It all started when my friend, Henry posted on my Facebook wall that he was coming into town for a couple of days and did I know if anyone was available to dive? Henry’s a former student of mine so I was trying to rack my brain and then it clicks, wait a minute I have Wednesday off! I knew that he’d been playing a bit with his Gavin in the caves, but it’s more suited to the ocean, since it’s a short body, so I asked him if he wanted to use one of my UV-26’s instead. Of course unbeknownst to him, I don’t let people use my scooters (at least for no charge) without me coming along, so when he said he’d love to, I went ahead and gave him the bad news….
I dropped Kaley off at O2B Kids early in the morning, then went and grabbed scooters and stages from my shed and threw them into the Green Machine. Quite loaded down, I made the ten minute trek to Cave East to meet Henry and gas up etc. We were discussing a dive plan and since Henry’s already mix certified and is used to handling bottles, I suggested a double stage scooter to Mainland with the caveat that if it was too big of a leap for him, then we could do something else. You should have seen his eyes light up!
A few minutes later we’re throwing scooters and bottles into the water at Devil’s and looking at Jeff’s wonderful map of the system, thanks Hancock, you rock! We decided our basic plan will be to motor to Stage Bottle Rock about 1800’ or so, drop a stage, get on another one and continue on to the jump to Mainland at 2900’ where we will switch to our back gas and git ‘er done! We discuss various contingencies, such as gas loss, scooter failure, stage drops etc and finally come up with a plan that both of us are more than comfortable with….
Henry, being a good little cave diver, has already laid the perfect line in the Ear the previous day, so we drop into the system and clip our O2 bottles off by our secondary tie-off. We get on stages and hit the trigger as we head on in to the system, as usual I’m amazed by the deco bottles thrown randomly on the floor, but we’re cruising now, so I relax and let the cool flow wash all my worries away…
Haven’t seen anybody and the dive’s going nice and smooth and we see Stage Bottle Rock approaching in the distance. We exchange okays, clip off the scooters and do a nice, efficient stage drop. Like normal, as we pull away and start to head further in, I marvel at how much less drag one stage is. Maybe next time, I’ll just breathe one on the left and butt clip the other(s) which is what I do when I scooter in side mount, I mean what the heck right!
We get to the jump to Mainland and I take out one of those new super sexy Light Monkey mini spools and run the line over to the jump, being careful to keep the line out of way. We clip our Silents off along with our last stage, make a quick no worries check and we’re off…. Mainland’s one of my favorite dives at Devil’s and I’m reveling in the fact that I get to show Henry this kick-ass place. We snake through the belly crawl and I’m busy showing Henry the noticeable jumps and the not so obvious ones! We ascend up into the shallower portion of the tunnel and things open up considerably. I glance back at Henry, no need to see if he’s okay, his light’s playing off the black goethite formations with this kind of awestruck look on his face and I grin to myself, cave diving is just so very cool! We pass the T at 3800’ or so and pretty soon after that we flip around and start our leisurely swim out. As we pass through the lower sections, I’m glad to see that our technique was stellar going in as there’s no silt in the water column and finally we’re up over the last hill and see our scooters and stages.
I pull our jump line, we load up the stages, exchange okays and hit the trigger. This is one of my favorite parts of the dive, putting the hammer down on the scooters with the flow behind us and whewee, the need for speed is satisfied! I must say though that I’ve seriously been eyeing one of those new Magnus scooters that Rod and Suzie recently came out with, now THOSE are fast!! Anyways, enough day dreaming on the scooters, we head up to the Ear, grab the O2 bottles off our primary line and I flip the scooter around and start reeling up. After a half hour or so of defizz time, we’re finally scootering up the run and after shucking bottles, surface by the steps at Little Devils. I look over at Henry and ask “so, waddya think?” He grins back at me and says “THAT was the best cave dive ever” which sums up the day ‘bout perfectly…..