Enjoy Your Diving More With Improved Skills
So you got your Openwater certification and after you had a few dives under your belt moved on to take the Advanced Openwater course. You learned new skills and were given a C-Card that said you were qualified to go a little deeper and were proficient in a few specialties like night diving or boat diving. Your confidence and skills are improving and you are a capable SCUBA diver.
Chances are, during this time you encountered a few divers whose gear looked a little different and they had even mastered some skills that made them dive differently than you were used to seeing. On the dive boat they may have been referred to as a “techie” or as having the “cave diver look” with streamlined modular equipment unlike your jacket style BC. In the water they looked different too. They were almost always horizontal with knees bent and used strange fin kicks. You may have been impressed as they glided effortlessly around a shipwreck or a coral reef never touching anything. If you are like most of us you noticed this and it piqued your interest.
When many of us think of “technical diving” we often think of divers who are descending much deeper than recreational limits and doing decompression diving or cave diving. Although this may sound exciting to some, it’s definitely not for everybody. Most of us just want to get out there and see the beautiful reefs, wrecks, and marine life, and explore the underwater world without having to invest thousands of dollars in gear and spending hours planning a dive. We just want to have fun. Technical diving looks interesting and we’d like to be better divers but we leave it for the more adventurous.
If you are interested in taking the next step toward improving your skills there is a course that could be considered an “entry level” technical course that has been described as the “best course you’ll take.” It’s called the Cavern Course and just about any diver will benefit from it. “But I don’t want to dive in caves!” Is the answer often heard when the Cavern Course is suggested. This course teaches a multitude of skills that you will use in all types of diving and most of the divers who take it never go on to pursue cave diving. The skills you learn will make your diving more comfortable and efficient. You will become more confident and will gain knowledge and ability you can use in just about every type of diving from wrecks to spearfishing and underwater photography.
Taking a cavern course is indeed the first step toward becoming a cave diver and there is a reason for that. It starts with the basics, building a foundation for more specialized skills and techniques that are taught as the student gains experience. These basic skills are just what a diver needs to begin mastering his or her diving proficiency.
What are our goals in becoming a better diver? One of the first things on the list is using less air so we can stay down longer. We want to be in better control and be more comfortable so we can do more underwater. We want to avoid silting so we can see more and we want to avoid damaging the reefs, wrecks, sea life, and ourselves. Being a better diver also means learning proper use of new equipment that makes our diving safer and more fun. All this and more can be learned from a Cavern Course.
The Cavern Courses begins with teaching a more advanced gear configuration which will likely involve some simple modifications of the gear you are currently using. This is designed to make you more streamlined and safer with less chance of entanglement and of making contact with objects in the underwater environment. You will learn to adjust your “trim” and maintain a horizontal position in the water. You will be taught specialized fin kicks and propulsion techniques that prevent silting and environmental damage. All of this will make you more efficient and in control, leading to more relaxed diving and improvements in your air consumption.
Breathing gas management is touched on and you will learn the meaning of the “rule of thirds;” a simple method to plan your gas supply, making you a much safer diver.
Add to all this the proper use of underwater lights, hand signals, use of safety reels , and cutting instruments along with the protocol of safely making a dive into the “Cavern Zone” and you begin to see why this may well be the best dive class you’ll ever take.
The benefits of learning the skills taught in a Cavern Course are numerous. They can be applied in all types of diving, making you a safer more efficient diver who stays down longer, sees more, and does less damage to the environment. So whether you want to become a deep wreck penetration diver, a cave diver, or just a better diver the Cavern Course is the starting point.
Almost all of the SCUBA training agencies offer some type of cavern course. Your local dive shop or instructor can guide you in choosing the right one. The two agencies that are most well known are based in Florida. They are the NACD- National Association for Cave Diving and the NSS-CDS – National Speleological Society- Cave Diving Section.