It’s a tiny thing… a small orange piece of plastic shaped like an arrowhead… but it carries a lot of meaning.
This past week, Erik Van Dorn, Jim Clark and I had an opportunity to place a line arrow on the vertical section at the junction of King’s Bypass and King’s Canyon in Jackson Blue Spring, Florida. It used to belong to Joe Steffen… a mate of ours who died while exploring the Bell Island Mine on February 4, 2007. He had personalized it and several others ready for laying new line a couple of days before his final dive. At some point in the confusion of his body recovery our attempts to revive him, and getting him to a medical facility, I ended up with a handful of them in my kit. I seriously cannot remember picking them up or being handed them, but they were in with my dive gear the following day.
I’ve placed those arrows in various spots over the past year and a half as a sort of memorial. As with each of the others, this last one has been put in a spot that is particularly beautiful and a little off the beaten track. The jump off the gold line for King’s Bypass and King’s Canyon is at about the 500 metre mark from the cave entrance (that’s approximately 1500 feet). The bypass itself is a low bedding plane, wide but less than two metres from ceiling to a very silty floor. After about thirty or thirty five metres of of that (100 feet), the line shoots straight up leading into a vast fissure that looks like a classic steep-sided canyon… hence its name. It is a remarkable spot in a really stunning cave. Joe’s arrow is on that section of the line.
Joe was a popular member of the North American cave diving community and the hope is that from time to time, one of those friends will swim past one of his line arrows and say a silent thank you to someone or something for giving us a mate like Joe.
He left us all with lots of memories. I cannot go to a sushi restaurant without thinking about his habit of ordering at least one of everything on the menu. And he remains one of the few non-Japanese, non-Koreans I’ve met who shares my taste for Uni (which in case you did not know are sea urchin’s gonads… yep).
In any event, it was a pleasure knowing him and truly an honor to be able to remember him in this way.
Thanks for your time.