Wakulla at 42,100 ft (George Irvine)
WAKULLA now at 42,100 feet of surveyed passage
by George Irvine
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998
WKPP dives for the week so far:
On Monday a team of Tyler Moon, Ted Cole , Bill Mee and Bob Sherwood set up JJ and George for a setup dive to the “Mystery Tunnel”. These two moved the gear and some new safeties out to 7M and explored, hooking the new tunnel back to another series of tunnels in a new area now known as “The Rings”. The Rings are a series of passages that all intertwine each other at different depths and then reconnect before running northwest towards Leon Sinks. The vis is very low, the cave much smaller and siltier, and the distances are less but more complicated to dive.
Coming back, JJ and George used a different route and collected map data while being sure that nothing had been overlooked in that section. Another team of John Rose, Jess Armentrout and Bill Mee is working the third route which is on the east side of the cave using rebreathers due to the extreme distances and depths.
Tuesday and Wednesday other new caves in the WKP were looked at with an eye as to how to explore them this summer. Sping Creek was attempted by George , Ted Cole, and Chris Werner. It appears that what everyone had previously thought was the main cave is in fact just a dwonstream sink from the real beginning. The more obvious sink merely pushes water when the flow is high enough to supply it, and the rest of the time syphons water back to the main entrance due to the venturi effect of that sink. This is why the second opening is full of marine organisms, and the first one looks like Leon Sinks. However, the flow is so bad that it requires special tide timing to dive. This is a real leap of faith experience, since one has to go by the compass and let the cave suck them in at 4 knots in no vis hot salt water before hitting the outflowing fresh water – not for the timid.
On Friday a team of Ted Cole, Chris Werner and Scott Landon added several hundred feet of line in B Tunnel and checked out new leads there for further exploration. Another team of Wayne Head and Jules Tomsits explored the TK tunnel off of L Tunnel and then rode the A-L-F-D-A circuit collectiong map data and being sure that nothing had been missed there on previous low vis dives. There are now seven circuits in Wakulla which along with Cherokee Sink and other obvious features as well as the cave radios serve as great loop closure checkpoints for the survey. We have had to correct the original few hundred feet of the cave by resurveying.
Also on Friday, Brent Scarbin, Jarrod Jablonski and George Irvine made a run out to the Rings and worked leads off of the upper section of A Tunnel, one of the primary sources of dark water. Some facinating stuff was found. One tunnel ran due west after dropping to 290 and at its end, which was small, it had a whole population of black bugs and other odd features not previously seen in this cave. By the way, the whole cave has a massive crayfish population, and we found a new area in K Tunnel on the way out that had a large selection of giant crays in a 306 foot deep spot. Why they were all in the deep spot is not clear.
Finishing that tunnel, the team rode further into the Ring Matrix and found another tunnel up at 230 feet. This one looped both of the others as well as O Tunnel and then went deep again, finally hooking the first new ring after 1400 feet in a large room. This now leaves that end as well as the “Funnel” Section at 10,000 feet, the “Labyrinths” at 12,000 feet, and the “Syphon” near the town of Shadeville ( Home of the Rat ) at 14,000 ft. This dive took three hours of bt and seven of deco.
The other rebreather team ( known as the “Tripple D’s” ) of Rose, Armentrout and Mee pulled out the extra gear from the Rings team on their way out. Bill Mee did his entire deco on the Halcyon, including the oxygen portion all in water . Here is an interesting factoid for you all; Bill Mee and I went for a run before the first dive on one of the trails at Wakulla. This was in >100 degree heat. In fact, Dawn told me that the guage at the bank in Crawfordville showed 107 degrees . We wanted to see if this would produce “bends” – it did not. We also are trying a regime of less and less oxygen time and longer and longer uses of timix mixtures for the deco gas with good results. For the three hour bottom time, and this trip was mostly a 285-300 profile, I did only 140 minutes of oxygen, about the same amount that I did for the two hour dive on Monday. I also made several dives during the week, as well as three the day before the three hour dive. I think it is safe to say we are onto a pretty solid set of decompression pratices that completely defy everything that is curetnly being taught in “tech” diving.
Wakulla now has 42,100 feet of surveyed passage. In the next few weeks, WKPP will be polishing up the clear tunnels while simultaneously running explorations in the parallel main conduit called “M” by the other rebreather team, completion of B Tunnel by Team Twelve, mapping of the Secret Places by Wayne Head and his boys, and a lot of “where do we go from here?” by JJ, Brent and George in the 4-5 hour zone. In between these dives alternating weeks will be the exploration of Leon Sinks, Shepherd Springs, the Forest Caves, and the new stuff to which we are just now getting access.
WKPP is an exploration and research group which constantly trains new participants in every area, and stands by to execute the diving for any reasonable research projects out there. If you wnat to get involved in any aspect of what we do, contact any of the 100+ active members of our organization. We operate under long-term permits and M.O.U’s with various Government and pivate entities. We have something for everyone who has something for us ( in terms of personal comittment – we do our own funding for obvious reasons ). We have more diving to do than we have divers, and more projets to work than we have people to conduct them. Come on out and get involved.