Navigation error in a cave

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Manatee Diver

Stop throwing lettuce at me!
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I think we are getting into the weeds with talking about line markers, and has zero to do with the near miss.

To me the OP's post sounded like an accident chain from an accident report (back when that was normally released). You had the team separation, a wrong turn, a series of blind jumps, all you need is a silt out and this would've been an accident.

The best thing that would've broken the accident chain, would've been for OP to stop wait for them to notice, and if they didn't thumb the dive. Giving his "team" a tongue lashing when they got back out.
 
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Hiszpan

Hiszpan

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I've found (at least in florida) there are 2 distinct types of divers. There are those that took the class but then through their diving either become lazy, complacent, or choose to give into others' bad habits (such as blind jumps).
This…
As I mentioned before, I usually (not always) start with OW dives to evaluate my buddies and discuss the procedures. You can do the same if you want, or you can find another strategy. J
I dove with buddy #1 many times in the OW over years, including open ocean, live boat decompression dives.
So it starts to make me question the quality of instruction you received in the first place…. So maybe the issue and why you're misdirecting your anger towards the cave agencies may be that your instruction didn't fully give you the building blocks you needed to ingrain the basic safety rules.
… and that. You have answered your own question - my instructor engraved appropriate rules in my training. Questioning his or her ability to teach based on my CF is not fair. I know who taught cave diving buddies #1 and #2 and I would never say their instructors are bad because of what happened on our last dive (those instructors are well known in the community and I doubt you would call them bad if I told you who they are.)
Conversely, you were taught how to drive by an instructor, who taught you not to exceed the speed limit - have you never exceeded it? If you have, would you blame your instructor?


Throughout our conversations here I have decided to go back to the idea of me and buddy #1 considering switching to REMs so that we are all on the same page in terms of navigation marking. Buddy #2 has been taught to use them so he can offer us briefing and we can try it on some straightforward dives to see how we feel.

Thank you for all your input. Sometimes it just takes a discussion to make you more comfortable with things.
 

rddvet

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… and that. You have answered your own question - my instructor engraved appropriate rules in my training. Questioning his or her ability to teach based on my CF is not fair.
I only questioned it because it seemed as though you were looking for something to blame.
 

The Cosmicist

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...However, as I previously mentioned, either people can behave properly "under fire" or they cannot. We can discuss all details that contributed to one's reactions at a given moment/environment after the event but some people are deselected from some professions (such as aviation) because they demonstrate they are not capable of reacting properly to given stimuli. This is called aptitude.

Well, we need to agree to disagree :) I don't believe in black and white. While certain people indeed cannot work under fire, most can. They just may need different amounts of time to get used to stressful conditions. Long periods are not an option in the job environment, so I agree that many people can't work as aviators (military, firemen, or whatever). But with the proper training, I still think that a relative majority can do that.

This is a super interesting sub-discussion, and very important. Really good thread here, and I value the OP's openness because I get to learn from your mistakes.

I'm not a cave diver yet, so take what I say with a grain of salt. But I am a combat arms veteran and have seen people who can and cannot operate "under fire/under stress" (however you want to say it). @ginti I like you already, though we've never met, because I also think there is no such thing as black and white. This is a situation, though, where we can see particular shades of gray.

I think we need to take a step back and realize that cave diving is a small subset of an already small hobby/profession within global society. This is similar to military members in high-stress situations... Not all military men and women are able to operate under stress, and they wear the uniform! No, they are not all heroes. Sorry to break that American bubble... I saw soldiers that could barely hold it together enough to accomplish organizing equipment and inventorying property. That's why most don't join (or remain in) jobs like the infantry. That's why there are psychological tests for all special operations candidates. Cave diving has many similarities to combat operations, from detailed planning, to discipline needed, some forms of social pressure and ruthless adherence to proper execution. It is a high-stakes environment (although not nearly as high as combat, of course... No one is actively trying to kill you).

