Apr 082014

It’s been a little while since my last update here. I find I’ve gotten into the habit of posting and talking about the photos from the most recent weekend, which leaves me in a spot of trouble when there either aren’t any, or I’m not able to share them. So while I can’t show you last weekend’s filming trip, I can share our latest Elk River adventures (even without pictures). Three weekends ago we had a great trip into Elk River sans camera. The joint purposes of the trip were to remedy the line in sumps 6 and 7, and to place dye in the stream for tracing. With a smaller team than the last few trips we cut the gear down to the essentials and moved rapidly through the cave.

At sump 5 we inserted Steve into the water and sat back for a long wait. I was particularly glad of my new heating vest. I previously used it in Tasmania under my drysuit, but this time it really proved itself under my wetsuit. After three hours of waiting in a wet wetsuit I was still warm at the core and relatively comfortable. In the meantime, Steve was off fixing the line in sump 6. The sump 6 line was running through a line trap that was not too bad with smaller tanks and when you had seen the cave in clear water. As our tanks got bigger it got squeezier, so Steve spent a fair bit of time in the 50m long sump resolving the issue. From there he moved into sump 7 to replace the tie-offs that I pulled off while surveying the line last year. At the limit of his dive he released a litre of red dye into the stream.

It’s been a dry summer in Buchan and the water in the stream was definitely lower in a few key spots. During the flood last June we had seen higher flow through the cave, but otherwise the water levels and flow remain remarkably static between trips. It was interesting to see how low they do get and to see that there definitely was still flow down the streamway. We hope that the reduced water will carry the dye through for tracing. Answers to come in a few weeks.

Our exit from the end of the cave with a pair of 7L tanks was very efficient. Steve’s schedule of events was pretty close to accurate, revealing that we spend a lot more time getting changed (from trog suits to wetsuits, from sump diving to cave diving gear, from wetsuits back to trog suits) than we do travelling up and down the streamway. Perhaps we all need to practise some Superman habits for getting changed in confined spaces at high speeds. The long wait at the end of the cave is only getting longer as the push diver has more gas to play to with, and I was very glad of my heating vest.

I also discovered that a 7L tank is lighter, less delicate and easier to carry than the camera with strobes attached. Camera free trips are significantly easier…but not nearly as much fun! I’m keen to get some photos from sump 7 where the underwater nature of the cave changes dramatically. Maybe next time…

Mar 182014
Sump one in Junee Cave

  About the cave I talked about Junee Cave last week, after our long weekend trip two weekends ago. The weekend was photographically focussed and I was keen to capture the straws and decorations in the dry cave between sumps one and two. Since we had to go through the water to get there it seemed silly to miss the opportunity for underwater photography, although I didn’t have high hopes for great images. About the dive While the defining feature of For Your Eyes Only may be the straws that line the ceiling, the defining feature of sump one is being cold. And dark. And often very silty. When I [read more...]

Mar 112014
Straws in Junee Cave

About the cave Junee is the master drain and resurgence for a wide swath of the Junee-Florentine karst area. Many of the large, deep caves in the vicinity have had their waters dye traced to arrive back on the surface in the river flowing out of Junee. The tourist walking track through the State Park leads to a viewing platform in the forest. A quick clamber over the edge lands you knee deep in the chilly river, and three trips upstream into the dark zone put our dive gear at the edge of sump 1. About the dive Sump 1 is dark and silty, with greenish water and black walls. [read more...]

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Mar 042014
Eyeballs in the murk at Mornington Pier

About the pier I’ve dived at Mornington Pier a lot. It’s a convenient location for gear testing – the closest “real” dive location to me where you can park your car right next to the ladder and climb into the water. I did more than a few dives here in preparation for my cave diving courses, running lines between the pylons and getting used to new equipment. The pier is under (re)construction at the moment. To reduce wave action on the moored boats the early section has had baffles installed. These are large sheets of plastic fitted to the outside of the pylons on both sides. The new walls go [read more...]

Feb 272014
Three years today

The photo above is myself and Ag at the Melbourne Uni Club of the Year dinner in 2007. The Underwater Club won the annual prize which I accepted as President, while feeling that the bunch of the work done to earn it had been other people’s. In particular Ag’s contribution and leadership over several years of enthusiasm and co-ordination got hundreds of people into the water for weekends and club dive trips. Today is the third anniversary of Agnes passing away in Tank Cave. We’re now beyond the point where she had plans that I knew about. The conferences she intended to speak at or attend have been and gone. [read more...]

 Posted by at 10:00 am
Feb 252014
Night diving at Dumaguete

About the resort The dive schedule at Atlantis Dive Resort, Dumaguete, is great if all you want to do is go diving. The boat runs out to the dive sites are short and the boats leave every 2.5 hours, with an extra hour off for lunch. It helps that the dive sites are shallow so repetitive diving within very conservative no deco limits is possible. The schedule gives a surface interval of just over an hour between 60 minute dives and means 4 dives a day is easy. And after the four day dives…night diving! About the dive I’m normally not a huge fan of night diving. If I’m going to [read more...]

 Posted by at 11:00 am