do you hear boats?...I hear boats
Looking for Day 2?: http://www.yorkshire-divers.com/for...92-intro-cave-day-2-training-martyn-farr.html
SATURDAY - Day 1 (slightly nervous)
I arrived at FARRWORLD (Martyn’s training facility based at his home in South Wales) at 9am with one of his other students for the weekend, we were quickly joined by the final member of the pack and warmly welcomed by Martyn who came rushing out of his front door with a smile and double thumbs up. His calm demeanour instantly puts everyone at ease, and we’re welcomed into his home for some introductory paperwork and a cup of tea the like of which only Helen can make.
We have two days, and a lot to learn. I’m not too worried as I know that Martyn’s courses are cleverly designed allowing you to take on vast quantities of information one chunk at a time. Many different methods are covered and you are allowed to draw your own conclusions. You’ll get a gentle nudge in the right direction should you stray off the mark…
Diving in the UK environment requires the use of side mounts. Side mount harnesses appear to be quite a hot topic at the moment, so I had wondered whether this was because everyone now has a BCD or a WING and this was just some marketing guy’s way of getting us into something new. I was surprised to learn that UK cave divers had been using side mount harnesses for over 30 years, the design had progressed from the earlier days (but not that much) and the essential premise was the same, two cylinders attached either side of your hips by way of a karabiner and loops of elastic that ran from your shoulder blades, under your armpits, to D rings on your chest – these elastic loops were wrapped around the pillar valve securing the cylinder and allowing it to hang horizontally when in the water. Off we went to the Aladdin’s cave (or Martyn’s equipment shed as everyone else knows it) I had been secretly looking forward to this. Yes! I love all the gadgets, hints and tips that Martyn gives you. There’s quite literally hundreds of items and methods allowing you to adapt to the different problems presented by any given environment. Martyn freely shares this knowledge, gathered from a lifetime of exploration at the cutting edge.
Back to side mounting – we put on the harnesses…my initial impressions? Simplicity – no weight on your back and you can reach both valves very easily if you had to (unlike a manifold twinset). Regulators were routed so that they hung underneath your chin, everything came together to give you a streamlined low profile in the water. You could wear the harness and put your cylinders on and be ready to dive in under a minute. Historically this most probably stemmed from exploration at places like Wookey Hole in Somerset where cavers wanting to progress past a sump had the sheer physical challenge of needing to take off their own gear easily, transport it over dry passage before encountering the next sump and remounting their cylinders.
We also covered the use of emergency reels. If, on a dive we lost the line – the line that marks the way out of the cave, we could use the emergency reel. This carries a weighted line at one end allowing the diver to deploy the weight and make a search. If unsuccessful he could retrace his steps, return to his original starting point and try again in a different direction. This tool could be used in times of visibility and when the water was a 100% silt out with an additional hands on the ground search method being used. Again, use of 4mm nylon line was highlighted for use in the cold waters of the UK, increasing the odds of locating the line with cold, gloved hands.
Once we were happy with the setup it was off to the pool to put the theory into practise! We kitted up and ran through our gas laws (rule of thirds) out loud for everyone to hear - and double check. Once again the pool was covered with a tarpaulin providing a very effective overhead environment. We laid some line around the perimeter using lead weight in place of boulders, drawing snoopy loops attached to our thighs to tie around the line and attach to the weights, thus making a “belay” at set distances and key changes of direction.
We also practised gas drills by turning off the air supply, breathing down the gas held at partial pressure in the hose, turning it on, then off again, breathing, and repeat. Should we encounter a free flow, we had it covered.
Last exercise of the day was locating the line with our emergency reels. Finger spools deployed and with our eyes closed (no point in cheating as we would be doing this for real in a real cave all too soon!) we searched for the guideline using touch alone. Once located, you wrap the reel around the line and make your way to the exit. Martyn is ever present and helps everyone fine tune their new found skills ensuring we wouldn’t miss an inch of cave when the time came.
Considering we had only dived in the new setup for a short period of time, everyone felt very comfortable and this was something reflected upon during the evening session (and yes, I did have lamb chops at the Vine Tree once again). Martyn went over the days skills and provided a very thorough brief upon what was expected of us when we go to White Lady Cave the following day.
Day 2 can be found here: http://www.yorkshire-divers.com/for...92-intro-cave-day-2-training-martyn-farr.html
Previous course can be found here: http://www.yorkshire-divers.com/for...d-psa-cavern-overhead-environment-course.html