|the complete diver (standard:humor, 1345 words)|
|Author: adastra||Added: Oct 03 2000||Views/Reads: 2447/1101||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
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The Complete Diver by Rick Holcomb Mary hadn't wanted to learn how to scuba dive but Tom insisted. What Tom wanted, Tom usually got. To her surprise, Mary came to enjoy diving. She was a petite brunette in her late 30's. She didn't have a lot of physical skills and she had to work at it to get over her fear of breathing underwater. Tom was always quick to ridicule her fears. When she succeeded, she was thrilled to discover the beauty of the coral reefs. It was nice to be weightless in a three-dimensional environment. Best of all was the peace. Underwater she heard the low background sounds of the colorful reef inhabitants, her own breathing and the cheerful sound of air bubbles rising to the surface. Tom was a big man with a loud voice. Six feet tall and forty pounds overweight with blunt features; in his mid-forties he gave the impression of an adolescent mentality. He had bought every diving accessory or gadget he could attach to his basic gear. In addition to the standard vest, tank and regulator; he had a spare regulator, pony bottle with regulator, large dive light, dive computer, tank banger, air powered whistle, knife, collecting bag, and of course the cameras. A Sony video camera in an underwater housing and a Nikonos V still camera with twin strobe lights. When they dived from a charter boat, it took both the divemaster and the captain to get Tom up off the bench and into the water. Mary was content with the minimum of equipment. She would have dived naked if she could have had a gill implant. She loved the freedom. Tom had decided that their next dive trip would be to Bonaire. A Dutch protectorate, Bonaire is a volcanic Island 200 miles north of Venezuela. The coral reef hugs the shoreline, and drops nearly vertically for hundreds of feet. When they arrived at Kennedy Airport and unloaded the luggage at the curb, Tom discovered that the molded plastic case containing the video camera was missing. Even though he had insisted on being in charge of loading the luggage at home, Tom managed to imply that somehow Mary was responsible. This did not surprise Mary. She was used to Tom's constant denigration of her and her abilities. Mary was left to check in at the ticket counter and explain that her husband had gone home after the camera. Of course they missed the flight they had booked and Mary listened to Tom bicker and whine for hours while they waited for the next flight. The Sunset Beach Hotel was nice. Their rooms were barely 50 yards from the beach. Their travel package provided for unlimited shore diving and one boat trip per day. Although the shore diving was easy and convenient, Tom preferred the boat dives. It gave him a chance to show off his fancy equipment and impress the other divers on the boat. Tom never seemed to notice that the other divers looked more amused than impressed. Tom and Mary had to make two trips to carry the gear bags, camera cases, battery packs, wet suits, weight belts, towels and dry clothes. Just as the boat was to leave the dock, Tom discovered the still camera had been left in the room. As the 16 other divers watched with various degrees of irritation, Tom berated Mary for being a scatterbrained idiot, jumped up, stepped back on the dock, and began trudging back to the room. When the captain asked Mary where her husband was going, she could only reply with embarrassment, "He's gone after his camera." The reefs of Bonaire are pristine. The local government realized very early that the reefs were a valuable tourist resource. Boats are not allowed to anchor but must tie up to permanent mooring buoys. After the captain tied up at a buoy, he gave the divers a short briefing. Tom ignored the briefing; after all Bonaire is a very easy place to dive and he was busy checking all his gear. Although the tradewinds blow briskly, they always blow from the same direction. The reef is so close to shore the water is almost never rough. The water is warm and the visibility is good. The only thing the captain finds to emphasize is the vertical environment. While drifting along the wall, it is easy to find yourself deeper than you intended. Recreational diving is limited to 130 feet for two good reasons. Because of the physics involved with breathing compressed air, the deeper a diver goes, the less time he has before he must return to the surface. At 60 feet a diver can stay down a maximum of 55 minutes. But at 130 feet he is limited to 8 minutes. In addition to the problem of time, there is the problem of nitrogen narcosis. The deeper a diver goes, the more likely he is to become "narked". His air supply becomes an intoxicant and reason and judgment become poor. Divers who go too deep have been known to cheerfully remove their regulators and attempt to breathe water. By the time Tom got all his equipment organized and attached with rings and snaps and lanyards, all the other divers were in the water. Tom and Mary were the last in. As they slowly descended the wall of coral, Mary marveled at the peace and quiet. She watched Click here to read the rest of this story (37 more lines)
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