After an interesting dive at Hole in the Wall, we had all of our back gas left, so we decided to do a swim dive over at Twin Caves. Unfortunately a few people on scooters had blitzed the viz in the subway tunnel, so we’d have to deal with <15ft of viz in some places until we could drop down to the right side of the T, where we had been told there was clear viz until the double arrows. This is my least favorite dive on the Mill Pond due to how little the first 900ft of the cave change, but it’s still a neat little dive to do if you want to kill time.
Another early morning to Cave Adventurers, as this morning we had rented a boat. We got there around 8am, got our stuff loaded, and then our buddy Allen met us there shortly after. We planned to hit up all 3 Mill Pond caves, but Hole in the Wall is my favorite, so it would have to be first!
Phillip ran the reel ahead of time, as it would be a pain to deal with when we each had scooters. Since Hole in the Wall is a no flow cave, the plan was to use 2 stages as travel gas, reserve back gas, and tow a scooter “just in case”. Once I get more DPV experience, I’m sure I’ll not be that conservative, but for now more gas and more scooters are never a bad thing. Scootering this cave is an experience that just cannot be described, you’re cruising through crystal clear water with huge dome ceilings that are as white as can be, with the exception of a few iron colored ceiling formations. If you can’t make it to the Mill Pond, you owe it to yourself to at least purchase Liquid Productions Mill Pond Experience DVD.
After our morning adventure, we went back to Cave Adventurers for tank fills and to check into Jackson Blue. A group of Texas A&M cavern divers were there packing up, but due to the rain, the park was fairly empty, a pleasant surprise! We each placed our stage bottle, deco bottle, and scooter in the water and then proceeded to gear up. Our plan was to take mainline past Court’s Squeeze, Hall of the Mountain King, Mystery Shaft, and then the Sweet Passage. We turned around p3200ft at the 3rd “T”.
After waking up early the morning after our 5 hour drive from Orlando, we arrived at Cave Adventurers around 8am to get tank fills. We were going to meet Matt Bull and Kevin Carlisle at Florida Caverns State Park since they only have 6 canoes, and we wanted to ensure we could get one with it being memorial day weekend. We arrived at the park, where it’s $5 per vehicle to enter, and $15 for 1/2 day canoe rental. The spring is located on your left after a little over 1 mile of upriver paddling, which was a semi difficult canoe trip compared to what I’ve experienced on the Wekiva and Ichetucknee Rivers.
Upon arriving at the spring, Matt showed us that we can enter at the main spring, swim to a karst window, surface in a pool, and then swim over about 50ft to an easy back mount entry to avoid beating the crap out of the cave and trespassing. Tips like this are why it’s always a good idea to go with someone local if you can manage it. We swam to just about the second T before turning the dive to avoid having much deco since we were on back gas (limited space in the canoe). I’ve attached the dive profile to the gallery just for reference. This dive is best done with 21/35 or 25/25 to limit o2 exposure and narcosis, as it reaches depths of 120ft quickly. The cave has incredible white walls which have been preserved by the long canoe trip that it takes to access the cave and relatively few divers who come there. I was told that the white walls are due to the fact that this spring almost never floods, which was good to know for when everything else is flooded. Another nice feature of this cave is it’s large size. After a restricted entry way, the cave seems to open up, and stay big enough for an easy back mount trip (larger than most of Peacock) at least until the second T, and I hear it keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Photos courtesy of Matt Bull.
Today Sam and I decided to head out to Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, FL. Sam had recently gone there with a friend, and despite how close it is to UCF, I hadn’t been there in my 4 years here because I had never heard of this place. It’s actually a clever system designed to treat waste water by the city of Orlando, by using natural plants to absorb the pollutants. While wildlife isn’t terribly abundant, you can find several gators as well as a variety of birds. In the next few days, I’ll try to post the brochure map and highlight the route we took.
If you’d like more information on the wetlands park, click here to see 2 informational videos produced by the city of Orlando.
Well, those of you that know me, know that I absolutely hate Little River. About once a year, someone fools me into thinking maybe another dive will make it better…It never does. Today was no exception. The Orlando Magic played at 5pm, so we were in a hurry to get back to watch the game, and our cave scouting earlier in the day fell through. We swam just beyond the FL room to about p1200ft. My drysuit had a huge flood, so it’s going to Steve Gambles place on the way out of town tomorrow. The one really cool thing about this dive is that it marks my 100th hour underwater since full cave, so I’m up to receive my Wakulla award!
Breathing Gas– 32% Backgas / 100% Deco
Max Depth– 108ft
Avg Depth– 100ft
Visibility– 20ft or so..
Water Temp– 72F
Dive Time: 63min