Cave diving is considered a dangerous or mysterious undertaking but the truth is, if executed right, it can be extremely safe and exciting. Exploring the huge underground chambers as you glide your way past the stalagmites and stalactites is simply a breathtaking experience. It will provide you with an entire new sense of discovery than a normal recreational dive ever will. Here is a beginner’s guide to cave diving that will help you prepare adequately in order to have incredible moments with the sinkholes.
Perfect Your Scuba Diving Skills
There are so many techniques that you will be using in cave diving and if you are not well acquainted with these, make sure to learn them before you get started. For instance, improve your buoyancy control, get your propulsion turns and kicks on point and most importantly, perfect your scuba diving breathing techniques.
Having these skills under your sleeve is very important and could mean the difference between memorable and tragic moments inside the caves. Maybe you have been in a situation where a recreational diver in front of you stirs the sand at the bottom with his scuba fins and you can’t see anything anymore.
Well, this may not be such a big issue in open water, as you can swim upward or sideways where the water is clear. In caves however, this may not be possible because any silt that has been stirred up will remain suspended for a longer time because there is less water flow.
If you are an expert diver, then it will not be so hard for you to learn cave diving techniques. However, make sure to understand how the equipment works before engaging in any cave diving practice.
Take A Cave Diving Course
The first thing you need to do to become an excellent cavern diver is to go for training. A course in cave diving can be challenging and it should be that way because the activity itself is quite dangerous.
If something goes wrong while down there, it is extremely hard to ascend immediately. For instance, if your scuba gear gets faulty, you will need to fix it while still in the cave and it could take you hours to ascend. It sounds scary, we know, but it really is not if you have obtained the right training and stick to the rules of scuba diving safety.
What Will You Learn?
Most of the training will focus on overcoming diving stress. You will be put under potentially stressful situations so you can know how to react in these, solve any hardship while in the cave, and overcome your fear of scuba diving.
Most training agencies put you in scenarios such as running out of gas, losing visibility, line, or buddy, problems with the scuba equipment and such like situations that may cause cave divers to panic. You will therefore be trained how to save air while diving, swim in areas with zero visibility, and rescue your buddy if they are in trouble.
The training will involve a lot of blind swimming whereby your instructor will cover your mask or switch off all the dive lights. You will then be required to use the line to find your way out of the cavern. Sometimes, you may lose the line when in the blind swim, which could make you lose your buoyancy control and sense of direction, yet you have to find the line in order to get out of the cave.
None of these drills is easy to carry out but it is important to stay calm in order to execute them successfully. In real life, such situations may take longer to resolve and you could get more anxious. That’s why it is important that you take this course seriously and keep practicing until you are confident with performing the drills and being underwater.
Buy The Right Equipment For Cave Diving
The difference between cave diving and open water diving is that the former requires redundant equipment. This simply means that you will have extras for almost every equipment you carry to the dive. That way, if any gear fails, you can easily make a replacement and get back safely to the entrance. It could be something as simple as an extra dive mask, oxygen tank, or any other piece of gear that ensures your survival.
So here are some of the most important dive safety gear pieces that will make your first time in the caves memorable:
In open water, even a regular snorkel mask will get the job done because you can easily get to the surface to catch air. But in cave diving, you will be submerged in water for a long period and therefore you will be bringing along scuba tanks to supply you with oxygen.
Cave divers prefer keeping their masks simple. They will go for something solid black, as dark color is well suited for the dive due to its light absorbing ability. Such masks will absorb any distracting light in the cave preventing the diver from losing sight of important spots and entrances.
A nylon dive hood is also a great add-on to the set up. Not only does it keep the divers’ heads and ears from water leaks but also keeps them warm.
2. Dive Fins
Light, stiff fins will work best for a cave dive. Remember you are already carrying too much mass to the cave so you really don’t need anything that will add extra weight. Also, you will need to make short, controlled kicks while moving through the water to avoid stirring the sandy bottoms of the caves, and ruining your visibility.
Depending on the temperature of the water, you can do a dry suit or a wet suit. A dry suit is sealed off and will prevent water from penetrating to your skin. If you will be diving in spots with extremely cold water, then this will be your best outfit. Neoprene, the material used to make dry suits, is double-layered and leaves some space between the layers for insulating air. You can even put on extra under garments to stay warm while diving.
In warmer waters and shorter dives, you can use a wet suit. However, this will let water enter and get to your body.
4. Additional Equipment
You will also need other items to make your underwater adventure safer and more comfortable:
- A waterproof flashlight will illuminate your way into the caves.
- A simple cutting tool like a pocketknife or any small cutter will help you cut away snags.
- A dive computer will track your motion, pressure, and depth and tell you when you should ascend to the surface.
- A dive compass will help in navigating your way around the caverns and back to the entrance.
The cost of buying cave dive equipment varies greatly depending on the quality and brand. For such a hazardous environment, it would be wise to invest in the best equipment you can afford. Don’t buy cheap, as this may not give you the service you want for long. And once you have bought your gear, make sure you understand how it works before you begin your training.
Globo Surf Overview
The thrill of finding something that is new to others is indescribable, and that’s why cave diving has been an amazing experience since time immemorial. However, exploring the caves demands proper training, appropriate equipment, and the right mind.
Cave diving courses will equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to maneuver through the sinkholes safely. But you will need to keep practicing even after training, as lack of exposure could get those newly learned propulsion techniques fading away. Even if you will not be going to the caves, more practice will make you a better recreational diver.