Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sharky's Big Cozumel Adventure 2014!

May 1 - 18, 2014

Hola Tankers! Sharky Here!
Well it's finally here! The Big Adventure 2014!
Hang with this blog as I try my best to make daily or semi-daily posts
of all the activites ...
May 1 - Day 1 - Thursday
"a pirate flag and an island girl..." k.chesney
American Airlines flight 1540 from DF/W to CZM was slightly delayed, well actually a half hour, but the captain kicked 'er in the pants and we arrived just a few minutes after scheduled arrival.
 Made it through customs un molested, bought 2 transfers on the shuttle, and made our way to Blue Angel Resort.

 Quick check of the cruise ships for the annual census: 4 ships in town
 First order of business...hang the pirate flag and christen Blue Angel as "Casa Sharky" for the next 17days.

 Ester and Victor from Less-Pay dropped off our Tracker, the little jeeps work perfectly for us.

 They ain't the prettiest girls at the ball, but they run. This year's offering had bad tires, no windows, no dash lights, no turn signals, none of the gauges worked except the gas gauge, and the seat belts had no connection buckle...other than that, it was perfect.
 An artist was working on these murals at the stair landings at Blue Angel while we were there...
2nd floor..
3rd floor..
Looks like Sharky needs to request 4th floor next year!
the artist's signature...nice work!
 We had to run downtown and pick up a couple things, so I stopped by Woody's to see if  Annie, my partner in crime at the radio station was anywhere around. She was and we just said howdy pretty much and I promised to come by later to talk about the station.
 It's slow season between Spring Break and the beginning of the Summer rush, so a lot of business owners take advantage and use the slow time to take a little vacation for themselves. Several of the people I wanted to meet last year and some folks I wanted to see this year are off the island right now.
 By the way, the little souvenir shop next to Woody's is closing and has some very unique items at very good prices. I picked up some tank tops in there for just $8 each. Mrs. Sharky picked up a couple margarita glasses and a 'cowboy' hat for some friends.
 We stopped at 7-11 for some cool drinks for the soft sided cooler we bring with us and off to see the island.
 It's Labor Day in Mexico and to that end, traffic was quite heavy in town and on down to the International Pier, but thinned out quickly past there.
 Heading south we turned off on the old road that runs along the shoreline and meets back up with the highway at the old Reef Club and on south to Punta Sur.
 By the time we reached Punta Sur, it was close to  6pm and the bars were wrapping it up for the day, so we continued on around the island.
 Kudos to the Trashy Little Group for their beach cleanup efforts! The Wild Side beaches look very clean.
We cruised slowly along the old beach road. Ester said you can still drive on it going counter clockwise around the island, but the clockwise direction is for bikes and 2 wheel vehicles only.

  By the time we got back to town we were starving and decided on a semi first night tradition, Ernesto's Fajita Factory.

 Margaritas, chips and guacamole to start and fish of the day prepared in the local mojo de ajo (garlic oil style....delicious!
 We got back to the hotel and met with Gordon Gunn and family who we will overlap with a few days this year, and visited with them for a little while before heading to bed.
 Day 2 - May 2 - Friday
 " my best to waist another day..." k.chesney

 3 cruise ships.

 Did'ja ever have one of those days when you just didn't feel like doing much of anything?
 Well we pretty much accomplished that today.
 We slept in today, taking advantage of one of the few days we won't be on the boat at 8am.
 After hanging out in the lobby with the Gunns, our Cozumel family from Austin, most of the late morning we headed up to the Museum for a very late brunch/ lunch. Chicken Tacos for me and Shrimp quesadillas for the Mrs.
 We spent the day, driving down to Cedral and seeing what was happening. The Cedral Festival is still going on, and cars were starting to file down the road for the late afternoon and evening festivities.

 Then ended up taking a slow drive around the island to see how many turtle nests we could count, looking for the red steaks in the sand and the red painted markers on the road.

 The turtle conservation people mark the nests with red posts with information written on them, and sometimes also mark the road next to where the nest is.

 We counted maybe four so far. It's still early in the season. We will see what the population looks like tomorrow when we hit the reefs.
For dinner we hit an old standby, Casa Denis.

 Mrs Sharky loves the spinach soup and backed that with  shrimp ceviche. I opted for chicken tostadas, very fresh and refreshing. A couple mango margaritas to wash it all down.
Getting ready to hit the sack for good night's rest...tomorrow we dive.
Day 3 - May 3 - Saturday
"knee deep in the water somewhere..." zbb
 First day of diving of the trip.  1 cruise ship.
 We jump onboard the six pack, Chiquimax, my favorite boat of BA's, with my favorite Captain on the island, Alberto at the helm and young Juan Pablo (JP) taking the divemaster duties.
 First stop, Palancar Horseshoe an excellent place to start. A beautiful wall dive with some large swim-thrus and caverns to explore. Not a lot of big fish on the reef this morning, we did see a large hawksbill turtle headed up for a breath and a 3 foot barracuda came in close to JP and I.

