Jackson Blue and Leon/Wakulla Sink 2-27 & 2-28-10 Dive Reports
Jackson Blue Springs 2-27-10
Lazy starts are great, especially in the winter(especially this winter), when you can give the day a chance to warm up-hopefully. Saturday started off that way, it was overcast, but really not overly cold by the time TheAwesomeFish and I hit up Cave Adventurers by the early morning(not really) time of 12:30ish(just shy of our 10AM estimated plan time)! We got some fills, signed up for some passes, and hit up the park which had most of the parking spots filled. I think we actually got the last spot. Several teams in and out of the water and we chatted up with Kenny P and dweyant, then BGillespie, Cwick, and Ben M by the waters edge. Geared up, we finally made our way in too - the sun started peaking out and it felt a little better by then.
TheAwesomeFish tied into a cinder block in OW near the cavern opening and off we went into the torrent of outflow that makes Jackson Blue one of Florida's strongest 1st magnitude springs. Its pumping like it was early last year again, so it was sporty. We decided to hang left in the cavern and ran the reel dry before I looped one of my reels onto it to complete our run back over the breakdown and into the goldline. The cavern on the left is darker, with a bit more surface silt, and a bit more interesting IMO. Once all tied off, we started poking around the cavern and found all sorts of interesting little things. Lots of fossils, obviously, urchin spines, shells, some sort of vertabrate. We spotted a few gnarly old catfish and chased them for a bit. I made a swim through under an arch created by some breakdown at the request of my divebuddy. She called me silty afterwards - LOL. It was fun, but eventually time caught up with us and we had to start out towards the faint blue glow of daylight(ok, not so faint, but it reads better that way). TheAwesomeFish did a great job of reeling out, right up to the point where the flow wanted to shoot her out of the deco-area of the cavern Then we settled up on the ledge for a 3 minute safety stop and completed our exit. Pros, thats us. Had a max depth of 57' for a dive lasting 47 minutes. The water was crystal clear.
At the surface Ben M was snapping away pictures with his new camera. We enlisted him to make a run to the car and grab TheAwesomeFish's shiney new toy(Pentax Optio W80). Her camera is shockproof and waterproof for the deco friendly depth of 10', so we spent some time in the basin shooting a few pics in the grasses, near the fence, near the floating island, etc. Took some good pics of us too!
It was getting a bit cold, so we decided not to do a second dive and go grab some hot food. I was diving sidemount, which left me with plenty of gas and an opportunity to give something a quick try. I had been wanting to connect the cavern to the Young's Siphon passage for awhile, just haven't been in JB with my 72s in quite some time with the opportunity to pop through the restriction. It was easy, far easier than I expected... I didn't have to remove tanks or anything, I just kinda fell right through into the Young's Siphon tunnel, came back around to the mainline, up the chimney and made my exit. Had a max depth of 93' for a dive lasting 33 minutes, which included our OW photography shinanigans
Getting warm was now priority, so dry clothes went on and we headed out of the park and back to Edd's to top off our tanks and pay the tab. Then, we headed off to Old Mexico. The food was great, my beer was good, and the margarita Miss Awesome wanted didn't exist(only complaint). Ah well, it was a good day and it even ended up being pretty outside.
A Leon Sink 2-28-10
We didn't plan for an early start, but I got the call near meet time that allowed me an extra hour of sleep anyway(I'll take it). I had a harder time getting up and out the second time than the first, so I ran 10-15 minutes late for our 10AM meet time. BGillespie took care of basin recon before I arrived, so I got the good news when I pulled in - blue from the surface. Sweet, because I hate descending into sludge, even if it clears up afterwards. This prompted several trips of muling dive gear down a steep depression to the waters edge. Finally, with wetsuits on(mine was still wet!), we made our way to the rest of our gear at the water, suited up and hit the water. The basin was clear, everything's covered in a filamentous algae, which was probably more attractive on the hoards of garbage that had been discarded in the sink than if the trash was completely obvious.
