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Me diving

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ginnie Springs: To the Double Arrows and Beyond

For some convoluted reason, we decided fairly late in the game that since we were flying through Miami on the way back from Mexico, we might as well take a side trip to Florida cave country. So we abandoned the leg of our flight from Miami back home, got a rental car, and drove to High Springs (then flew home from Jacksonville). I didn't think the drive from Miami was too bad; I thought it was rather scenic and way more fun than a drive through California of equivalent length. I wasn't the one who had to do the driving though. And the radio stations in that area were a bit challenging. We planned to work remotely for at least part of the trip, so on Thursday, we decided to dive in the morning and then work mostly west coast hours in the afternoon. I considered this a "soft landing" back to work; I could work through that annoying email backlog without people actually stopping by my desk to annoy me in person :P

We headed to EE to provision and found our stuff without too much trouble. We had a little bit of trouble finding our stage bottles, in part because they weren't where I expected and in part because I swear they were white when we left them but now they were grey. Okay, I guess they were always grey, but we just have too much gear to keep it all straight in my head. So once everything was found, we headed to Ginnie. Last time we dove Ginnie, on the way out, we headed up Hill 400 to the jump at 1000' that eventually has a set of double arrows at like 1600'. I thought this area was super cool, so I proposed that we go back there, but on the way in, so we could make it further up the line. I really liked the area that was wide but low in the 1300'-ish area. I also liked the area right after that where it is like a bunch of rooms separated by fun little doorways to contort yourself through. So that was the plan. Rob led the dive, because it was his turn -- I led the dive on the last day in Mexico. Plus I always hoover through my gas when I run the reel into Ginnie, so it just makes more sense :) It's nice to be the mastermind of the dive without having to do the dirty work :P

I knew Rob had some time constraints for being available to work, so I was watching the clock as we got geared up. I was a bit worried that after a week in Mexico, I wouldn't be able to deal with the 104s or the flow. Walking into the water in 104s was a bit of a pain, but in the water I think I actually feel more stable in 104s. And the flow was not too bad. I think I made a breakthrough with respect to being at the very top of the gallery. I always feel like I'm at the top when I really am not (I'm like at the "next to top" spot, which makes a huge difference). Today, I got all the way to the top and in fact, I did a better job of it than Rob did, and I was practically overtaking him as he fought his way up. Rob always claims there is some sort of eddy if you get in the right spot near the top that will actually pull you in. I'm not sure if that's entirely true, but I was definitely moving rather effortlessly. I think the key was to stay high and to the left, but not completely to the left (since you can't get as high there). Anyhoo, eventually Rob got in line and we made it through the gallery pretty quickly.

When we got to the Hill 400 jump, someone had already installed the jump, and they had taken my favorite tie off below the mainline. Bastards. Oh well, Rob's problem. He installed the jump and we dropped our stage bottles on the Hill 400 line, and then headed up it. Well, this tunnel was pretty much as it usually is, except that I noticed something that I have never noticed before, but which I assume has always been there -- I think around 900 feet, just after the "hill", up to the right, there is this pink koosh-monster thingy that is sitting on a ledge above the line. Strange. I was thinking that I've probably never noticed it before because it is a few feet above the line and I am usually not that high, but that Rob must have seen it before since he always likes to hang out close to the ceiling :) After the dive, I asked about it and he said he'd never seen it before. But it was pretty silty looking so I figure it must have been there for a while.

We took the jump to the left at 1000' and went straight to the double lines, skipping the little connector line that runs from the Hill 400 to that line. The low area didn't seem quite as low as I remembered it. The area after that, with its series of little rooms, did not continue too much further than where we had gone before (just to where the opposing arrows are), and then it became more tunnely. It got a bit more narrow and then eventually got open and sort of less tunnel-shaped. We turned on gas somewhere between the 1400 and 1500 markers. When we got back to the start of the double line, we moved the spool over to that little connector line and headed right. After a minute or two, we passed another jump to our right, which I didn't know anything about, but now see that that line goes for a while on the map. Then the line ended, or so Rob reported (he was in front, so he saw the end of the line and turned us, but I did not see it). But he said that the tunnel appeared to continue at least for a bit. We turned and returned to the Hill 400 line, and when we got there, we briefly discussed heading further up the line. We decided not to. I was secretly scheming to take the jump by the park bench on the way out, so figured we could save the gas for that.

We headed out and passed another team on our way out. When we got back to our spool, there were 3 spools and an extra stage bottle. It was like the spools and stage bottles had mated while we were in the cave, though the new spool and bottle had a distinct lack of baby face. I suggested to Rob that we pick up our bottles and carry them to the park bench and drop them again, so we did not go back onto them. Once we got to the park bench, I told Rob to look at the time, since I knew he had some time constraints. He said it was fine and took the lead again (actually he sort of drifted by me on the way there, and I gave him an annoyed "I'm #1" signal, so we were practically side by side by the time we got to the park bench) and put the spool in while I dropped my bottle. We headed up that line without much of a plan, and at the first jump left, Rob signaled to go that way. We did the Expressway tunnel circuit in C2, but I hadn't been on this line past the next jump. Today we stayed on this line and just kept going until it ended. It ended at a fairly big dark tunnel, which I think is the line that runs from the park bench to the maple leaf. We rather arbitrarily decided to go left, and headed toward the maple leaf. This tunnel is pretty big and dark, it is hard to see across the tunnel in spots. After a couple of minutes heading up that line, we turned (on gas I think), and headed out. The exit was uneventful.

When we got back to 20' and after we went onto our bottles, the deco negotiations began. Amazingly, Rob was actually negotiating down. Deco was pretty boring, so I got my wetnotes out to take some notes on the dive. That passed a bit of time. When it was finally over, we came out and Rob was a bit miffed about the time. Apparently when we agreed to do the jump at the park bench, he wasn't including deco into his calculation of how long the dive would be -- doh! He blamed me for being what he called an "extreme recalculater". Since he was in a bit of a hurry, we called the Station Bakery to order some lunch, and picked it up on the way back to the Country Inn, where we worked for the rest of the day. Rob and I were discussing the fact that our deco rule seemed to be overkill (especially on the shallower profiles in Mexico), so I did a bunch of monkeying with DecoPlanner that afternoon to come up with my own rules for deco on 60, 80, and 90 foot dives on 32% with O2 for deco, and decided we were try those out for the rest of the trip :)

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