Eagle's Nest (aka Lost Sink)
(N28 33.314 W82 36.562)
Eagle's Nest is a large cave system on Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area property about the woods near Weeki Wachee. Access is now available for the general public. The good news is that a good road has been provided all the way to the sink and a wooden deck and staircase have been installed for easy access. The bad news is that the sink is now 12 miles from the current access even though it is less than a mile from the closest paved road. If you use a Garmin GPA with Mapsource, then you can import this Mapsource track, or click here to see how the track appears. The state has put in a lot of time and effort to improve the road and build a dock and ramp system to enable divers to have easy access. This is a great deal. The price to dive here is $3 a day or you may purchase an annual Wildlife Management Area pass for $26.50 at local hunting supply stores or even Wal-Mart.
Getting to the nest was often as hard as the dive. It was best to go with someone who had been there several times before since the hunting roads can become an incredible maze. This is an extremely advanced dive due to the distance from help and the depths found here. If you have never seen the Little River well pipe, done the Peacock Grand Traverse, and hit the Hinkle restriction, all on on a swim dive, then you probably should not be diving here. There is no open water, cavern, intro, nor apprentice to cave level of diving conducted here unless under the control of an instructor. With a team of 3-4 divers using HIDs and scooters, one can really just start to get an idea of the size of this place. Access is gained through the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. The access is about 10 miles north of the Hwy 50/Hwy 19 intersection. There are some good directions with pictures at this site: http://www.ezscuba.com/eagle's_nest.htm When you dive there, please make sure to leave a copy of either your annual pass or the stub you got after paying at the ranger on the vehicle dashboard so that law enforcement may check it while you are in the water. Please also leave a copy of your cave certification card as well as you would at Peacock and be sure to sign the log book. If you want to see the waypoints, you can see the track here. Although the words overlap, the first point after the entrance is the first Y-split, soon followed by the second Y-split and then the crossroads.
The St. Petersburg Times published an article on the closing of Eagle's Nest in their 8/22/99 edition. The online text can be found here, or here if the link is dead.
On July 19, 2003, the St. Petersburg Times published and article concerning the reopening of the site. The online text can be found here or here of the link is dead.
Update (4/03) Copy of post made by Larry Green: "I was down Eagle's Nest last week working with Fish and Wildlife. We are planning on putting in a boardwalk to get into the water and to help stop the erosion around the sink. We are also planning on fixing the roads back to the sinkhole. The first 4 miles is good road, the last mile needs a lot of work, about $25,000 worth of work. I will be down there in the next week or two with contract bidders to get the boardwalk started, then back again to examine the lines in the cave for safety. It will be $3 daily admission, or $27 annual pass. I encourage everyone to support the F & W and buy the annual pass. We are discussing how the state (or if they are allowed) to take donations from us (cave divers) to help repair the roads because their budget money is limited. This is in the works, will keep everyone updated. Opening looks positive for mid-summer. Larry Green, TDI HQ, NACD Training Director" and a post by Mike Poucher "On Wednesday of last week, Larry Green - NACD, John Jones - NSS-CDS, and Mike Poucher - NSS-CDS met with three representatives from Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FFWC) to give input on improvements to Eagle's Nest. FFWC has received a grant from the Florida Springs Initiative to build a boardwalk and improve the parking lot to control erosion at the site. We discussed opening of the site and possible dates, but no firm commitments yet. The site will be opened but the condition of the road is the major obstacle at this point. It needs about $25,000 in improvements, which is not a problem in their overall budget, but will take some time. Their concern with opening the road before improvements is further damage that will increase cost. As far as recommendations for qualifications, they are the same as with any deep, advanced site: trimix training, proper experience, be introduced to the site by someone that has been before, DAN insurance."
Update (7/03): The Nest has been reopened for divers. Major props go out to some of the players that worked for a LONG time to see this done. The state will be doing work on the access roads for the last couple of weeks of July and likely installing a boardwalk and steps to help prevent erosion and damage to the area. Please do not visit the site during this time period. We've waited this long, so a bit longer as the site is made better will be nothing. This is a good site, but a very advanced cave dive. the visibility and size can make this seem deceptively easy. If the only dives you have ever do are Ginnie, Little River, and Peacock, then you should not dive here. Minimal requirements include diving with experienced divers that have been to the site several times prior, full cave training with advanced experience (e.g. GUE Cave 2 level), and use of trimix. If you are willing to drive over 11 miles of winding back roads into mosquito and tick invested swamp for this dive, then don't be a tightwad and just spring for the right mix. A MOD 190 mix would be a bare minimum since there is no cavern at this site. Once the road is completed and I have a chance to revisit the site, I'll ad info concerning places to get the passes, pictures, and hopefully something close to a road map.
Again, for those that may have missed subtle points. This is an advanced dive. Do not take this lightly. Do not screw it up for the rest of us.
On June 12, 2004 there was a dual fatality at this site. The incident was of course tragic, though unfortunately it was not really a surprise to those that knew or came across either of the divers. Listen folks, when there is mention of an advanced dive and to use extreme caution and good judgment, take heed. If others continue to question your knowledge, experience, or skill, then instead of getting defensive, accept the warnings. Cave diving is not for everyone. It is one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. Do not take it lightly. I'm not going to rehash the events. If you want to see what was previously posted, then check out the archive I saved here, (in .pdf format). Here are the links to all the articles I found concerning the incident; #1, #2. #3, #4, #5.
Since the depth and overhead environment (and lack of training) police divers would not be able to do the recovery. There were several volunteers that took nearly a week out of their lives to help the families by doing whatever it took to recovery the bodies and equipment and to piece together the events that occurred. Each dive would cost between $50-$150 in terms of dive gas and transportation alone, and these guys did 2-6 dives...often 2-3 a day. In a brief time, just over $1,300 was collected to be sent to the volunteers divers. Many contributors (including members of the families of the deceased) want to express their gratitude and appreciate for this difficult job. Not a single one of them would ever expect nor ask for any compensation from anyone. This effort was simply to be a token of appreciation from the cave community to show their gratitude. The checks for the fund were sent out 7/21/04 (after a few frustrating rounds with Paypal customer service). A list of contributors can be found here. Again, thanks to those that took the time to see the job done. Thanks also go to the Wildlife Commission for keeping the site open and especially to Larry Green for his tireless efforts in pretty much everything involving Eagle's Nest. Next time you see him, make sure to just say thanks to both Larry and Debra.
Click here for a general view of the cave (PDF)
Click here for Eagle's Nest map (PDF)
Click here for another good map of Eagle's Nest cave (PDF)
Click here for Eagle's Nest extended profile map
Click here for aerial view of Eagle's Nest and surrounding area
Click here for a close up aerial shot
Click here for a track of the road overlaid on a topographical map
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Last Updated: 08/13/2004