Next week I hope to log my 500th cave dive while visiting Jackson Blue, Hole in the Wall and Twin Cave, in Northwest Florida. Because I live a long way from any suitable caves, it has taken me more than 14 years to achieve this milestone, and a lot of hours spent behind the wheel or waiting for flights.
It also gives me a chance to reflect on some of those dives… most have been in Florida’s “tourist caves” but I’ve also been lucky enough to dive caves in Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s been fun racking them up.
Also on the list are mine dives… while not technically cave dives, the NACD and NSS-CDS allows them to be counted… They too have been challenging and interesting… and sometimes sad. I’ve lost several friends cave diving. Perhaps that’s the reason for the cave organizations making a big thing out of logging 500 safe ones!
In any event, I still have a line arrow that belonged to Joe Steffen. Joe is one of my mates who died while diving. The line arrow is one of several he marked up prior to our exploration of the Bell Island Iron Mine a few years back and I retrieved it and four others during Joe’s body and gear recovery. One of his arrows is in the Bell Island Mine near a memorial plaque and container of his ashes. One is in the Eagles Nest, Florida. Two others are in caves in Dominican Republic and Grand Bahama.
When I place this last one next week, I’ll be with two other mates who knew Joe and who dove with him on many occasions. Erik Van Dorn, Jim Clark and I will have a little “ceremony” at depth… not sure exactly what the others will be thinking but I will be giving thanks to something or someone that through diving… particularly technical diving… I have met so many great people… including Joe Steffen.
Well, that’s about it.