Cave Diving in Mui Chau, China
Let’s Go Cave Diving!
By Tung Kwok Leung “Victor”
After a few month’s prepared, the PSAI China’s Wuji Diver – Guang Zhou section to start their cave exploration trip at the 1st of March. We loaded up all the gear into a truck (by male divers, of course ) at our ZhongShan University base in the afternoon. We then headed to the destination in a full swing.
This was a more than 6 hours ride!
At 10pm, the 1st group settled down and have a good meal, but the 2nd is not that lucky, as they arrived at mid-night and could only take some snacks at the hotel lobby.
Departure was at half pass seven in the morning, we needed to face the 10 degree temperature drop from yesterday. Everybody was shivering when waiting for the van.
When we saw the crystal clear water in the opening of the cave, the cold was no more and the only feeling is our heart are bouncing out from our mouth.
One good news and one bad news! –
The bad news is – compared to our visit in last spring, the water table dropped more than a meter. The easy swim out and back was no more, instead, wearing full set of tech gear, climbing up the one meter step was almost impossible. The only choice was undo our gear in the water and pull it out. It’s really not a easy job especially when you wearing a dry suit!
The good news is – the visibility in the cavern zone was around 10m. Not as low as 1 m last year.
After checking the site, everybody started to unload and set up the gear. Even the family members are also involved.
Let’s take a group photo!! 8 members in 2 teams, water temperature is 20 degree Celsius. All divers are wearing wet suit (some even 3mm only); but me and Ken are diving dry. I really feel a bit shy when having my dry suit compared with the Guangzhou’s strong wet suit divers.
Team briefing started but some still focused on their love one.
Daddy is the most serious one.
1st team in!
2nd team follow!
The visibility under water is not as good as the surface. Last year, there is crystal clear water under a thermocline at 20m. This year, no more temperature difference and the visibility never improved during the deep portion of the dive.
Here are some under water photos showing the environment.
The silt is fine, one slight kick can create a big cloud and all the visibility gone! As this is a virgin cave, heavy peculation is unavoidable.
Compare with last year’s gin clear water….
There are different kinds of crystal spread around the cave – yellow, white and green. All the team member really want to collect some souvenir – no, we didn’t do it.
We then had some food to recover our energy!!
The shallow section of the cave is more or least like a tea cup with a funnel-form passage going down to 43m. On the way down, the passage opened up and narrowed down twice – like a sexy lady’s curve line
The 1st group went down after the descent line has fixed, while the 2nd group was on their watch. As there is fresh water and the cave is deep, you need to inflate your BCD hard enough, otherwise, you will stop you descent barely hitting one of the skeleton laying on the bottom – Ah Kwok knows this well during last year’s dive. This time was it not as well landed as last year, one of the diver could not make his neutral buoyant on time and ended up making a big yellow cloud – luckily, not hitting anything. The visibility went almost down to 1m, when Spactor (leader of the 1st team) finished laying the jump from the descent line. It reminded me of the phone call from Gallup before the trip asking me always to stay as closes as possible to the main line.
Following the jump line, the divers moved forward one by one. I staying at the last because I have the most powerful light. Under 5 bar, we slowly swam into the darkness and keep a good communication by light signal. The cave extended west and down. The deepest part we last explored was 65m and still going on. Limited by the gas mixture we had, we could only stop at 55m. Let’s wait for our rebreather buddies to finish their training and move further into the deeper part of this cave. I would be more then happy to be their support diver.
This trip, a small problem taught me a good lesson.
The dry suit I used was too large for me. Too much air trapped and difficult to release made the deco stop not easy to control. To prevent this, I tried to put very little air into the suit. It worked out fine on my previous dive, but I forgot it was some shallow dive and never as deep as this time. On the way down, my body was squeezed by the suit like a vacuum bag. Remember bring a plastic bottle down to 50 m? My limb hardly moved, but I still dared not to inflate my suit. 3 minutes later, at 43m, my chest had a constriction and breathing became fast. (After the dive, I found some bruises on my back).
During the Narcosis Management training, our instructor taught us to relax and breathing deeply. By keeping our breath slow and our mind concentrate, we can still dive safely even narced. All of a sudden, I felt numbness on my lips and the object start moving surround me. I kept myself calm and deep breath, put some amore air into the suit to relax but situation didn’t get better. It’s the time to call the dive!
As the famous sentence – Anyone can call the dive at any time for any reason, we ascended. On the way up, we kept our formation well together with frequent light signal to avoid bumping into the overhead rocks. At 6m, my dry suit air releasing problem almost mad me miss the stop. Luckily, my buddy, Speator, grabbed me in time and helped to stable me next to a big rock.
I really love to use a dry suit, but it also brings me many problems. Form now on, I will never wear any suits which don’t fit me! (May be a bit bigger is still ok when practicing in the pool)… Is it the time to custom order a new one?