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Hopping my way to full cave...

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

  1. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Dive 2 - Let's see how far we can go
    As we are exiting from our previous dive, our third team member for dive two shows up. I setup my tanks, and have lunch while he is gearing up. He will be diving sidemount AL80s with a stage bottle, so we discuss gas planning since now we have a dissimilar configuration. Next we discuss the dive plan. Since we still have the reels at cisteen and Nicholson we plan to head down Nicholson, let our new team member look at the T and cookie it, and then head down the cisteen line to see how far we can go. Since I had a little deco on the last dive I decide to bring my deco bottle.

    We gear up, do our pre-dive checks, dive briefing and start blowing bubbles. I head down and slip my deco bottle to our line, circle the restriction ok, get a response back, and down we go. I do the same stop at the bottom to give my team time to catch up. Once the team is down, ok everyone and off we go. A couple hundred feet in I realize that it is hard to see our new team member's light so both Chris and I turn down our lights. Again pretty uneventful swim to Nicholson. Once in Nicholson, I try to stay higher to avoid puffing, I'm going to have to develop a better sense for being so high as I was contacting the rock with my fin more than I would like.

    We make it to the T with cisteen, our new team member cookies the planned exit side of cisteen, and we head further into cisteen. We pass the big red arrow, I stopped to examine it, but I made the mistake of not doing the circle to notify my team members. Our new team member helpfully points that out, which annoyed Chris a little as I would've earned a drill because of that. Next we made it to the cisteen T. We didn't brief this because I don't think he tought that we would get this far. I figured we would go up to cisteen because I like the idea of popping out of another hole. After a brief "discussion" we go further into the cave toward Wishbone IIRC, we probably get another couple hundred feet beyond the T before our new team member signals me that it was time to turn the dive, which wasn't much sooner than I would've turned it, I think I had maybe a 100 psi left of my 1,100 third.

    We briefed that I would remain in the lead for everything except reel work, so I swam in front of the group. Sometime after the cisteen T, but before the Nicholson T, Chris signaled me and told me that my primary light failed. I clip it off, shut it down, and pull out one of my back up lights. As we swim along we pull our cookies at the Ts. Once we get to the end of the cisteen line, I signaled the team to swim ahead of me, once they were ahead of me, I pulled the reel. Get to the mainline, store the reel, signal the team and proceed down the cave, acknowledging the double arrows as we pass them. Next stop was the Nicholson reel, I stop, turn around, signal "hold" get the reply and them swam over to pull the reel. Same procedure as last time, and we continued I pulled a final reel that we had placed when we went "exploring."

    As I swam the last couple of hundred feet I noticed that all my reels were clattering together. We make up to the mainline to the cavern zone, I pick up my deco bottle, and pull the primary reel. Once the primary reel is stored I switch to my deco bottle, this was a much longer dive than any of us expected and I racked up 7 minutes of accelerated deco. Once I was done with my deco, Chris briefly considered using my deco bottle, but decided against it as the new standards don't allow for that. So we stayed down and stacked rocks while he did his 20 minutes of deco.

    In water deco done, we ascend to do our debrief while doing surface deco. The only real comments were that I needed to work on keeping my team a little closer, which is why he failed my primary light, and of course the mistake at the red arrow. Beyond that it was a pretty clean dive. He also mentioned that it was the farthest he has seen a student take LP85s, which was probably why we didn't brief the cisteen T, or expect as much deco.

    Dive Profile:
    Dive Time: 124 minutes
    Bottom Time: 122 minutes
    Average Depth: 48ffw
    Max Depth: 69ffw
    Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 9.49.23 AM.png
     
    NothingClever and Jack Hammer like this.
  2. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Day 2 - One final effort

    We meet early morning at Madison Blue. I use the time before Chris arrives to test my tanks and look around the site. Lots of stairs which made things a little harder. After he arrives we go over the dive plan. Plan is to enter in the rabbit hole, Chris will help me navigate to find the mainline and pointing off good rocks for placements and tie offs. Once on the mainline we would swim down to the Godzilla line, and do the Godzilla circuit. He emphasizes that this cave and in particular the circuit is low and silty so I will need to stay high and pull whenever possible. And that my ability to do that is one of the major grading criteria of this dive. Once we complete the circuit we might jump over to the Banana room, or we might not depends on gas and how well I do. Once we are back on the mainline, we would recalculate thirds, and head up the mainline to Martz sink. He mentioned the bolt snap jump, and that knowing this line will be helpful if I ever want to dive the more advanced cave connected to this site, but exit through Madison.

    After we got to the mainline around be where the drills would begin. First we would be bump and go, which also involved when and with whom would be appropriate for. At some point during the bump and go he would signal me to stop and would pull me off the line for a lost line drill. And we would continue on, exiting the cave.

    Dive 1 - Did Godzilla eat Alice? Or was it the other way around?

