I am a GUE-trained cave diver, which allowed me to slot in with the team who all have GUE* training. I spent a lot of time cave diving and frequented the dive shop also used by the team (Zero Gravity in the Riviera Maya in Mexico). This allowed me to meet the team members. I did some non-project-related cave diving with one of the team members and I guess I proved my abilities in the water, and above. I am comfortable cave diving with four tanks, performing tasks under water and doing four hour cave dives. Being available and in the right place at the right time scored me an invitation to help out on the project. What started as a couple of days work from project to project eventually grew into several weeks of helping out.
The GUE team approach to diving allowed us to achieve amazing things with the Hoyo Negro team. We could swap tasks and dive teams around as required. The quality and amount of work achieved, in a difficult location, has been amazing. It was hard work and long days but immensely rewarding.
While the project has attracted some funding from the likes of National Geographic and the Waitt Foundation, Cameron and I funded our participation personally (we supplied our own gear, tanks, gas etc). It has been a privilege and great experience to work with such accomplished divers doing important archaeological work. Oh the things I have seen.
* GUE = Global Underwater Explorers