Sunday, February 22, 2009

20,000 leagues under the sea; well, almost


"Let's toss a bumper down our throat
Before we pass to heaven,
And toast: 'The trim-set petticoat
We leave behind in Devon'."

Harry "Breaker" Morant
Some lines from his final poem

Diving was a single chapter for me

My voyage across the sea of blogs drifted over a diver the other day, which is to say, a "scuba diver," as in the underwater type. To make things more interesting, this diver was British but underwater in the Red Sea. Such an experience must have been a real treat for an aficionado of the "silent world."

I'm not certain how many people don scuba gear during their lifetime, but certainly it must be an ever-increasing number. I bought my first tank, used, and a minimum number of accessories, while still in high school. Working around rules comes easy for a teenager (at least, it did for me), so I did not take formal training until college. There, a physical education class provided me with the path to eventual certification. One-half the instruction was in a classroom, the rest in a pool. One dive was in a sort of muddy lake. I already was well practiced in muddy lakes, but never had worn a tank in a pool.

My experience expanded with a three-week class provided by the U.S. Navy. The Navy frequently feeds Marines and hauls them around, always doctors them and, sometimes, teaches them useful skills. That instruction included classroom, pool and the most-amazing Pacific Ocean. I could tell you a couple of stories, but ....

I never really got back into diving when civilian life rolled around until a friend of mine said he would like to try it. I broke out my old high school gear and bought my first wet suit. We both lived on Lake Superior at the time. (Well, not on, rather, next to.) Within a matter of a few weeks after his introduction to the underwater world, he was buying the gear and had signed up for instruction.

We did do a few fascinating dives, including some on shipwrecks off Isle Royale. My ears never did like depths much below 20 or 25 feet, and during this time I also starting having inner ear problems. Consequently, other than infrequent warm-water snorkeling and occasionally dumping a canoe, my under-the-water time pretty much ended.

I really did not miss the underwater experience after I left it. Like "they" say, I'm glad I tried it, but it was meant to be a single chapter in my life, not an entire book. To be honest, other than exploring old wrecks, I found diving in inland lakes sort of boring after a while, and I never seemed to be at the right place at the right time to try anything else.

My friend, who learned how to dive with my gear, continues to be an enthusiast. When he married, he convinced his wife to join him, and they have made a Caribbean trip to explore the underwater world there. He also joined a dive club, bought a dry suit and partakes in a few excursions below the ice of Lake Superior every winter. Diving, for him, became more than a single chapter.

Music Note: Listening to Boston ....
Specifically, "Don’t Look Back" ....
(My all-time favorite band)

6 comments:

TheChicGeek said...

I love exploring the ocean. I would think diving in a lake would get rather boring too. Are the fish even pretty? I'd think they'd be the gray variety. Must be cold too. It's so much fun exploring the beautiful coral reefs and seeing the colorful wildlife. I love that! Only thing I don't like about it is encountering sharks! That always scares me and I get out of the water.

Katy said...

I've been very lucky during my diving training so far. I joined a local dive club and am learning by being taught by other members who've passed their instructor exams. Some of these guys have been diving for a long time (one of them for 40 years) but they have always been endlessly patient with me even when I'm doing (to them) the most basic of tasks.

I suppose what appeals to me most about it is the "other realm-ness" of being under the water. Even when there's not much life around to see, that part captivates me.

Coyoteekisser said...

I have done a little diving myself. But I didn't pass my certification, I had the flu during the final and never went back. I grew up on,(next to) Flathead Lake and spent my summers snorkeling and spear fishing. We've been to Fiji and snorkeled there. I have some stories from there too but.....

Love bannana cream pie, now that you mention it, we went out and bought the ingrediants.

Fram said...

Hi, Kelly ....

Cruising along in a zero-visibility lake and abruptly bumping heads with a large school of carp is more startling than spying a few sharks at a distance, I think. No really colorful anything around here that I recall. You should write about some of your outings.

Fram said...

Hi, Katy ....

I fully understand the "other realm-ness" you sense when you dive. I think that is what I feel when I enter wilderness country, the difference being that under the canopy of a forest I feel a part of it, as if I were returning home, while I feel like an intruder beneath the water, a certain constant discomfort.

Fram said...

Hi, Coyoteekisser ....

Montana seems like the end of the earth in some ways, but yet you go to Fiji. What can I say? I never tried spear fishing except out of a canoe and from a darkhouse on the winter ice. You, too, should write about some of your outings.

Something special ....