 Speaking of barracuda, a missive one met us at the beginning of the second dive, Dalila, which we hit after a surface interval at Palancar Pier, the little pier that sits all by its lonesome towards the southern end of the island.
 Dalila is beautiful garden dive. Besides the large barracuda, Lore found a Juvenile Drum, and a huge lobster in one of the swim-thrus.
Arrow Crab

Juvie Drum

It started raining as we pulled in at Blue Angel, so after rinsing the equipment, we employed my number one island weather rule, "if it's raining here, it most likely is not over there on the other side of the island". So we headed Rastas, In fact, it was dry by the time we reached the International Pier.
 The Freedom Bar/Rastas/Bob Marley's which ever you prefer, for lunch. Shrimp cocktail for her and chicken fajitas for me with mango and strawberry margaritas.
They saved my seat!

 After that we headed over to the Andale Bar at Saint Martin beach on the Wild Side to see our friends the owner, Chris and Sharon, but it was there day off, so we sat and talked with bartender Danny and another couple at the bar and had a couple tequilas.

 Back on the hotel side of the island, it rained most of the evening and is still at it at 11pm.
 Dinner at Blue Angel Restaurant, 2 fish of the days and a spinach salad, very tasty!! the fish was excellent, Mahi Mahi cooked traditional stlye, in garlic and butter... 2 of diving manana!!!
Day 4 - May 4 - Sunday
 No cruise ships on Sunday..its a rule.
AM dive with DM Andre and Captain Eddie on the Blue Angel II
 First stop Cedral's Cedral Pass, just further out on the wall rather than on the ridges leading out to the wall.
Spotted Eel

Carpet Anemone

 Andre found a Splendid Toadfish, and I had a 6 foot nurse shark swim along with  me for a while. I must have stirred her up and Lore said she was right beside me for a minute or so before I noticed her.
Then we were off to Yucab, still not a great abundant of critters about...looks like it may be a 'macro' trip!
 We did see a couple hawksbill turtles and a Big Black Grouper and an even BIGGER Black Grouper with nasty looking teeth...awe-some!
Large Nassau Grouper

Big Black Grouper with BIG teeth!

 It started raining about the time we got back to the hotel and rained all afternoon all over the island.

We tried to beat the rain by going over to Andele Bar on the Wild Side, but got a very good rain over there too. Hard!
A small tragedy happened just before heading out to lunch. I somehow lost my wallet on the way back to the hotel after running up to the quick shop for some supplies.
 I of course was really upset at first...and for a while, but figured there's nothing I can do about it and decided to have a good time and take care of getting things replaced when I get home...just got that new PADI card a year or so ago, drat!
my new fancy schmancy Mexican wallet...

 Lunch at Andale Bar was very good, we split some chicken tacos and a couple of shots of tequila and pass the afternoon with the rain pounding down on the giant palapa.
 If you haven't been to Andale yet, please do! Chris and Sharon are wonderful folks and St. Martin beach, just across the road is by far the most beautiful stretch of natural sandy beach on the island.
After losing the wallet, there was only one way to consult us...Dinner at La Terraza.
Ed's wife met us at the door and led us up the crazy spiral staircase up to the 2nd story dining area of at the former Prima location, one block south of the plaza.
 The food here is outstanding! Ed has hired the former chef of Prima and Julian, one of the former waiters is the manager.
 Lore had lobster raviolis...perfect. I had blackened grouper with red marinara sauce on it. It was sort of like a blackened Veracruz fish...awe-some!
 Oh! we started with a blue cheese salad & ended with 3 mini slices of all 3 pie desserts, strawberry, pineapple and key lime with Frangelico liquor after quote the kids OMG!
Day 5 - Cinco de Mayo! - Monday
"Cinco de Mayo in Memphis, mariachis singing the blues..." j.buffett
3 cruise ships, Disney downtown, 2 Carnivals at IP.
 Cinco de Mayo isn't as big as deal in Mexico outside  Puebla  where the battle it commemorates took place. In the U.S., it has only become a big deal because of beer companies promoting it.
Morning dove with JP and Alberto on Chiquimax.

First stop Columbia Deep. A fantastic wall dive, the animal sightings are picking up. We saw 3 hawksbills and a free swimming nurse shark.
Columbia Deep

Hawksbill heads for a breath of air
Mrs. Sharky & Greg 'Sideways' Sydow

Second up, the natural progression. Columbia Shallows. A great dive! One of my favorites of all time.

 JP took us among the coral heads, we spotted several blennies, 3 on one coral head and I found a sand blenny and got a very good shot of it.
Slender filefish

French Angel

Elkhorn Coral

 He also took us to large pieces of  Elkhorn coral, which I haven't seen since Wilma. Gordon took his mom snorkeling at Playa Corona and sad they found some Elkhorn out in front of Playa Corona.
Lunch at Blue Angel, 2 chicken chimichangas.
Then it was off to see my buddy Barefoot Sally for an amazing massage. If you haven't had a massage by Sally when here, you simply must.
Dinner at an old favorite, Rock-n-Java. We split potato skins and the biggest club sandwich on Earth! Very tasty indeed!
Day 6 - May 6 - Tuesday
5 ships in today! 4 in the IP/Mayan Pier area and one downtown.
am dive with my buddy Mateo and Capt. Jorge on Jibara.
An absolutely beautiful day for diving, the seas are calm as can be, the sun is shining, you just know it's going to be a great dive day.
Last day to dive with my buddy Gordon and his wife Carol. We head for Santa Rosa Wall.
Actually dropping down on the end of Cedral and moving onto Santa Rosa as we drifted.
HUGE Nassau Grouper

Nurse shark, by request...


