The “standard” flutter kick taught in Open Water Diver courses is one cave divers simply don’t use. Instead, they have a repertoire of propulsion techniques that allows them to choose the right technique for each situation. These techniques not only allow cave divers to move efficiently, they help divers avoid silting out the cave or damaging fragile formations. It is for this reason that every diver should learn these techniques as well, to help protect fragile coral and aquatic life, and keep the visibility pristine for others.
The reason cave divers follow The Rule of Thirds is one of those things that, supposedly, “everybody knows.” It’s to help ensure that you have sufficient gas to share air with another diver from your maximum point of penetration, all the way back to the cave entrance…right? Well, not exactly.
One of the most tragic body recoveries we’ve ever had to perform was that of a diver who ran out of air in Devil’s Eye while searching for his buddy. What made this tragic was that the buddy, who had followed procedure and exited when he could not reunite with the victim before hitting a safe turn pressure, was patiently waiting for the victim at the surface — as he should have. How can you keep this from happening to you?
The other day I observed a DPV diver exiting Devil’s Ear. He had made his primary tie off on the log and his secondary tie off just below above the start of the chimney floor. As he exited, he severely jammed his reel and had 15 feet of slack line he was trying to get under control to keep himself and my group from becoming entangled. He was lucky he did not entangle himself and others.
Here’s one you’ve no doubt experienced first hand if you cave dive: It’s a hot day. Your tanks have been sitting in your vehicle all the way to the dive site and are now out in the open on a picnic table or tank rack. While attaching your regulators you note the pressure. It’s a very comfortable 248 bar/3,600 psi. After suiting up, you enter the water and begin your pre-dive checks — including checking your final starting pressure. You notice that your tanks now read 227 bar/3,300 psi. What happened?
Does this sound familiar? You are getting ready for a sidemount dive. You are at the point where it is time to calculate your turnaround pressures. You look at your SPGs to see what your starting pressures are and are surprised to discover the starting pressures for each bottle are as much as ten percent apart — possibly more. What is going on here?
Although not as expensive as reels, your spools are not something you can afford to lose…especially since your life may depend on one. But spool loss is something you can easily prevent. Reggie will show you how. Watch the video appearing below. A more detailed explanation follows.
Which is the better choice, a reel or a spool? As with so many things in cave diving, the answer depends entirely on circumstances. Neither is right for every situation and smart divers make use of both. To better understand which is right for a specific application, you first need to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of reels and spools, compared to one another.