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Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Diving Tale

Many years ago I was employed in the deep sea diving business as an apprentice diver aka a tender, because you attended to your assigned diver and took care of his personal equipment. This included his diving helmet, wetsuit, gloves and harnesses and kept his knife sharp and tended his air hose/comm cable bundle while he was in the water. This was intended to prepare you to become a diver yourself. I never became a diver and I'll tell you why further down. These guys looked upon scuba divers with disdain and called them scubydoo's. The type of work being done here was underwater construction, repair and stuff like connecting huge pipelines together undersea with huge bolts as thick as your arm. They had to be physically strong and know how to work with real heavy duty equipment and put up with extreme temperature variations for long periods of time. In other words, girly men need not apply.

Practical jokes were part of the daily routine and it was pretty wild the way an entire crew of 20 or more diving personnel would stick together to perpetrate a prank on a newbie. One tender we called Diver Dave was really gungho about the entire diving scene, fresh out of dive school and annoying as hell to everyone because even though he was a nice guy he drove everyone nuts with constant chatter about diving. One day the plan was put in motion, we took an old diving air hose/comm cable assy and chopped the end off all the sections in a rough fashion and threw that end in the water and had a guy tend the hose right at shift change. When Diver Dive came on deck the dive superintendent told him to relieve the guy with the hose, the crew then pretended there was an actual diver in the water, even getting the rigging crew involved with radio commands to adjust the rigging the phantom diver was using. When the super announced the diver was coming up he signaled Diver Dive to pull up the hose slack and eventually he saw there was NO DIVER on the end and the hoses were cut. Needless to say Diver Dave nearly went in to convulsions thinking the diver had gotten injured or killed somehow before surfacing. He started shouting and ran around trying to drum up some help but after a few minutes he finally realized he had been had, big time, very funny and very cruel I know, but that was the nature of life at sea.

Real Diving

Why didn't I become a diver? After a couple years I realized that these divers didn't need to be real smart, they are basically underwater ditch diggers and I wanted more challenge, so I became a technician that designed, built and repaired diving equipment. I'm not taking anything away from these guys because they were real hardworking men with guts and courage to take on tasks that no one else would dream of doing, without them we wouldn't have oil flowing from offshore to keep this country fueled.