FLORIDA

FLORIDA

This was already my 5th trip to Florida.

it started in February 2006 when Robert Klein spread the word that it was possible to have a cave course in the caves of Florida, and with the very guru of cave diving, Lamar Hirsa. I agreed gladly, thinking that it would be a great mental preparation for wreck diving on the Baltic. It actually happened, we made 17 course dives, visiting several best known caves in the vicinity of Hight Spring, I came home with new experience, but the caves did not appeal to me that much.

18 months passed, during this time I did more than 200 dives in the Baltic sea and just a few cave divers in Ojamo in Finland, and I always liked Baltic best.

November 2007, we go to DEMA SHOW to Florida, and as the fairs are organized near the caves, we plan a dozen dives.

We have a great holiday atmosphere, we dive 2-3 times a day, Slawek Packo shoots a great video.

For the last 2 days Robert arranges a meeting for us with Alex Warren, an excellent diver who is supposed to show us something more.

On the first day, we go to Manate Spring, the cave is long and dark and has a very strong current, later it turns out that Alex wanted to test us, he expected us to go back slowly, and he was in for a surprise – “the Polish rookies” did quite well. He invites us to spend the second day in the Eagle Nest – the legendary cave which was explored by Shack Exley. It is said to be interesting and deep. We make trimixes – we are to go below 80 m, we determine the run time and on the next day we set off. The Eagle Nest lies at the heart of Shacowidzka national park. A small, unnoticeable lake, with a little hole in the bottom – through this hole with the width of 1.5, we go in to the proper part of the cave, from which 2 corridors go down and up.  After a 30 minute drive through the park we get to the lake, and we are slightly excited, it is supposed to be deep and long;-)

We determine the plan and jump in the water. At the bottom, we actually see a small hole, looking like a hole at the bottom of a tub, we go in individually, the hole turns into a 11-metre chimney, and when we go out. We are under the ceiling of a cave, which has the size of a big cathedral, water is really good, we fall down some 30 m, at the 40th m we can see the bottom and ropes to down and up corridors. We go down, detach the stage with nitrox 32 and then, along the rope, we head to the first restriction at 62 m. Behind the restriction starts another corridor and the rope leads to the next restriction at 80 m. We go there, I get there first and I see only my light, the cave seems more and more impressive to me, we reach the restriction, and here, according to plan, we are to go back, everything is OK, we have plenty of gas, so on the way back, we still turn to Lackwood tunnel, in total, we spend 25 minutes at 75 m, then it seems like a lot to me;-)

We slowly go back and here I realize that I have just dived in one of the most fabulous caves of Florida, the stress goes away and I start to enjoy the views, it is truly great, all the previous caves which I visited, was unbearably frequently visited, this one is different – the cave is large and inaccessible, sometimes the bottom is muddy, sometimes huge boulders lie everywhere, I start to give in to its charm, we go back through restrictions at the 60th m and enter the main part of the cave, at the top, at the depth of 21, we see the light coming through from the chimney, which makes me feel really safe. we take the stage and we start decompression, thanks to “the light” on the ceiling, for the first time, I do not have to control the rope in the cave because I always know where I am, I feel fantastic, I savour swimming like a little kid;-) we all swim around the walls and no one is in a hurry to get to the chimney. We slowly leave the cave, taking stages with 50% of nitrox, and then with oxygen. After more than 2 hours we get to the bank, I am amazed by Eagle Neste, I finally know what all these courses were for;-)

I also know that I really want to return here.

After coming back to Poland, we keep in touch with Alex me and Robert decide to go to Florida already after 3 months, the dollar exchange rate is so low that the whole trip is cheaper than a journey to France.

We land in Tampa in February 2008. We have a very concrete plan, we are only interested in the less frequently visited caves. We keep talking with Alex about the caves and then, for the first time, I hear the name of Diepolder.

The detailed report on this trip was written by Robert at Forum Nuras: http://forum-nuras.com/viewtopic.php?t=15536

I can only add that were very mobilized and determined.

To warm-up, we were supposed to dive againg in Manatee Spring, straightaway at 6000 feet. There were as many as 6 of us, Robert, Alex and me, and 3 new Americans, with whom we had not been diving earlier. The plan assumed swimming with the stages until exhaustion of the gas reserves, then we were supposed to take them off and leave at the bottom with the scooters, switch to gas in twins and carry on with flippers. Finally, we took a commemorative picture at 6000 feet from the entrance.

