Navigation error in a cave

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Hiszpan

Hiszpan

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Back before cookies existed, it was common to use arrows and clothespins to cancel markers or mark t's. I was taught this by my cave instructor back in '95.

Obviously, opinions have changed drastically but as recently as 5 years ago there were one or two instructors that still taught this. It's quite possible OP's buddies were taught cave diving years ago.

This here, how can training agencies and instructors reconcile those two completely different approaches? It is then left to us mere divers to try and work it out so that we can dive safely together. It shouldnt be my job to convince diver #1 much more experienced than me who was taught „arrows” that this is not the way - he wont listen as I am younger and less experienced. Diver #2 was trained more recently but does „arrows” too - he was trained in same area as me, but with a different centre - how is this possible to have two drastically different curricula within the same instructors’ community?

I was not explained during my training why cookies and not arrows, but my argument to buddies #1 and #2 was that it is quicker and easier to recognize a cookie rather than notched arrow in an out of viz stressfull situation. Manatee Diver gave me another argument, as theoretically when marking a T with an arrow you can place your arrow pointing to other than nearest exit permanent arrows in the vicinity.
 
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Hiszpan

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8576379E-21D9-4172-9BCD-F478B19EC544.jpeg

The arrow-cookie conundrum results in this - this is on our way out, I am leading and this is the main line at the point where I blind jumped to, chasing buddies. 2 permanent arrows pointing to nearest but not our exit, their 2 cancelling arrows and my cancelling-(confirming) cookie.



60A41419-1845-4E2A-AFEF-17C3F5ADECBE.jpeg


This here much less pretty - diver #2 cancelled the permanent (facing up) arrow with his pointing down arrow placed in a contradictory position. I placed my cookie to cancel the permanent.

The above happened on the same dive as near miss described above.
 

306dive306

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We were on air, #1 and I on backmount, #2 sidemount.

Average depth of that cave is around 18-20m.

My thinking must have been along the lines of “hey, there are my buddies over there with redundant gas supply and experience in that cave, I see them so I will do a blind jump against the rules to get to them as I just realized I effed up and am on the wrong line” versus “ I just realized I am on the wrong line, first time in this cave and might not have been paying attention to my navigation up until this point so although I know I can turn around and get back to exit I am not so sure if I didn’t miss any navigational points; plus I am not happy with being solo in the new cave just with my twinset.”


In a more familiar cave when I couldn’t get past restriction which they both navigated through ahead of me, I backed off the cloud of silt, deployed my marked arrow on the line to point to my exit and was ready to deploy my back up light, attaching it to the line to shine on my arrow towards exit direction to let them know I turned around to exit. Before I finished #2 came back to check why am I not coming through.

The above makes me think that unfamiliarity with a new cave made me choose what I did.
Dude…

you took right on the T (if i remember correctly) and did not leave a cookie. You did a first blind jump. Then you did a second blind jump. You never made audible signals (i.e. banging a double ender on a tank) to try and attract their attention instead of doing blind jumps.

You mentioned you studied the cave map and that you check your compass. There is no way in heaven you're going to remember this type of data if "the doo-doo hits the fan" and you need to get out of the cave fast, under stress.

Any Intro to Cave student can deploy a line from open water to the main line, grab the main line, follow the line, turn around, return to the surface safely as long as there is a line.

If you're on a line, you're safe. Anything that motivates you to leave the line is the wrong motivation. Nothing substitutes having a continuous guideline to the surface.

If you don't stop now and change your decision-making process, you will be dead soon. It's not a matter of if, but when.

I understand you looking back trying to self-reflect but, from now on, stay on the line 100% of the time; use your cookies, and most importantly, if your buddies bolt on you, turn around and leave the cave or assume you're diving solo and don't violate rules and guidelines to reach your "buddies" (you do not need a special certification to dive solo).
 

rjack321

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View attachment 699623
The arrow-cookie conundrum results in this - this is on our way out, I am leading and this is the main line at the point where I blind jumped to, chasing buddies. 2 permanent arrows pointing to nearest but not our exit, their 2 cancelling arrows and my cancelling-(confirming) cookie.
In a silt out or very low visibility situation how are you going to figure this mess of 4 arrows and a cookie out?

I would recommend you all switch to REMs, perhaps they would keep your arrow trained buddies happy and not lead to such a confusing situation like this.

Although if I were in your situation, I would probably feel safer solo diving than with unreliable buddies who leave me in the dust
 

ginti

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@306dive306 do you realize that the OP is aware of the mistakes you are pointing out?

We were on air, #1 and I on backmount, #2 sidemount.

Average depth of that cave is around 18-20m.
18/20m in a cave are fairly deep, except if you have already some experience; but you were starting again after a long break, weren't you?

