As soon as the Cavern course was finished we started on the Intro to Cave. This time some of the limitations have gone and some have been added. Gone is the need for daylight, however in leu of that light source a third light source is required. This third light source is obviously another torch. Using sixths on doubles or thirds on singles remains. The 200ft of linear penetration is now gone, penetration can be until the turnaround pressure is reached. Although a guideline is set, Intro to Cave Divers can follow the mainline, only. Minor restrictions are now allowed.
We packed up the test papers, loaded the van and went to Dan’s Cave to do my first actual cave dives. I was a little apprehensive. I would be passing past the Cave Divers only sign. As before the swim in was just that, but in the way out it would be drills time! Again we worked through the same drills as before but this time removing sight from the equation.
We did two dives at Dan’s Cave. The first dive we penetrated a distance of 400ft, even though I wasn’t at my sixths we turned the dive as this gave us plenty if sir for the drills. The second dive we made it all the way through the Cascade Room to the Hole in the Floor (500ft). I really wanted to go through but we turned the dive and did more drills. This time we included a lost line drill. It’s very hard to do and the purpose is to show you how difficult it is to find the line in zero visibility. I found the line, tied into it, found a directional marker and started making my way towards the exit.
The next day, today, we headed back to Dan’s Cave with the express purpose of going through the Hole in the Floor. The map shows that the cave goes deeper than I am allowed to go to so I was given instructions to say when to level off. It was my responsibility not to break my limitations.
We entered the cave and proceeded through the Cavern, through the Cascade Room, through the Hole in the Floor and into the next room. Another huge room awaited us. With a rock that is called Aristotle’s Head, as it looks like a man gazing to the stars. We spent a little bit of time there, but we had to turn the dive as I had reached my sixths. Time to head back and start the drills. Oh dear, zero vis (hold that line), and then my reg started free flowing. So I switched regs, shut down the free flowing one, got a few good breaths and then checked my broken reg. It was still free flowing. Time for some feathering. I made it back to a section that had visibility, and found that my reg was working normally again – funny how it works like that. Another problem I encountered was a broken mask. I had to remove my helmet, my broken mask, retrieve my spare, and out it on. Not too hard a task but it does take some thought so you don’t end up as a tangled mess.
The fourth and final dive was at Ralph’s Cave. This cave is full of crystals, however, looking at the entrance you would think nothing was there. There is no need for a guideline in this cave as the mainline starts in the open water. Can you see the line arrow in the picture? The cave drops down quickly and soon we are confronted with stalactites and stalagmites all made of crystal. There is a crystal water full. It is truly stunning and beautiful. Definitely something to marvel. It was time for a drill. Lost line in zero vis. Brian moved me around and I had no idea where I was. I found a rock to tie to and started my search for the line. The first direction – nothing but wall. The second direction- again nothing but wall. The third direction – I was about to give up and go back to the start but I found a line. I quickly tied to it and looked for a directional marker. I found it. I proceeded along the line in the direction of the exit, but there was nothing. The line ended. Where do I go? I felt around for the continuation of the line, but I couldn’t find anything. My mind went back to a conversation that Brian and I had had the day before, if a line ends it might be because there is a jump there to the mainline. I must have tied on to the wrong line, I reached back to grab my second spool to begin a search for the mainline as it must be close, but Brian ended the exercise. I had been nothing but 2ft away from the line on third attempt. I was I fact running parallel to it. I tied up my line and we headed back to the cove’s entrance.
The only thing that remained was the written exam. But after all the hard work in the caves the exam was a breeze.
I have really enjoyed this course, cave diving is a lot of fun and it is definitely something that I will continue due. So much so that I have signed up for the full cave course this August. So you can expect some posts then about how I get on.
Here are a couple of videos that were filled here a few years ago. The first shows some of Fangorn Forrest in Dan’s Cave. The second shows some of Ralph’s Cave.