July 2010 Cavern/Cave Dive Reports

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SuPrBuGmAn

Contributor
Messages
12,436
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290
Location
Tallahassee, FL
# of dives
500 - 999
Jackson Blue Spring and ShangriLa Springs on 7-5-10

Headed to Jackson Blue on the 5th, it was the first time back at the park since it had opened up for the swimming season. Neadless to say, it was friggin crowded. The good news, was that the flow was down significantly since my previous dives onsite and it made our cavern dive just that much better. We(TheAwesomeFish and I) were pretty much the only team in the system that morning, which was great, kinda pays to be the early birds at times. By the end of our dive, more teams were showing up.

I had forgotten the battery for my primary, so I did the cavern dive on one of my backups(I still had the required number of lights and we stayed within cavern limits, so natural light was always within view. It was weird not having my canister light though. Ms Awesome ran the line into the cavern, as well as pulled it out, and she did great. Once we were finished in the overhead, we played around in OW for quite a while, the rains came and we enjoyed that while UW, watching millions of droplets hit the surface from below. Scared all the swimmers out too - LOL. Dive time of 36 minutes with a max depth of 44'.

More memorable than the dive was kayaking over to ShangriLa afterwards, we spent quite a bit of time swimming and snorkeling around the springs there, even into some of the smaller vents. Great fun. Afterwards we did a quick loop to Indian Washtub and Twin Caves as well. It was a great day.

Morrison Spring on 7-16-10

DogHouseDiver had a hankerin to get in the water, so we shoved off after work and headed to Morrison in seperate cars(I'd be doing more diving over the weekend). The park was deserted and it was quite apparent we had just missed some torential rains, but the basin still looked blue. We geared up and hopped in before nightfall for a great dive lasting 56 minutes, with a max depth of 89'. Sometime during the dive, 3, very obvious OW divers came in with atleast 2 lights for the entire group... Darwin's gonna get them, there was little to no ambient light for the cavern entrance by then.

I tried getting into the fissure crack, but its still a no-go. Too much flow, rocks too damned craggly, and the Nomad is still too bulky.

It was an excellent start to a weekend of fun.

GS Cave System on 7-17-10

The North Florida Spring Aliance held a vertical workshop at Peacock Springs State Park and finally I got to attend one of their events. Its a great organization looking to improve north florida springs(especially the ones with state parks around them). We practiced descending first, then ascending. I was on a frog system first, and was knowingly doing it wrong as I know I was supposed to be climbing with my legs... but I kept doing it with my arms and I got wore down with a quickness. I tried a ropewalker next, I could haul up that rope without any problems with that thing! Anyway, rox@ucf and I had planned to dive somewhere after the event. We figured on one of the lesser hit cave systems, which just happened to be on a state park in the same area.

We made the short drive to the park, and it was pretty obvious the rangers didn't really have a clue how to manage divers. They didn't know where we were supposed to enter the system, the didn't know how much to charge us(luckily it was free state parks day), they didn't know much of anything, but they were friendly about it. We signed up, they pointed us to one of the nearby sinks, and sent us on our way. We geared up and hiked tanks a few hundred yards to the sink they pointed us to... we had to walk to the opposite side, the nearside was a steep drop of about 20', D'Oh - LOL. Its ok, we're used to walking on the real side of cave country. I can still complain about it though...

The water felt great after a long walk on a hot day. Flow was up and reports were very favorable for the diving conditions, which on a good day are usually in the 10-15' range. We enjoyed 30-40', I hope I'm not jaded the next time I dive here. There will be a next time, this is a great system, like Leon Sinks made sweet love to Peacock and this was there illigitamate child... and not raped yet. We entered at one sink and quickly made our way up 5 different sinkholes before having to turn the dive. The rangers wanted and "out" time, and we were a little optimistic when we signed in... So we turned there, with lots of gas and time to go, but not to step on the rangers toes or have the calvary called in to rescue us :) Great dive though, creamy walls scalloped from the flow, flowing sand/silt dunes, huge rooms, and cave for days. Very much looking forward to coming back out. Had a max depth of 52' for a dive lasting 66 minutes.

Awesome dive!

