After your response to last weeks article, I though that I would then tell you about the worst dive I have every had!
It’s not a reflection on diving it is just an observation and implore most of you never to try this, avoid it if you can.
I lived in England for several years before I came to Ibiza and joined a local dive club.
The people were friendly like in most dive centres and they invited me to join them on a dive.
It was November and the air temp was getting low but the guys made me feel welcome and assured that the water wasn’t that cold. They told me that they had kit to fit me and that even though I hadn’t dived in a dry suit before that it would be alright. They would run through a few skills on how to control my buoyancy with a bubble of air wrapped around me.
Alright no worries! I was already a Dive Master and when I arrived to the dive shop at 6am ready for the 3 hour car journey to a pit in the middle of nowhere I was told that they needed a victim for a rescue course that they were running.
Cool should be fun. I pity the guy who has to drag me up the beach.
We arrived at this pit and I was amazed at how many other dive centres had converged on this god awful place. All I could see was steam coming of people’s heads, coffee in everybody’s hand and fat balding men checking out all the divers who arrived. It was like a Hell Angel’s convention and there were some guys walking around as if they were god’s gift to diving. Talking to people about the new equipment that they had just bought and how their dry suit would withstand the worst artic conditions.
Being a new boy in the group and coming up from London we were bound to get the Mickey taken out of us. Friendly jokes, but if you read between the lines laced with venom.
Ok time to get suited up.
Apparently I am deceptive in stature and the dive leader had packed a wetsuit for me that was made for a normal man. Not an ex rugby playing Ozzie who scales stop at 120.
Thanks any talc guys. I’m pretty sure that ill need some Vaseline to get into this one.
Like all good centres there was a spare on hand, take this fatty said one of the bearded, bald divers who had more badges on his bag than a scout leader. I grabbed it and put it on.
A dry suit hey, the wind was cold but again I was assured that the water would be warmer.
During the dive briefing we were told that the bottom was mud and that we had to keep our buoyancy as neutral as possible. Makes sense!
Ozzie we need you to go and lose yourself at the bottom and we will send this guy out to find you. Don’t worry we will give him an idea of where you are.
The adrenaline was pumping I was going to be part of a rescue, ok I was the victim but I was in the team.
Bald bloke zip me up if you would mate I’m about to go in, ok came the response, have you used one of these before, no, never but she will be right mate.
I jumped in the water and I am floating like an oversized Michelin man and I am not going down, more weight please.
20 kilos later I am starting to sink, little by little but it is a struggle. Starting to sweat I finally become vertical and pull the purge valve on my dry suit and begin to feel better. I am sinking faster but starting to feel cold. My hands are frozen and I look at them to see that I have not only purged the valve I have pulled it of completely. My dry suit is now flooded and I am sinking. Going down!
I hit the bottom and the mud gets disturbed and within seconds the hands that I can’t feel become invisible.
Ok no worries I’m a big boy, stop, think and breathe you will be alright, and besides they are coming to find me anyway as part of the rescue course.
The seconds seem like minutes and the minutes seem like hours but I am breathing, I’m part of a team and the pros up stairs will find me soon.
Come on guys whenever you are ready. I’m starting to shake a bit here.
My prayers are answered, contact is made but from an unlikely friend, not my rescuer but some other diver who is doing some fun diving. What is fun about this? I grab his leg and feel him jump; obviously he didn’t expect somebody tugging at his new fins.
You Ok, no I’m not, I’m frozen and my rescuer is probably ordering his second coffee, so if we could get out of here I would be ever so happy.
With his help we start to ascend through the dark water and into the murky, I can see light but it is still to far away. I’m frozen now and am not well pleased to be still in this hell hole. I though hell was meant to be hot with sulphur and fire not, somewhere that an iceberg would feel at home.
Finally on the surface and my savour is there. He comes to me and says I was just on my way down to see you, cheers geezer but I don’t need your help any more I just want a hot shower. You will be lucky mate, no hot showers here, what do you think we are in a 5 start resort. FANTASTIC!
We get back on land and after removing my wet dry suit I start to get myself warm, by any means possible.
A cup of coffee is on hand but my hands are still shaking and I manage to spill most of it over myself, probably giving myself 3rd degree burns.
I don’t care; I thought diving was meant to be fun.
Then bald bloke says, you will have to pay for that, you broke my purge valve. Ill break something else mate if your not lucky, I though that this was the best dry suit on the market, I sincerely hope it’s under guarantee mate.
At no point did I feel in danger, but I learnt some valuable lessons, which was never rely on anybody else to pack your dive bag and never dive in conditions you aren’t use to without at least having a local orientation.
If you are going to use a dry suit, practice in one first in a swimming pool and by all means don’t ever listen to a bald, fat guy who throws you a wetsuit.
My diving experience in England was limited to a few dives because of several reasons but the biggest was that I saw no fun in getting up early in the morning to dive in a mud pit that had no life except for moss growing on the rocks. The next reason is because a dry suit for me seems pointless, I’m sure that there are some that can handle anything that’s thrown at it but why oh why would you bother.
There are some many things to see all around the world and the majority of dives can be done in water that requires a wetsuit, or a semi dry at a push, just like Ibiza.
Diving by and large is a safe sport, that if done well will bring happiness to you and those around you, but you should never try and go it alone especially if you don’t have the experience for the area you are diving in.
After this experience I was not put of diving, I grew to respect it more and stopped being reckless and started to be aware of the potential problems that you may come across.
This was only the worst dive ever because everything seemed to go wrong from the start. I felt a little bit of peer pressure and was rushed before the dive. The water was too cold and a leaky dry suit is no fun for anybody especially if it is in water that is in single digits.
Bring on the warm waters of Ibiza and dive at your own pace.
For any further information about Punta Dive go to www.puntadive.com or call Nick on 660 919 532
Look forward to seeing you underwater soon,
Nick the fish……