The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: John Williams


Cover: Action
Photograph from the

Philippines

Expedition

1994 – 1995 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel

Taylor

Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden            
Angie
Cave
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer           

Andy
Cave

Membership Sec.    

Richard St
ephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams
Floating                   Estelle
Sandford

 

Editorial

Well here we are with another Belfry Bulletin.  You will notice that not much time has
elapsed since the last issue.  This is
due to the fact that I want to publish the officer’s reports before the AGM in
order to save considerable time on the day.

This issue therefore is a bit of a rush job, hence the fact
that it is a bit smaller than I would like. But fear not, plans are afoot for a bumper 60th anniversary souvenir
issue, which will include various articles I have been holding back especially.

Since the last issue, I have been spending more and more
time in
Yorkshire, some of you will know the
main reason for this but I’m not going into that here thank you!  I have however been doing quite a bit of
caving and diving ‘OOp North’, including a look at some of the N.C.C. digs. I
was taken to Ullet Gill by Pete Grant the other weekend and due to dry weather
conditions was able to get into the bedding plane off to the west of the main
drag.  As far as I know no one has been
able to have a good look at this yet as it is normally sumped.  I believe Martin Holroyd has dived in it. …
rather him than me … it was tight enough in air!!  Sadly I had neglected to bring any kit with
me on the day in question and consequently went caving in vest shorts and
trusty (Sic) petzl zoom. 250 feet of crawling later (ask my knees and elbows
about this) I emerged rather damp and grubby, but no longer able to be accused
of being a ‘soft Southerner’.

There are a number of other interesting dig sites in this
area and I will write something when I’ve had a chance to investigate further.

On an entirely unrelated note …. Sadly we shall ‘lose’
Andy and
Angie
Cave
from the Mendip scene in the not too distant future as they plan to skidaddle
to

Mexico

for an unspecified period in order to explore subterranean delights over
there.  Some of you will already be aware
that they are currently in the process of selling just about everything they
own in order to finance the trip.  I’m
sure you’ll join me in wishing them Bon Voyage etc …

John Buxton telephoned me the other night to tell me of his
exploits with Rob Palmer in the

Bahamas
.  It seems that a lot of new stuff was
discovered and surveyed by the expedition (of whom only 3 were Britishl)
including Johns discovery of a previously unknown Blue Hole, in which was found
a stainless steel harpoon giving John license to name it ‘Hunters Hole’.  Seems apt to me!  There is due to be a report out in the near
future so I won’t go into any further details here.

Anyway I hope to be publishing another issue, as previously
mentioned, in time for the AGM and hopefully will have all the up to date news,
gossip etc by then.

If anyone has anything they especially want published in
this, then please contact me ASAP as there is quite a bit of work to do and my
schedule is tight to say the least.  Cut
off date would be around the second week in September.

Right enough from me for now …. on with the show …..

Good Caving! ….. Jingles.


 


Bristol
Exploration
Club Agenda For The 1995 Annual General Meeting

To be held at 10.30 am, Saturday 7th. October 1995, at
“The Belfry”.

1.                  Collection of outstanding Ballot forms.  (Subject to there being more than 9
nominees).

2.                  Election of the AGM Chairman.

3.                  Election of Three Tellers.  (Subject to an election as above).

4.                  Minutes of the 1994 Annual General Meeting.

5.                  Matters arising from the 1994 AGM.

6.                  Hon. Secretary’s Report.

7.                  Hon. Treasurers Report.

8.                  Hon. Auditors Report.

9.                  Caving Secretary’s Report.

10.              Hut Wardens Report.

11.              Hut Engineers Report.

12.              Tacklemasters Report.

13.              Librarians Report.

14.              Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report.

15.              Result of the Committee Ballot.  (If an Election has been held). 

16.              Election of Officer’s for the 1995/6 Committee.

17.              Destruction of Ballot forms.  (If an election has been held).

18.              Members’ Resolutions.

19.              Details regarding the Annual Dinner Tonight.

20.              Any other Business.

Nigel Taylor,
Hon. Secretary 1994/5.

 

Report of the Hon. Secretary 1994/1995.