I thought that everybody understood it that way. Everything went on quite efficiently for a 6-person group, beside the fact that Alan, our guide, disappeared after 500 feet because he had the fastest scooter. Robert and us had left the plane several hours earlier, after many hours of travel, and this time change…

At 4000 feet Robert showed me that he was finishing and coming back, Alex asked me, using sign language, whether I was coming back with them or staying, Alan has been long gone somewhere at the front. I decided to stay, I felt quite good and I still had plenty of gas.

After a moment, I was alone in the cave with two divers, which I met an hour earlier – one elderly gentleman with obsolete gear, the other one was Sonny, a nice firemen, who, however, later admitted not to have much experience. We stood there for a while, gazing at one another;-)

After a moment, Alan came back, alarmed by our absence and used the international sign to ask what had happened. We showed that everything was OK, and according to plan, we started to detach empty stages, Sonny and me detached the scooters and waited for the rest to prepare to swim “with flippers on “.

Suddenly, Dawe (the older guy) shows us that he has absolutely no intention to leave the scooter, and a “turbulent” discussion starts, with shouting to the mouthpiece. After 5 minutes Alan recalls that he’s the boss here and decides to end diving at this point, but he still wants to take a picture of us, takes out the camera, sets it up for the next 5 minutes, then he tries to set us (there is a strong current in the cave).

And then, for the next 5 minutes the camera cannot flash. I look at the watch, we have been standing here for almost 20 minutes, it’s probably time to go back. All the others also seem to arrive at this conclusion. I turn around to take the empty stage, which I detached 20 minutes ago. I look and I see an empty space?? What’s going on?

I look around, the guys slowly go away with the current, suddenly I see that Dawe (the older guy) has my stage, I approach him and I try to explain this mistake. After a moment, we reach an agreement, Dawe gets back to his stage, and I attach my empty back Dring (just as I learned at all these courses) Americans attach their empty stages on the right side – sacrilege, I think. We go back, the current and the scooters make us go really fast.

There is only one problem, my properly attached stage keeps hitting the ceiling of the cave and makes a noise like a church bell. I feel stupig and attach it quickly to the right side, and no I can go quickly and quietly.

Manatee is a cave, which has a section like a saw teeth, sometimes we go at 30 m, and sometimes at 15, continuously changing the depth. During the return, it really gives me a hard time.

After passing another shallow, I start to go down, suddenly a strong earache stops me under the ceiling, damn I have been almost 2 hours under water and now I have air problems?. I stand there, slightly confused, the ceiling of the cave clearly recedes down to some 8 m, I know that just behind it there is another shallow. I try several times, with no effect, the ear hurts more and more. My partners slowly float away. I turn round, strangely immobilized. I am left alone, all the rest have been long gone. It is dark and silent, it starts to be creepy – I want to go home!! After a moment, I make the stupidest decision, I decide to cut-through using force, I go down, hearing the wail in my ear, just in case I go near the walls – I know what happens when your labyrinth is flooded. Suddenly – bam! the ear lets go at the deepest point, I feel slightly dazed, slowly go to the exit, behind the next curve I catch up with my colleagues, and then without problems, we reach the exit.

On the surface, we share our experiences for a while, Dawe informs us that he never parts with the scooter, he is is simply too old and does not like to struggle under water??? – Well, that’s nice – we think. Sonny admits that it was great and Alan wonders why we swim so slow. I do not mention my problems with my ear because I feel stupid having taken such a risk. We go together to grab some awful American food and arrange next diving in Eagles Nest.

Another diving day, this time in the magical Eagles Nest. We decide to make a downstream corridor right to the end. Everything is ready, on the bank we look at Dawe’s equipment with curiosity, the average age is 25 years, the guy must have been to a lot of caves. We jump in the water, go through the chimney we already know to the main cave, then vertically down along the rope with the text which says “down”. The difficulty of this cave lies in the fact that it has places with very deep mud which is extremely easy to stir up from the bottom and this may spoil the visibility. Alex warns us not to use scooters when passing the restrictions, several years ago 2 divers died in this way in this cave. According to plan, we rapidly pass restrictions at the 89 m which we reached last time, we move to the second magical side of the cave, we can see that not many people swim here. there are no more clearcut arrows and the rope is covered with “dust”. Behind the restrictions we gather in a group and only then we start the scooters, we head on in the magical scenery, I start to admire the cave when just after 2 minutes Dawe cancels diving. I am unhappy, but in the cave and especially at such a depth, you cannot argue, so we all obey and come back. We have big reserves of gas, so on the way back, we turn to the Lockwood tunnel. The dive was nice, although we never really found out what was Dawe’s reasons.

