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TDI Trimix trained and used to own a pony
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.Just back from a week in Florida and some superb cave diving with Clare and Fraser. In total I managed 21 cave dives visiting a good selection of sites. Our itinerary was pretty intense with no free time but we managed to get the most out of the trip.

Day 1 – Ginnie Springs
Day 2 – Telford, Little River and Ginnie Springs
Day 3 – Peacock 1 both pothole and peanut lines
Day 4 – Peacock 1 pothole line and Orange Grove
Day 5 – Hole in the wall and Twin cave (Mariana County up past Talahasse)
Day 6 – Madison Blue and Ginnie springs

A map of sites can be found below although it doesn’t cover Mariana County
http://www.cavediving.com/aftp/cave_map.pdf

Our base for most of the week was Extreme Exposure (EE) who is based in High Springs. We rented two sets of 104’s a piece and a 02 bottle for me so I could add some conservatism after my PFO op last December. The rental of the tanks was $50 per day for two sets with all the Nitrox 32 we could use.


Ginnie Springs


Ginnie is a famous cave diving site and one of the few that is open 24/7 – once you’ve bought entry you can dive as late as you like. This let us manage 4 dives in the first day. We made our entrance via Devil’s ear for all the dives which has the most amazing flow. You can literally dump your wing with a full set of 104’s and it’s still capable of blowing you out of the cave even with all that negative buoyancy. The first two dives we didn’t make it too far – Fraser ended up developing a nasty CO2 headache due to all the exertion and then sat out the next two dives. That left me leading in on our third dive. I managed to get just over 600 ft back on 1/6 of the gas making it through two of the early tight spots (Lips and keyhole). The cave changes as you progress altering from the large domed ceilings of the gallery to low passage with jumps appearing followed by wide sections with clay banks. We exit back to the start of the cave, re-calculate gas for another 1/6 and proceed in this time with Clare leading. We pick an optimal route through the cave sheltering from the flow wherever possible. We pass where I’d got us to and the flow eases up past that point and we pass the Maple leaf - a rock formation interestingly shaped and carry on to the 1000ft marker before I turn the dive on gas. In that one dive I was convinced Ginnie was an amazing dive – it’s almost like diving several different caves in one dive.

A map of the system is below


Telford

We set off very early to dive this site. It’s a free site which is best dived early before the locals turn up, drink beer and potentially damage our hire car! We’d discussed the dive with Jarrod the day before when we met him at EE and he’d kindly drawn us a map of the cave – bumping into Jarrod at EE was a nice surprise. We made our way into Telford and reached the first gap where the mainline ends and a sink appears. We tied in a spool and crossed the sink finding the mainline the other side. The cave was overall quite dark and with some silt and was quite different to the caves I’ve dived in Mexico and France. We reached the 2nd gap and again tied in and carried on. There were some low passages and some tall narrow passages along with some huge cracks in the ceiling which gave it some variety. We turned the dive on gas some 35 mins in and made our way out.


Little River


Little River is a site at one of the state parks and there were lots of people swimming in the spring. The flow was down when we were diving which let us reach the T on the mainline on both dives we did. This was a deeper site in the mid-20’s so our dives were shorter than the others. Talking to other people we had a rare treat with the flow that allowed us to get a substantial distance compared to the normal howling flow.

Peacock state park

There are several sinkholes and a complex cave system at Peacock and we dived several different lines. My favourite was the Pothole line which after several hundred feet led to some beautiful big rooms. We didn’t plan to but travelled the 1400 ft from Peacock 1 to Olsen on just 35 bar of gas and had the spectacular site of another sink appearing. We all covered our lights as we swam up to it before turning the dive.



Hole in the Wall and Twin Cave

3 hours north of high springs past Talahasse we visited the Millpond and these two caves. I must admit the idea of a boat to go cave diving seemed a bit mad but it was worth it. We visited Edd’s place Cave Adventures and from their rented a boat.

Cave Adventurers - Marrianna, FL - North Florida Cave Diving




We managed several dives – the first two in hole in the wall where I saw more life than I’ve ever seen before in a cave. We saw the tiny cave salamanders which aren’t found anywhere else in the world along with lots of cave shrimp. Hole in the wall has a series of huge rooms with low arches interconnecting the rooms. We dived both the upstream and downstream lines before exiting the cave.

The next dive was Twin cave which was a bit limited in vis but quite different look and feel, a little like France. We came across the most amazing halocline which was based on temperature in the deep section of the cave.