Midnight Parrot

Currents on both dives today were a little stiff at times, but still manageable.
We saw a huge nurse shark under a ledge, Mateo said it's usually there. A lot of grouper including a big black one and a HUGE black grouper with nasty looking teeth.
 Second up, the beautiful Villablanca Wall, just out in front of Blue Angel. A beautiful sloping wall covered with sponges, big barrel sponges and deep sea fans. I see different colored and variety of sponges here than anywhere else in the island.
red sponges!

orange sponges!

Splendid Toadfish

Flamingo Tongue

Carol and Gordon Gunn (ggunn)

 I saw lots of coral banded shrimps, arrow crabs, but was unable to spot a seahorse. I found a nice big orange one here last year.
 Lunch at Andale Bar. Lore had breaded shrimp which she just was going crazy for & I had wonderful fish and chips.

By the time we got back to the room it was 7pm and we laid down to rest before going to  'Ohana Bar for dinner...the next thing we knew it was morning! ....must have needed the rest.
Day 7 - May 7 - Wednesday
"I ain't in no hurry today..." .zbb
1 cruise ship.

 A day off from diving, we saw our friends the Gunn family off and headed up to Jeannies Waffle House for a late breakfast.
Veggie omelet for her and scrambled eggs and  bacon, with potatoes and frijoles, 2 mixed juices of orange and pineapple and a fruit place to the spot for sure.
It was delicious!
 Jeannies is always good and a nice cool place to sit on the patio out back.
View ftom Jeanie's Waffle House,,,

 We went back to Blue Angel and hung out by the pool for the afternoon.

Winds have died down quite a bit and the seas had been very calm all day.
 Awesome weather! Low to mid 80's, very low humidity and light breezes.
We headed over to our friends Matt (Mateo) and Angie Moran's restaurant 'Ohana Bar.
'Ohana Bar, 5th Ave. between 6th & 8th north, Tell them Sharky sent you!

 This place has wonderful food! Including the best Chicago style pan pizza this side of Lake Shore Drive.
Mrs. Sharky had Lobster Rolls. 2 small lobster tails, stuffed with creamy cheese and wrapped with bacon...wrapped with bacon!! What could go wrong!? It was wonderful, "The most perfectly cooked lobster I've ever eaten" the Mrs. said.
Some beef sounded good to me so I had a cheese burger and fries which were also very good.
After dinner we retired to the bar and talked with Matt and our newly arrived  friends from California, Greg and Loree.
Day 8 - May 8 - Thursday
"get away to where the boat leaves from..." zbb
 3 cruise ships.

 Back on the boat! Morning dive with the for mentioned Matt and our buddy Alberto at the helm of Chiquimax.

 I met fellow Scubaboarder and new Cozumel resident 'BettyfromToranto", she swims every morning with a group of women, including my pal Barefoot Sally, from Blue Angel down to Villa Blanca pier and back...I call them the mermaids.
First stop Palancar Bricks. One of my favorite deep dive sites. It is kind of an "all inclusive" deep  dive site. It has pinnacles, canyons, swim thrus, and a beautiful reef to support it all.
 Saw a couple big lobsters, one out on the reef. It looked a little pale, probably about ready to molt.
Palancar Bricks
Arrow crab with fry fish

Lobster about ready to molt...I think.

Second stop, a new dive site for Sharky! San Clemente, just out from the old Sand Dollar pier, a gorgeous "aquarium" dive. Lots of fish of all kinds all over the place. It's also where all the eels, flamingo tongues and blennies have been hiding...I could do that kind of diving all day long!
Anemone Shrimp

Butterfly in coral



Grunts in coral

Snapper taking a look

 Back at the casa we cleaned the gear and walked up the street to La Hatch for lunch.

 We started off with  some chips and guacamole and Lore had a shrimp ceviche and I had yummy El Pastor torta, chicken marinated in pineapple and some sort of sauce on a slightly crispy beget with fresh onion and cilantro for el pastor!!!
 We went for a drive around town and about the island for most of the afternoon and into the evening then headed over to Mega store for some supplies.
 After getting supplies, we stopped at the Rock-n-Java's Noodle Bar for a large order of Cashew Chicken to split. It was very good! We ordered it "moderate" heat, which was just perfect.

Back on the boat in the morning....
Day 9 - May 9 - Friday
 2 cruise ships.

Another beautiful day in Cozumel! Morning dive with JP & Alberto on Chiquimax.
First stop the amazing Punta Sur Cathedrals. Several large swim-thrus on a group of large coral heads at the south end of the island.
Punta Sur Cathedrals

Punta Sur reef

Punta Sur Reef

Second stop part Francesa, part Cedral  Pass...lots and lots of sea life! Like swimming in  an aquarium! 2 Splendid Toadfish, a large Green Moray under a shelf, blue chromas EVERYWHERE, a small haswksbill and a small nurse shark with a young Nassau grouper in tow.