Luckily, next day we come there again. This time only in a group of three, and we want to make an upstream corridor. Diving proceeds without problems, we reached Kings Challenge going for 30 minutes on scooters at the average depth of 75 m. For the first time in my life, I dive with the total time over 3 hrs. During the last – one-hour stop, we swim on scooters and we enjoy clear and warm water and abundance of life in the pool over the cave (in Poland, it’s the middle of winter ;-))

All rights, before us we have Diepolder III, a magical cave, where each of us wants to dive and where diving is many restrictions imposed. The entrance to the cave is within the summer scout base. To dive here, we have to arrange a meeting with a guide, previously agree the date with the head of Diepolder association, fill in an appropriate form, waivering almost everything and pay 50 $ for the benefit of foundations caring for the cave.

Alex has been telling us about this cave for a long time, skilfully raising the tension. In the evening I am already a bit nervous, I ask Alex what exactly is so difficult in this cave. And he tells me”this is going to be your easiest diving”.

So why all this uproar??
The thing is that you have to dive in Diepolder III first – 3 times, to be honoured with the opportunity to dive in Diepolder II – and that cave is really hard. Both entrances are close to each other, but the rules are adamant and there are only 6 active guides in this cave, and they strictly observe these rules. The entrance to the cave is traditionally a small water hole, we enter the water carefully. The cave, as opposed to to the previous one, is not equipped with wooden stairs, so we watch out not to raise too much mud on the bank and not to spoil the visibility.

At 18 m, there is a crack in the rock through which we slowly descend to the cave.
At the 40th meter, the proper cave starts, never before have I swum in something so huge, this is just like a great sports arena, the bottom reaches 90 m and the ceiling- 50 -60.
The width is also great, at entrance to 40m, we hang the torch, then turn around – we are 120 m away from the torch and we we can still see it, that’s amazing!!

We slowly swim around the caves, everything is huge here, and rocks have a pleasant light colour, we go away from each other to the sides to try to light the size of the cave, after 30 minutes we come back to the exit, we detach the torch and we start a two-hour decompression in comfortable conditions, the water is warm, all around there are turtles and fish looking like our perches, is it really awesome.

On the way back, we have undending discussions on decompression , deep stops, gas breaks etc. I start to have this dangerous sense that I’m great and no cave is to hard for me

We go north, just me and Robert… Alex has some business to do in Tampa, so we rent a house in the area of Hight Spring, we load our car up to the ceiling, until the tyres get flat, and off we go. We plan to go to Ginnie Spring and we want to dive in Rose sink, a cave of a siphon type, that is a cave, which sucks water in.

Ginnie is the best-known cave of Florida. At the first 1000 feet it shows many signs of visits. The walls and the ceiling are white and terribly “marked” by cylinders of divers. In the beginning, especially at the first 500 feet, the current is very strong, then it gets calmer and the walls are covered by light dust and darker. We dived many times in this cave, but always without a scooter, so I got there only to 1200 feet.

This time the plan was more ambitious, we wanted to immediately go to the end of the main corridor (3800). For this purpose, we had twins 2 x19 with nitrox 32%, stages with 32% and traditionally oxygen for decompression – and, of course, the scooters. We were in a great shape, warmed up and very determined. We rushed through the entrance called the “Ear”. The first metres are a traditional fight against current, this time we passed them conveniently on scooters and went on like that until a place known as Henkels Restriction where we left scooters and empty stages, we switch to the gas from the back equipment and we go further on flippers. The cave is extraordinary, there are almost not traces of other divers, it gets more and more narrow. finally we reach a narrow corridor barely, 50 m away from the end of the cave, is it really tight. I check the gas, it seems that we should go back. We all agree on it, so we choose a broader place to turn and we slowly head back to the exit.

After a while, Robert swims aside and starts to look for something, I approach him with curiosity. Suddenly, there it is – a commemoration plaque dedicated to Chris and Chrissie Rouse. I smile, not so long ago I have read about them, and now I see a plaque in their memory with my own eyes. An interesting thing is that it has been placed so far away from the entrance.

