…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menolistal [men-oh-list-all]; the state of leaning out of the box a bit. (cont'd)

Here we are at the last item on the 'bucket list' - one which has actually been done but just goes to show that adventure is every where in life.

The first half of this BTDTTMTS basket, related yesterday, was the Uluru undoing.  Today, we arrive at Daydream Island for the Scuba Diving.  Only, we were there in 1983.

Image result for daydream island imagesI kid you not about the name.   Little more than an atoll of dead reef life, this newly developing resort island was going for bargain prices due to it's being still under construction.  One thing they had given priority to completing was the swimming pool.  This was good, for one of my long-term ambitions had been to learn scuba diving.  The thing that drew us to the island was the scuba training package.  We had seen the advertising at the hostel in Alice Springs and altered our schedule to fit it in.  Well, I persuaded my pal it was a good idea.  Not so keen on the water, is Aitch. Likes her feet firmly planted on God's firm earth.  But she is also a loyal and encouraging friend and wanted me to realise one of my dreams.  What better place?

Day one was all the usual getting to know your equipment sort of thing.  Fine.  Aitch went for a walk on the coral beaches.

Day two was trying out the equipment, feeling it's weight, then buoyancy practice in the pool.  Aitch walked the coral.

Day three was jumping from edge to deep end and levelling pressures.  Aitch hunted shells among the coral.

Day four was full immersion practice in the pool.  Meter reading and intro to buddying.  Aitch rested by the coral.

Day five was the whole hour underwater (of the pool) with full buddying and emergency practice.  Aitch rested, coral walked and perhaps got through her 187th book for the week.

Day six was the BIG day.  Down to the coral beach, fit up and wander in. 

One thing the pool doesn't prepare you for is the suck of the sea.  It is large.  It is hungry. It wants you in there.  So going into the ocean and sinking beneath its surface was easy as pie.  Scary as all get out, but easy.

The other thing pool training doesn't prepare you for is the zero visibility.  Pools are not inclined to tidal currents and undertow stirring up the sandy bed and multiple small organisms which populate a coral reef.  My buddy disappeared at arms length.  EVERYbuddy disappeared at arms length.  I am a strong swimmer.  That' s why they accepted me.  But my sea experience was out of Felixstowe and Bournemouth or the Inverary flats.  None of that much more than waist deep.

I practiced the emergency breathing rhythm in order not to overuse my tank.  We were supposed to be out for half an hour.  At two minutes forty seconds I was already over it.  Then my buddy reappeared in my face.  He grabbed my wrist and turned me in the opposite direction. 

That was close.

We got round the headland and hit the open current.   Here, the little underwater shelf which had been dim but at least visible, disappeared.  Not because of sand and organisms.   It was because there was no bottom. There is island shelf. Then there is abyss.

Did you read yesterday's blog?

Turns out vertigo can hit underwater too.  Worse than that, the heavy breathing and palpitations I was getting even before that were getting worse.  My air was depleting at a rate undignified even for a novice.  My logical head kept yelling - 'just follow the leader you'll be fine'.  The rest of it was yelling - 'get me outta here'.

I could barely focus.  My buddy was getting frustrated with me.  The leader called a halt.  Not because of me, as it happened, but because the visibility was worsening and we had to hand-ankle our way back to shore.  This took about 190 years.  Possibly less.  No.  It was 190 years and then some.  When we got back to the cove beach the sucking sea was not happy to let me go.  Shcluck, shcluck, draggggg.   Two brawny Aussies somehow got me up the coral ridges onto dry ground.

There Aitch rested and stared.  "That was quick!"

No it wasn't.  It was b8888y 190 years!!!!!!!

She made sure I had a good dinner that night.  I seem to recall there were XXXX lagers and strawberry dacquiris too.

Should I just have rested, walked the coral beaches, read 187 books?  Strewth no!  I fought against the tides and won.  I was blinded, but I had buddies.  I faced death in the face and told it to wait awhile.  I had a body that couldn't move the next day from the exhaustion but man I was happy.  I knew I would never scuba dive again, but I have the certificate to say I did it and could strike off my 'to do' list.

Snorkelling.  Am an excellent snorkeller.  I can even dive with the snorkel and come up again.  All on my own.  Who needs tanks?

post script; it was many, many years later that I had an episode in the underground carpark of the Sydney Opera House which caused similar palpitations etc.... and flashbacks of a past life kind  - long story, but the short version is that with therapeutic help I was finally able to acknowledge claustrophobia... some of what I had been shovelling into the vertigo bracket over the years was actually a manifestation of claustrophobia. The mask over my face, the non-visibility and the 'emptiness' at DI all set up perfect conditions for panic. That I didn't actually drop right over that side into mania is due more to good fortune than any strength of character on my side...


  1. I'm a very poor swimmer, so this is as close to scuba diving as I shall ever get, Yam. A fascinating post. Aitch earned her halo that week. :-)

  2. Fascinating. You have reinforced my suspicions that scuba diving is not for me. The closest I have come is wearing breathing apparatus for firefighting as part of the Offshore Survival training. I just hated the idea of being dependent on some piece of equipment to do something as fundamental as breathing. And now I learn that one can suffer vertigo underwater too.

    But Daydream Island does look stunning.

    Cheers, Gail.

  3. I knew, without trying it, that I wouldn't like scuba diving. But I was 30+ and knew myself fairly well by the time I was offered a try.
    When Robbie and I were in Queensland in '82, we were traveling with a scuba diver, and he arranged for Rob to dive at the Great Barrier Reef by being attached to the same tank as the local instructor, who had his hand firmly clamped around the kid's wrist the entire time.
    Rob enjoyed it, and didn't come back with horrifying sucking stories or I would have whisked him the entire 30-some hours home to Mom immediately.
    I don't know what he told her about his dive when we did get home, but I certainly wasn't about to announce I had thoughtlessly exposed her youngest to the perils of the deep.
    Bravo to you for making it out there and back alive.
    Luv, K

  4. Ah. Saw "Jaws" too many times as a child. The ocean and it's deep-water ways holds no fascination for me, only anxiety.

    :-) Luckily, in Minnesota, that's rarely a problem!


  5. Hari Om
    Perpetua - There are some friends in life one comes to realise are actually angels sent to watch over us. Aitch is good at watching...

    Bertie/Gail - Until that point I had often thought I'd like to go submarine-ing - but over and above the vertigo there was something else going on. Another tale to tell!...

    Kay - over the reef there is not the same pull as in deep water. Daydream is a bit South of the main reef and is influenced by the South Equatorial Pacific Current. It sucks.

    The addition of actually wearing tanks as opposed to buddying can be a factor also. Glad your brother got to experience it. Did you at least go out on the glass-bottomed boat???!!

    Pearl - landlubber!!

  6. My mum says thank you Perpetua and Auntie Yam why do you need to go under the water, it is bad enough being on it!!

    She says that sitting in the shade drinking cocktails and watching the workd go by on Daydream Island is Paradise.


  7. Hari OM
    BOL your ladyship! I'm glad she owned up to you about the cocktails... I was not going 'tell tails' bbrrhhhwwaaaaahhaha YAN-aunty xx


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