We're gonna need more lead...
Updated: Feb 16
Richard Walker was already in Croatia, settling in for several weeks of teaching technical diving courses once our cave exploration was over. Ashley Hiscock drove down from the UK in remarkable time and didn’t manage to get arrested once!
He brought the larger items, such as the two dry tubes for camera gear, food, filming lights, flash bulbs and flashguns. Mark and I had tested our pelicases and ‘depth proof’ camera boxes in a local quarry and they all flooded.
We decided that the camera boxes could not be trusted, so we would dive them through flooded, dry them out the far side of the sump and re-pack the camera gear from the dry tubes into them for easier transportation through the cave. Rick Van Dijk Rick Van Dijk drove from the Netherlands and brought some cylinders and extra gas in case we needed to top up the bottles for sump 1. Ash and Rich play ‘sink the dry tube’
Mark and I flew on a convenient new flight from Bristol to Pula. The journey was uneventful and we spent the flight going through our plan to make a short movie of the project. Mark is a superb photographer but he had never really got into shooting video, so this was a great opportunity for him to give it a whirl. We spent a day in a welsh cave practising and getting camera settings and lighting right before the trip, which was time well spent. One important job was to get the dry tubes weighted for diving through sump 1.
No matter how much you fill them, they seem unsinkable! They need a lot of lead and Ash and Rich had fun trying to weight the ex Gavin standard body scooter with two nose cones, in the sea! At least we would need 2 kilos less in the cave. Even then, it rode like a wild animal…
Robbie from Krnica Dive Centre came with us and he was in charge of making sure logistics went smoothly. He located our accommodation and did all the Croatian speaking for us. The gite style house was warm, comfy and had the best BBQ room we’ve ever seen. It was also home to an extraordinary array of stuffed animals, from bears to fighting pheasants, stoats and deer heads. It was a bit strange but caused a few giggles.
Morning from our bedroom looked sunny and pleasant. After breakfast and a plan of the day, we headed to Licanke, a short drive from Fuzine and set off into the cave.
Mark was undertaking his first cave dive, chaperoned by Rich and myself and had no trouble at all. He thoroughly enjoyed it and surfaced on the far side of sump 1, grinning from ear to ear. We shed our twinsets and started drying out the camera boxes while the dry tubes and exploration bottles came through with Rich, Rick and Ash.
The next job was to inflate the Halcyon life raft. We acquired this odd bit of kit many years ago and were never really sure what it was for. It turned out to be quite useful for cave diving projects and to date, has never been in the sea! The gear stash The deep lakes were the first obstacles in this cave. Dropping heavy bottles in here would have been a nightmare and swimming them across the lakes very cumbersome and time consuming.
We worked out that the best way to do this was to load the life raft with bottles and scooter it across the lakes. Mark set up the filming lights and shot some great video of the whole affair. We set aside 2 days for the filming and to get all the gear to sump 2. Half the job was done on day 1 and we w
ere on schedule. Rich loves getting waist deep in 7 degrees in a wetsuit…