Sunday, 17 May 2009

If Carlsberg Made Wankers...

...they'd struggle to top this one.

I'd wandered into the Bistro one evening, and took a seat at the bar as it was busy. I ordered the Thai fish and fries. A chap next to me said "You ordered that last night". I laughed, and said "And you sat there last night". We got chatting. Nathan is an architect from Nottingham (correct me if I'm wrong, fella?) living in Saigon, Vietnam. Being a designer myself, and having been to his adopted city, conversation was easy. Well it would have been, had we not been constantly interrupted by a big Aussie to my left who seemed to know everything about everything. I was beginning to tire of politely turning round and listening, but I wasn't sure if Nathan knew him...so he continued to be involved in our chat.

I related a story Jim Davidson told me about a dive that went wrong when he was in the Navy. Inside a Portsmouth training wreck, he'd lost his buddy, and had a serious equipment malfunction. Running out of air and fighting rising panic, he was weighing up the options and contemplating finding religion when he found an air pocket. Lucky man. Popping his head into the space, he waited. Minutes later, his mate's bubbles announced rescue.

"I'd have just free-dived out of the wreck" interrupted Aussie Bullshitter.
"From inside a wreck 30 metres down? As if..." I replied.
"Yeah"
"After breathing compressed air at depth? And you'd find your way out and just swim up?" What an idiot.
"You could do it" he told me.
"No chance. I can only get down to around 10 metres on one breath if I'm lucky."
"You can. Anyone can. You could dive to 30 metres on one breath, no problem."
What a berk. "Look...I think I know my physiology and limits a bit better than you do. I've just sat down next to you fifteen minutes ago."
"I suppose..."

Myself and Nathan started discussing the Divemaster course, and he asked what the requirements were before starting. I said you had to complete the Rescue course first.

"Rescue course?" asked Bullshitter.
Fuck me sideways, here we go again. "What's that about, then?"
"Rescue." I sighed.
"Yeah, but like what? Rescuing idiots who can't dive?" he asked?
"Well, self-rescue first and foremost...then helping others if there's a bad situation or an accident."
"Rescuing idiots, then..."
Strewth, as his ilk would say.

Discussing the part of the DM course which required a dive site to be mapped, I told Nathan I'd had to go down alone on the Olympia Maru a couple of times so far. It's not recommended, but there are only two potential equipment-related failures, and both would give me approximately 60 seconds to get to the drop-tank suspended below the boat at 5 metres with emergency air. That or it's a controlled ascent immediately, risking the Bends. A small emergency tank would be ideal, but expensive. If diving alone regularly and staying to work the wrecks, I'd buy one.

"I'm wondering what the SSI Solo Diver course is all about" interjected our Antipodean Arse-Pain.
"Diving on your own?" I offered.
"Yeah, but what exactly?"
"I'd imagine it's about all the knowledge and skills you'd need to dive solo?"

The next interruption was during my description of a tough part of the DM course: exchanging equipment with each other at depth while buddy-breathing from one regulator. It's tough, and I wasn't looking forward to it.

"Nah, it's easy...even new divers should practice that."
Here we go again. "So why's that?" I asked.
"You know what a bommie is?"
No, but I was pretty sure I was due a lengthy and tedious explanation.
"It's a space inside a coral reef. We get loads o' bommies back home. What you do, you get off all your scuba kit off, push it under the bommie. Then you slide under the bommie while breathing from your reg. Bommies are like a bar. It looks good from outside, but through the door is where the life is at. Under a bommie, you get crayfish...we grab a few every time we're down there. Take 'em up, crack a few beers and back in for more. The best bommies..." I'd never heard the word bommie before, and by now would be glad never to hear it again. I tuned out, and after a while he tailed off.

Thankfully, he paid up and left. Nathan raised his eyebrows as we watched him depart.
"Thought he'd never leave..."
"Fancy diving some bommies, then? Full of life, you know..."
Nathan told me he'd started blabbing half an hour before I turned up. Apparently he'd been bragging how he manages to smuggle a knuckle-duster onboard planes. "Know why? Because I can...carbon fibre!" Great. Does it with a hunting knife too. Allegedly (my arse).

Speaking of knives...what a tool.

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