Madison Blue

On the way back from Mariana county we stopped at Madison blue and did a couple of dives. Madison is stunningly blue with almost gold limestone and is a little tight in places.



We rounded off the trip with some more diving at Ginnie getting out of the water at midnight on our last day.

Along with the diving we managed to fit in meeting up with loads of people and everyone was extremely friendly. CaverKevin and Rubis met us for dinner Saturday night. It was great to chat to them both and Clare went for some dives with Kevin. We went to lunch with Jarrod on Friday and he gave Fraser and I our Tech-2 cards. Anthony Rue and his wife invited us for dinner at their house which was a welcome break from Floyd’s and we have a great evening chatting about diving. We also got to see some amazing footage from Wakulla, Turner and Emerald which was a real treat. I’d just like to say thanks for the hospitality from everyone we met!

We had a huge amount of help from EE during the course of our trip. Doug the manager lent us his own doubles when one of the rental sets had a burst disk problem. Clare’s new light wasn’t ready when we arrived so again he loaned one for her to use. One of our backgas regs was playing up so again loan kit was provided while the original was serviced. Fraser ripped his neck seal and they provided a rental TLS 350. It was amazing how much effort they put in to make sure we had a good trip so we owe the whole EE team thanks.

We did have a few funnier incidents over the week aside from the diving. The hire car had a mind of its own and managed to lock the keys inside at one point! I ran over some weed on the millpond and broke the boat – as I unclipped the oar I brained Fraser with it (oh how we laughed). Clare decoing at peacock upside down literally hanging from the ceiling like a bat (Howard – your worst fears were confirmed). Me telling Jarrod how Fraser got the nickname “Two Lights” (Fraser didn’t laugh). Friday night at Ginnie on their busiest weekend – 1000’s of alcohol ridden people playing lots of rock music and whooping loudly while 3 GUE teams (us, Todd Leonard & his buddy, Paul from EE & his buddy) were daft enough to try and make our way into the water.

Nearly running out of gas on the way to the airport was also fun. Fraser failing to look before he leapt at Orange grove resulted in a badly damaged knee which would have been better avoided.

Overall an excellent trip and I will go back to Florida. Cave-1 limits let us manage a huge amount of diving and Florida flow presented a challenge compared to some of the other dives I’ve done. I just now need a holiday to recover!

Cheers
Al
 

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Wow! and nice report :teeth:
 

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Hi

Nice pics and nice report Al. Its funny to hear that the 'two lights' nickname has stuck to Fraser. I'd almost forgotten about it, so it brought back a smile :)

Andy
 

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TDI Trimix trained and used to own a pony
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi

Nice pics and nice report Al. Its funny to hear that the 'two lights' nickname has stuck to Fraser. I'd almost forgotten about it, so it brought back a smile :)

Andy
Sgt Bilko was also mentioned during the week ;)
 

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But he wasn't the only one who needed two lights was he Al?

A few pennies from me....and some more photos.


At Ginnie on our first day Al and Frase decided that deco was very attractive due to nubile young female cheerleaders floating in the river scantily clad but then Fraser does the ‘Jeeze - what’s that log shaped thing floating over there’.

It’s a log Fraser!

Saturday took us to Peacock. Our first two dives were to be the Peanut tunnel which starts off with a low long passage which widens out as it drops down from 6 metres to 20 or so. Huge room and after huge room appeared – bright white cave which reflects light back to you. We did 1600 feet on our first dive and 1300 feet on our second. Back to back dives recalculating gas in the cavern area in between led to 117 minutes underwater - longest dive to date for both Fraser and Al.

We went to jump back in to do the Pothole Tunnel to Olsen to be told that there was a copperhead snake in the water by the steps. We made our way in very gingerly indeed but saw no sign of it. We were a bit jittery as during our surface interval we and wandered to Peacock 3 and seen one of those floating logs that Fraser was worried about at Ginnie.




In Pothole there was very poor viz in the first 200 or so feet due to another team doing lost line drill. This improved dramatically leading to an awesome second part of dive – reaching Olsen sink which was a nice surprise. I’ve jumped off the Pothole line before the end before so didn’t realise that it reached Olsen sink – or that it would be in reach on our available gas. Very, very pretty tunnel with some amazing features..

We are chilling in the spring when there is a large splash behind us. Something of a fair size has jumped in the water – and there are no divers left on site. We leave quite quickly but plan to return the next day.

Janet the park warden was in fine form today. She is a real character - and makes a visit to Peacock even more fun with her sense of humour and support for divers. She describes herself as a bubble watcher. Two guys finished the grand traverse at Peacock and she threw them on the back of her truck to go get their cars from the Orange Grove car park one mile away where they started.




