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Home » Scuba diving news / articles » So you want to be a cave diver?
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SO YOU WANT TO BE A CAVE DIVER?

SO YOU WANT TO BE A CAVE DIVER?

There is an awesome majesty and fragile beauty to the underwater cave environment. It is almost as if the cave diver is a trespasser into some other dimension or reality. Sometimes you are not certain whether you are drifting through an underwater cave or strolling across some faraway asteroid. The silent tranquility disturbed only by the sound of bubbles is a lure that attracts many divers. The caves and their splendor stand waiting as silent cathedrals for divers to explore.

Occasionally, some divers succumb to the enticing unknown of the caves and venture into this almost timeless world without the necessary and proper training, equipment and knowledge of proper technique to safely and effectively explore and enjoy this unique aspect of Planet Ocean. Under these circumstances the caves become tombs. During the past 40 years several hundred non-cave-trained, poorly equipped, ill-advised divers have died in the underwater caves.

The cave diving community has analyzed these fatalities and found that almost every single cave diving accident can be attributed to one of the five fundamental diver errors. These errors are

  • Failure to understand that open water training is insufficient for the cave diving world; not obtaining cave diving training.
  • Failure to maintain a continuous guideline to the outside of the cave system.
  • Failure to properly manage the air or gas supply by violation of the "rule of thirds".
  • Failure to understand personal limitations by diving to depths exceeding experience and training, diving to levels well beyond the safe limits.
  • Failure to provide adequate light; not using a minimum three lights.

The cave diving community through the

National Association for Cave Diving (NACD)
National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS)
International Association for Technical and Nitrox Divers (IANTD)
Technical Diving International (TDI)

have designed educational programs to train open-water divers in appropriate cavern and cave diving techniques. Both offer courses in cave diving and both are providing the recreational diving community with magazine articles, textbooks and maps to assist everyone in understanding the very special nature of the cave diving environment.

Before you decide that you want to try cave diving, you should be a very skilled and experienced diver. Superb buoyancy control in the cave is one of the highest priorities. You should be comfortable while diving at night since the cave represent total darkness without lights on. The caves can be both shallow and deep. 95% of the caves in the Riviera Maya are shallow. However, being fully competent with decompression theory and procedures is expected. You must fully accept and comfortable with the fact that your survival depends on your on skills in an environment that prohibits immediate escape to the surface. Cave diving is not for the inexperienced, marginally trained diver. Cave diving is for the experienced, physically fit serious diver who seeks to view an incredible world that not many will ever know.

Cave diving Riviera Maya

There are several approaches to training in the cave environment. For the majority of open water divers interested in the overhead environment, the CAVERN DIVER COURSE is a popular way to begin training. This program acquaints divers with the cave/cavern environment, the equipment and the basic skills. Students learn how to use reels and to lay and follow a continuous guideline to the surface and begin to extend their comfort zone into the cavern area. Students generally use single tanks, stay within the natural daylight and develop the skills with buoyancy and swimming techniques. In addition, emergency procedures, the cave environment, stress factors, and many more topics are learned and practiced. The course is done usually in a two-day period with a minimum five cavern dives. The cavern diving course is a great way to determine whether or not a diver wishes to continuous training in cave diving.

The next level is the INTRODUCTION to CAVE DIVING COURSE. This is a two-day course involving a minimum five cave dives. I prefer students to use double tanks with a dual outlet manifold so that there is plenty of volume. However, side mount configuration can be used too. This course reviews that information from the cavern diver course and goes into more depth with the underwater skills, use of the reels and more knowledge about cave diving in general.

This training level limits the diver(s) to:

  • One continuous guideline
  • No restrictions.
  • No decompression.
  • 100 feet/30 meters maximum depth.
  • No complex dives involving jumps, gaps or permanent guidelines.
  • 1/6 air or gas rules for double tanks. 1/3 on single tanks.

A very popular approach to training for cave diving is the popular is a CAVERN/INTRODUCTION to CAVE DIVING course. This is combining the two courses over a four day period involving a minimum 10 dives. It is considered the halfway point towards the complete cave diving certification training.

The third level of training is the FULL CAVE DIVER course. It is a minimum four days involving 8 - 10 cave dives. The training involves everything that is necessary to be a competent, safe cave diver. All cave dives will be conducted with exposure to a wide variety of underwater cave conditions such as silt, halocline, silty or low visibility, circuits, traverses, gaps, jumps and T's, siphons, restrictions, referencing, conservation, exploration/surveying techniques and logistics. Issues discussed will include the fragile cave environment, accident analysis, stress management, psychological aspects, dive planning, air management, guidelines and reels, guideline techniques and protocol, safe procedures, decompression theory and procedures, landowner relations, team management, use of oxygen and controversial topics.

Because of the great distances traveling to the Riviera Maya, the majority of students who are serious and dedicated in earning their cave diving training and certification usually participate in the COMPLETE CAVE DIVING course. This complete cave diving course involves a minimum fourteen cave dives minimum with at least 600 minutes of bottom time performed over a seven - eight diving day period. The safe enjoyment of the underwater cave environment is based on a thorough, comprehensive training. The students will be participate in at least twelve hours of lectures/discussion and must demonstrate satisfactory competence and knowledge of all topics and skills presented by Marcia.

Cave diving Riviera Maya

A minimum 14 cave dives with the goal to complete a minimum 600 minutes of bottom time or more. We will perform matching, safety "S" drills; bubble checks and a thorough dive plan for each cave diving session.

The students will practice the following skills during your cave diving training course:

  • You will practice at least two "lost line" drills with your safety reel.
  • A "no mask" swim drill of a minimum 300 feet/95 meters following a guideline in the cave environment.
  • You will swim a minimum 60 feet/18 meters without a regulator to simulate a "real out-of-air" situation.
  • A minimum of six "touch-contact/share air" drills with "no lights" on. At least three of these drills will be negotiating minor restrictions.
  • A minimum of 8 jumps or gaps with reels/spools.
  • We will perform "air/gas valve-management" emergency drills with the required goal of doing it in 10 seconds or less will be practiced on every dive session.
  • We will learn to understand and practice "safe" circuit and traverse dives.
  • We will perform an entanglement, cut/broken line drill safely.
  • We will practice drills involving exit on back-up lights, one fin swim and a no-inflator swim.
  • We will simulate lost diver situations.

Most important, daily emphasis on buddy awareness, line awareness, safely handling and gaining experience with the primary reel and the "art" of technique involving buoyancy control and finning.

The cave diving world, more than any other aspect of recreational diving, requires extremely intensive, specialized training with substantial investments in time and specialized gear to be successful. Open water training and experience, no matter how extensive, is insufficient for the cave environment. So, you wanna be a cave diver? The quality training from me awaits you!

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ADVANCED DIVER MEXICO
Author
ADVANCED DIVER MEXICO
ADVANCED DIVER MEXICO
Mexico
2 articles published

ADVANCED DIVER MEXICO - Cave and Technical Diving Training in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

ADM Teach and promote safe Cave and Technical Diving practices, as well as cave awareness and conservation.  ADM is a diving facility dedicated to teach the art of Cave diving.

MISION: ADVANCED DIVER MEXICO was created to increase the quality and diversity of aquatic education, ADM is prepa...

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