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Monday, August 11, 2008

I am the ocean, I said.

After our quarry adventure, Todd and I discussed future diving certifications and how we should handle them. I initially was open water certified in Key Largo, and that was because I took the class in November/December and I didn't want to wait to dive in the quarry in the spring. I knew that Todd would take me on a vacation if I could dive :)

So, to Key Largo we went. It was a good experience, although storms had been blowing through for days. The dive shop, Quiescence, was very good. Todd and I decided yesterday that for further certifications we will fly down to the Keys and get certified with Quiescence in order to avoid the quarry. I wondered about the dive shop, and if the people we'd met while we were down there were still working there, so I looked up the shop online.

Tim and Jason, who were the instructors who certified me, are indeed still there. However, it was very sad to see that Mike, who had been our boat captain for all of my certification dives, passed away in October of 2007. He had been free diving* on the wreck of the Duane and blacked out or something. The divers nearby noticed his absence, but it was too late.

I'm so sad to see this. Mike was a terrific guy. Even though I only knew him for two days, believe it or not I've thought about him here and there since. He was friendly and talked to me on the 45 minute trip each way to the dive sites, which was great because I was so nervous about my certification. At one point during our second day, we came upon some fishermen who had pulled a jewfish up too quickly and inflated its swim bladder before cutting him loose and running away (as they weren't supposed to be fishing there). Mike stopped the boat, got out his knife and cut the fish so that the air would escape and he would be able to swim again. Otherwise, the fish would have died upside down on the surface. He was a good guy.

This is the first person I've ever known personally to have died in a diving accident. It's incredibly sad and I send my thoughts to his widow and baby. :(

I read on Scubaboard that the card for him at his celebration of life had the below poem on it and I wanted to include it here...

I am the ocean, I said.
I am.
I know.
And so I dived into the ocean,
I crossed the threshold of fear
To the unknown beyond.
An eternity beyond time.
A space beyond perfection.
Another Universe...
Another Reality...

*Free diving is when you do not dive with a tank. You have weights around your waist and a mask, fins and snorkel, but you do not have air. You dive down (I've heard of free divers going down as far as 40 feet or more), and then see what you want and surface. It is dangerous and often considered more dangerous than scuba diving because free divers train themselves to ignore the urge to come up for air. This is a dangerous game and can lead to blackouts... which leads to drowning. Free diving scares me, and I don't do it. I figure, if you can have air along, why not have the air along?

1 comment:

foxdeath said...

Wow, Kim... I'm glad I let you blog that because I think you really did a great job writing that. Captain Mike was a genuinely nice guy and we had a great time when we were down there. It is very sad to hear that he passed.

It goes to show that freediving is a very dangerous sport and can even take the most in shape or experienced divers.

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