Every word of this story is true. I wrote it for entertainment purposes, but who knows, you’ll probably get a lesson out of it…or even an idea.
I was on my way to Cairns Australia for some good ol’ scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I invited my friend Garrett, who, at the time, was shopping for engagement rings for his soon-to-be fiancé. I told him for his own good, to come with me to Australia, to use that money to buy a plane ticket, and not to propose to his girlfriend. She was one of those girls who everyone seemed to know was a slut except for the guy she was with. It took some convincing, but he finally came around.
After a hardly noticeable seventeen hour flight, we made it to the city of Cairns Australia, where we would be spending a good deal of our trip. Our dive wasn’t for a couple more days, so we roamed around looking for fun things do in Cairns, stunned with how different it was in the land down undah’. A small example: I thought the girls kept calling me doll. Charmed, I figured I’d give it a crack, so I called the first girl I saw doll; she gave me a weird look, and kept walking. Later, I asked someone what it meant, as it turns out they were saying “darl” (short for darling) in an Australian accent.
The night before the dive, Garrett and I raided the bars looking for a place that sold margaritas. There wasn’t a bar in Cairns Australia that had our sweet and sour concoction. Not only that, nobody had any idea what the hell we were talking about. A margherita in Cairns Australia is a pizza, just as it’s called in Italy. Since things were beginning to look bleak, we decided to hit a liquor store, and make our own margaritas. By the time we finished shopping, it was late. Fearing a hangover, we decided we’d just bring it on board the boat and drink it underway.
Fast forward to our second day aboard. The day would consist of 3 dives in the day, and one at night. Garrett and I had our minds made up, the night dive with the sharks, we wanted to be drunk for that one. We spent our day diving in unparalleled beauty. We were seeing something magnificent, something we would remember until the day we died, probably in some diving accident.
After the third dive, Garrett and I went to our cabin, and I started shaking up the margaritas. I made them really strong like I usually do, it’s the only way to make them really. We chugged, we slammed, we threw back, and we went bottoms up, all the way up baby. We had reached that state of unpleasant drunkenness. It was hot in the cabin, our shirts stuck to our backs we were so sweaty. We grew irritated at each other, like a couple of angry drunks.
At the dive briefing, Garrett and I could hardly stand straight, we tried to avoid asking stupid questions, but they found ways to escape us. Tori, the lead guide, kept looking at us funny. She gave us glow sticks to tie to our tanks, a common practice for night diving. I cracked mine so hard it exploded all over myself and her. I sure would have liked to exploded something else on Tori.
It was finally time to dive. We stared into the water, the hull lights illuminated the depths like a football field. Sharks coasted, occasionally thrashing about the surface. They say this is normally a heart pounding moment, but I found the sharks adorable in that instant. Garrett and I talked about not doing the dive, there would be another one the next night. We laughed hysterically at the smart idea.
I was the first one in. The water at the surface was black and choppy, and the wind was picking up. After Garrett jumped in, I put my regulator into my mouth, and descended. I had made it fifteen feet down when I experienced something I never had before. It felt like I was breathing through a garden hose, like I had been locked in a little box buried fifteen feet in the dirt. Panicked, I shot up to the surface, and ripped out my regulator, sucking for air. Garrett came up laughing. “What’s the matter, scared of a few sharks?”
“Not funny dude, I couldn’t breathe.”
“Just relax man, take some deep breaths, then we’ll try again.”
There was no way I would put myself through that again. It’s incredible how fast adrenaline can sober you up. He insisted this was not a dive I would want to miss. He was either the worst friend for making me go, or the best. In the end I dove.
Deep breaths, deep, deep breaths. Next thing I knew I was at twenty feet, then thirty…sixty. What if I had another panic attack at 100 feet? That was the most frightening dive of my life, paranoid, that at any second, I would have a panic attack, and be breathing through a hose again. It never happened, but one thing was for sure, I’d never dive drunk again…that trip.
We did eleven dives on that live aboard. I remember them all pretty well, they were all so distinct on the Great Barrier Reef. But, oddly enough, there was only one dive which I remember in vivid, colored, detail, almost everything about it, the one where I was diving under the influence.
Moral: Don’t drink and dive.