Hello my friends!
This is my traditional email containing all the stuff I did this WE.
This was the best WE with the WKPP so far! I left work at 4:30pm on friday and made it to Wakulla at about 10pm. I had a good time on the way listening to a story about a plane crash investigation. Books on tapes don't replace human company, but it's better than nothing. As soon as I arrived I checked with Dawn, the Surface Manager to see if they needed help. They did not, so I crashed in Motel 6 to catch up with my deficient sleep.
After a gorgeous pancake based breakfast, we all met at 8:00am at Big
Dismal, Leon Sinks. Half of the support crew was missing and we had 3 teams
going in -- hard day ahead! After helping with placing the ladder to breach
the last 20 feet drop to the water and bringing the floating platform I
was asked to go get my van;
they wanted me to bring some 70 foot deco bottles inside the cave, upstream! We went in with Ron, our first time in this cave system, carrying 3 stages each. We made it through the restriction, 250 feet in the cave, upstream, and did the best we could to find the best spot to place the tanks. Let me just say that we'll do a much better and quicker job next time, now that we know where everything is. It took us 40 minutes to round trip!!!
I stayed on the surface floating for a good while until the 3rd team came out. After shuttling some unneeded tanks and scooters to the floating platform so that they could start hauling and carrying them back 40-50 feet above where our vehicles were. Once everybody deco was squared away Erik and I were given the permission to take a quick look inside the cave. As it was Erik's first time, I lead the dive and chose to go downstream to make a change from the previous dive! We dropped into that nice crevasse to about 80 feet where we would normally place the deco bottles. Only we continued and really enjoyed a beautiful cave that has multiple rooms and a sculpted looking ceiling mostly white with black strange things that could be taken for short curtains. :-). Anyway, Erik and I probably swam about 1000 feet when the cave started dropping below 100 feet of depth, which was our MOD. So we turned the dive, met up with more decoing divers, shuttled more tanks and finally got off our doubles and helped hauling stuff up.
The real divers replace a few thousand feet of line and explored some new passage. I guess it's a routine thing for them to add new line. I hope I get to that level! The idea of exploring totally virgin passage and adding line to a cave system is what cave diving is all about as far as I am concerned.
We were gone by 4:00pm (a performance) and squaring our fills + equipment away for the next day at Indian. Oh! I nearly forgot the van-stuck episode. My poor little van nearly stayed at BigD for ever! I got it stuck so much in the sand that it took the whole team to dig beneath the wheels, put some wood in, empty the van of all my heavy equipment (all this concurrently) there and push the van out of its predicament. Again, the WKPP succeeded! I was really really grateful!!! If I had dug more sand by spinning the wheels, maybe we would have discovered a new sink hole! It would be cool to have a map with a spot called 'Herve's Van!'. Imagine the equipment recovery :-))) ----There you Ted! Are you happy now? (He insisted that I relate the story in my weekly post).
After a good meal at Bennigan's we all went to have as much sleep as possible before Indian. I shared room 203 with 4 guys, but then 1 dropped out. It was nice to have good company! We talked about all kinds of interesting subjects like women, sex, Frenchies, concentration in the toilets (Hi Ron!), etc.
Indian was really cool. We met there at 7:00am on Sunday. I went on my first Trimix dive!!!! The depth was 145 feet, but in the WKPP we don't do more than 130 feet on air. The message is: Helium is our friend! Upstream is really cool. The tunnels are not like downstream where it's so big that you don't get to see the walls. Upstream, you could fit my van easily through the cave, the ceiling is often 40 feet above the floor. Viz was nice, though the guys who know better thought it was really mediocre upstream. We had at least 60-70 feet of it.
Our bottom time was about 45 minutes on a 28/26 mix. It felt strange to start decoing at 100 feet! After 70 minutes of deco I went back to my van with a BIG smile on my face. Thanks very much to our guide Ted! He took real good care of us (Ron and I) this WE.
And the coolest thing of all, I got back in St Pete at 5:00pm. A record!
Have a great week!