It begins the moment that some people step across the gang-way of a live-aboard dive vessel; a character make-over that turns them from previously considerate and well-mannered divers into salty sea-dogs who – often without realising it – manage to bore the booties off of passengers and crew alike.
Ranging from the mildly insensitive to the gratingly obnoxious, ‘Liveaboard Bores’ are the dark side of what should be one of diving’s most sublime and enjoyable experiences. While some – like me – remain blissfully unaware of their character defects, others take advantage of the fact that, in the confines of a small vessel, they have a captive audience.
The types vary. There are those who immediately commandeer the best cabin or bunk while you’re busy ingratiating yourself with the most important person aboard – the cook.
Others suffer a sea-change in terms of their language. Suddenly acquiring an accent like Long John Silver’s – and while the boat’s still firmly moored to the jetty – they’ll say things like, “Ah! It’s good to feel a heaving deck beneath one’s feet again.”
These are the same people who insist on referring to the pointed end of the boat as the ‘bow’ and lace every conversation with plenty of, ‘larboards’, ‘starboards’ and other sailor-talk. Ask one of them for directions to the bathroom and you’re likely to be told, “Harrr! Harrr! Me Hearty! The Heads be abaft the galley flat, just below the poop-deck.” Advice that has been known to cause acute embarrassment to those unfamiliar with nautical terminology.
Then there are those who – when the seas are a little choppy and you’re still waiting for your stomach to return to its proper position and acquire sea-legs of its own – will insist on giving you a blow-by-blow account of every live-aboard dive boat that they’ve been on while chomping into a greasy snack.
“I remember a time – it was out in the South China Sea during a typhoon – when the skipper, at my suggestion, lashed all of the women passengers to the mast. With the main engines broken down and heavy beam seas threatening to capsize the vessel, I saved the day by rigging a sea-anchor out of one of my old socks stuffed full of butter from the galley.”
Turning bright green around the gills in the face of an impending vomit attack is no deterrent either. “Then there was the time that my buddies and I, chartered an old pilchard boat to dive some deep wrecks. It was great.. Everybody but me got bent. And the food was superb; raw onions, tinned herrings in tomato sauce and suet and treacle pudding. Oh! My! You’re really not feeling at all well, are you? Personally, I’ve never suffered from sea-sickness.”
But it’s on the diving deck that the worst category of ‘Dive Boat Bores’ really make their on-board presence felt. Easily recognised in their more extreme form by their faded, “I Dived The Titanic” T-shirts, these folk are driven by a need to prove their diving superiority.
Before the dive they’ll happily embarrass you by loudly explaining why it is that every piece of diving equipment that you own is obsolete, badly configured and incapable of sustaining intelligent life.
After the dive they’ll point up the flaws in your finning technique, scoff at your poor gas consumption and conservative attitude to depth and time and tell you that they’ve dived deeper and for longer in weather so foul that even whales wouldn’t put to sea.
It’s towards the end of the trip that they usually say something like, “You wimps don’t know what you’re doing. Join me on your next vacation and I’ll show you some “real” diving.”
(Faced with this proposal a friend of mine has the perfect answer, “Maybe.” he responds, ” But don’t forget the first rule of diving.” “What’s that?”, they invariably ask. “Don’t hold your breath.”)
Fortunately bores of this calibre are a rarity, but should you find yourself kitting up next to one, take the initiative and crush several garlic oil capsules into their wet suit booties at the end of the diving day.
As you prepare for the next dive, loudly screech, “Phew! Has nobody ever told you the value of personal hygiene and caring for your equipment? Speak to me later and I’ll give you some advice.”
Chances are they’ll avoid you for the rest of the trip.