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When considering enrollment in one of the listed classes, I strongly encourage you to contact me to discuss the suitability of your equipment to the training you desire. Some open water equipment is completely unsuitable for the type of diving you will be doing with me — spare air systems, pony bottles and wreck lines have absolutely no applicability to our diving and are best left at home. There is no need to bring dive gear you will not use and that will simply occupy space you can use for needed equipment.
Prior to making major purchases of dive equipment — particularly at the Cavern and Basic/Intro to Cave levels — please feel free to contact me to discuss the gear you intend to purchase. Improper equipment will distract from your enjoyment of cavern and cave diving and interfere with the learning process — some gear, while perfectly acceptable in open water, is unsafe in the overhead environment. With the many new skills that will be presented you, there is no reason to detract from your training with inadequate or unsuitable equipment.
Without full knowledge and experience in overhead equipment configuration, it is easy to be misled by manufacturer’s claims of "perfect for cave diving". Unless your favorite scuba shop has certified, active cave divers on staff, their advice may be unintentionally incorrect. Cave equipment and configuration is constantly evolving and those not directly involved with this type of diving are probably not abreast of the latest developments. You may find that the equipment you purchased is not suitable and the dollars you spent have been wasted.
Please understand that I have no direct interest in where you purchase your dive gear — only that you have the correct gear for this very unique and challenging diving.
Dive equipment configuration is almost as important as the actual gear you dive with. Wrist mounted computers are preferred to the bulky line-ensnaring consoles that are common to open water diving. High and intermediate pressure hose lengths can be shorter than those used in open water to aid in streamlining the diver and reducing the possibility of ensnarement, entanglement or silting. Pistol and lantern grip light handles are difficult to use with a cave reel — tubular bodied lights or hand-mounted lights are preferred. These are but a few of the special considerations that create an efficient and comfortable cave equipment system.
The bottom line is that the cavern, cave or technical diver requires the proper equipment for the course undertaken. My job in training you and your enjoyment of the course will be greatly enhanced if we discuss gear choices before you arrive for diving.
I am readily available to assist you in your choice of equipment and suggestions for configuring that equipment. — Johnny Richards
North Florida Cave