Hello my friends!
We just passed exit 70. We're heading south towards Tampa where we will
drop off Kelly at the airport. Nanci is driving. I am typing away... Life
is so hard!
Especially in Florida where the sun always shines...
I had a busy diving week-end. Main Land at Ginnie on Thursday with Erik, Solo scooter play at Ginnie on Friday, Bonnet Springs and Cow Springs on Saturday with Erik, Ken and Bill, Main Land with Bill on Sunday. Four days non-stop diving - 5 dives! I will need a vacation from diving after that!
We had a great time on Thursday with Erik. It was the first time in
Main Land for both of us. The river is still very tannic so we went through
the Devil's Eye with
the scooters, which is never too pleasant an experience. The visibility in there was not too bad on the main line -- at least 50 feet, going up to 70+ after 2200+ feet into the cave, where the river intrusion tunnel is. At 2500 feet we took the shortcut on the left hand side. Erik was leading the way riding his beautiful white beast with flabbergasting technique. We parked the scooters and dropped the stages on the ledge where the Main Land line begins. I led from there. We passed 2 Ts and stayed on the right branch of both of them. That put us into a 20 foot high crack that forced us up to 90 feet depth. Pushing ahead, we went back down to 100 feet where it pinched into a low passage with nasty looking mud. As neither of us had been back there I wimped out and turned. On the way back we explored the left branch of the 2 Ts that we left behind. We had plenty of gas left. Basically, the first T loops back on the second T. There is only 40 or 50 feet of line between the
two. But before the end of the loop between T1 and T2, there is another T. The right branch goes to T2. We did not push the left branch. On the way back, round about 2700 feet inside the cave we jumped into Nanci's tunnel. We swam through a hilly restriction and came out into a room with bacteria stuff on the floor. Erik showed me the restriction that he Nanci digged . I signalled him that I thought they were insane and turned. We scootered out of the cave and did a bit of deco. Bottom time was 85 minutes.
On Friday I decided to go practice my scootering skills on my own within swimming distance on my buddy bottle. I started off by retrieving 2 jump spools that the owners asked me to get for them. One was on the main line going into the mud tunnel, the other was inside the mud tunnel. It was fun to scooter in there. I used to think that it was low and silty when I last swam it... I guess I did a few more dives since then. When that was done I scootered through the rest of the mud tunnel towards the bone room. It was fairly tannic in there. The visibility could not have been more than 30 feet. In the big room I practiced my acrobatic skills. I like doing barrel rolls when I swim. So I have to get proficient at it while scootering. So I went up and down the big room 5 or six times and looped a few barrels :-) I swear I did not hit anything. Then I came out of the big room back on the main line. I followed it to where it makes a right angle, at the end of the roller coaster. I jumped left there, on the short line that leads to the Bats. From there I headed up to Double Lines zone, down Hill400, took a right turn on the snapping gap and headed back towards the bone room from the junction table. I did a second loop: bone room, big room, main line towards the exit and jumped right into the roller coaster. When I got up the hill, just before the plunge towards the main line I jumped left towards the bats. That's another part of the cave that intimidated me when I swam it some time ago. This time I scootered through it full throttle without letting go of the trigger. I'm getting there, little by little. From the bats I headed back towards Hill 400, cornflakes, lips and out. Only my scooter sounded really weak. I had been playing for and hour on 9. So I clipped if off and swam out from the bottom of Hill 400. That was fun! There was no one in the cave to see how much of a stroke I looked like.
