So Tuesday and Wednesday I took my Basic Cave Diver course in Florida. Basic cave is pretty much the same as Intro to Cave but instead of doing the training in singles with H-valves I was able to do the training in doubles and can dive caves in doubles. I did my training with Mike O’Leary, with whom I had also done my cavern course last October. He did an EXCELLENT job. He has been teaching this forever and is truly an amazing diver. In case anyone is interested his website is: http://www.cavediving.org/
and he is a very good instructor, that is if you can get over his heavy New Yorker accent. We stayed over at the bunkhouse at the Dive Outpost in Luraville. I know some of you have been there and know the place well. Also, in case any of you go there, there is a little cafe there in the town of Mayo a couple of miles down the road called "Heart n’ Soul Cafe" that has great breakfast sandwiches and good soup and wraps, and live music in the evenings.
But I digress, we did our first dives in Peacock I. The first day was not terribly interesting. We went down the fissure into the little tunnel that down there and did some lost buddy drills. The second dive was in the entrance to Peanut down to the left around 30’. The second day was more interesting. We went back to Peacock for the first couple of dives. We went down Peanut to the breakdown room and did an air sharing lights out drill. Everything was going great until I got caught up by a wrap in which the line made a 90 degree turn (where did THAT come from? I didn’t notice that on the way in!). I simultaneously hit that wrap, almost lost my buddy’s long hose off of which I was breathing, flooded my mask and got wedged in there pretty well. I eventually, worked my way out but that reminded me how things can snowball so quickly. Shortly thereafter we exited the cave did a short safety stop and surfaced. Woohoo we lived! That afternoon we went over to Cow Springs and did the downstream siphon. The tunnel only leads in a couple hundred feet and then hits a vertical fissure. We went down the line and hit the fissure in about 10 minutes (this time I WAS watching what the line did!). Mike turned the dive and we did another OOG diver drill and lights out. This time my buddy got to be the OOG diver. We made our way down the line maintaining touch contact. And then all of a sudden we STOP! Apparently, there was another one of those pesky wraps to deal with. Eventually my buddy worked his way through the wrap and starts moving again. Unfortunately, I lost my grip on him when I hit the wrap. I followed the line around the boulder and felt the tip of a fin hit my hand. So I grab the fin and follow it down to his knee and give him a shove to start moving again. Which he did, I unfortunately though I was kicking was going nowhere. I reached back and found my SPG caught in the line! Funny how the line seems magnetically drawn to the slightest projection off of your body! I cleared the entanglement shoved my buddy and we start off again. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw this slight glow, what I could only assume is Mike’s light or something. But then the glow didn’t move but got bigger! CAVERN ZONE!!!! We made our way back to my reel and Mike made my buddy grab on to the line of my reel and wait. He took me back a little farther into the cave into a little alcove. He pointed out a couple of projections with his lights, told me to get negative and then cut his light. Then he placed me near a decent projection just off of my right. Of course when he was showing me all of them I spotted one that looked perfect off of my left but about three times as far away. So what did I do? Did I go for the perfectly acceptable projection to my right? No, like the jackass I am I went for the "perfect" projection to the right. I never did find that projection again. Anyway, I reached in my drysuit pocket for my spool. I tried to tie off on 2 or 3 completely unsuitable projections which of course came loose almost instantly. Finally, I found a good place to tie off. I tied off, with several wraps for good measure, and started upon my quest for the gold line. I hit a wall, turned a little, hit another wall, hit the ground, tried going up the wall and hit more rock, and swam into Mike at least once. I change my direction for the fifth or sixth time and swim a little way sweeping with my arm. Then I ran into someone’s line, "what the hell is someone doing running a reel when I’m looking for.... oh crap! that’s what I’m looking for!" I tied off my spool and that exact second Mike’s light went on (the man can see in the dark or has NVG’s or something I swear), he swam up over to me and shook my hand. We’re all done. (Well, my buddy still needed to do it but I just hung out close to the cavern zone).
Cave diving is definitely not for everybody, but I have decided it’s definitely for me! I’m going to be practicing this stuff a LOT until next year when I can come back for apprentice and full. I have definitely come back with a new appreciation for cave divers and especially cave instructors.