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A Look Back to 1974 and Diving the Arabia by Stuart Seldon

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I first dove Arabia in Tobermory in August 1974, five months or so after I got certified. Back then, there was no such thing as BCDs, and we newly-minted divers only wore a life-vest. Mine was an Aqualung Vest, with I think, 8 pounds of lift, an impossible-to-use-with-a-frozen-face inflator “tube” and a CO2 cartridge to use on the surface for those times when the doo-doo was truly whacking the oscillator. Buoyancy control was really a matter of adjusting lead on your belt, prior to the dive, and kicking hard as required.

Back then, a 110′ foot dive was deep, dark and scary. A wetsuit at that depth had no buoyancy to speak of. Most of us would drop down, remove our weight-belts and leave them near the anchor. After our dive, we’d put them back on, and literally drag ourselves up the line while kicking like hell, to get back to the surface.

Sea to Sky

Some of the more adventurous types would take a different approach. They would leave the lead at home, but tote a hunk of concrete block out on the boat. At dive time, they’d roll in, someone would hand them the chunk of concrete and they were gone, furiously clearing their ears, then slamming into the bottom about 20 seconds later, hopefully close to the wreck.

Diving the Arabia
Photo copyright: Stuart Seldon

The way back up was easy, since silent bubbles and safety stops hadn’t been invented yet. Dives were shorter of course, as we just used tables, and j-valves. I added a SPG a year later as I recall. Cutting-edge stuff.

Liquid Diving

Anyway, my point in telling you this is simple: If you happen to notice a hunk of concrete block on the bottom like this one, there’s a good chance it’s some “Old Bastard’s” disposable weight belt, from the days when we really all shoulda died, but didn’t.

Story Submitted by Stuart Seldon of WetspotImages

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