To present cavediving in the Netherlands, a country without caves.
The Dutch Cave Dive Group was initiated by John Laugs.
John brought us together because we shared the same interest, cavediving.
His home was a meeting point for everyone at any time. We all learned to know each other and
as we became more active we named ourselves the DCDG. It must have been somewhere in 1995.
John was the spirit and the driving force with his never ending energy, his numerous fantastic ideas and his inspiring personality. We could write a book about him. He took us for the first time to the mines in Belgium, we all live in the south of the Netherlands close to the Belgium border and the mines are two hours driving from where we live. Lateron we went for long weekends to the Doubs and the Lot where we tried to do as much dives as possible in the short time we had to spend. The fun we had, created golden memories to remind us of the good times we have experienced.
John was active on the field of cavediving instruction and he did run by his own developed courses in France and because he was a very busy person with a family he could not join us on every trip in spite of all the effort he spent on talking to his wife to convince her that he had to go cavediving. He hid his cavediving equipment in the car underneath the rest of the gear when the family went on holidays in France and he could really act being surprised to meet other cavedivers by coincidence…
Cavediving in the Netherlands was given a serious push forward in the present time by John. We still can not understand that he will never be with us anymore. He died the 26 th of July in 2003 from a cardiac arrest whilst canyoning in France. We lost a wonderful dear friend and an excellent cavediver. The website has been closed down for two years as a mark of honour.
In a country without caves you are always twice a guest as a cavediver, on privat land and on foreign grounds also. Therefore we have an extreme respect to the landowners of mines and caves and we know as no other how important it is to be polite, willing to talk and to behave exemplary. In the past I have always experienced France as an open and hospitable country whether I was there for skiing, caving, diving or cavediving.
Nowadays the sad stories of accidents made a change to the access of more and more caves. In Belgium lots of caves are locked and have access only for members of cave organisations. Bad news is that also in Belgium special overhead environments possibly can be claimed by smart talkers and therefore might fall in the hands of the happy few exactly as what happened to the Doux the Coly. Meanwhile there is a growing interest developing in mine diving. This interest often comes from open water divers who have a different aproach to cavediving compared to cavedivers with a dry cave background. People without knowledge of SRT have to omit vertical caves for these are out of reach for them because of their lack of techniques.
The Belgium caves are rather difficult to dive because of cold water, major restrictions, they are easily silted out and often require the need of SRT knowledge. A little bit more like the circumstances in the U.K. Most members of the DCDG are dry cavers as well and we are able to work together and join our qualities. Unfortunately we have also different personal goals and every diver has his own experience in cavediving and the levels fairly differ. But as friends, we are very good at the campsite! We all love the same wine; any wine. The DCDG has more members than mentioned in this short article. Like the normal tendency in a group, people come and go, are active and then slow down their activities.
The cavedivers I mention underneath are pretty much most involved and active.
• Maurice Penders and Marc Herregodts are drycavers in the first place, members of Speleo Netherlands, the drycave organisation in our country. They became divers as well and were highly influenced by John’s enthusiasm to develop an interest in cavediving.
• Jos Peulen is a cavediver who appears when you expect him the least and was nowhere to be found when we made the picture for this website. He is the technical man and when he is around he will always give advise if you need it or not and his knowledge about all sorts of diving equipment is amazing. He knows exactly where you can find the lowest price. As soon as his upper lip surfaces he starts talking again.
• Hans Beulen started cavediving in Italy where he lived for 15 years working as a dentist. He has even dived the White Elephant, in those days that there was free access to that cave. Since 2004 the cave has been reopend after years of being closed. In April 2003 he arranged access for us to the caves of Oliero and he is planning a new trip for a Dutch-British expedition in Februari 2004. He speaks fluent Italien, he is a TDI advanced nitroxinstructor and a trimixdiver.
• René Houben is a commercial diver in daily life, technical diving and dry caving are his most favourite activities. René and I are the most addicted cavedivers of our group and we have been cavediving in the Lot, the Cote d’or, the Ardeche, the Doubs and the Vaucluse.
In Mexico, Spain, Menorca, Italy and Belgium of course.
This is just to give you an impression about the Dutch Cave Dive Group and her members. There are also other cavedivers in our country who dive on individual bases or form small groups that consist of different divers who are friends or know each other and plan trips together.
Cavedive training in the Netherlands
The Dutch Underwatersport Federation ( NOB, member of the CMAS ) has a cave dive committee that among other things is developing cavediving instruction in the Netherlands by the publication of a manual that is focussed on the possibilities we have in this country and to train instructors to run the specialty Intro Cave in a safe open water environment. This is a method to offer knowledge and skills to many divers all over the country and give them a very good and complete impression what cavediving contains without giving a certification that allows them to dive in caves on their own. This specialty is written to make open water divers aware of the hazards of an overhead environment and to prevent accidents by telling how important proper cavedive training is to dive in caves safely.
José de Veer