Sheck Exley and The Blueprint for Survival

Posted: July 11, 2011 in Cave Explorations

Excellent! I finally got a copy of the book ” Basic Cave Diving– A Blueprint for Survival” by the cave diving pioneer, Sheck Exley.

Written in 1979 and published by the National Speleological Society – Cave Diving Section, it underwent 5 revisions; what I have is the “brand new 5th edition” 1986 version.

My heartfelt thanks goes to my friends Mannix & Cindy Lozada of Oahu, Hawaii for this valuable gift!

Basic Cave Diving - a blueprint for survival

I believe that all cave divers and anyone aspiring to become one must have a copy of this book to supplement their reference materials and course manuals.

Within the confines of its humble looking soft cover and printed over 43 pages of simple paper is a wealth of knowledge gathered and procedures field-tested by the author himself.

When Exley wrote the book, he had already performed 2,000 cave dives. He went on to do 2,000 dives more before his untimely death in 1994.

Sheck Exley had his share of body recoveries back then in the Florida caves and he was determined to put an end to all the fatalities borne from a lack of understanding that cave diving requires a special set of skills and procedures, more specialized equipments and more thorough planning in comparison to recreational open water diving.

The book delves into causal factors of several cave diving accidents. The ensuing recommended special procedures and techniques are very practical, logical and contemporary.

Discussed are the proper use of the guideline, air supply planning, depth black out, panic, lights, scuba configurations, silt , emergency procedures, technological and physiological emergencies.

Table of Contents

For a background on the author, here is an excerpt of an article on the about Sheck Exley, or you may follow the link:  []

Sheck Exley (April 1, 1949 – April 6, 1994)

Sheck Exley-- cave diving pioneer

“Exley began diving in 1965 at the age of 16. That very year he entered his first cave and was hooked on cave diving for the remaining 29 years of his life.

He was the first in the world to log over 1,000 cave dives (at the age of 23): in over 29 years of cave diving, he made over 4,000. He is one of the few divers to survive a 122 metre(400 ft) dive on compressed air. During his diving career, he set numerous depth and cave penetration records.

He died aged 45 onApril 6, 1994 while attempting to descend to a depth of over 300 metres (1,000 ft) in a cenote called Zacatón inMexico.

He made the dive as part of a dual dive with Jim Bowden, but Bowden aborted his descent early when his gas supply ran low. Exley’s body was recovered only because he had hooked his arms in the descent line, perhaps to sort out gas issues.

His wrist-mounted dive computer read a maximum depth of 268 metres (879 ft). It is not certain what caused his death; team members concluded the causes “…could include stress of HPNS exacerbated by the narcotic effects of nitrogen at that depth”.

The line was also wrapped (deliberately) around Exley’s tank valves. Bowden and other experts have theorised that Exley may have done this in anticipation of his own death to prevent any dangerous body recovery operations.

Sheck Exley is one of only eight people in the history of technical SCUBA diving to dive below 800 feet.”

As Jim Bowden aptly puts it in his tribute article to Sheck; “Historically it is one individual’s pioneering breakthrough that leads the rest of us out of the trees. And they often pay a tremendous price for the boon we receive.” []

Ten Recommendations for Safe Cave Diving

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