Going Bubbleless

Learning to cave is the beginning of a whole new adventure.

Where else can you take up a hobby which can lead to exploring parts of this planet where literally, nobody else has ever been?

All the mountains have been mapped and most of the ocean floor has been documented. But nobody knows what lies inside the Earth until somebody goes there.

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Fish love silent divers – No bubbles!

Many cavers spend their spare time ‘digging’ to remove obstructions in caves such as sand or boulders to open up new cave passages, or even dig open new ones from the surface.

I’m far too impatient for that! In order to discover places no human has ever been, I took up cave diving in 2004 and never looked back.

I had mostly used conventional SCUBA equipment, reconfigured for appropriate use in caves. Following my 2017 exploration in a cave called Izvor Licanke in Croatia, the logistics of using this equipment became a limitation. The cave was deep and we only had enough gas and bottles for one dive on the expedition.

IMG_7842So, I bought a machine called a Closed Circuit Rebreather. It meant learning to dive in a slightly different way and I figured the best way to learn was to get lots of time in the water. My partner Richard and I headed out to Egypt last summer to take a little break and spend hours getting used to my new equipment.

Hopefully, this new rebreather will open up many doors and allow me to explore Licanke even further to discover yet more places unknown to humans.

Want to begin your adventure with us? Book now for your ‘Try Caving’ experience with WetWellies!

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My first underwater photo, taken when diving a rebreather.

Life on the Ocean Wave

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View from the office

This is my new office.

Several hundred nautical miles from land, somewhere between Shetland and Norway, my medical bay is quiet.

I can’t hear any radios screeching for ambulances to clear, no controllers watching my every move, no drunks rolling in their own vomit – alcohol is not allowed offshore.

I’m on board the Olympic Areas, a spanking new ‘multi purpose’ vessel designed for the oil and gas industry. She’s a Norwegian vessel and I’m enjoying the copious amounts of salmon for lunch – and dinner.

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Olympic Ares

Having left full time employment in the NHS early in 2017 and trained for over a year as an Offshore Medic and Diver Medic, the opportunity came quickly to leave dry land and head out to the oil rigs of the Thistle Field.

I was flown to Aberdeen by business, my hair grew long, I ate some fantastic food and the 80+ crew on board were super polite and a pleasure to be around. This is just as well as I was on board for 5 weeks!

It meant I couldn’t take any WetWellies bookings over the summer but fear not, we’re back in business this winter – so best to book before I vanish again!

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Chris loving Offshore Life

We have availability on the following dates and early birds booking before the end of January will receive a 10% discount across the WHOLE booking.

January: 18th, 19th, 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st.
February: 9th – 28th: All dates available.

Short, bespoke courses available.

What are you waiting for? Book Now

 

 

The Epilogue

The Krnica dive team know how to throw a good BBQ.

You can’t get away with a trip to Krnica without at least one good BBQ. Despite being in Fuzine, we kept the tradition. We spent the first day looking for this elusive BBQ and couldn’t find it. It wasn’t until several days later that we realised that the accommodation had a whole room dedicated to BBQ – decorated with various stuffed animals, of course. Robbie set to work and cooked up a storm and there were a few sore heads the next day.

Lake which receives water from Licanke. Image: Christine Grosart

We spent some time doing some interviews of the team for the forthcoming film on the project and then headed off to the local show cave which we were pretty convinced linked up somehow with Licanke. First of all, Spilja Vrelo was downstream of Licanke – so our efforts some distance upstream were unlikely to see us popping up out of the water and terrifying the tourists. It might well link to Affluent du Charlotte, a smaller dry passage which heads south east not far from the first sump. Either way, the show cave guide didn’t know much about it.

The show cave was short but well decorated and the cool of the underground was a welcome break from the baking heat outside. We went for a drive up into the hills, almost directly north of where our survey was heading. We were met with thick forestry and a non-starter of a task to find sink holes. We had the whole of the mountain to explore yet and it was probably easiest done underground…

We said goodbye to Rick, who had an impending date with his daughter’s ballet performance and set off via several scenic routes to Krnica. Unpacking the van was a hot and sweaty affair and we shoved various items into various bags and boxes for bringing back to the UK at various intervals. Rich fortunately managed to get hold of some squid and chips from the café next door to Krnica dive centre as I was getting withdrawal symptoms and we headed off to pizza Kum to catch up with JP & Anne-Marie Bresser.

GUE divers jump in…

I decided that our last day should be spent in the sea. Ash and Mark looked a little nervous for their own reasons. Ash did not have much experience on his rebreather in the sea and wasn’t confident in his use of a twinset, but he would give it a go. Mark knew this was a bit of a step up for him, but we were confident he would be OK. We sorted our gear the next morning and headed out on Santi Boat, a large and comfortable dive boat with an awning for shade and a nice bow to lie on and soak up the sun.

The two hour ride took us out to the SS Lina. She has been on the seabed for a long time and is 100 years old. She is a proper mini Titanic – completely intact, bolt upright on the seabed and the stern is 20 metres deeper than the bow, allowing divers to pick their depths. We would dive it on nitrox this time and stay in the forward area. JP and his students jumped in first and we took our time and descended as a team.

SS Lina

Rich and Ash headed off to play with photos and I took Mark on a gentle tour. I could tell he was enjoying himself and we spent half an hour enjoying the warm water, the view and the fish. Mark surfaced spluttering about how amazing it was and after lunch, we set off for another dive. Mark peered down into the now empty holds and gestured if he could go and take a look. I replied “Of course” and Mark immediately went inverted and shot head down into the hold and swam about, enjoying his new environment. I began to wonder if his ideas of finishing his diving career when he got home were founded at all. Rich took some photos and Ash had vanished into some overhead compartment to make himself feel more at home.

Ash coping in the sea…Image: Rich Walker
Ash, Mark and Christine on the bow of the Lina. Image: Rich Walker

More sunbathing on the return journey and we cleaned up and packed, ready for another BBQ at Krnica Dive centre. We caught up with old friends, made new ones and hatched plans for the next trip. This is about as perfect as dive trips go and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. We cannot thank the team at Krnica dive enough, nor Apeks for their support and the gang who put in so much time, effort and money to support the exploration. We fully intend to come back soon with rebreathers and find out what secrets Licanke holds next.

CDG on holiday! Image: Rich Walker

 

Krnica BBQ
Mark’s media pack – which had its own bed!

 

Mark the cave diver
Christine’s new rebreather…