I know that it has been close to two years since I did this dive, but I was a little reluctant to write this up for my peers to read since one of the cardinal rules was broken during this dive.
What an awesome way to start the New Year! Jan 1, 2012 was a nice cool morning at Peacock Springs (I know it is now has new name, but I learned via this one). My buddy Jeff was also in town and had never done the Grand Traverse. Since I had previously guided a couple of Finnish divers and more recently did the dive with Tony and Kim, I was once again going to get a chance to do this dive.
The planning was rather straight forward since we were both on rebreathers. We would have enough gas/reserves to swim out from any point. We decided that jumps would be done visually rather than installing reels. I know, I know, bad choice and a total disregard for safety protocols. I mentioned that there was a way to also exit via the Cisteen line rather than the normal route. We could even jump over into the Crypt if he wanted to. Of course this just turned into a trust me dive. Jeff and myself had done a lot of advanced dives together and are very comfortable with each others abilities. I would never do a dive like this without being certain of my buddies skills and mental attitude.
Jeff has always been a bit more conservative than myself and I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to the dive plan. I was going to see the Crypt again and I was rather happy to get the chance to show it to Jeff. I warned him about the deep section and that it was very unstable. I comforted him with the information that I would NOT be checking it out again.
I gave Jeff as much information on the planned dive as I could remember off the top of my head and we began to gear up for the great adventure. We were to enter at Orange Grove and we checked out the basin prior to suiting up. You never know what is in store and it is easier to deal with things without a complete dive rig on your back.
When we were finally ready to go, we walked down to the basin and got into the water. We slowly and meticulously donned our bailout tanks and got everything situated. We dropped down to the tree branches and did a quick bubble check on each other before I led into the system. Everything was going exactly as planned and I was comfortable and serene. When we went by the jump to the Distance Tunnel I made sure to “light” it up so that Jeff would notice it. I would like to take him up that route one day too.
At Challenge Sink we did not bother to actually surface and just continued back downward to the gold line and continued the dive. I “lit” up the jump to the Peanut Line as we went by it. When we got to the jump for the Cisteen line, I showed Jeff the double arrows and swam over to the jump. I waited for Jeff to visually see the line and confirm that he was OK with doing this jump visually before I swam onward. When we reached the Crypt jump, I pulled my reel and installed the jump. We did the little belly crawl to get through the lowest section of the jump and miraculously there was very little if any silt stirred up by either one of us. Once we were in the Crypt, I made sure that Jeff saw all the plastic items and where the deep section is at. Jeff led out of the Crypt and I pulled my reel. Back at the gold line I was in the lead again.
I need to inject a bit of history right now. I had previously been reading on the forums about a minor line change in this system. Forrest Wilson had posted that the silt stake and arrows had been changed at the “T” just before Cisteen Sink. I was aware of this, but Jeff was not.
When I swam up to the “T”, I was very methodical in checking the markers and that the stake was secure. In my hesitation, Jeff obviously became concerned but nothing was done at this time. After just a couple of minutes of swimming, I heard Jeff yelling at me. I turned to see what the issue was. I could hear him very plainly asking me “Are you sure”. I nodded my head to signal “Yes” and also said it to him. You have to love rebreathers since they do create an airspace that allows some amount of speech underwater. We continued onward and I can not swear by this, but when we could see the jump back to the Pothole Gold Line, I think Jeff gave out a small sigh of relief.
I “ok”ed the jump with my light and once confirmed by Jeff, we both headed out. We incurred no deco and did a nice slow ascent to exit.
Our total runtime was 2 hours 18 minutes, Max depth was 78 ft.
After the dive, I had to make a confession to Jeff. I told him that I was surprised that he would agree to a trust me dive and that if the tables were turned, I would not do this same thing.
It is only fitting that a milestone dive like this was done with someone that was there helping me to advance my diving abilities. Jeff has been a great mentor in my diving advancement and I feel fortunate to have him for a friend.