Vincent Rouquette Cathala, Cave Diver Vincent, French Cave Instructor Mexico, Cave Diving Instructor Playa del Carmen
VINCENT ROUQUETTE-CATHALA

CONTACT VINCE


vince@underthejungle.com

VINCE QUICK STATS


• TDI Cave, Tec and Side Mount Instructor
• Official Razor Side Mount Instructor
• From Toulouse, France
• In Mexico Since 2004
• Languages: French, English, Spanish

PHILOSOPHY


Diving starts with breathing. Everything in diving relates to proper breathing technique – physical control, mental control, and comfort. It is also important that students progress at the proper pace, mastering where they are before taking the next step. Diving is like learning to ride a bicycle. You must go slowly and build a solid base of skills, but once you have them, you will never lose them!

ON EXPLORATION


Exploration is a need. Even as a child, what attracted me to diving was not looking at pretty fish, but the idea of discovering what was under the surface. I would see deep mountain lakes and wonder how deep they were. Diving is a tool for exploration, to penetrate wrecks, discover new caves, and to reach the depths of the ocean. Mexico’s cave systems are spectacular for explorers. They are so mysterious. You don’t know where a cave will go or how it will end. And, even when you think you are done exploring a cave, you will always miss something. There are no fully explored caves.

DO YOU LIKE CAVE DIVING OR DEEP DIVING BETTER?



It depends. Before I began cave diving I was obsessed with using technical diving to visit deep wrecks and dive sites. When I started cave diving I was excited by the variety of skills to master. What is most interesting to me at the moment is small side mount and no mount caves because of the psychological challenge, but I have no doubt that I will continue to be interested in wrecks and deep ocean dives. I am definitely interested in combining the two and doing more deep cave diving in the future.

WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO CAVE AND TECHNICAL DIVING?

The need to explore, to challenge myself, and to go past the recreational boundaries. The RDP is small, and the rest of the water-filled world is vast! One specific aspect of technical diving that attracts me is its solitary nature. It is one of the few times in modern life that you have only yourself to rely on for survival. Discipline and mental control are paramount, and mastering them has improved not only my diving but my daily life.

 

Another aspect I love is the connection I feel with nature. Being alone with just my team in a cave or the deep ocean makes me feel closer to the earth, the sea, and millions of years of geology. Underwater, I feel more than human, connected with deep recesses of the planet in a way that is difficult to describe. I feel out of time – infinite. These environments have existed well before I was born and will continue to be here once I am gone. The experience is at once humbling and enlightening; it is close to experiencing your pure soul.

 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN UNDER THE JUNGLE?

After more than twelve years in the dive industry, I have honed my guiding style and instructional techniques. My love of diving has only grown over the last years, and opening a dive shop gives me the autonomy to conduct courses and guide divers in the manner I think best. In the future, I want to use the dive shop to introduce people to the parts of the planet accessible only by technical diving, and to advocate for the conservation of these environments.

 

DID YOUR DIVING CHANGE WHEN YOU STARTED SIDE MOUNTING?

A good way to describe side mount is that you have the freedom of freediving with the laziness of breathing. I love the three-dimensional stability and comfort, and the pleasure of gliding through the water. It is pure movement. Of course, there are practical considerations as well, the redundancy and accessibility of the tanks and regulators, and the optimized profile make side mount a perfect tool for tight caves and for exploration.

 

Learning side mount was fun because it required me to learn new skills and theory, and to hone my existing skills for the configuration. It ultimately made me a better diver. I like that in side mount, every tiny detail of your configuration affects the systems as a whole, and as you customize the gear to your body, it becomes more and more comfortable. Side mount is a useful tool, allowing a diver to experience new environments, and I was surprised to find how much of a difference it made for drift diving in the ocean – you are so much more streamlined that it is easier to move perpendicular to or against the current.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR BEST MOMENT DIVING?

There are so many. One of my best memories is from exploration when I finally went through a little hole I had noticed in cenote Avicola. I had been obsessed with the image of this tiny black hole in the halocline there for a month, and when I finally squeezed through it, the cave opened up and I emptied my exploration reel in twenty-five minutes. It was my first big exploration success, when I knew I was finally starting to really read caves and understand them. It was a thrilling feeling, and the dive gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities.

 

Another moment worth mentioning is from an extended range course. My students were excellent, and we had just completed a long dive. I made a bet with my students that we wouldn’t see a shark, and I was sure I would win because sharks are very rare during the summertime. We saw no sharks during our dive to 50 m for 50 minutes, but I lost the bet during the 6m deco stop. We were drifting in the blue, nothing besides water in sight, when I noticed a massive shadow at the edge of my mask. I turned and came face to face with a four meter hammerhead shark. It investigated us for a moment, and then dropped down into the darkness, disappearing without moving a fin. It was totally unexpected and I definitely lost the bet.

PHOTOS OF VINCENT ROUQUETTE-CATHALA