Can’t Find A Wreck For Toffee…

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There I was at 100 ft ( 30 meters) deep really annoyed with myself because we were ” in the area” of the wreck or ” Mystery site diving” for those of you who may have been to a resort where the dive master screwed up and anchored in the wrong place, so, “you stupid diver” was at the forefront of my mind.

Anyway back to the story, I had a student with me and we were looking for HMS Elk, a tiny trawler from the Second World War that was sunk about a mile in front of the breakwater in Plymouth Sound in the UK. ┬áIt’s a great dive and full of interesting places to swim through and always loaded with fish. The visibility was OK, the water fairly cold but apart from that a decent dive, if you like looking at sand that is, but I would crawl over half a mile of broken glass to see a pin up….oops, sorry wrong web site, I mean….. Broken glass to do a dive, any dive but we digress.

So picture the scene. I am mega hacked off because I can’t find the wreck I have been on a hundred times before, I am responsible for a student’s dive. This individual now thinks I am dumb ( I know we’ve already established this) and there is nothing but sand to look at. Lo and behold things start to improve, I find a 5 inch brass military shell case, probably from a warship signaling with a blank or something, it was huge and very shiny.

“Now we’re talking”, I thought, I can imagine this thing made into an ashtray for my desk or a door stop but how the heck am I going to get a 150 lb shell back on the boat, the thing weighs a ton and of course it’s also full of water. Anyway, the annoyed diver ( that’s me by the way) drags it across the seabed, burning unbelievable amounts of precious air while doing so.

My student was continuously motioning towards the shell and pointing at himself, there was no way this beginner was getting my shell case., absolutely no chance. When we got to the anchor line I spent a considerable amount of time signaling in the scuba diving equivalent of purple crayon what we were going to do between the two of us to get it to the boat somehow.

You can imagine my surprise when this cheeky blighter snatched control of the shell case from me. I considered fighting for my find but thought because I was the instructor and the boss I could just pull diving rank when we get on the boat. I also decided if you want it that much you can lug it all the way to the boat, see how you like those onions, pears, apples or whatever the saying is?

Imagine my horror when “newbie diver” flips the thing upside down, fills it with air from his regulator and slowly and very carefully gets it to the boat and willing hands retrieve it from us. If you think from this story, I was annoyed at myself before, imagine my demeanor now I have been, shamed into insignificance and it was explained to me in the “newbie diver” equivalent of purple crayon that there was no plan to steal my find after all. When I started lugging this thing across the universe my dive buddy was simply offering to save me the trouble by putting air into it and floating it to the anchor line and then onto the boat.

So not finding the wreck was stupid because I had been there many times before, lugging the thing across the seabed at 100 ft depth was very stupid, but not listening to a dive buddy just because I was the expert was stratospherically dumb.

This along with countless other Dumb Diving Days has made me a much better dive professional.

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Kevin started diving in Norway while serving as a PT instructor with the British Army in 1985. Taught Servicemen and women to Scuba dive until leaving the service in the early 90's in order to pursue a more tropical career teaching diving in the Bahamas.

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