I tied in a primary and led down the restriction leading into the cave. The first bit of cave is low, with a silt floor - sidemount territory. It opens up quickly and into a T in the line, we took the main passage(left) and headed a few hundred feet to another T, this time hooking right for the main passage. The ceiling is dark, _layer_ed, cracked, like a dry lake bed, but covered in dark goethite, sometimes _layer_ed with yellow, brown, and white sections. The walls were the same way, _layer_s of yellow, brown, black, and white, it all made for a beautiful hallway curving this way and that, crumbly here and breaks away into several side passages on either side. Eventually our main line drops down a pit(of sorts) and the passage gets pretty white, aside from all the grey silt on the floor and top surfaces of everything. We pass over a big breakdown and head in another hundred feet or so with some really awesome formations before the EOL is found. We turn the dive and start our exit, and I pick up my cookies(at the Ts) as we pass them. Back in the cavern, we circumnavigate the sink and find where we think one of the other tunnels exits at. We goof around in OW a bit more, do a 3 minute stop at 15' and exit with a max depth of 65' for a dive lasting 51 minutes. Its a beautiful dive, and shallow ... and warm(71F, weird huh?). Vis was 100' in the cave.
Perfect, except we had a bunch of gear that needed to be climbed up the mountain back to our vehicles. OK, so its not a mountain, so much as a simple pit of doom that needed to be scaled. We finished and bought some Redbull.
A Wakulla Sink 2-28-10
Slightly over an hour later, I'm geared up in a still soaking wet wetsuit and looking into a small sink on the side of the highway. The waters clear, we have no idea what the name of this thing is, we hear its only got a small cavern and no going passage... but how can we be sure? I step into the muck, trapped swamp gas is released and fills the air with a stench I'd be proud to claim, but can't take credit for... There's more green filamentous algae like thin green hair hanging off the downed trees, tires, rake, _base_ball bat, and snapper riding lawnmower(which is standing upright on its nose oddly enough). The cavern drops in about 20-30 before pinching down into the silt. There are a few small vents, nothing bigger than a softball, no going passage. I look around a bit more at some breakdown to see if I can see anything underneath, but find nothing. Its pretty, the cavern is nice, its just all kinda small. For those familiar with Shangri La's cavern, probably that size, but it doesn't have a restrictive entrance, just a wide open side. The basin is maybe 50' long and 25' wide. The water's clear enough to see from one side to the other though... so atleast there's that! I hit 27' for a dive lasting 5 minutes.
Went to look at another area sink, ended up talking to a landowner(to see if he'd allow us access) who threatened our lives and ran us off. It went well.
I ate like a king when I got back to the house though, pork roast with herb sauce, taters and corn too!
Awesome weekend for diving, got more planned for the next weekend, but less fun and more work to be done... Hoping to ditch some of the goldline that some of the cave agencies donated to the WCDC for Wakulla area passages.
Wakulla County Sinks 3-6-10 Dive Reports
I knew Saturday's dives were gonna be awesome, my beer gave me inspiration the night before. Thank you Magic Hat for the kick in the pants to be awesome with the caves.
Saturday came around and after a good breakfast, I made my way to BGillespie's place to meet with him and cwick for a 10AM meet time. The sun was already warming us up, easily in the 50s I'd guess. The highs forecast for the day were going to get close to 70F, so we still had plenty room for improvement! A huge change from the last few weeks. We headed over to a sinkhole in Wakulla County with Ben M meeting us shortly afterwards. OFG and J were already in the water, tossing some silt stakes down for the goldline we planned to lay out. The water was as low as I've ever seen it, infact it was over a foot lower than the water guage we put out to monitor the waters. It was clear and blue too, who woulda thought? This is pretty uncommon for a site that most commonly resembles a mud puddle. Its also not an indicator for cave conditions, but we hoped for the best regardless and started getting gear down the depression to the water.
