Heir to Disaster

Heir to Disaster

CedarvilleJust fifteen years out of the Navy.
I’ve done it plenty of times.
What could be so hard?

Stop into the dive shop and ask
about charters. On something deep,
of course. That should be no problem.

So I’ll flash my certification,
rent every piece of gear, down to the fins,
and show up at the dock next morning.

Three two-man buddy teams.
What’s one more man? Make one three.
What could possibly go wrong?

Nice backward roll into the water,
gather my senses and start the descent.
Man, those other guys move fast!

That is one big freighter!
And there they are waiting at the ship’s rail.
Wait a minute. Why is it so hard to breathe?

What does a guy do to get attention?
Maybe someone will notice my panicked look.
Someone checks my gauges. There’s an idea!

Almost out of air. At least they have some left.
Nothing left to do, but buddy breathe and surface.
Maybe I’ll have better luck on the other dives.

 

This is my response (more narrative than poetic) to Poetics: Exploring the Narrative Voice, the prompt from Ingrid at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to write a poem in the voice of a fictional character.

Let’s call this fictional, since I don’t identify the diver, but this actually happened on a dive in the Straits of Mackinac. I chartered a dive boat so that five of my friends could join me, wreck diving in Michigan’s narrow strait between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. At the dock, the boat captain asked if a guy could join us. He had done plenty of dives while in the Navy. We were doing three dives, so we agreed he could be a third man with each of our teams, on separate dives – one team in the water at a time. As the deepest of the wrecks (110 feet to the bottom), the Cedarville was to be our first dive, and he joined my dive buddy and me. When we reached the rail of the ship at 70 feet, I could see he was having difficulties. I checked his air gauge and saw he didn’t have enough left to make the ascent with a decompression stop, let alone to explore the wreck. We had to abort the dive, and he ended up breathing from my tank, until we reached the surface. Air in a scuba tank will expand with ascent, and when he saw his air gauge rise he bolted to the surface as we stayed at the decompression stop.

Images source: Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve Asociation

50 thoughts on “Heir to Disaster

  1. Well, that sure is a harrowing tale! I was captivated. Btw I couldn’t respond on your Post Page, the Comment box was too narrow and scrunched. Luckily, I can via email reply.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Helen. It’s a situation that no diver wants to experience, but should be prepared for. It’s more common now for divers to have an extra, smaller tank strapped to the main tank for backup.

      Like

  2. Well good thing disaster was averted and the diver was able to breathe and surface. I like how you got into his head and his thoughts during the crisis. Thanks for joining in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My mother was terrified of water and she taught me well. Just reading your tale gave me the vapors!! It was, however, riveting reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The imagery woven here is excellent! The “Almost out of air,” is palpable and had me on the edge of my sofa as I read on. You rocked the prompt! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Truly terrifying and frightening. You definitely do evoke that type of mood and I can feel that tension all throughout. Thank goodness the guy was okay, something like that happened to a friend of mine too. Definitely an adventure that would be hard to forget for sure! It’s reasonable why people are afraid of the water at this point (me, included).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YIKES! For all involved, not just the narrator.
    Your narrative leaves the reader in suspense – an equipment failure? Or did the diver learn something new about his aging body? Did he attempt the other 2 dives?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As it turned out, his recent dives weren’t so recent, and at that depth it can be pretty cold – probably 45°. He hyperventilated on the way down, burning up most of his air. He was super apologetic afterwards, but ruined the best dive of the day for me and my partner. His second and third dives were uneventful.

      Liked by 1 person

    • He did dive the other two wrecks, with no incident. Depth & compression, cold water, and a long absence from diving — all combined — likely led to hyperventilation. Unfortunately, it ruined the best dive of the trip for my partner and me, especially considering the 8 hour drive, one-way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a captivating tale, Ken, and I loved how you told it from the beleaguered diver’s perspective: a great use of the prompt!

    I don’t think I would make a good diver myself but I’m fascinated by the idea of finding historical relics on the sea bed. There’s a wreck just off the Slovenian coast of the liner Rex sunk by the Allies in WW2. I was fascinated to learn my husband had dived down there.

    As for running out of air, I watched a documentary on Netflix recently called ‘Last Breath,’ about a diver who survived being without oxygen for 35 minutes. He describes his experience at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ingrid. That documentary looks interesting. I’ll have to check it out.
      I was certified in several courses in the 1980s, including Wreck, Rescue, and Ice Diving. Even as a recreational diver, I had opportunities to use something from all of the courses. But, I started having predictable (& unpredictable) vertigo issues due to an inner ear infection around 1990. Just rolling over while underwater was enough to set it off, so when I broke my ankle at work in 1998 I never returned to diving.

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  8. What a tale, Ken. As i was reading, I wondered if it was something you had experienced. It was an exciting and scary tale, but I’m glad it everyone survived! Though–It’s too bad he spoiled your dive.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Awful, I got stuck going through a rock channel for just a few moments snorkelling and that was enough, it would be so dangerous and I like how you mix a sense of quizzical with the severity of life in the balance.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hah– I can’t even put my face in water. I was in my twenties before I bathed in a shower (always the tub) because I hate water on my face so much! I can’t even imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 I only started diving on a whim – when a co-worker wanted someone to take the classes with. I have no problem treading water, but I never perfected any swimming stroke but the breast stroke. Fortunately I completed the swimming requirement and went on to enjoy diving for many years.

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  11. Incredible tale. One could see that you “knew” about diving–other that or you do good research (as I do). I had a friend in high school who learned to scuba dive. When he was 20, he stupidly did a solo deep dive in Puget Sound, got in trouble, and drowned. The last ten years, as my hearing has diminished, I’ve developed terrible vertigo, just freezes me up.

    Liked by 1 person

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