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7 Tips for Finding your First Scuba Cache

You’ve dominated the game on land and now you’re ready for the next level of geocaching — sea level that is. Dave from Geocaching HQ, aka HiddenGnome, recently found his first scuba cache in the US Virgin Islands. He returned to HQ with a plenty of vitamin D and some great advice for those who also want to go on their first underwater geocaching adventure. Scuba caches are no easy feat, but with these 7 tips from Dave, you’ll soon be ready to take the plunge.

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Dave himself finding his first scuba cache, GC3CMHE, in the US Virgin Islands

1. Get certified. Before attempting, make sure you have proper scuba certification.

Geocacher "FJFitzgerald " at GC1D6ZQ in Michigan.
Geocacher “FJFitzgerald ” at GC1D6ZQ in Michigan

2. Read cache details carefully as every scuba cache is different. Some will require park entrance fees while others may ask you to notify the local park ranger.

Geocacher Peter_U and friends at a underwater cache site in Finland
Geocacher Peter_U and friends at a underwater cache site in Finland

3. Research the diving area and its ecosystem. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised by the local sea creatures or water temperature.

Geocacher "Stray65" at GC3GB52 in Egypt
Geocacher “Stray65” at GC3GB52 in Egypt

4. Bring a compass. GPS devices will not work underwater but a compass will help you navigate while submerged in water. You can also triangulate the position of the geocache based on provided landmarks – certain cache listings will specify.

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Bring a compass for navigating

5. Buddy system is a must. In the off-chance that something were to happen (an underwater current), you want to make sure someone knows where you are.

Travelingeek and friends at GC4BAC0 in Cayman Islands

6. Bring a pencil or waterproof writing utensil to sign the logbook. Standard pens won’t work when wet.

Logbook at GC34AAB in Mallorca

7. Carry an underwater camera… so you can snap a shot of yourself finding the cache!

Say cheese!
Say cheese!

What other questions do you have about scuba caching?

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HCue: How To Make a Hollow Book Geocache

Do you consider yourself a book nerd and a geocaching connoisseur? If yes, then this HCue video was created just for you. Grab yourself some glue, a few cutting tools, and a thick book (of witchcraft and wizardry), and you’ll have all of the necessary tools to create your own “Chamber of Secrets!”

What You’ll Need:

  • Thick Book – Make sure it’s large enough to fit a logbook, Trackables, and other geocaching trinkets
  • Box Cutter or X-Acto Knife*  
  • Saran Wrap
  • Straight-Edge Ruler
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Power Drill – Optional but very helpful
  • White Glue/Water Mixture  – 70/30 ratio mixture
  • Paint brush
  • Band-aids… Just in case

Instructions:

  1. Select a page near the beginning of the book and use Saran Wrap to cover that page, the pages before it, and the front cover. This saved page will be used later on in the process.
  2. Firmly hold down the remaining pages and brush the outer edges with the glue/water mixture. The Saran Wrapped pages should be protected from the glue mixture.
  3. Place some sort of heavy object on top of the book and wait for the glue to dry. This should take around 15-30 minutes.
  4. After the glue dries, open the book to the first glued page. Draw 1/2 inch border inside the page edges using a writing utensil and ruler.
  5. If you have a power drill, drill a hole in each corner of the border. Using the ruler and cutting tool, start carefully cutting through the layers. Safety always comes first (as you saw in the video) so take your time cutting!
  6. Cut until you reach the back of the book. Do not cut the back cover. Then remove stray paper debris.
  7. Brush the inside edges and top of of the cut-out pages with glue/water mixture.
  8. Carefully remove the Saran Wrapped pages that you set aside step #1 and placed the saved page right before the cut-out pages onto the wet glue mixture.
  9. Close book, add weight, and let dry for another 15-30 minutes.
  10. Cut through saved page.
  11. Your hollow book geocache is now complete! You know what to do from here. And if you don’t, go here.**

*These should only be used by adults with experience handling these tools.

**These containers are placed commonly in libraries and other wonderful “book-filled” environments.

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Celebrating Geocaching’s Sweet 16!

Today, May 2nd, marks the 16th anniversary of the geocaching phenomenon. As we reminisce on all the wonderful geocaching moments we’ve experienced over the years, it’s fun to journey back to the year 2000 to see how it all began.

A Look Back in Time

The year was 2000. Y2K had come and gone. A dozen eggs cost 89 cents. “Survivor” was in its first season. The Summer Olympics were held in Sydney. Traditional outdoor activities at the time included hiking, bird watching, and camping. But then everything changed.

The Big Blue Switch

On May 2nd at approximately midnight, the “big blue switch” was pressed and selective availability on civilian GPS receivers was removed. Twenty-four satellites around the globe processed new orders, and the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold. Prior to this date, only the military had the ability to receive accurate GPS readings. Now, the world and all its wonderful people could pinpoint their precise location.

The First Geocache Hide

In celebration with this new-found freedom in global navigation, a computer consultant named Dave Ulmer started The Great American GPS Stash Hunt. The idea was simple: hide a container out in the woods and record the coordinates using  a GPS unit. On May 3rd, he placed a black bucket in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon along with a logbook, pencil, and other various trade items – the first geocache. He shared the coordinates of his “stash” with an online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav and the “game” took off.

Dave Ulmer and the Original Stash
Dave Ulmer and the Original Stash

Geocaching.com

For the first few months, the stash game was played mostly by experienced GPS users who already used the technology for outdoor activities. Mike Teague, the first person to find Ulmer’s stash, began to gather other users’ posted coordinates and document them on his personal website.

Jeremy Irish, Founder of Geocaching.com, stumbled upon Teague’s site while researching GPS technology and was intrigued by the idea. He purchased a GPS device and went out on his first geocaching adventure that weekend. After an enjoyable experience, Irish decided to start a website for the activity. Adopting the newly dubbed term “geocaching” and putting his web skills to good use, he launched Geocaching.com with only 75 geocaches.

From right to left: Founders Bryan, Jeremy, and Elias
From left to right: Founders Bryan, Jeremy, and Elias

Historic Dates

March 24, 2001: The first Geocaching Event takes place in Austin, Texas.

The first geocaching event
The first geocaching event

August 30, 2001: The first Travel Bug® is released by Jeremy. TB1 is a rubber ducky named “Deadly Duck: Envy.” Fun fact: The image on the Deadly Duck’s Trackable page is Photoshopped to replicate this mug shot of a famous Seattle-area entrepreneur and philanthropist in his younger, “wilder” days.

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September 20, 2001: Moun10Bike places the second Geocoin in a cache near Deception Pass, Washington. He keeps the first Geocoin in his personal collection.

The First Geocoin
The first Geocoin

April 26, 2003: The first CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) is held outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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First CITO crew

January 10, 2004: The first EarthCache is published in  Australia.

First EarthCache
First EarthCache

May 27, 2006: The first Mega-Event, GeoWoodstock 4, takes place in Texas.

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October 14, 2008: The first geocache hidden in space is published.

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First geocache in space is hidden in locker 218 on the ISS

March 8, 2010: Geocaching.com reaches 1 million active geocache listings.

February 26, 2013: Geocaching.com reaches 2 million active geocache listings.

 

Sixteen Years Later

Sixteen years and over 2.8 million geocaches later, the game is larger and more diverse than it’s ever been. Happy birthday geocaching! It’s been a pleasure watching you grow.

 

How do you think geocaching will change in the next 16 years?