Cave diving is one of my favorite pastimes. What do I enjoy about cave diving?
I have come to appreciate the “get in the water and dive as long and as often as I want to dive” dive plan. It’s just between my buddy and myself and based on our training and experience. I enjoy the typical 70+ degree FRESH water of the S.E. US. I don’t need to rinse my gear at days end, or weeks end for that matter.I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy the mazes and getting to know which tunnel connects where to another. The shapes of the various tunnels and rooms are fascinating. Some elliptical, dome rooms, crevasses and fissures, others mere bedding planes. The pendants hanging form the ceilings and the massive rock croppings are so beautiful. I also appreciate the rooms that are as large as football fields.Although I don’t especially enjoy the 12 hour ride from Maryland, for comparison, I’ve added the travel time to local east coast wreck sites. Up to 2.5 hours each way to the dock equals 5 hrs round trip. plus vessel travel time to wreck site, 2 to 3 hours (or in some cases 6 hrs ea way). When I added it all up, I was spending 10 to 17 hours for a few hours of diving. After my 12 hours to Florida, I can dive 3 or 4 times a day, 2 hour dives, get out and eat dinner at a restaurant for $6 or 7 dollars. I then drive as little as 15 minutes to the 40. to $45 dollar a night motel. That is unless I’m sharing it with a dive buddy, then it’s about $25. each.And nitrox or trimix fills, are usually within 15 minutes of the dive sites!Do you think you want to join us?CAVERN AND CAVE DIVING is not for everyone. Nevertheless, if you are comfortable and relaxed in the water, possess good buoyancy control skills and—most importantly—have a genuine interest in exploring natural overhead environments as safely and as conscientiously as possible, then these may be appropriate and enjoyable activities for you.Questions About Cavern and Cave Diving
Q How do cavern and cave diving differ from diving in open water?
A Caverns and caves are what experts call overhead environments—environments in which divers do not have direct access to the surface. Among the greatest safety factors in open-water diving is that a diver who is without air and separated from his or her buddies can still make an Emergency Swimming Ascent.Being in an overhead environment takes away this important safety factor.Q How do cavern and cave diving differ from one another?
A Just as there are critical differences between diving in overhead environments and diving in open water, there are differences between cavern and cave diving.Among them:
- Cavern divers keep the cave entrance clearly within site at all times;
- Cave divers do not and may, in fact, penetrate hundreds or even thousands of feet beyond sight of daylight.
- Cavern divers remain in close proximity to the cave entrance, they are still theoretically capable of making Emergency Swimming Ascents. The only difference
between cavern and open-water diving, in this respect, is that a diver making an Emergency Swimming Ascents from a cavern would be swimming out as well
as up. In contrast, cave divers have no possibility of making Emergency Swimming Ascents, and thus must take additional steps to help protect themselves
from the possibility of a loss of breathing gas.
- While cave divers use highly specialized equipment, cavern divers use what is largely standard open-water gear with a few, minor modifications to reduce the
possibility of entanglement, improve buoyancy control and body position, and make equipment more accessible.
Why do you I need special training to cavern and cave dive?
A Accident statistics suggest that, overwhelmingly, divers perish in underwater caverns and cave for just the following reasons:
- 1.Lack of training or exceeding level of training
2.Lack of a properly used guideline;
3.Llack of sufficient reserve gas;
And/or, diving beyond the safe operational limits of the breathing media used.
4.Failure to carry appropriate lighting or backup
Why do divers make these mistakes?
Most divers who die in natural overhead environments lack any formal training in cavern or cave diving; thus, they do not know why it is important to avoid these crucial errors or how to do so. The remainder are often divers who exceeded their training limits, but planned and attempted to execute the dive.It is possible to combine these courses in any of a variety of ways. For example:
Students who have little interest in progressing beyond the Cavern Diver level, or who are unsure of their abilities (or simply limited by time) often choose to begin by taking just a two-day Cavern Diver course.Students who know with certainty that they wish to progress beyond the Cavern Diver level, and who are confident in their ability to master the required knowledge and skills with little difficulty, frequently elect to start by enrolling in a four-day program that combines Cavern and Intro-to- Cave.It is possible to progress from Cavern through full Cave Diver training in eight days, most instructors strongly discourage students from doing so. Eight non-stop days of Cavern and Cave Diver training are simply too intense and too demanding— even for the most accomplished of divers.Attempting to take all four levels of Cave Diver training without breaks also deprives students of the opportunity to stop and absorb the vast body of knowledge and skills covered at each level. It further robs students of the opportunity to make additional experiential dives between levels— something that most instructors recommend students do at some point in the learningprocess.Training and Environment
Your abilities as a Cavern or Cave Diver are of paramount importance to all concerned. If you fail to master the important knowledge and skills that are essential to cavern or cave dive as safely as possible,you will present a risk to yourself, your buddies and to the fragile cave environment. This is a risk that we in the cave diving community simply cannot afford.Unlike most recreational diving courses, both Cavern and Cave Diver training can best be characterized as intense and demanding. These are not easy courses to complete successfully, and not everyone passes on the first try. There are even some divers who will never be able to pass, under any circumstances.It is often said that, because the skills covered in the Cavern Diver course are so beneficial, every diver should take advantage of this training. There is an element of truth in this. The equipment streamlining,buoyancy control and propulsion skills covered in Cavern Diver training can also help you dive in a more environmentally sensitive manner around reefs and other fragile aquatic life.For this reason, it is probably most constructive to make the primary focus of your participation in Cavern or Cave Diver training simply learning to become a better, safer diver. Acquiring a particular certification card should be a much lower priority—and something that you understand may not comeautomatically.