We slowly come back to the broader part of the cave, the current carries us to the exit. It is great, we went “almost” to the end of the cave, I already start to plan the dive for the next – of course, further, deeper, longer;-) We spend the whole evening at the map of Ginnie and we decide that on the following day we want to go through the side corridor known as Main Land with the length of 4200 feet. At that time I didn’t know that it was much harder than it looked on the map and it would become my obsession for the next several months. The corridor was named Main Land after its finder and first explorer Bill Main, called Hogart, who promoted the diving style later called DIR. He discovered it 20 years ago, and then, for many years, explored its subsequent branches and corridors, and there are a lot of them. So we depart, we know that the branch to this corridor is exactly at the place where yesterday we left our scooters and empty stages, it all seems quite simple.

We get there quickly, detach all the gear and go on, we find the side corridor rope straightaway, but it is a bit close than I thought, we put on the jump and go, it gets extremely tight, we push through for 10 minutes – damn, I think, if it’s going to be like that all the, we have no chance. After 10 minutes it gets broad – really broad??? And we realize that we are back in the main corridor. So that’s not it, we keep looking, at 3200 we find another rope, jump again and swim, but the corridor turns, in my opinion, in the wrong direction, we wander through side corridors, and finally we get to the main rope again, right next to the Rous’ commemoration plaque.

Te-hee – I think, the guys must have put some spell on us 😉 We look at the gases, looks like it’s time to go back. Dissatisfied, we head towards the deposited stages, and we’re in for a surprise. On the way back the rope and the corridor of Main Land are perfectly visible. The curve and the rock obstruct it from the side of the entrance, but in the other direction, there’s no problem. This cheers us up a bit, now we know we will have to return here. Slowly, carried by the current, we reach the exit where we undergo a 30-minute decompression. In the Baltic decompression often takes place in cold water and you meticulously count out the minutes to the end, and here it is different, water is warmer the air and deco is comfortable, is’s warm and you can watch the fish, or the divers entering the cave-I wonder whether we also looked so funny, flapping our flippers, pushing through a narrow hole and fighting the current.

Rose Sink – it is located at the back of a petrol station, the Lake is 20 metres wide and is completely covered by duckweed, I don’t thing that in Poland anyone could talk me into diving in such a puddle, but this puddle hides the entrance to a whole system of corridors. As I have mentioned above current in this cave goes to the inside, which makes diving harder. It is going to be deeper, so on our backs we have light trimix and 2 stages for decompression. Our partners dive with Optimas, which slightly changes our deco times. The cave has no prepared way down, so we carefully immerse in the green duckweed, is’s everywhere for a while, but the most impressive is the ceiling made of duckweed over our heads. I feel as if I dived under ice, under very dirty ice, the whole cave seems kinda “dirty”.

After a moment, I realize, that the siphon type cave sucks in not only water but also all other things, at the beginning of the corridor we can see rubbish and an old tyre, and at the distance of 2000 feet from the entrance i spotted a beer can – such things are unusual in other caves which are sterile. The whole dive seems strange, the partners are nervous, the cave is dirty, the water is not very clear, the most interesting element is again the return and deco under thick duckweed. It’s time to go, we have one more day, which we decide to spend in Diepolder III. And to go there this time with the camera, diving is very successful, at some point we stand in the middle of the cave, Robert hangs motionless, I show Alex, to shed more light from the side and I start laughing at the photo session at the depth of 87 m.

It is nice and easy, and in such moods, we come back to Poland.

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Partially for professional reasons, I must come to Florida in 1.5 month. I will have only 3 days off, so I decide to take my 14-year-old son and, of course, the diving gear. I try to deal with professional matters as soon as possible, to make a few decent dives, I am barely 40 days after great diving sessions with Robert and I feel very confident. But life makes me change my plans. All the time I receive e-mails and make calls to Poland, I cannot just get away from it all and relax. I start to work automatically and routinely. On the fourth day we pack the car with Alex and depart to Eagles Nest. I feel very weird here, on the one hand, I want to dive, on the other hand, I’m always somewhere else in my mind. The plan is to go to the end downstream (where Dawe told us to go back last time), and then turn to Andrews room-the least known part of the cave.

