After waking up at 5AM and packing up the car, I made it over to DogHouseDiver's place for 6AM to load up a bit more gear and make the ride East. I'm rocking an epic exhaust leak that let everyone know we were on our way. The drone of the exhaust(or lack thereof) helped keep me awake that morning. Sunrise led way to a beautiful day and the chilly early temps warmed up quickly as time crept forward. We made it to Edd's around 8:30AM to fill our tanks. Denisegg and wjefferis fled at our arrival, certainly it was the menacing exhaust that sent them away with a quickness!
Wakulla County Sinks 11-14-9
Took a little longer than expected to get fills, so we didn't make it out to the Leon Sinks area, technically in Wakulla Co, until around 12:15ish(we lose an hour after crossing the timezone). Theawesomefish and cwick were there waiting for us. Some quick hello's and we head out to our private entrance into the park area, which cuts the distance to the sinks down considerably. The landowner updated us with his current happenings and showed off his new wall ornament, a nice deer he took in IL. He also showed us a big ole cow hide he has for sale - LOL. If anyone is interested, it appears to be a nice one!
Finally we broke away and drove out to the back of the property. We took a quick walk out to the sinks to verify our Friday night tip was correct and the sinks had cleared. Up until Friday night, we had planned to rent a boat from Cave Adventurers and dive the Mill Pond. We had all figured that the Wakulla area sinks would have been blown out after the rains spun off from Ida. I got a call that everything was clear and we reverted back to our original Wakulla County dive plans. The first sink we walked down to was Cream Sink, it was clear we knew everything inline with it would have similar conditions so we started gearing up back at the cars. I had brought a handtruck to help get tanks down to the water, made things a little easier even though I was going to the nearest possible sink to our parking area. Theawesomefish would be diving with DogHouseDiver(who was lucky she brought a wagon for their gear) in Promise Sink's cavern and I'd be diving with cwick. We had planned to attempt a fairly decent swim upstream to ClearCut, which would bring us through a half dozen other sinks.
It didn't take us long to get out to the water with all our gear and Chris and I made our way into the sink, which was actually quite easy compared to some of the other area sinks. Some last minute checks had us short one working primary light, our backup primary was directly overhead, so we opted for a cavern dive on both the upstream and downstream sides of the sink. Visibility was around 30-40' with a slight green tinge, more than enough to give us a great little cavern dive. I hit a max depth of 41' with a total divetime of 33 minutes. Once we surfaced, we geared down and headed over to Promise to see how our dive buddies were doing. They had a good cavern dive as well and the cold water temps cut their second dive off the agenda. While they were at it, they pulled all sorts of trash as well as a tire out of the sink.
All in all, a great way to start up the weekend and our little group headed over to the WCDC meeting. Not the largest turnout, but it was a business meeting more than anything else and we worked through everything quickly. Our December meeting is going to have a potluck with a cajun theme, a GREAT time to come check out the club! A large group from the meeting hit up our favorite post dive spot, El Jalisco, for some excellent Mexican grub!
Theawesomefish offered up her living room for the night, futon and airmatress ready for the night. DHD and I took the free stay up and crashed until morning. Theawesomefish left early to meet up with Perrone and head to Manatee Springs for the DUI Dog Days. Our plans were to stick around in the Wakulla area, so we headed out and checked conditions at Church, which had improved significantly since the cleanup day about a month ago. The club had cleaned the sink out from loads of garbage, but cans were already starting to show back up around the site. The water was blue and clear from the surface, a big change from a month ago(green and funky). Church is on private property and isn't open to diving
I wanted to visit another sink I had been to only once previously. So we headed off into the woods. We got a pretty knarly sneer as we passed up a hunter parked along the side of the road. He had empty kennels on the back of his truck since his dogs were out running around in the woods. We parked near where I thought we should be, and as luck should have it, we were at our site. The two of us walked to a steep sided depression that dropped about 50-60' to a small pool of water, maybe 15' across. A shot rang out and I dropped to the ground - LOL. It caught me off guard. I had a green jacket with an orange inside liner... and I turned it inside out. We scrambled down the depression to the water and were greeted with crystal clear cobalt blue water. I had never dived the site and the last time I was there it had been quite tannic and I couldn't see down into the water, much less where the entrance is located. It was pretty obvious this time around that the logs choked out all but a small area that would allow entry into whatever cavern/cave lay below. We cautiously made our way back to the car, trying to look as little like wild game as possible. Another shot rang out and this time DHD hit the ground. Apparently one of the hunters were looking at us this time around when the shot went off. No idea if the same hunter is who shot the gun, or not, but we hauled ass out of there. My exhaust leak was sure to scare any deer off far from the area. The previous day, we joked about a blaze orange WCDC shirt. I think its a great idea now, seriously
