Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Motorcycles and Caves

It has been a few weeks since I have posted an update, so here is one.
It has been busy few weeks, I have been teaching SCUBA at night, the shop is getting busier up as the weather warms up, I am taking online classes and still trying to make time for fun. 

This blog was started to share all fun activities, not just diving, so here is a new one.

I have been riding motorcycles for the last 6 years, mainly as a way to save on gas. 
Recently Andy jumped on board and my dad stumbled on a great deal on a bike. So for a limited time we all have motorcycles.

In order to spend some quality time with the family and the ladies, we decided to go for a ride. We met at my house early Sunday and headed south. There are some fun roads that wind through Mulberry and over towards Lithia. We had a nice 60 mile ride, stopping for lunch in Picnic, FL. It was a fun ride and a nice afternoon.

My diving has been limited for the last few weeks. But, I have been able to squeeze in a few dives at Back Door Blue.

Two weeks ago I went out there; I had the help of Robert, Tom, and Sara. It is extremely helpful to have a few people willing to Sherpa through the swamp. It is not a bad hike *if* you go in a straight line….
This was my first dive there with real tanks. I had 98’s adequately filled in side mount configuration. I was hesitant to bring tanks this large after hearing Brett’s horror story of the bedding plane restriction. 
As I approached the restriction, I was second guessing my decision to wear my Transpac. When I arrived at the restriction dumped all of the air from my wing and made sure everything was tight. I began working my way into the 9” high bedding plane. My chest was on the floor and back against the ceiling. I actually rubbed holes in the chest of my suit!
I pushed through, snagging on the coarse limestone, stopping and wiggling working foreword and back. After a few tense moments and about 30 feet of thinking about how long my gas would last me if I got stuck in a bedding plane at 30’. My nearest guess is about 6.5 hours…. That’s enough time for a rescue.
I finally popped through the other side. A restriction like this in a dry cave is rough; underwater, it sucks.
The cave was smaller than I remembered; it was easy to fly through this cave with no wing and tiny tanks. A full harness and heavy tanks, slows you down through the tight stuff.
I reached the end of Brett’s line at ~700’ there was a pile of dugong bones sitting at the end. I tied of my newly loaded reel.

Here the cave widened, and the floor and walls were grey with thick peat silt. It was hard to see what the cave did. I pushed forward. The cave was low and the silt was “fluffy”. There was no option but to stir up the virgin untouched bottom.  Suddenly my light went out; crap! I sat for a split second, holding on the line, there was a slight glow..? My light had not gone out, the silt had overtaken me  so quickly that I thought my light had failed. I pushed forward. Visibility improved.
There was a slight stair-step up and I was in less silty passage.  It goes! I swam foreword, ecstatic! The cave was low, I hit several breakdown rooms, and it continued on.
I neared turn pressure, and squeezed past a “mud volcano”. The cave continued through another low (~11”) bedding plane. I am guessing that this was ~1000’ past my previous EOL.
The trip out was slow, visability ranged from 0-30’, but the cave is shallow, so gas lasts a while.
I then took a quick trip downstream to see what it was like. Most of it was huge; I went maybe 400’ and tied off in breakdown room with going passage.
I couldn’t wait to return!

 Last Sunday I was able to return for another push trip, Sara hauled a 98 through the woods for me!
I swam and swam… It was further to the end of my line than I rememberedJ.
I am getting better at negotiating the restrictions and I was at the EOL in 37min. I tied off the reel and ducked into the bedding plane. After a short distance it stair-stepped down to a low silty no-mount tunnel, I pushed this to a small room, where I could put tanks back on. It is getting a little grim back there. I found two tunnels with flow; one is impossible, the other will be tough. I turned the dive here to give me plenty of gas for a safe exit.
I had loads of gas remaining once in open water, Sara jumped in and peered into the cavern, wetting her whistle.
I hope to get back soon to see what the cave does.
It is an awesome cave, with a lot of character, it reminds me more of dry caving than cave diving, you have to crawl, climb, and squeeze through this cave. Awesome!