We had to lock the car and put the keys inside my drysuit as theft at Telford is a risk. This meant that I had to dekit on the floor when we got back to the car and got absolutely covered in mud. When we returned to Extreme Exposure Paul took one look at my kit and asking if I’d been sump diving!


It was my first time in Telford and my favourite section, perhaps 900 or so feet in was when the cave becomes very tall with jagged sections like knives coming down pointing toward the floor. Swimming high up in the ceiling you get the real scale of this cave which, whilst dark, is very attractive indeed.


At the end of a long day we decided, after dinner at Floyds, to head to Ginnie for a relaxing late night dive. Good Lord – what a mistake. Ginnie, my favourite late night refuge where I love to chill out and relax late at night, floating back up the barrel run after a dive in the moonlight, was like a zoo. Nickleback roared from steroes, alcohol flowed freely, gangs travelled in the back of open trucks shouting and cat calling to each other. Memorial Day Weekend was in full swing. We did only one short dive - fearful fo what we would find when we surfaced.


What we did find when we surfaced was Todd Leonard and a buddy. Unable to leave kit unattended Todd was lugging two Magnum scooters out of the water whilst his buddy watched their stages. Pulling them through a gap between two picnic benches on a trolley he could not quite make them fit through the gap. I offered to help and he got through with a bit of twisting - unfortunately my finger got between one of the shrouds and one of the benches. Ouch :(


Our dive at Orangegrove did not go quite as planned. I headed in to lower Orange Grove by mistake which meant that any chance of us reaching Challenge was lost on gas. It was a very pleasant dive though, we did about 1400 feet in and had a slow and very enjoyable trip out – took some photos on deco. Al did all that he could to avoid the duck weed – once I told him that he would not be able to keep his kit clean. He managed it – although I’m not sure it was worth the effort. Fraser didn;t bother :)



As Al said, Cave Adventures run by Edd is a great place – really laid back and chilled Southern style. We loaded the boat with Edd’s help and set off with Al and Frase who are both trained to operate boats picking holes in each others’ driving. Fraser won the day when Al stalled the boat having driven us through a reed bed and had to kit up and jump in to free it.



Hole in the Wall is my favourite cave in Florida. Imagine being the first person in scuba gear to go through a hole in the wall in the side of a cliff and find a massive cave with bright white walls inhabited by creatures not seen anywhere else on earth. The cave is dramatic – with tunnels which are perhaps 10 metres high in places and up to the same wide.

My God I want to scooter this cave. Upstream dive was pleasant and quite clear – lots of life on this dive – the cave salamanders were out in force as were shrimps and some cave fish. This cave is pristine – undamaged by the large volumes of divers that the south Florida caves see.

We took out the reel from the upstream line and installed it on the downstream for the next dive before returning to 6 metres to recalculate gas. Fraser decided to exit the water at this point and Al and I descended again and dived downstream. Halcolines and Thermoclines were distinct on this dive with viz improving dramatically with depth and cooler water.



Twin – the entrance to twin is challenging – a little tight over quite a long distance. It is not quite a restriction - two divers could exit side by side if 'sufficently motivated' !

I like the fossils in this cave which make it interesting in small detail – just as well as the viz was not great here. We took the deep route at the first T and dropped cookies with the intention of completing a short circuit if gas allowed – but we hit sixths before our marker came back into sight and had to retrace out steps. Returning to 6 meters Al found an air pocket in the cave roof which we went up into for a laugh.

Madison Blue. Fraser’s knee was hurting so he decided to sit out this cave. Al wanted to run the reel in through the main cave entrance, I would guide him as the mainline is a very long way back in a place which is not obvious. He laid the line very well until he came across a gold line – he was very disappointed to be told that it was the cavern line and he had to keep going to get to the cave mainline further in.

We set the line in and exited the cave – recalculating gas in the cavern area before setting off on our main dive of the day. I adore Madison as a cave – it is full of character, tight in places with dramatic rock sculpture. It was also quite nice to see it on the way out – my last dive here was my final dive of Cave 2 and we had to do a lights out exit. This time I was able to kick back and relax.

For our last dives, we all headed to Ginnie where Al and Fraser were to dive together and I was going to dive with Stacey and Kevin. I have a long standing passion for this cave, and was looking forward to seeing a bit more of it.



