Day 12 Cave Diver Course

Day 12 Cave Diver Course

Written by Robin Cuesta

Owner of Sulawesi Dive Trek. IANTD / TDI Full Cave Instructor. Indonesian Cave Explorer. Triton CCR Instructor.

23 May, 2022

Day 12 Cave Diver Course

Location: Buton Tengah, Muna island.
Cave: Goa Meja
Dive time:  154 minutes
Cumulated Dive time:  1689 minutes

Circuit, Traverse and Survival.

Last day but not least. After 11 days of hard training, here come the last day.
As said before, navigation and survivals are the highlights of a Full Cave Course and indeed are the two last topics we talked about in my course.

Today was about some very specific kind of complex dives: traverses and circuits.
Let me explain you briefly.

A traverse is a dive where you enter a cave system from an entry A and exit in another location B. This obviously requires proper planning and special attention paid on cave condition and gas management.
In a nutshell you start your first dive from A following your rule of third (or a more conservative one) and progressing in the underwater cave system towards B. If you exit in B before reaching your first 1/3 then you’re done, the traverse is complete. If not, you will need further dive to complete the traverse. Reaching your 1/3rd you will drop some kind of non-directional marker on the line and turn around back to A.
It is now time for the second dive: this time starting from B. You dive as usual, following you third towards A. If before reaching your 1/3rd you find the marker you dropped on the previous dive, bingo: you can continue forward and exit in A. If not, then this dive won’t be doable on simple Sidemount tanks and you will need to add one or more stages to complete it. Once the traverse is completed, other dives may be required to clean up the different markers, reels and spools you may have left during your traverse journey.

Another consideration about this kind of dive could be the current. How to safely complete the dive knowing that one side will be easier than the other? And what about logistics? Once you exit in B, how will you drive back to A? Those and tons of other questions have to be though in advance to safely execute the plan.

The other kind of complex navigation dive is called a circuit.  This time we enter and exit at the same location but using a different route. Basically, you’re not turning around at the end of the line and trace your path back to the entry. Instead of that you’re heading toward the exit using a different route, realizing a circuit.  Consideration regarding gas and marking are basically the same as with the traverse. You execute the first leg of the circuit, drop your cookie when reaching your third, turn around then start the second dive from the other side of the circuit and close it if you find the previously dropped marker before reaching your third. Subsequent dive also may be required for clean-up your gear left behind.

This can sound trivial, but those dives increase drastically the possibility of error and f***ck up. Some traverse or circuit can be very complex and some very famous one in the cave diving world already had claimed many lives. They should be treated carefully and with respect. The course allows you to understand and try it on a small scale, but it does not give you a free pass to realize anything. Further guidance and assistance of more experience diver is always a good thing when thinking about completing that kind of dive.

Eventually, last topic was SURVIVAL. During the last 12 days, students have been trained to be able to react to basically anything that could happen during a cave dive. This led me to a small remark. You want to know if your cave course has been good and prepared you well to the real cave life out there? Take a piece of paper and try to write down anything that could go wrong in a cave. Stay realistic, a zombie blind fish attack is very unlikely, as a nuclear warhead falling in the close vicinity of the cave.
Now, in front of every single thing that you wrote down on the paper, write down the solution or protocol you would apply to survive that. If on any line you can’t find the answer, then your training was not complete and you’re in great danger.

My point is that during a course we learn a whole set of skills and protocols that will be necessary in order to survive all kind of trouble. But skills and knowledge are not sufficient. Surviving is practical. It is about readiness and mindset. About will, preparation and psychological control. It is about a lot of things that can barely be learned in books. It is also very difficult to “train” for survival during a course. As instructor we cannot safely create deadly situation just to see if our students will survive. That would be ethically doubtful and I am pretty sure that most dive agencies would not agree.
Few people really know how they would react in a really dangerous situation. Only once you’re facing it for real you would know. The most we can do is to prepare you as much as possible, make you proficient in your skills and give you the thought and mindset necessary to survive. This being said, you will be alone when facing the death. Better be prepared.

Over the years many talented divers passed away pursuing their passion. Providing quality training focused on safety and survival is a tribute to them, as the whole community learned and evolved from their mistakes. Do not be mistaken by pictures and appealing promotion. Cave Diving is a very dangerous sport if not the most. There is an inherent part of risk we all accept when doing this and hiding that to our potential customers or students is criminal. Cave Diving is not for everybody. It is not something you practice casually. You have to be dedicated from the minute you decide to do it until the end. There is no shortcut, no cheap door, nobody holding your hand or carrying you to the exit. You will spend a lot on training, equipment and trips and it will basically never end. You will be confronted to death and some of your buddies or acquaintance may pass away in the upcoming years. Harsh but true.

If after reading that you’re still motivated, then just do it. It is also one of the most rewarding and incredible sport. You will see scenarios and places that very few people have seen, amongst the most impressive things you can find on earth. You will find a form of peace and restfulness, you will travel in the heart of earth, having the sensation of being in another universe.  You’ll experience and see things so spectacular that I cannot even describe them.

As in everything cave diving as its part of light and darkness, if you’re ready to embark in this journey then feel free to shout us a message and we will guide you through this once in a lifetime trip.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Feel free to comment or shout me a message if you have any questions or wants to know more about cave diving.


If you missed it you can read Day 11’s report here:

List of all IANTD Courses, visit the IANTD Website :


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