I have no desire to steal the thunder of my fellow committee
members’ reports, so I shall leave the respective members to inform you of the
membership state of the club, or the amount of activity going on in the finest
club on Mendip.  I shall also not touch
on the financial state, or the regular and regrettable loss yet again of
ladders and tackle.  Nor should I mention
the structure of the hut, or obtaining articles for a BB, as again this is
someone else’s problem.

Yet that typifies perhaps many clubs principal problem,
i.e.; that all the work is always someone else’s.  Is this really fair?  Yet again, the BEC membership have been very
fortunate this last year, to have had a very active committee, whose members
have all worked long and hard to steer the club on an even keel throughout the
year.  The committee and their spouses
have time and again arranged functions or effected work upon the club, but
unfortunately as I have already alluded to in my “From The Belfry
Table” articles in the BB,- found that a few members would prefer to run
things their way, often in a destructive manner.  Now the committee has chastised those
responsible with one exception at the time of writing this report (21/08/95),
and I believe that those persons have accepted their treatment by the
Committee, so with this in mind, I hope that the slate could now perhaps be
wiped clean and a fresh start made for the new club year.

I am sure however that those who feel that they want to make
changes or suggest what they see as improvements to the club or the dinner or
whatever, will always receive a sympathetic ear at any Committee meeting.

We have kept rigidly to the “First Friday night of the Month
Rule”, and I published all the dates of our meetings at the start of the
year. Some turn up, but only a fraction of the membership, in that case, are we
getting it right?  In absence of such
support, we can only guess that we are on track, but if not, then YOU tell the
Committee.

I shall not bore you with the mass of regular correspondence
that passes through a Secretary’s’ hands, with the exception that you should be
aware, much time has been spent this year setting up the “Charterhouse
Caving Company Ltd” upon the demise of the former Charterhouse Caving
Committee, new permits for GB access are now available, and the BEC is a member
of the company.  The lease is now with
English Nature/Somerset Wildlife Trust.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet lease is due to expire in some three
years time, and I have started fresh negotiations to ensure that we remain
leasers of the site.  I feel however,
that a lesson must be learnt from the GB episode and sale of the land by
Bristol Waterworks.  I firmly believe,
and shall propose at the AGM under member’s resolutions, that this club must
now consider setting up a fund, in the event of the Mineries site under our
lease, coming onto the market at some future date.  On this point can I encourage all members to
remember our custody of the site, and to make its conservation our prime
concern.

I am also pleased to advise the AGM, that Kevin FISHER, @
Steven LEE, the culprit arrested by me firstly in 1974 in Manchester, and again
last year in Southampton, both times for theft from the BEC and members, has
now been dealt with at Bristol Crown Court, he was sentenced to two years
probation.  So tongue in cheek, perhaps I
thought it a suitable time to retire from the Police in May this year!  (Let us hope that he has seen the error of
his ways).

I intend to stand again next year, and if elected, honestly,
will try to improve!!!!!!!!

I close with thanks to all those who have supported the
committee this year in its’ works, and most especially the unsung heroes,
Hilary Wilson, Babs Williams and my Vivi, all of these ladies have given strong
support to their spouses, and through them, to the BEC.  It would also be wrong not to mention the
kindness and generosity of Roger and Jackie Dors yet again this year.  It is to them you should raise your glass this
Dinner night.

Nigel Taylor, 772, Hon.
Secretary 1994/5.

 

Hut Engineers Report

Cavers Bored of
Examinations.
HUT ENGINEERING.
 ‘OH’ Level 1994 – 1995
By

Andrew
Cave
.
Form 5c.

Time Allowed 3 minutes (or Hours, Days, Years Etc.)

Answer all questions.

