Cave Dive Florida
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There are 2 line drills that are conducted in the introductory cave diver course & I will discuss these 2 drills in this paper. The first one discussed is the lost line drill, the second one is the lost diver drill.
Lost Line Drill
The first thing I should point out is that this should never happen to you. If you have the proper line awareness and proper awareness in general this drill is the only time you should have to actually perform this. But if you do at some point lose the line this is the published procedure that NACD has established.
The scenario is something like this: You are swimming down the line in the cave and enjoying the formations of the system. All of a sudden you go to reference the line and you do not see it. You stop and make a mental note of which way you were headed & generally orient yourself as much as you can. The steps are as follows:
· Ask your buddy if s/he sees the line.
· Look around slowly - up, down, left & right. Remember the line could be in a trap so look closely & carefully before the next step.
· Once you realize the line is not within visual contact you will need to deploy your safety reel to search for the line.
· Deploy your safety reel & find a tie off point close by and make a secure tie off . If you cannot find one you can improvise a tie off by sticking a backup light in the bottom. Ensure the light is switched on.
At this point in the drill we are going to also assume zero visibility and/or primary light failure. It is important to note that in the total darkness you will have almost no perception of distance. Divers can alleviate this problem by tying knots in their line every few feet and as you swim down that line you can count the knots and tell how far you have moved.
· Move slowly deploying the line on the reel & counting the knots so as to keep a better reference from your starting point. You will know how big the tunnel you are in is because you saw it before the lights went out.
· Since you cannot see where you are going you will need to keep one hand in front of your head so you will not run into a rock injuring yourself or knocking your mask off.
· This hand should also be "sweeping" up and down in search of the line.
Note: The natural instinct is to sweep right to left rather than up & down. You have a better chance of locating the line sweeping up and down because the line is perpendicular to that plane. Unless of course the line you are looking for is oriented up and down, as we see at Pothole sink and Friedman sink for example.
· Once you locate the line you need to tie your safety reel to that line. Clip the clip back onto your safety line.
· At this point you have to decide which way on the line is the direction to exit. Place a directional marker on the line and swim in the direction you think the exit is. In a system with discernable flow you should be able to reference the way out according to the flow. In low or no flow systems this reference will not be available to you.
Note: If you have been properly referencing the cave system as you were taught you should be able to recognize landmarks that give you assistance figuring which way is out. Divers who go to far too fast will likely not have the advantage of being able to successfully referencing the cave.
If other divers, such as your buddy come across your safety reel tied to the mainline and see the configuration you have left behind s/he will know what has taken place - this configuration on the line is unique and other divers should recognize immediately that a diver has been lost off the line and has relocated it. When they see your directional marker they too will know if you have ventured further into the cave, or correctly found your way out.
Lost Buddy Drill
This discussion is in regards to the procedures you are to take in the event you lose your buddy while cave diving. The scenario may go something like this: You and your buddy are swimming into a cave and looking around having a good time. You may be in the lead and become aware that your buddy's light is no longer in your field of vision. You turn around and sure enough he is no where in sight.
The first thing you do is STOP right where you are. Shield your light and look around the cave for your buddy's light - sometimes just shielding your light will allow you to see your buddy's light should s/he have been swimming slower than you and just has not kept up. The same obviously applies if you are in the back of a dive team and your buddy gets ahead of you.
In our scenario here we assume that we were unable to locate our lost buddy and we will proceed on with looking for him in a safe manner.
At this point you need to consider and decide how much gas you have that you may use in search of your lost buddy.
The next step is to place a directional marker on the line to indicate the cave exit. Tie the marker in as you would any directional marker. Deploy your safety reel; tie it in to the directional marker so it will not slip up or down the line. Now you can go off the line and look for your buddy. The directional marker is placed to ensure that you do not become disoriented and lose the direction of the exit.
While searching for your buddy you must remember to look up toward the overhead as well as down any other tunnels/conduits that are not on the line you are on. Also remember to shield your light periodically and look for your buddy's light.