We go into the water, on the bank, I leave my son, Kacper, all around there are only wild trees, and the bins on the car park are protected against bears!! I think: “What am I doing? I’m about to dive for 3.5 hours and the boy stands there all by himself”. These and other thoughts don’t let me focus until the end of diving.

I swim forward as good as I can, to the first restriction, then the second, then a few minutes on a scooter and here we are, at the depth of the cave. This is it, I think and I do not I feel any pleasure, we slowly turn back, on the right, we see the rope to Andrews room, we put the jump on and we go, after a moment we see a long restriction leading downwards, I detach the scooter and go through the clamp, I try to remember as many details as possible, behind the restriction there is a great and muddy corridor, we go until the end and there’s the restriction against, automatically I detach the safety satage and I start to push in, Alex, waving the torch, helps me snap out.

What’s his problem – I think, I look at the depth of 92 m, I look at the manometer and now I know what his problem is. We turn back, I routinely perform all activities, my head is full of thoughts not related to diving, I wonder what my son is doing. I start to feel angry at myself. At 21 m I start to feel irritated. What the hell am I doing? – I think, it’s impossible to do some extreme diving between business talks, taking your son with you like for some picnic.

After the next 2 hours I come out to the surface, Kacper is OK. Alex is also happy, he laughs and asks me what I wanted to do. The area behind that restriction was visited only by a few divers, and the further part of the cave does not even have a name and is poorly explored. I don’t really know what I wanted to do, but I realize, that for such difficult diving, you have to be prepared mentally and not let other problems disturb you.

Enriched with this experience, I stand again in front of Ginnie spring. Contrary to the Eagles, on the bank there are many people, so I’m not worried about Kacper. For a few days I have been thinking only about diving in Main Land. I dive probably for the 20th time in Ginnie, so I am quite confident. I try to go water quickly, beat my life record and get out. Main Land ends at 4200 feet, for the first 2900 feet we have to go with scooters, and then the rest, with flippers. It seems simple so I urge Alex to hurry up and jump in the water.

Already in the beginning, I don’t do well, I just want to dive quickly and get it done. We have with us 2 x 19 2 stages each, we go against a strong current so the scooter has a lot to pull, I cannot assume a comfortable position, I put a lot of effort in swimming instead of simply letting the current pull me. As a result, I have consumed more than I planned. I should reach the place of motor deposition with one stage, while over the last 5 minutes I have been breathing using a twin (the second stage is for safety).

We detach scooters, and attach empty stages to them, I can see that Alex only now switches to a twin. Without any problem, I find the rope, the one which was hidden from us last time and I slowly go towards the corridor which I wanted to do see anyway. It gets tight immediately, in many ways – sometimes flat, sometimes narrow.

I can’t relax at all, I swim first and I feel, that every moment I touch the wall, spoiling visibility for Alex. The cave gets more and more difficult, turning into a narrow tunnel sculpted in clay with the consistency of butter. Every bad move and every touch of anything raises clouds of mud. I try swim as good as I can, but today I’m not very successful. Alex waves his torch, but it is so tight here, that I cannot even check what the problem is, after a moment it gers slightly broader.

I turn around, Alex shows, that he constantly brushes the bottom with mouthpiece of the safety stage and all my efforts to correct the trim are futile, because I literally plow the bottom with him. Alex asks if everything is really OK , and if I want to swim further. Frankly – I don’t, but I show that I do. He shows me to swim more slowly and carefully. So I go on first, I pass the arrow saying:”3600″, and I try to swim as carefully as I can. After a moment, water starts to turn yellow, and then brown, visibility decreases significantly. It is even more gloomy than before, and it doesn’t make me happy. I push through another clamp, I feel totally uncomfortable.

I go to the broader corridor, but immediately I can see another narrowing – I HAD ENOUGH. I look at the arrow saying: 3800, so we are 400 feet, almost 110 m from the end of the cave, but I had enough, for a moment I look inside, I turn around and show that I’m going back. Alex, with some relief, accepts my decisions, turns around carefully and goes first.

On the way back I have time for reflections. What happened? So far each diving was better than the previous one, this should also be the case here. This time the cave put me in my place. I don’t feel very great, after going out to the surface, we don’t talk about it. I have 2 more days but I give up diving, this will probably be safer this time.

