Bending the truth a little is an important part of diving culture. As far as I can see there’s very little point in doing a dive if, at the end of it, the only entry in the logbook is, “Got in. Got wet. Got out.”, or – after the umpteenth dive at the same well visited site – “More of the same.”
Even the most mundane dive is a unique adventure that, with just a little embellishment, can achieve the proportions of a science-fiction epic. It’s certainly got all of the right ingredients: Travel; technology; hostile environments; alien life-forms; exciting discoveries from ancient civilizations; the constant element of risk – not to mention sex and human interest.
In many log-books these broad headings are translated into something like: “We travelled to the dive site aboard the worthy vessel, the ‘Yuppy Guppy’; put on our gear and back-flipped over the side into the water.” That’s ‘travel’, ‘technology’ and ‘hostile environments’, attended to: “We saw a fish,” (alien life-form?) “living in an empty beer-bottle” (exciting discoveries from ancient civilizations?). “As we were getting low on gas” (constant element of risk?), “we ascended to our safety stop before climbing back on board the boat. I helped my buddy undress.” (‘human interest’?)
It may be a factual account of what happened, but what this record lacks is any riveting detail that, re-reading it in future years, conveys any of the thrill and excitement of that particular day’s dive – or the heroic role of the chronicler; (An important aspect of any personal narrative.)
Oftentimes just travelling to a dive site provides sufficient material to spice up any logbook. Take, for example, my recent trip to the island of Cozumel, in Mexico, with an international group of diving adventurers and bon vivants.
Chartering three six-pack dive vessels, each with a crew of three, we set out to dive Maracaibo Reef, a seldom visited dive site to the south of the island. Once clear of the lee of the island, the combined forces of a low swell and choppy sea began to take effect. Our boat trailed behind the other two vessels as my fellow passengers and I decided that our stomachs were in different places to our hearts. Eventually – after much begging and pleading – we convinced our reluctant skipper to turn his boat around and find a more sheltered dive site.
“Admit it, Strike.” Said the group’s leader, after his dive at the intended site. “Those little swells at the Maracaibo probably got the adrenaline and stomach juices of those on your boat flowing.”
It was true. Mine were almost flowing into the bilges. But history – not to mention personal self-esteem – would be better served, I thought, by a more creative account of the day’s events:
“In spite of our discomfort, all aboard our vessel were of one mind. ‘Push on. Push on.’, we cried out to the skipper.
“’But, Senor Loco, eet is madness! The waves will overpower and sink my small craft. I must turn back for all our sakes, lest we become food for the feeshes.’
“’The sea’s no place for girly talk like that!’ I yelled. ‘Follow in the wake of that other boat, or we’ll seize command of this vessel and lash you to the mast along with the wimmin folk.’
“Despite the apparent appeal of this idea – and cries from the ladies that they weren’t opposed to it either – he still resisted, putting forward one final and telling argument.
“ ’But, Senor Plonker. My T-shirt, eet is getting soggy.’
“His wretched plea touched my soul. I relented, ’Oh, very well then. Turn back to calmer waters if you must.’”
I showed this portion of my logged entry to my companions, all of whom agreed that, with the possible exception of who actually said what – and to whom – it bore vague similarities to their own recollection of events.
After such hesitancy, I was a little loath to let them read my description of the dive itself. Thankfully, however, the true facts are all recorded in the pages of my dive log for anyone to see, a permanent and lasting reminder of enjoyable times, good company and memorable dives. Which is, after all – the whole purpose of keeping a logbook. Isn’t it?