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Hopping my way to full cave...

Discussion in 'Technical Diving Specialties' started by Manatee Diver, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    634
    339
    63
    I liked @dewdropsonrosa thread on her journey to full cave. So I figured I would make my own, hopefully I don't regret it.

    Background: I completed the cavern diver course with Reggie Ross, who I was referred to by Jim Wyatt, last March. While with Reggie he referred me to Hubie, a cave instructor out of Canada that runs a charity for handicapped divers in Canada. As he would have some ideas on how to work with my disability, namely I am missing a leg. Well Hubie was down here in Florida this week (first weekend in October), so Reggie and Hubie would work with me to push forward in my cave training.

    D-day - 5: Spent a day with Dene at Cave Adventures getting settled into my Edd Mod XDeep Tech. My original plan was to go up about a month before and spend a full two days with Edd doing the full Overhead Sidemount course, followed by over a month of diving it to get used to it. But due to a cyst under my prosthetic, and me being an idiot (had the dates in my calendar wrong), I only did the last day of overhead sidemount.

    The first half of the day was getting everything setup. And just after lunch we started our dives at Jackson Blue Springs. Of which the first part of that was getting everything setup so we were trimmed out perfectly. Once that was done we did the standard drills required for the course like air shares, fluttering the valves, mask switch, signals, et al. I thought that these were no sweat for me, but the after action video showed that I needed to get my long hose clear of my necklace before I switch to my secondary. Other than that my real enemy was the cold, as a wetsuit diver the panhandle springs were quite cold to me, and I was shivering between the dives.

    D-day - 3: Reggie emails me the code for the TDI Sidemount elearning, as NSS doesn't have their own elearning yet. I spent that evening and the next day finishing it.

    D-day: I meet Harry and Hubie at Cave Country Dive Shop, there we meet up and get equipment sorted out. As I needed fills for my loaner tanks, and rented regulators as I didn't have a set of my own for sidemount yet. We then drive down to Blue Grotto to meet up with Harry Averill, as he would be assisting on the final day that Hubie wasn't available.

    There we went over some techniques to get me into the water best, as the Grotto is back to thigh deep water. Followed by getting all the gear ready to dive. Getting to the water was fairly uneventful. But my Xdeep wouldn't hold air, apparently the hose for the over the shoulder dump (part of the Edd mod) caused the dump to be held open, pulled that back and it started working again. Tanks on and we started the dive. We did some work in the shallow area to check my trim, buoyancy, how I swam, once that was done we did a lap around the Grotto. I will take back what I've said in the past about the Grotto, this is the first time that I saw the Grotto in it's glory, this is a nice cavern, I still prefer other caverns, but it certainly is a beauty when it isn't a silt hole.

    Back at the pavilion I received the good, the ok news, and the bad news. My trim is on point (thanks Dene), and my buoyancy is pretty good, but my propulsion techniques suck. Hubie and Reggie talk about it and come to the conclusion that my best swimming technique for now would be a modified flutter, along with pull & glide in caves where it is appropriate. And Hubie and I spend some time on the picnic bench going over the technique.

    Day 2 & 3 to come.
     
  2. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    634
    339
    63
    Background that I left out, with Reggie becoming the training director of the NSS-CDS, with approval of the board he implemented a number of changes to the NSS's diving curriculum. The details of which would be probably be best for another thread, but instead of the curriculum that we know today my path to full cave will be a little different. First I would have to pass NSS Basics, which is a gate keeper course to see if people who don't have a tech rating from another agency are ready for cave diving, I was told that I was the first student. Next instead of basic cave my first NSS cave card would the new apprentice cave. So when I use apprentice I mean it in that context, not in the context that many know now.

    D-Day + 1 (Training Day 2):
    Again I meet Hubie and Reggie CCDS to get fills. We discuss today's training objectives, work on my swim techniques, demonstrate the requires skills needed before I am allowed to go beyond the day light zone. To do this we head to Ginnie, being Monday it would be fairly quiet and the basin is a great area to do training.

    In the last post I forgot to mention that we decided that the best thing to do would be to switch from regulators down, like I was taught at Cave Adventurers to regulators up. I reconfigured the rigging and regulators the night before. So Reggie and Hubie check over my setup at the table before we head to the water. Once in the water Hubie demonstrates the one footed modified flutter kick, and I do a few laps, come up get critique and do a few more laps. Next we move on to doing an line drill into the ballroom, followed by a cavern level lost line drill. As I've only run a reel twice since cavern it was like a monkey humping a football, my placements were too high, and I forget how to do a secondary tie off. I also found that I don't like hard goodman handles, they impede running reels so much that I switched to one of my back up lights.

    Next up was the line circuit drill, with this you go around the circuit five times. All times with your eyes closed. First circuit on your own, second circuit is in touch contact as the follower, third circuit you are sharing air as the donor, fourth circuit you are the receiving air, and the final circuit is alone with your mask turned around on your head. The first three went ok, but the fourth circuit was a cluster, I didn't hold my arm out long enough, taking too long to switch sides on the lines. We did it a second time and I did better. The fifth circuit was uneventful, so I was tasked with pulling the reel, which of course I screwed up by reeling it all on to one side, as penance I had to fix it. Once dry and gear was put away we settled into the pavilion was some remedial line drills and an AAR.

    Conclusions:
    1. I need to use my pool to practice the modified flutter and if possible working the line.
    2. My long NATO bands for my Teric need to be shortened or replaced with bungees, which I ordered the bungee mounts from DRIS.
    3. My lollipops need to go, since I am using transmitters I can get away with the same setup as Hubie, using button gauges as a back up to my transmitter.
    4. When I get a water compatible prosthetic a neoprene dry suit and replacing it every couple of years would probably best, as in his experience the prosthetic tends to tear up dry suits.
    5. Once I get said dry suit I need to head up to Canada to spend some time with Hubie working on a frog kick.

