Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Cambridge University Underwater Exploration Group

A letter landed on the mat this morning inviting me to the 50th anniversary reunion of the Cambridge University Underwater Exploration Group and I found my thoughts drifting back across the years to the days when I was briefly numbered amongst its members.

Not for us the modern buoyancy compensator, balanced-piston regulator, or semi-closed rebreather. No - a pair of waxed canvas trousers, lead boots and an inflated sheeps bladder was all we needed to explore the watery domain.

But joking aside, I vividly recall my first (and nearly last) open-water dive with the CUUEG. Dropping off the edge of an inflatable dinghy, off Mousehole in Cornwall, I sank like a stone to a depth of 30 metres. After crawling around in the kelp for a while, we came up again - which I remember enjoying on account of the feeling of floating in a bright void.

Later in the week one of our instructors had the opportunity to spend a couple of days inside a naval recompression chamber. I later discovered that his status as an instructor amounted to the fact that he had survived the previous year's trip AND that he had decided to repeat the experience.

I didn't dive again for 25 years.

Though I won't be attending the 50th anniversary celebrations, I extend my heartfelt greetings to fellow survivors.

I'm sure it's all very different nowadays.

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