Why am I doing this? For a passing second, I caught myself wondering the purpose of going diving, as I was holding on to the line in a rough sea with extremely strong surface currents, ready to assist my group of divers in descending down to the day’s dive site. The current pushing me up and down, waves smashing against my face, I needed to make sure my divers caught the line when jumping in, so they won’t get pulled out to the sea. After the group was on their way down, I had to quickly follow and make sure they were doing fine and pulling themselves down on the line.
Down at 18 meters, we reached the destination, a beautiful wreck sunk some 40 years back.
As divers know, even when the current is hellish on the way up and down, typically the wrecks give some cover, protecting from the worst and allowing for interesting dives along it’s sheltered walls and with penetrations. Strong currents are not uncommon on these old wrecks and despite the struggle on getting to the site, I do love the wreck dives. They combine history, culture, stories and aquatic life like nothing else. Still, there have been moments when I hesitate the sense of it all, especially now that I was responsible for 5 other lives, them counting on my guidance to bring them safely back to the boat and in between experiencing something amazing.
I felt relieved when we were all safe and sound back on the boat. The conditions had been rough and the divers’ skills and calmness tested. They all passed and I was very proud of them, for smiling out of happiness of having seen such a cool wreck (and probably out of relief a bit too for having managed the dive in the rough conditions).
Safety comes first in diving but it’s not always easy to define the level for it. What’s ever safe?
We didn’t take any unnecessary risks on those 2 dives to the wreck. Every diver was well briefed on the descending and ascending conditions and techniques, and how best to take care of themselves. I think, that somehow diving in rougher-than-usual conditions is in a way even safer than some of the “easier dives”, as people are more aware of the risks, mentally and physically prepared and cautious of the conditions. They are mindful and completely focused.
Why do we dive in rough conditions? Of course the dive site itself is often motivation enough – a beautiful, interesting wreck with plenty of marine life inhabiting it, in this case. But it’s not just about what you can see. Diving is a lifestyle. Some might seek for adventures, others are interested in biology. Breathing underwater, feeling weightless, experiencing another world give sensations unlike anything else. Diving, like other extreme sports I presume, also teaches and trains on over-coming one’s fears.
Calm, easy dives are enjoyable and relaxing. But diving in rougher conditions builds character. It boosts self-esteem, gives confidence on own capacities and limits and builds trust on ourselves. It can be useful to test one’s level of alertness and reactions to uncomfortable situations, strengthening skills potentially useful in an emergency situation. To remain calm, stay focused and be alert.
I found myself fully focused, calm and ready to react. Being decisive and aware of the surroundings. Combination of yoga and self-defense, one might say, with an added sense of responsibility for protecting and assisting others.
Yes, diving is fun. No, it’s not meant for everybody. But for those who are ready for the opportunities it opens, the depths of the ocean are the only limits. I will return to my wreck next weekend, continue developing my own skills, practice my ability to lend a helping hand or a fin where needed, and play my part in making divers enjoy their weekend on the boat and out in the sea. Above and under. To appreciate life in all its forms.