What a Day

January 16, 2008
By Daniel Hardy, Culver, IN

When you scream underwater no one can hear you. Your cries are in vain as they rush out of your mouth only to be stopped by the ocean. The feeling of helplessness must be overwhelming as the harsh reality of it all sets in. As the once inviting vast deep blue sea now seems to turn into your deep watery tomb as you sink into it. But that’s just my guess to how my dive buddy might have felt as I brought his motionless body up to the surface.

The ocean welcomed me warmly as I slid off the boat into the water. The water felt cool to the touch as my exposed hands and face which weren’t covered by my dark blue wetsuit as I entered the water. I double-checked my regulator, grabbed the rope, turned around, and patted my fist on my head motioning that I was ok. I then waited, bobbing up and down like a lost buoy, for my dive buddy to jump in the water. Letting go of the rope we lowered ourselves down, and were now at the mercy of the ocean. This being a drift dive we didn’t have to do much work except to keep ourselves from hitting reefs or other objects since the current was pushing us. My partner and I both laid motionless as the current pushed us along the ocean floor. The ocean floor was gorgeous and teamed with fishes and its magnificent reefs had more colors than a rainbow. Everywhere we looked, seemed to come alive with all types of marine life. However, I rarely looked backwards, because that would involve turning around, putting me face to face with the strong current that was carrying us along. But that big turtle that swam right past us looked too tempting not to turn around and chase after. Both my partner and I turned around and swam against the current to get a closer look but our efforts failed. Tired, from that abrupt sprint upstream, we turned back around and laid in the water as if playing dead. However, similar events happened and we tried swimming upstream many more times. By the end of the dive we were exhausted from our fruitless efforts of trying to swim against the current.

We were close to our endpoint where we would surface and meet the boat. I was low on air and began to slowly surface paying attention to the speed of my bubbles to make sure I wasn’t coming up to fast. I took one last look, 200 ft below me at the ocean floor, and saw something unexpected. My partner was fighting against the current and throwing his hands in the water as if he were being attacked. “Oh no” I thought to myself as I saw him rip of his equipment and watched his weight belt then mask fall into the deep blue. As I began to swim back down to help him I realized something that sent chills down my spine. He was sinking and there was nothing he could do about it. Air bubbles were bursting out of his regulator as he frantically tried to call my name. A calm chaos consumed my thoughts as my low air alarm began to go off 100ft below water telling me that I have only enough air for five minutes. “Damn”, I told myself as I realized that I still needed a safety stop (decompression) or risk becoming bent (decompression sickness). A surge of adrenaline pumped through my veins as I swam towards him as if I was running from a bomb. 70ft, 80ft, 100ft I reached out my hand to grab his tank and pull his crazed body back to the surface. Dead silence struck the ocean like an explosion as my partner suddenly stopped moving and became motionless under me. I had no time to think as my low air alarm went from a constant beep to a steady sound the type that you hear at the hospital when the patient has no pulse. Every breath became harder to breathe, every thought of safety left my mind after every passing moment. I thought to myself, “It’s over now” as my tank ran dry as I sucked the last breathe of air. I spit my regulator out and waved my arm over my head signaling for help. My partner floated motionless beside me as the boat shot toward us. My partner grunted and I took my mask off and I looked into the blue sky and thought to myself “wow what a day”.

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