Hawksbill sea turtle

Fire clam or Fire Scallop

Splendid Toadfish

Big Green Moray


Tonight is our special anniversary dinner at Buccanos, so we headed up to Papa Hogs for a light lunch of guac and chips (of course) and one of PH's specialties, Southwest Quesadillas to split.
Spent a lazy afternoon hanging around the hotel, catching this blog up and to see my buddy Inez at the fabulous Buccanos at Night!
 We arrived at Buccanos about 6:30pm, just in time to get seated and enjoy the most amazing sunset.
 From what I've noticed over the past couple years, the sunsets up north seem to be much more spectacular on a regular basis than the ones south of town to the mid-island range and then get really good again down south at Punta Sur. It must have something to do with the angle of the sun, mid-island you are almost squared up with the sunset over the Yucatan and north or south, you get it from a bit of an angle.

 Anywho, the sunset was amazing and the amazing just kept on coming
 Mrs. Sharky had one of the special  before  dinner drinks a fresh fig mojito, and I opted for a coconut, mango daiquiri.
Cheese ravioli with panko bread crumbs, deep fried golden, with a half of lobster tail in a light zesty BBQ sauce for appetizer.

 For the main course we both had Wahoo with peanut crust on a bed of green beans & new potatoes & I forget what type of reduction.

 And for dessert we split, the Brownie with goat cheese ice cream & 3 flavor chocolate mousse sampler..fabulous!
The lovely Mrs. Sharky and you know who...
 If you don't treat yourself to Buccanos at Night while on the island, you are truly missing out. Open only Friday and Saturday nights and they do prefer reservations, with you can do online thru their Facbook page or website.
Day 10 - May 10 - Saturday
4 cruise ships.

 I had one of my insomniac nights and didn't hardly sleep a wink, so we took  the day off from diving. I slept most of the morning and Lore lounged by the pool until the dive boats came in and we got with our friends Greg and Loree and headed over to the Andale Bar for lunch.

 Chips and guacamole, of course, Crispy Shrimp for her and Chicken tacos for me. We hung out there until 4ish and jumped back in the jeep and took Greg and Loree up to the northern hotel zone before going back to Blue Angel. They had never been up there so we gave them the grand tour, including a quick zip through the golf course.
By the time we got around to eating dinner it was getting late, and we just decided to go to Mega and get a slice of pizza. Unfortunately the only thing they had left was a beef Stromboli, with wasn't too bad at all.
Day 11 - May 11 - Sunday
 I told you, no ships on Sunday!

am dive with JP and a new captain named Jorge on the Blue Angel II.
The BAII has the most narrow beam of all the boats Blue Angel operates and this was by far one of the roughest boat rides on a panga I have ever had, both the trip out and back in...well not counting getting past where the channel meets the open ocean on the way to Chun Chucab, that can get a little dicey.
The wind had kicked up and the boat just continued to spray all of us all the way out...everyone was pretty unhappy about it.
Anywho, we made it Santa Rosa Wall alive and in one piece.
Santa Rosa looked the nicest it has since hurricane Wilma. The reef is finally looking healthy again.


Lots of good French Angel pics this year

Santa Rosa

On the way up, I experienced bad reverse blockage. My right ear just wouldn't release. The last 2 or three feet coming up from 45-43' were miserable. The "room started spinning" for a few seconds and finally a long squeak and I was out of it.
Unfortunately, back on the boat, the vertigo I experienced gave me immediate sea sickness, and I ended up skipping the second dive...Cedral of my favorite sites.
 I slept most of the afternoon and recovered enough to make a second run at La Terraza for dinner.
Ed and his lovely wife met us at the door and she escorted us up the spiral staircase  to nice cool open aired table.
We started by splitting a blue cheese salad and Mrs. Sharky had the lobster fettuccini alfredo  and I had chicken parmesan. Both of us ate until we were stuffed and then dove in to split a piece of the homemade strawberry ice cream pie with coconut crust.
 This is another Cozumel "must do' restaurant.
Day 12 - May 12 - Monday
 a.m. dive with Mateo and Alberto on Chiquimax....ahh, that's better.
First stop Punta Tunich. The current on Tunich was the strongest we have encountered yet, but still very manageable.
 We ran across a Sharptail eel foraging along the top of the reef...several big grouper were milling  about...and then I saw it.
Orange file fish

Orange file fish (spotted stage)

Orange seahorse...I feel a theme here!

 I thought I recognized the shape, but wasn't sure, tuned my head into the current and slowly kicked to hover over it...and sure enough, it was a seahorse! I called my buddy over to me and took a couple shots of it before stopping my hover and moving on up the reef.
 We saw a couple hawksbills and another large nurse shark swimming about just before the safety stop.
We stopped at the Caleta for the SI.

