Growth of the team

Growth of the team (John Todd)

by John Todd
May 1997

The Spring Wakulla dives in 1994 were the last for a while as the system never came back up from heavy rains. We used the time to train new people and to work up the exploration teams. English retired form cave diving, and Gavin took some time off. Exley stepped in and dove with us every weekend, and we went around to all kinds of his favorite spots to dive until he was killed diving in Mexico. Before he left for the fateful trip, he gave us all of his maps and data, and told me where to look in Big Dismal for the Cheryl connection, and described his Chips Hole dives to us, and told me where to go in Cathedral to continue his work there.

We continued with Manatee and broke Exley’s record there , and continued with Chips, breaking the World Record in that site at 14,010 from air, 15,000 total penetration by Scarabin and Sankey. Cathedral we have not yet looked at due to other commitments.

During the bad water days we did get a lot done. The main thing was that we developed new team members like Scarabin and Sankey ( both long time divers but new to the team), Casey McKinlay, Barry Miller as diver and videographer, and many others. Working at Indian Springs we were able to execute what had previously been considered to be difficult dives, traveling a mile at 150 before hitting a drop-off to 300 that contained all of the explorable passage. We were also able to execute the dreaded downstream Sulivan to see where the bad water was coming in dive. Sullivan was easy: we just took too much gas and ran with the underground river until we hit the wall of horrifying black water coming from the Bitter End Tunnel, solving that part of the mystery. Casey was in front and the water had been clear, but the cave is huge so it all looks black ahead. Suddenly , I saw his blades stop spinning and he completely disappeared not ten feet in front of me, and I dove for the line and found him by touch – that solved that mystery.

Woodville Karst Plain Project