The idea was to split into two teams. One team runs the gold line in and the other team would reel the old existing line back up. While gearing up, cwick ran into a hose problem that kept us out of the water a little while longer. Team Ben continued on and started running the line down one of the main passages of the cave(BGillespie had previously put 300' of goldline in on an earlier dive). Once some of our gear was swapped around cwick and I hit the water, dropped our O2 at the 20' deco loop, and kept dropping to around the 70' range before turning at the dumbell. Visibility was never any less than 15' and extended more at points, there was a green tinge in the water from some minor tannic intrusion. There were pockets of blue water along the ceiling with limitless visibility, slightly warmer too I think. It was nice hovering at the top of the cave(which is very large) and seeing everything. Eventually, we crossed paths with Team Ben, who were now reeling the old line back up(since we were running a bit late). cwick and I headed down a side passage to the left which goes through a small, dark tunnel and opens into the ceiling of a huge room where the line continues around in a circuit. Visibility wasn't crystal clear in the room, but until the spring water flips, I just don't expect it to... Its friggin awesome in there when it is though, looking forward to the next flip. After the circuit, we started heading back. We fixed up the line in a few areas, but overall it was run really well. We did tie a weight to it in one area to bring it down off the ceiling. Ambient light was visible back at the reaper sign, which is pretty crazy in itself for this site. Back in OW, you can see the deco bottles hanging 50' above and the trees above them. Pretty amazing, I've never see the basin so clear. After about 6 minutes of deco on 100%, we surfaced with a divetime of 68 minutes and a max depth of 114'. Great dive in one of my favorite Wakulla caves.
After a bit of packing up, we headed over to another area sink to find it very tannic, despite the water levels being really low there as well. Yet another sink, about 200 yards away, which was much smaller... and clear and blue. We decided that after finding some food, we'd come back for a dive. Hammonknockers was calling, and that BBQ rocks.
After stuffing our faces, we headed back to our little blue sinkhole. Ben M and I decided we'd do the honors of checking out this silty little hole in the ground. After climbing down into the mud and laying some gear out, we finished up getting the rest of our setups ready. I tied off onto a tree on the surface and we slid over a downed tree and into a dropoff. It narrowed down into a smallish chimney until hitting a low bedding plane. I slid down the bedding plane and into a little cave before dropping down a hole into a large room. After a little shinanigans with the line, we finally managed to bring visibility in the restriction, that made our entrance, drop to a point where we were OK'ing by touch. Again we dropped back into the room, with organic debri following us after our debauchery in the entrance. The line tied off to the ceiling and dropped down in an upside down V heading deeper into the chasm. We followed one line with visibility in the 30'+ range until we hit around 70', where a line connects the two down lines. Apparently this was rigged up as a deco trapeze for 50%. Also at this depth, we hit tannic water that dropped visibility into the 3' range and temperatures down to atleast 64F and we didn't stick around long enough to see if it got colder. I called the dive, after one hour plus dive, diving wet, I wasn't up for any uber cold, so we headed back up. Ben had to unplug our entrance, as all the organic debri we managed to dislodge fell into our exit. Fun! The room we were in was huge though, and could hold some leads, probably worth exploring in the future. The bottom also apparently drops to the 180' range, so we wouldnt have hit it even if we hadn't hit that tannic water lense. Our dive was less than 20 minutes long with a max depth of 77'. I think the site has potential, but it may require more depth than I'm willing to make. It'd be nice to try it again when its a bit warmer too.
We had maybe 8 people at the WCDC meeting, but it was good. We talked alot about the caves in the area. There's ALOT of clear water in Florida right now, despite all the recent rains and the constant internet bitching. It was good, we're gonna do the April meeting at Madison Blue Springs with the NFSA's social.
Momo's hit the spot that night, pizza slices as big as my head? I don't know anyone with a head that big, or as oddly shaped... It was friggin good though!