CHAPTER 6: SAND IN THE O-RING GREASE OF LIFE
When contemplating the combination of several events, or a single important one (such as a dive trip), we literally or mentally “cross our fingers” to ward off anything that might interfere with with our plans. When leaving nothing to chance, it’s important to remember that chance is still part of the equation. Even the things over which we have control still have a bit of chance in them. In my case, while preparing for that maiden voyage with my very own housing, and despite exhaustive finger-crossing, and meticulous planning, something went wrong.
Between the time I pool-tested my housing and when I first placed it in salt water, my father passed away. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April when stroke-like seizures lead to brain scans and “the tumor triplets” (as he called them) were discovered. In August, the doctors seemed far less assuring and much more practical in their communications. When prompted about his chemo treatments, they never used the phrase “it’s working”.
The timing of his passing threatened some (or all) of my trip. Among the hurricane of emotions such a loss can cause was the guilt of selfishly thinking about what an impact all this might have on my trip. While I’m not a cornerstone in Stephen Frink’s classes, I’d like to think I contribute something of value and enjoy helping any way I can. Yet, how could I be even remotely concerned about diving at a time like this?
Underwater photography had unexpectedly become a very large part of my life. A bit like Christmas when you’re a child, these trips were days around which the rest of the calendar year revolved. They are a vacation with a built-in challenge and a goal; a chance to teach and learn at the same time. My father died 2 days before I was scheduled to leave.
The timing actually worked out okay. As others needed to make arrangements and journey down to Tucson, the following Friday seemed the best day for all concerned. While my trip was cut a bit short, and filled with tricky moments, I could easily hear my father leaning toward me in that dramatic way he did, and saying “Don’t you dare put your life on hold.”
Because this wasn’t a stressful enough time already, I was also leaving my current job and moving to a new one. My last day was the day before I left for Florida.
If you followed all of that, you’ll see that I somehow managed to combine the emotional upheaval of parental loss with the stress of quitting one job and starting a new one. Needless to say, I wasn’t quite “focused” on the process of packing. My attention span could extend to maybe two levels - i.e. arms AND strobe, lenses AND ports, computer AND power cable - but the multi-dimensional thinking necessary to pack for a dive trip seemed quite out of my reach.
Despite these many obstacles and levels of distraction, I managed not to forget a single thing. Granted, there was a moment after I arrived in Key Largo when I picked up my camera, reached for the housing, and could not remember what I’d done with the camera mounting plate. (Fortunately and logically, it was locked in place within the housing, residing comfortably in the only place on earth it served its singular purpose.)
However, a few loose ends managed to slip by me:
For example, the battery charger I brought to charge the AA batteries for the strobe only (seemed) to heat the batteries up rather than actually charge them. Having had a NiCd battery “pop” on me one time, I was happy that these resisted explosive urges.
I had no allen wrench to tighten the arms of my housing on the boat. Fortunately, a dive boat is (usually) a place where better-prepared people are willing (and, at times, downright anxious) to help you. (Thanks Ana Maria!)
I don’t know if it’s just my housing or if all Sea&Sea housings do this, but the “mode” knob on top seems to have been derived from another housing since the indicators on the knob don’t match the camera. Took some trial and error (and a few hundred PSI) to get my camera in Manual mode.
I think my camera battery charger made it, but I’m not positive. I’m afraid to look…
The one thing I never expected to need to pack on a dive trip was a shirt, tie, and slacks. I would be going from Key Largo, still sprinkled with nitrogen, doused in water daily, and happy - to my father’s funeral in the state whose name even sounds like “arid zone”. Quite the contrast.
And because these things happen in threes, I arrived in Tucson just fine. My luggage, however, wasn’t there yet, but the airlines assured me I’d have it by 3:00 a.m. The funeral started at 9:00. Not trusting the delivery of the bag, I went shopping for an outfit to wear at my father’s funeral; doubting that a wet suit would be appropriate.
Sand in the ointment indeed.
With dad’s situation under control, the next challenge was to pack up all this gear and get it to Florida…
by Daniel Brown
Dome Port Diaries
The Adventures of a Newbie Housing Owner