    After the briefing we get all our gear to the water, and I enter the water. While gearing up I notice that my long hose tank is only at 1,500psi. I open/close and charge my reg a few times, it is still at 1,500psi. I realize my mistake, as Wayne was helping me connect up the tanks to show his new wife how to work everything, I must have forgotten to turn on the tank. I get out of my gear and climb up the stairs. I was able to flag a cave diver that was moving his tanks to the deck and asked me to tell Chris that I need my leg. Thankfully that worked and he wasn't coming to the site in his doubles. I go back to my car switch the tanks out for other right side tank. But that probably wasted a good 15-20 minutes and now we really didn't have enough tanks to do a second dive. Lesson learned check the valves yourself, and check the pressures on all your tanks, not just one per set.

    Back in the water geared up again, I lead the dive briefing, and we start the dive. The rabbit hole is surprisingly small, and running the line was also surprisingly hard compared to the other sites that I've run line. But we managed to get to the sign, and dump our deco bottles. Running down the mainline was mostly pulling and gliding, but a few times Chris held onto my fin as I was moving it. After a few minutes we make it to the jump to Godzilla, mark the line with a cookie, and ran the jump reel to the line. And we proceed down the Godzillia line, the Godzilla line was very different not as low but very very silty. We make it to the T, marking it and going to the left. Slowly and carefully I make my way to the Godzilla room, where I look around at all the T-rex toys, not a single Godzilla I am very disappointed, 1/5 stars. Again I very carefully make me way out of the Godzilla room, and back to the T, picking up my cookie. When we get back to the Banana jump I signal to see what his intentions were, no jump just head back to the mainline. I wave him ahead so I can pick up the reel.

    We meet at the mainline to recalculate thirds. I signal 600, and thinks a second and signals back 400. Ok and swim back up the mainline to Martz. We break out of the small section and we enter a very big Ginnie-like passage, but it was fairly smooth, so I had a hard time finding pull points. Finally we make it to Martz, Chris signals that this is our jump, I reach back from a jump reel but he signals no, and points at the bolt snap and I remember it was the bolt snap jump. So I swim over pick up the bolt snap and pull it over to the line. Signal Ok, and head down the line, he stops below it, I look up and see the light, and turn as I already had a deco ceiling.

    We make it back to the mainline, put the bolt snap back and out comes the mask. And we start bumping and going down the line, though I think he was beside me much of the way, making sure that I was properly tracing the line as a couple of times I didn't do it right he correct me. A few minutes down the line, he signals me to stop and he pulls me off the line for a lost line drill. I feel the rock he placed me on, and I looked the one edge to tie off on. I reach back and grab a safety reel. And I promptly jammed it, but I could feel that issue and was able to unjam it and get it tied off. But in the process I had a bunch of line off the reel and I wasn't able to properly start the drill, which resulted in me going off in the wrong direction. Apparently paralleling the line, but I figured when I hit the wall that I was going the wrong way, I reel back to the rock. Now with a tight line I make sure that I go off in the direction I intended, a minute or so later I hit the line. Remembering the the line was in my left hand I head down the line with my left hand. Chris stops me, but didn't signal drill over. Slightly confused I see him back reeling up my reel, so I figured we were continuing so I check my gas, switch regs, and put the mask returning to the line.

    We continue down the line, honestly not much to say except that I just managed by buoyancy, traced the line. I figured I was getting close as I went through a minefield of deco bottles, and then I hit the sign. I knew my reel was just after the sign, I feel a reel similar to mine, and go down until I hit the bottle, and figured that it was probably mine as there are probably only so many people have a butterfly snap on a bungee around the neck. I start to consider how to do this and Chris pats my head to signal that the drill was over. Once I have the mask off he gives me a fist bump. We grab our bottles and reel up to open water. We get to our deco stop depth once we both switch over, I swim around the basin looking at the decking in the water and looking at the algae until my deco clears.

    Chris finishes deco first cleans up his bottle, I finish my deco a couple of minutes later, I figure it was just a short ascent so I stayed on my deco bottle until I take a seat on the edge of the bottom step. Cleaning up my bottles while doing surface deco and doing a debrief.

    Debrief:

    Mostly good, I followed the lessons trying to avoid making the same mistake twice. He said he now recommends that students use safety spools instead of reels for the exact reason I had. But he said my biggest issue is that my foot is nearly constantly in motion. I should avoid moving it at all during pull and glides, and even when outside of pull and glide I should flip flip and glide. That is something I will need to work on if I want to be a great cave diver, and that my range will become even more as that will likely result in me being more efficient. Next was the handshake and congrats on making it, but he closed with a Reggie story. Reggie was training Adam Hughes, while Chris was an instructor intern and after a drill Adam had issues with Reggie asked Adam "How good of a cave diver do you want to be?" So Chris asked me the same thing, and said that this is something that I need to think on, as this is just the start of the journey.

    Afterthoughts:

    After the trouble with the first few days completing the course was anti-climatic. Mostly because it isn't so much of a test, but a demonstration of the skills you have. Maybe it is different from people that try to do the zero to hero route, but I had almost 29 hours in the caves across 23 dives from the time I earned my Apprentice card until I started the full cave course. And had almost 24 hours of training time in the cave, with almost 9 hours alone between Apprentice and completion.