I was barely into the gallery when I got a rock in the prop of my scooter whilst dropping a stage with the result that the screw holding it on came loose and the prop assembly popped off. I thought that we would exit to fix it but Kevin was towing a scooter that he was seeking to test on exit so we swapped around and singaled that we would continue after stashing the broken scooter for retrieval on return.

Getting through the lips on a scooter with my left hand still suffering from it's fight with a Magnum was very difficult indeed - for a while I didn't think I would make it through, a problem made harder by my failure to take a good line through the lips to start with. Whilst I had wondered how I would cope with the keyhole the good route was similar to that used when swimming and I got through OK. Once on the other side, I forced myself to chill out and started to enjoy the dive.

Highlights from this dive include dropping the stages and scooters and swimming through the Hinkle restriction to see the plaque which was put there in memory of the Rouses. I'd heard about a plaque there but didn't know what it said. I found the story of the Rouses very infuential in my early diving and reading this was actually quite moving.

We left and returned to 2,000 feet on the mainline, dropping the gear again and entering what I discovered was the Insulation Room - so called as it is covered in fine orange growth which looks like candyfloss – or indeed roofing insulation. Stacy is trying to find out what this growth is and took water samples to analyse from various points in the room. I reach out and touch it - to find that there is no measurable subsatnce to it - can't feel it between my fingures at all. there is weird stuff in these caves :eek:

We leave the Insulation Room behind and via the mainline return to the first section of the river intrusion tunnel which is noticeably darker than the rest of the cave – Ginnie just does go on and on – with different character around every corner. The details are important too. On the way back Kevin shows me a whale vertebrate the size of a dinner plate – amazing to think that this used to be in the ocean.

We get to the top of the Hill 400 tunnel, near the bats, and rather than go down the tunnel as planned, gas dictates that it is time to leave. Kevin asks me to lead out and I ride the flow out assisted by the scooter - seeing the cave which I have come to know quite well whilst swimming flashing by. Hearing Kevin whoop like a cowboy into his regulator as he gunned his scooter with the flow still makes me laugh now as I remember back.

Still, over two hours after descending, we sat on deco and I reflected on a dive which had been very challenging but also an incredible amount of fun. Turning a scooter to take you out assisted by the sort of high flow you get in Ginnie is the most adrenaline you will ever get underwater – and manouvering this both into and out of the flow takes a degree of skill and finesse which I look forward to working to improve.

I got out to find Al asleep on a picnic bench - how Florida :)

Thanks to Kevin and Stacey – two awesome divers who know Ginnie so well and allowed me to see it through their eyes for a dive. A fantastic way to end what was an enjoyable trip. Thanks to all at EE who on several occasions wen t beyond the call of duty to make sure we had a great trip - diving just doesn't get any easier when you have a facility like that to support you.

Can't wait to go back.
 

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aka Chimp 1 or Mavis...
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Mal :D

Makes you really want to do Cave 1...
 

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TDI Trimix trained and used to own a pony
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Very nice report, Al.

Just one thing I still don't get, and I am not sure this report has helped me at all....why do you Goo-ey lot get referred to as clones?? ;)
Fraser ripped his neck seal and had to hire a drysuit. EE's the only place in the world that produced a perfect spec TLS350 as their hire suit! The fact it was red (which Fraser hates) made it all so amusing!

Diving Dude must be so pleased - he's often commented we're too often seen in black :)

janos said:
Nice report, but...

... if you want to know more about minimum gas then let me know

Janos
If we had ran out of gas then I would have been whipping Fraser with a tree branch while he ran to the nearest gas station! Apparently I worry too much and get rather too stressed when the yellow light comes on next to the fuel guage!
 

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If we had ran out of gas then I would have been whipping Fraser with a tree branch while he ran to the nearest gas station! Apparently I worry too much and get rather too stressed when the yellow light comes on next to the fuel guage!
Repeat after me Al, Petrol, Petrol not gas :D bloody Americanisums :wink:
 

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Nice report...!

I haven't been there for a few years now, but it brought back some great memories.

Bob

PS. That shop front at EE is a bit radical. Have they extended the shop?
 

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TDI Trimix trained and used to own a pony
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nice report...!

I haven't been there for a few years now, but it brought back some great memories.

Bob

PS. That shop front at EE is a bit radical. Have they extended the shop?
Hi Bob,

It was great fun - well worth the trip. I Don't know about an extension - they have some pictures of the inside of the shop on their site if you want to have a look:

EE Virtual Tour

Cheers
Al
 

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aka Chimp 1 or Mavis...
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I believe it was John and David's ITC class running when the photos were taken :)

Cheers
Al
And one of them didn't look that interested :)
 
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