1)         The club is
divisible into 2 distinct groups:

One includes those people who are
motivated to make repairs and improvements to The Belfry on their own
initiative, the other includes those people who are not.

a)                  Which is the larger group?  (1 mark)

b)                  Which group are you in?  (1 mark)

c)                  If you are in the second group, what reasons can
you give for this, and are they truly valid? (12 marks)

2)         Discuss the
following statements, are they true or false?

a)       All
repairs and improvements are the sole responsibility of the Hut Engineer, and
therefore require no input from anyone else. (4 marks)

b)       If
there is anything that needs doing to the hut, it has not been mentioned and
therefore cannot be urgent enough to need attention.  (4 marks)

c)       I
have worked hard on the hut in the past, so therefore it must be someone else’s
turn.  (4 marks)

d)       The
condition of the hut is not important to the club as a whole.  (4 marks)

e)       The
club would be improved by not having the hut. (4 marks)

3)         a) The spring working weekend was
attended by about 5% of the membership. How do you account for this.  (Laundry marks)

b)       Most
of those who did attend are members of the first group in question.

1. Do you consider these people to be dedicated, dull, those
with lots of spare time, suckers or motivated by something else, and if so
why?  (Dirty marks)

c) Assuming that you did not attend a working weekend in the
last five years, but have been a member for at least that long, what reasons
can you give?  (Bear in mind that none,
yourself included, is likely to believe all, or indeed any of them).  (Groucho Marx)

End of examination paper.

 

Tacklemaster’s Report 1994 -1995.

Mr Wilson.

This year’s report makes very unsatisfactory reading.

During the course of the year the lifeline stock has reduced
to nil and all the tackle bags have gone missing.

The average ladder stock has been 4 – 5, dropping
continually to nil.  All this in spite of
the fact that the Belfry ladder factory produced 4 new ladders which then
promptly disappeared!!

On the good side we have produced a stainless steel ladder
for Ogof Draenen and have made up 2 ladders for the digging fraternity.

I feel very strongly that the club cannot go on losing
ladders at this rate – at the moment 15 are missing, this represents a figure
of £1,200.00 if we had to purchase new stock. I therefore would beg to ask the membership to make a change in the
method of booking out club kit.

I suggest that the tackle store key be kept locked in the
key cupboard, so that tackle has to be booked out by a committee member. It
would also be booked back in, in the same manner.  This is the only way that the club can ensure
clean, undamaged and available tackle.

As a footnote, the Belfry ladder factory is now running out
of rungs, araldite, cable and ‘C’ links and thus there will soon be no cheap
ladder building option.

This AGM is our last chance to put club tackle on a sound
footing for the future.

If anyone happens to compare the expedition store inventory
that I hold and issue out, there is no change in stock levels.  Just in case anyone thinks that stock is not
issued the fact is that it is.  This year
I have issued stock several times.

I hope to remain Tacklemaster this coming year and thank all
the honest people who have booked kit in and out.

B.E.C. Tackle Inventory.

Total previous ladders 1994                     19

Total scrap                                             4

New Manufactured                                  4

Total 1995                                             19

Ladders missing                                    15

September stock count                           4

Stock lifelines 1994                               
3

Stock check 1995                                  NIL

Assorted stock check 1995:                    

Spreaders                                              4

Tethers                                                  6

Expedition Store

Stock Ladders                                2 x 25′ Good

Stock Ropes:                                  1 x 18m Static

1 x 20m Static

1 x 36m Static

1 x 67m Static, 1 x 35m Static

1 x 54m Static, 1 x 40m Static

1 x 33m Static

Tackle Bags                                               6

Rope Protectors                                          5

Survey Kits                                                 2

(1 Kit held at home by Tony Jarratt.)

Total Survey Kits                                         3

Mike Wilson.

 

Hut Warden’s Report ’94 -’95.

(Or a very badly scanning poem)


Angie
Cave
.

This is the Hut Warden’s report,
I’ll try to keep it swift and short,
I thought the job would be a breeze,
Taking bookings, collecting fees,
Checking the bins were out on Sunday,
Making sure the hut was clean on Monday,
But future Warden’s beware the trap,
Of disappearing deep in crap,
Not only do you have to be the police,
And ‘shrink’ to try and keep the peace,
But accountant, char and diplomat,
In fact you’d be a total prat.
To take this awful job,
But never mind, because this slob,
Has quite enjoyed herself.  (Ish).

