Dan, NSS-CDS, is one of two cave instructors that taught our cave class at Cedam Dive Centers in Puerto Aventuras. (Chuck Stevens, NACD, is the other.) Dan is a member of Mike Madden's team of explorers of the Nohoch Nah Chich system, the largest explored underwater cave system. He can tell some stories.
Believing that experience is a good teacher, he would set up scenarios on the fly to help us see how a small mistake can grow to a major problem. Then he would analyze the way we handled the problem that we created (and he "fertilized"), as well as explain how the problem could have been avoided. By the time we were finished with the class, we had solved a lot of problems, mostly of our own making. We credit our success to Dan's interest in problem avoidance, and ability to take advantage of every mistake to make a lesson. We left Puerto Aventuras with a healty respect for the unforgiving nature of the cave environment, a pretty good understanding of our limited skills, and an eagerness to develop our expertise further.
Dan was originally a Florida cave diver. He came to Mexico quite some time ago and probably never quite got around to returning home. You can learn a lot from his experience when you get him talking. As he talked about the development of cave diving techniques over the years, it became apparent that cave divers had to solve problems and develop techniques that cover a wide range of technical diving skills. Many of these skills such as deep and decompression diving were used in cave exploration before the term "technical diving" became widely known. They simply had to go where the cave went if they were going to explore it, and that took special equipment and skills.
On the last days of our visit, our new next door neighbor at the hotel (from Canda) told us he was there to do some cave diving. He had asked a friend in Florida who to contact regarding diving in the Yucatan caves. His friend had recommended Dan. We enjoyed telling him what he had to look forward to. Dan knew his way around the caves in the area extremely well, and could give a very detailed account of what to expect in each one. If a person wants to make a real serious effort to absorb a lot of knowledge and experience from a cave instructor that takes his work seriously, you might want to talk to Dan.
One of Dan's most memorable comments was that we would be better open water divers after completing the course. We brought a lot back with us. We hope to learn some more from him when we go back. He teaches and guides, so we will get double benefit from using him.
1997 Randall C. Allen
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visitor # 4196 since 6/10/97