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On a recent dive trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands, I had the opportunity to go deep diving with an experienced crew of divers. We chose the island of Provo, known for water temperatures in the low 80s and visibility reaching 200 feet, ~nd planned to descend 255 feet down a coral reef wall that had just been discovered by a local skipper. I was giddy with an excitetnent laced with fear frotn the tnoment I learned of the opportunity, through the dive plan on the plane, right up to the tnotnent the tip of tny fins broke the tnercury- like surface of the Caribbean Sea a week later. I had been diving for several years and always dreatned about the day I would defy the voice of reason and etnbark on a dive beyond the litnits of what I had been taught as a dive student. The recreational diving recotnmended litnit is 130 feet. The probability of experiencing a fatal cotnplication, physical or tnental, increases exponentially the deeper one goes. Deep diving is a controversial activity. Sotne believe that regardless of experience, it is very dangerous. Others tnaintain that with technical proficiency, deep diving is no tnore dangerous than diving within the recreational litnit. I can still hear the words of tny first instructor as she described the area on the dive tables of both physiological and psychological danger. "Dive in the black, you don't cotne back," she used to say. (Ironically, I later found out that she was herself a confessed, addicted deep diver-sotnething she chose to leave off her diving reSUllle.) I had worked on the Bering Sea as a comtnercial longline fishertnan and been a surfer all tny life. So I felt close to the sea and, perhaps foolishly, a little imtnune to its dangers. But tny work experience in Alaska had instilled in tne a respect to nearly religious proportions for the sea's power, and I was not going to pass up the deep-diving experience, no tnatter what the risk. As we raced to the dive spot across the ocean's unusually caltn surface, I felt nervous as tny brother Alain and I tnade last tnotnent gear checks to one another's kit. It was like rock climbing, I reasoned. You're not really a lead clitnber until you take that first horrendous fall . There was little rootn for talking over the roar of the twin V6 outboards hutntning along at full throttle by the dive platfortn. My focus on that boat ride was intense, very tnuch as if the dive was a tnatter of life or death, which in a way, all deep dives are. One thing was for certain, the skipper, a salty pirate natned Fi Fi, who served in COFUSCO, the French equivalent of the Navy Seals, wasn't wasting any titne to get us to his latest discovery. 59

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