It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ginnie Springs

All of us but Kevin were on the same flight. Of course this guaranteed that Kevin's flight was delayed. So when we arrived, we split up and left Don and Elissa to retrieve Kevin, while Rob and I headed to High Springs to get some provisions for the house and tanks. We all met up at EE. By then, we had analyzed all of the gas and just had to load up the cars and get going. We were making much better time than I expected. We rested a bit at the house and then headed to Ginnie for some diving. Here is a pretty good map of the system. For the first dive, Rob and I dove together, and Kevin, Don and Elissa dove together. For some odd reason, Rob prefers the eye to the ear, so we went in there. I think the ear is better -- the flow is more ripping but you get through it faster. Plus it's sort of fun clawing your way down the chute. Anyway, I offered to run the reel, which I have not done before at Ginnie. I was a bit scared of running the line in flow. Since it was rather hot, we got into our drysuits, then went for a little swim before getting in our gear and going back into the water. This is pretty much the protocol that we followed for the entire trip.

We headed in through the eye, and I managed to run the line without tying myself or Rob in knots. I think afterward Rob told me he didn't even have to reset any of my placements behind me (which Rob just can't resist doing when I run the reel). The flow did not seem as bad as I remembered it from the last trip. However, it did take me a little while to get the hang of the whole pulling and not kicking thing again. Past the keyhole, I noticed a lot more chunks of clay with different colored layers laying on the bottom. I guess I was able to pay a bit more attention to the features of the cave with the lower flow. On the first dive, we made it just past 700' before turning on gas. I like to slow myself down with my hands on the way out, but Rob doesn't do that, so I felt like I was flying on the way out to keep up with him. I still haven't figured out how to not get spun around on my way out of the lips :)

We decided to use the rest of our gas for a second dive into the catacombs. We left the reel in and then Rob picked it up and ran it into the catacombs. We ended up getting into some tight twisty areas so I turned us and we headed back to the mainline. We tied the reel in there and headed back in along the mainline. We hadn't seen the other team at all (nor had we seen their reel), but right as we approached the keyhole, they came out of it. I guess they had aborted their entrance through the eye and came back in through the ear. They must have come in while we were in the catacombs. We made it just through the keyhole before turning it on gas. In hindsight we should have just hung out instead of bothering to pull our way through the keyhole, just to turn the dive.

We got out of the water and switched tanks, and then headed in for some more diving. Elissa decided to sit out the dive because she had a massive leak on the first dive, so Rob and Don dove together, and Kevin and I dove together. We went in the eye this time. Rob and Don went in first, and then Kevin and I headed down the hole. Kevin was running the reel. We spent a little while picking a secondary tie, and after finally finding one, his reel jammed. We spent a little time trying to fix it, as we wedged ourselves in to avoid getting spit out. Finally he gave up fixing it and we came back up to deal with it. We recalculated our gas and headed back in. Aside from entering from the ear this time, we basically repeated the exact same first dive that Rob and I had done before, and turned the dive literally like 10 feet from where Rob and I had turned. We had a slightly more leisurely ride out though, since I was leading out, and I slowed myself down along the way. After recalculating gas, we did another penetration and in the room right before the keyhole, Kevin called the dive. I always like to stop in that room to catch my breath before going through the keyhole, and while I was resting, I checked my gas. Kevin was looking at me expectantly, like he was hoping I would call the dive. When I gave him the okay, he thumbed it. He told me later that he thumbed it on CO2 -- he was diving 32% and I was diving 30/30. As we came out, we saw that Rob and Don's reel was still installed, but they were no longer in the cave (as far as we could tell). When we got up to the log at 20 feet, we saw them hanging out on the lip just above the ear, waiting to enter. They signaled to us that they were just going in to pickup the reel. I guess they left the reel in and then decided they didn't have it in them to go in for a second dive.

By the time we were out of the water, we were all really hungry. It was almost 10 o'clock and after calling all of the usual restaurants and finding they were all closed (or about to close), we finally found out that the waffle house in Alachua is open all night. Sweet. We headed over there and gorged on breakfast foods.

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