 By-the-by, if you do stop and the Caleta and have to use the facilities it costs 5 pesos...who  has 5 pesos in their wetsuit!? ...I found a tree.
Next stop  Villablanca Wall, second time this trip, but well worth it. Another Sharptail  eel hunting on the reef, a small green spotted eel tucked up in his hole, one of those massive rainbow parrotfish followed us for at lest half the dive along the top of the wall. Lobster, zillions of arrow crabs, coral banded shimp, tons of various kinds of butterflies and small parrots were all over the reef.
French Angel


Sharptail eel

Sea Cucumber

Mrs. Sharky & French Angels


Sea Cucumber

Back  at Casa Sharky, we spent the afternoon at the pool...let's see what's for dinner?
 Well, actually we were supposed to head to Woody's to meet Annie and see a new act playing there, but the island lazies had set in and it was actually past 10 by the time we got ready and I in particular was about ready for bed.
 I've been trying to get back to Woody's since day one and keep getting herded other directions.
 So we were just going to head up to Mega and grab a slice, and ran into our dive buddies Greg and Loree with were with Steve and Kami Michels, the owners of Liquid Blue dive op and they had just come from a place called Parilla Cozumel, and had tacos.
 Something small sounded good, so we headed up there, it's located on Calle Adolfo Rosada Salas ( the first street, south of the Plaza, that heads into town off of the Milgar), between 10th and 15th Ave.
 The owner Tim, seemed like a nice enough guy, but in retrospect, it seemed he unnecessarily put down his competitors and the local food, trying to talk up his 'American' fare. Apparently mistaking us for everyday tourists. Once he found out we've been coming here for nearly 20 years, he backed off a little...a little.
 Anywho, we had his 'American Tacos', tender beef shirt on flour tortilla with lettuce and cheddar cheese...a little odd for my brain to handle the whole American concept, but they were very good and the order of 2 was just perfect to go sleep on without being kept awake from being so full.  
Day 13 - May 13 - Tuesday
3 cruise ships.

2 absolutely beautiful dives today.
We jumped on Chiquimax with DM JP & trusty Alberto at the helm.
First stop, the amazing Palancar Gardens. Since this is my second to last day of diving, I opted for a more shallow dive, staying above 50' for most of the dive, skipping  over the top of the reef and along its edges rather than doing all the swim-thrus.
 Just as we dropped to the top of the reef a Southern stingray passed by with his little pilot fish buddy. 

Fireworm on coral
Southern sting ray over reef

Christmas tree tubes with hydroids

Damsel fish, Blue Chromis, butterflies, small parrots, schools of midnight parrots, stoplight parrots, a large midnight goliath parrot, I found a juvenile drum... and then...a very large Loggerhead turtle passed thru the canyon between the reef proper and the pinnacles just before the wall drops off at about 60'.
 I wasn't close enough to get a shot of it, but it could have been the one that has taken up residence in the Cedral area. 
 We stopped at the old Sand Dollar pier for the SI, which they won't let you pee in the woods at anymore. A guy with a Dive Palancar shirt on told me if I used the forest as a bathroom again he would get the name of my DM and ban that boat from the pier...whatever. I started peeing off the end of the pier.

 Then it was off to Yucab.
JP said he was going to look for little things, since Greg was on macro and I of course with my trusty Sea&Sea compact am ready for anything.
 JP didn't disappoint either! He found a couple nudibrachs and once I realized how to find them, I found a couple myself.
 I've always seen Jose looking in flat patches of open sand just beside the edge of shallow reefs looking for and finding them.
 JP was looking in little small patches of algae...much easier to spot them against the green rather then the white sand.

Arrow crab

hey man, wazzup?

Hawksbill on the move

Scrawled file fish

Anemone shrimp

Feather duster cluster

 He found a Slender file fish and of found several more. Christmas tree tubes, a cluster of white feather dusters, a small barracuda cruised by, some small and medium sized grouper, some blennies and a small hawksbill to round everything off.
All in all, a very successful dive day.
 Chillin' at the pool sounded good, so I ran up to Parilla Coz...hey, why not, and grabbed 2 cheeseburgers and  fries. The special of the day was 2 burgers for 100 pesos, lunch with tip was $10, not that's cheap!
 Tim had touted the hamburgers the night before as being "Angus beef imported from Canada ", again, not realizing who he was talking to. Tell me you beef is Herford from Kansas, Illinois or Iowa and I'll be impressed.
 The hamburger was a little "mealy", ground a little too much, and the hamburger wasn't bad, but not as good as the one I had at 'Ohana during this trip. I generally try and stay away from beef on the island for the most part anyway. I has never been a culinary strong point on the island.
Beautiful day, sunny with big fluffy clouds, must have been in the mid 80's today with just enough breeze to keep you from being too hot. 
 The cheeseburger from Parilla Cozumel was still quite heavy on the Mrs. and she didn't want any dinner. So I headed up to Woody's to see if Annie was hanging out.
 I first got there and she was no where to be found, so I ordered some beef empanadas for dinner and listened to the 2 guys that go by "The Broken Strings". Annie gave them that name because Victor is constantly braking strings while playing his solos.
 He probably uses light #9 strings, you can play a little faster, but if you play hard, you'll pop that upper E string for sure.
 I've wanted to hear them for a long time and was happy to get the opportunity. They are quite good and played everything from Eagles to Coldplay and Green Day.
 They were playing acoustically this evening, but I think they get out the electrics on the weekends.
 Annie showed up just as I was finishing my meal, the empanadas were fantastic by the way.
 We talked about the radio station and she as officially handed the full reins over to me and I am now the sole owner of!
 The plan is to eventually get the online station back up and running again in some capacity, with the eventual goal of getting corporate sponsorship so we can go semi-commercial free and rather than having a weekly Shark Tank show, I'll just play the island stories, dive reports and audio segments from Sharky mixed in  with the music.
 But all that is a ways off yet, some logistics to work out first.
 I would like to publically thank Annie Cheatham for giving me the opportunity to do the radio show. I was a broadcast major in college, (the first time round), worked for the American Forces Radio Service part-time while in the Navy, was a nightclub mixer for many, many years, and have always wanted my own show...most of the time this is just too much fun! THANKX!  
Day 14 - May 14 - Wednesday
2 cruise ships.

