Education, Enjoyment and Exploration…

Archive for April, 2007

Summertime Blues – NACD Journal 2nd Quarter, 2007

No problem, Mon! It’s amazing what a couple of weeks away will do for one’s mental well being, and especially getting in some cave diving as an added bonus. The simplicity of the Bahamas makes them an easy place to relax and unwind, a great place just to cave dive and chill out.

This seems to be the norm in my cave diving these days, just trying to stay chilled and enjoy the diving. As the hot season in Florida is starting, I’ve decided to back off the teaching for the summer months just so I can go out and get some play time, ‘cause as the T shirt says “so many caves, so little time….” Besides, I still crave summer vacation as mush as the next person.

I think that all of us unconsciously look forward to summer time. It’s probably a throw back to when were kids and the school year seemed to be so long. I remember being let out of school on the last day of the year and the summer ahead just seemed so endless, not a whiff of school anywhere! Well nothing changes, at least here on my end of things. The cave diving in the summer always seems to be so much fun, the sites aren’t as crowded, the days are long and the surface intervals seem to stretch on forever. Most of the state parks are open later and grabbing a couple of sets of doubles and heading out to your favorite cave site makes for a nice long easy day, I tend to bring my wife and little girl along for the days during the summer as there is plenty of sun to be had, and lots of enjoyment to be had both in and out of the water.

It’s funny how things tend to work as you get more laid back (or as my wife would say “you get older!”). Back when I first got into cave diving, every chance I had I’d be in the water at first light trying to get as many dives in as possible during the day, now I find myself sleeping in a little bit, and doing either one long dive or maybe two if I’m feeling really adventurous!

I think a lot of this is due to the progression we have made during our time that we’ve been cave diving. Our skills get better, we penetrate further leading to more of a decompression obligation, with experience our SAC rate is dropping giving us more time to play, plus we are becoming much more attuned to our surroundings thereby enjoying our dives more than ever before.

I actually made a dive at Devil’s early this morning and didn’t see a soul! It was very different to be in there after spending the previous couple of weeks in some very pristine, but technically challenging cave passage and I really appreciated the chance to ease off the mental grip a bit and relax. Spending a couple of weeks back in the islands made me appreciate how lucky we have it here, plenty of wide open cave, smaller, more technical passages upon demand, the availability of Trimix, Nitrox and deco gasses at high pressures, the comfort of having picnic benches to set up gear on and being able to walk up and down steps into the water. I can tell you I would not have wanted to haul my scooter out to the cave system we were in last week!

While it was a mini piece of heaven out in the tropics and my first experience with a vadose cave system, it was really good to get back to North Florida and get into my “home” system. I hadn’t dived there in over two weeks which seemed like a really long time and it was great to see old familiar landmarks and of course enjoy the crystal clear clarity of the water. Another nice bonus was to be able to drink the water while diving, a mistake I only made once in the Old Freetown system!

It was just a nice easy dive, kind of a scooter around, check out various passages, maybe take a swim or two, but I found myself really into things within the overhead, noticing subtleties in the cave that I hadn’t noticed before. I had a sense of peace within me that was really comforting and I found myself not wanting to exit! Ah, but all good things must come to an end, so I finally headed out and luckily it was still early enough that the Ear was clear of swimmers and tubers so I had a long, relaxing deco thinking of the day to come.

The summer’s that time of year when you invite your good friends down to go cave diving and get out and reacquaint yourselves with some of the lesser known systems. We’ve had no rain lately, and while we do need it, take advantage of the dry spell, Emerald’s looking fantastic, Jackson’s open year round, the river caves are clear, flow seems to be down just about everywhere so there really are no excuses! The opportunity to spend quality time in the water as the days grow longer and the chance to catch up with people over a cold beverage should not be passed up lightly……

Well, as usual, thanks for taking the time to read my viewpoint, and please have fun and make smart decisions in the overhead. While it may be getting really hot out, this is the time to go cave diving and escape those sweltering summer days. Pack a picnic, have some fun and relax with good buddies. 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.