When you put cave diving in its proper place, you see that the vast majority of divers self-select themselves out of cave diving. Many people are scared to go into a cave when it's dry! Many are not interested. What's in a dark cave, right? Then there will be a subset who think they want to do it, until they are met with the reality of it. Then there are the actual cave divers, which are probably less than 5% of all divers on earth. (That statistic is right out of my tail pouch, don't get excited...)

@ginti I think there's another type of deviance that we don't think about. Being a small subset, cave divers are (I think) generally well-trained, apt, attentive, and detail-oriented. You wouldn't enter a cave otherwise, unless you're suicidal or one fry short of a happy meal. Cave divers don't think the same way as non-cave divers about how specialized and demanding cave diving is. This is similar to how I came to think that directing automatic weapons fire from multiple locations while talking on a radio, maneuvering vehicles, and consulting a map during live-fire training exercises with night vision on was not so special, or how @306dive306 saw flight operations become similarly normalized (I'm guessing he was AF?). Once you get into a specialized hobby/profession, it becomes the norm. There is a "deviation of norms".

I do not agree that most everyone can operate well under stress. Take the average diver into a cave with no training (including doubles) and someone is going to die. They probably haven't even heard of rule of thirds! Even with training, most divers I've seen (and I'm a novice!) would probably die or cause someone else to die. For the average diver, there is a significant amount of task loading just to get into a cave and start (e.g., true buoyancy control, trim for the cave floor/ceiling, regular gauge checks, situational awareness, checking teammates, knowing the route, following the line, use of correct markings/cookies/REMs according to training and team SOPs, using any form of can light/multiple lights, using doubles and stages, proper communication... shall I go on?). I think research has shown this not to be the case. You can train people to understand and to react, but you cannot change their personality, sensitivity to stress, aptitude, etc. For an off topic example, do you think everyone could get PhDs... in any field? There is a significant amount of aptitude and stress involved with that. Either the answer is no, or standards for PhDs are low enough for the degree to be meaningless.

Now if you really want to get philosophical/theoretical, what is stress? Is it only external, or also internal? How do different people perceive and react to stress? How could a team test their weak points to identify them? That's where it gets gray... and interesting... :wink:
 

ginti

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I dove with buddy #1 many times in the OW over years, including open ocean, live boat decompression dives.
Out of curiosity, since you dove with him so many times, did you have a conversation with him about cave diving rules before entering the cave? Because discussion of standards and procedures is the essential part of my approach. In other words, I start with easy dives, I evaluate them (how skilled, aware and team-oriented they are), and I discuss the standard and procedures before entering any cave.

Throughout our conversations here I have decided to go back to the idea of me and buddy #1 considering switching to REMs so that we are all on the same page in terms of navigation marking. Buddy #2 has been taught to use them so he can offer us briefing and we can try it on some straightforward dives to see how we feel.

Thank you for all your input. Sometimes it just takes a discussion to make you more comfortable with things.
At least, you got something good after 10 pages of thread! Very good :)
 

rjack321

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Throughout our conversations here I have decided to go back to the idea of me and buddy #1 considering switching to REMs so that we are all on the same page in terms of navigation marking. Buddy #2 has been taught to use them so he can offer us briefing and we can try it on some straightforward dives to see how we feel.

Thank you for all your input. Sometimes it just takes a discussion to make you more comfortable with things.
Having a consistent navigational marking scheme across your group is a good start.

Any ideas on how not to get separated again? Personally when I am cave diving with someone else we all place markers, and we all verify each others markers. So at the very least nobody would have gone past the first T until you had caught up, "oked" the markers the first 2 placed, and then put your own down.

Although they also should have waited for you way back at the o2 bottle.
 

ginti

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@The Cosmicist we are going fairly OT, you know that, don't you? I believe you can start another thread if you want to discuss this topic in detail; I'll just add a couple of answers here
I do not agree that most everyone can operate well under stress. ... I think research has shown this not to be the case.
The point is that what we call stress changes over time. The purpose of training and experience is exactly to make some situations not stressful anymore.

