Cave Diving Certification… technical diving’s quintessential challenge

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Jill Heinerth photo of Steve LewisCave diving is my favorite underwater activity. Now I love historic wrecks; think the coral reef biome, and marine ecology is the closest any of us is going to get to flying through an alien world; and believe we can learn a lot about the beauty of our planet by simply floating around in its freshwater rivers and lakes. But diving in underwater caves is special: an exceptional adventure among exceptional adventures.

Jill Heinerth PhotoCertainly, cave diving isn’t for everyone. Compared to basic “vacation” diving, it is equipment intensive; involves a solid commitment of time, money, and effort; takes specialized training; and demands vigilance and regular practice to keep mentally and physically on-point, so that we can cave dive without hurting ourselves.

But all that melts away when you’re suspended in a mini Grand Canyon, surrounded by finely sculptured limestone, millions of fossils embedded in the walls and ceiling, unimaginably complex fractal shapes everywhere, your body and dive kit weightless, and your mind completely ‘in the moment.’ No distractions, no charter captain topside, eager to get you out of the water and back to the dock so he can pick up his next group of passengers; no tides to plan around; no stinging needles, sharp teeth, salty water to rinse off dive gear! In fact, very little except you, your dive buddies, and several million years of geology to marvel at.

Almost as much fun as cave diving, is teaching cave diving, hosting cave-diving courses and cave-diving events, and turning divers on to cave diving’s unique challenges.

PamGarryThe skills taught in a cave-diving course form the backbone of most, if not all, technical diver training programs. Cave diving is where the techniques, mindset, planning protocols, and specialized technical dive gear were all developed. And as much as things change —  ideas, kit, our approach to diving caves safely have all evolved… and continue to — a cave diving class, above ANY other technical diving program, has to potential to push an average diver’s skills well beyond what they understood as possible.

I had the honor of heading up a small team of cave instructors to create a new Cave Diving Program for RAID. My chief collaborator was Jill Heinerth, and our brief was to build a program that would reflect present-day practices, equipment, and techniques. The feedback we’ve gotten through the beta-testing stage, tells us we have meet that brief. Most of all, our “guinea pigs” have all become cave divers… they now have the bug.

If you’re interested in catching it too, please drop me a line, and we can talk.

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS:
CAVE1: February 7-11 | North Florida: Two spots available
CAVE2: February 25-28 | Marianna, Florida: Two spots available
CAVE1: April 10-14 | High Springs, Luraville, Florida: Two spots available
CAVE1: October 16-20 | Luraville, Florida: Three spots available
CAVE 2: October 23-28 | Luraville, Florida: Three spots available
CAVE 1 & 2: November 6-15 | Marianna, Florida: Spots available… Instructor XOver

Programs taught:

TDI: Cavern / Intro Cave / Full Cave Diver / DPV Cave / Advanced Wreck (all levels in OC and CCR)

RAID: Recreational Cavern / CAVE1 / CAVE 2 / Advanced Cave / Mine (all levels in OC and CCR)

PHOTO CREDITS: ALL THE PICTURES ON THIS PAGE WERE TAKEN BY JILL HEINERTH DURING A CAVE INSTRUCTOR XOVER SHE AND I EVALUATED IN NORTH FLORIDA IN 2017.

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