Sometimes it’s easy to forget that diving’s meant to be fun and something to be enjoyed. Particularly when you find yourself trapped in the confines of a small dive boat with a group of people who attract misfortune, and who then attempt to explain it all away with nuggets of folk-wisdom drawn from a seemingly inexhaustible supply of proverbs and clichés.
“I’m sorry about that”, said Krabbmann, quickly removing his size twelve boot from the shattered remains of my facemask, “but it’s no use crying over spilt milk. Accidents will happen.” At that moment the heavy weight belt that he’d been nervously swinging backwards and forwards hit the Dive-Master on the shin.
Doubling over in agony and thrown off balance by the motion of the boat, the divemaster toppled forward, his outstretched hand clutching for anything that would prevent his fall. He might have succeeded had C.B. and his buddy not been mid-way through a backward roll entry over the boat’s side. Receiving a clip on the jaw from a heavy-duty fin, the divemaster staggered backwards, snagged C.B.’s primary air hose in his hand and tumbled to the deck with a hose and regulator – minus the mouthpiece – clutched firmly in his grasp.
“Bad luck always comes in threes.” said the stoical, Krabbmann, tossing his weight-belt to one side and oblivious of the fact that it had landed in the lap of a crouching diver attempting to help the semi-conscious divemaster.
Stepping across the bodies of the purple-faced diver gasping for air and that of the groaning divemaster, Krabbmann peered over the side of the boat. “If anything can go wrong, it will.” He said, philosophically.
Rescued by the quick actions of his dive buddy from the froth of bubbles that had surrounded him, C.B. was assisted back on board, coughing and spluttering from the seawater that he’d inhaled while trying to breathe through the redundant mouthpiece still clamped between his teeth. Angrily discarding his cylinder – and unaware that nobody had hold of it – it crashed onto one of the outboard engines wrenching free the fuel hose.
With fuel spraying across the deck and over the equipment, the skipper rushed to fix the problem.
“Never mind.” Said Krabbmann. “Worse things happen at sea.”
“We are at sea.” Pointed out C.B., sadly surveying the remains of his ruined equipment. “What’s even worse, we’re all in the same boat.”
Ignoring this implied criticism, Krabbmann’s optimism went into overdrive. “Come tomorrow, we’ll all look back on this and laugh about it. Anyway. All’s well that ends well.”
As the boat limped back to shore, I couldn’t help but wonder why there was no silver lining in the black cloud hanging over us all? And then, why it is that we rely so much on clichés to explain away our mistakes and inadequacies?
Diving has plenty of such commonplace sayings in daily use – and that people seldom think too deeply about. ‘Diving is Safe; Fun; and Enjoyable’, springs instantly to mind. It’s a short sentence based on long experience of what works and what doesn’t, but it’s one that many divers believe to be unquestionably true.
Recreational diving certainly should be ‘fun’ and it should be ‘enjoyable’. But it’s certainly not ‘safe’ unless people are first properly trained in the type of diving that they want to do, and are subsequently prepared to temper that training with common sense and a lot of thought.
Which leads to another diving cliché; ‘Know your limitations; and dive within them.’ Ignoring their present level of fitness and lack of any recent experience in the type of dive being undertaken, many people believe that their certification level alone determines their limitations. In failing to differentiate between ‘certified’ and ‘qualified’ they become, an accident waiting to happen.
Forgetting that there are, ‘Old divers and bold divers, but no old, bold divers’, they often put themselves into harm’s way by ignoring the old adage, ‘Never allow yourself to get into a situation that you cannot get out of all by yourself.’
Safe and successful diving requires more than just a mastery of technique; it also requires a lot of common sense coupled with an appreciation of the obligations that we have to our buddies as well as ourselves.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Said Krabbmann, once we were back on shore. “C’mon, I’ll buy you all as much beer as you can drink while we plan the next dive. Tomorrow’s another day.”
“No thanks.” Replied C.B.. “I don’t like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but, ‘Today’s dive starts the night before’. Anyway. Going on another dive with you would be like stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire.”