Hello my friends!
I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport right now. Waiting for a flight to Gainesville. As it has been a long time since I wrote about my adventures I though I'd get started.
This time I'll tell you all about our getting back into swim dives instead of using scooters. I'll also tell you some about our Trimix class with JJ and Ted. The highlight was: getting stuck at Eagles' Nest!!!
My diving rhythm has been altered. I used to cram 4-5 dives every week-end. Now that I live so near to the caves I dive during the week and less during the week-end. Also, as we just moved in this house, there is a ton of things to do and things to buy. Anyway...
Last week-end Nanci and I got back into swimming against some flow. Lately we had only either scootered or swam negligeable-flow caves like Telford or Peacock. Well, it was humiliating! That's what I call dropping a stage just before the snapping gap. I remembered the days when we dropped it at the end of the roller coaster on the way to the Hinkel. That was with Chris Johnson.
The first day we swam into double lines, the normal way. We turned the dive as we got to the first T where we were planning to venture to to left hand side. Oh well, we were on thirds at that point... that's what happens to scooter weenies I guess. On the way back we had some fun in the Hill 400 area, just after July springs. We totaled a nice 93 minutes of bottom time.
We went back to Ginnie on the second day, hoping that we would do a
bit better at swimming. At least this time we dropped that freaking stage
after the snapping
gap, so that not every body could laugh at us. We swam past Hill 400 and jumped into the back end of Double Lines. We swam through the low passages, leaving the jump to the ice room on the right hand side. As we got to the Double Arrows, we jumped right into the Sherwood Split area. I had a revenge to take with that first T, the bit that goes left into this little circuit. It syphons gently in there. It's a double restriction that twists between each restriction and it's full of silt. Last time (and first time) I went through this bit of cave I was with Rick Atkins. This was late 97 or early 98. Suffice to say that I did not negotiate that thing very well... So this time was revenge time. This time I did not let Nanci go first as I usually do when it gets tough. This was _my_ battle. I went very slowly, just like Nanci does and calculated my best course very carefully. And I won! Did not touch anything! Then of course, Nanci had to put me to shame, so she went through most of the restriction, and calmly signaled to me to turn the dive -- she hit thirds. And ... she just turned around in there, barely touching anything. So much for my great achievement!!! On the way back we played around the July Springs lines and after 102 minutes of bottom time + a bit of deco, we went home.
After these 2 swim dives we felt in reasonable shape for JJ's class.
But the weather was not on our side. So after a complete day of theory
on Tuesday plus some
more on Wednesday, we did our "making sure you're squared away" dive at Ginnie. How exciting! But just to make sure that Nanci and I would be busy enough we
all used scooters and stages. As you can imagine, we had a lot that was going to go wrong on the way back. So we dropped the stage after the dome room on the
main line, about 1600 feet into the cave and scootered up to the 2000 foot line arrow. At that point we dropped the scooters and jumped on the Insulation circuit line. When we turned the dive and got back to where we left our scooters, we only found one of them. I could have sworn that I did clip mine on the line, clipped the trigger and turn the clutch all the way down. Oh well... So after Nanci run out of air, I gave her my long hose and she towed me to the stages. At that point we both started breathing the stages, but she lost her scooter. So we swam from there. Then all kinds of stuff went wrong on us. What a surprise!!! Both our primary lights went dead (not at the same time though), and one of the primaries too. We had to share from stages and finally got to relax during deco. Unfortunately I must have relaxed too much as we came up to the surface about 10 minutes before JJ and Ted did. I thought we had 65 minutes of bottom time when we really had 85. Oooops! We were OK though but we took a long rest in the water before climbing up these steps.
The next day we went to Forty Fathom grotto. Everything else was blown
or the access was compromised. We were on a 15/47 Trimix mix and went down
to 240 feet of depth (73 meters). The viz could not be more than 30 feet
and it was cold in there. We saw a bit of cave but not much. We basically
dropped down to the boat. Left our 120 deco mix at the stern. Followed
the line to the first car. Jumped to the second car and followed the line
to the first T. Took a left there a turned soon after, just as there seem
to be more line crossings coming up. Of course, as we came back we faced
the usual out of airs and lights failure drills. We had a 25
minute bottom time and did 66 minutes of decompression starting at 150 feet.
The next day, friday, was an attempt at Eagle's Nest. JJ passed the
first mud obstacle, but I did not. Despite multiple tries we could net
get the van unstuck.
We tried rocking the van, stuffing all kinds of stuff under the wheels, even lifting the van up, digging under the wheels to place more branches. Nothing did it. So
as AAA does not cover this kind of stuff, we finally got a Tow out from some local tow-er, but by then the day was nearly over! JJ and Ted got a chance to look at the next mud pit but did not try to go through as it looked a lot worse than usual.
On saturday we went to Die Polder. That was nice. The viz must have been somewhat above 50 feet. There are hooks on the tree branches for the O2 bottles. Nanci and I started the dive with 5 tanks each: one set of doubles, one Oxygen bottle, One Nitrox 35% bottle and a safety bottle. 3 stages was not a big deal for us as WKPP work conduces us to carry a lot more and a number of other bulky things like scooters. We dropped down the shaft. I missed the loops on the line at 130, so we ended up dropping our 120 bottles at 180. We took the right branch of the Y and swam for 6-7 minutes. We planned a 20 minute bottom time. We managed to stay quite close to the ceiling, as far up as we could while still seeing the line. So although this cave reaches depths of 330+ feet, our deepest depth ended up being 215 feet. On the way back we went through the usual drills. I was fortunate enough to catch Nanci trying to breathe her 120 bottle at 180. I think she was trying to get me way down JJ's esteem by trying to sneak that one on me. The rest of the dive went just fine apart from JJ trying to stick branches between my manifold and my tanks. I caught him and nearly stabbed him with his stick!! :-)))
We have some more theory and diving left over to finish the class. I hope that some systems will clear up soon!
That's all folks for now. Hopefully, you're having a good time too! Life is short!