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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Melbourne, FL

    Default Ginnie, Hart, Madison ... and Back to Ginnie.

    I recently posted that I would be looking for dive buddies as I was not going to be spending 10 days with the in-laws out in OR. Truthfully they’re good folks, but my wife wanted some sister time, and I wanted some dive time. Everyone’s happy!

    Disclaimer: It is the express purpose of the author of this report to share his enthusiasm for cave diving. Any perceived chest thumping is wholly unintentional (not to mention totally out of character.)

    I got off the plane in Orlando Wednesday night and drove straight to Ft. White arriving at 2:00 am. Still on west coast time, I got off to a late start the following morning for a couple dives at Ginnie. Kind of changed my routine a bit for my first dives. Al (he’s always there for me) and I have gotten into the habit of a Mainline > Mud Tunnel> Bone Room as a first dive. I like this for a number of reasons, particularly the variety of cave that is offered up. A little into the flow, a little slow and low, followed by a float down through the Bone Room. As I begin to accumulate a few repetitions of this dive, I am seeing a little more each time. Evidence of various learning opportunities can be seen in various places and I am always in wonder of how my little 10W LED gets eaten up coming back down through the Big Room to the Bone Room. Dive time was a little over an hour.

    Now is where things are changing a bit. This SM thing is coming together pretty well and like anything else, refining skills takes practice. So dive two was through, in, and around the Lips & Keyhole Bypass areas. I know its not extreme side mount, but the point is I enjoy the hell out of it. A few twists and turns, a few gaps and line markers done at my pace is just a lot of fun. Poked around there for about an hour.

    On Friday, things got pretty interesting and new. I teamed up with a couple of Amigos, Wayne and Jeff, and we headed off to Hart for my first time. I could have asked for a better briefing, but I am not certain it would have been possible to deliver. Both Wayne and Jeff made the dive absolutely wonderful, even the decent through the aptly named Black Lagoon was kind of fun.

    Then there were the sights on the dive too many cool things to list, but here are a few of the highlights that I promised not to mention:

    1. $@&@% )%&^@# (@#&^ @&&&
    2. &##)(%^@)$^!@_)_#$&@_
    3. *$^$!(&$!((#$^%#$$^%_%_
    The dive encompassed everything mentioned in the briefing along with a few cool surprises. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, make the proper arrangements and have a look for yourself. First dive requires a guide, and man is it worth it. I’ll guess the vis was about 50 ft. in the flow, and the dive was only a little over 90 minutes due to a minor equipment issue we exited back up through the Black Lagoon instead of going out the end. But that’s for next time!

    Saturday, CDF Buddies and the locals were out at Madison. I headed up with CaveDiverWayne. We pulled into the parking lot and met Undercov31 and Crawdaddy. After chatting up some dive plans, we kept things pretty straight forward and opted for two shorter dives as opposed to one longer one. Remember, “Out of the water by Five” to keep the rangers smiling. As we geared up, I observed that we were VASTLY outnumbered by folks that “were coming to the swimming hole.” Yet with some smiles and understanding they were very accommodating at the steps.

    We all laughed good naturedly when I butt slid down those last two really slippery steps. Thank goodness I was only carrying an O2 bottle! No harm, no foul.

    Vis was poor in the first three to four feet of the basin due to all the legs thrashing around. And a bit hazy into the cavern as well, but once in, I would guess 50 ft or so of vis. We swam the mainline to a nice round number encountering only one other team during the dive. How many times did I say to myself, “How come I don’t come here more often?” or “Why did I not bring my camera this time?” That place is just fantastic with all the different cave formations. I enjoyed the dive so much, I was eagerly looking forward to the next.

    During the SI there was quite a bit of friendly cave diving based chatter netween the four of us and a fair number of hellos to the other divers as well. I am guessing there may have been six teams or so. After referencing the map we decided on a trip to the Godzilla room. Eventually that worked out really well for us.

    Apparently, on the way in we passed several jumps that would have led there and ended up taking a peak at Martz. Looking up and seeing light was a pretty good clue where we were at. Did I say I don’t dive here enough? With bearings finally established we made it to the Godzilla room. No sign of the beast though. After looking for a bit, we returned to the banana room and poked around in the adjacent tunnels before exiting.

    I would also like to mention that I have been diving Worthington 108’s since starting SM. This was my first dive ever with LP85’s. Holy Control & Effortlessness Batman!! I loved them! Finally got to see the light. All other dive purchases on hold until there are a pair of 85’s in the stable.

    With miles to go (the only issue w/ Madison) we had a brief post dive wrap said the good byes and prepared to hit the road…. Until I couldn’t find my key. I had been in the car and the car was open so they had to be handy, right? Basically emptied the car twice looking for them. Huge thanks to Undercov31 and Crawdaddy for helping search and standing by. Then I remembered, as I changed, I had clipped them to a belt loop, failed to tuck in my shirt, and simply forgot I was actually wearing the keys. Oh well… Dumb A$$ of the day I guess.

    Sunday rolled around and I met up with Max K, the Russian Legend. He was going to introduce me to some SM areas at Ginnie that I had yet to experience. With a very through briefing, ‘cause I hate unpleasant surprises on new dives, we set off for our dive. Ignoring the bypasses, we headed for the wormhole as a warm up. The twists and turns with a little silt here and there has become the type of cave diving that I am really starting to enjoy. Strangely enough, this is exactly what I sought to avoid when I first started cave diving. As the mental toolbox and “practiced” skills start to begin to develop and expand, so to do the challenges. Dives that were simply unthinkable before are now beginning to become possibilities.

    Returning to the mainline we exited past the H400 just a bit before heading into some tunnels not shown on my maps and made our way over to July Springs. This little exercise included dropping through the Manhole. Obviously, these areas are dove a bit less than other areas at Ginnie, and required my complete attention to leave them in suitable condition for the next visitor.

    After a post dive chat and exchange of configuration ideas we agreed it would be a good idea to do this again when the schedules mesh.

    With so much more to learn and experience, I want to say a huge “Thank You” to those that so readily respond to the Buddy section of the forum and those I had the pleasure of meeting and diving with this weekend. Every bit as important as the development of my diving is the ever expanding circle of similar minded cave divers that I am continually privileged to encounter. (Can you sense real enthusiasm here?)

    I’m home one day, headed back in a month, and already I can hardly wait !!!!

    Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
    -Ferris Bueller

    The most certain way to stumble into the future, is to live your life looking over your shoulder.
    -Jeff Hawes after getting a huge mulligan...

  2. #2
    Special Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Southport (Panama City), FL


    Great report, glad you had such a grand time!

    I Semper Fi, Cameron David Smith, my son, my hero. 11/9/1989 - 11/13/2010

    Never forget, we were all beginners once. Allain Burrese

    My name is Shirley Kasser Creech and I approve this message. Well, at least one of me does, anyway. Maybe. Fire. Sharp things. Squirrel!

  3. #3


    What a fun report to read -- thank you!

    I can definitely relate to the idea that dives you passed on in the past are now not only possible, but intriguing. Or, as a friend of mine says, "It's amazing how much the cave grows between dives."

  4. #4


    It was great diving with you & Wayne on Saturday. Next time you're coming down to cave country, give me or Garrick a call. We'll be happy to dive with you again. Had a great time.

    Francisco "Fran" Amanti


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