I’d hoped collection of day fees might increase,
(It’s still only 50p, for a shit, a shave and a cup of tea),
And ‘Hut Trashing’ might cease,
(I realise now a foolish plea!)
But, as years go,
The takings are good, the debts are low,
(Okay I lied!),
But you can’t say I haven’t tried,
And now I’m off to

Mexico
!!


Angie
Cave
.

 

Editor’s Report 1994 -1995.

John Williams.

It has been an interesting year for me as B.B. Editor, to
say the least.  I have managed to publish
with reasonable regularity and my thanks go out to those of you who have put
pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard as the case may be and provided me with the
articles that are the lifeblood of this publication.  I still have one or two things held back for
future issues if you’re wondering what’s happened to your stuff.

When I took on the post two years ago I rather naively
thought that it was simply a matter of editing the club rag (which is, of
course, the main part of it) and had no idea of the other responsibilities that
go with a committee post.  I have found
out the hard way that there is rather a lot more to it.  I have sat on many committee meetings and
voiced my opinion on various matters ranging from club policies to disciplinary
issues.  I have found myself in a
position where I am making decisions based on principles rather than personal
feelings and have at times found this extremely difficult.  I have been taken to task by a few people
over the months regarding my attitude to certain issues and have always had the
same answer, i.e. I have acted in what I consider to be the best interest of
the club at all times.  (Even when I have
wanted to act otherwise).

It would seem that there are individuals for whom any
decision taken is never good enough, I would say to them that maybe they ought
to remember that it’s all too easy to criticise others for doing their best
especially when all the work is done on a voluntary basis.

Having said all this I still have to say that I have
thoroughly enjoyed my time as Editor and am more than happy to stand again in
the forthcoming year if it is the wish of the membership for me to do so.  I have had a few problems in the past year,
largely to do with the time taken in the distribution of the Bulletin.  I apologise to any of you who have been kept
waiting.  I know that there is a lot of
support for me on this level if I take the job again and I thank those of you
who have offered to help.

I cannot finish without thanking two people in
particular:  Dick-Fred for his efforts
with the membership lists and running me about on club business when I didn’t
have a car & Tony Jarratt for his efforts in distributing local issues and
thus saving a small fortune in postage. I hope that my efforts have been up to your expectations and that you
have enjoyed reading the Bulletin more than I have enjoyed producing it.

Editorially yours
……. Jingles.

 

Membership Secretaries Report

When I first took on the job of membership secretary and now
I know why it’s called a secretaries job, I was under the misapprehension that
it would be a difficult job, boy how wrong I was, it’s a damn near impossible
job.  Perhaps I should clarify that, I
seem to have made it a damn near impossible job.  I have set myself the task of bringing the
membership list and information screaming into to the computer age, or so I
thought.  After having spoken to Dave
Turner, I discover that he had done this but when the job was passed on the
information he had so diligently entered onto his computer was lost, so I found
myself in the position of starting again. From a much used distribution list, I now have a list that I hope is
more complete, though I still have a long way to go.  Eventually I want to have information on all
the members who have ever joined the B.E.C. in a database.  I am currently looking at different software
to enable this job to be done more efficiently. I would like to suggest that
future membership secretaries have a computer.

Since last years A.G.M. we have had 16 new members and I
hope we all extend a warm welcome to them all. It was with regret that we all learnt of the death of Chris Tozier and
our sympathy goes out to his family. Unfortunately we have had one expulsion and two suspensions from the
club during the last few months.

When I took over the problem was that cheques, addresses and
other changes of information were being passed to me from different directions
and at different times, sometimes very late. A period of continuity is now required to allow people to have one point
of contact.  If I get re-elected I would
like members to pay their subs, hopefully before the end of the year, to ensure
that the club has some form of capital to enable the urgent repairs required to
be made to the Belfry.  Oh well can but
hope!!!!!

Richard Stephens
(Dick-Fred) Membership Secretary.

 

AI Ohr Spring (Khoh AI-Bidi).

Dear BB Editor.  You may be interested in this article written
by a member of the OCDG, as it involves one BEC member and a few prospective
ones!

Bob
Hill.

