Would you go Cave Diving?
When you are at the turn-around point of a cave dive, you are farther away from help than the astronauts on the International Space Station! So it is dangerous, yes, but also exciting! There are very few people who ever get to see deep underground in a water filled cave. Here are eight of the things I learned from my cavern diving course.
- Trust is Key. Trusting your buddy, your air supply, your line out of the cave, your and your skills are what allow you to survive
- Cave Diving opens up news ways of thinking. In a normal cave, you explore by walking and crawling around on the floor. In cave diving, if you want to swim up to the ceiling, you can. If you want to go through a narrow hole or passageway, just float through. Sometimes you can simply change your orientation in the water and a problem looks completely different. Because you don’t have daylight to guide you, where you point your light directs the information you get and your focus.
- There are not as many rules as you might think. The number one rule is to come back alive. I thought that I had to hold on to my line the entire time, but when I asked, I realized I could leave the line, as long as I could return. The dive can be as long as you want, as long as it is within your air limits and all buddies are still good. You can explore a small area as much as you want, if you find it interesting – you don’t have to keep moving.
- “Task loading” can lead to mistakes. While learning to cave dive, you need to learn several new skills at the same time: Running a life line, using lights to signal, buoyancy control, keeping your gear streamlined, and managing air supply to name a few. Its so easy to start kicking up silt from the bottom of the cave why you are trying to concentrate on tying off your safety line, then you start to use too much air and you loose your buddy-a sequence of small annoyances can add up quickly.
- Progressive mastery gives you confidence. To fully explore caves miles underground, you need five levels of certification and dozens of training dives. Because the sport is so complex and dangerous (people die), you need to be slowly collect the skills you need to succeed.
- Have the right trainers and partners. Our dive instructor is well known around the world as one of the most skilled instructors. By being trained by him, we can piggyback off his good reputation. You can get subtle constructive criticism to improve your skills much faster.
- There are always going to be people that push the limits. We encountered a team of divers that had recently completed a 17-hour dive, and extended the mapping of an existing cave system by several hundred feet, and hundreds of feet below ground. To do this, they needed 13 hours of decompression time in order to avoid getting the bends.
- Stories are the second best way to learn. The entire training weekend, I would ask the more experienced divers and instructors what they had done in various situations. Hearing how they handled things taught me nearly as much as going in to the cave to practice skills.