Frequently Asked Questions


What gear do I need to take the apprentice course?

Follow this link and you can see an abbreviated list of the gear that you need to take the apprentice class, the cave class and others beyond cave.

Do I have to be cavern certified to take the Apprentice Cave Course?

No, the Cavern Course is not a prerequisite for the NSS-CDS Apprentice Cave Course, nor does it count toward certification for Apprentice Cave. However, the Apprentice course has all the coursework that the cavern course has, and more.

Do I need Tec Certifications before enrolling in the Apprentice Cave Course?

No, but you should strongly consider taking Advanced Nitrox along with Apprentice Cave.

In order to enroll in the NSS-CDS Apprentice Cave course students must have prior training or documented experience in back or sidemounted doubles and demonstrate mastery in buoyancy control, trim and propulsion for cave diving.

Must I own my own Primary Light?

No, you can rent primary lights at the dive shop so you can gather more information and make an informed choice as to which primary light you want to own. These lights are expensive and there are a lot of variables in terms of burntime, lumens, how they are carried and battery types.

Do I need to own my own regulators, air cell and backplate/harness?

Yes, this is very personal gear and you must own your own to take my classes.

Consider this gear as primary life support way back in a cave. No one should consider renting this gear. Regulators need to be high performance and not the least expensive ones you can find, don't shop for a "bargain". Good brands are Dive-Rite, Apeks, Scubapro, Aqua-Lung Legend.

Must I own a Tech computer to use in this class?

Yes.. I think Shearwater computers are the best suited for the type diving we will be doing. Predator, Petrel, Perdix or Teric.

Most, if not all recreational dive computers are unsuitable for the type diving we will be doing at the full cave level. If you have one bring it and use it in gauge mode only.

What exposure protection do I need?

I suggest a dry-suit *IF* you have it under control, otherwise a 5-7 mil suit is OK. In the long term you should end up with a drysuit for cave diving, but learning to dive a dry suit during your cave class is not suggested.

Do I need a dual bladder air cell/wing?

You need redundant buoyancy...a drysuit will work but I suggest a dual bladder wing.

What size tanks should I use?

I suggest steel tanks, minimum LP 85's. Aluminum 80's may be used but this not an optimal way to approach cave diving in my opinion..

Which caves will we dive in?

Little River, Devil's Eye, Devil's Ear, Ginnie Ballroom, Peacock, Madison Blue, Manatee

What gases will we use?

EAN32 for bottom gas and 100% Oxygen for decompression.

Where can I stay during my class?

I suggest Rum Island. call me for reservations.

What certification will be issued?

There are several choices. My primary cave agency is NSS-CDS; Advanced Nitrox and Cave Decompression Procedures through IANTD -OR- TDI. I can issue a PADI Tec Cave certification in conjunction with NSS-CDS certs.

What books do I need?

We use the TDI or IANTD eLearning for the cave portion and TDI or IANTD Advanced Nitrox/Decompression Procedures eLearning programs for the tec side.

I also suggest you read Basic Cave Diving It is an old book from 1979 but many of the principles are still completely relevant today.

How do I know what gear to buy?

Most dive shops do not have a clue how to help you get the proper gear for cave diving. Contact me and I will make sure to steer you to the appropriate gear.Cave Gear you need

How do I pay for my classes?

Cash in full on day one of class.

What is included in my tuition?

My time, eLearning materials, one cert card for each course you pass.

What is not included in my tuition that I will need?

Lodging, meals, park entry fees, nitrox fills, oxygen fills, transportation, any equipment you may need to rent such as a primary light and tanks.

What depths will we dive to?

Some of the caves we will dive in are 100 feet deep, some 70 feet deep, and some are 50 feet deep.

Will we dive in high flow caves?

Yes, we will dive in high and low/no flow caves. This provides you with a wide range of experience better preparing you for a greater variety of conditions.

Will we dive in very tight caves?

No. Many of the passages we will dive in are large enough for a pickup truck to drive through, some are large enough for an 18-wheeler to drive through. A few places will be small but never so small that we have to remove equipment to get through.

What is the visibility and water temperature we will dive in?

Mostly 100 feet of visibility, rarely lower than 50 feet. Water temperatures vary from 68-72 degrees F.

How much diving will we do?

Apprentice Cave requires a minimum of 8 dives with 240 minutes of bottom time.

Full Cave requires 8 additional dives and another 360 minutes of bottom time. These are the minimum requirements.

What does a typical day involve?

Generally we will begin our day at or around 8-9 AM. We will make one dive in the morning, break for lunch and have a 60-90 minute surface interval then make a second dive. We are generally done between 4 and 5 PM.

We will bring our lunch and two sets of tanks so we do not have to leave the dive site during the surface interval.

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Call or Text Jim at 352-363-0013

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Updated 5 March 2024