While I was living in the Philippines (Cebu to be precise) I took up scuba diving in a very serious fashion, and ended up becoming what is rather dramatically called a Rescue Diver. This simply meant that I was supposed to be master of a number of techniques to help other divers should they get into difficulties underwater – panic attacks, running out of air, getting stuck under water and so on – and I had a number of moments when I had to put my training into action, but always as a result of an accident, as the various Dive Masters I dived with took their work very seriously and avoidable mistakes were……. avoided.
However, during this period in my life, I also had to come to Australia reasonably often, to just outside Brisbane to be exact, and I thought it would be pleasing to dive here as well. So I hunted around for affordable ways to dive in and around Brisbane.
As a result of this, I found a club attached to one of the Universities in Brisbane as well as a couple of straightforwardly commercial operations, and I signed up with them and went on a number of dives with them.
I had already discovered that Australia is the Land Of Health And Safety Rules, so I wasn’t surprised to be confronted with a number of forms that I had to fill in every dive I went on, listing my diving qualifications and so on. All perfectly reasonable stuff, if slightly over the top and unheard of in the Philippines where all one had to do was to show the Dive Master one’s log book which listed all one’s dives and level of qualifications.
This paper work cheerfully filled the time one was on the way to where we were going to dive, about several hours out of Bribie Island to an artificial reef just off Morton Island – also, of course, we got our gear on during this trip.
Being an experienced Paddi Rescue diver, and having dived hundreds of times off Cebu, I was expecting that we would divide ourselves up into buddy pairs before leaping into the water – a very basic safety rule for scuba divers, but nope. these people simply arrived at the diving site, and leaped into the sea regardless. And then swam off in various directions on their own or with several other divers, but in a completely random fashion.
Another daunting experience was on one of these dives a fellow diver simply leaped into the sea without bothering to turn on his air-tank – added to which, he had not bothered to put any air into his BCD ( a sort of life jacket divers wear to sort out their buoyancy underwater) so he of course simply sank like a stone. This was a problem for him as it is very tricky to turn on your tank while you are wearing it. Luckily I had noticed him disappearing under water, so I was able to follow him down to the (luckily) not very deep sea-bottom, and turn on his air, so all was well.
But no one else had noticed him sinking, and as no one was his “Buddy”, he would have simply drowned if I hadn’t happened to see him. Nasty….
But the paperwork was all correct happily, so all would have been well if he had drowned.
The other problem I had here was the temperature of the sea… It was cold!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyhow, after several of these experiences, I decided that scuba diving in Australia was not for me, and went back to the Philippines for my diving, and since living in this otherwise admirable and enjoyable country I have not bothered with scuba diving.