Underwater habitats have a 50-year history of scientific discovery, tight living quarters, long decompression times and insane amounts of risk. Just four of them have advanced us from dipping our feet tentatively to emerging from a moon pool in a home away from home hundreds of feet at the bottom of the sea.
Davy Jones's (Dive) Locker
For centuries, man has found countless ways to send ships to the bottom of the sea. Since the advent of scuba technology, we’ve found ways to explore them. Whether it’s to search for booty, take eerie photos, or just to pay respects, wreck diving is a not a sport for the timid. Often found in deep, cold water with strong currents and dangerous reefs, wrecks demand expertise, experience, humility and marine-grade bronze balls — not to mention a lot of specialized gear. This isn’t tropical holiday diving, so be prepared to shell out for equipment that can stand up to the conditions the Gunilda, the Thistlegorm or the Doria present.
An Offshore Account
After a long and fairly uneventful dive on an unnamed reef out in South Water Caye, I clambered aboard Splash Belize’s dive boat, shed tanks and weights and stripped off my wetsuit. The big diesels rumbled to life and Captain Malcolm steered toward a small island in the distance. As we drew closer, I could make out a few small panga boats and some activity on the beach. Then came a distinctive smell: barbecue.
Diving’s Identity Crisis
There’s a popular saying among nostalgic dive bums that reads, “Remember when sex was safe and diving was dangerous?” Times have changed, and while I won’t comment on the hazards of promiscuity and the risks of STDs, I will say that diving has gotten too safe. Or at least that’s the perception — and one that, ironically, is keeping people from diving. What diving needs is a re-branding campaign.
Cue the “Jaws” theme
Despite the fact that that the world’s shark population is perilously shrinking, it is still possible to find places to dive with these magnificent creatures. And that may be just what they need most: seeing them at eye level cruising effortlessly against a strong current, always wary, always watchful, one learns to appreciate them for the miracles of evolution that they are, rather than as bloodthirsty killers. So strap on a tank, check the seals on your camera housing and drop in to the middle of the food chain at one of these destinations.
Just add water
While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.
Explaining the Basics, Debunking the Myths
It is ironic that, while watch companies are turning out more capable dive watches – helium release valves, absurd water resistance, innovative bezels – fewer and fewer SCUBA divers are wearing watches at all. Go on any dive boat and you’re lucky to find one person wearing anything besides a dive computer on his wrist….