View from a different vantage point


The gentle slope that stands between our sugar bush and the raised beds we use to grow veggies, is covered in white trilliums. Fact is the whole wooded area behind our house and down into the small valley that forms the southern boundary of our property is full of trilliums and trout lilies in early spring.

This indicates that our little corner of Muskoka is waking up from winter, finally, and is taking on the postcard picture beauty it is famous for at this time of year. Fittingly, white trillium is the provincial emblem of Ontario – where I live – and, just for the record, is also the state wild flower of Ohio. So my guess is that a lot of folks agree that trilliums are neat little flowers.

Usually I am not home to see them bloom. Most years I am away someplace diving, but this year is different; I am “on sick leave.” In the simplest terms this is a bummer.

On the upside of this situation, I uncharacteristically have the time to sit on the sidelines as spring arrives here in full force. And in between watching eastern bluebirds and tree swallows battle it out for nesting boxes, celebrating the early appearance of Ruby-throated hummingbirds, avoiding the attendant black fly hatching, and taking notes on the ongoing procession of wild-flower bloomings, I have had some time to reflect on what I do for a living:  teach and write about technical diving.

My forced inactivity is the result of an unfortunate early April convergence of two seemingly unrelated issues.

One is a result of back pain mentioned in an earlier blog, and the other being an unfortunate run-in with Epstein-Barr virus. Epstein-Barr is a nasty illness that goes by the common, rather insipid and nondescript, name of Mono. It is a rotten punishment for anyone, but especially so for those of us with an A-type personality.

My strategy for dealing with the first is corrective posture, yoga and physiotherapy, and to kiss goodbye to doubles and the ubiquitous North Florida Cave Diver’s Rig.

No more diving doubles for Doppler. After about 20 years of abusing my body marching around with the equivalent weight of a corps de ballet dancer strapped to my back, the spokesperson for my thoracic vertebrae has told me directly and unequivocally that it is time to concentrate on CCR and Sidemount.

The second insult to my well-being is not as easy to fix.

In fact, it promises to be a juggling act. But time and patience will win out. In the meanwhile, now that sitting at my desk and typing does not hurt, it’s time to share what’s next on my, to do list. It no secret to anyone involved in technical diving, that in the past decade or so, the limits of our sport have shifted outwards a fair bit.

New technology, gear designed specifically for extreme diving, a freely available database of ascent profiles that worked, a growing network of instructors willing and able to mentor interested divers, discussion forums et al, have all contributed in some way, minor and major, to this movement.

For example, ten years ago, there were few recreational divers who had visited 100 metres; in 2011 non-military, non-commercial, non-scientific divers around the world pull off 100 metre dives weekly if not daily.

Ten years ago, only the most experienced attempted a cave dive to the end of the gold-line in one of the “tourist caves” in North Florida, or a weekend charter to a 350 foot-plus dive site. These dives earned a mix of admiration and admonition. In 2011, we read about relatively new tech divers doing these dives and hardly anybody notices… or so it seems.

The odd thing, at least to me, is that so few dive teams employ in-water support divers to help make these deep, long dives a little more managed. Perhaps we need to do something about that situation.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I want to lay out some ideas I have for a new book specifically aimed at teaching and discussing roles and techniques for expedition support; because I can’t do much in the way of diving!I would appreciate your input. As much as I like looking out at the new season arrive, it is driving me nuts!

By the way, would appreciate your input on a small survey… You will find it here>>>DIVER SURVEY

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