This is an old story I published on Offshore diver. But it is still good enough to share.
Have you ever been on a job that was just too good to be true. One that seemed to make all the B.S. that you had to go through just to get there seem worth it? One that was so much fun that you knew in your heart that some how reality was going to look at you and realize that you as a human were not allowed to be enjoying yourself like you were.
I was on a job like that once............once. I was working for Torch. Yes I know, how can you have fun working for an outfit like that. Well some one screwed up that was how. So here we are on the Midnight Dancer. A dive boat that was notorious for breaking down and screwing things up. But on this job the fates were smiling on us. No break downs. The depth we were working was about 55 feet. I know not the depth that the Scholar normally works at. But the water was crystal clear. In fact the water was so clear you could look down off the boat and see the bottom. Being that the water was so clear all the divers would be wearing video cameras mounted to their hats. That way the Diving Supervisors could keep track of the divers progress.
What we had to do was install a Hot-Tap, which all of you know is cutting into a live line and living to tell about it, and tie in a trunk line. Some other diving company that had done the repairs on the line that we where to install the hot tap to, had been nice enough to bury the line we were working on in concrete sandbags. That made finding the pipeline easy. But getting to it would be another matter.
So the first diver went down to start removing the concrete bags. That was when we first met Elmo. It seems that one of the concrete bags was about five feet across and had a lot of marine growth on it, so when the diver picked it up to move it out of the way. The bag sprouted flippers and a head and a strong desire to un-ass the area the diver was in. But when the turtle took off it also got a wrap around the divers hose and took the diver with him. Don't ask me how that happened I still haven't figured it out. All we saw on the video camera was a diver upside down getting beat off the sandy bottom.
Eventually the poor guy un-fouled himself from the wayward sea turtle, and continued to remove concrete bags. He also gave all the deck hands a fish report. Don't ask me why, but on every job the divers get asked what kind of fish are down there and how deep.
So while we divers are down there enjoying the view and working hard to earn our meager yet undeserved salaries. The deck hands and welders are bringing in record sized Red Snappers and other kinds of fish. When the guys fishing decided to clean their catches they were throwing the parts they didn't want to keep over the side of the boat. That was when Elmo (That's what we called him by the way) realized that while we were here, he would not have to work all that hard for his meals. In fact he was getting real fat and happy off of their efforts. Because when the guys fishing realized that if you fed Elmo he would stick around for photo opportunities. So they would make sure that only Elmo got the fish parts and not the seagulls. Which pissed off the seagulls to no end. Which would explain the bird droppings bomb runs we would have to endure ever time they fed Elmo.
But like all good things the free meals had to end when they welders and all had to start working on their part of the job, and not fish. You would think that two weeks of free meals would have been enough to satisfy any one. But not Elmo. If he could not get something to eat from one group of guys, then he would get it from another. Meaning us the divers.
The only problem with that is, that Elmo would have to get the divers attention. A swim by would not do, because most professional divers don't stop to admire the scenery. They have a clock running on them and they like to get as much accomplished as they can in the limited amount of time they have underwater. So Elmo decided he was going to use the one tool that he had. He was going to give the diver a little love bite to get his attention.
It's truly a scary thing to hear a diver scream like a little girl under water. That's not the normal sounds you hear out of a busy diver. Normally you hear some real quality adjectives from him if things are not going to well. But after hearing this girlish scream uttered by one of our more macho divers we all looked up at the video monitor and all would could see was a divers lower extremities back peddling for all he was worth and the gaping maw of a sea turtle snapping at his toes if he wasn't fast enough to get them out of the turtles reach. We heard some words that would chase a sailor out of a bar every time Elmo did the taste test with the divers toes.
Well our first thought was that the diver did something to piss off Elmo, and decided to bring him up as fast as we could with out giving the diver a scorching case of the bends. In fact we were positive that he must have done something because Elmo followed him up and would grab a toe or two on the way up. We thought Elmo was going to climb the ladder after him.
Elmo waited on the surface for about 15 minutes before returning to the bottom. So we thought that it was safe to send down another diver. Boy were we wrong. Ten minutes into the next diver we heard another girlish scream. The video show the diver trying to run on the bottom of the gulf with Elmo hot on his ass. Now strange circ***tances breed strange remarks. As we were watching on the video as Elmo grabbed a mouthful of the divers ass and hung on. (Thank god for Neoprene) One of the dive supervisors stated simply "Any fool knows that you can't outrun a turtle." We all just looked at him.
After watching that spectacle the diving rotation just went out the window. Most of the divers were not going to go down there with a man eating turtle. So us braver souls or I should say stupid, decided to draw lots to see who the next human sacrifice to vengeful Turtle God would be. Fortunately it was not me, but the poor soul that pulled the long straw decided that maybe he would make friends with Elmo and give him a piece of steak.
So we are all watching the video monitor to see if we have appeased the Turtle God. As we listen to the panic's divers words we learned that the offering was not going to be excepted. It sort of went like this. "Elmo...............See I brought you some steak!............See the steak Elmo?.......................Elmo damn it your not looking at the steak................I brought you some steak Elmo damn it...................Elmo you son of a b**** look at the damned steak.................. What happened next was wasn't pleasant, there was a lot of whimpering and begging and the whimpering request that Elmo let go of his leg. After the diver freed himself from Elmo's painful clutches he ducked behind some concrete bags that have not been removed yet, and from what we could see on the video, it looked like he was trying to crawl under them. But as he was trying to make like a hermit crab, he found a Gulf Lobster in between some of the bags. Now normally a discovery like that would mean Steak and Lobster night on the boat. But this diver was quick thinking. Before Elmo could plant his snappers back on his leg he offered Elmo the Lobster. Now that caught Elmo's attention. Thinking quickly the diver moved away from the concrete bags as he held Elmo's attention and turned the lobster loose. Off went the Lobster with Elmo in hot pursuit.
So now we had a way of getting back to work, as soon as we would spot Elmo, or he would let us know that he was in the area in his own special way, the diver would have to hold him off long enough to find a lobster or a big enough crab to keep Elmo occupied so we could get back to work. But if you were not very good at finding such creatures, it was your ass. Literally.
Now there is such a thing as irony, and yes it does have a sense of humor. On the last day of the job, as we were just getting ready to pressure test all of our work. A boat came by with, believe it or not, a turtle watcher. Yes there are people who have suckered the U.S. Government to paying them to watch for turtles. They have the power to shut down jobs. If they think that what you are doing is going to be harmful to the turtles they can shut your job down. Well this lady on the boat asked if we had seen any turtles in the area.
We not only told her hell yes, but we gave her the wh*** run down on what we have had to endure at the hands of Elmo. She of course did not believe a word of what we said. According to her, turtles were very docile and would swim away from anything that it thought would be a threat. We told her that we would be more than happy to demonstrate just how nasty our Turtle God was. But she said not to bother, she had her own diving gear and would accompany the next diver down on scuba. The last we seen of her on the video monitor was her swimming as fast as she could with Elmo hot on her ass. I wonder if she made it to dry land.