Invitation to small bounty-hunters
Though divers have been pilloried, quite unfairly, over the question of wrecks, we don't seem to have gone as far as other nations in our passion for finding lost ships.
That is, I presume we haven't. Certainly I have never heard of a cash prize for anyone finding a missing wreck in British waters.
My Micronesian Leak tells me, for example, from his hideaway island halfway between Guam and Palau in the Pacific, that there is a US $500 prize for the divers who can find the wreck of the USS Mississinewa, sunk by Japanese suicide torpedo-riders in November,1944 with the loss of 50 sailors.
She is thought to be in more than 40m of water in a lagoon and is 553 feet long and 75ft in the beam. Visiting divers have tried but failed to find this huge wreck.
Kebabbed in and out of the kitchen
While we closely examine our attitude to wrecks, could it be that we are overlooking our underwater attitude to marine life?
I only ask because of a strange story from my Islington Leak. He tells of a very upmarket chef in one of those even upper-market restaurants which do their best to hide real food under organic sludge.
This chef was approached by a diver. He knew she was a diver, because her designer backpack had a pair of very dainty fins attached.
The diver asked the chef if he would prepare a special crawfish dish for her birthday party at his restaurant. He said he would, but there was a shortage of crawfish in the market.
Not to worry, said our woman, I will get them for you with my own fair hands from the bottom of the sea and bring them in on the day before my party. And so she did.
The chef had not examined the spiny creatures until he started to prepare the dish for that evening. When he did, he was shocked to discover that his artistic display would be ruined by the fact that all the fishes' bodies had been pierced and badly damaged by a spear or some similar object.
My Islington Leak says the chef, in a fit of tantrums, refused to prepare his special lobster dish, and the diver threw further tantrums when he told her so. "Everyone uses a speargun on crawfish, or they cut your gloves to ribbons!" quoth she in her rage.
Does everyone? Surely not. I would like to hear from any of my other Leaks who have experience of such misbehaviour.
I thought all divers gave up spearguns long, long ago and anyway, no real diver would ever use a spear on shellfish.
We must be tough on this crime, and even tougher on the causers of such crime. Help me to name and shame the shellfish spearos.
No name, no shame
Continuing the Beachcomber Name That Club Awards, I hear a new club consisting entirely of hairdressers and their staff proposes to call itself "The Clipper Dippers".
And a group of naturist divers is asking if anyone has a good idea for a name for their club. To me swiftly please, before they catch their death of cold.
Don't bother offering me "The Bottom Scratchers" - that was the name of a fully wetsuited club in the very early days of diving.
Landed right in it
I have been offered several examples of the sentences that British dive-boat skippers hate to hear from their clients.
I particularly liked this one: "You were recommended by the skipper of Deepdiver to put us on the wreck of the Porpussy. He couldn't find it. Said you'd be bound to put the shot right on the boilers..."
Sharp lesson in tank management
I think my Devon Leak is being a bit hard when he tells me that a certain big RIB was within seconds of being lost on the rocky coastline because those aboard didn't follow the normal procedures about fuel supplies to outboards.
Another dive-boat managed to pull them away from the cliffs just in time.
According to my Leak, both of the big outboards on the RIB failed because of contaminated fuel.
Surely, he says, each outboard should have had an independent fuel tank, and then at least one engine could have seen them safely home without the lifeboat being called out.
He suggests I fine those in charge of the RIB for bad boatmanship. I am inclined to do so, but would like to be sure that there is not another explanation for this close-run thing.
If the cox'n cares to e-mail me swiftly with a good excuse, I will reconsider. Otherwise, I'll be asking for a nice donation to the Lifeboat Fund from all the dozen aboard.
I don't know about you, but I find that now we are absolved of our diving sins by the Wreck Amnesty, I am hearing wrecks being more and more freely discussed.
The most bizarre tale, however, never reached the stage of someone filling in a droit. A grizzled Channel diver told my Kentish Leak that all this talk of reporting finds reminded him of one of his most unusual discoveries.
Diving round a rocky headland, he spotted a small jar or pot jammed into a crevice. It gleamed green at him, so he put it in his goodie bag, looked around carefully to see if there was any other trace of a lost ship and, finding nothing, completed his dive and returned to the boat.
On the voyage back to port he took the time to examine his brass pot, scraping the crud out of it over the side, and then put it with his gear ready for unloading.
It was only when he stepped ashore, pot in hand, that one of the other divers, said: "What on earth do you want that for, Charlie?"
The Grizzled One said he thought that it was quite a nice pot, even if it wasn't as old as he had first thought.
"Course it isn't old, the crematorium's using exactly the same type now... my cousin was given one with his aunt's ashes in only last week".
My Kentish Leak tells me that the Grizzled One made a special trip out to the exact spot to replace the empty pot, grumbling all the way that surely the next of kin were meant to spread the ashes on the sea, not simply bung them down in an urn...