Just north of Playa Del Carmen in the sleepy little fishing town of Puerto Morales is a wonderful wreck dive surrounded by a government protected reef. The C-56 “Juanita” is a former U.S. military minesweeper that was given to the Mexican government; after 20 years of service with the Mexican military is was purposely sunk to provide an artificial reef. The Juanita sits in about 26 meters of water and provides for some amazing photography opportunities as the Spotted Eagle Rays, Stingrays, Grouper, and Barracuda are always hunting nearby. I took several of our guests to this wreck a few days ago and the view was amazing. I pulled into that perfect neutral buoyancy hover and watched the barracuda hunt the huge schools of bait fish: a well-orchestrated movement of thousands of small fish swimming in unison to avoid becoming someone’s dinner.
Extending Our Bottom Time:
Most divers have heard of Enriched Air Nitrox but are you familiar with the extended bottom time benefits of increasing the Oxygen percentage and decreasing the nitrogen that enters our bodies? The Juanita dive is not overly difficult in regards to visibility and current, but missing the show because of decompression times is something that all divers constantly have to monitor. Using the PADI recreational dive planner charts, a 26 meter dive on normal compressed air is about 20 minutes. By increasing the oxygen content from 21% to 32% you have now increased your bottom time to 40 minutes. Taking it a step further, Nitrox 36 gives a maximum of 50 minutes of bottom time, simply by increase the oxygen content and decreasing the nitrogen in your scuba cylinder.
Maximum Operating Depth:
We now know the basic advantage of diving with Nitrox, but it also has its disadvantages. Oxygen at depth and under pressure is toxic and this also applies to Enriched Air. We mitigate these risks by knowing what is the maximum depth that we can use for particular blend and diving that plan. We always plan our dives and dive our plans and the use of Nitrox is no different. With a PPO of 1.4, my maximum depth for Nitrox 32 is 33.5 meters and with Nitrox 36, my MOD is 28.9 meters. Know your dive sites, get a thorough briefing, and pick the blend that works best for your day of diving.
The PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course is relatively simple and can be done in about four hours. Some theory, knowledge reviews, and learning the tables and charts are all that is required to pass the final exam. When learning from the best scuba instructor in Playa Del Carmen, the atmosphere is relaxed, usually at the local coffee shop or in our classroom. Continue your education while on your next holiday and Diversity Diving is place to be.