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Education, Enjoyment and Exploration…

Archive for January, 2006

Having Fun – NACD Journal 1st Quarter, 2006

An interesting thing happened to me the other night, I was scootering into the Ear after work and noticed that a line had been tied off on the log, run down to the right hand side, where a secondary tie off had been made, still in open water, and then immediately run left, in essence cutting off the entrance twice. I could see lights, so I hung out for about five minutes waiting for the divers to exit. Finally I decided to enter and after I’d dropped off my O2 bottle in the alcove to the left I saw three people milling around. Upon exiting the cave later I approached them and asked them if they’d had a good dive. After chatting with them for a while and joking around, I mentioned that they might want to make their primary tie off a little lower, keep their line out of the entrance etc. We ended up parting on great terms and they thanked me for the advice.

We all have the ability to excel as cave divers, but we must be honest with ourselves and others and never forget that it’s our responsibility to be ambassadors for our sport. Unfortunately, a scene I see played out all too often these days, are cave divers yelling at other divers (open water, technical or cave) for whatever reason, instead of taking the time to be tactful and offer helpful advice. We must remember that everyone has received different training at different times and they may not realize that what may have been “kosher” back in the 80’s or 90’s may not be the most effective application today.

I wrote an essay about a year and a half ago about people taking cave diving too seriously and posted it on an online “tech diving” forum. It was very interesting reading some of the responses, and hearing viewpoints from other people. If you can excuse me, here’s a little excerpt from that essay….

”Do I take cave diving seriously? Hell no!! Do I practice it in a serious manner? Hell yes!! Having done a couple of hundred cave dives since moving down here, it’s my not so humble opinion that people take cave diving way too seriously, and forget how kick ass it is. The best cave diver in the world is the one that’s having the most fun…period! How you find your fun, be it laying line, pushing “doable” holes, leisurely swimming, scootering big passage or pushing a no viz sidemount tunnel “heck yeah, ’cause I’m going to break out into some passage” is entirely up to you, but make sure you’re having a good time doing it!!  While we spend our days arguing about gear configuration, agencies, what brand to use, how to route your hoses, are you DIR or not etc the fact is that we have the underwater equivalent of Nirvana in our back yards…..yes, no matter what agency you’re certified by, I know that we’ve all felt that same awe and reverence swimming through these cathedrals…….or rabbit holes”

Let me take you back, do you remember the first time you looked into an underwater cave or cavern. I’d imagine that at the time you were probably humbled by the experience, I know I was!! So what happened to that feeling, do you still have it? Are you still trying to be the best you can be? Please try to remember that others are also, so don’t snap at some one because you’re having a bad day. We need to pull together as a community, not let egos, money or disagreements get in the way of that, and we have the responsibility to try and pass on what we’ve learned to others.

Diving with the same set of people day in and day out can be a wonder unto itself, but if you try and dive with a wide range of people you’ll end up broadening your mind, due simply to the major varieties of diving style and equipment configuration. Because of the work I do, I end up diving with a ton of different people and seeing all sorts of different styles and very unique configurations. I try and approach everything with an open mind, and not judge diving skill by how someone is configured! Unfortunately it’s a reflection of the changing society that we’re living in, that it’s considered okay to put down other people as a way of building oneself up. A sad statement, but very true! Anyways, as usual I digress…..

What I’m trying to say here relates back to the opening paragraph, we should really try as a community to not take potshots at each other, but attempt to approach people in a constructive manner, as they may not know any better. A friend of mine, who’s also a cave instructor is very fond of saying “You can’t teach people what they don’t know!” On an even more disturbing note, it also doesn’t seem to be confined to other cave divers. Lately, I’ve seen cave divers being very intolerant of other people whether it’s tubers taking up spots on the steps at Devil’s, locals jumping from the overhang at Little River or sunbathers at Madison. We must remember that these people have just as much right as us, if not more, to be there. All it takes is the wrong comment to the wrong person at the wrong time and we could end up having a site closed due to the stupidity of one arrogant jackass.

I would also like to congratulate some of the newer cave divers out there who at least in my opinion seem to be very aware of conservation practices. That reflects well on the whole cave community, as well as the instructors who are currently out there teaching. It brought a huge grin to my face to hear a neophyte cave diver apologizing to his buddy for “touching” one time and just the other night I smiled into my reg when I was exiting the Eye with some friends and had some obviously newer cave divers beckoning me on to exit. We can make a difference, and just because others choose not to, don’t compromise your principles and beliefs.

Well, thanks for taking the time to read my viewpoint, please take the time to refine your skills, don’t push too hard and try to treat others as you would want to be treated. We all know the golden rule of cave diving, but how many practice the golden rule of life, do unto others… As always try to slow down and think a little bit before you act, keep your cave diving safe and please take good care of our underwater cathedrals.