Cave Diving FAQ
Cave diving is an extremely hazardous sport. For further information on how to become a trained cave diver.
Is Cave Diving Dangerous?
You bet your life it is. In fact, over 400 people have bet there lives on it since the mid 1960's and lost the bet. In almost all cave diving accidents people entered into an environment which they were ill equipped and untrained for. With proper training, equipment and attitude cave diving can be safely undertaken. For more information on training please contact us
Why does anyone want to go in "those" underwater caves?
This is probably the hardest question to answer because the answer is different for everyone who cave dives. Most underwater caves are quite beautiful. This beauty can be attributed due to their cave formations, passageways, mineral encrustations, silt formations, unique fauna such as blind cave fish, and even bacteria colonies. Most anyone who has been in a cavern zone has seen the beauty of the sunlight shining through the opening. Other cave divers are entranced with the difficulty: they enjoy a challenge. The cave passageways are usually complex and the trained cave diver must plan carefully. The planning for and successful execution of a cave dive through a cave can be enormously satisfying. And yet other cave divers simply love the technology: they are equipment junkies. This isn't always a good thing, but even with a minimalist approach to cave diving, there is quite a bit of gear required, and certainly quite a bit of preparation, cleaning, adjusting, assembling and reassembling. The diver, too, must be careful to keep their second most important piece of equipment in shape, too: their body.
What's the MOST important piece of cave-diving equipment?
The mind of the diver. With the proper training and proper attitude, the divers mind can conceive of, prepare for, and execute successful cave dives for many, many years without incident.
What is a successful cave dive?
The one you return from.
What about all those deaths we hear about?
First, understand that newspapers seem to love to sensationalize any death in an underwater cave. Headlines will read "MAN-EATING CAVE KILLS ANOTHER DIVER". The problem with this is, caves don't kill people. Stupidity usually kills people, either because they were not properly trained, or they were stupid in not maintaining their equipment. Almost all of the deaths attributed to underwater caves are open-water divers completely untrained in the specialized techniques required to survive a cave-dive. What open-water divers don't realize is, no amount of experience in open-water will prepare them for an underwater cave. Even in recent years, there have been instructors and so-called technical divers who didn't come back from a cave dive. This is because they were not properly trained. So, caves don't kill divers... a diver is 100% responsible for their own safety each time they go in the water.
But shouldn't we just close up underwater caves to prevent deaths?
Well, since more people die while bowling, shouldn't we ban bowling from the U.S.? What about skydiving, rock climbing, kayaking, or even swimming down at the local Cave? That's statistically more dangerous. The answer to these questions is always the same: education. Both the Dover’s Network support a program where warning signs are posted just inside a cave entrance. These signs warn the curious diver that they should not proceed into the cave unless they are properly trained and equipped. Some of the signs include a depiction of the Grim Reaper, to underline the life-or-death decision the diver is about to make. Just about anyone can rent an airplane, get a army-surplus parachute and jump out of a plane. It is no less ridiculous an idea than entering a water-filled cave. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, access to water filled caves is much easier, and the PERCEIVED danger much less. Again, the answer is education. This Web site is yet another way in which Diver’s Network and NSS-CDS hopes to educate, in general, the public and, more specifically, open-water divers to the dangers of diving into water-filled caves.
What does ego have to do with cave diving?
Ego, stress, motivation, judgement... understanding and dealing with these psychological aspects are all critical in successful cave diving. While cave divers are probably pre-judged as being young, macho daredevils, that may be true only above the water line. Once in the water, even the most confident and virule diver has to know when to "call the dive", in other words, turn around and head on out when things start going wrong, or, simply, when they get a "bad feeling." If you don't think you can do that, then cave diving is not for you.
How do I find the right instructor?
Not only is this an excellent question, but your choice will color your entire cave diving experience. So do your homework. Find someone that not only does a good job of teaching, but does it with a style that is comfortable for you. Talk to everyone you can. Ask them all kinds of questions about their training and their instructors. But, since almost everyone only takes a single course from one instructor, it can be difficult for them to be objective, so you also have to be wary of TOO glowing a report. You should also contact the instructors that you are thinking about.
How can I prepare myself ahead of time for my class(es)?
Other than meeting the requirements, the two best things you can do is 1) to dive as much as you can, in as many different situations as you can, and 2) you can read some of the books that are available for cave divers. The two best books to start with are Sheck Exley's "Blueprint for Survival", the "NSS-CDS Student Workbook" and the "NSS Cave Diving Manual".
Where can I get the right equipment?
Do you know what the "right" equipment is? Probably not. Equipment considerations are taught throughout the cave diver training course, so it is unlikely you'll really know prior to that. However, you can always talk to a variety of cave divers, look at their gear and ask questions like why did they choose this, why is that there, etc. However, one prudent approach is to rent a good deal of your gear for the course. Many instructors will have a wide variety of equipment, giving you the opportunity to try out different brands, different configurations. However, some instructors teach a strict Hogarthian configuration which will almost explicitly define the equipment you will need and use. Others instructors prefer to expose the students to ALL brands and types, and let the student decide which is best. This is another question you could ask when investigating instructors. Neither approach is bad or good, just different.
What is the Hogarthian configuration?
While many instructors don't believe in the Hogarthian system, many others approach it as being the most common-sense way to configure your gear. Within the tight-knit cave diver community, it is akin to a religious war... kind of like IBM PCs versus Apple Macintosh.
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