Jamaican Caving Notes

Maroon Town
Caving News Jamaican Caves Organisation JCO Main Page
JCO Funding and Tours   Contact the JCO


Field Notes, February and March 2002

R. S. Stewart

The Cavers were S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, S. Downer.

Feb 18, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart, local

Reached entrance at 11:55 EST Entrance 2.1 m wide by 3 m high, (sketched in notebook). Alt 121 m uncalibrated @ 13:45, cal point @ 14:45 reading 101 @ topo 110 Alt calculated: 130 m, (Fincham has 120) GPS: 13:25-13:45 EST, Fix 8-9, Saved as WPT 100 UTM: 0212647 E, 2034319 N L/L: 18 22’46.0” N, 77 43’10.0” W

I was into this cave sometime in the last 2 years. The cave consists of a left and right section, (W & E), with biological activity mainly in E section. The left section has good formations, a skylight not indicated on the map, and soda straw stalactites high at the N end.

Feb 19, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart, Donald

A steep climb is encountered a short distance from the entrance. We had no bolts, scaling pole or hot-air balloon and it was a smooth and slippery vertical pitch, so despite my best efforts we made no progress.

After a while we gave up and went back to a nearby farm to see if we could locate someone local who had climbed it previously. We had reason to believe that this was a possibility due to a history of intermittent guano extraction. At a nearby farm we got lucky and found a local named Donald who agreed to climb it for 200 Ja$. We were under the impression that he had done it before. He went up very impressively, in bare feet, tied the rope to a large boulder, then I went up followed by Susan. We realized during the course of things that it was his first time up. The only suitable anchor, (which Donald had tied to), wouldn’t allow the rope to be doubled and retrieved on the rap down, so I planned on a return visit with a second line to get the first rope down.

The cave consists of one large chamber, close to being all twilight zone. Small spiders with a chaotic web were seen. The view down from the top of the pitch is very fine, being lit by the entrance not more than 15 m away. Upon leaving, Susan and I rappelled down; to our amazement Donald came down, pulled on the rope and we watched it fall in front of us. He had climbed down the pitch.

Forgot GPS fix!

SHELTER CAVE: Bunkers Hill

I’ve been into it before. This is a shelter cave about 20 m from the road. It’s prob a bit less than 20m across and used as a party spot by the looks of it. Entrance 25 m Az 256 from WPT 101 WPT 101: UTM: 0215132 E, 2035938 N L/L: 18 23’ 39.8” N, 77 41’ 46.2” W

Report of other cave in area called, “Bylon Cave”, (spelling guessed at),~ 1 km west of Bunkers Hill.

Feb 20, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart

10:00 EST:Went down slope from entrance into main roosting chamber hoping to spot a particular bat species. The bat activity from the lights prevented any chance of it. Pitch from start of main chamber to top measured with altimeter as 32 m. We found a buffo in twilight zone at start of main chamber and eliminated it with a pointy rock. There were a good number of crickets. The bat numbers still seem low…I was able to use my headlamp most of the time in the main roosting chamber. We went almost as far as the exit to Royal Flat, and then went back out the top entrance.

Feb 21, 2002


Cavers: S. Downer, R. S. Stewart

Main entrance 9:30 Wind outwards 2.1m/s Alt (uncal) 111 m Lower Streamway, 1st T-Jnct 11:20 Alt (uncal) 104

Three crabs in pool to right of 1st T, also several small swimming org’s, white, ~5mm long, narrow, rounded ends.

Main entrance 12:35 Alt (uncal) 129 Wind outwards 3.8 m/s

I brought Sun as a second person with me to the lower streamway, (his first time down, Malibu wasn’t around), and took route to the right rather than left as I’d concentrated on during previous visits. We came across a piece of my flagging tape tied to stal well to the right, perhaps from last year? I’m not sure if we’d gone that far in the past or had done a circle somehow. Nothing shows on map in new edition Fincham. We went to right until we hit flowing water.

Bar pressure either rose 18 m or humidity affected reading. The wind outward from the cave was varying between calm and 3.8 m/s on time scale of under 5 min’s from 12:35 - 12:55.

