Full Cave Course Expedition November 2012 – Kao Sok

Posted on 01/08/13 5 Comments
Expedition team in front of cave

Expedition team in front of cave (click to enlarge)

In November 2012 our course director and Tec Instructor, Roger Smith, went on a cave diving course trip with two students, Mario and Jason. below you can read the blog from one of the students, Mario, about this trip.

I met up in Hua Hin with Roger and Jason.
Roger’s truck was totally packed with tanks, compressor and all sort of diving gear that we looked like Cambodian illegal immigrants..!
Getting the caves has been an adventure itself.
Everything went smooth till about 10PM, when the clutch broke just after Suratthani, in the middle of a crossroads full of cars…
We pushed the car on the road side and we went looking for someone who could fix it.
It was late and after asking all the people around if they knew a mechanic, I was starting to get frustrated…
You can’t believe how pissed off you get when your trip is about to get blown off after all the time spent planning and scheduling the dates that could suit everyone.
As often happens when you are in deep shit, an angel came out from nowhere and helped us out: a guy on a bike came to us and took me to a mechanic friend of him.

mechanic looking at car

Mechanic looking at car (click to enlarge)

Despite it was late, the mechanic was still working and we manage to drag roger’s car to its garage.
He assessed the damage and we agreed to fix the car the following morning, as he would have to buy the spare part needed.
So we ended up sleeping in a short time hotel which provided free condoms rather than water in the rooms!
That place was actually kind of good in that situation and in that kind of jungle town: it had hot water and aircon!!
The mechanic was really happy to meet farangs that can speak fluent Thai and insisted to take me to his home and introduce me to the whole family..!
He invited us to go with him and his friends that night for drinks and was so sad when we declined..!

No wonder he didn’t show up the following morning at 9, as we previously agreed!
I went to his house to wake him up and I was surprised to find him awake, even though very mellow!!
He collected a few leaves from a tree he believes has magic powers and chewed them to make the hang over go.
After he chewed those leaves, everything went as planned: the guy fixed roger’s truck while we had the usual 7-11 breakfast, and by 11 am we were on our way to Kaho Sok!
We got there around 1pm, than we quickly checked in a hotel and got straight to the lake where our boat was waiting for us since 8 am…
The boat ride on the lake was awesome: the sun was shining and the mountains that surround the lake are simply beautiful.
The first cave we explored is called “Temple Cave”. We wasted no time to get ready and splash!
I was supposed to be the reel man on the first dive and I was so disappointed to find out that my new 160$ reel jammed before I could even tie off!

At the dock

At the dock (click to enlarge)

The cave is gorgeous: about 22 meters deep, plenty of surreal features such as stalagtites and stalagmites.
All the walls are carved with long vertical grooves, colored of a brownish white (like a sort of ivory colour), that creates a system of tunnels, restrictions and rooms that is just gorgeous. Only nature could create something so special.
There are 3 permanent lines, running on 3 different depths of the cave, which make it perfect to practice jumps and arrow placements.
Over the day we have conducted several dives on that cave, doing all drills required by the cave course.
The one I better remember was the lost line drill, in which the student is put in a horrible scenario: loss of line in zero visibility.
Basically you get a good look of your surroundings, take off your mask and wear it the wrong way (so you can’t use your eyes at all), than the instructor spins you around a few times before letting you wondering around in search of the lost line!
It took me over 20 minutes of banging my head against walls and rolling on the mud before I could locate the line!
I can imagine how much the cat fishes where laughing at me!!

After the awesome experiences of the first day, we went back to the hotel to refill tanks and get some rest.
Here the second failure of the trip: the compressor didn’t get started!
Luckily we had 2 sets of twins each, with still plenty of gas in them; so we had been able to dive the second day while some guy at the dock fixed our compressor.
On the second day we explored another cave which is called “Peter’s Cave” this cave is much smaller than Temple Cave but still full with gorgeous features that make you feel like you’re exploring a new planet.

Roger and Jason in the water in front of the cave

Roger and Jason in the water in front of the cave (click to enlarge)

As part of the course, roger left me and Jason alone, without telling us anything.
This is to simulate a lost diver scenario in which students are trained to conduct search.
The first thing we did as soon as we realized one team member got lost, was ascending close to the ceiling of the cave and turns our lights off.
This way you can easily spot the light of the lost diver in the surroundings, but that was not our case (Roger made sure to hide in a remote corner of the cave).
We started searching the cave, always monitoring our gauges as the rule of thirds applies also in that sort of emergency situation (you don’t want to have 2 divers dying while searching for a diver who could be already death or could have exit the cave safe and sound).
We managed to find roger almost at the end of our bottom time.

On the third and last day of our expedition, we went back to Temple Cave where we practiced the emergency rescue of a team member.
In this drill a diver has to drag an unconscious team member out or the cave, through a restriction.
I’m so sorry for Jason, as I accidentally banged his head on a stalactite, while dragging him through a tiny restriction.
We ended up the day exploring another cave, which actually looks more like a cavern but Jason, who was leading with the reel, found a very small tunnel which led to a wide flat room full of stalagtites and stalagmites!
It was really exciting entering in such an amazing room!

Jason on the boat with all the tanks

Jason on the boat with all the tanks (click to enlarge)

Jason and Roger getting ready for the dive

Jason and Roger getting ready for the dive (click to enlarge)












We left Kaho Sok that afternoon, planning many new expeditions for the following months.

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