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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 
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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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What Does the NACD Have to Hide?

Recently, there have been some pretty shady things coming out of the National Association for Cave Diving (NACD) and I am worried that the organization is heading for insolvency. It is worth noting that the NACD is the oldest US cave diving organization.

By the current BoD, there has been rampant and blatant violation of By-Laws to protect the ability for a criminal to remain a cave instructor, there was a seating of a board of director (BOD) member (Rob Neto) that was in direct violation of the By-Laws and they terminated two BoD members (Bert Wilcher and Curt Bowen) on false charges or simply because they didn't agree with the rest of the NACD BoD.

However, the worst offense in my opinion, is my receipt of a GAG ORDER by Rick Murcar, the NACD vice president. It appears as though my telling the truth about thier actions and posting facts to support my posts has really gotten under the skin of the current BoD. To me it seems as though they feel I (nor any other member) should not have the ability to post facts and truths about their actions and decisions on forums such as the Cave Divers Forum or The Deco Stop.

Sunday, 9.9.2012, I received the following email from Rick Murcar (rickofgdi@aol.com), vice president of the NACD. The email was copied to all other NACD BoD members (Tracy Grubbs - DIVEHYPE@aol.com, Rob Neto - chipoladivers@gmail.com, Don Syme - underh20@comcast.net and Larry Green - lgreen@atlantic.net) and the subject was CAUTION.

Walter,

You are very busy on the chat boards these days.

The NACD Bylaws will be applied fairly and to the best ability without prejudice. You may read the current Bylaws of the NACD at http://www.safecavediving.com/bylaws.htm Of particular interest are the articles 3.09 through to 3.11 as these paragraphs surmise the standards and administrative procedures of membership termination and will govern the BoDs in the application of the Bylaws. "

Of specific interest to you Walter is that I will be consistent in applying the by-laws and point out the by-law article 3.09 (6) as a caution towards membership termination. You asked the other day if you were still a NACD member? I answered "yes" because you are still a member.

Other NACD members are complaining regarding your posts on the chat board. I caution you as I will take the required administrative action deemed necessary to protect the NACD and its membership.

Walter I am all about the membership.

Rick Murcar
NACD BoD

If you disagree with the direction the current BoD is taking the NACD as well as their rampant disregard for the NACD's corporate By-Laws, I strongly encourage you to make your voice heard at Cave Alliance. If you would like to contact me directly please feel free. I would also recommend reading the posts on the Cave Diver's Forum or The Deco Stop as well.
  • Posted by: Walter @ 11:05 on 11 September 2012 
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