Team: Max, Ivo, Sebastian, Flo, Heinke, Steffen, Tobi, Marc
The second project in 2015 brought us back to Croatia. We were not sure whether we could go and dive as it had been raining heavily for weeks in Croatia. Our local contacts had informed us of heavy flow. Thus, some caves were not divable shortly before the start of the project. We left it until one day before the start of the project until we decided to do it. So in the end we went there.
Journey of the first 5 participants (Max, Ivo, Sebastian, Flo and Steffen) on Saturday. We were travelling in two cars and one trailer for the equipment. Travelling with a trailer takes significantly longer than travelling by car or bus and it took us about 10 hours. Arrival in Starigrad at 9.00 pm.
Since Starigrad is a tourist area we had a much better hotel this time than the year before in the hinterlands of Croatia (*** Croatian stars). Here we had the luxury of setting up a private storage room for our equipment in one of the hotel rooms, which we used for the duration of the project. At the end of day 1, we had dinner and managed to plan of the first day of diving.
Day 2: Modrič
The diving equipment was unloaded and put together. On Sunday, we wanted to dive the cave Modrič. We had already dived it last year (http://cavebase.de/index.php/project-overview2/2012-09-25-20-57-10/croatia) and this year the line has been extended for almost 1km by Plongee Sout , DirSlo and AKPP. Inspired by this we wanted to see if we could explore the cave further. Since we had some new participants with us and we got the information of difficult conditions we started first with exploration dives both for our OC and for our RB team.
After the restriction at the beginning of the cave the cave passage becomes very spacious and you can scooter comfortably side by side except for a few spots. After about 300m the first Haloclines occurred and we approached freshwater what let vary the visibility greatly.
The RB Team (Flo and Ivo) reached the previous end-of-line (EOL). The strong flow of recent weeks had destroyed some pieces of linen that had to be patched. At lunch time Marc and Heinke arrived. They had been driving all night.
Already at the first dive we had to report the first material losses. Max main light gave up due to a broken cable and Ivo had problems with his RB which prohibited a second dive. On the second dive Flo and Max went in about 600m. Here was even more repair work on the line necessary and leftovers were removed. Shortly after turning back Max realized that the handling characteristics of his scooter had completely changed and that it only had an acceptable position in the water during travelling.
So it was clear, the scooter was flooded - nevertheless Max still brought it out of the cave, which made it a very expensive day for Max, because the battery was ruined.
Day 3: Modrič
The OC team (this time extended by Heinke) had the task of videoing during this project. From the day before we remembered a nice place not too far away from the entrance with a large stalactite in a 90 degree curve. The visibility in the cave Modrič was ok for diving - however, for filming insufficient, due to too many suspended particles. Therefore, most videos can only be used for documentation purposes or, at best, serve as training for later video dives.
The RB team (this time extended by Marc) continued fighting along the line and repaired the line. The penetration length of the RB team was on this day a bit more than 1km. We came out of the cave on the second dive during sunset. Here we took the beautiful picture, which is on the Thor brochure and which you can admire at the beginning of the article.
Day 4: Glavas
To create better videos and because some of the participants did not know the cave we went to the cave Glavas. It offers a clear view and bright walls, which reflect the light beautifully.
It has some dry spots (in the flat side arm) which allow to communicate above the water. In the cave already known from last year the OC team did some videos. The conditions with about 20m visibility were significantly better than in the Modric and therefore better videos were possible. Max and Sebastian were also impressed by the cave, as we were already last year.
Unfortunately due to inconsistencies between our diving permit and the opinion of the local authorities, we had to cancel our activities after the first dive in the Glavas. The rules are changing in Croatia again, which always requires new (other) permits that we seemed not to have in this case. Tobi joint us in the evening, after our return to Starigard.