Something nobody is pointing out is the risk of increasing CO2 in this chain of action. I assume you were fairly stressed, which can alter your breathing pattern and increase your CO2 in the bloodstream. Also, I assume you were rushing, especially when doing the blind jump, which also increases the CO2 in your bloodstream. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but at 18/20m with a lot of CO2 in the blood, you risk non-negligible narcosis hit. If I am right (but I am not a doctor in any way!) some of your poor decisions may come from narcosis.

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is social pressure. You were diving with people using different standards and procedures, and in such cases, it can be complicated to strictly adhere to your training. But, as you discovered, it is still important to stick to the procedures you know, otherwise, you will inevitably make some mistakes. Something that I do in these situations is to start with easy OW dives and discuss after the dive some procedures in more complicated diving. You can find different approaches obviously, but the principle is to go step by step in order to avoid social pressure.
 

Miyaru

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I was not explained during my training why cookies and not arrows, but my argument to buddies #1 and #2 was that it is quicker and easier to recognize a cookie rather than notched arrow in an out of viz stressfull situation. Manatee Diver gave me another argument, as theoretically when marking a T with an arrow you can place your arrow pointing to other than nearest exit permanent arrows in the vicinity.
I'm not sure what your instructor did teach you during training.

Last October I joined two of my friends on their cave course. The emphasis was on communication, specifically on (navigational) decisions: attention-show-ask-confirmation of each team member. That was ingrained into their minds during daily land drills.
Checking time-pressure at every corner / junction / shaft was another habit that was instilled. You know how much time and gas you need to the next point on the way out.
The resulting mindset prevents any of the issues you have described of your dive. And that's just behaviour, apart from cave procedures
for markers, jumps, etc.

Purely hypothetical:
@Hiszpan You are on your way back to the entrance. A bunch of other divers, behind your team, has caused a silt out. You can only feel your way out. How do you distinguish your markers on the line from the permanent markers?
8576379e-21d9-4172-9bcd-f478b19ec544-jpeg.699623

Or, you might come across a marker placed by other divers that were behind you on the way in, and took another junction just before you turned around.
Can you feel the difference between their markers and your own? The idea might be far fetched, but looking at your photos and the amount of silt already floating in the water, it looks like a silt-out can occur easily.
 

306dive306

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@306dive306 do you realize that the OP is aware of the mistakes you are pointing out?
No, I don't. I can see a lot of "explanations" for what he did.

Also, could you help me understand why you mention that CO2 causes narcosis?

@Hiszpan, how about you chat with your buddies (#1 and #2) and try to come to an agreement on how to behave in the cave? Not only use of markers but also waiting for each other and agreeing on directional decisions? IMHO, if they don't care about changing you should refrain from diving with them OR dive solo, which would be better than diving with people who don't care at all about you.
 

ginti

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No, I don't. I can see a lot of "explanations" for what he did.

First of all, I read my previous post again, and maybe it may look a bit aggressive; it was not my intention, so if you felt attacked, please excuse me :)

Well, I read the OP's first post and it seems to me that he is totally aware of the training rules he broke; indeed, the first three points he mentioned were a "what went wrong" and summarize more or less all the broken rules/standards.

Therefore, I believe that the OP is not looking for a refresh of rules/standards (read it: stuff we can learn in any acceptable course), but how to psychologically manage situations that may result in human mistakes. In other words, something more related to human factors than to standards.

But this is just my view

Also, could you help me understand why you mention that CO2 causes narcosis?
Sure :) I risk telling you many things that you already know, but at least I'll make my reasoning clear... so, the thing is that CO2 is way more narcotic than any other gas (way more). There are references describing the narcotic power of CO2, in case someone here is interested in them, have a look at this thread starting from post #31 to, at least, post #35:

Now, given that CO2 is so narcotic, I made the following assumptions:
- the OP was stressed, therefore his breathing rate was probably fast -> therefore increasing CO2 in the bloodstream
- the OP was rushing, therefore working hard -> increasing CO2 in the bloodstream even more
[Obviously, my assumption can be wrong]

As I mentioned, I am not a doctor -> so I am not sure at which depth CO2 narcosis starts becoming a serious issue. To be honest, I understood very little of this subject from a physiological perspective - it is fairly complicated. But, as far as I understood it, air narcosis can start being significant at depths as shallow as 30m, and being CO2 way more narcotic, it seems reasonable to me that 18/20m may become a risky depth.

