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Basic/Intro to Cave Diving Course

NACD Warning Sign at Little RiverLearning to fly in the underground labyrinths of Florida can be an awe inspiring experience. Floating effortlessly through the dark confines of the cave environment can take a lifetime to master, and a good solid grounding in the basics is the foundation for a safe and rewarding introductory course in the art of cave diving.

The prospective Basic Cave/Introduction To Cave diver must realize that penetrations will now be extended beyond the safety of the daylight and be comfortable with the idea of relying on the light, the line and a personal sense of awareness to return safely to the cave entrance. This course can be completed with modified open water gear while using a third of a single tank or it can be completed in full cave gear using a sixth of a set of doubles. This course can be combined with a Cavern course and/or an Apprentice course.

Rich CourtneyThese introductory cave diving courses are offered over a two day period, which includes various lectures, land drills and exercises culminating in four dives into the overhead environment of at least two of North Florida’s most exciting cave dives. It is designed to give the beginning cave diver some hands on experience and develop basic cave diving skills using limited penetrations into the cave environment and is the second level of the progression to the full cave diver certification.

Some of the issues that will be covered in the classroom area of the course are medical aspects of cave diving including the cave environment and cave diving techniques, accident analysis and emergency procedures. Also discussed is the recognition of potential stressful or emergency situations, the psychological implications of entering the overhead environment including stress and how to build a tolerance to it. We will also talk about cave conservation, equipment and equipment configurations, cave orientation, referencing and navigation and the history and philosophy of the cave diving agencies..

This is to be considered a recreational cave diving course which develops and establishes minimum skills, knowledge, dive planning abilities, problem solving procedures and the basic abilities necessary to safely cave dive on a limited basis. Upon successful completion of this course, you will be certified to safely cave dive while staying within your gas limitations and restricting yourself to penetration on the mainline only.

In the field we will go over various land drills, including previously learned cavern skills, introduce the lost line and lost diver drills and also cover the use of various line markers. If everyone is comfortable with the skills at this point, we will then move on into the cave environment where the same drills will be conducted but in at least two cave systems with different types of flow, visibility and tunnels over a minimum of four dives. The prerequisite for the Introduction To Cave/Basic Cave course is the Cavern Course or equivalent and 25 logged non training dives, although more experience is highly recommended.

Here’s a list of the minimum equipment needed to safely penetrate only on the mainline of a cave system:  a mask and power fins (springs or straps taped), a wet or dry suit, a tank with a dual outlet valve (or a set of doubles) that holds at least seventy-two cubic feet of gas, two first stages each with one second stage (one equipped with a seven foot hose) and a submersible pressure gauge, a BC with power inflator, tables/bottom timer or dive computer, a cutting device, wet notes/slate and pencil, one primary light and two back up lights, line arrows and cookies/clothespins, two safety reels/spools and one primary reel per team.

As with all cave and technical classes that I offer, please realize that participation in the class does not guarantee certification. Should you not end up with a certification, I will provide you with a list of areas that need more practice and am more than happy to assist you in working with these. As always, if you have any uncertainty about anything, such as training, scheduling or any other aspect of cavern and cave diving, please feel free to contact me via email, generally I will respond back to you within twenty-four hours.