The entrance to Khoh AI-Bidi lies some 50m up a boulder pile
on the right-hand side of Wadi Ghul, at the base of the 3,000m Jebel Shams in
Oman.  The entrance leads into a short
cave, at the back of which lies the sump pool. Access, especially with heavy diving gear, is difficult, and requires a
handline, since everything must be manhandled in stages, firstly down a 2.5m
drop, then down a loose rocky slope, and finally across a shallow pool, to the
sump.  The sump itself is perhaps 6m
long, 3m wide and 6m deep.  Entrance to
the main cave passage from the sump is via a narrow tube, about 1m long and
just wide enough to allow one fully laden diver through, at a depth of 6m.  Beyond this constriction, the passage widens
to some 5-6m width by 2-3m high, and a maximum depth of 9m.

The cave was first dived, as far as we can determine, by Bob
Hill and Dr Alistair Fraser of the Oman Cave Diving Group (OCDG) on 17th
February, 1994.  In visibility of less
than a meter, they penetrated some 25-30m into the cave, missed the main passageway,
and wound up in a tight, tubular airbell to the right.  This they aptly named the Smelly Airbell –
perhaps unimaginative, but very true. They exited after 20 minutes, packed up their gear, and vowed never to
return.  Khoh AI-Bidi was not dived again
for another 7 months.

Amazingly, however, they were actually not the first people
to actually pass the constriction and enter the cave passage.  James Laver, an engineer attached to the
Omani Ministry of Water Resources, and a keen sea diver, first discovered the
sump during one of his work-related field trips in 1993.  Khoh AI-Bidi does not appear to be used as a
source of drinking water by the local villagers nearby, but it is used for
washing, and for watering the flocks of goats they keep.  James was intrigued enough by the sump to
return later, armed with a single, front-mounted snorkel!  Not only did he snorkel the sump, but he swam
through the constriction at 6m, entered the main passage beyond, saw that it
appeared to go on, turned and swam out – an incredible feat of breath-holding
stupidity, but the passage would never have been found had he not done so.  In his position at the Ministry, he was one
of very few expats who had access to details of such water sources.  It was this finding that encouraged Bob and
Alistair to visit the cave in the first place.

In October 1994, James persuaded Alistair to have another go
at the cave.  This time (20th October
1994) the visibility was much better. Alistair and James laid 30m of line across the first section of the main
passage, by-passing the Smelly Airbell, over the course of two 15 minute
dives.  Clearly the cave went on, and a
return visit to push further was planned.

Shortly thereafter, James unfortunately lost his job at the
Ministry, and was forced to leave

Oman
. This left Alistair with the
difficult task of persuading Bob, the only other person who had dived it
before, and who had sworn never to do so again, to have another go.  A great deal of beer went into this effort, successfully,
and Alistair and Bob returned on the 3rd of November 1994, this time extending
the existing 30m of line to 100m, heading due North, up the main passage. A
second dive that day took me on my first visit to the end of the line with Bob.

A word about the conditions. Visibility in Khoh AI-Bidi is
never good.  Occasionally visibility
stretches to 5 meters, but is usually much less.  Couple this with inexperience, a sea-diving
mentality (despite the twin, independent gear), the use of small,
helmet-mounted torches, home-made line reels, etc, and you get some pretty
adverse diving conditions.  Only Bob had
dived this sort of passage before, in the

UK
, and that some years
previously.  We were all learning as we
went, setting limits to ourselves, then breaking them, talking endlessly about
gear, how to set it up better, how to make it safer, and so on.  Not surprisingly, initial pushes were
deliberately short.

This time, even Bob was encouraged enough to want to come
back.  Enter Steve Dwyer, the fourth
member of the team.  With Alistair and
myself unavailable at the time, Bob and Steve dived on 9th December and
succeeded in doubling the line laid to 200m – in our terms a great push
forward!  Still the passage went on ahead
of them, due North, undulating between 6 and 9 meters depth.  Growing in confidence, and faced with an
amazing opportunity to explore virgin passage, a more concerted effort, this
time involving the whole team, was planned. On 5th January 1995, all four pitched up to make a determined push.  If possible we would attempt to reach the
half kilometre mark.  Steve and I would
go first, and lay as much of 200m of line as we could, then Bob and Alistair
would follow to push further.

