It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hole in the Wall

Photo by Keith Gault
On Monday, we rented a pontoon boat from Cave Adventurers and dove at Hole in the Wall. A map of this cave is here. There are a couple of sites that you can dive on the mill pond from a boat (and more than a couple if you dive sidemount, apparently). We decided on Hole in the Wall because the viz was reported to be really good, which apparently is not always the case. This cave has basically no flow which was also a treat. I dove with Kevin and Keith. Keith had his camera, and since I am vain and like to have my picture taken, I immediately volunteered to join them when he mentioned he would be taking pictures. Thanks to Keith for letting me post his pictures here.

Photo by Keith Gault
From the cavern entrance, there is a very short restriction at about 30' (which fits nicely into the new Cave 1 limits :P), and then a pretty wide vertical shoot going from 40' down to about 70'. That is where the two mainlines start (one upstream and one downstream). We went upstream on the first dive, which is to the right. The coolest thing about this dive was all of the blind salamanders. I had never heard about them, but I kept seeing these white "fish" darting around, and when I finally got a good look at one, I realized they were actually salamanders. When they swim around, the tuck their legs back so they look like fish with long tails (or eels with short tails). Then they flare out their legs as they land on the bottom. They were really cool. Aside from the critters, there were also tons of sea urchin fossils, and a couple of (more recently) dead fish. I was left to wonder what had killed the fish ;) The cave walls are silty and crumbly, but the passage was very tall and open, so the silt wasn't an issue. The viz was really good, as promised. It was a very pretty cave. I was glad I was with someone with a camera :)

Photo by Keith Gault
At around 1000', there is a T, and we went left. We were told that if you go right, you get into a fairly straight passage at about 100' (which supposedly has a thermocline). If you go left, it gets much shallower and eventually the line ends in a room. It did in fact get quite a bit shallower, and it also got a bit narrower and shorter -- just a lot more tunnelly. We turned on gas near 1300', and had a long swim out :P

Our second dive was downstream. In this direction there were a lot of tunnels separated by little round rooms. Many of the rooms had black iron deposits on the ceiling. The formations hanging down from the ceilings reminded me of chandeliers since many were right in the center of the rooms. We did not make it too far (700' I think) before I turned the dive on time. Once again, the no-deco limits for C1 were a bummer.

Photo by Keith Gault
After that, we got back on the boat and headed back to Edd's to fill our tanks. I also went for a swim on the surface interval. The water was insanely cold for swimming in a swimsuit. I don't know what all those kids at Jackson Blue were thinking :) Elissa and Kevin sat out the afternoon, since they both had leaky suits. So, Rob, Keith and I dove together. This time we planned to go downstream on the first dive (so we could get a bit further in there) and upstream on the second. We made it to about 1100' downstream before Keith turned the dive. I already described the beginning of the downstream portion. The only thing I have to add is that after about 900', I thought it got a bit more tunnelly, rather than the tunnel, room, tunnel, room of earlier. Also the tunnel portions were not quite as tall. On our attempt to go upstream again, we made it about 200' before Rob's light died, so that was that.

Photo by Keith Gault
Keith headed home and the rest of us headed back to the house, and laid out all of our gear in an attempt to dry it out before packing it up the next morning. Since it was Rob's birthday, we were determined to go someplace decent for dinner (i.e. not Ruby Tuesdays). It turned out that the steak place we tried to go to the day before, Madison's Warehouse, was just closed on Sundays, so we went back there and they were actually open. It was pretty good. Definitely a notch above Sonny's BBQ. Then we had a pink cake (what can I say? Rob likes strawberry and he's manly enough to eat a pink cake) that we procured the night before at Walmart.

Tuesday we headed back to Jacksonville after stopping by Edd's for some t-shirts and to settle the tab. We took a short detour to drop my light off at Light Monkey for a new cord (it just got a new cord from them like a month ago :( ). And of course we had to stop at Sonic again too. Tuesday wasn't exciting enough to warrant a blog entry though :P

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