Sunday 25th November 2001, Freemantle Oz.

We slept surprisingly well, despite the smell of wet scuba gear and dripping togs hanging from every available rail.

We didn’t bother much with breakfast, but spent an hour or so reading through the text book for the Deep Dive and Underwater Naturalist elements of the course. When, at last, it was time to leave for the harbour, Brigid was still ploughing through the last section.

It was a lovely sunny morning, and though Brigid had not managed to complete the reading, she soon cheered up during the dive briefing. However, for the deep dive, we had to complete a simple task under water to demonstrate the effects of nitrogen narcosis. Unfortunately, the task chosen was a maths exercise. John joked that they had better give Brigid an extra air tank!

Oops! Mathematics has never been Brigid’s favourite subject, and the thought of having to compete with John, against the clock, triggered another sense of humour failure.

So, before entering the water, we added up a column of numbers each. John took 15 seconds, Brigid took 23. Seeing Brigid’s obvious distress, ‘John DB’ tried to pour oil on troubled waters. “Don’t worry”, he said, “I’ve known people not finish at all underwater. They just give up after a few minutes.” “Oh, great”, thought Brigid.

In the event, the deep dive was a bit of a disappointment. The others on the crowded dive boat were mainly beginners, so the dive site needed to be compatible with their requirements. After swimming a fair distance from the boat, we eventually settled on the sand at a depth of just 20m or so. Out came the dreaded waterproof slate. This time John added Brigid’s column, and Brigid added John’s. Brigid took … 23 seconds, and John took … 11! So much for nitrogen narcosis. When we surfaced, we had recorded a maximum depth of 21m – hardly ‘deep’ by anyone’s standards, but enough to qualify.

The underwater naturalist exercise was much more fun. There were 3 dilapidated and scattered wrecks on the site, providing a wealth of nooks and crannies for sea life. There was nothing for us to do but swim over, through and around these structures, observing the different species.

Brigid even brought an underwater camera, and took several potentially great pictures of the other divers, and small shoals of fish. But don’t hold your breath waiting to see these pictures. After about 30 minutes, she gestured to John that she had lost the camera!

John looked around for a few minutes but, realising we risked losing the instructor, we had to abandon the search. Bummer!

It was a shallow dive so we were both quite pleased to surface after 56 minutes with over 90 bar of air still in our tanks.

The trip back to Fremantle was quite choppy, and at one point we were very nearly capsized by the swell – as all the passengers tried to shelter from the spray on one side of the boat!