The Commercial Diver Network
This is a story that really happened to me in the infant stages of my commercial diving career. I left my comfy D.O.D ( Department of Defense) job for the Army. Along with my 401K, paid leave and sick days, Full benefits. Yes i was nuts ,But diving was my passion . I had but so many good yrs left. I started out late in life . Most of my commercial diver co-workers at my age where looking to get out of the water and become dive supervisors, ROV operators, Dive medics and so on. I had to start from the bottom up literally! I was a lowly bottom scrubber. I cleaned boats ,And on occasions i got the opportunity to work on something more challenging like salvaging a boat , Search and recovery. So here i was cleaning boats not earning much,But happy as a clam because i was doing what i loved the most. Being in the water and diving with the hopes and dreams of becoming a licensed commercial diver. That was not the case on my first real dive job. Mind you i was still working for the Army so it was just a part-time job. I have my room mate to thank for it. So i show up at the marina i was told to go to. Ive only met the owner one time before ,But nothing formal. I was to wait for a skiff to come pick me up. The owner showed up at the marina threw a tank and some hoses at me along with a full face mask. The mask looked like it had seen better days. The rubber was cracked and it had h***s in it. He was in a hurry ,And what i could understand from what he told me was to wait here Get into a skiff and go clean a boat. Oh and he said as he was leaving put this zinc on the shaft it needs it . I didnt even get to ask any questions he left in such a hurry! I had no idea what a zinc was let alone how to put it on. So the wind picks up and its starts to rain. It is May and the weather is still cold. I was not prepared for what came next. A old man on a tiny skiff showed up and introduced himself to me. I didnt hear what he was saying. I was too busy looking at the tiny bathtub size skiff ,And all the equipment i had to bring with me. I didnt think it would fit. All i kept thinking of was this skiff sinking along with the old man and me with the equipment. It got cold ,And the wind picked up even more. Now little white caps were appearing on the water. I swallowed hard and commenced loading up the equipment. Everything fit ,And now i was looking for a way for me to get in without tipping the wh*** thing over. The gentleman looked up at me and said dont worry it will hold ,And extended his hand out to me. I now was praying really hard. Please Lord dont let us sink! The weather didnt help any ,And the tide was going out. What else can go wrong! It seemed like for ever to get to the boat. It was a 42ft sail named Fantsy Island. We finally arrived he hops out and says if you need anything just holler. In he went into the boat away from the cold rain and wind. I was left alone to sort things out. I hooked up the tank to the hose and turned on the tank. I dont know if it was because of the cold or i was so nervous ,But my hands were shaking so bad. I could feel the skiff pulling in one direction it was the tide. For some reason it was running hard more than usual i ignored it. I had to keep my eyes on the skiff because if i looked up at the boat i could feel my stomach getting upset . The sail boat was tossing up and down so badly by now. I was in the middle of a harbor with a boat anchored not to a slip but an anchor in the middle of no where! I looked around there wasn't a soul around. Everyone had hidden indoors because of the rain. I must be insane i said to myself as i got ready to go into the cold dark water. Not knowing what i would find underneath the boat. Ive only done this once before with my room mate ,And it wasnt the wh*** boat only part of it. At least i had someone watching over me and it made me feel safe. Now its just me and an old gentlemen who most likely was hard of hearing . It would be impossible for him to hear me above the wind and rain along with the clanging of the sail boat as it bounced up and down in the water. So in i went cursing at myself as to why i had gone in ,and not asked the old man to take me back to shore. So there i was in the water and it was to late to turn back now! Everything was dark and blurry. The first thing i noticed was the cold water dripping into the full face mask i was wearing! I had to continuously blow out the water it was coming in faster now. I was so angry i kept saying screw this im not leaving Life Guarding at the Field House for this! Oh Hell to the No! My eyes finally adjusted to the dark and i was surprised to see i had some visibility. Not much but enough where i studied the bottom of the sail boat and could see where everything was at. There was the running gear, Prop ,Rudder, Keel. I could see it all,But all of the sudden i noticed i was moving pretty quickly thru the water. I tried to grab something ,But it was too late i was off into nothing. I was so scared! I came up on the side of the boat and kick so hard to get back to the skiff. I grabbed it and was breathing so hard i felt like the tank was empty! I lifted the dang leaky mask and breathed a sigh of relief. I hear a familiar voice coming from inside the boat. It was the old man. You ok? He asked? I said yes. I bit my bottom lip to stop myself from yelling at the top of my lungs no!! I wasnt ok! He looked at me and told me he was on his way up to New York and wanted to leave as soon as possible. Now i had no choice i had to finish. He said to me lets do this. I'll tie a rope up here and lower it to you so you can hold on to it while your working. It will keep you from fighting the current. I didnt know what to say i just nodded and did as he told me. There i was having the most miserable time of my life. Freakin mask leaking , And i am gagging trying not to throw up underwater. I was sea sick! I continued cleaning the bottom of Fantasy Island. To my surprise it wasnt so bad ,And i thanked God for that. The wh*** time i was holding in the awful bile from my stomach . I told myself over and over i will not puke! So i concentrated really hard at the task at hand. The old man was very attentive. It seems to happen a lot when i am working. People seem to mill around watching you as you work. Some take pictures! I dont know why i am just cleaning a boat. I was into what i was doing that everything seem to melt away except for the fact that water was coming in the stupid mask i was wearing,But even that was forgotten . As i look over to my left i see something in the water. I took my eyes off of it ,Because what ever it was i didnt want to see it. Then i see it move and my eyes catches it again. This time its a bit closer and i could make out a long shadowy figure. It was long and it was waving like a flag in the current in the water. It was just hovering there checking me out. I told myself dont LOOK! Dont look just keep working! I picked up my pace ,But like a car accident on the side of the road. I couldnt help myself my eyes kept looking over to where that thing was. Just looming in between the skiff and me. A dark shadow! I hurried up ! The last thing i had to do was put in the zinc. That wasn't so bad after all. It took me about 3 min. I was more afraid of dropping it. Then i would have to go lord knows how deep to retrieve it! That wasnt going to happen. One last look at the boat and i was climbing back into the skiff. Just as fast as got in the owner was right there behind me. He was asking me question about the conditions of the boat. My ears where ringing. All i could do was hold my hand up, and i turned away and i threw up into the water! The owner didnt even pause he just kept on talking to me. As we rode in i told him everything was good to go. He dropped me off at the marina ,and just as fast drove away and waved at me goodbye. I stood there i felt this electricity running thru me. I dont know if it was the cold or the fact that i just survived all of that! Even with the encounter with what ever that thing was! It didn't faze me . I want to do it again! Right now if i had the opportunity! I was HOOKED!