Dopes on a rope
On a recent visit to be reunited with my kilted Leaks in Bonnie Glasgow, I was much heartened about the state of diving north of the border.
Indeed, many of the top tartans I met, as I moved amid the clans - anonymously of course - at Diver's first, and certainly not last, Dive Scotland show, asked me to give their regards to Beachcomber if I ever met him, adding encouraging words, or so I took them to be, that sounded like "lang may his lum reek".
Having since had this translated, Beachcomber thanks you all.
However, such was the speed with which the not-so-wee drams flew down, that my Leaks were soon in full flow. From what they told me, it would seem that the bad language to which I drew attention last month is not the sole prerogative of the feminist diver, nor of purely English coastal waters - certainly not, judging by this tale from my Leak on the Clyde.
Picture the scene on the tranquil waters of a mull. One of my Leaks and his buddy are on the deco line at 3m after an excellent dive on the wreck far below. All of a sudden, some 10 new divers bomb in almost on top of the decompressing divers, crash into the marker buoy, get themselves all tangled up and then, having nearly smashed my Leak's facemask with their twin-sets, finally head on down.
When his stop was finished, my Leak sensibly complained about this lousy diving procedure to those on the hardboat from which the new divers had obviously come, only to be told in a strong Brummie accent where to effing go.
Moments later, two other divers surfaced nearby with similar complaints about the diving discipline of the same group of 10, adding that they had all attached distance-lines to the shotline, almost entangling divers on their way up.
These two were then abused from the hardboat with many effs and bs, in the same accent, concluding with "why don't you take your b... RIB and eff off to another site - this one is ours..."
Needless to say, the Group of 10 Brummies' surfacing drills were not much better than their descent. All of which makes me agree with my Leak that they should be fined, not for the foul language but for their dodgy diving.
The diving officer of their club will, no doubt, be putting them all on a revision course of simple diving procedures before allowing them loose again among the more civilised Scottish diving community. While they await their parole, they should put 10 crisp cracklies in an envelope, addressed to me. I will see that it reaches the Diver Lifeboat Fund without mentioning their names.
However, if the cash is not forthcoming and I have to expose the effing Bs, I will do so...
John, we need your help
Loosely continuing the Scottish theme, a man with a very Highland name, Andy Lauder, has e-mailed me to suggest that we try to persuade Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to champion our campaign for a bronze statue to the memory of merchant seamen lost in both world wars, to be made from surrendered and melted-down wreck booty.
He adds that Prescott qualifies because he was a merchant seamen, and is a diver, although being a politician, thinks Andy, might be a drawback. Surely not!
Big John is a regular reader of this column, so let him take this as an invitation. What about it, John? Will you support this diving initiative?
Gloves off (and on) in reef debate
Will the diver who sat on board an aircraft returning to the UK from the Red Sea recently, while nursing a dive computer which proclaimed that he should wait three hours before flying, please contact me - if he still can!
I would like to hear not only from him but others from his Lower Middle England branch on the same diving holiday. They witnessed a confrontation in the big debate raging among warmwater divers today, and I would like more details of this incident. All I know is this:
The LME branch saw divers surface from a wreck wearing gloves. The dive guides in boats nearby told them off smartly for not obeying the "no gloves" rule when diving on coral reefs, which some believe protects the coral by discouraging divers from hanging on to it.
The gloved divers' defence on this occasion was that the no-gloves rule does not apply when diving on wrecks, as hands need to be protected from rusty, sharp edges. The result, I understand, was a stand-off, or rather hands-off.
The gloves v bare knuckles debate is growing throughout the warmwater world as more novice divers head for coral seas before getting much experience of buoyancy control.
The gloveless claim that divers shouldn't be holding on to wrecks anyway. The gloved camp says that wrecks are different and that in any case the gloves are gentler if hands do come into contact with coral. The real danger to coral, they say, comes from fins.
One extreme group is now saying that all coral diving ought to be done without benefit of gloves, without fins and with bare feet.
My advice is to read the small print on any holiday brochure very, very carefully!
It is sad to draw attention to this weird description of deep decompression diving in an overseas newspaper, particularly as it appears in the description of the loss of a diver in the Atlantic, off the Ivory Coast. But unless we all correct these misunderstandings and stop them from circulating further, diving will never throw off the belief still held in some circles that it is a wild and highly dangerous business.
The reporter was describing official diving on the site of an aircrash. The depth, he said, was logged at 51m:
"The divers are given five minutes under water and go through three stages to decompress from the pressure under the water," he wrote. "If they dive straight back in without decompressing, they risk bursting their veins and their eyes can pop out when they return to the water surface."
Although I doubt whether the reporter concerned will ever have to deal again with such a story, I have tried to ensure that if he does he will be able to refer to his own copy of a proper diving manual.
Is it rude?
One of my many American readers, in response to my request last month to furnish me with more examples of modern diving slang, so that we can all update our diving dictionaries and pretend to be cool, asks what a Limey friend meant when he talked about the "homebrew in his ocky".
Sorry, Abe, haven't a clue. Can you-all help?
Appeared in DIVER - June 2000