Sidemounting in Brazil
After a successful exploration and training visit to Brazil last year, on Monday, Aug. 11, 1997 I arrived at Sao Paulo for the purpose of teaching sidemount cave diving and hopefully doing some more in the way of exploring new cave. Gabriel Ganme of the Diving College of Sao Paulo initiated the trip, and the principle sponsors of the trip were Seaquest and U. S. Divers of Brazil. After just a few hours sleep our journey of 14 hours to city of Bonito, Brazil began. Bonito is a small town approximately 700 miles west of Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was very nice to see the landowners again. Their hospitality was most appreciated.
Following my trip last year, I sent a copy of the Convict Spring Video to the landowners as a gesture of my appreciation and to show what some of the caves in Florida were like. I understand that the tape was well accepted and was shared with many of the neighboring ranchers. After meeting some of the owners, three new cave systems were opened up to cave divers. I also had the opportunity to teach sidemounting while laying line in one of those systems. What a dive! In my wildest dreams, I never thought this would be possible.
Our first day was spent preparing our dive gear and photographic equipment for the upcoming dives. With Thomas, an attorney and sidemount student, I dove the beeshole, one of last year’s caves, to check out a couple of possibilities of tunnels for teaching. I especially wanted to check out the warm water tunnel I observed from last year. I never got the opportunity to go back myself and go through that restriction.
On Thursday I started the first group of divers and also did a photo shoot in the Mimosa system. That afternoon I was invited to dive in the Ceita Core, which means Land of my Children, to dive and also do a photo shoot. The next several days was doing the classes and meeting people of the area. Because of depth, the caves of Brazil are over the 130-foot limit; we had a lot of Decompression to do. So at the stops I had the students remove and replace their tanks. Then swim upside down to demonstrate proper hook ups and mounting of tanks. Also one of the students pointed out a small opening in the rocks, I entered and turned around and pulled my way back out. This became very popular with the students, as only one was able to do this. Again pointing out sidemounting is mostly a mental game of the mind. Sunday morning the last dives of training was completed and feel the class was well received by all.
Sunday afternoon I was invited to snorkel the Rio Da Prata (The Silver River) which is like the Ichetucknee River here in Florida, except all the beautiful underwater life. The snorkel tour is about 3 hours with about 30 to 40 different kinds of beautiful fishes. Highlight was swimming with the Anaconda’s. The Anaconda’s are from 10 to possibly 20 feet long and approximately a foot in diameter. Of course underwater they seem much larger. They really are good swimmers and move fairly fast as you snorkel by. There is also crocodiles in the river but I never saw them. During the tour you have to snorkel under trees which have fallen into the river and also go through a section of waterfalls. The big white water area we walked around, but later found out we possibly could have done them. That was an experience of a lifetime. If you ever get to the Bonito area you will need to snorkel this river. After the tour, Gabriel Ganme had the manager show me some new caves that were on the property. After a long walk we were in the like swamp area and the manager said to stay on the slices of tree trunks. I took a step off of the tree slices and immediately sank to my waist in muck. I later found out the tree slices were about 6 feet long. We arrived at the first spring, small but very clear and beautiful water. I snorkeled down to the entrance and feel I could enter the cave. It is very small, but feel it is diveable and then the manager said to name the spring. In surprise I said this was not my country and would have no idea what to name it. I decided to play the stall game and after a while realized it wasn’t going to work. I finally asked if anything was unusual around here and they said a very rare tree was right beside the spring. I asked what the name of the tree was and they said Taruma. I said then the name of the spring is Taruma. I was shown 3 more springs within a 200 feet of the first. With the openings at 10 to 15 feet of water the pressure boils at least 6 inches above the water level, what water pressure and flow. The openings are very small and saying this to the manager he wanted me to name the 3 springs. After a while I named them the 3 Lady’s. When I go back to Brazil, I will dive Taruma Spring. I must thank Gabriel and the owners for there confidence in letting me name Springs in Brazil.
As a side note approximately ½ mile away from the mouth of Silver River is a sink called Mystery Sink. It is 170 meters to the water, which tanks are carried in by rope elevators. The cave goes straight down. Gilberto Menezes has been to 190 meters and dropped another 50 meters of line on a lead weight. He says it is still going and plans to go even deeper in the future. The thing that concerns me is tour guides are taking open water divers to 60 meters on aluminum 80’s with no support or safety bottles. With a cave that goes straight down and an inexperienced diver with buoyancy control problems they could be in serious trouble.
We stayed most of the time on the Fazenda Figueira. Fazenda in Brazil is a ranch, and the name of this ranch is Figueira. Adriano and Sonia Souza was our host. They have built a small motel on their ranch and now have an air compressor. You no longer have to drive a 100 miles for air. Remembering from last year when Bill Oestreich and I would do the land drills with last years students, Adriano was in there doing the drills also. Since last year Adriano has taken an open water course and was Cavern certified by Gabriel Ganme. When he found out I was coming back to Brazil, waited for me to take him into his Cavern for the first time. I still cannot believe this, but it was an honor to take this man on that dive. I took him early in the morning with about 100 feet of visibility, with the sun shining in; it was a fantastic dive. Luis accompanied me on this dive also. Adriano now requires Cavern and Cave Certifications to dive his cave. He also is going to manage 2 caves of his neighbors and will also require Cave Certifications. Because of the effort of NSS-CDS instructors, both from Brazil and North America, the message of training is getting through. Now with a Cavern Diver rancher in the area I’m sure the message will be even stronger.
We also stayed and dove the cave system called Mimosa. Mimosa is on the Fazenda Mimosa, which is owned by Gordo and Aparacida. They have built a 16-room motel at the ranch and now provide room and board for visiting divers. The Mimosa system has the big cones that come from the floor up about 15 to 20 feet, with a diameter of about 2 feet. These and other flowstones in the caves of this area are beautiful.
If you are interested in going to Brazil to dive and enjoy their beautiful caves you can contact Dr. Gabriel Ganme at (5511) 3061.1453 or e-mail email@example.com. Also contact me as I may run a tour to Brazil in the future