Merrits Mill Pond Springs on 7-18-10

On Sunday Ben M and I'd be diving a couple springs on Merritts Mill Pond in Marianna. We were looking to get into some of the smaller caves on the pond and took Ben's boat to an interesting cave on the side of the pond. The entrance and cavern are half submerged and half dry, not too common for this area. I've done a couple dives in there, never got too far, and this dive was no different(although further than any previous dives and likely as far as I'll go). I ran the primary and lead the dive. Visibility was great and there wasn't alot of catfish messing up the silty/clay bottom. Its apparent the system has been seeing more and more traffic, as all the intact turtleshells(particularly the punchbowl sized one) had been crushed and now layed in piles... The cave is full of fossils though, turtle shells(new in comparison), sand dollars, pin cushions, urchins, and tube worms litter the walls and floor from a distant pass when this was the bottom of the Gulf. A far cry from a freshwater spring quite a drive north from the beaches down south. We pushed through a succession of back-to-belly scrapers, throwing up a clay-silt in our wake, knowingly killing any chance of visibility on our exit. Its just how this cave is... see on your way in(and I had the better seat for that by leading) and remember it for the way out because you won't see much, and theres particular areas you need to pass those restrictions through, and the lines trying to trap you as much as help you... We passed the restrictions and got to swim a good bit before the passage drops down a fissure crack, into a deep section(we maxed at 53', a good 20' deeper than the rest of the passage before then) and continued on until we hit a "T" in the line. The way I understand it, is the rest of the passages are best done solo, which I'm not too keen on, so this is where we turned it and made the slow egress from the cave. No problems and we had an exceptional dive lasting for 56 minutes.

On the way back to Edds, to get fills, I hopped in the water and powersnorkelled into the entrance of our next hole, clearing it out to make it easier to pass when we got back with full tanks. Its at best a single bottle off entrance, unless you're funsized, and some people even need to straight up nomount it - or simply fail at entering. I spent about 11 minutes down there, and pushed in and out the entrance 2 or 3 times to make sure we'd be able to get in after getting some full fills.

So full fills also came with lunch, which was awesome. Steaks, fish, all kinds of grub off the grill - badass. So we were 2.5 hours out before we hit the water again. Spent a couple minutes on the bottom and had a gear issue that needed fixin, then tried again. I squeezed in and waited on Ben M behind me. It was his first time there and he kept getting hung up. At one point he was sitting in the restriction, back to the ceiling, chest to the floor, walled in on both sides... and I had the thought of pulling my wetnotes and writing, "I'll eat my way through you if you get stuck"... I managed to hold that thought without pulling the wetnotes from my pocket. I'm quite a bit larger than Ben, it gave me a reason to call him fat. I ended up wtih 49 minutes of bottom time at this site over three "dives" where my max depth was 27' inside the restriction, with no more than 15' penetration passed OW :) On my way out, I attempted to exit with both tanks intact. BAD move. I got wedged pretty damned tight and it took several minutes to pull a tank off, while stuck, and yank it out, giving me enough room to get out. At those depths, and that kinda penetration, I woulda looked like a moron to drown there... and would have gotten to think about it for hours while my tanks slowly bottom out in 25' of water - LOL. Nice, I find I have a little monkey. We'll be back for this cave later, Ben's been passed the restriction since, so no problems the next time we dive it.

Note to self, pull the friggin tank before exitting dumbass.
 
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SuPrBuGmAn

SuPrBuGmAn

Contributor
Messages
12,436
Reaction score
290
Location
Tallahassee, FL
# of dives
500 - 999
You and me both!
 

GLENFWB

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Location
Fort Walton Beach, FL
# of dives
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Good read Mat. Tell Ben we know a guy that can get through any spot...all he needs is 7 inches!:D I had to laugh when you were describing the one cave on the pond....I sure hope you got in the boat easier this time, then you did the first time we went there.:rofl3: I might need to break that video out again.
 
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SuPrBuGmAn

SuPrBuGmAn

Contributor
Messages
12,436
Reaction score
290
Location
Tallahassee, FL
# of dives
500 - 999
Meh, dunno, he tried calling me a few times, but I never picked up. Douche!
 
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