Feb 22, 2002


Cavers: M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

Main Entrance 11:35 Alt (uncal) 141m Wind 3.5 m/s Lower Streamway 13:15 Alt (uncal) 145m

Sample collected in pool, 1.5 x 1 m x .5 deep, located ~10 m to right at 1st T Jnct, (Given to Susan at Windsor), possibly larval crab. (Location sketch in notebook).

Top of 2nd drop 14:00 Alt (uncal) 165

Feb 23, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

Entrance 11:45
Susan and I went down the 1st drop with Malibu staying at the top. The route is easy to follow and a crawl after the Canyon brings you to the top of the river pit. I left two pieces of flagging at start of crawl leaving the river pit, (this is the only tricky place on the route). (Note: Retrieve them next time in.) The sound of the river in the pit below is interesting. Both Susan and I could make out bizarre sounds in the noise…..Susan heard radios and people talking, for me it was low pitched mumbling. Signs of fracturing are obvious in the rock ledge above the river pit. It looks as though it will fall in eventually.

JCC graffiti was seen at the base of the 1st drop. I got a picture of it.

Feb 25, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

Measured main entrance as 20 m, very concave, facing Az 275 deg,(almost due west), (sketch in notebook). Left late, 14:00, and didn’t get to the cave until ~16:00. We took a slightly different route to the entrance, staying above the valley after the first saddle. Two large boulders were used as anchors for the rope down the main drop. I rapped in first. It was getting late so, when Susan was at the top of the pitch, it was decided that there wouldn’t be time for both of us to jumar out and get down the escarpment before dark. I decided that since I was already down that I’d do some exploring on my own. The previous two trips we had gone north so I headed off to the southern end of the main chamber where I found a steep climb up to the source of daylight noticed last year. Halfway up the climb a large opening dropping into another chamber appeared on the right, that would have needed a second rope. I gave a shout to the others that I’d found more cave, then carried on up. At the top, the floor leveled somewhat and I found another entrance roughly 1.5 x 2 m.

Exiting, I worked my way round the hill to the main entrance where Susan and Malibu were waiting at the top of the main drop. They were surprised to have me calling to them from above, (I wanted to hide and make duppy noises but I was a bit tired and it was late). We hauled the rope in and got to the bottom of the escarpment just before sunset.

Feb 26, 2002

UNNAMED CAVE (near Geneva Mtn, Dolphin Head)

Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

Entrance 17:00 GPS: Fix 9, averaged 10 min. saved as WPT 102 WPT 102: UTM: 0800898 E, 2031294 N LL:18 21’ 01.0” N, 78 09’ 10.5” W (WPT is ~10 m south of entrance) Alt(uncal) 200 m on hill above entrance, (~10 m above floor of entrance) Alt(uncal) 60 in cane field Alt(uncal) 80 in pasture

The walk to the entrance takes 40 min. The entrance faces north and is ~4 m x 3 m high, and is found high on the side of a hill. As soon as you get into the cave, the heat and humidity rise sharply. The cave consists of one long, large chamber zigzagging in a SE direction, (sketch in notebook), for apx 100 m (very uncertain). Millipedes were found by the dozens in the first part of the cave. The bat population is massive. One possibly native roach was found. American roaches were present in the hundreds of thousands, (millions?). Guano extraction was obviously underway, (torch bottles, scoops etc).

The sight of vast hordes of roaches running at high speed across the breakdown boulders in the cave is something I’ll remember forever. I didn’t want to stand in any one place for too long in case they’d start running around on me! The rain of bat feces coming down on us, as they were all stirred up and in the air, was also creeping me out. This was the first time I really wanted to get out of a cave. Note to self: Never even consider going into this cave again.

Feb 28, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart, (Malibu, Ray at entrance)

GPS: Fix obtained on road ~80 m from 2nd entrance. Saved as WPT 103 UTM: 0233416 E, 2025030 N LL:18 17’ 53.8” N, 77 31’ 18.6” W

We found a local woman, the manager of Bristol Estate (?), who showed us an entrance for “Ratbat Cave”, a local name for Bristol cave, and after dropping her back at her yard we searched out the second entrance. The second entrance seemed best suited for use of the 60 m rope; it would handle both initial pitches with the one line.

