Downey Duck









Our fourth trip to Cozumel and Scuba Club was a lot of fun. Hurricane Wilma damage is very evident everywhere, especially along the main street of town and at the southern hotels, some of which still look pretty bad. The two cruise docks are currently unusable.

Scuba Club suffered relatively minimal structural damage, although windows were blown out, part of a back wall went missing, and parts of the break wall disappeared. The main boat dock was damaged enough that they are in the process of pulling the whole thing out and replacing it. The front lockers have been rebuilt, many of the cement walks are new, the barbecue is being rebuilt, and the buildings all have new paint. But the hammocks are back, the shore dive swim thru is still there, the piņata party is a gas, and the staff is mostly familiar faces.

The shore dive is different-the sea grass is buried under the sand and the formations sunk as fish habitats are mostly gone, but the old dock, now underwater, has become home for octopus and fish. We saw tiny crabs and shrimp everywhere at night, plus a couple unusual things, like what I can only describe as a small "hairy" octopus, something you'd expect to see in Indonesia. We also had an eagle ray swim by in shallow water.

The wall diving is still good, in fact we saw more big groupers this time than in the past couple of years, the turtles are still around and we had several extended eagle ray encounters. Some of the tunnels have closed up while others have opened. There's sand on the coral and pieces of soft coral piled up in some of the tunnels.

The shallower dive spots suffered more damage-the soft coral is totally gone and some reefs look like they've been scoured clean. But even on these reefs there were plenty of fish and eels, although not so many critters as their hiding places are gone. The splendid toad fish are still around, peering out of their holes.

The wreck of the Felipe Xicontencati looks like Wilma tried to twist it in half; now it has more character. Fortunately it's still upright and is a great beginner wreck dive.

Scuba Club is running at full capacity, especially since many hotels will probably be closed for months. Loading up for diving is more time-consuming until the new dock is completed, as the boats can only pull up one at a time where the shore dive entry area is. When the wind is blowing from the Northeast and there's too much chop, everything is hauled to the boat harbor via trucks and the divers are taxied.

We saw fewer cruise ships, less traffic in town, and the airport was empty mid-week. The best way to help the people of Cozumel is to visit, dive, and spend money. Yes, things look different, but it's still a great place to have a good time!