Up to the 200m mark, the cave depth varies between 6 and
9m.  However, after that, it starts to
undulate much more ­maximum depth is still around 9m, but at times large gravel
banks or rock outcrops force you to within 3m of surface.  This is hell on your ears after a while.  Steve and I reached the end of the existing
line, belayed off, and pushed on.  40m
later we surfaced in the first of the large air chambers.  Beautiful flowstones cascaded down the
walls.  The elation of being the first
people ever to see this was simply gob smacking.  The chamber is around 30m long, 3m wide, and
perhaps 15m high above water level. Towards the far end a steep gravel bank rises to within 6 inches of the
surface, which must be climbed over to reach the sump beyond.  The air in the chamber is breathable, but
high in CO2.

Pressing on, down to 6m, then 8m, then back up to 2.5m, the
same pattern as before, we reached the second, slightly bigger chamber about
60m further on.  This chamber is of
similar height and width, but about 40m long and has a squeeze at water level
about halfway along it.  From above, the
chamber outline would look like a figure ‘8’. The squeeze can only be passed with difficulty; however it only extends
to about 2m below the surface, below which it can be passed easily – yet
another battering for the ears.  Once
again, at the end of this chamber, a large gravel bank rises, this time to the
surface.  This one is thicker than
before, and involves a 3m crawl to cross. Doing this, with twin cylinders on your back, and breathing the
CO2-laden air, will leave you quite breathless.

Here, at a distance of 330m from the initial sump, we tied
off and headed back, meeting Bob and Alistair in the first chamber.  Unfortunately one of Bob’s ears had succumbed
to the incessant depth changes, and would only clear with difficulty.  He decided not to press further.  Alistair went on to the second chamber, just
for a look-see, then they turned for home, with AI blowing a sinus in the
process.  The first and second chambers were
therefore named Earbell and Sinus Squeeze respectively, in their honour.

The full team returned on 15th February for another
attempt.  Reversing the order this time,
Bob and Alistair went first, this time making it past Sinus Squeeze and laying
a further 140m of line to 470m.  The
passage continued, shallower now, with a maximum depth of around six meters,
but in places requiring ascent almost to surface.  Steve and I followed, meeting the first two
just beyond Sinus Squeeze, then reaching the end of their line.  We laid a further 95m, to 565m, and belayed
off just below the surface of a longish, low air bell.  Surfacing to have a look, I was stupid enough
to remove my regulator and talk.  Within
3 breaths I felt extremely dizzy, was developing tunnel vision, and had a
tremendous pounding in my head.  I shoved
the regulator back in and dropped below the surface, signalling to Steve that
all was not well.  Within another 3-4
breaths I had recovered, but felt extremely vulnerable.  Any air beyond Sinus Squeeze was clearly
hypoxic and could not be breathed.  I
called the dive, and we headed for home. Meanwhile, Bob had had yet another bout of ear trouble, returning from
Earbell, this time resulting in a reversed ear. Clearly we were going to have to think carefully how to counter this
problem.  Not only that, but Steve and I
had just about reached the comfortable limit of thirds using twin 12 litre
tanks.  To progress further, we would
need bigger, or staging.

It was another 3½ months before another push was
mounted.  On 19th April, Bob and I ran a
tourist trip for Steve Collard, a close friend who was leaving

Oman
,
during which we were able to get some photographs of the first two chambers,
and to make a reasonable survey of the first 330m.  The next push attempt was on 30th May, when
Bob and I reached 400m, this time using twin 15 litre tanks, only to turn back
because of continued ear niggles and constant 1m maximum visibility.  The water was high on this occasion, and the
recent flow had clearly disturbed the silt badly.  For the most part, Khoh AI-Bidi is not
particularly silty, there being no requirement to swim near the floor.  Flows are infrequent, but when they occur are
obviously dramatic.