The first entrance currently has a cable ladder used for guano extraction hanging in it and it should really be hauled out, (the estate is in receivership and was owned by some radio guy named, “Thwaites”). The drop into the second entrance is from a hole about 5 x 3 m, hidden in a bamboo stand. As you enter, you descend through a hole in the ceiling of a chamber, (rope is hanging freely well back from walls), about 15 m across, which has a sloping bottom covered with bamboo debris. This gives way immediately to a second pitch that lands one at the top of a very long, fairly steep, talus slope. This slope is about twice as deep and long as Windsor Top Entrance. The slope is divided into two obvious routes down. As I waited for Susan to rap down the second pitch, I went most of the way down the right-hand route and found it to be a bit trickier at the bottom than the left-hand route, so I scrambled back up and when Susan was down, took the left-hand side of the descending chamber. We took care to avoid rockfall but managed to launch some anyway. Neither Susan nor I were in the obvious line of fall when the other was moving. No bats whatsoever, (0), were seen in the upper guano passage although signs of intensive guano extraction, (apparently in the past five years but over with now), are everywhere, (dozens of fertilizer bags, scoops etc).

We went to the base of the pitch at the first entrance; cables that were part of the guano mining operation are still in place. We backtracked, found the pitch to the streamway, then carried on past the ascent to the second entrance as far as the pitch at the end of the northern branch of the guano passage, (there is a pool of very shallow water right at the top of the pitch with very fine formations of a low, wide, delicate sort in the pool). Here we turned back, returned to the talus slope and carefully made our way up, (staging it), to the bottom of the two pitches.

The rope ascent went well, (see photo), we hauled rope and left.

MAR 14, 2002


Cavers: S. Koenig, M. Taylor, R. S. Stewart

GPS: Entrance is 25 m Az 290 from WPT 104 WPT 104UTM: 0209092 E, 2033124 N LL:18 22' 05.5" N, 77 45' 10.4"

We found the entrance very quickly this time after having been totally defeated in Feb. A low opening gives way to a river passage, (dry in Mar), that in a short time comes to the drop to the sump. The passage is very sandy, and shows signs of minor flows through the main seasonal deposits. At the drop, very unusual sand/clay (?) formations are found resembling tubular stalagmites, (see photo), but when touched, crumble easily. The position seems to indicate a temporary existence, (the river “froths” from the cave, we were told, during the wet season), so apparently these formations grow in a matter of months?! I took 3 pics of them to use for comparison during subsequent visits.

The drop proved to be a bit of a puzzle at first. The obvious larger opening was on the other side of a smaller, sandy, funnel shaped opening. There were no good anchors close by other than a bit of slab sticking out on the west wall, and the traverse around the first opening was on the side of a slippery funnel. I could see what appeared to be a connection from the funnel to the main drop chamber so I had Susan and Malibu belay me and I headed down. It turned out to be an easy scramble. Susan followed, then after a bit, Malibu, (he’d tied the rope to the slab at the top that I’d eyed before).

On a slope at the start of the sump passage, there is a remarkably well-defined area of rounded, river pebbles of uniform size, (at the surface), ~3 x 5 cm in size. There is no sign of them spreading into the sump passage below. We took the sump passage and found one crab, (Sesarma Verleyi by the looks of it), in a pool not far in. A small amount of water was trickling into the sump passage. We turned back when we were faced with wet boots, (probably just short of the sump), and made our way back out.

The reverb/hang time of sound was very long in one stretch of the sump passage. Numerous brown roach-like (?) inverts were seen in the upper part of the cave.

The opening to the sump which is located on the south side of the main passage just inside the entrance, (on JU map), is now blocked by a rock slab ~1.2 x 1 m x 30 cm thick. The drop described in JU is visible through 20 cm gaps around the edges but access will require moving the slab. It is definitely new since Bristol survey in 1967 and it appears to have fallen from the wall directly above the opening.

MAR 16, 2002

UNNAMED CAVE (shelter cave opposite Windsor Great House)

Cavers: S. Koenig, R. S. Stewart

Shelter cave in hill on other side of Cedar Grove road from Great House. A lower part extending ~2 m into hill is reached by a walk. A higher opening can be reached by a 10 m scramble, and extends ~5 m into the hill. There are some nice stals and a sand/dirt floor in the upper part.

Jamaican Cave Notes - Main Page