Day 5: Modrič und Zečica
With Tobi and two other scooters the Pushdive in Modrič could start today (Marc, Flo and Tobi). The end of the northern path was reached at about 1700m. The path here goes into two different directions, however both parts become quickly narrower or reach the surface which makes it impossible to continue any further. Earlier in the transition course the cave seems to significantly change the direction. Presumably this would be a better place to look around for further paths which might lead further into the cave.
During this time, two OC teams (team 1: Heinke, Sebastian and Steffen and team 2: Ivo and Max) explored the conditions in the cave Zečica.
This cave is located at the top of a headland, on which we could not carry our equipment. As all of our scooters were needed for the Pushdive and we could not organize a boat before the following day, we needed to swim a long distance distances to the entrance of the cave.
We were happy that the cave is diveable and so it could become the second destination of the project. The cave opens up at 40m at the cave entrance and increases in size so much that you cannot see all the walls during the dive.
The cave is very beautiful with large corridors and many stalagmites and stalactites. The visibility was here around 5 to 8 m and in salt water up to 10+ m. The depth of the cave is mostly around 40 m (21/35). The line situation in the cave was a disaster. the main line was ruptured several times by the flow, jumps were not clearly recognizable or incorrectly marked and often there was more than just one line. Already in the entrance area the line needed to be repaired.
Day 6: Zečica
Based on the findings of the previous day, we decided for the OC teams to completely clean up the old line in the entrance area and line it out properly. Team 1 (Basti, Heinke and Steffen) took care of the entrance area and of the video documentation. Team 2 (Ivo and Max) took care of the line situation in the first 300-400 m. So the RB team could quickly dive through the entrance part and had to start later with the line repair work.
After the work was done team 1 could do a second fun dive. The RB team, however, was able to reach EoL at about 1250m and looked for new paths. At EoL the cave ends. Large rock blocks do not leave enough space to continue. More on this later.
The last deco stop of the RB team took place on 6 meters in open water. The idea was to use that time already to scooter around the headland. Unfortunately, the 6m line runs towards the bay with the result that in the middle of it the RB team put their heads for the first time out of the water :-).
Day 7: Majerovo
In addition to Modrič and Zečica we wanted to dive one further cave in the hinterlands. The cave Majerovo was also completely new for us and is located about 90 minutes from Starigrad in a very calm and peaceful area. This fresh water source feeds an old mill and provides also in the summer quite a lot of water. The cave has two narrow entrances with quite some flow.
The teams started the dive together to check the conditions. Team 1 (Ivo and Max) laid the line. Team 2 meanwhile left the cave to leave team 1 enough space to put the line in properly. The conditions at the cave entrance are quite challenging because you virtually dive head down for about 15m through a nozzle due to the strong flow. If you do not hold onto something the cave spits you out in seconds. Shortly after team 2 arrived in the cave. So we could start our dive.
Also Tobi and Flo with their RBs fighted their way into the cave. They canceled their dive pretty quickly because the cave quickly reaches depths of 70m and more, and the subsequent deco did not promised much fun in the strong flow.
Day 8: Zečica
After the impressions of the first dive in Zečica we wanted to find out again if we could not find another path or if the cave really does not continue. Therefore, Flo and Tobi had decided on the final day again to dive into the cave. This time they found a way to bypass the rock blocks on the left and could again put another 30m of line and ended ultimately in a dead end. After the rock blocks could not be bypassed at any other place and due to the visibility of only 3m it was relatively difficult to continue searching for another path, so they turned back.
It is interesting that the cave at this point is about 35m deep and carries irrespective of the depth freshwater. This leads to poorer visibility, but also indicades that there is enough water pushing behind the rock blocks to replace the saltwater. On the way back Flo & Tobi tried to find a new path of the cave, where it changes its direction - unfortunately without success.
We were really lucky with regard to the weather and with our guests. In addition to the two caves we already knew (Modrič and Glavas) we could dive two new caves (Zečica and Majerovo). However, both caves seem to be already fully explored and continuations smen hard to find.
All in all it was a successful project. Croatia is always worth a visit. We hope for further new caves in this area.
In this sense,