A week in the Florida Panhandle Oct 2007

October 26, 2007

Here’s a compilation of the multi-post report. By Penny and me.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
We had a couple of fun dives in Morrison today. When we arrived, we had the place to ourselves. Surfacing after the first dive, there were about 4-5 vehicles, 3 scuba divers suiting up for an OW class (the instructor originally from the Toledo, OH area), and 2 snorkelers (one originally from Columbus, OH) that talked to us a bit.

On our first dive, I ran the line into the Morrison cavern. Getting down the cone to the entrance and finding places to tie off were pretty tricky, but it was a fun challenge. Pue handled the line running on the 2nd dive, she was grinning like a banshee after we surfaced from the 2nd dive.

Inside the cavern, there were catfish, apparently what the locals call butter catfish, and about a dozen or so freshwater eels that were gray in color. Never seen so many freshwater eels in one spot before.

Maximum depth to the fissure spewing water was 88ft, water temp in the cavern around 68F, and we got a couple of good hours of bottom time today.

Pue got some pics on the 2nd dive, but my broadband wireless is barely adequate to make text posts, so the pics will have to wait until we get a stronger signal or get home.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Today we made another visit to Morrison because it was such a great place to practice running line with the flow and small entrance.

On a whim, we also drove down to Panama City Beach to walk along the water and do something completely whimsical and fun. Glad we did… it’s raining now and calling for t-storms for the next few days, so we’ll stick to the caves.

I tried resizing some pics, we’ll see if it worked out.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Okay…. been trying to upload pics without success, but got some to start going through this morning.

Morrison Springs

Eels in the cavern

More eels

Pue playing on the log.
Giddyup Horsey!!

Bob cruisin’ across the opening.

One of the cracks down in the cavern where water was boiling out pretty strongly.

We took a break from cave diving for a side trip to Panama City Beach to walk along the water.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Here’s a couple more that Pue took today at Jackson Blue in Marianna, FL.

Pue catches me getting ready to pick up the reel and leave JB.

First glimpse of JB as you exit. The view is spectacular!!!

Up close and personal at the 20ft stop. There are fish all around checking us out.

Two divers exiting from JB from under the diving board at the park.

There’s more pics, but uploading them is a painful process that times out repeatedly. Hopefully this sample gives a glimpse into some of the underground beauty that we’re experiencing.

Originally Posted by pennypue View Post

Originally Posted by wb416
We experimented a bit with technique, but one that works here is add a bit of air to the drysuit, dump air heavily from the wing, and do a “blow and go” with your equalization. We did it a couple of times, and it is in the technique.

I have to agree that it worked pretty well that way. I really enjoy sliding into the cavern at Morrison. All the pics that I had seen I always wondered who was kicking up all that stuff? Uh, that would be the flow!!! The one pic WB put up, that shows all rocks with a cement block…when I took that, I had to hold on with my left hand, and shoot with the right, the flow was pushing pretty hard against just that teeny tiny little camera!!!!

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
The mosquitos are pretty thick here. In fact, we left the front porch light on and this frog was collecting supper, but the mosquitos were sparing the poor guy no respite!!

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
I was talking with Edd about the flow this morning, and he said that peak flow in the past has been 220-250 million gallons per day, with average high flow being 180-200 million per day.

Last week they took a measurement and it was 20 million gallons per day….. sounds like a lot, but the cavern is so big it’s hard to feel it.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Visited Oxycheq headquarters this morning (just a couple of miles away at the airport). Patrick has a huge facility now and is continuing to innovate product. Lot’s of stuff in the works and on the shelves… well… kinda… apparently last week was a record week, so a bunch of stuff shipped out. Nice to talk with product manufacturers and see what they’re thinking about.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Wow!! Awesome diving at JB today! We had the place to ourselves, and the diving was very Zen-like!

Here’s some critters we shared the spring with today.

Wherever we go, Pue likes to photo the flowers.

Butterflies and flowers at Panama City Beach

A couple of us in Jackson Blue

About 20 buzzards greeted us on the beach after the dive.

As the light was waning and a storm approaching, we were greated with a pretty sky

Originally Posted by pennypue View Post
On this trip, wb started adding “PennyPue” to the pics for me. That way ya’ll will quit thinking I don’t take any pics!!!

Today was a BUST in the pic department. We did an amazing awesome fantastic dive in Jackson Blue today. (I really like this cave…not so sure how I’d feel about it if the flow were at it’s usual pace.) But no pics. I pulled my camera out, flipped it on and it told me NO!!! Rotten camera. It was not happy because it’s little battery/card door was not firmly latched shut. No joy for Pue. Everything was firmly in place, both battery and card, camera was dry and secure…..this little tiny door needed to be moved a sixteenth of an inch to the left.

What an awesome trip. Even though my Pickens camera didn’t cooperate on the last dive, it still rocked. I don’t think that the underwater setting works too well in a cave. Shutter speed is just too slow. Bummer.

I do feel as if my cave diving has improved a notch. (Whether it actually has or not, you’d have to ask WB ) For me, and my personal evaluation, I feel much more aware, much more comfortable……I’m hoping to be ready for the next level.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Today’s dive was a pretty good one. After a nice gradual buildup and progressive penetration this week, our last dive culminated in a long and relaxing glide along the main line.

Setting off at a nice comfortable pace, we were able to reach back comfortably just past 1400ft in 40 minutes before we turned around. Most of our dive was spent going up and down between 80-96ft (approx 65 minutes was spent at depth). Pue marked off the deco on this dive and last.

I don’t recall the exact character of all the tunnel, but dropping into the cave, you can make a primary tie at around 10ft, then proceed into the tunnel and find a placement for a secondary tie-off point at around 20ft deep. Around 100ft back (give or take), there is a STOP sign sitting at about 35ft warning off those untrained in overhead environments. Just down and to the right, the main line starts. Here’s where you tie off your reel.

Continuing back down this wide hallway, you’ll reach just past 200ft and find the main line angling down a crack on the right, reaching the bottom around 80ft. This goes on fairly level with a slight depth change to around 90ft before reaching another crack/break-down that goes up around 10ft. Here you settle in with slight changes up and down, in rooms and hallways of varying height and width until you reach a “Y”.

Yesterday we had started out along the right side of the fork, which is the “low rode” remaining at depth, and gradually getting more silty. We stopped and turned around 1100ft yesterday. Today we went left at the fork along the “high road”, leaving a cookie to mark our exit.

This line jogged up as high as 65ft before descending again and eventually reached another “Y”. This was the “low road” meeting back up. Again we marked our exit side with a cookie and continued on until we reached just past 1400ft. The line was dropping down again and turning to the left, so we only peeked our heads under, then turned around for a slow relaxing return with the “ever so slight” flow behind us.

With the pace slackened on exit (actually we were moving quicker with the flow, but it’s more relaxing), so we used our lights to look around and learn the cave better.

Our total dive time was 105 minutes. Incredible diving, in an awesome system!

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
Here’s the map to JB. We made it about 1/2 way past “Court’s Squeeze” and the P.1512 reference.

Originally Posted by wb416 View Post
After diving on Friday, we took a jaunt over to Falling Water Park. It is the home of the highest falls in Florida (when the water is flowing).

Here are some pics of some sinks and a deep look into the cavern the falls flow into.


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