The appeal of cave diving

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This is me in a cave in Palau. That’s a fake smile. I’m hating every minute of this. This one had air pockets and breathable air. I still wanted out.

I don’t get the appeal of cave diving. Scares the heck out of me. I imagine there will be an earthquake, the exit will be sealed shut by boulders and I won’t be able to get out. I’ll drown when my air runs out.

In an effort to try to understand the cave diving-loving mindset, I read with interest the BBC article this week about the Finnish cave divers in Norway who retrieved the bodies of their two friends.

I once dove with an obsessive cave diver. His wife dove caves too. They were parents of a toddler. They never dove together, at least not in caves. In case one died, the other would raise the child. And, one would hope, give up cave diving.

Wow. You gotta really love cave diving to make that agreement.

So, you know where you won’t find me. I am planning, however, to dive cenotes (caverns) near Playa Del Carmen in August. An overhead environment, in some spots, but a bit different from a dark cave with one way in and out. You can always see natural light in cenotes, usually to the upper left or right of you. Will probably give up cenote diving after this, since I’m not completely comfortable.

Cave diving is dangerous. Responsible divers get a lot of training before they enter overhead environments. They take precautions. They test and retest their gear. They cut dives short when they get twitchy. Still, when those ‘perfect storms’ occur, some of them die.

Here are a few of the more noteworthy stories.

  • Dave Shaw (A Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific pilot who died in a cave system in South Africa while trying to retrieve the body of a man who had died a decade earlier. Filmed his death.)
  • Chris and Chrissy Rouse (father and son who died wreck diving in the Atlantic. China fever.)
  • Doc Deep died in August 2015 attempting a world record. Not cave diving.

So, why did I pay to dive Chandelier Cave in Palau? When I knew cave diving made me anxious? Because it was a tourist attraction everyone told me couldn’t be missed. There was no requirement for cave diving certification, so I thought it would be okay. I was wrong.

3 thoughts on “The appeal of cave diving

  1. I read that BBC article too and thought they are utter mentalists. You’re brave to try it – I honestly couldn’t. It terrifies me to just think of it, and I’m not generally claustrophobic.

    I’m fine on most wrecks, even some closed ones, and I’d love to dive the cenotes at some point but I think proper cave diving is best left to the nutcases!

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