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December 2, 2015 
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Viewing Various Maps for a Cave System

Cave Atlas Visual MappingA very powerful but little known and rarely used feature of Cave Atlas is visual mapping.

On each system page, there is a "Locations & Specifics" tab. In the Locations & Specifics" section, you can click on the map to see an interactive map of the area around the system you are looking at. This interactive map is integrated with Google Maps and also provides 3 other map options -- Topographic Maps, the USGS National Map and Open Street Maps (OSM).

Previously, I had overlays that showed the surface location of cave passages. I have removed that for now in hopes of finding a better method of creating those map overlays.

I hope that you find this tool useful during research.  If you would like to see other features added, please feel free to e-mail me or contact me via Twitter.

  • Posted by: Walter @ 11:23 on 8 May 2015 

The Rules of Cave Diving

Most (all should) cave divers subscribe to the following 5 basic rules of accident analysis that were first published in Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival by Sheck Exley.  But how did these rules come to be?
Basic Cave Diving: A Blueprint for Survival
  • Be Trained for Cave Diving, and Remain Within the Limits of Your Trainin
  • Maintain a Continuous Guideline to the Cave Exit
  • Keep Two Thirds of Your Starting Gas Volume in Reserve to Exit the Cave
  • Remain Within the Safest Possible Operating Limits for Your Breathing Media
  • Use Three Sources of Light

Sheck conducted a careful study of cave diving fatalities from the 1960s and 1970s and he discovered that, in almost every instance of a cave diver death, the death could be attributed to one of 3 reasons.

A short while after Sheck's study, Wes Skiles, who was serving as the Training Chairman of the National Speleological Society Cave Diving Section (NSS-CDS), also conducted a study.  Wes's study agreed with Sheck's but added two more factors that, while not directly responsible, contributed greatly to cave diving fatalities. 

These two studies were combined to create the 5 rules of accident analysis. Today, these rules are taught in every cave diver training course.  In addition to the 5 rules of accident analysis, some cave divers add there own personal rules -- here are a few of mine:
  • You panic, you die!
  • Any diver can call the dive at any time for any reason; no questions asked
  • Three gear "problems" pre-dive; call the dive
  • The cave isn't going anywhere; better to come back when you feel good about the dive
  • Do not chase goals

To me, times are changing in the cave diving community.  The "Golden Age of Exploration" has come and passed and the "Golden Age of Cave Training" is whimpering out.  Over the past decade, cave diving has seemed to become simply a "rite of passage" for those that viewed cave training as simply another SCUBA diving certification card.  The steady decline in membership of the National Association for Cave Diving (NACD) and the Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society would tend to support my opinion; these agency's membership numbers peaked between 2007 - 2009.

Hopefully, the future of cave diving holds great promise and great discovery.  I look forward to talking about exploration to those that are in it for the curiosity of the unknown vs. extolling the "sage advice" passed down from yet another cave instructor.  As my personal mantra states, "if you don't go; you won't know".

I am interested in hearing what other cave divers rules are; please feel free to e-mail me or contact me via Twitter.

  • Posted by: Walter @ 09:34 on 27 August 2013 

The NACD -- Another Reason to NOT be a Member!

As everyone knows, I used to be heavily involved with the NACD (National Association for Cave Diving). However, the course the organization has taken over the past few years has proven to me that it is nothing more than a group of instructors that want to make money using NACD members’ dues and not do anything for themselves.

To me, it is proven by the fact that not all NACD BoD members are actual members of the NACD (WTF?) and that the BoD gives away NACD memberships to people they want things from. Let's look at a couple of the stellar individuals in the current field running for the NACD BoD.

  1. Bill Lester. A self-anointed something that seems to hold himself in much higher regard than anyone else in the cave community (if you don't love yourself, who will?) that was officially described by the NACD BoD with "the Board of the NACD holds Mr. Lester to a higher standard of professional conduct, and has voted, unanimously, to remove Mr. Lester from the positions of Journal Editor and Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee". After that, I find it hard to believe he was vetted to run for the BoD of the NACD. I guess if we look at who the NACD is today it isn't hard to believe. This is simply his reward for standing up for the NACD BoDs stand on retaining a convicted criminal as an instructor for the NACD. Reading Bill Lester's platform statement makes me wonder if it is he who is running or the deceased Debra Green. Bill "I make copyright infringement websites and then get slapped for it (remember your lies against Jim Wyatt?)" Lester or Debra Green. Does he really have to mention Debra's name 5 times? I wonder why he simply doesn't post pictures of himself (dressed in drag) and Larry Green holding hands to show how badly he wants to replace/be Debra.
  2. Jeff Bauer. The previous, milquetoast, president of the NACD that proclaimed "F**K it" when faced with dealing with the fact that Johnny Richards (NACD instructor of the year) was convicted on cocaine charges. Anyone remember what Jeff did? Jeff quit! Sounds like a great guy for the NACD BoD -- a quitter. I feel his platform statement should be "vote for me, if things get tough, I'll just quit". In my opinion, Jeff is just looking for more student referrals. That is what being on the NACD BoD means right -- student referrals?

For those of you that are still members of the NACD (why?), if you really want to make a difference in the cave community, stop paying your dues and donate your time and money to a cave organization who's apparent agenda is not making money off the backs of the membership. Instead of sending in your ballot (yeah, you can't vote electronically) send in your resignation!

  • Posted by: Walter @ 09:04 on 4 December 2012 

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