entire boat waiting.

    Deep Exposure also includes lunch in the price of their dive charter. They had a really nice spread of fresh fruit, guacamole, pico de gallo, drinks, tuna fish and sandwich rolls.
    Overall a good dive operation. I am hoping to dive with them again for their tech week that Don runs every year.

    One of my good friends works for ScubaTony and I also knew a group of friends diving with them so we decided to do a day of diving with ScubaTony.

    I loaded my rebreather, bailout bottle and gear into a taxi and met them at Caleta for a nice early 7:30AM departure.

    Although ScubaTony is not really equipped to deal with rebreathers they are still extremely service oriented and helpful. Their boat takes a maximum of 6 divers and has lots of room. Plenty of snacks on board and they give you your own ScubaTony water bottle to cut down on plastic debris. My friend was also diving sidemount and they had no issue with that either. ScubaTonyís captains and DMs are great.

    We had a very good group of divers on boat so we dove Punta Sur and had opportunity to do Devilís Throat and Cathedral and ended up doing I believe a 67 minute dive.
    For the 2nd dive we opted for an extended safety stop at the beautiful Colombia Shallows for a max depth of 28ft to offgas a little bit more. Iím pretty sure that outside the pool and my first training dive, this was my shallowest rebreather dive to date.

    Overall it really wasnít a huge hassle bringing my rebreather to Cozumel provided you secure sorb first or bring your own bottles or rent them. I guess that is an issue where ever you bring a rebreather but Cozumel definitely doesnít have a lot of options in regards to O2 fills and sorb. Meridiano, the primary fill operator in Cozumel does not boost O2 and Linmar does not do Oxygen or nitrox at all.

    Thankfully, Deep Exposure has a great fill station and will fill a set of 2L or 3L rebreather bottles for $25. This isnít terrible at all especially when you consider nitrox is $10-15/per tank at Cozumel. I was getting 3 dives off my 2L bottles so that worked out to about $8.33 a dive for fills. If you use 3L bottles, youíll likely be able to get 4-5 dives off them bringing that cost down.

    The major issue is sorb. You either need to bring it into the country and hope Mexican customs doesnít care (I have no personal experience with this but Iíve heard they sometimes will give you trouble). Protec in Playa appears to be well stocked with sorb but itís $250 plus ferry ticket fees if youíre heading to Cozumel. Getting sorb from Protec in Playa seems like the way to go especially if youíre flying into Cancun.

    Deep Exposure also has a good supply of sofnolime but I believe they typically reserve it for their own divers; itís best to reach out to them first. Hats off to Deep Exposure for providing me sorb in 10lb increments and giving me good and accurate O2 fills for the week.

  2. #2
    RBW Member tarheelscuba is an unknown quantity at this point tarheelscuba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    New York
    Prism 2

    Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Definitely come back down for Tech Week this February with Deep Exposure. It's a great time and you'll have the opportunity to meet a slew of CCR guys from all over. I've been diving with Don for five years now and give the operation two thumbs up.

  3. #3
    RBW Member sanglee000 is an unknown quantity at this point sanglee000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Andover MA
    rEvo 3 Hybrid

    Smile Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Nice write up Mike!
    Looking forward to going down there in December with my rEvo :)!!!

  4. #4
    RBW Member chrisdive is an unknown quantity at this point chrisdive's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Sioux Falls
    Revo III

    Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Deep Exposure all the way, we have had great luck with their entire setup.

  5. #5
    RBW Member Yamahadrummer is an unknown quantity at this point Yamahadrummer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Maine, U.S.A.

    Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Great report, thanks!

  6. #6
    Chett Lehrer Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L has much to be proud of Chett.L's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Venice Beach, California
    rEvo FT / Hollis P-2/ rEvo lll

    Prism Topaz-1 / rEvo ll

    Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Nice write up.
    Deep Exposure works out nicely. I also stayed at the same hotel that you stayed at, also good.

    Best regards,
    Chett. L

  7. #7
    RBW Member FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler is a glorious beacon of light FergusButler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Baltimore MD USA

    Re: Bringing your rebreather to Cozumel - Dive Operator Experience & Logistics

    Deep Exposure all the way. we've been diving with them for a few years and are always taken care of. you should come for their Tec Week in February, there will be a rebreather boat for the week.

+ Reply to Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts