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Giant Cave under Caye Caulker
by Marty on 11/07/13 04:52 AM

Photo courtesy Marty O'Farrell

#476788 - 11/07/13 08:23 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,464
ScubaLdy Offline
ScubaLdy  Offline
Marty - your pictures and videos scare the crap out of me.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
#476908 - 11/08/13 10:37 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 5,937
Diane Campbell Offline
Diane Campbell  Offline

#476977 - 11/09/13 05:47 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,428
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Yeah, wow. I wish I had gills

Last edited by Katie Valk; 11/09/13 05:47 AM.
#477207 - 11/12/13 05:00 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,337
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

by Tony Rath....

Spent the last 4 days testing new diving equipment and underwater camera techniques with the assistance of Belize's finest underwater videographer Marty "Hollywood" O'Farrell and Caye Caulker's finest dive shop Belize Diving Services with Chip Peterson. Sorry to say, the Giant Cave kicked my butt again ... the overhead underwater environment is an intimidating and difficult world to enter, let alone create images. Between malfunctioning strobes, maintaining bouyancy and staying safe, I managed not a single "keeper" (keeper=publishable) in over 3 hours of cave exploration - but then I was reduced to using a single strobe the whole dive due to malfunctioning slave strobes. This image shows Hollywood in one of the more beautiful areas of the cave, you can just see the thin clouds of hydrogen sulphide to the left.

#477218 - 11/12/13 06:27 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,337
Judyann H. Offline
Judyann H.  Offline
Wow, nice job Gentlemen....Way to go Tony & Marty....Any chance they are offering this as a dive to the public? It would be a blast to have a new dive site.....It appears to be strung....Unless I'm seeing things/strings.....

My friends call me Judyann
#477295 - 11/13/13 03:45 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,337
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Here is another photo from Giant Cave last weekend ... it is interesting to note 1) the thin line that a diver always has to have in sight below Chip - lose sight of that line and your chances of returning to the surface drop considerably; 2) and older line with growth on it above Chip; 3) The constricted opening in the distance, the type of topography that makes cave diving so exciting. Cave diving is not for the weak of heart - a very technical endeavor requiring special equipment, emergency procedures and gas management - but for those that take the training, it provides a whole new level of adventure and access to natural sights few have the priviledge to see.

Tony Rath

#477415 - 11/14/13 05:05 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,337
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

One final image from the photography debacle of last weekend - an example of the technical nature of cave diving.

This image shows Chip Petersen, owner of Belize Diving Services and the pioneer of opening up Giant Cave again, in the front - Marty O'Farrell, Belize's finest underwater videographer behind. Two Nitrox tanks lie under their left arm, and another Nitrox tank under the right. Nitrox is a mixture rich in Oxygen reducing Nitrogen uptake, allowing divers more time underwater without long decompression stops. Each tank has a regulator and pressure gauge attached, so, in fact, these explorers carry three independent breathing sources - redundancy is key to survival. A pure O2 tank waits at 20 feet for each of us on the way out - pure O2 is dangerous at depths greater than 20', but necessary to cut decompression times in half. All this is coordinated with the help of the two computers on their wrists ... one is a backup.

On the helmets are 3 lights, in the hands another (Marty has 2). They also carry an assortment of tools on their body - line cutters, spools of line, markers to keep track of where we are going, writing slates, hoses, clips and bungy cords - to keep everything neat.

They never use more than 1/3 of their total air supply entering the cave, and they never return to the surface with less than 1/3 of their air remaining. That extra third is for emergencies.

What you don't see is the extensive training, experience and skill to control bouyancy, breathing rate, heartbeat, know where all the different pieces of equipment are on their bodies, track the amount of air remaining, maintain a sense of direction and keep an eye the most important LINE - all while reveling in the beauty and wonder of Giant Cave. — with Chip Petersen and Marty O'Farrell.

