Posts Tagged ‘Scuba’

Gee, I’m up to Part III of my series on Adventure Travel Sports. 

Just like the sequels of made-for-television shows, sometimes each subsequent episode just gets better and better. And sometimes not. I can only hope.

Part I was about SCUBA divers intent in meeting sharks “up close and personal:” and being successful.

Very successful.

Just until the point that they “over achieved their objective”.

Part II was a discussion of making bad judgments that can lead to bad consequences. Serious ones.

Today I’m going back under water, which is where my wife often would like to hold my head under when I act jerk-ish; not that occurs more than, oh, 14 times a day.

I promised to get a story out as soon as I can about my recent dive trip to Cabo Pulmo but, like a fine wine, I am letting it age to perfection before I give you a generous, and delicious, taste. Translation:  yes, it ain’t started yet.  Soon.

Diving off this is as easy as falling off a barstool.

While I was on that dive trip I was with three other divers whom I had only met as I boarded the dive boat along the beach on the East Cape of southern Baja. 

As I learned, one co-diver, Matt, had just recently been certified for SCUBA diving and this was his first real dive. 

Me, I was certified–no, not than kind of being certifiable–almost 39 years ago to the day.(Excuse number: 1) 

How many of you are even that old?

So given the longevity of that period and the fact that back in that era, being the 60’s & 70’s, and as the line goes, “if you were there, you wouldn’t remember it anyway”, I just may have forgotten a few of my SCUBA lessons.

Hey, I was taking the class at night, AFTER a full day at school and working part-time flipping burgers at the Red Barn on East 14th in San Leandro–I just may have slept through at least some of the lectures. Bad idea when your life WILL depend on the lesson. (Excuse number: 2)

Add to that, over those decades of working full-time, helping raise two daughters, having too many other travel adventure sports and lacking the money to dive more often , I was only diving once every five years or so.  (Excuse number: 3)

It was on a trip a few years ago to Akumal, which is on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, between Cancan and Tulum, that I found out that sleeping in class can, if fact, kill you. 

Or at least put the fear of death in your heart; or sometimes a little lower that leads to the need for clean britches (that’s “undies” for you kids, assuming you even are wearing any).

The result was that after one particular dive off a panga I decided I just might need a refresher.

So, here, at the risk of embarrassing myself, I will give you a few things that went wrong with that trip: things that shouldn’t of ought’a happened. Things that certainly had the potential for bad consequences.

1. My dive partner–who, as is often the case, I just met on the boat–assumed that the dive master had turned his air on.

   Hmmm…you would think this is a pretty basic ingredient for a dive UNDER THE WATER. The diver did not check this before he rolled off the boat rail into the sea, and, as my obligation as his dive partner, also did not do, so.  The guy was able to swim over to the boat and have the boat operator reach down and take care of it.

2. I, on the other hand, did have my air on.  I just forgot to put some air into my diving vest–called a BCD. What I did not remember was that if you are carrying the correct amount of lead weight to match the buoyancy of your wetsuit, etc. you will not sink to the bottom of the sea like, well, a lead weight.

And for those of you non-divers–whose only reference might be an episode of the Sopranos–yes, we really do add a bunch of lead weights to our body and, hopefully, if we did not sleep in class, get to live to talk about it.

So as I hit the water, I panicked and swam like crazy back to the edge of the panda and figured out how to add air using the rental BCD that had a non-conventional mechanism. (Excuse number: 4)

3. Finally–and this one had the most potential to make my wife a recipient of my life insurance proceeds–I somehow got in my mind that when it was time to surface at the end of a dive, back to the safety of the surface, breathable air, and a cold Pacifico cervaza waiting back on shore, I got in my mind that I was supposed to ADD air to my vest to assist my assent.

NO, NO, NO…and I know you divers are asking, “what kind of idjit is this author–and how is he not dead yet?!?”

You don’t add air to the diving vest. Oh, contraire. Quite contraire. You let air out. You remove air. You reduce the air.

Simply put, the reason is that as you surface, everything in, on, and about your body is expanding as the pressure of the water decreases as you rise.

Excuse the mini-science class–now that I recall it: deeper= more water=more weight or pressure–shallower=less water=less pressure, which includes on the wetsuit, the empty space in your air tank, the air in your body, and your body, itself.

As a SCUBA diver rises up towards the surface, your body must equalize the pressure so the air bubbles in your brain don’t explode like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.   I won’t go into the nitrogen gas stuff, most of you have long ago tuned out of this episode, I am sure.

By the grace of God, or possibly Neptune, I survived that trip. Maybe luck, I don’t know. It wasn’t my time, I guess. Bad excuses notwithstanding.

When I returned to our beachfront condo in Akumal–after I poured myself a stiff rum and pineapple juice–I informed my wife I was not going back under the sea until I took a much-needed dive refresher course.

Now, with my own dive equipment–that I am totally familiar with–and recent training and annual dive trips– hopefully the closet brush with danger I will have to worry about is dropping one of those lead weights on my toe.

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How long has it been since there has been such a proliferation in adventure travel of a nature that death or debilitating personal injury is better than a 50-50 proposition?

And please tell me exactly what is the tremendous attraction to these activities.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll take an adrenaline fix with as much a rush as the next guy – or gal, but under most circumstances I would like at least a fair shake at being able to repeat the innervation again some other day.

What brought this thought to mind was a tiny news item buried back in my local newspaper yesterday that basically gave the following facts:

1. Guy, who happens to be named Markus, pays for a Scuba diving trip to see sharks.Shark doing what sharks do.

2. Guy’s choice of commercial diving company – Scuba Adventures – chums the water with bloody fish parts to attract said sharks.

3. Guy is in the water waiting for said sharks: no shark cage.

4. Guy gets close up view as said sharks show up.

5. Guy is dead.

No really…this actually happened. Read the story for  yourself.

Now, I’m not saying this guy is a shoe-in for a Darwin Award but…WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?

Sharks have teeth – lots of teeth – and their function in the grand scheme of things is to kill some form of meat – mammal, fish, and yes, ocasionally a surfer or diver.

You certainly cannot blame the shark for doing what they do best…survive.

I could provide a litany of many other instances of so-called adventure, or extreme, travel where I personally would question the cost-benefit ratio of the thrill of the activity vs. the likely – and sometimes very bad – outcome.

I am a firm believer that if you want to go out in a blaze of glory, have at it.  Just don’t create any collateral damage, whether they be friends or first responders trying to put out your fire.

In the case of Markus, I strongly suspect that he did not plan to make this his last dive.

Ironically Markus was a lawyer; I would guess he has – or had – lawyer friends.

If I was Scuba Adventures I would probably get a lawyer myself. A really good lawyer.

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