Back on Chiquimax with JP and Alberto.
 First stop by request, Columbia Deep. Getting close to the last dives for us, so I decided to stay above 65' and mostly skimmed along the top of the reef with the Mrs. and couple others and the rest of the group did the many swim-thus.
 Just as we dropped down, 2 large Nassau grouper were hanging in the water very close to us. I think we might have  interrupted some mating ritual. One was diving deep and the other swimming shallow and the 2 would dive towards each other and pass touching. Some fish broadcast mate this way, I didn't see any egg release, but like I said, we may have disturbed the proceedings.
 Beautiful dive, a couple hawksbills passed, more grouper, all the usual suspects, lobster, Blue chromis, butterflies, wrasse.
Divers at 'the Deep'

Deep Sea fans


LARGE grouper

Arrow crab

2 anemones

sponge and coral

Christmas tree fans

 Surface interval at the little pier at Palancar and off to one of my favorite dive sites. Cedral Pass.
 I missed it earlier in the week when Mr. Reverse Blockage showed up and I had to skip the dive.
 Today however, ears are working fine and it was off to Cedral.
 JP took and interesting route, we started off at the top of the wall and worked our way over to the Pass and its ridge/valley/ridge topography, and then over a sandy flat onto what he called Cedral Shallows, Which was large coral heads separated by small sandy patches, kind of "bolones" style reef.
 2 nurse sharks, one about 5' free swimming beside us for a while and a very large on, just laying on top of the reef next to a Barrel sponge.
French Angels

Nurse shark

Hawksbill sea turtle

cool arch in reef

big brain coral


The reef was just covered with fish, we saw at least 4 hawksbills and one small green sea urtle, a Splendid toadfish, lots of arrow crabs and few coral banded shrimp, a HUGE lobster moving from one coral head to another.
 After the big rinse, we headed down to Rastas for a light lunch, planning on, and actually following through with going to Le Chef for dinner.
 I had chicken quesadillas, which come out more like 3 open faced tacos with cheese. VERY good, the chicken was shredded and just went perfect with the white cheese, guac and some pico de guio.
 Shrimp ceviche for the Mrs. I'm not a big shrimp fan, but she loves the little critters and almost lives on them when down here.
 Talked with my buddy 'Willie', the second generation William of the family who owns The Freedom Bar/Rastas/Bob Marley's...what ever name you prefer to use.

 Willie's sister is the owner of  'Ohana, and her husband is Matt "Mateo" Moran, the DM extraordinaire at Blue Angel. ...and a big part of our extended Cozumel family.
 So after Rastas, it was finally time to hit Margaritaville.
 Most of you know it as Coconuts, yes, it has become quite popular and on a busy cruise ship day feel touristy, but if you hit it in the afternoon after most of the cruisers have left and its a bunch of locals, ex-pats and long time visitors like us, it's still something  quite special.

 Today a very nice breeze was blowing through the giant palapa and it was the perfect day for Coconuts.
 We ordered a couple drinks and some chips and salsa (pico de guio) and kicked back for a little while.
 Coconuts lost one its little dogs, Luna to heart worms a few months ago. She was this delightful little terrier mix that everyone loved.
 Well, Cuco, the owner has outdone himself replacing her. There is the adorable little puppy named Margarita up there now. She's still a puppy, but has the biggest paws on her you've ever seen. I've got a feeling, that next time I see here, I'll be facing a 45 pound Airedale mix!

 Back at the room to relax for a while and eventually off to Le Chef, one of our top 3 restaurants at the writing of this...that list continually changes as new venues pop up.
House special, catch of the day Mahi Mahi with lobster, mushroom sauce, served with veggies and rice for Mrs. Sharky and spaghetti primavera for the shark. Perfectly cooked fresh pasta with veggies, and grilled chicken. They dress the pasta with garlic oil or butter and put the marinara sauce  around the edge of the pasta mound.
 Excellent marinara by the way, the best I've had on the island, even better than La Terazza's.
 After dinner we headed over to 'Ohana to visit with Matt over Anejo (fully aged) tequilas for a little while before tucking in for the night.
Day 15 - May 15 - Thursday
3 cruise ships.

