Sunday, November 27, 2005

well despite a shitty forecast, we had some really nice weather on saturday. but i didn't get to go for a dive. a dive club from the illawarra was down, complete with 3 armloads of uni students, and boatloads of tanks to fill.

fortunately it wasn't as bad as last time. maybe the forecast put them, off. last time we filled tanks for them (and our own divers) i spent the whole weekend filling, only leaving the compressor to sleep (and go to the little boys room) and raid the kitchen for food.

this time i had a bit of a break saturday morning, getting brekkie ready at 7:00, still blissfully unaware, some communication from the boss would have been nice at this stage, i'll harass the bosses about that later. at 9:00 i saw the boat approaching, and put 2 and 2 together to get about 7, and spent the rest of the day until about 9:00pm filling.

had a few nice breaks though. in between filling you're expected to be helping people out of the water, carrying cameras to the fresh water rinse tub at the front of the boat, and keeping the hot dry towels coming from the dryer.

the weather was lovely. hot and sunny. and then there's some noise.

when you surface, it's good manners to signal the boat. a big fat ok signal, means all is good, one arm raised, means please pick me up (two fingers, visa, 3 fingers pointing down, mastercard)

one arm flapping, all is not good. i look out the side, an instructor is flapping. oh shit. shit shit shit.

evaluate options, they are between 50-100 metres away. i yell to the boss, do you want me to swim or are you gonna take the boat (tender), but i already know that by the time he gets the boat in and organised, i'll be there already. i remove my new boat shoes (and break the fucking strap), dump my shirt and sunnies, and grab the big fucking fins and my mask and i'm on my way.

i'm about halfway there and i realise i'm hyperventaliting. swimming on the surface is hard, i usually duck under a couple of metres, and move easier, and surface every now and then to breathe, but i can't do that, i need to keep them in sight. plus i've seen an instructor signalling for help, and a diver with him lying motionless on the surface. i force myself to slow down and breathe.

fortunately she has just had an anxiety attack. the instructor says he's in the unenviable position of having a panicked diver at the surface, and a diver below. so i tow her back to the boat and try to interrogate her whilst being reassuring. i think the most reassuring thing i said was that i was trying to be reassuring, but i was stuffed from the swim!

before you discount an anxiety attack as being feeble, breathing compressed air can be very insidious. the harder you breathe, say for example, that you are swimming hard or something has screwed up and you are stressing a bit, the harder you breathe, the worse it gets. when you do a rescue course, the number one thing they teach you is self rescue, and the main thing is "stop, relax, breathe".

later she feels a bit stupid about it, but i try to tell her otherwise. she's had a valuable learning experience. she does a few more dives without incident.

another piece of experience to stow away for future reference. and a few thousand heartbeats i'll never get back

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