Accident analysis and safe cave diving

Photo: Steve Straatsma

Accident analysis over the years has played a big role in developing the safety guidelines for safe cave diving. The NSS-CDS in the late 1970s organized a study of the cave diving fatalities for which information existed. As a result of this study, Sheck Exley discovered that three primary safety violations accounted for, at least part of, all of the fatalities. The three safety violations were the beginnings of organizing a list of safety guidelines that could be taught to new cave divers and shared with current cave divers in the hopes of making cave diving as a whole much safer. In 1984, Wes Skiles, who was the Training Chairman for the NSS-CDS, expanded the safety violation list to account for two other accident-contributing factors.

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Photo Composition: Rule of Thirds

Arranging Before You Shoot and Editing After You Shoot

Figure 1
Figure 1

Composition or composing the picture before you shoot could be considered a form of editing. This article applies to both shooting technique underwater and things to look for while editing after the shooting is done. Lots of people can tell a well composed picture from a poorly composed picture. They just say “This one “looks” better!” even if they can’t say why. It’s part of the way humans view the world. Part of it is in our training while growing up, (there are cultural differences) and part of it, is the way our brain and eyes work together to reproduce the images from the world around us. Some arrangements of the elements in a photo or scene just look more pleasing or natural than others.

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“Five Bells” Job Done by Tony Liddicoat

Review by Robert Groth

For an avid diver, this book is a must read. Tony Liddicoat has been diving for over 44 years, and, as one of the book’s typists commented, “I don’t know how you’re still alive.” Tony pursued commercial, military, and recreational diving and his diving career has taken him all over the world. In 1981 he was named British “Diver of the Year”. The book includes chapters devoted to his time diving as a wreck excavator in Kenya, his military assignments in Germany and the Falkland Islands, as an Army diving instructor in Belize, and commercial and recreational diving throughout Europe. I particularly enjoyed the wealth of pictures he has in his book, like the picture of He and Jacques Cousteau talking aboard the Calypso, the pictures of his time excavating wrecks in Mombasa Kenya, or his cover photo of him on Soldier Magazine in November of 1988.

Picture of the recovery of a Wessex Mark V helicopter which sank off Portland Bill, UK in 1974

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The Tech Photographer

by Pete Nawrocky

Many of today’s divers are engaged in “technical” diving. Simply stated, “any dive in which a diver cannot surface immediately and directly to the surface, is performing a tech dive.” However, most of the time “tech” diving is looked upon as dives requiring gas mixtures other than air or dives that require decompression or entering overhead environments. It may be necessary to switch regulators underwater or work with computers that need to have gas changes accomplished during hang times. Carrying the extra load of double tanks and stage bottles causes even more drag. Now add a camera into the whole mix. Before you decide just to “grab and go” do not bring a camera into any situation that you have not encountered before, plan your dive carefully.
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Frequently Asked Questions – Side Mount

What is side mount diving?

Side mount diving is mounting one cylinder on each side of your body. It is used mostly by cave divers for exploring into restrictive underwater cave passage that isn’t accessible by standard back mounted cylinders. A BC harness system is responsible for holding the cylinders in place on your side.

What are the advantages of side mount diving?

Side mount configurations allowed the diver to maneuver through much smaller passage by placing the cylinders on the divers side, thus reducing the overall girth of the diver. Side mount rigs also allowed for the easy removal and replacement of cylinders underwater, enabling the hard-core cave explorer to squeeze through even smaller restrictions by removing one or both of the cylinders and pushing the cylinder in front of them through the restriction.

Do you need a special certification to side mount dive?

No, you don’t need a side mount certification; however using a side mount system does require training and practice. Before diving a side mount system in a cave, practice in open water to get your buoyancy, technique, and kicking technique correct.

Do you need special equipment to side mount dive?

You need a special BC harness system that accommodates attaching a cylinder to both sides of your body. You need two cylinders, two regulators, and two pressure gauges. There are a couple of manufactures such as Dive Rite that uses the Transpac system and Advanced Diver Magazine that makes the Armadillo system. Proper sized tanks, such as steel 80s are extremely important for proper technique. Using large steel tanks are cumbersome and difficult to swim. Tank valves with a left and right handed post are also important so that it’s easy to access the valves when diving.

How much does side mount equipment cost?

A side mount BC harness system can cost $450 to $550.