Monday, December 10, 2012

Paradise Springs

I was able to get in a fair amount of exploration this year. I did not carry a camera every time so I do not have a post for every weekend. But I should still have some interesting stuff.

I took the camera with me to Paradise Springs back in May 2012. I had a group of people from the dive shop who wanted to learn how to dive sidemount for OW purposes. So with their shiny new gear, a lecture and a few dives under their belt we took a trip to Paradise Springs to get some more dive time.

Sidemount is a fast growing subset in the SCUBA industry. It moves your tanks off your back and onto your sides. This gives the diver lower vertical profile, improves stability and increases flexibility. There are a number of reasons to move to double tanks; redundancy and increased dive time are the biggest.

Paradise Springs is a sink hole located near Belleview, FL. It is privately owned and operated. The water is a constant 74 degrees and crystal clear. It is a great dive site to tour, practice your skills, and to see if caverns are the thing for you.

The cave does go below 100’ so non cave trained divers need to know their limits.

For more information about Paradise Springs check out Florida Dive Connection

Jug Hole January 2012

Getting behind seems to be a trend with this blog.
I have been very busy this year, and I will try to have a number of updates in the next few days.

So lets start with Febuary 2012....

Every year since I was thirteen we have made an annual trip to Jug Hole. Jug Hole is just  one of the springs that feeds the Ichetucknee river. This blue ribbon transects harwood hammock and eventually intersects with the Santa Fe River. This is a Mecca for photographers, kayakers and tubers. In the wintertime the park closes to tubers and opens to cave divers.

Here is the Website for the park: State Park

The cave is relatively short, but it is full of challenge and beauty. The dive begins a half mile away at the parking lot. Several hundred pounds of scuba equipment must be portaged 2500’ down a trail to the springhead.

This year Andy was not able to make it so we brought our good friend Sean. This was his first trip to the cave. Sean is a CCR diver and has been carrying his bailout in a sidemount configuration for years. I believe this was his first true sidemount dive.

The cavern is picturesque, in the early afternoon the sun pours through the round entrance and a beautiful column of blue light paints the white sand floor.

Just a hundred feet in we reach the first restriction, the bedding plane. This is a low wide section of cave is formed when a softer layer of a sedimentary rock dissolves leaving behind the harder floor and ceiling. This bedding plane averages 16” high and acts a “nerd gate” for the now rare back mount diver.

The cave continues through two tall dome rooms and then pinches down at the Diamond Sands Restriction. Here the course orange sand shifts in the current and glistens in our lights. It really is a beautiful sight. The restriction is not that tight, but it is an odd shape. It is somewhat of a puzzle to get through here if one has not done it before.

From here the cave changes there is a jump to the right where most of the flow originates. It is a very tight bedding plane restriction 9-10” high. But the cave continues straight to the loft some 50’ shallower. The cave abruptly ends and a thin layer of grey silt covers everything. There is typically a collection of “glory markers” here where people like to brag about their incredible feat of cave diving… Do not leave line markers unless they are needed.

The dive was  load of fun we got some awesome cave footage and great pictures.
To see the video of this dive, follow this link: Jug Hole Video