 No dive day, had to restock on yogurts for breakfast and various other things at Mega.
But first, a new favorite place. A fellow diver friend from Colorado told us a couple years ago about this place that has the best breakfast burritos ever.
 It's called Burritos-Gorditos,
"Tony" cookin' up burritos at Burritos-Gorditos...

 Located on 5th ave. north, just a block or two off the square, right next to Isis car rental.
 We arrived just as Aldora called in a 15 burrito order. 'Tony' (his real name is hard to pronounce, so he goes by Tony) the owner and your chef has the warmest smile you ever met and is a very nice guy...and a pretty darn good cook as well.
 We ordered a large bacon and egg breakfast burrito. A huge flour tortilla stuffed with bacon and scrambled eggs, his bacon actually seemed more like a Canadian bacon, but it was good none the same The burritos also come with pico, avocado, cheese and beans along with your choice of filling.
 Everything from eggs, chicken, barbacoa, pork, fish you name it.
 A new high recommendation on Sharky's restaurant list!!
 Late morning and you could tell something was rolling in from the north, and the weather forecast and satellite images confirmed a slight Norte was on its way.
 The wind had definitely changed to the north and progressively got stronger throughout the day. The temperatures eased off from the mid 80's to the low 80's and it began to get cloudier as the day progressed.

 By sunset, it had started raining a little, so we decided to go back to the Rock-n-Java Noodle Bar and have another round of Cashew Chicken. I'm gonna crave this when I get home.
 Once again, it was delicious. We got the yellow curry, or the moderate heat. Just enough heat to tingle the lips and gums, but not enough to detract from the flavor of the food...excellent.
 Overnight the winds continued to pick up and the ol' pirate flag was popping pretty good on a regular cadence.
Day 16 - May 16 - Friday
"you are like a hurricane..." n.young
3 cruise ships.

 Holy high seas Batman! Well, not a hurricane, but wow!

 I awoke at 5am to the sound of strong winds and no sound of clanking scuba tanks...not a good sign.
I opened the sliding door and walked out on the balcony. It was quite windy, white caps were inside the Villablanca Wall and boat lane area, and the Pilot boat was sitting in the middle of Villablanca Shallows next to the World Cup sailboats as if he was assessing the situation.
 I laid back down for a while and got back up as it got brighter outside, 6ish, and the 'Polito' a total mispronunciation that we came up with before actually knowing the Spanish work is Piloto, so we still say Po-lee-toe.
 Anywho, he had moved over to the Trans Carib pier and  I pretty much knew we weren't going diving  today.
 The  sun came out even though it was blowing pretty hard, at least 15-20mph with gusts. So we got breakfast from the Blue Angel restaurant, the BA breakfast for me...bacon and eggs (scrambled) for me and a fruit plate for the Mrs. which we shared by the the wind.
 New dive buddies, Ryan and Jen, a young couple from Breckenridge, CO. Came down to the pool, and when early afternoon rolled around, we all decided to head to Rastas for lunch.
 Shrimp ceviche for her, chicken quesadillas for me, conch ceviche for Jen and chicken fajitas for Ryan, guac and chips for all, beers for all, except Sharky who's driving, agua for me.
 After lunch, what else, a trip around the island. A slow drive with a beer stop at Chen Rio and more slow driving pointing out the turtle nests and sights along the way, then a back  through San Miguel and back to the Casa.


 The 'kids' had reservations at Buccanos so we offered to save them the cab fare and took them up to their dinner reservation around 6:30.
 The skies had cleared quite a bit and the wind had dropped some, but still blowing  pretty good at at least 12 mph or more...fingers crossed for tomorrow.
 After driving around town for a while we finally decided we wanted our own sunset dinner and headed to Ernesto's Fajita Factory...which I've never had fajitas at by the way.
 ...and still haven't. Chips and queso to start, chicken chimichanga for her and chicken enchiladas for me. 
 I love the enchiladas on the island, they aren't what most people back home would call enchiladas, covered with a Tex-Mex chili, but a smooth red sauce that is more sweet than spicy.
 and 2 strawberry/banana margaritas to top it all off!

 One of those great Cozumel sunsets that seem to go on forever...beautiful.

 9:34p.m. -  still a little windy...pray for calm...
Day 17 - May 17 - Saturday
1 cruise ship in a the International Pier
 ...well, calm isn't EXACTLY the term I would use, but it the port's open.
With winds still blowing out of the north, but not as brisk as the previous day, we head for our final day of diving.
 Andres handled the DM duties and we had a new captain on Jabara, that I never really caught his name.
 We had a family of 4 on the boat with us diving their first day, so they allowed us to pick the sites.
 Andres suggested Cedral Pass for a first dive. It's usually done as a second dive, but that was cool with us. Cedral is one of our favorite sites.
 Visibility was down to around 70' or so because of the previous nights rain, but it was still a great dive. As we were dropping down, a small southern stingray and jack pilot fish were right below us.
 I saw my first lion fish of the trip, actually finding 2 juvies along the way, one in a little cubby with the tiniest juvenile drum you ever did see. We ran across a couple of hawksbills, but I bet we passed one or two and didn't see them.
porcupine puffer

carpet anemone


Big Green Moray

Juvenile Lionfish

Spotted eel

 A stop at the Sand Dollar pier for the SI and the seas seemed to calm a little more by the time we headed out for dive #2.
 Then off to Yucab for our second dive. Again vis down on this shallow dive, we spent most of the dive with our nose in the coral looking for small critters or out on the sand edges looking for the elusive seahorse...which we failed to find.
Juvenile Lionfish with "spotted" fins