Another matter that had been concerning us was the fact
that, with its depth undulation, Khoh AI-Bidi, over extended distances,
represents a quite provocative dive profile, especially considering that its
entrance is some 700m above sea level. After the last main push, all four of us had been completely shattered
for a couple of days.  This last attempt
was made using EAN32.  From a tiredness
point of view, it worked.  However the
dry, sticky mouth brought on by the Nitrox left us with another problem.  Apart from being plain uncomfortable, this
could only exacerbate the ear problems.

8th June – we finally broke the 565m previous limit.  Having decided that things were getting a
little serious, the four of us persuaded the Cave Divers Association of Australia
to lend us an instructor for a fortnight, in exchange for a holiday in

Oman
– they
sent us John Vanderleest.  Up till then,
we’d thought we were doing OK, but could not gauge how OK.  After John spent a fortnight taking us apart
and re-building us, we were in much better shape.  Suddenly trim began to fall into place,
finning, emergency, and line-laying techniques improved, and the general levels
of general competence and confidence went with them.  Alistair, Steve, John and myself went back to
Khoh AI-Bidi, the three of us determined to break past this mark.  Steve and I went first, with 200m of line,
two 15 litre tanks apiece, blown to 230 bar, filled with EAN32.  As well as the improved techniques, John had
taken our kit apart, trimmed it down, showed us how to reduce drag, etc, and we
were carrying some decent lights at last. In just over 10 minutes, Steve and I reached Sinus Squeeze.  We pushed on quickly, and in seemingly no
time at all reached our previous mark at 565m. We hooked on the new line, and started laying out.  At 700m, we came up into chamber No. 3.  This was bigger than both the other two put
together – similar width, but higher and longer, with a dog­leg to the right at
it’s mid point.  The gravel bank here
basically filled the chamber to the surface, leaving no alternative but to
remove our fins and walk to the far sump – not easy with twin 15’s!  From our last experience we kept the
regulators in our mouths.  About 20m
beyond chamber No. 3, we ran out of line, belayed off, and set off for
home.  In all, the dive took 1 hour 55
minutes, with 80 minutes underwater. John and Alistair were already back at the
sump, having turned back from Sinus Squeeze. Using his big Diverite torch for the first time, the huge battery slung
under his tanks had wrecked Alistair’s trim, leaving him virtually
walking.  More work in the pool!  Still, the target had been achieved, the
passage was still going, more or less still due North, with one or two twists
and turns, and was getting shallower. Maximum depth beyond 565m had been no more than 4.5m.

The only target now in everyone’s minds was the magic
kilometre.  At 765m, Steve and I had been
comfortably within thirds on our 15’s. The kilometre would mean planning on thirds – it needed a staged
cylinder to improve the margins.

On 22nd June, 1995, Alistair and I returned to Khoh AI-Bidi,
on a very hot and sweaty night.  After
portering in 3 cylinders each, plus our other gear, we were already
exhausted.  Slowly we put everything
together, including the front-mounted 7 litre cylinders which would give us the
margin we needed.  The water level was
very low, to the extent that the cave was not flowing at all.  This we hoped would give us the best
visibility.  At about 10.30pm, we set off
down into the sump, through the constriction, and on our way.  To counteract the dry mouth effect, we had
reduced our Nitrox to EAN27, and were carrying drinks.  We hung off the 7’s in Earbell, then pressed
on from there.  Visibility was good,
perhaps up to 7m in places.  We passed
Earbell, then the old 565m point, then came up into the third chamber.  Here we had a drink, then trudged across the
gravel.  The air was particularly foul.  Alistair removed his regulator after walking
through.  Within seconds he felt the
hypoxia symptoms, stuffed his regulator back in and fell forwards into the
water.  He recovered in an equally short
time, but it’s a scary thought to know that if you don’t get that regulator
back in, you could be dead very quickly. After a few moments to regain composure, we pushed on to the old 765m
limit and tied on.

