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Thread: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

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    Question So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    What different techniques are required in cave diving please? I've seen a lot of posts suggesting that wreck skills aren't enough - what other topics are needed please?

    I don't think my gear would fit in a cave, unless it's in Florida, but I would like to know a bit more about it!

    Any good websites/books that you could recommend?

    Many thanks!

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mdemon  View Original Post
    I don't think my gear would fit in a cave, unless it's in Florida...
    You would be surprised. The caves in France could be very big, especially most of the "tourist" caves in the Lot that I have been to. I have been in tunnels that you could drive a bus thru...

    Take this as a grain of salt since I am/was only a newbie cave diver with only couple handful of cave dives, and max penetration only about 1km... Here are some random differences popped into mind:
    • Buoyancy skill required is similar to penetrating a wreck. Except I tend to stay closer to the ceiling in the cave than in a wreck (i.e. OC gas conservation, entanglement, etc)
    • Minimum safety equiment awareness. For example, 3 lights/diver for cave whereas it is not always essential in some wrecks
    • Jump and gap line techniques. This is not as frequent in France as is in Florida or Mexico.
    • Bail-out requirement. Could be different than wreck since you could stage the tanks along the route
    • Use of scooter. Much easier to use in most caves than inside most wrecks
    • Less interest things to see (per penetration length) than in a wreck.
    • Less chance of entanglement or sharp objects than a wreck.
    • More chance of encountering flow (i.e. current) inside a cave than a wreck.
    • Viz is more likely to be gin-clear in a cave.
    Personally for me, the challenge of cave diving is the penetration distance more than the max depth. But, like all things, different strokes for different folks... :)
    Last edited by decoweenie; 18th October 2006 at 08:57. Reason: spelling

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Quote Originally Posted by decoweenie  View Original Post
    Personally for me, the challenge of cave diving is the penetration distance more than the max depth. But, like all things, different stroke for different folks... :)
    Phi is only talking about caves in Continental Europe. In the UK the water is cold, murky and the passages often quite small. Wrecks were orignally designed for human traffic and have person sized holes whereas your equipment must be more streamlined if you want to get through some caves.

    To get the most enjoyment out of UK cave diving you really need to be a caver - not only to get to the start of the dive but to be able to progress further than the end of the first sump.

    There is no challenge to cave diving - its just a tool to get through the cave.

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Price  View Original Post
    Phi is only talking about caves in Continental Europe...
    Yes, since they are the only caves I "dove" other than a deep sinkhole in Oman.

    Cave diving in the UK (looks more like cave squeezing, cave crawling, cave digging, cave suffering) is just too much work to be enjoyable for a "tourist" diver like myself... :)

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Quote Originally Posted by decoweenie  View Original Post
    Cave diving in the UK (looks more like cave squeezing, cave crawling, cave digging, cave suffering) :)
    LOL!

    Thanks.

    So, is it just equipment and line laying techniques? Is this a voodoo-free zone or is there more to it than being a caver who dives?

    Rick Stanton made it look so easy at the dive show! :)

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Pretty good descriptions so far. I too only have a relative handful of cave dives but there are a couple of other differences between wrecks and caves.

    One is that in a wreck there's a more logical layout than in a cave, at least in my opinion. Sure the wreck might be inverted or on its side making orientation difficult but I think there's a better chance of re-orienting yourself in a wreck than in a cave (guidelines not withstanding). You kind of know where engines, the bridge, etc will be on a boat even when it's upside down. You have no idea of how the cave is oriented unless you're very familiar with it. Heading down a passage in one direction looks awfully different than heading back through the same passage. Perspective can be difficult in caves, moreso than wrecks.

    You can find yourself in an area of the wreck which will show daylight (assuming a day dive with clear enough water to show light) that will help in orientation, you're not likely to find such a spot in most caves.

    There are techniques that are similar like anti silting kicks but then there are things like lost line procedures where you tie off to the spot you find yourself in and try to find your guide line. Sure, that could be used in wreck diving too but seems to be more of an issue in a cave.

    There's the use of markers along the line to denote tie ins to the mainline, or directions of travel.

    Probably the most bizarre occurrence, that is really unlikely on a wreck, is a lightning strike. When I frequented the Cave Diver's Forum (before I realized I just didn't have enough time to really get into cave diving) there was a great post about several divers returning from a dive and experiencing a lightning strike. Scary stuff.

    Good websites:

    Cave Diver's Forum:
    Cave Diver's Forum - Cave Diving Resource Start

    NACD:
    National Association For Cave Diving

    CDG:
    Cave Diving Group

    NSS/CDS:
    Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society

    Books:

    The Cave Divers
    Amazon.com: The Cave Divers: Books: Robert F. BurgessAmazon.com: The Cave Divers: Books: Robert F. Burgess
    Caverns Measureless to Man
    Amazon.com: Caverns Measureless to Man: Books: Sheck ExleyAmazon.com: Caverns Measureless to Man: Books: Sheck Exley
    The Taming of the Slough
    Amazon.com: The Taming of the Slough: Books: Sheck Exley,Tom Morris,Gerald J. Murphy,Michael Poucher,Sandra PoucherAmazon.com: The Taming of the Slough: Books: Sheck Exley,Tom Morris,Gerald J. Murphy,Michael Poucher,Sandra Poucher
    Darkness Beckons
    Amazon.com: Darkness Beckons: The History and Development of Cave Diving: Books: Martyn FarrAmazon.com: Darkness Beckons: The History and Development of Cave Diving: Books: Martyn Farr
    Deep Into the Blue Holes
    Amazon.com: Deep Into Blue Holes: Books: Rob PalmerAmazon.com: Deep Into Blue Holes: Books: Rob Palmer

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    >>So, is it just equipment and line laying techniques? Is this a voodoo-free
    >>zone or is there more to it than being a caver who dives?

    No voodoo, but you need to understand what can go wrong and what to do about it when it does. This is why there were so many deaths in Florida caves, open water divers (who didn't know any better) just swam in without understanding the problems.

    It's no different to a CCR: you need to understand what can go wrong and what to do about it when it does

    >>Rick Stanton made it look so easy at the dive show!

    I have a saying: "it's a brave man that tries to copy rick" - but thats another story.

  8. #8

    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    The thing that I noticed most about my cave experience (which is very, very small) is a level of finesse that isn't present in most wreck diving. Cavers appear to effortlessly glide through the water, whereas wreckers seem to claw, hammer and drag themselves through. This is, of course, a generalization.

    There is a fair amount of overlap between wreck and cave techniques from my experience. Take into consideration, though, that my OC technical instructor was also a cave diver, so I was heavily influenced on proper trim, kicking, line protocols, planning, etc. from the beginning. I didn't really learn anything "new" in my cave class, but it did take my game to a new level.

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    Megladon

    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    Mdemon-

    My perspective might be a little different- I spent about 8 years doing nothing but cave diving. Technique-wise, there aren't a lot of differences, as Trob 9 says, most serious cave divers have a higher level of finesse (at least in Florida and Mexico- where my experience is limited to).

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    Re: So, what's different about Cave Diving?

    The Darkness Beckons I think is the "bible" of the history and development of cave diving - a must for all cave divers.

    And definitely Bill Stone's book:
    Amazon.com: Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent Into the World's Most Treacherous Cave: Books: William Stone,Barbara am...Amazon.com: Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent Into the World's Most Treacherous Cave: Books: William Stone,Barbara am...
    It has everything: caving exploration, cave diving exploration, rebreathers - one of the best explorations books!

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