Fire clam/ Fire Scallop

Big Silver grouper

first time I've seen this type of parrot fish on Coz

Lobsters under shelf

Lions tongue

Very cool pic of a Blenny looking over Christmas tree tubes

 We did however find another juvenile lion fish, some Christmas tree and fan duster tubes. Lots of fish, tons of butterflies, blue chromis, and parrots of all sorts, including one bit Midnight parrot, some lobster under a shelf and a small barracuda cruised very close to me, giving me the eye all the way.
 The Cozumel Air Show was going on at the private airport near the Caleta, and planes and jets buzzed the hotel all afternoon as we chilled out until it was time to head downtown for the big weigh-in.
 The annual International Fishing Rodeo was today, so we headed downtown to the ferry pier for the weigh-in.
 We got there just in time for them to start and us to get a good seat on the seawall about 50' from the scales.
 Lots of Mahi Mahi, or Dorado as they call it here, one massive one. Some Wahoo, a few barracuda, several black stripped tuna, which a local, with we think is a taxi driver we had one time told us the meat on the black stripped tuna is black as well. A couple grouper made the scale and one HUGE black marlin! A massive fish, I'll have to see if I can find the weights on the rodeo's website, surely they will post the finals there.

Dorado...(Mahi Mahi)


Black Marlin
 While we were sitting there, some friends of ours arrived on the ferry from Playa. They had just flew in from Canada.
 We met Wayne and Anna three years ago at Blue Angel and have kept in touch. We knew they were coming in today, but had no idea when or even that they were flying into Cancun. So it was quite a surprise to see them.
 They invited us to dinner at El Presidente, where they are staying this trip and we agreed to meet around 7:30p
 We arrived promptly at 7:50, being fully on island time by now.
 Dinner was fabulous, we each had a Caesar's salad, very good.
 Mrs. Sharky had the Sea Bass & opted for Gnocchi in pink Alfred sauce.
 We split a decaf coffee and tiramisu for dessert.
 Wayne insisted on picking up the bill since he invited us, so we owe them a dinner at Buccanos next time around.

 Day 18 - May 18 - Sunday
"adios to all my friends..." zbb

No ships on Sunday...still.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and such is the case with "The Big Adventure 2014"
This will be our longest stay on the island to date and it has been everything a vacation should be.
 Overall the diving was great, we got to see a lot of old friends and meet some new ones along the way.
 We had some awesome meals from a wide variety of places to eat.
 It was a rainy morning as I got us all packed and we had about an hour to spare before heading to the airport to check our luggage, so we headed up to Villa Aldora to drop off a Shark Tank hat I had brought for Dave Dillahey's birthday.

 The Villa  manager, sorry I've gone brain dead and forgotten his name, but a really nice guy, gave us a tour of the place, very nice layout, with a salt water pool, rinsing station for shore dives, a nice little beach & palapa for relaxing and where they have occasional BBQ's for the guests.
 We even made off with an Aldora hat and t-shirts! An unexpected treat indeed!

 They have 9 villas, from 3 one bedroom rooms to 2 bedroom suites, that they can configure with different beds to accommodate just about any size group or family who should be coming down.
 We checked our bags early at 11:00am, went back to the hotel and checked out, paid our remaining bill, picked up our carry-ons and said our "adios's" and headed back to the airport...slowly arriving at just after noon.
 We grabbed a couple croissant ham and cheese sandwiches at the airport, by the time we finished them, it was nearly boarding time.
 The flight took off on time, and landed a little early.
Customs has a new kiosk method of checking back into the country. It's a lot like your self check-in at the ticket gate and very fast compared to the usual standing in line routine.
 Thanks so much to everyone at Blue Angel. From the dive crews to the maids we, appreciate everything you do.
 Special thanks to my pal Amethyst Amatista a.k.a Barefoot Sally, for the wonderful massages and for being such a good friend.
 Thanks to all our friends and people of the island of Cozumel for your hospitality.
 Looking forward to our next adventure...

Reef Report: The reefs themselves continue to improve and recover from the onslaught of Wilma.
Less hydroids dominating the landscape and more sponges and soft & hard corals taking their place.
 The fish population seemed a little down on the deep dives. Not sure if it was due to odd weather patterns, there was a slight Norte just finishing up as we arrived and the other one at the end of the trip. Or if it is due to lionfish coming up from the depths at night eating the juveniles and small fish.

But the mid-reefs are still covered with Blue Chromis, butterflies, wrasse, damsels, angels and lots of parrotfish.
"Sunken Treasure" I found on one of the dives...

 Equipment report: The only new piece of equipment this years was a new strobe. My Sea&Sea YS-25 finally gave up the ghost, so I purchased a new S&S YS-01 which did a fantastic to come.