Josh's Blog

Cave Diving - Details

I’m writing from High Springs, Florida, where I’ve spent the last 3 days learning a new diving skill - how to swim with my tanks “side-mounted.” Most of the time, divers mount their tanks on their backs (called backmounting). But in caves or wrecks, sometimes the passage is too small or narrow to fit a diver and their tank behind them. In these cases, one needs a slimmer profile, and side-mount diving offers that. Because the tanks are mounted along your sides (below you arms and lower than stage diving), your profile is much smaller. This means you can go almost anywhere a person can fit. And, if a restriction is too narrow for the width of you and those tanks, you can easily take one or both tanks off and push it/them in front of you, Superman style.

Here’s some footage of me, Curt Bowen of Advanced Diver Magazine, and Walter Pickel of, having fun in a bunch of caves.

Armadillo Sidemount Cave Exploration HD from Curt Bowen on Vimeo.

(I’m the one with the blue on my wetsuit.)

My thanks to Curt, Walter, and the people at Golem Gear (makers of the Armadillo sidemount). In addition to being a bunch of cool guys to hang out with, they’ve taught me so much about Florida’s caves and the technique, tips & tricks for side-mount diving. The diving here is much rougher than the caves of the Yucatan, where I was cave certified a few years ago. In Mexico, the caves often have super-delicate stalactites and stalagmites in them, so touching anything is strictly forbidden.  Here, the caves don’t have those formations and in many caves, you’re supposed to pull and glide your way across with your hands – sometimes, when the restrictions are tight, you’re scraping top and bottom. It’s been fantastic fun, although my fingertips are rubbed bloody/raw from the friction.

Next month, I’m going to the Yucatan with Curt, Walter and some other explorers to document an expedition. Now that I can side-mount dive, I’m able to go where they go and hopefully see some Maya artifacts. Stay tuned.

Posted by ExplorerJosh on 12/18 at 08:36 PM

  1. Hello Josh,

    After such a long absence from your site, it warms my heart to find you “out there” still chasing your dreams. BRAVO! Hats off to you for providing this awesome look at side-tank diving. I find in particular, cave~diving to be extremely mesmerizing to watch. This one here just blows me away. WOW! I’m sitting here still marveling in how “easy” this man makes this dive look! OMG! The words of our favorite Captain, Jacques~Yves Cousteau, somehow come to mind “Happiness, for the bee as for the dolphin, is to exist. For man it is to know existence and to MARVEL in it.”
    Let’s just say I’m still basking in a complete state of true MARVEL right now! Merci and Bon Courage to you and the rest of your dive team! grinEsther

    P.S. Cheers, to you & your next project. Can’t Wait!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/19 at 11:44 AM

  2. Isn’t it highly dangerous,I bet you need to train for a while for this type of diving.I’m gGlad we have teams of explorers that can dive like this.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/20 at 11:24 PM

  3. Not only am I jealous, now I am a little homesick too (I’m from Newberry which is basically right there!). Thanks Josh! Glad to see you enjoyed cave diving in Florida. smile

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Mexico. That is my dream cave diving trip!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/21 at 02:33 AM

  4. Hey Josh! Outstanding video! Can’t wait to be with you guys in the Yucatan! What a treat that training with the 3 amigos must have been.  Cheers!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/21 at 03:36 AM

  5. Hey Josh,

    Love the video! Great work moving through those squeezes. It looks as though you have your kick down pretty well. So glad you had a great time with Walter, Curt and Brett.

    I begin my tech and cave training this spring, and will likely cave apprentice with Curt’s group. I’m most interested in the Mayan cenote artifact work they’re doing now in the Yucatan, and hope to make a future trip with them in the coming year.
    Have a great time in Mexico, and be sure to make Bob heft all of your gear.  wink


    Posted by Alive2Dive on 12/21 at 11:12 AM

  6. Hey there Josh!  Well, here you are.  Glad you are enjoying some diving.  I see—like spelunking, but underwater.  Some tight squeezes down there, but it looks like great fun!  Hope you have a great time in Mexico, and happy holidays!


    Posted by xtina on 12/21 at 03:26 PM

  7. Josh…It was a pleasure working with you on adding this new skill set. As you know, side mount is just another tool (as are rebreathers, back mount and no mount).  One of the finer points of side mounting is logistics.  It is so much easier to hump a single tank through the jungle than having 2 on your back.  I am looking forward to our Mexico trip and think we will all be pleased with what we find and recover.

    Posted by Walter Pickel on 12/21 at 03:28 PM

  8. Hi Walter, sounds like the cave dive training was fun.  I look forward to the Yucatan with you folks.  I’m still in a sling for now but will be ready the middle of January!  Cheers!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/21 at 10:03 PM

  9. Josh, Walter & Bob,
    It looks so exciting to explore those caves.
    Hope to see footage of all of you after next month’s journey.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 05:33 PM

  10. I’d gotta say that diving video had the hottest beat I ever heard for a diving video, lol. Though very nice! smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/23 at 09:10 PM

  11. Love the video. By the way, excellent frog kicks, I never could master that! I have only been cavern diving in cenotes in Mexico, and after that experience am pretty sure I would like to stick to an environment where I can always surface straight up!! Leave me to the reefs in Akumal!
    I would love to live your life, but in the mean time I will just have to live vicariously through amazing explorers like you.
    If you are ever interested in going on a Biblical Archeological adventure, email me. I have a theory on the Pharaoh of Moses that might interest you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 02:19 PM

  12. I agree with Esther (#1) Was thinking…How can I explain my feelings on this… Words well spoken Esther.  Amazing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/30 at 03:07 PM

  13. Josh, your diving activities have inspired me to become better acquainted with the oceans.  As Esther mentioned Captain Cousteau, Sylvia Earle is equally iconic.  Thank you for sharing, Livia

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/30 at 04:03 PM

  14. Hi Curt, Walter and Josh!
    Have left a message for you at:

    Wish you a Happy New Year!


    Posted by Doris on 01/03 at 11:28 PM

  15. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G video. But I felt my stomach when I saw you crossing that narrow slit. I could be petrified!

    Posted by Ops on 01/09 at 10:11 PM

  16. Thanks for the heads up on your latest adventures. I miss seeing you on the History Channel. Read “Digging for the Truth” a while back and I hope you are thinking about writing another book soon. You are a talented story-teller - with lots of stories. I got claustrophobic watching the Sidemount Cave video. Glad it was you in there and not me. Looks like you’ve got a big birthday coming up. All the best to you. Take care.

    Posted by Bob Bernet on 01/23 at 08:13 PM

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