- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"Then you'd have every tourist in the island out on the reefs. In the end, they'd be plastering underwater signs in every lagoon: 'Use Breck's Polyps Paste for your ginger-coral itch.' "
" 'Do you get the bends? Use Tucker's Little Decompression Pill.' "
Divers are as generous with their talk as they are with their energies. In the moist Bermuda evenings, I listened to diver talk.
Talk about equipment: some liked hard fins, others softer. Some liked the Squale mask, others the Pinnochio. Some swore by Cousteau's scuba, others by the Scott Hydro-Pak. Teddy Tucker, the treasure diver, went down without any flippers, breathing from a tube that stretched all the way back to an air compressor unit on the boat. But he worked for hours on end at the bottom. They all agreed on only one thing: no matter what kind of equipment you use, don't use it after late evenings and many drinks. And most of them were off smoking.
They talked: about how many hundreds (or thousands) of dives they had made. And about what ill fortune they or their comrades had suffered on them; about how eardrums had cracked and bled beneath the pressure (especially when you forgot to equalize); and how a man's sinuses could swiftly plug up at certain depths; about how it felt to have sharks smell your knees, or to have your breathing tubes get tangled in the rigging of new wrecks; and how nitrogen narcosis, called the rapture of the depths, can make a man so drunk he can throw away his mouthpiece thinking himself Neptune, only to join the God of the Sea and his wrack forever.
And everybody talked of wrecks.
"There are more wrecks lying on the Bermuda barrier reef than in any other area in the world."
They showed me their diving treasures, while the Smithsonian man beamed with antiquarian joy: artifacts they had plucked from the ocean floor, all encrusted thickly with centuries of sea lime. There were ancient pewter porringers, long-barreled, clay smoking pipes, breech-loading swivel guns, jugs, breastplates, sword hilts and scabbards, a pair of dividers like those Amerigo Vespucci used in discovering the New World.
I whispered, laughing, to Jeanne, "I suppose that bobby pin would be an artifact of our civilization if someone found it a hundred years from now out on the reefs."
She laughed and whispered of her own favorite artifact, which she had brought from a 60-foot dive she had made on a new wreck. It was a shining brass plate marked, "Captain's Entrance." It was now nailed to her small son's bedroom door.