After 2 day, we discuss diving with Alex, I ponder over the map of Ginnie. I feel like diving again, but I know that I will do it in a completely different way. Main Land becomes my obsession.

And now a few pictures:

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Crew from November 2007

robert and alex

Robert and Alex

and a set of equipment needed for one diving in Eagles Nest:

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Entrance to Diepolder III

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Alex and Robert “from the bottom”

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Right in front of the entrance to the cave

entrance

Entrance

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Entrance “from the inside”

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Already inside Diepolder III

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“Photos session”, at the depth of 80 m

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It’s a really big cave

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At the deco

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Relaxation at 2.5 h of diving

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Rose Sing covered with duckweed

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Duckweed “from the bottom”

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Mess not seen anywhere else

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Lamar Hires on Optima

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Deco under duckweed

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And now back to the car and we go home – )

I stand on the bank of Ginnie after 6 months, the first man I meet on the car park is Bill Main HOGART…..

It’s 31 October, NACD organizes presentations of equipment combined with a Halloween party. Many people come to the meeting. Some of them have just finished diving and approach us. The first one is a man in wet tracksuit and glasses. He looks at the gear with curiosity. After a moment, my American friends inform me that that was Bill Main. He looks inconspicuously, he works as a bailiff and he absolutely does not look like a typical prison “thug”. We talk a bit about suits, and Bill says that he always dives in wet foam suit because it is much faster and has smaller air consumption than when using a dry suit. He claims that it is a well-thought-out theory and thinks that he is able to go farther in a wet suit, than a diver in a dry suit and on a scooter, using a similar quantity of gas. His theory raises debates, but we have to remember that most of these people have never dived in gloves, because the water in the caves has always 21 deg -)

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Ginnie spring by night

The party passes quickly and pleasantly, and I think about diving next day. This will be my another approach to the Main land in Ginnie. I think I’m obsessed about this corridor. I know the map “by heart” and I feel that I am ready.

Next day we stand over the entrance very early, routinely preparing the equipment. In America everything is done for human convenience, so tables and benches are wide and the cave can be accessed by comfortable wooden stairs.

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We go down the stairs to the water, check the equipment for the last time and swim. As usual, we push through the narrow entrance with the whole gear. Scooters pull us slowly against strong current. Half of the equipment that I have with me, I borrowed only yesterday from the locals, only the main machines and the suit came with me from Poland. I slowly “get to know” the new equipment – the old Gawin seems to go weakly against the current, the worst thing is the machine on the stage, which I use now to breath – it is roughly 25 years old and every breath feels like breathing through a narrow straw. I start to feel a little dizzy. OK, I think, I have to do something about it, I lay behind the scooter in the most relaxed position, I stop moving my legs altogether, the breath slowly calms down and in such a strange hibernation, we reach Henkels Restriction where we detach stages and scooters and I switch to “my” Apexes – this is awesome, every breath is pure bliss. In this moment, something happend, about which I only heard sometimes. Alex connects an empty stage to the main rope, then a scooter just beside it – suddenly the cord from the scooters gets wrapped around the switch and the empty scooter goes up at full speed, pulls the main rope behind it, and on the rope – 2 stages and my scooter. All that dances under the ceiling for several seconds until Alex skilfully catches the scooter and turns it off – luckily nothing got damaged, but now I know why experienced divers installation a master switch on their scooters.

I put on a jump to the corridor, I turn back, and my partner is gone? After a moment, I can see his lightl far at the end of the main rope – great moment to go on a hike, I think and I wait for another few minutes, and Alex does not return…

I try not to breathe because we have more than 2 hours under water ahead of us. I recall that we talked on the bank about some small corridor and I think that Alex went to look for it now, after 10 minutes my partner returns, it turned out that he was totally convinced that the entrance was a bit further.

OK – we set off, we are about 10 minutes “late” but the depth (23-27 meters) is not vety big so we have a reserve of gas. I go slowly, I know that I can’t rush, because such tactics proved innefective last time. We slowly push through subsequent tight corridors. The cave quickly changes from rockly into clayey, we cannot touch anything because the sediment is immediately stirred. The cave looks rarely “visited” with each metre, we see less and less traces of divers, after a moment I reach the 3800 feet sign, where I gave up last time. Now it gets really narow, until the end, we swim, or rather push through one big restriction, sometimes we have to go back to push through again in a different position, I wonder how we are going to return 😉

At the end of the cave there is a small room, ideal for two divers to turn. So I did it, I made it to the end. That’s a nice feeling. On the way back I think about about the entire diving and I feel a pleasant satisfaction. After 30 minutes we reach our scooters, we now will have a pleasant journy with the current.

