I've often talked about diving here. Was a commercial diver for a while, but I was also a recreational diver too. (I guess it figures).
When we talk about "EDC", diving comes very much to mind. Your dive might be 45 minutes, or 15 days (in saturation).
One time I brought my 'girlfried' (now wife) over to SE Asia. (I was crazy then). One night we went out on a night dive (seemed crazy to everyone but
me, because all my dives were at night...at depth) Anyway, my buddy and I went out on this night dive; we'd hired a boat (a Malaysian fishing boat),
and we dove a reef on an island off the shore of Tioman Island in the South China Sea. It was dark, dark as the inside of a cow! Perfect diving (for
We (me and my buddy) got to about 70 feet...and the next thing we knew, the boat took off!! Seriously! Gone! What happened next is the most amazing
story I've ever experienced!
I didn't mind diving in the dark; frankly I was used to it...it's all we did. The visibility was good, unusual for me. I was used to 5-6 feet of
visibility "viz" in the dark, we had maybe 70-80 feet of "Viz" on this night.
The boat took my (future) wife back to the dock, and left to go fishing. We were alone several miles off shore. The visibility was incredible, we were
on a MAJOR reef; there were cuttlefish which changed colors, rays, sharks, eels and all manner of spectacular life!
My friend, Henry, freaked out a little bit when the boat left. (the bastage...the boatman). We would have to swim across a channel, with the tide
flowing, to get back to the island we left from. It was a long way, but in the moment...it was time to just dive.
It wasn't a particularly deep dive (maybe 30 to 80 feet). We were on single air tanks (3300 psi), maybe a bit more). It was a FANTASTIC dive! We swam
around the entire island; it was wonderful.
Henry came up to me on the backside of the island and motioned he was low on air. Holy crap!! I still had 2200 psi left; he was down to less than 700.
He must have been "sucking" some serious air!
Henry was a body builder, cut and chiseled in every dimension. I wasn't. His muscles were what we called "short" in the diving business. I was much
larger (frame wise), but I'd been trained to swim (forever), and had what they called "long" muscles. The difference is the amount of oxygen your
We hit the surface about 4 miles off shore. Henry was out of air. I still had 1500 pounds left, but it was going to be a long, LONG, swim. And, the
wind was blowing...and the tide was running against us.
It's probably one of the furthest swims I've ever had, but in the water you never fear, you just go. We both knew the boat had left. I think Henry got
nervous about that though. I always knew we were going to have to swim back, but I guess he didn't
The wind was actually blowing surprisingly hard for that part of the world, but we were between two islands, and the tide was running. For a while I
told Henry we needed to stay just below the surface (and to conserve his remaining air). We finned for a couple hundred yards and he was completely
out of air (just completely). He was sucking O's so hard it was just amazing to me!
By this time we were out in the channel. The water was black, and there were whitecaps.
Henry was the baddest dude I ever knew, just a bullet proof tough guy body builder (Conan style)! Of all the dive training I'd been through, the one
guy I never even imagined I'd have to rescue was Henry. What happened next still chills me to this day!
Henry came up, out of air, and said he was "done", he couldn't go on. Prior to this I wasn't particularly worried, it was just a long swim. Yeah, we
had gear on, but we had fins too...no biggie. Then Henry went vertical and started sucking water! I pulled him over and dragged him for a couple
hundred yards, just to shame him. (C'mon, man...cowboy up!). When I stopped Henry said he was completely and utterly exhausted...and couldn't go on.
Holy CRAP...this was getting serious!!!
It was much easier to swim underwater than above in the surf. I inflated Henry's BCD and tied a line through the back of it and swam on. On the
surface, Henry, was a huge drag. I tried as hard as I could and made it for about another half a mile or so, but I was workin' hard (with the current
and wind and all). It was like I was towing a big old bouy.
I was down to about 1000 psi, and I wasn't going lower. I was only just below the surface, but I wasn't going lower. Poor Henry was just a wreck, he
was completely exhausted and cramping. All those big muscles were just useless to him. I sat there on the surface and looked at the lights off in the
distance on the beach. I'd put my head below the surface and hear all these fishing boats, but I couldn't see any of them on the surface (none had any
lights). It was one of the only times I got scared in the water. (I was a "fish" after all).
I sat there on the surface with Henry, I wasn't leaving him no matter what! I looked at the lights off in the distance and realized I'd swam all that
way with my weight belt on. It takes a lot of weight for me. So I said screw it and cut my weight belt off, letting it fall to the bottom (dude left
us, so he can suck it up for his belt, dammit!).
All my rescue diver training had mostly centered on dealing with problems at depth. Yes, swimming was important, but most of the really important
skills were getting a diver to the surface and rendering aid on the surface, not swimming for miles. Seriously. Miles...in open water, against the
tide and wind....at night, in the dark.
Okay, time to toughen up myself. This wasn't fun anymore! I had to stop and take stock of the whole situation. Put about 5psi in my BCD, pulled
Henry's regulator, cut his tank off, fully inflated his BCD, cut all his weight off, dropped everything I had, cut everything off Henry but his BCD,
mask and fins (he was only semi conscious at this point, cooperative, but out of it.)
Now we swim, Henry...like it or not. We SWIM!! C'mon, dude!! We swim long, and we swim HARD!! Otherwise we're gonna' drown out here tonight,
seriously..in the most beautiful place on Earth!! DAMMIT!! SWIM, dammit!
He was completely cramped up. Three fin strokes and he'd lock up and start flopping around, grabbing his legs and it was a mess. Okay, they said never
give up...and I'm not gonna' give up now! Three miles to go.
"Henry, just relax...float on your back". Across the surface, through the current and the small whitecaps I dragged that big lug to the beach. I'm not
sure I've ever been more tired in my life, but I did it. It was a REALLY long swim, not something I ever want to do again.
I fell asleep on the beach for about 3 hours, until daylight, but I woke up and was 'okay'. Henry, poor fellow, could barely walk for several days.
On a positive note, this really cute girl form Norway rolled my tired :censored: over and took my vest off and brought me a cup of some seriously
great coffee. I think they liked Henry better.
(that was a really LONG swim)
edit on 10/1/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)