Archive for June, 2013

Cave Course

Monday, June 10th, 2013

With some excellent ocean diving in May it was time for something new in June. On the first weekend of June Adrian and I drove down to Gambier for our cave course. We were both really looking forward to this course and the new sites it would open up for us. I had also just bought a new (used) twinset and it was time to get it wet! This time we were staying at Just a Bed Lodge instead of the usual Pine Tank Dive Lodge. While staying closer to Mt Gambier has benefits I definitely prefer Grant’s place bit further out. Even if having a cat on the premises (like at JABL)  is always a bonus!

We drove on Thursday morning to get started with training. We spent Thursday and Friday training in Gouldens and practicing the various skills. On Thursday we focused on line skills and the cave course stress test: buddy-breating with blacked out masks. On Friday we moved on the some other skills and also kept on practicing the skills from Thursday. While we both still had some issues we got most of the stuff working quite smoothly. After the two training sessions we both felt prepared for the course itself.

On Friday evening our instructor Terri and our third student Daniel arrived along with Geoff and few students doing the Deep Cavern course. Then on Saturday morning we got started with the course dives themselves. We spent the whole Saturday in Gouldens and did two dives there. In addition to the basic line skills we practiced following the line with masks blacked out, did the line-cutting exercise and also did air-sharing without masks. While we ran into some minor issues (including getting slightly disoriented while following the line with blackouts) we all got through the day.

On Sunday we headed back to Gouldens and our stress test. This is a harder version of the stress test from Deep Cavern course. Again we had our masks removed and had to follow the line back to the surface as a buddy group. But instead of simply air-sharing we had do actually buddy-breathing without masks. Luckily Adrian and I had practiced this quite a bit and everything went quite smoothly.

After passing perhaps the trickiest part of the course it was time to move on the good stuff: the cave sites themselves. Our first cave dive was Allendale Cave. This small cave is a pretty nice dive. It’s fairly cramped in the beginning but then opens up a bit. In the bottom there’s a large chamber where we practiced some skills. There’s also a small tunnel on the way out but we didn’t explore it on the course dive. While the site itself is cool enough, it’s also quite tiny. This is slightly disappointing, as there really isn’t that much left to do on future dives apart from some photos.

Luckily the next dive of the course more than made up for this. On Monday we started in the Pines, one of the best cave sites in Mt Gambier. Large sections of the site require Advanced Cave rating but there’s still a fair bit of tunnels we can do at Cave level. For the course dive we followed the rather cramped side tunnel down to the chamber at the bottom. From there the view up is really spectacular with the sunlight filtering through the water.

After a quick look at some of the side tunnels we started heading back up. Pretty soon we had the blackouts inserted and had to navigate the whole tunnel including the tight restriction completely blind. This went smoothly enough, just need to be careful to dump enough air when moving up in tight tunnel. We had minor incident with Adrian canister light getting little bit tangled but luckily we were able to get this sorted blind.

I really enjoyed my dive in the Pines and there’s still lot more stuff left to do there. I’m extremely keen to go back with the camera too!

To wrap up the course we headed to the Fossil Cave. This site is rather small and quite fragile, extra care must be taken while entering the water. This dive was little bit messy for me, I was fumbling around a bit while laying out the line. On this dive we also practiced deploying our backup lights. Unfortunately both my backups were acting up, one of them had actually flooded a little bit. Luckily I already had some replacements ordered!

With the Fossil Cave dive out of the way we had all passed the course! Hard work but well worth it. With the course done we rested for a few hours and started the drive back to Melbourne. I’m really looking forward to more cave dives now. In particular I really want to bring my camera down to the Pines!

#333 Fossil Cave 2013-06-10

Monday, June 10th, 2013
Fossil Cave in Mt Gambier, Australia
41 minutes, max depth 10.4 m, water 15°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew, Daniel, Terri Allen

#332 Pines Cave 2013-06-10

Monday, June 10th, 2013
Pines Cave in Mt Gambier, Australia
46 minutes, max depth 18 m, water 15°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew, Terri Allen

#331 Allendale Cave 2013-06-09

Sunday, June 9th, 2013
Allendale Cave in Mt Gambier, Australia
21 minutes, max depth 23.5 m, water 16°C
Buddies: Daniel, Terri Allen

#330 Gouldens Hole 2013-06-09

Sunday, June 9th, 2013
Gouldens Hole in Mt Gambier, Australia
84 minutes, max depth 17.7 m, water 13°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew, Daniel, Terri Allen

#329 Gouldens Hole 2013-06-08

Saturday, June 8th, 2013
Gouldens Hole in Mt Gambier, Australia
57 minutes, max depth 15.8 m, water 13°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew, Daniel, Terri Allen

#328 Gouldens Hole 2013-06-08

Saturday, June 8th, 2013
Gouldens Hole in Mt Gambier, Australia
85 minutes, max depth 15.8 m, water 13°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew, Daniel, Terri Allen

#327 Gouldens Hole 2013-06-07

Friday, June 7th, 2013
Gouldens Hole in Mt Gambier, Australia
73 minutes, max depth 16.2 m, water 14°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew

#326 Gouldens Hole 2013-06-06

Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Gouldens Hole in Mt Gambier, Australia
68 minutes, max depth 13.4 m, water 16°C
Buddies: Adrian Koochew