    That being said despite being anti-climatic it definitely pushed me as I tried to be an even better cave diver. And to answer the question that Chris asked of me, I don't know how good of a cave diver I want to be, but I would like to be a little bit better of a cave diver than I was on my previous dive. If I make slow and steady progress I am sure to get where I want. Now that being said this is probably a plateau for a little while. I think I have a lot of dives I can do before I get to the next level.

    It is almost appropriate that my first cave dive after full cave was at the same site as my first cave dive after achieving my entry level cave diving cert, Orange Grove. I remember going into upper OG thinking "This is pretty low," maybe it is the helium talking but now I look at it and think "Man this is much bigger than I remember," we also spent some time in lower OG (the reason for the helium), I think back and those types of opening would've given me pause before, I look at it now and think "Yeah, I can fit through that."

    And I will mention that my making it so this level, wasn't just the work of my cave instructors Chris, Reggie, Harry, and Hubbie. But also Roger, my guide at XOC-Ha, James, my AN/Helitrox instructor that took inside some spaces in the SG, but also all my dive buddies that took me diving allowing me to build up not just experience but confidence.

    Next stop my 200th dive!

    Dive Profile:
    Dive Time: 108 minutes
    Bottom Time: 108 minutes
    Average Depth: 52ffw
    Max Depth: 84ffw
    Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 1.44.45 PM.png
     
    NothingClever and crcobb like this.
  3. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Went to Little River yesterday with a friend, word was the flow was way down. The water was up much higher than the last time I came here for a photo shoot. And with that came much fewer swimmers, which also meant a ton of divers.

    Gear up was more difficult than some sites, but otherwise no real issues. While gear up I went to pick Marissa's brain after she finished her briefing. Mostly just asked if the flow was still high enough to justify jumping to the mud tunnel. She told it that it probably was, and if we wanted we could use her primary reel, just pin it with a cookie.

    We do a surface brief, and started the dive. There was a lot more flow than I expected, and had to stop for another team doing god knows what around the start of the mainline. Somewhere after the corkscrew I just wasn't feeling it, so I turned and gave my buddy the thumb. Turn the dive, lets get the heck out of here. We get to the surface and talk, and he mentioned I appeared to be working a little too hard as I wasn't expecting that much flow. So we gave it a few minutes of surface time, and I felt ok enough to go down, so we did it again. This time I concentrated on getting low and pulling and it went much better. We jumped to the mud tunnel, where we had to wait for someone coming the other way, which was weird as my reel was the only one from the mainline on that side. Swam the mud tunnel, jumped back to the mainline. Swam to the T, cookied the exit and swam until I had my thirds, turned the dive with the finger turn signal (which to me is a calm turn vs a lets get out of the cave now of the thumb).

    Exit was pretty easy with the flow, but because we entered and exited my prosthetic fin was coming loose and in fact on deco I pulled it off so it wouldn't slip off when I couldn't chase it due to a deco ceiling.

    Lessons learned: I need to incorporate those short stops that I use to rest in Ginnie. Little River doesn't natural landmarks where it makes sense so I might have to add some of my own. Also I think I might make Reggie's rock next time. After the first misadventure I had a 1,000psi third, and made it past the 800 foot arrow. So I only need another 200 feet of penetration before hitting thirds to make it. If it isn't flooded I think I will try again next weekend.
     
    rjack321 and grantctobin like this.
  4. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Well the Peanut restriction was pretty disappointing. I was expecting something that was actually difficult to pass through.
     
  5. dewdropsonrosa

    dewdropsonrosa ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago, IL
    478
    758
  6. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    It was exceedingly easy in widemount, just a little dusting. Backmount you would have to move some sand (and silt the area out) to get through.

    I was just expecting a hard rock on rock restriction.

    Now bonus was that peanut is pretty nice once you get past the crossover tunnel, it is much more pristine than the first 1,000 feet or so. And I did locate what I believe is the watersource tunnel. I am going to do a dive to see if I can locate the line. Though I won't be able to really get back there until I do stage cave.
     
  7. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Already feeling the limits of my range. :D

    Did two dives yesterday, did Crossover where we had plenty of range to complete the circuit. But also did Waterhole, if only we had a stage and we could've completed the tunnel.

    I got to saw waterhole is a pretty cool tunnel, particularly the rooms where you see the different rock layers, with what appears to be two layers of standard line stone separated by what appears to be a harder khaki colored layer of rock.
     
    Jack Hammer likes this.
  8. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    18,776
    11,284
    by definition it is a restriction in the sense that a pair of divers would struggle to pass through side by side *or on top of each other? can you clarify that one @kensuf ?* which is the definition we use for a restriction. In sidemount it is quite easy to skate through completely clean. In doubles, even at my size, you can get through without touching anything if your buoyancy is spot on and you are paying attention.
    There are grinder restrictions in that cave, one very shortly after the Peanut Tunnel, but if it was that type of restriction, the gold line certainly wouldn't be going through it.
     
  9. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Stop throwing lettuce at me! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    2,521
    2,477
    Are you talking about crossunder by chance?
     
  10. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    18,776
    11,284
    that is the one right after the Peanut Tunnel, yes. There are others
     

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