The importance of cave diving trainig
A long human history man has used the caves as their home, shelters and ceremonial centers. It’s our nature to go places we do know, to explore and to seek what’s beyond the light.
The Peninsula of Yucatan has an extension of 90.0988 square miles/ 145,000 square kilometers. A sedimentary rock (limestone) that has thousands of caves passages, a lot of these are already explored and some others remain virgin, or it’s been so long since any human been or any creature used them.
The State of Quintanaroo on the eastern site of the Yucatan Peninsula it has the largest flood caves systems in the world, such as: Sistema Ox Bel Ha with a length of 258,791 meters/ 849,052 feet, Sistema Sac Aktun with a length of 247,971 meters/ 813,553 feet. These are examples of how long this cave passages can be. Explorations continue every day, cavers and cave divers from all over the world safely enjoy exploring or just cave diving (having fun). So what is the key to achieve successful cave dives?
Cave diving training, following a continuing guide line, being conservative with gas supply, respecting your maximum depth limits and of course the proper use of dive lights. This is known as well as the five rules of accident analysis. These are the most common causes of fatalities during the cave diving history and we can learn from it
This activity is not for everybody, that’s why cave diving training is very important key to anticipate and be prepared to any situation. The equipment configuration and being familiarized, keeping it simple and clean its essential in your cave dive training no matter if is traditional backmount or sidemount. Cave diving training requires: perfect buoyancy and good trim in order to avoid breaking any speleothems (stalactites, stalagmites, etc….) or silt up the bottom that has different kinds of sediments such as: clay, mud or sand, just to mention some of them.
Imagen yourself going through a cave passage in zero visibility, far away from your entry point, you can’t see your dive buddy, well cave diving training preparer you to manage these situations, obviously good buoyancy, following a continuing guide line with or without visibility, stress management and touch contact communication helps you out, but training first.
The guideline it’s your only way out from the caves, so installing retrieving and following it, with or without visibility, are skills that any cave diver has to achieve when cave diving training. As you swim from the open water area to the cavern or cave you must apply what is known as line awareness that means that every team member must check and validate every tie off, every change of navigation and check the guideline condition.
In the overhead environment you always have to have an amount of gas or air as reserve for any contingency, the use of the rule of thirds allows you do that, but is not the only one, other factors like the size of the cylinders, the air consumption of the team members, training level, water flow, the size of the cave passages determinate the amount of gas that you can use and the amount of gas that you could use for contingency.
Cave diving does not respect a flat dive profile, the cave morphology changes, so you constantly go up and down. Cave divers have to keep in mind the behavior of the gases at a depth to avoid: nitrogen narcosis, decompression sickness or oxygen toxicity.
The use of the dive light is very important so you can enjoy the beauty of the caves, also is tool to communicate with your team members and all movements have be very slow to avoid distractions as the team swims in the cave. Every cave diver must carry a primary dive light and two back up lights. The primary dive light must have double burn time of the planed dive and an ample light beam, preferably with a battery canister and cord cable, the backup lights must have as well a burn time enough to exit the cave in case the primary light fail. But never go in a cave with a proper cave dive light.
If you’re planning on cave dive training and enjoy this amazing underwater world, keep in mind the five rules of accident analysis this will help you out, but also a good attitude followed by respect of this fragile cave environment.
Michel Vazquez Robles
Cave Dive Instructor