Also, as I said I believe that the OP is totally aware of the standards/rules he broke. That made me think that his poor judgement underwater comes from factors other than his training, and I can see only 2 of them:
- human factors;
- psychological impairment.
Now, human factors, in this case, came, IMHO, from social pressure (e.g. the OP wanted to do something, but his buddies wanted to do something else and put pressure on him to adapt).
Psychological impairment can come from several things, but the only reasonable one that I can find is narcosis (there could be pre-diving stress, psychological or physical, but I believe the OP would have mentioned it).
[NOTE: Clearly, there may be other reasons, and I would be happy to hear them :) ]

This is why I introduced CO2. Again, I am far from being sure that it can actually be a serious issue at these depths, and I would really like to hear what people with more experience than me think
 

306dive306

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First of all, I read my previous post again, and maybe it may look a bit aggressive; it was not my intention, so if you felt attacked, please excuse me :)
not aggressive at all. No need to apologize.
Sure :) I risk telling you many things that you already know, but at least I'll make my reasoning clear... so, the thing is that CO2 is way more narcotic than any other gas (way more). There are references describing the narcotic power of CO2, in case someone here is interested in them, have a look at this thread starting from post #31 to, at least, post #35:
KILLER response!!!!! I'm a physiologist and loved the article you included. Thank you!!

- human factors;
- psychological impairment.
I totally get your point but the "rock bottom reality" is that if we continue to "explain, explain, explain" instead of changing what is wrong, we will continue heading down in the rabbit hole of doom.

I do not see the point in hearing (reading) someone describe how they violated safety rules in an unforgiving environment and rationalizing their poor decisions by sharing the responsibility for such bad decisions with inanimate objects and others without telling them they need to have greater internal locus of control.

I absolutely hate reading about people who died while scuba diving. One of the guys from where I live died a few years ago after a shallow dive in open water, leaving behind wife and a little girl, and he was an RB diver who was diving OC just for that day.

People need to "put the weight on their shoulders" instead of saying that cameras contributed to their demise (or close call). When/if people state "the camera made me do it" they are not demonstrating internal locus of control.

I have been using cameras since my 10th dive. I use cameras in almost every dive but when I'm in a cave I "relax" for 5 seconds, then stare at the line for 5 seconds. Relax, stare. Relax, stare. That's how my dive goes.

I am as close to being Mr Perfect as an amoeba is from flying to outer space and colonizing another planet but I take diving (especially cave diving) way to seriously to let anyone or anything deviate me from safety. Maybe because I was in the military at an early age and in that environment there is no excuse for mistakes. Once you make a mistake you say out loud: "No excuses! I screwed up! I will fix it! It won't happen again!"

Once again: thank you for your response!!
 

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ginti

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not aggressive at all. No need to apologize.
Cool :)

KILLER response!!!!! I'm a physiologist and loved the article you included. Thank you!!
Glad you liked it!

I totally get your point but the "rock bottom reality" is that if we continue to "explain, explain, explain" instead of changing what is wrong, we will continue heading down in the rabbit hole of doom.

I do not see the point in hearing (reading) someone describe how they violated safety rules in an unforgiving environment and rationalizing their poor decisions by sharing the responsibility for such bad decisions with inanimate objects and others without telling them they need to have greater internal locus of control.

I absolutely hate reading about people who died while scuba diving. One of the guys from where I live died a few years ago after a shallow dive in open water, leaving behind wife and a little girl, and he was an RB diver who was diving OC just for that day.
I understand what you say, and I hate hearing of diving deaths, too (of course). But human factors are not an invention of me. There is a massive amount of research about them, and some hazardous professional activities are heavily regulated by taking them into account.

In my answer, I was referring to the psychological aspects, and, to be honest, human factors are a bit more than that.Some info here: Human factors and ergonomics - Wikipedia

The main point is that humans make mistakes in any environment - no matter how smart, trained they are and dangerous (or easy) the environment is. We cannot solve this problem, but we can reduce errors; this is the principle of human factors research.

By the way, Gareth Lock is promoting this subject a lot in the scuba industry. Some people agree with his approach, others don't, but it's worth reading if you want to understand the topic a bit.

People need to "put the weight on their shoulders" instead of saying that cameras contributed to their demise (or close call). When/if people state "the camera made me do it" they are not demonstrating internal locus of control.
Yes, I get what you see. But life is not a 100% internal locus or 100% external one; it's a combination of the two of them, and, unfortunately, we cannot do anything for the external part.

I have been using cameras since my 10th dive. I use cameras in almost every dive but when I'm in a cave I "relax" for 5 seconds, then stare at the line for 5 seconds. Relax, stare. Relax, stare. That's how my dive goes.

I am as close to being Mr Perfect as an amoeba is from flying to outer space and colonizing another planet but I take diving (especially cave diving) way to seriously to let anyone or anything deviate me from safety. Maybe because I was in the military at an early age and in that environment there is no excuse for mistakes. Once you make a mistake you say out loud: "No excuses! I screwed up! I will fix it! It won't happen again!"
Although I mentioned human factors before, I agree with what you say and your approach.

Once again: thank you for your response!!
No problem, thanks to you for the nice exchange of ideas :)
 
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