Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lost in a cave: "This was not good."

Dr. Mike recounts his hair-raising story of a Malaysian cave dive gone horribly wrong. During his two hour decompression stop at the end of his dive, Mike got bored and decided to get some food from a nearby habitat to help pass the time. He got lost due to the low visibility, and things spiraled out of control from there:
I hit my head on something hard.

I figured it was a shallow tree branch or something so I reached up to push myself away from it but what my hands felt sent a jolt of unadulterated fear screaming down my spine. Rock.

Above my head my hands feverously felt across to the left to the right all around. Above me was something that just couldn'’t possible be there and the last thing I expected to encounter during my ascent from 6m in this small head pool.

I was inside a cave.

How can that possibly be??


I assessed the situation.

-No wing inflation.
-Almost no dilutant
-No O2 (it was maybe 10 bar left in a 2L)!
-No bailout (I had staged it as I was decoing on O2)
-Only one fin
-Lost inside a cave with no line and no idea which direction to take
-8 hours on scrubber so no idea if its going to run out any moment
-zero visibility

This was not good.
Not good indeed. Divester points out that Mike appears to be a pretty experienced cave diver, but this story is one of four "screw up stories" that'll put the hair on the back of your neck on end. Here are some more choice quotes:

Lost inside a wreck:
I am in a small room with zero visibility. I am unable so far to locate the way out of this room although I'’m sure I will do so shortly. But even if I find the way out of this room I am obviously some way inside the wreck -– I have no idea how far or which direction[.]
Stuck inside a wreck:
After a lot of scrapping and tank banging I managed to half turn around then I attempted to make my way out of the room. Clunk! I tried again, clunk! Ok this is tight, Ill try moving more to the left....Clunk!..more to the right...clunk! Ok don'’t worry drop down a bit and try again...clunk! a bit higher?..clunk!


[W]oooshhhh! I sh*t myself.
Low PPO2:
I reached the surface and couldnt believe what I saw. Every divers worse nightmare. We were in the middle of a tropical storm.
Link (via Divester)

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Blogger High Power Rocketry said...

Pretty scary to be in such trouble AFTER a dive calling for 2 hours of decompression.

I guess it goes to show you, even after a long (must have been over an hour) technical cave dive... you cant just forget the basic rules during decompression. It is still a cavern dive, honestly if you wanted to go off on a tangent, you should have run a line. And hitting your head (no helmet?) could have taken you out for good btw, as im sure you know. Anyway, I dont mean to rant about cave diving. I am wholly an open water diver, I only penetrate wrecks, but I feel I know enough of cave diving from that as well as my studies, to suggest that you should never let your guard down.

Thu Aug 31, 05:27:00 PM PDT  

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