    Training Day 3 to come.
     
    elgoog, laikabear, Lorenzoid and 3 others like this.
  3. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    5,394
    3,721
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    Interesting...so what kick were you usually using before class?
     
  4. rjack321

    rjack321 Captain

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
    8,810
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    Nice work man
    The lollipops only really work with regs up. Most 1st stages when run facing down point the lollipops down due to teh angle of the HP port.
     
  5. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    634
    339
    63
    A bit of a flutter and something resembling a frog kick just by bringing my feet together.
     
    Marie13 likes this.
  6. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    634
    339
    63
    D-day + 2 (Training Day 3) Dive 1: Today Hubie is off fun diving, the original purpose of his trip down here. So I just met Reggie at CCDS, this time I bought a pair of button gauges to replace the lollipops, and asked Kristi to put a shorter inflator hose than what was put on them when I picked them up. Once tanks were filled we headed to Peacock, as they wanted me to get more swimming practice, and wanted to see how far I could get swimming on the LP85s.

    We get to Peacock, Harry goes over the history of the site including guide line usage, and how that came to be. How the entry goes, and discuss how best to get me in the water. My first task, was the final test for Basics/Tech Sidemount, demonstrate putting my tanks in water too deep for me to stand in. Thanks to the safety clips it was doable, but much harder than standing.

    Now we start the briefing for my first cave dive, and outside that one dive in Japan (I think I mentioned it in my Ishigaki thread in the Japan forum), this would be my first time exiting the daylight zone. Harry would be the leader, Reggie would not officially be part of the team, but would be observing. Turn pressure wouldn't be the normal thirds, but would be the 50cuft limit imposed by the apprentice program, which is 800psi per tank using the LP85s. We would tie off on the ladder, run a line down to the mainline (Olsen line), swim for about 15 minutes, turn the dive, swim back, do a safety stop, and debrief. Purpose of the dive is to see how far I can get with the modified flutter, see how comfortable I am actually in a cave, and see if I can get adequate penetration for the course on LP85s. As mentioned in @dewdropsonrosa thread, in Reggie's experience few students are ready to do the needed dives in LP85s out of the gate, due to my air usage on the previous two days he thought I might be the rare exception.

    I didn't mention this in the other days, before I put the tanks on I did a bubble check, and we started the dive with a modified S-drill, where instead of doing a full air share Harry and I demonstrated that our long hoses were free. I then did a normal bubble check and S-drill with Reggie who was diving doubles. The entry to Peacock is a very steep crack in the ground, they tell me that it used to be much narrower, in that it was here stuck in this crack that Sheck discovered the hazard of the quarter turn. Due to this crack when the vis is low, like during an algae bloom, you need to run a line directly to the surface, but during days of good vis, like this day, the practice isn't to run a line, but since I needed to know how to do it as this site without causing undue damage we ran one today from the ladder to the main line.

    Harry did his primary tie off on the ladder and proceeded to lead us down to the Olsen line. While he was tying off to the mainline, I made sure to get my buoyancy as perfect as I could, as I could tell that there was a lot of fine silt on the floor. Once that was completed we proceeded down to the Olsen line. Once it dawned on me that I was truly in a cave I got a little nervous, but not enough that I couldn't swallow it down and proceed with the dive. At some point Harry tried to show me a hole in the ceiling where you can see light, but I was unsure what he was trying to show me so I didn't see it. After about 700' of penetration we hit our turn time, I nodded (wrong thing), noted my pressures of 3,200psi, and turned around. At this point Harry noticed that the back up light on my shoulder strap was on and turned it off (more on this later as this will be important for the next dive). Shortly after this I saw my first cave crawfish, it dropped of the ceiling down to the silt below. Beyond that the exit was uneventful, I did note that there was a lot more silt in the water behind us as there was ahead of us, and I endeavored to avoid that on my future.

    We surfaced uneventfully, and ate some lunch while we went over what needed to be corrected during the dive.

    1. I needed to return the turn signal back to Harry after he dives it, my open water nod isn't the right thing to do.
    2. I probably needed to find a better place to put my back up light. I decided to hook it to my butt plate, which will cause an issue during the next dive.
    3. I needed to keep my knee up, I was dropping it too far, and it was kicking up silt.

    Not a correction, but Reggie said that I would likely to able to complete the course with LP85s. Which is a bonus as I feel confident enough to buy a couple of sets in the future.

    Dive 2 to come.
     
    Dark Wolf, MrBigfins, elgoog and 3 others like this.
  7. aviator8

    aviator8 Photographer

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Georgia
    497
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    thanks you for posting this. I enjoy reading these course progression thoughts.
     
  8. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    If you made it 700' on 50 cf, that's an awesome consumption rate! I'm a newbie cave diver myself, and I can barely make it to Pothole (where you mentioned you could conceivably see a glimmer of light above) at 458'.
     
  9. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    634
    339
    63
    Your welcome, this is actually making me think back and scrutinize the dives. So I am remember things that I didn't remember right after the dives.

    50cuft was the turn pressure, we never hit it. I did the entire dive on 50cuft of air. I have been pretty blessed with with great air consumption, I was nervous on this dive so my air consumption was a little high at 0.54cuft/min.

    When I finish up the text for dive two I will post profiles and gas usage.
     
    rjack321 and FreeFlyFreak like this.
  10. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    8,864
    5,309
    113
    That's "high"? Maybe legs consume air!?
     
    MrBigfins, rjack321 and FreeFlyFreak like this.

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