Sunday, February 2, 2003

What almost ruined the trip

The washing machine

Christine’s presence should not be underestimated, as Mr Rahmann has absolutely no tact with western tourists to whom he caters and doesn’t really seem to care about proper dive briefings and in-water dive-site pre-checks. With Christine around however, things are suddenly done much more professionally.

His usual information not being much more than the name of the site and "Viele schöne Fische", we get taken by total surprise by very strong currents on the 4th dive of the trip, at Guraidhoo corner, resulting in the group being split up, some divers hanging on to the reef as well as they can, others being washed away into the blue...

As I cling to the steep sloping reef, I can see one of the junior dive masters with a couple of German tourists a little above me, but he seems as much at a loss about what to do as they are. Waiting in vain for a signal and seeing my no-deco time ticking away, I eventually let go, the current immediately picking me up like a leaf in the wind and presenting me with a new problem.

After having blown me away from the reef, the current now pushes me downwards... Being in the blue without any visual reference can be disorienting, but seeing your depth slowly increase even though you're steadily finning up, while your bubbles are whirling all around you, the smaller ones actually going down, really can freak one out.

Stop-Breathe-Think-Act. Easier said than done, but it works. So I start to inflate my jacket, till I can see my depth stabilize then decrease. Only to start rising way too fast as soon as I get in another layer and another current, now having to dump air out in order to slow my ascend and quieten my alarmed dive computer.

When I finally surface, I'm lucky not to have drifted that far away, and am picked up pretty fast. Personally I've never experienced this kind of crazy shifting current zones before, a.k.a. washing machines. A real briefing would have mentioned their possible occurrence and at least we would have been mentally prepared.

Chasing shadows

For some reason, Mr Rahmann's idea of good diving is dropping down to at least -40m and cross some channel with strong currents, just to get a glimpse of a shark in the distance. His motto being something like "no current, no work, no action". Which may be true in some cases, but the reward has to match the effort. It took us quite a few dives and flaring arguments to make him understand we have a different opinion about fun diving.

Decompression alert

Repeated strenuous dives in, by recreational standards, deep waters. Middle-aged out-of-shape jet-lagged dehydrated tourists. Put both together. Shake well. And you most probably get... bubbles!

One diver got pretty close to decompression sickness I'd say, feeling totally exhausted and weak after a dive. Good thing we had oxygen and a doctor on board.

Though Mr Rahmann advocates PADI rules, he's the first one to wipe them off his slate once in the water, dropping below the maximum depth limit without a second thought and expecting everybody to just follow him. Not really a responsible attitude when you’ve got less experienced divers following you trustingly.

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