Here's the short list of the sites we dived (it'll have to do 'till someone puts up detailed commentary):
Saturday, Dec 31
Sunday, Jan 01
San Francisco Wall
Monday, Jan 02
Paso Del Cedral Reef
Bolones De Chankanaab
Paradise Reef (ended around dark o'clock)
Tuesday, Jan 03
Santa Rosa Wall
Wednesday, Jan 04
C-53 wreck (Felipe Xicotencatl)
Thursday, Jan 05
Las Palmas Drop-Off
I had to read between the lines on some of the site names we were given, so I used the closest match from the Franko's map where possible. The reefs didn't need another clean-up (other than the 6 gazillion tons of sand that got shifted around during Wilma). I only found one teeny brown glass bottle, as it appears the dive operators in Coz have done an EXCELLENT job removing the crap & rubble. Better than 80% of the businesses that *weren't* next to the ocean are open, and begging for touristas. Most of the 'beach clean-up' is done, except for rock & concrete rubble that needs backhoes to remove, but a lot of the beach areas had already been vacuumed. Just the areas where shops or resorts got clobbered (and I DO mean clobbered!) remained, and they didn't seem too open to letting us Norte's stagger around where they're working.
BTW, I was a Coz virgin, so I don't have a point of comparison. From my perspective, it's still leaps and bounds better than nearly every sited I dived off of Key Largo, so it's a worthwhile dive trip. I could tell from the looks on the faces of the veterans that a lot had changed. There's still dying sponges scattered all over, and the elkhorn? coral field at one site was totally destroyed. The cabbage? coral looked dead or dying, as it wasn't the right color I'd expect. Fish populations and varieties were great, including one hellaciously big Green Moray that Hawk found on our last dive. The sponges will be back within a year, the rest needs a LOT of time to recover back to the Old Coz, but it's still a nice set of dives if you can get over the fact that a force four hurricane slammed the area for 60+ hours.
Due to Kamala's ELEMENTAL FORCE, we were able to dive the C-53 wreck.
Apparently, they hadn't been letting folks dive it 'cos it'd split in 3 or 4 places, although it didn't look particularly dangerous. It's solid and intact, just has some new cracks that didn't compromise the safety, as long as you weren't crazy enough to grab the edges of raw metal where it'd split. Not a scratch among us. The biggest split was right amidships, maybe a 2 inch gap at best, nuttin' to lose your nerve over. Like a lot of the reef elsewhere, there's sand or silt inside in places that were clean before, but that's to be expected since it'd MOVED a fair ways during the hellstorm that Wilma wrought.
All in all, it's a helluva way to start the new year! If anyone blew the trip off, afraid that Coz was still in a world of hurt, I hope you're kicking yourself right now
And to correct any misconceptions, Kamala's 'initiation' into the 900+ dive fraternity was just a G-rated prank, amid squealing and frenzied jumping about... No animals were harmed in the filming of that dive, but I'd bet it was a tad chilly. Dunno if Larry actually had time to catch it on film, so it may just be a fading memory....