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Brown Trout of the Eastern Sierra
By George Van Zant
This is a true story sent to me by an old diving buddy. For many years my buddy and I spent untold hours under the Pacific chasing abalone, lobster, and spearfishing mostly for big halibut. Many is the time that Don and I crashed the Zuma Beach surf to dive in the sand dollar beds and stick 30 pound halibut. After each dive while starting on the air reserve we finished up by prying up a sack of pismo clams to end the day. This story really hits home. Once I did a Zuma Beach dive wearing only the top to my wet suit. The water was very warm and the wet suit bottoms actually made the dive too hot. Don was also pants-less and wearing only a bathing suit .When we entered the surf, almost simultaneously we both suffered extreme burning in the bare skin areas of our legs. The sensation was overbearing and we couldnąt get out of the water fast enough. Our legs turned brilliant red and large welts swelled up over them while we cringed in pain. What caused this was jellyfish flesh parts that were chewed up, probably by boat propellers, floating like plankton enmass in the breaker line. This lasted about 2 hours and our legs finally returned to normal. I never went without my pants again. But how about this tale?
This story is about a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers out of Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs under the offshore drilling rigs. Saturation means that the diver works continuously underwater without concerning himself with compression problems because they always enter a chamber for their decompression after their dive. The water was very cold on the day of this incident as it had been for quite awhile. Even with a wet suit they use warm water injected into the wet suit to make the temperature as warm as a Jacuzzi. A diesel powered industrial water heater sucks water out of the ocean and heats it to a delightful temperature. It then pumps it
down to the diver through a garden hose taped to his air hose. This diver had used it many times without any complaints. The end of the hose enters from the back of this wet suit and the warm water is forced down his back and from there it circulates through he whole suit making it very comfortable.
During this particular dive, everything was going well until all of a sudden his rear end started to itch. So, of course, he scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds his rear began to burn. He pulled the hose out of his wet suit but too late the damage was done. In agony he realized what had happened. The hot water machine had picked up a jellyfish and pumped it into his suit. The jellyfish didnąt stick to his smooth, hairless back, but did lodge in that crevice of the rear end cheeks.When he scratched the itch he ground the jellyfish deep into the crevice of the area and it really became painful. He informed the dive supervisor of the dilemma over the communicator. His instructions from the communicator were unclear due to the fact that he and 5 other divers on deck, were laughing hysterically. He aborted the dive.
It was 35 minutes of decompression before he could return to the surface for further dry decompression.. He got to the surface wearing only his brass helmet. His suit and all his gear were gone. The medic with tears of laughter running down his face handed him a tube of cream and told him to shove it up his ass when he got into the chamber . The cream put out the fire but he still couldnąt go to the stool for two days because his butt was swollen shut.
Anyway, the next time you have a bad day at work think of this guy. Think about how much worse your day would be if you were to shove a jellyfish up your ass. The diver hopes that you have no bad days at work but if you do he hopes this story will make it more tolerable.
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