Tony Rath

#478804 - 12/01/13 04:42 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,337
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Paul Heinerth Giant Cave Revisited 2013

Paul Heinerth was the first to discover the Giant Cave located here on Caye Caulker. Paul returns to Giant Cave in Belize to dive what is possibly the worlds largest underwater cave that he discovered in the late 70's. The cave exploration is being conducted by Chip Peterson, owner of Belize Diving Services.

To keep posted on their explorations, Like their Facebook page Belize Cave Diving Society

#478912 - 12/03/13 04:41 AM Re: Giant Cave under Caye Caulker [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,337
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Had an interesting dive into Giant Cave today- Heading to the crack from the boat at about 10 feet of depth, vis dropped to less than a foot. Had to feel my way down to the deco line at 20 feet then do the same into the top of the Chimney. Vis went between 1-3 feet all the way down the chimney thru the restriction. It cleared almost immediately after popping out in the big room. Had an easy line to survey that was fairly close to the entrance, then I planned on just poking around a bit before heading back out. Going back into the restriction, vis again was 1-3 feet, but as I got closer to the chimney it went down to less than a foot and stayed that way all the way up. When I got to the end of the chimney line which is still about 40 feet from the surface and still an overhead environment, where we can usually see daylight - it was black as night- At the end of the line I started to rise up to the ceiling thinking I would just follow it out, but right away, bumped into a wall where I thought it should be open. I then dropped straight down to the bottom of the ledge near the end of the line (vis with my50 watt light less than a foot) and decided to swim along the floor as that is what I am familiar with because that is the route I always use going in and out. I have well over a hundred passages thru this part of the cave so I should know it like the back of my hand, but there is something a bit unnerving about coming to the end of a line and seeing only blackness. Swimming along the floor I again bumped my head into the wall, but as I did I felt the rope that goes straight up to the end of the chimney hit my shoulder. I grabbed the rope and followed it up. Next prob- How to find my deco bottle at 20 feet. worst case scenario I swim up to about 22 feet and swim around the crack until I run into to. Fortunately muscle memory sort of kicked in and a floated right up to the line about 5 feet from my bottle.

So what did I learn from all this....? Because I have been in this cave so many times, I just took for granted that making the last 40 feet or so from the end of the line to the surface would be no problem in the low to no vis. I was very wrong about this. I should have run a quick and easy line from my deco line to the end of the guideline at the beginning of the dive and saved myself the headache and stress of getting the last few feet to the surface. We have had a couple divers get a bit turned around in this area in the past, so I should have known better. Also when I got to the end of the line coming out- I should have tied my expl. reel to the end of the guidline while searching for the entrance, but ego got the best of me. So just sharing this as I really thought I had see all the entrance to Giant Cave had to throw at us. But learned today again that Giant Cave can be a MF.... Great lesson learned. Marty

Another great piece of diving history discovered in Caye Chapel Cave- A Jim Bowden line arrow circa mid 90's

I have been telling people that I have about 7,000 feet of line in Giant Cave after our exploration this past year. Well, that was totally wrong... It's 13191 ft and counting. Thanks Jim Coke for the help with that math. So, does any body want me to do their taxes obviously I got some skills at arthritic.

After a year of more than a hundred dives in Giant Cave. Yesterday the conditions were such that it felt like a whole new cave when I dropped into her. I love surprises. It certainly keeps you on your game!

Today Chip created a "main loop" in Giant Cave. This loop, which is about 2500 ft long, ties together the work of many of the Giant Cave explorers over the past 30 years. While it might require some tweaking because visibilty for much of the dive was limited, hopefully this will be the final "gold line" for Giant Cave. In short we have established a base camp and are one step closer to opening Giant Cave up to the general public.

Another nice piece of diving history- The discovery of a Jim Coke arrow. Jim Coke was instrumental in helping to make cave diving what it is today in Mexico. Jim is one of the few early explorers in Belize as well, being among the first to Dive Giant cave as well as the "Inland" Blue Hole and Caye Chapel cave to name a few- Thanks Jim!

Well it took a while. But we are finally getting the re-surveys to a point where we are starting to see the work of previous explorers. —

Giant Cave Entrance


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