I’ve been in Indonesia for the past two weeks doing lots of diving and I have more than a few photos and dives to catch you up on. I’m going to do it backwards and start with the second week first, which was the cave diving and exploration. Then I’ll skip backwards with a few thoughts about the fabulous rEvo course from the week before. Stay tuned, and here’s the first instalment.
Kristal Cave is, as the name suggests, full of crystal clear water. The local dive operation Dive Alor Dive brings groups here for a break from diving the corals and swarming fish out in the tropical ocean. We flew in mid-morning and after a quick gear sort and lunch headed out to the cave. A short walk from the car we climbed down a rockpile into the dark, watched by a convoy of local kids.
The locals use the entrance pool as a swimming hole and for laundry and washing, and there are a few single-use plastic soap packets floating around and wedged in the rocks. The large, silt-free entrance pool made gearing up easy. Once I had my tanks on I ducked down to 5m to retrieve the end of the permanent line. Donovan has run an orange nylon rope through to the inner chamber.
The cave reaches a max depth of around 13m with a nice halocline at about 10m. You can seeing the mixing layer created by Stefan moving through in the shot above. After a short swim we surfaced in the internal chamber, seriously upsetting a couple of bats with our lights. The presence of bats suggests that there’s another exit to the surface but from what I could see the fissure they disappeared into is bat-sized all the way up.
From the internal chamber we followed two guidelines that were teed off the orange rope and went for a little poke around the sides. The “rock” is incredibly crumbly – you can see the distinct shells and corals that form the limestone and they’re not particularly well stuck together. It’s a bit disconcerting to watch some very large tie-off points snap away as you wrap the line against them. On the other hand there are some great shells embedded in the walls, and it grips the line fantastically when you do find a solid tie-off.
After returning to the main line we tied in and had a little grovel down the sides of the rockpile. It looks like the rockfall has blocked the continuing passage, but I did get back down to 8m. Getting back to the halocline at 10m will be where the action is…I’d go back for another look, next trip. On the way out I ran into a large eel, who I guess is eating the small shrimp in the entrance pool.
All in all this was an easy little check-out dive to get everything trimmed out before the serious stuff started the next day. I revisited my halocline photography techniques from the Roe Plains caves – there’s no point swimming through the halocline first and trying to photograph it afterwards. The sidemount allys were interestingly floaty after diving with steels at home, and cave diving in a wetsuit is always fun. Water temp was 30 degrees, so no complaints there. By the end of our little splash I felt prepared for the week of fun.