By Bob Halstead
Dori is a lovely, bubbly lady, an enthusiast at everything she does. She is part of a terrific group of divers brought, by Kevin Deacon of Dive 2000 Sydney, to dive with us in PNG. Dori is about to enter the water for another wonderful dive – the only kind of dive she ever has.
She lines up behind her buddy who makes a perfect entry off the high platform into the water more than one metre below. Her friends, still gearing up, wish her whale sharks and manta rays. She steps to the edge, teeters on the point of no return, starts to move forward, and brings her hand smartly to her face to hold her mask.
And pokes herself in the eye.
In the excitement she forgot her mask, and, as fate would have it, thereby became the first recipient of the Dori Awards for Outstanding Water Entries.
I must admit to having made a few Dories myself. Once, fully geared, I surfed down a slippery ladder, launching myself into the water in the manner of the latest cruise ship. Sometimes it is my wrist computer I leave behind and I have to sneak back to the ladder and whisper to my trusty crew “Computer” – they know what to do and soon I am on my way to the bottom fully equipped and nobody else the wiser.
A few times it has been my weight belt I have left behind and it is harder to get away with this. Especially if you have a group of student divers and if your buddy, in this case my wife Dinah, is still on deck, “Oh look everybody! Look which instructor has forgotten his weight belt! Ha Ha!”.
Yes, very funny – as my buddy you were supposed to check that I had all my gear on and now you are laughing at me. But this time the gods were kind to me because Dinah, so pleased at catching me out, proceeded to enter without HER weight belt. Justice was administered. “Look what other instructor has forgotten her weight belt!” I cried. Later we were able to pretend it was all a deliberate lesson to teach our students correct buddy check procedures.
For some the shame of forgetting the weight belt is so great they attempt to continue the dive without it. A good clue to this is if you see them lugging a rock around with them for the whole dive ….
One superb Dori involved a couple. The lady had removed her high-pressure hose and gauge because it was bubbling, and plugged the hole. She got in the water and her partner followed, discovering immediately that he had no air. But instead of surfacing, he took off after her, grabbed her octopus and put that in his mouth. She was a bit upset by this so gave the octopus hose a yank at which the mouthpiece pulled off and he was left with the rubber mouthpiece in his mouth, but no regulator attached to it. So he spat out the mouthpiece, grabbed the bare octopus and put that in his mouth. She noticed her octopus mouthpiece sinking to the bottom so took off after it dragging him with her. He thought he should check how much air she had in her tank since they were now both sharing it – but could not find her pressure gauge …. They made a short dive together and, at least, had enough sense to ascend as it got harder to breathe.
I have also seen divers entering without regulators attached to their tanks, and with their tanks still turned off, or tanks slipping from their backpacks before, or after, the diver hits the water. Divers “doing a Dori” by falling in, or forgetting their fins, is common. Once, while leading a group of tourists I had one signal me that he had a diving emergency and had to ascend immediately. It turned out he had forgotten his gloves.
Here is the best Dori ever. I had been encouraging the divers to get in the water quickly and had a straggler. He decided to take a short cut by going over the side of our boat instead of proceeding to the dive ladder at the stern. He stepped up on the gunwale, stooping to avoid the deck head above. At this point the boat rolled and his finned feet slipped out from under him. He rotated backwards catching his regulator yoke on the gunwale, bending it and immediately breaking the high-pressure seal. His console had hooked over the wheelhouse door handle so that as he fell into the sea the console was ripped off the high-pressure hose, and the wheelhouse door was ripped off its hinges. When he hit the water, the noise and spray was, shall we say, impressive. We never did replace that door.
It is too sad to retell all the cases of divers rushing their entries only to find they have not sealed their camera housings properly and their camera is now a paper weight. “Just be happy it is the camera full of water, and not yourself.” I say, looking on the bright side. They still cry.
Much better, slow down! Take particular care on the first dive of a trip, and double check all your gear, then check your buddy, then make a perfect, controlled entry to the water, before returning for your weight belt.