susys running away to sea

"The rigors (sic) of an expeditionary lifestyle"

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Oh it was going back to a familiar place in my past. I hadn't dived for six or seven years for various personal reasons, and the first dive after so long, in a new wetsuit, unknown weight requirements (guesses), hired equipment, new place - was speculative, to say the least. I rolled back off the rib and hit the water with my shoulders, and felt the water gush cold down the back of my neck. I was holding my right hand over my mask, in case it was dislodged, as I wasn't wearing a hood, and it could have slipped up over my hair. As my head went under, the cold automatically made me inhale - and oh! I knew it would be alright - at home again. I'd inflated the stab jacket pretty full, just in case, and bobbed chest high in the sea, checking the gear, then let air out, ducked under again, held my nose to clear my ears, and headed for the anchor warp, signalled OK to my bud and sank down to the rocky, basaltic, volcanic seafloor, hovering over the silt, the spiny sea urchins and their attendant electric dark blue damsel fish. I felt my breathing slow, checked buddy, depth and air gauge - and off we went, finning gently, meditatively. The thing - one of the many - I've always liked about diving, is that it's flying somewhere I'm not meant to be. You have to obey the rules of physics and physiology, everything drops away except that immediate present - it's my life on the edge, yet it's also very natural. Wipes the brain. Fish watching. I dived with turtles, hovered alongside a giant sleeping atlantic ray, rescued a baby turtle caught by its back leg in a strangulating plastic bag, went into caves and saw my exhaust bubbles turn to liquid mercury on the cave roof, around, under and inside a couple of wrecks, played with my chums, murdered urchins for a fish feeding frenzy. Afterwards, I had to stomp and stumble, fully kitted up, over a beach of soft sand, around acres of sunbathing flesh, trying not to drip salt water or kick sand, edging between the sunbeds, inhaling the scent of sunlotion. Then - blessed relief - backing up to the dekitting table at the dive shop, and feeling the weight of the tank removed from my shoulders, stripping off the malodorous neoprene, shower and dress, stickily, in teeshirt and skirt. All this on a tiled floor, dangerously slippery with salt water, echoing to the teasing grinning friendship of people I've known for nearly 20 years.


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