Cavern! Cavern! Cavern!

Big day today. We started out early with the cavern course on dry land. Terrence and Renee strung a cavern reel line from around and between trees, picnic tables, and other obstacles in the park so that we could simulate following a course underwater.

We began by learning how to use the line as a guide, wrapping thumb and pointer finger around it so that we create a small circular area for the line to pass through. The most crucial part of this, Terrence told us, is to KEEP A FIRM GRIP between your fingers; do not become separated from the line…if you do, you die. You do not necessarily die immediately in real life, but in a zero visibility situation in any overhead environment, you will get yourself into trouble if you can’t find your way back to the line that leads to the exit. We were challenged to get through the whole obstacle course, eyes closed, without “dying.” I don’t think we could count how many times we each died today!! But by the end our naive clasps turned into secure death grips so that we could make it through!

We also learned how to follow markers, navigate obstacles, perform buddy hand signals (when there is no visibility you have to slip your hand signal into your buddy’s hand so they can read it), how to find and untangle a buddy, how to properly cross over a line, and how to reel in a reel without jamming it. By the end of the day we were in the Rollins College pool utilizing the skills we learned on land for our test. Maskless or with our eyes closed, each of us had to complete an underwater course while Terrence and other students tangled the candidate into different messes, or tried to lead him or her off course. Two of the most important things to remember are to keep a firm grip and to move calmly and carefully even when tangled up so that you don’t stir up silt. It sure is tricky to unwrap yourself from a line that’s wrapped around your first stage, behind your back, through your legs and fin strap! I was absolutely amazed by some of the insane predicaments I watched the guys smoothly get out of underwater.

After the pool we finished up the nitrox class, and then Josh and I went to Amy’s house to help her and Terrence prepare vials for bacteria collecting with scientists on Thursday. Whew! It was a big day but really, really fun!!!