Another Day At The Office

By: Lamar Hires

Thursday started out like any other day. In by six am to check out the international scene, check email and prepare for the day’s meetings and phone calls. There was one real difference today. I was still thinking about the dive I did with Woody Jasper on Sunday. A siphon cave up this little run that came out of a swampy area along the river. I can't say what river, yet anyway. This is a cave dive that had been under our noses but left alone for years.  About nine am Woody calls,'' Lamar do you want to join Bill Main and me for another dive in place we went Sunday?” I responded “Sure do, what time do I meet you. '' We decided to meet at 1 p.m. at the boat ramp. I thought this would be the perfect test dive for our new computer, the Nitek 3. Three gas mixtures should trim some time off the one-hour decompression I had on Sunday. I knew the depths for the multi level dive so I went to the air station about eleven and blended a 24% bottom mix, 37% travel gas and I had pure oxygen (99% programmed) ready for the final deco stops of 10 and 20 foot.

The boat ramp was deserted. We loaded the equipment into the canoes. I told the guys I was on a schedule as usual. Two of my sales reps were in town for a Trimix course setup for the weekend.  The canoe trip was relaxing and peaceful. We got to the dive site and suited up, Tom and Woody with their side mount 95’s and Bill with his back mount 104’s. I had my side mount 95’s, an 80 stage with travel gas and a steel 45 with oxygen. I seemed overdressed for the dive compared to my partners but I remembered Sunday’s dive with over an hour of decompression for the 70-minute bottom time. I was finalising everything when Woody asked if I was ready fumbling with the last hook up. We started in the cave entrance, a small hole pulling water in at a flow rate comparable to the out flow of Devil's Ear Spring. I drop the oxygen on a rock at the 25-foot level wedging it between two rocks to keep it from being pulled into the cave with us. Shortly after this Tom ventured down a side tunnel to clean up some ancient line and prepare it for survey. Woody, Bill and I continue on, Bill's seeing it for the first time while I keep an eye on the computer.

The upper level goes by fast, all 800 ft of it. I know the drop is coming up where we make the transition to the 120 and 140 levels. I opted to drop the travel bottle here in the low flat room. I change regulators, take off the bottle and switch gasses on the computer. That was so simple; two buttons, just push, switch then lock. A funny thought came over me as I was doing this. I wonder if the heads of other companies test their equipment this way? Then I tried to think about how many even do technical diving let along test their own equipment. No, absolutely not. I laughed and continued on. Taking time to stop switch bottles and leave the 80 stage with 37% put me a little behind Bill and Woody.  No problems, with this siphon current pulling me in I can catch up to them in no time and so I did. I made it to the drop to see Bill expertly negotiate the narrow crevice and descend to the 120 level. We are now 1000 feet back and made good time with the current pulling us in. We have to watch our gas usage because in this siphon the rule of thirds does not apply.

We have to use a much more conservative gas management rule for the high flow hard work swim waiting for us on the exit. After negotiating a few intersections and one large room we got into the low passage. Bill stopped here and Woody pointed to a lead. I was busy checking the computer. Woody asks if I want to explore it, “Not today” I say, “I’m working” and chuckle through my regulator. We exit without event, just silt. Visibility is low with the siphon pulling our silt into the cave. I have trouble reading the computer but no problem. I really don’t need to see until we start the ascent up the crack. I pick up the travel gas and switch again. The decompression schedule is climbing slowly. We make our way to the decompression area and I switch to oxygen at 20 feet. The decompression drops from forty-six minutes to 23 minutes, much better than the hour I had on Sunday. The Bridge II I took as a control read sixty-five minutes of decompression. I gave it to Bill to hold for me while he and Woody finished their decompression.

The computer preformed flawlessly. That evening I told Bo Harper and Ron Muller, two of our reps about the dive. They were all very impressed with it. It was their turn to dive it over the weekend during their Trimix class. Just another day at the office for Dive Rite.