By the way, I like research :) You say that research has proved it, do you have any references?

You can train people to understand and to react, but you cannot change their personality, sensitivity to stress, aptitude, etc. For an off topic example, do you think everyone could get PhDs... in any field?
PhD is one of the highest degrees we have in our system; it is the highest in the case of STEM. So it is more equivalent to hypoxic-trimix-dpv-full-cave than to intro-to-cave.

Intro-to-cave is more something like a bachelor or a master; I believe anyone can get it, although with different efforts.
 

The Cosmicist

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@The Cosmicist we are going fairly OT, you know that, don't you? I believe you can start another thread if you want to discuss this topic in detail; I'll just add a couple of answers here

The point is that what we call stress changes over time. The purpose of training and experience is exactly to make some situations not stressful anymore.

By the way, I like research :) You say that research has proved it, do you have any references?


PhD is one of the highest degrees we have in our system; it is the highest in the case of STEM. So it is more equivalent to hypoxic-trimix-dpv-full-cave than to intro-to-cave.

Intro-to-cave is more something like a bachelor or a master; I believe anyone can get it, although with different efforts.
Yes, I know it's off topic but I couldn't help it after reading you two talk about it! Would make for an interesting thread though...

I absolutely agree that perception of stress changes over time. What I'm saying is that regardless of training and experience, the ceiling for stress acceptance is not the same between people or across populations.

Haha, yes I see your point. I think intro-to-cave would be Masters level maybe, and "hypoxic-trimix-dpv-full-cave" would be "world class research", but I digress. I'll send you a PM concerning research! I'm no expert on the subject, though.

Thanks again to @Hiszpan for the thread. I've learned quite a bit and your humility is a joy to see.
 
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Hiszpan

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Out of curiosity, since you dove with him so many times, did you have a conversation with him about cave diving rules before entering the cave? Because discussion of standards and procedures is the essential part of my approach.
Buddy #1 is the only buddy I dove caves since finishing my course. We have done about 25 cave dives with just two of us. There were no other active ones until buddy #2 came into the picture.
Thinking about it now, me and buddy #1 never had problems with separation despite our differences in using different navigational markings for T's, jumps etc. We knew the differences in our protocols and he did things his way and I did my way. Buddy #1 always made sure I am close behind and was checking periodically OK signs with lights. Only once did we have a misunderstanding when I read his sign as STOP and WAIT here while he intended for me to follow him - he only realized I did not after he turned around the corner.
Since we started diving three as a team this year that is when I noticed things started to go a bit awry. On one dive when I was in the middle, on our way back buddy #2 was in the lead, and he went so far ahead that we completely lost him (buddy #1 stopped to check the old line and I stopped with him, buddy #2 did not notice and kept on going.) On a dive before the near-miss, at some point, buddies #1 (leading) and #2 were quite ahead to the point when I felt I had to chase them not to feel left behind (we were already separated by a low and silty section with 90 degrees turns that they silted out ahead of me, so there was no efficient way of signaling if something happened to them or me.)
On two dives when I was in the middle, we never lost buddy #1 (leading) nor buddy #2 (behind me). It might be that the breakdown of communication is at buddy #2 - he should be keeping up with #1 and making sure #3 is not left behind, signaling to #1 to slow down if needed.
At least, you got something good after 10 pages of thread! Very good :)
Indeed, that's what good conversations are for.
Having a consistent navigational marking scheme across your group is a good start.

Any ideas on how not to get separated again? Personally when I am cave diving with someone else we all place markers, and we all verify each others markers. So at the very least nobody would have gone past the first T until you had caught up, "oked" the markers the first 2 placed, and then put your own down.

Although they also should have waited for you way back at the o2 bottle.
That's what should have happened.
Thanks again to @Hiszpan for the thread. I've learned quite a bit and your humility is a joy to see.
You welco...Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
 

The Cosmicist

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