On the way back, my old Gawin starts to die, it’s safe but me and Alex get nervous and swim together, pulled by his scooter. I attach my scooter with a dublender to the rear D-ring of Alex and still holding on to my Gawin, I hide behind Alex, only leaving the light, for us to still have communication. I check, in this way the effectiveness of this method – although as far as I know, some federations have their own procedures for such situations.

We easily reach the end of the cave and at the exit we undergo 60 minute decompression – This was a great dive -)

To fulfil all the procedures, I must once more dive in Diepolder III and 2 days later, we dive in Eagle Neste, we reach the end upstream, thoroughly visiting the end chamber. We were for almost 40 minutes below 70 metres. It’s great to see the places where only a few divers come a year. On the way back, I listen to the tales about the first divers who were there…

They had to have guts to go there in the open air with a 3 Watt torch -)

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Equipment for one diver in Eagle Nest

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Entrance to the Eagle seen from the bottom

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At the deco in Eagle

Another, and the last day of stay Florida, we’re going to Diepolder II – the cave shrouded in legends. We can enter there only with a guide, and there are 6 of them, being members of a special Association. This cave is considered to be one of the most difficult ones in Florida first of all because the entrance to it is a narrow vertical gap, which goes from the 9th to 65th metre and once you start going in, there is no going back – because the diver trying to go back may block the exit. For this reason diving is covered by many regulations. I was just standing over this cave and preparing the equipment but I though more about the fact that my plane was leaving in 22 hours and the cave has more than 100 metres of depth. We slowly carried equipment to the bank, we could not stirr the water because the whole sediment would flow to the gap, spoiling the visibility at the entrance. After an hour we were in water, carrying on our backs 2 x 19 and 3 stages – nitrox 32, nitrox 50 and oxygen. We left oxygen at the very beginning, and then we started pressing through the gap with great effort. Sometimes we had to swim with our heads down and clarity decreased to 10 cm.

But for the time being, it was not as bad as I had expected, at the 21st meter, groping, I left stages with 50% and holding on to the rope, I went further down. At the 40th meter, I left stages with Nitrox 32% and switched to a twina where I had tmx 12/55, I hadn’t seen Alex for a long time, I didn’t see anything for that matter. At the 55th meter, I got stuck with my head down, attempts to go on by force were pointless…

And that is when I felt the “textbook” fear. I only had one wish – to get out of there as fast as I could. I started to jerk and turn upwards, it got worse and worse. I was blocked with the cylinders and the chest, I could not take a deep breath. This went on for just a few seconds. And then I recalled all those conversations with Alex about difficult entrance to this cave and that there was only one way there. I returned to the position with my head down and with the “back and forth” method, I went through the clamp. The cave suddenly broadened, turning into a gigantic cathedral. Despite perfect clarity, our torches proved did not reach the walls. In the cave it was dark, and ropes led into various directions and were improperly marked. Now I understand why you need a guide here. We tried to swim along the right wall. This was weird diving. The cave was so huge that we could not light the walls with torches, and I wondered how we would manage on the way out. I felt a bit like a fish in a corked bottle. With such thoughts, we reached the place where the cave turned into a narrow corridor – this was the goal of today’s diving, I looked at the depth, 93 metres, and underneath we had the bottom of 102 meters. I really wanted to go there , but remembering that in 21 hours I had to be on a plane cooled down my enthusiasm and me and Alex showed to each other that it was time to come back.

We only had to get out of this hole. A we were quite surprised, as it turned out that the gap seen from the bottom was not that terrible, the light from the surface and the natural position – with our heads up, made the exit a child’s play, and the possibility to support ourselves on the elbows at the deco facilitated the stops even more.

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entrance to the Diepolder II

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last breath before diving in Diepolder II  =)

This was a nice and easy ending to diving in one of the most difficult caves of Florida. Even the locals considered such diving extremely difficult. I came back to Poland without problems in the plane and ejoyed my “records”.

Unfortunately, my joy didn’t last long  =)
Already after a few days, Robert Klein came to Florida and visited several caves, which the locals do not even enter…

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