On Saturday Ken Sallot took us out for a memorable day. Bill Lais, Erik Schmidt and I met him at Lloyds at 10 am. We met the Park Ranger in Luraville's Country store. We added our names to "The List" and headed to the secret place. The head pool of the cave must cover something like 10,000 Square feet. The mouth of the cave sits in 15 feet of water. The flow is usually negligeable. The main line starts on the right hand side of the cavern zone in 22 feet of water. The cavern is about 6 feet high and 20 feet long. Following the main line we quickly hit the deepest part of this cave: 44 feet. The rest of the cave is in 20 to 30 feet of water. The first 500 feet of cave are very friendly. The height is always at least 5 feet. The walls often look a bit like Peacock. There are a lot of side passages and rooms that have multiple connections on the main line. Then we reached a place very similar to Madison Blue's Rocky Horror, only shorter. It's a 4 foot high passsage that turns and twists with only 3 feet of width. The bottom looks like it was clay once upon a time. After that the cave is bigger, darker and siltier. We passed the first 4 way T and carried on straight. The passages are generally low and wide. The last 2 divers of our 4 man team did not see much of the cave on the way in. It's really best to limit each team to 2 divers or to take turns to be ahead. We passed several T's and features that Ken pointed out to me. I guess that Erik and Bill did not see many of them. Finally there was a low passage where Bill signalled that he had had enough. On the fourth time that I went through that low passage I had an absolute zero viz so I just grabbed the line, laughed and pushed ahead gently. The way out was cool. The guys in front were doing a good job of keeping the silt under control. We rounded the dive in 95 minutes. No deco, at least for most of us. I'll definitively dive this cave again. Only in a 2 diver team this time.
As we all had 2000 psi of gas left in our doubles we drove straight up to Cow Springs. without taking off our dry suits. We just slapped the doubles back on and jumped in there. It was Bill's first time in Cow! After so many years of diving! And he liked it a lot. I went in with Erik. Ken and Bill were a few minutes ahead. We squeezed through the two short restrictions at the entrance. Swam up to the first drop where the poor man scooter starts. We cried when we saw the damage done to the clay bank by some @&!%^&* red necks that Darwin has left for desert. We met Bill and Ken who were ascending from "Not my Fault" and turned there as Erik was getting wet from so much excitement. Our BT was 30 minutes as this was all we had left on our light burn time. We all came up slowly apart from Mr Deco Weenie who knows who he is.
Sunday was the best! Bill had pushed Main Land before. So I just followed
him in there. Bill borrowed Erik's scooter, only he used mine and I used
Erik's until we got to 2000 feet inside the cave. Bill had turned down
my scooter but he was still smoking me. At that point we swapped scooters.
I cranked mine back up, but Bill could still keep up with me. His suit
is made of neoprene wich should cause less drag than my TLS. But he is
a much bigger guy. So I think his technique must just be leagues above
mine. I will call him Scooter God from now on. I think he should have a
race with Ted Cole, see who smokes who. When we jumped from the main line
into Main Land I had 3200 psi of back gas. Nice I thought. We passed the
2 Ts and continued where we left it with Erik 3 days ago. The mud crawl
is only 150 feet long. There is a T right before the end. We took a right
turn, and hit tannic water right when it started getting bigger. The visibility
back there could not have been more than 5 or 6 feet. After a short swim
what I think was a fairly large room, the line started going up quite a
bit. When we hit 75 feet Bill turned the dive because his ears were going
funny on him. We swam back through that mud crawl and made a right turn
at the first T going in. When we got to the second T, we took a left, the
bit that we left out with Erik. We must have swam 100 feet+ of that when
Bill turned because of his ears I think. I seem to remember from Ted's
description that this passage leads back to the main line of Main Land
if you stay on the right. If you take left turns on the Ts you end up into
a very low and nasty tunnel that comes
out in the big room where we encountered the tannic water. On the way back, Bill took me through all kinds of side tunnels, some scootering, some swimming, all upstream of the 2400 short cut. I was trying to reference all that stuff. I think that I need a few more trips up there with Scooter God. The closer we god from the exit of the cave, the more tannic it got. It was really nice back there in the cave. Between the Key Hole and the Lips we say a CIS-Lunar guy ... moving (for a change), on a yellow tow-behind scooter that looked like a Gavin scooter. Impressive! The USCDT is pushing their top technical level explorations further every day! We racked up a nice 95 minutes of bottom time. My longest time on scooter. A super dive. Thank you Scooter God! I owe you one.
I'm now sitting in Tampa airport. It takes quite a while to write these week-end reports.
I hope you had a great week-end too!