I led off, reeling out into new territory.  Visibility remained generally good – the
passage still shallow, but submerged, but much more twisty than
previously.  Still overall it headed due
north.  Alistair’s 100m of line ran
out.  We hooked up another reel of
95m.  At around 900m, we hit chamber
No.4.  This was similar in dimensions to Earbell,
but shallower, with no gravel bank.  The
water was about 18 inches deep through the chamber, and we were able just to
float through it.  Beyond there, the
passage continued, shallow (3.5m max.) and narrowing, twisting this way and
that.  Visibility deteriorated, making it
harder to find the route.  One or two
places seemed to offer possible offshoots. The 95m ran out, so we tied on our final reel of 50m.  Eventually this too expired, leaving us at
1010m – the kilometre had fallen!  The
dive was duly called and we headed out. Our time underwater had been an hour and fifty minutes, total elapsed
time from leaving the sump – two and a half hours.

The passage continues, who knows for how much further.  We intend to find out!  We returned from the 1010m dive still with
half the gas in our 15’s, and around 170 bar in the 7’s.  That’s comfortable – much further and we’ll
be talking about four cylinders!  It’s
been done before, for sure, but not by the four of us!

You will by now have guessed that Khoh AI-Bidi is not the
real name of the cave.  Several of our
later pushes have been at night.  Why the
subterfuge?  There is no law in

Oman
against
cave diving.  Unfortunately

Oman
is the
sort of country, where the only reason there is no law against cave diving is
because they don’t know it’s happening. It would undoubtedly be banned if the authorities knew we were doing
it.  Fun, especially fun with an element
of danger, is not something they permit lightly.  Even normal sea-diving is fraught with bans
and coastguard hassle.  Ownership of an
Aquazepp here would net you 10 to life! For these reasons, we keep it quiet. Even the local villagers, most of whose only concession to the twentieth
century is the

Toyota

truck, need to be avoided, for they would simply not understand people diving
in their water, however undrinkable it already is.

Eoin Mekie


 

 


Bristol

Exploration Club The Annual Dinner 1995

60 YEARS 1935 -1995

Our Sixtieth Jubilee Year Dinner, will be held at 7.30 for
8.00pm on Saturday 7th. October 1995, at the “Westex Suite”
Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet,

Somerset
.

Considerable effort has gone into trying to make this a
special event, and to that end I have made a slight change to the normal way of
running things make no apology for the price, because if you are a B.E.C member
you are gaining four ways:  Firstly, you
will enjoy a meal costing £18 for the price of £16!  The club has fund raised for the purpose of
subsiding your meal this year.  Secondly,
you are also not paying any ‘Guest Levy’ this year as again this will be subsidised.  Thirdly, you will enjoy a Four-Course meal,
coffee & mints instead of the usual three courses.  And fourthly, you will have in addition to
your ‘Drink on Arrival’ the extra bonus of one bottle of wine between two.  I have held the price of the dinner to the
same level for nearly five years now, so the extra pound has to be especially
good value.  Non­club members will have
to pay the cost price however of £18 per person, some may not agree, but I feel
that there has to be some merit and benefit in being a member of the club, and
it has been this years committee and a few members who actually organised
events and raised the funds for the subsidy.

Two coaches have been booked, and these will leave the
Hunters at 7.00pm prompt, please indicate on the booking form if you require
seats, but pay on the coach-and not with your dinner application please!

STARTERS:-

Parcel of Smoked Salmon filled
with fresh Salmon Mouse
OR
Fan of Avocado with Mango Quenelles

MAIN COURSE:-

Roast Sirloin of Scotch Beef
& Yorkshire Pudding
OR
Breast of Chicken with Sauce Veronique

SWEET COURSE:-

Chocolate Brandy Snap Basket,
Crème Chantilly & fresh fruits with a Passion Fruit Coulis. OR Apple Pie
and fresh Whisky Cream.

Followed by:-

Cheese board, Coffee and Mints.

SEND TO:- Nigel Taylor, Nr. Bristol,

Somerset

PLEASE ENCLOSE A STAMPED S.A.E.MINUMUM SIZE 6″ x
4.5″.

Cheques Payable to the ”

BRISTOL
EXPLORATION CLUB.  Please do NOT ask me to hang on to your
tickets until the night, I want to enjoy my dinner as well!!!!!!   Bookings close Sunday 1st. October 1995.

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.