Wakulla County Sink 11-15-9
We hit up the Hardees in Crawfordville for some breakfast and then decided to go check out a group of sinks that the club has arranged access to in the area. We looked at three of the sinks on this private plot of land and they were all noticably clearer than I had ever seen in the past
We opted to dive at the first location, but needed fills again so we headed to Wakulla Dive Center for a quick fill. Gregg was out training a class, so his wife topped off the tank. It didn't take us long to get back to the sink and we geared up in wet wetsuits and hit the water. Visibility was around 20' and with a yellow-green hue shallow, and getting slightly more tannic at the deeper areas of the cavern. I ran the reel and we circumnavigated the entire debri cone lapping around the cavern. This is a dark cave, lots of particulate, silt and algae on everything, and can be quite spooky. We had a great dive though and I've finally got a pretty good idea on where all the leads into cave can be located within the cavern zone. I had a max depth of 84' for a dive lasting 42 minutes. I enjoyed the dive and DogHouseDiver seemed to as well.
Leon County Sink 11-15-9
After the dive, I was hungry to get back in the sink we had visited earlier in the day. I figured the hunters would be gone for the day. I knew a few other divers in the area that knew about the sink, so I had a few options on who to call to buddy up with for the dive. This site isn't known widely, and the idea is to keep it that way, so my options were only people who already knew about the site. I'd find out its for good reason. So we met up with one of my other dive buddies and headed over to the sink. It took several trips to get our gear down the depression and I was really missing out on having my 72s with me. I had only packed my 95s, which aren't exactly the lightest tanks in the world to be humping down a near vertical depression. We were going to trash the visibility in the small basin while gearing up, so I went first to go ahead and tie off to the permanant line with my primary before our combined silt poured into the cavern entrance. The logs jamming the entrance were covered in albino crawfish. The cavern looked large, but I headed back up to meet back up with my buddy.
We both descended into the water and squirmed our way between fallen trees and into the cavern entrance. It was a big cavern with a level ceiling, sheer walls and a breakdown and silt laden floor that sloped down deeper as we headed in. The cavern opens up into a HUGE room. This is easily the largest cavern I've been into at better than a 100' wide, likely better than 150' long and 40' tall. OMG it was a beautiful. White walls and crystal clear water with over 100' visibility. The nicest claybank I've ever seen was located here and nothing in the cave showed any signs of previous divers. Not a fin kick mark in the silt, no marks on the walls, a completely unmolested claybank, no signs aside from the line running through it. Cave crawfish and other cave bugs were incredibly prevelant, you could see them everywhere. Eventually, we teared ourselves away from the cavern area and made our way to the rest of the cave. The passage seemed comprised of mostly breakdown and bedding plane. Everything was incredibly chaulky and silt covered every available surface. The passage was low and looked like a collapse waiting to happen. It really made you think twice before exhaling your breath into the ceiling. We continued on slowly and through a few low restrictions and made our way to another breakdown room where the end of the line was tied off around a rock. We were maybe a little over 300' from the entrance, its a short cave. The breakdown pinched off closing any chance of further exploration. Dunno if I'll dive the cave again, we turned the dive and only had visibility throughout most of the exit back into the cavern. Now the cavern is worth the trip in itself, its simply amazing. We spent the rest of our nearly hour long dive just looking around in the cavern. There are lots of features to enjoy, ancient fossils, far more modern fossils, cave life, excellent visibilty, and a wierd tannic(or maybe sulfide?) _layer_ along the floor. I'd hate to see this site exploited, several of the more accessible fossils would certainly disappear. It'd also be a terrible tragedy for something to happen to the claybank here. It'll be a kept secret, so just enjoy the photo, knowing that places like this exist and await discovery!
It was a great trip and we headed out just before sunset. DogHouseDiver and I hit up the Popeye's in Marianna before bombing on home the rest of the way. We talked about cave diving the entire time, this is fairly typical on these trips as it never gets old and with great sites fresh on our minds, there was alot to talk about. Very much looking forward to getting back in the area for the December meeting and hopefully get much more diving in!