Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Japanese dive instructors’ tragedy at Cebu

One Japanese scuba instructor was found dead while another was still missing after they failed to return from a night dive.

A comment by a diver in the Japanese chat space mentioned about the ‘shame’ of scuba instructors dying in the sea. He (or she?) asked, how could dive instructors die at sea?

Well, why not? There is a saying; even monkeys fall off from trees...

I was more struck by the fact that the missing instructor was a mere 20 year old. Paper-qualified as an instructor, yes, but would I want to learn scuba diving from a 20 year old? Of course, it will be too simplistic to draw a linear association between scuba teaching skills and instructor age.

In ritualistic Japan, there is a ceremony held every January to explicitly mark the coming of adulthood. That magical threshold is twenty-one. A twenty year old in Japan is considered a ‘han-nin-mae’ (half-person).

Anyway, teaching scuba, or learning scuba, is not simply about mechanical ‘skills’. There’s probably more to that. ‘Stuff’ not mentioned in the manuals, maybe.

Or, perhaps I am semi-consciously comparing this case to own 20-year-old days. I was without doubt a green horn, aimless, clueless, and skill-less.

But then again, I should perhaps give more respect to the younger generation.

A couple of years of ago, I visited a dear friend of mine at Johor Baru. She is a teacher in Singapore, commuting every morning across the causeway. I found her kids highly intelligent. And I must add, this is not a unique case. The kids of my other friends were equally intelligent, too.

Her youngest son was a mere two-year toddler. Still sucking on the pacifier. But was I impressed with his English! At one point, he said, ‘Mummy, I want to go to school’. Perfectly. I was thrown off my chair.

Back to the calamity. According to the Philippine Sun.Star report, the dead instructor’s air tank was empty. And his equipment, intact. Thus, leading to the suspicion that they may have gone way, way beyond recommended depths. Which would not be difficult to confirm, as the dive computer tells no lies.

On a personal note, my missus and I have been hooked on scuba diving since we were licensed in March 2001. We are currently advanced divers and we absolutely love the colors of the shallows, the dartings of the little gobies, and the charm of the tiny nudibranches...

The deeps? No, no, not for us. Yet...