Its a deep dark sea
Diving the Indian Ocean
The descent was as perfect as ever, crystal clear blue waters and a
perfect surface temperature of 31 degrees. Coral fish darted around on
the reef, a flat-top bed of tabletop coral 20 meters off the island
after which rolled off to a near vertical decent into the dark depths of
I checked my depth, 20 meters, good. A final check on the two divers I was leaving in the shallows and I was off. I hovered 10 meters off the taper of the coral reef, an almost endless depth directly below me, watching the other two divers and waiting for one to turn and make eye contact. There it was, I signalled OK, a point to my watch, holding up 10 digits I gave a wink. A nod of acknowledgement was received and I reached for my right shoulder, the main dump chord of my Buoyancy Control Device.
I tugged it and heard the loud blast of air escaping, immediately having to start the equalisation process. I tilted my head backwards and allowed my whole body and legs to follow like a large back-flip stopping only when I had reached a free-fall position. 30 meters. I started to take a wise breath in, knowing that the next breath I took should not be until I had reached my depth. Indeed the number of times I now breathed in and out was crucial to my gas absorption rates. I had enough time and air to last any nitrogen absorption, it was my oxygen intake I had to keep to a minimum. The gas that keeps you alive on the surface is a silent killer at depth.
I was flying now. I could tell by the feeling of water rushing past my face and head, the slowly fading sunlight and disappearance of most of the surrounding colours. The silence seemed to grow louder accentuating only the sound of my slowly sipped air as it was delivered to my mouth in a denser and denser form. Folding my arms in front of me my computer showed each meter of my descent ticking past.
Right now I am fully tuned to my body. My mind is relaxed and in control. My inhalation is steady and unnerved - it has to be. My heartbeat has reduced its beat rate as it always did the moment I hit the waters surface. It was where I felt I belonged.
40 meters and 28 degrees. Its cooler now which is a nice escape from the searing tropical heat that exists day and night. I let the coolness wash over me and look to my left into the vast blue ocean wondering if any delights may pass by me today. It wasn't too far from this point that I was once greeted by a large Hammer-head swimming all alone. Then there was the angry Bronze Whaler on an other occasion.....
50 meters. Time to concentrate now, about half way through my inhalation, my mind and body are still relaxed, everything is under control. No effects of narcosis yet which is helped by the warmer water even though it is now 5 degrees cooler than the surface. I know it is only a matter of time though, narcosis always comes eventually. I expect it. Its coming.
The visibility is still incredible and now I scan the surroundings below my descent path. It has to be here somewhere. The edge of the reef continues off into the depths and I know if I could follow it a depth of around 4km can be reached. The lack of sunlight has now quashed my visibility to about 30 meters, around half that at the surface, but its still enough. I know I am roughly in the right place and the item I seek will stand out even at this depth.
I see a shape and a shine coming from part of the reef. Adjusting the angle of my fins I allow my descent to glide to its position. 60 meters and time to start adding air to my BCD. I push the inflate button and hear the reassuring loud blast of air rushing through the open valve. A sound even more accentuated due to the duration of silence I have just experienced. The air seems to take forever to slow my descent and the meters continue to tick by. Nothing yet, nothing yet.
I now see the object clearly and I know I have hit the perfect mark. Just as well because at this depth 'time' is something I don't have and time spent searching for something is definitely asking for trouble. I take a moment to do a quick mental state check.... yep, narcosis has taken affect but it's manageable with experience. Time to start double checking every action now. 68 meters and I feel my descent slowing. Just perfect. The object is only a few more meters below me and I am reaching the limit of my inhalation. When I reach it I can start my exhalation breath.
My computer displays 72.6 meters and I stop adding air to the BCD, neutrally buoyant I float for a moment enjoying everything. The depth, the cool blue water, being alone in a dangerous situation and place, knowing I shouldn't really be here but feeling in complete and total control. The narcosis only adds to these feelings and I feel incredible. I was probably the deepest man in the Indian Ocean for 1,000 square miles....and all alone. I let the moment take me for a while before returning to the job at hand. Reaching out to the wall I grabbed the object and started to exhale.